STEMAcademiaAgriculture & FarmingHumanitiesSocial Sciences

8 Greek Influences and Contributions to Today's Society

Updated on February 23, 2017

The following is a list of 8 Greek inventions or discoveries that have had profound impacts on Western culture and society.

1. Democracy

The Greeks created the world’s first democracy. Athens first started out with a monarchy and then advanced to an oligarchy until it finally reached a democracy. The democratic government consisted of 6,000 assembly members, all of whom were adult male citizens. The assembly voted on issues throughout Athens. In order for a law to pass, the number of votes needed to be a majority. But in order to banish or exile someone, all 6,000 votes were needed.

Today, at least in the United States, we also use a democracy. But instead of a direct democracy, we have a representative democracy in which the citizens democratically vote on who should make the decisions in the country. This is different than Greece's direct democracy wherein the citizens voted on the decision rather than choosing people to make the decision.

The Parthenon in Ancient Greece
The Parthenon in Ancient Greece

2. The Alphabet

Greece was the first civilization to use an alphabet. It was developed after the Dark Ages and consisted of 24 letters. Believe it or not, the word "alphabet" originates from the first 2 letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha and beta. Today many letters of our modern alphabet originate from the Greek alphabet, including letters such as A, B, E, and O.

3. Libraries

The first library in the world, the library of Alexandria, was actually built in Egypt.

During this time, Egypt was colonized by the Greeks after it had submitted to Alexander’s rule. The Macedonians started spreading the Greek way of life to all of the conquered lands, including Egypt. After Alexander’s death, there was a power struggle. Eventually, the Kingdom of Egypt came under the rule of Alexander’s general, Ptolemy.

Ptolemy ordered the construction of the library, which contained over 700,000 scrolls of work. There was also a rule that all ships passing through the Alexandrian harbor had to declare if they had any works of science or philosophy. If they did, the work was copied and placed in the library, and the captain would receive the original copy back. Because of this accumulation of knowledge, many great discoveries took place in the library. For example, Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth and drew up plans for steam power. Today we have many libraries all over the world with billions of works of literature, but the first library in the world was the library of Alexandria.

4. The Olympics

The Olympic Games started in ancient Greece. The participants were the city-states of Ancient Greece and its colonies. The Olympic Games were held every 4 years in honor of Zeus, the king god. The prizes for winning were fame and glory, along with having statues of the winners erected and sometimes even putting the winners' faces on coins. Today we still celebrate the Olympic Games and still continue some of the old traditions, such as the olive leaf crowns and the opening and closing celebrations.

Greece also held other games such as the Ptythian Games, which were held in honor of Apollo, the sun god, and the Isthmian Games, which were held in honor of Poseidon, the sea god.

Archimedes at work
Archimedes at work

5. Science

Along with being the birthplace of many great mathematicians, Greece was also the mother country of many famous scientists. Some of the famous ones were:

  • Eratosthenes, who calculated the circumference of the earth and was off by less than 1%.
  • Aristarchus, who theorized that the earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way around.
  • Archimedes, who was able to explain levers and pulleys. One of his famous quotes was, "Give me a lever long enough and I will move the Earth!"
  • Hipparchus, who created a system to explain how all the planets and stars move.

6. Architecture

A style of Greek architecture that is still used today is the pillar. The most famous example of Greek architecture is the Parthenon, a grand building with pillars located in Athens. Today, pillars are also used in many public buildings such as churches and libraries. There are also pillars in many buildings in Washington D.C., including the White House!

7. Mythology

Today, many of us still read Greek myths. Some famous ones include the tales of Peruses, Theseus, and, of course, Heracles. The Greeks often used these myths to explain things that science couldn't prove, but today, we mostly read the Greek myths for entertainment. Many Greek myths have been altered a bit in modern novels and movies. Some well-known adaptations are Disney’s Hercules and the bestselling novel Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

The lighthouse of Alexandria built under Ptolemy's rule.
The lighthouse of Alexandria built under Ptolemy's rule.

8. Lighthouses

Like the first library, the first lighthouse in the world was located in the Greek/Egyptian kingdom of Alexandria. This lighthouse was huge, comparable to the Statue of Liberty, and was the second tallest structure of its day (only the Great Pyramid of Giza was taller than it). The lighthouse had three layers: the base which was square shaped, the middle which was octagonal, and the round beacon on top. The lighthouse signaled itself using smoke and fire that formed in the beacon. Sadly, the lighthouse was destroyed due to earthquakes, but it set the model for all future lighthouses.

