The Greeks liked to have reason, order, and moderation in everything that
they did. Their government was divided and sub-divided into many branches so
that things could run more efficiently. They believed that everything came out of
chaos, and that they were slowly getting father and farther away from it and
getting closer to logical order and reason. They believed in the ideal, and nothing
short of perfection would do for them. Their sculptures showed this, as none of
them show human flaws, only human perfection. They, like the Americans
believed in the indomitable human spirit, and things were done with people in
mind. Like the Americans they were fiercely independent, and conquered or
weakened any power that they believed stood in the way of this independence.
They were nationalistic, and were not just Greeks, or Hellenes, as they called
them selves, but Athenians, Corinthian, or Spartans. Unlike the Americans they
were very religious, and every citizen in a polis had the same religion. They
found deities in everything, even their founders. When was they last time you
worshiped Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, or George Washington? Americans
are more accepting to non-Americans than, say the Athenians were of the non-Athenians. Not everyone could be / become a citizen. They had stricter laws, and
corporal punishment was very acceptable. They weren't very modest, in
American terms. Men trained nude, and not everyone had to wear a shirt.
Families were more important, and divorce was unheard of. They weren't as
materialistic, and their homes were not so well-furnished. The necessities and a
few pleasurable things were to be found. No excess for them. That would go
against the idea of moderation. Theater was comparable to movies: heroes,
legends, monsters and morality were taught in them. The Greeks were certainly
different, but not that unlike us. We're all human after all.
Copyright Caroline Bigelow, May 17, 1998. Originally written as a cultural study paper for an Anthrolopology class, it has been tweeked and added to many times.