Teaching your students about Ancient Greece? You’ve come to the right place! The ancient Greeks are renowned for their impressive contributions to art and architecture, mythology, theatre, politics and much more. From visiting archaeological sites to racing chariots as Hercules did, a wealth of activities can bring this fascinating civilisation alive for students in an engaging way. Here we’ll take a deep dive into what it takes to plan the perfect trip through Ancient Greece so you can give your class an unforgettable experience!
Ancient Greece was a civilisation that emerged around 800 BCE and lasted until about 600 CE. It was composed of different communities scattered across the Mediterranean, including parts of modern-day Greece, Italy, Turkey, and other regions.
The Greeks are known for their many accomplishments, which have had a lasting impact on Western civilisation. Here are some of the notable features of Ancient Greece:
Ancient Greece is the birthplace of philosophy, which refers to the study of fundamental nature, knowledge, and reality. Greek philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, were known for their ideas about ethics, politics, and metaphysics, among other topics.
Art and Architecture
The Greeks were also known for their artistic and architectural achievements. They created iconic works of art, such as the Parthenon temple in Athens, which still stands today as an important symbol of Greek civilisation. Greek pottery and sculpture were also highly regarded for their beauty and craftsmanship.
Literature and Drama
Ancient Greek literature and drama continue to be studied and admired today. Greek writers such as Homer and Herodotus wrote epic poems and histories that are still read and studied today. Greek dramatists, such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, created some of the most enduring works of Western literature, including tragedies like “Antigone” and “Oedipus Rex”.
The Ancient Greeks are also credited with developing democracy as a form of government. Athenian democracy was a radical experiment at the time, allowing citizens to participate in decision-making and governance. The concept of democracy has since influenced governments around the world.
Ancient Greece profoundly impacted Western civilisation and continues to shape our culture and ideas today. Its contributions to philosophy, art, architecture, literature, and governance have made it one of the most significant civilisations in history.
Greek Legacy in Western Civilisation
The Ancient Greeks significantly impacted Western civilisation, which is still evident in our culture, language, and philosophy today. Here are some examples of the Greek legacy in Western society:
Language and Literature
The Greeks were known for their great works of literature, which continue to be read and studied widely today. The Iliad and the Odyssey, epic poems by Homer, are still regarded as masterpieces of Western literature. The Greek language has also had a significant impact on Western languages, with many English words, such as “philosophy,” “theatre,” and “aristocracy,” having Greek roots.
Greek philosophy is the foundation of Western philosophy, and the works of Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, continue to be studied and debated today. Ancient Greek philosophers first introduced ideas like democracy, ethics, and metaphysics.
Art and Architecture
Greek art and architecture have also had a significant impact on Western civilisation. The Greeks were masters of sculpture and created works still admired today, such as the famous statue of Zeus at Olympia. They also made magnificent buildings, such as the Parthenon, which is still regarded as one of history’s most outstanding architectural achievements.
Science and Medicine
Ancient Greeks were pioneers in the fields of science and medicine. Scientists like Pythagoras developed theories about mathematics and geometry that are still used today. Greek treatment, based on the idea of the human body as a complex system, also significantly impacted Western medicine.
Teaching Opportunities from Ancient Greece
Studying Ancient Greece offers numerous opportunities for teaching various subjects, including history, literature, philosophy, art, and more. Here are some teaching opportunities that arise from looking into Ancient Greece:
Ancient Greece offers a rich history that can be studied from many perspectives. Students can learn about Ancient Greek social classes, politics, warfare, and daily life, as well as the influence of Ancient Greece on neighbouring civilisations, such as Ancient Rome.
The literature of Ancient Greece offers teachers the opportunity to explore themes surrounding the nature of man, the origins of mythology, and lyric poetry. Epic poems like “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” provide valuable insights into the Ancient Greek worldview. At the same time, stories like “Antigone” and “Oedipus Rex” can be used to teach elements of tragedy and irony.
Greek philosophy, from the works of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, can teach ethical reasoning, metaphysics, and critical thinking. Students can explore the ideas of virtue, knowledge, and identity and the effects of context on ethical decision-making.
Art allows the teacher to use various sources for study and practical application. Painting, sculpture, and pottery can all be used to teach visual art elements such as composition and form. At the same time, debates about how to copy nature, aesthetics, and philosophical ideas can also be explored.
Lesson Plan 1: Greek Philosophy
- To introduce students to the fundamental concepts of Ancient Greek philosophy
- To explore the relationship between reason and ethics
- To connect Ancient Greek philosophy to modern philosophical questions
Main Teaching Points
- The ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle
- The concepts of ethics, reason and justice
- The relationship between human nature and morality
- Provide additional resources, such as diagrams and visual aids, to help students understand some of the more abstract concepts.
- Use scenarios that students can relate to illustrate the more complex ideas.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of Greek philosophy?
- How have Ancient Greek philosophical ideas impacted modern philosophy?
- Which three philosophical concepts learned in this unit are still relevant today?
- What is the basis of human morality?
- What is the relationship between virtue and knowledge?
- What is the impact of context on ethical decision-making?
Lesson Plan 2: Ancient Greek Literature
- To introduce students to the works of Ancient Greek literature
- To teach students how to analyse and interpret Ancient Greek literature
- To examine the themes of Ancient Greek literature in a contemporary context
Main Teaching Points
- The works of Homer, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides
- The pieces of Greek literature, including heroism, tragedy, and the relationship between gods and humans
- The cultural significance of Ancient Greek Literature
- Provide additional background information on the Ancient Greek context for the literature.
- Use visual aids, such as maps and timelines, to help students understand the historical and social context of Ancient Greek literature.
- What do the works of Ancient Greek literature teach us about Ancient Greek culture and society?
- How do the themes of Ancient Greek literature relate to contemporary literature and popular culture?
- How has Ancient Greek literature impacted literature throughout history?
- What is the role of gods in Ancient Greek literature?
- How does tragedy convey universal truths?
- What are the traits of an epic hero?
Lesson Plan 3: Ancient Greek Art and Architecture
- To introduce students to Ancient Greek art and architecture
- To teach students how to analyse and interpret Ancient Greek art and architecture
- To examine the cultural significance of Ancient Greek art and architecture
Main Teaching Points
- The different styles and periods of Greek art and architecture
- The use of proportion and symmetry in Ancient Greek art and architecture
- The cultural significance of Ancient Greek Art and Architecture
- Use three-dimensional models and slideshows to provide visual context for the students.
- Provide opportunities for students to work in small groups or pairs to create designs based on Ancient Greek art and architecture.
- What is the cultural significance of Ancient Greek art and architecture?
- How have Ancient Greek art and architecture influenced modern design?
- What are the fundamental design principles of Ancient Greek art and architecture?
- How do proportion and symmetry create a sense of balance in Greek art?
- How did Ancient Greek architecture incorporate sculpture?
- What is the significance of the use of columns in Ancient Greek architecture?