Greek Influence

Which Greek influence do you think has the biggest impact on our lives today?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      yellow 4 days ago

      the person below me does drugs

    • profile image

      sass 10 days ago

      its democracy because if we didnt have democracy we would have no rights

    • profile image

      bobby boi the big bob 12 days ago

      Noice

    • profile image

      Rebekah 2 weeks ago

      heyyyy

    • profile image

      ok 4 weeks ago

      plis do more f4cs about dinosaur :3

    • profile image

      Carmen 4 weeks ago

      I believe architecture has the largest impact in today because if we drive around the city most buildings have a relating design to the Greeks. Yes democracy is believed to have a great impact but truly it doesn't since we have representative democracy rather then direct democracy. But this is just my personal opinion.

    • profile image

      fannie a vangehn 4 weeks ago

      this is an important info.

    • profile image

      Pete Firtitio 5 weeks ago

      My grandmother told me that sparta was my dad

    • profile image

      bouncybooty 5 weeks ago

      I love dis.

    • profile image

      samaresh debnath 5 weeks ago

      socretes to alexader that are greek

    • profile image

      ally 6 weeks ago

      nice information but plss upload BOUT WHY AlEXANDER DIED At such a young age for grade 6

    • profile image

      The Man 2 months ago

      There are many things that this has proven and shown, one of them being the fact that the alphabet took a total of five letters into it. that being said we also take many letters from Latin, Spanish, and some from nordic roots. so saying that the greeks were the main points of the creation of our english alphabet is nearly insane.

    • profile image

      Ahmad's 2 months ago

      I'm going to pass my history exam

    • profile image

      Frazer 2 months ago

      It helped me alot I appreciate

      I did well in my assignment

    • profile image

      Hoshi 4 months ago

      Thank for the informations. ;D

    • profile image

      dimond 4 months ago

      are you a boy or a girl hacker

    • profile image

      litle pooh 4 months ago

      thanks now I con do my project

    • profile image

      Corinne 5 months ago

      Thank to u I past my history exam on Ancient Greece

    • profile image

      hacker 5 months ago

      anyone plz give me your adress

    • profile image

      John Doe 5 months ago

      thank u for giving ur information

    • profile image

      Student 5 months ago

      I could have failed my test thanks to u I passed

    • profile image

      jake 5 months ago

      shut up

    • profile image

      hailey 6 months ago

      UHHHHH thank you soooo much this helped so much!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      K.S.W. 6 months ago

      THANKS A LOT!

    • profile image

      S.M 6 months ago

      Thanks for ur help I had to do oral presentation it helped!!!!

    • profile image

      ALYSSA ROSE BRIDWEll 6 months ago

      Thxx a tonnn

    • profile image

      alyssa 6 months ago

      It helped a lot on my assignment

    • profile image

      MAdison Salvatore 6 months ago

      it really helped on my assignment THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

    • profile image

      MrFluffypants99 6 months ago

      its a pretty good website thanks :# :) :{ :{

    • profile image

      MrFluffypants99 6 months ago

      this will probably help me on my research paper

    • profile image

      I5HAK 7 months ago

      THANKS

    • profile image

      gud stuff 7 months ago

      thanks for the good info it really helps

    • profile image

      thisisgood 7 months ago

      this is good information tanks alot ):

    • profile image

      KAden 11 months ago

      Thanks it really helped me with everything

    • profile image

      Byutipol 12 months ago

      Thanks! This will help me in making my performance task :)

    • profile image

      king bob 13 months ago

      i got a f-yipee

    • profile image

      benchik 17 months ago

      thaks this gave me an D- my parents wll be proud!!!! :DDDD :)

    • profile image

      100 21 months ago

      thanks so much! I have a report due in two days and this will really help my grade?

    • profile image

      satvik konda 21 months ago

      Thank you this helped me with homework

    • profile image

      Digvijay 21 months ago

      Thanks a lot, it is a great help. I highly appreciate the authors of this page for their contributions. Keep doing the good work.

    • profile image

      retard 2 years ago

      thanks for nothing

    • profile image

      Ashley 2 years ago

      i have a test tomorrow and this is amazing for notes.

    • profile image

      7869 2 years ago

      this helped me with my report. Thank you!

    • profile image

      55555er 2 years ago

      cccccccccccccccccccooooooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllllllllllll

    • profile image

      2199276 2 years ago

      thanks man. this helped me out so much:)

    • profile image

      Genie 2 years ago

      I think that this site should be granted three wishes from.......

    • profile image

      carla reby 2 years ago

      it helped me with my essay thx man

    • profile image

      mw 2 years ago

      Where is your work cited.

    • profile image

      brady 2 years ago

      thanks i got C+

    • profile image

      man 2 years ago

      yesssssssssssssssssslithery sssssssssssssnakeeeeeeeeee

    • profile image

      unknown 2 years ago

      awesome! Make more game adds and u got a deal

    • profile image

      ;_; 2 years ago

      I'm up at midnight writing a paper on ancient Greek's influence on modern society. I found this site, and I am nearly crying with enjoyment. Thank you.

