89 votes
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Did the ancient Greeks ever climb Mt. Olympus?

The answer is probably Yes, some Greeks had visited the peak around 2900 meters above the sea level. Average people who are fit can easily do it, at least from one side. But it's important to realize ...
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  • 2,694
78 votes
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Cultural understanding of Penelope's suitors

Xenia is a concept that represented the relationship between guests and hosts in Ancient Greece, and is a recurring theme in the Odyssey, Iliad, and other Greek works. Essentially, Penelope was ...
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  • 3,853
66 votes
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Why do the horses on this vase have too many legs?

The number of legs is correct. It's the number of heads that is wrong. The chariot depicted is an Olympic quadriga which was driven by four horses. The artist probably found it difficult to make a ...
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  • 37.2k
62 votes

How would a Spartan have held his shield?

SHORT ANSWER Most battles were short and thus the shield did not have to be held for long in combat. Also, Spartans who survived the training which began in early childhood were extremely tough both ...
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59 votes
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When did worshipping of ancient Greek gods come to an end?

Presumably no earlier than the ninth century, as there is this: 804 Hellenes of Laconia, Greece, resist the attempt of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, to convert them to Christianity. ...
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  • 1,336
55 votes
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Were Alexander the Great and Hephaestion lovers?

The author of that particular claim appears to have been Diogenes the Cynic. This is the same man who was said to carry around a lantern in broad daylight, claiming to be (futilely) looking for an ...
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  • 109k
50 votes

How would a Spartan have held his shield?

Lars' answer has addressed the fact that the shields (know as a hoplon) often didn't need to be held for long; I'd like to address the actual mechanics. Image showing the shield held close in to the ...
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  • 828
49 votes
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What did people in 13th century England know about Greek mythology?

Quite a bit, actually. Graeco-Roman mythology was a significant part of the education curriculum. Much of the educated elite would have been broadly familiar with ancient Greek mythologies through its ...
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  • 95.8k
46 votes

Fermat's statement about the ancients: How serious was he?

There is a difference between abstract knowledge and "inventions". In the 17th century it was still widely believed that the ancient Greeks had discovered and formulated pretty much the sum total of ...
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  • 9,473
45 votes

What is the difference between the Ancient Greek religion and the Ancient Roman religion?

The biggest difference that I'm aware of is that the Classical Greek religion was much more the religion of myths that we all know, while the Classical Roman religion had fewer personifications and ...
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  • 5,618
39 votes
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How were books published in Ancient Greece?

There were no publishers, no royalties, and no copyright. All these things were invented after the spread of the printer press. If you are a scientist/philosopher, you would write your book yourself, ...
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  • 37.3k
39 votes

Did the ancient Greeks ever climb Mt. Olympus?

It is impossible to ascertain for sure. Eleven gods of the Greek major pantheon all lived in various named corners of the mountain. Even Zeus resided on only the second-highest of the many peaks, ...
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38 votes
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Did germophobia exist in classical antiquity?

What is germaphobia? It's an obsession, it "is a pathological fear of contamination and germs. " If we look for something similar in antiquity we just need to turn that onto its feet: this ...
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  • 73.7k
37 votes
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Couldn't an army of archers easily defeat Macedonian style phalanxes?

The Macedonian phalanx had limited protection from missiles in the form of their long spears, but it's true that it was vulnerable to missile fire. For example, during the Battle of Ipsus (fought ...
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  • 14.3k
34 votes
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Did the Persian Immortals instill fear in their Greek adversaries?

On the Immortals specifically, we do not have enough information from ancient sources to get a clear picture of what the Greeks thought of this elite Persian infantry unit. Further, the available ...
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34 votes
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How true is this observation concerning battle?

As Mark C. Wallace noted in his comment, this is from the Spartan poet Tyrtaeus whose verse became an integral part of the Spartan military ethos and propaganda. His exhortations to fight bravely were ...
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31 votes

What did people in 13th century England know about Greek mythology?

The Nun's Priest's Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: Lo heere Andromacha, Ectores wyf, That day that Ector sholde lese his lyf, She dremed on the same nyght biforn […] He wente for to ...
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30 votes

Why did the Spartans learn to read and write if they weren't allowed to keep records?

SHORT ANSWER There are many documented examples of Spartans using writing, including the recording of laws and oracles, and the literacy rate amongst women may well have been higher than in any other ...
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29 votes
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How was Alexander the Great able to rule so much territory?

Alexander, for the most part, left things unchanged in the lands he conquered. He didn't impose Greek customs, respected (or perhaps ignored) local religions and cultures and allowed a certain degree ...
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  • 14.5k
28 votes

What ships did pirates use in ancient Greece and Rome?

I don't think that it is possible to generalise. I don't doubt that ancient pirates did re-purpose civilian ships in most cases. Indeed, it is said that even sailors on merchant ships which had been ...
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28 votes
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How did the Greeks keep a prytaneum alight in storms?

I'm not quite sure why you think this would be a problem. A Prytaneum was a building, with a roof, and presumably doors that could be closed and windows that could be shuttered. While modern ...
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27 votes
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What prevented slaves in Classical Greece from running off?

INTRO First, it is important to note that Greek (and other) slaves performed many kinds of jobs and this fact alone could influence the likelihood of a slave running away: The status of slaves, and ...
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26 votes
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Is there any evidence of STD's in ancient times?

Famously, the Ancient Egyptians knew a lot about sexuality, gynecology and genitourinary infections. Nevertheless, according to this article, there are no unambiguous description of STD's in the ...
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  • 3,513
26 votes

When did worshipping of ancient Greek gods come to an end?

If you read "Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion", by John Cuthbert Lawson, you will see that, as late as 1910, there were are least significant vestiges of original Greek religion. Other ...
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26 votes
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Did the Spartans really taunt Philip II of Macedon with a single word?

Plutarch, in De garrulitate , writes this concerning the brief, concise language used by the Laconians: The Lacedaemonians to Philip; Dionysius in Corinth. And when Philip wrote thus to the ...
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  • 33.8k
25 votes

Why do people say, "Alexander the Great conquered the world?"

Wikipedia tells us that Alexander did indeed set out to conquer the whole world. His empire consisted of most of the world known to the ancient Greeks of his time, so for his compatriots, yes, he ...
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  • 11.4k
25 votes

What were the ethnic backgrounds of the slaves in Ancient Greece?

SHORT ANSWER For most of the classical period, non-Greek slaves came primarily from Thrace and Anatolia. There is also evidence of slaves from Syria, Illyria, Macedon and Ethiopia. Slaves of Greek ...
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25 votes
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Why did Ancient Greek religious monument (herms) have genitalia?

Sex and nudity weren't as taboo then as they are now - particularly since the puritan Victorian days. Olympic athletes, for instance, raced naked. Homosexuality was pervasive enough to have been ...
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24 votes
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Were there any wars in ancient Greece where religion played a major part?

Certainly. In fact there was even a whole series of Sacred Wars. More specifically, the First Sacred War was fought by the Amphictyonic League against the city of Cirrha over the latter's ...
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  • 95.8k
24 votes
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How do we know this bust is Aristotle?

The identification was originally made by Franz Studniczka in his 1908 Das Bildnis des Aristoteles. The basis of his argument is a miniature bust, discovered by the Italian antiquary, Fulvio Orsini, ...
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