    • profile image

      hi!!!!! 2 years ago

      hola

    • profile image

      hi 2 years ago

      hi hi hi hi

    • profile image

      ghost 2 years ago

      tis is boring

    • profile image

      Unkown 3 years ago

      Thank-you so much I can now finish my assignment!

    • profile image

      3 years ago

      vgggggggg

    • profile image

      Lexie 3 years ago

      This is wonderful it gives a lot of information if you need any thing by the Greeks I would tell you to go to this page

    • profile image

      Unknown 3 years ago

      Thank you this is perfect for my assignment. Exactly what I needed!

    • profile image

      shoegame 3 years ago

      this is amazing my research project on Greek sciences is complete... have been out of school for three days with no time to work and it is finally done!!!

    • profile image

      lolz 3 years ago

      Hey Everyone!!,

      For da poll i chose democracy....yeah.... so ya better choose it too....JK LMAO

    • profile image

      none of your business 3 years ago

      Thanks it helped a lot love your hub

    • profile image

      Jane 3 years ago

      Thank you this really help a lot on My Greece project

    • profile image

      girl 3 years ago

      This really helped me on my history project.

    • profile image

      me;) 3 years ago

      Thanks this really helped I hope you keep writing

    • profile image

      ?????? 3 years ago

      ..........thanks?

    • profile image

      ruby orozco 3 years ago

      I love this page nothing else

    • profile image

      Jonathan rios 3 years ago

      Thanks so much I love my hub just like Ruby

    • profile image

      dda4vv 3 years ago

      this really helped me on my homework. thx!

    • profile image

      Anonymous 3 years ago

      FINALLY! I am doing an essay on Greek scientists and philosophers, and I needed to find some Greek influences, and this page helped me so much! Thanks, :)!

    • profile image

      dude 3 years ago

      I'm AWESOME

    • profile image

      mini mouse 3 years ago

      thanks this helped me a lot with my project

    • profile image

      cool 3 years ago

      thank you real I was going to use this info for a project.

    • profile image

      daniel 3 years ago

      best sight ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      ashley 3 years ago

      i have a test today and I was blank-minded so I went on google and found this web address and I went to it and all of my answers are answered. thx

    • profile image

      real 3 years ago

      firt alphabet wasn't greek. actually it came from Phoenician .

    • profile image

      ree 4 years ago

      up to date

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      thanks

    • profile image

      Random Guy 4 years ago

      Thank you all the stuff I need is here

    • Unifiniti profile image

      Unifiniti 4 years ago

      I read an article about how Athenian democracy could be considered as South African Apartheid. Wouldn't the Roman Republic (Although both had slaves) be considered better?

    • profile image

      danceerules 4 years ago

      Im doing a project on roman lighthouses and i need to put what influence they have today???!!!!

    • profile image

      roseanne 4 years ago

      thank you!!! THIS IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLES. and you totally saved me in my big essay.

    • profile image

      Dunno 4 years ago

      THANK U!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      puppies 4 years ago

      sick web lots of info that i can use for research thx best web for greece i went one sick yal. u just saved my life from getting an f for dbq

    • profile image

      ladida 4 years ago

      thankyou soooo much!!! you saved my horrible essay's grade!!!

    • profile image

      jad 4 years ago

      this website really helped me learn about greek influences today

    • profile image

      EF! 4 years ago

      This is awesome thank you so much this hub has really helped me gain more knowledge i have a speech to do on monday and i think this hub will help me

      I will remember to acknowledge you in my speech

    • profile image

      Kiran 4 years ago

      It's so informational and it helped me a lot on my Greece project and it's due Monday. I can't wait to presented to my class! THANK YOU!

    • profile image

      anoynamous 4 years ago

      im not gonna talk about the greeks im gonna talk about how you SHOULD REALLY be respectful and honest to your parents or then they will lock you in their huge scary mueseam until its morning when you get to run out quickly gettting relived that your outside again and now you say how do i know this could happen?! BECAUSE IT HAPPENED TO ME!!!!!

    • profile image

      Unknown 4 years ago

      Helped me with a last minute assignment a great deal!

    • profile image

      fuck 4 years ago

      esdfff

    • profile image

      mychips 4 years ago

      cheese

    • profile image

      darth vadar 4 years ago

      hi this waz helpful

    • profile image

      bob742 4 years ago

      yes thank you :)

    • profile image

      billy203 4 years ago

      AAHH THANK YOU

    • profile image

      paul101 4 years ago

      THANK YOU SOO MUCH i had a project and i didn't know what to do

    • profile image

      raundeo134 4 years ago

      This is pretty awsome im probaly going to get an A+ on this assighnment.

    • profile image

      okay 4 years ago

      that is kool

    • profile image

      paul101 4 years ago

      awesome

    • profile image

      but hole... 4 years ago

      cfgh