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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
Why do the ancient Greeks continue to
fascinate us in modern times? Are we
morbidly intrigued by the brutalities of
their culture or do we prefer to focus on
their rich, religious lives?

Most of what we know about the ancient Greeks has come to us through their
literature, comedies and poetry, as well
as through their artwork that portrayed
scenes of their daily lives. Archaeological
digs give us an even deeper insight into
how they lived and worshiped, and it is
through the endless work of scholars
that we are able to piece together the
mysteries of ancient Greece.

10. Almost Every Family had a Slave

Nearly every family in ancient Greece
had a slave . In fact, it is believed that
only the poorest of the poor did not
own a slave. Poor to average families, in
general, kept at least one slave . Middle
class families could have anywhere from
three to twelve slaves, depending on
where they lived and their families’ main
source of income.

These slaves, first and foremost,
represented the wealth of the family that
owned them. Slaves were considered
status symbols and owning slaves who
were docile and obedient was the goal of
most Greek families.

The slaves were expected to work for the
families that owned them. They were
kept to make the lives of the Greeks
easier. Slaves would serve their owners’
personal needs, clean, cook, and even
raise the families’ children.
Many of the slaves were foreigners. They
were captured in war or abducted from
their homes by pirates and slave traders.
Greek slaves were not as common as
foreign slaves, but they did exist.
Abandoned Greek children were
sometimes placed into slavery.

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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece - History & Culture

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
9. Slaves Tortured in Court

Free citizens were considered to be a
higher class of human than slaves. In the
court of law, it was recognized that free
citizens could easily lie to save their own
skins. Slaves, however, were considered
to be the equivalent of livestock and,
under torture, were believed to be
incapable of telling a lie.
In both civil and criminal cases, the
slaves of Greeks could be tortured to
discover “the truth.” Slaves were
whipped, placed on the rack, or put on
the wheel. Truth, Greeks believed, was
hidden in the bodies of the slaves. The
slaves saw and knew all there was to
know about their masters. They showed
off the wealth of their masters and, just
as quickly, could bring ruin to an entire
It was inconceivable to torture a free
man in a court of law, but it was also
acknowledge that free men had the
natural gift of logic. Any testimony given
by a free man held little weight whereas
the slave, viewed as a physical extension
of his master, could be forced to tell the
truth without realizing that he was doing
10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece - History & Culture

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
8. Marriage and Having Children was a Duty

The people of ancient Greece did not
marry out of love. On the contrary,
marriage was considered the duty of
every free born citizen of Greece.
Fathers would arrange the marriages of
their daughters and sons. Oftentimes,
daughters were betrothed when they
were infants. When it was time to
formally take on the roles of husband
and wife, the daughters were usually as
young as 15-years-old and the sons
averaged age thirty.
After the marriage was completed, the
couples were expected to have as many
children as possible. These children
would later become soldiers, workers,
and, again, parents for future
Greek marriages could easily take place
within wealthy families. A family’s desire
to maintain its stature was a strong
motivation to literally “keep it in the
family” and there were many cases where
first cousins and uncles and nieces were
married to each other. In Sparta, the law
even allowed siblings who shared the
same mother to marry each other. This
way, the money and properties held by
the family would remain undivided and
kept within its small social circle.
10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece - History & Culture

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
7. Divorce was Allowed

There were three ways to get divorced in
ancient Greece, and all of them were
rather easy to do.
First, a husband could dismiss his wife
from his home. All he had to do was
send her back to her family’s home with
her dowry and the marriage was over.
If the wife wanted to leave the marriage,
she was free to do so after she received
the approval of an official called an
“archon.” However, if a wife left her
husband and returned to her family’s
home, it gave her the reputation of being
a disloyal wife.
The third way to enact a divorce could
come from the wife’s father or brothers.
This was the most common form of
divorce in ancient Greece. Many times,
when no children were produced in a
marriage, the husband would ask the
wife’s family to retrieve her. In other
instances, the family would step in if no
child was produced and then marry the
woman to another man in the hope that
she would finally be able to produce
In all instances of divorce, any children
produced during the marriage were
considered to be the property of the
husband. For this reason, there were
very few divorces initiated by the wives.
10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece - History & Culture

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
6. Military Service

While motherhood was the only
acceptable occupation for the women of
ancient Greece, men were expected to
serve as soldiers. In the city-state of
Athens, this meant two years of
mandatory service for each male. In the
city-state of Sparta, being a soldier was
the only occupation available to its male
Spartan boys left their homes at the age
of seven and went to live in the barracks.
Life in these boy barracks was brutal. The
boys were often starved and encouraged
to steal food if they wanted to eat.
However, if the boys were caught
stealing the food, they were beaten for
being caught.
Young boys were also ritually beaten.
They were flogged until they bled and
any show of pain was discouraged. This
was to harden the boys until they were
twenty-years-old and ready to serve as
While men served in the military, slaves
were used to grow crops, build, and
perform trade work. In fact, all the work
needed to make Sparta thrive as a city-
state was performed by the slaves the
Spartans captured during their military
10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece - History & Culture

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
5. The Education of Girls

Throughout most of ancient Greece, girls
were given no formal education. While
boys were sent to schools, girls would
learn how to be housewives from their
mothers. Some of the wealthier families
would hire tutors to teach their
daughters how to read and write, but
such knowledge was generally not taught
to the majority of females.
In Sparta, girls were treated differently
than in the rest of the country. While
boys were sent off to the barracks to
become soldiers, girls were given a
public education in mythology,
philosophy, and literature. Girls were
taught to sing, dance, and were allowed
to express themselves creatively.
Spartan women were also discouraged
from living a secluded life like the
women in Athens. Instead, the Spartans
strongly believed that in order for
women to produce strong sons, they
must also be strong and active. Slaves
were used to keep the home in order
while Spartan women participated in
strenuous athletic training and sports.
10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece - History & Culture

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
4. Different Types of Sacrifices and Offerings

Religion was central to the Greek way of
life and they expressed their faith in
many different ways. There were monthly
festivals, yearly festivals, feasts, and
competitions where everyone, except for
the slaves, were allowed to celebrate.
One common feature of their worship
was sacrifice and offerings. There were
two different types of sacrifices. The first
was the blood sacrifice. This was when
an animal was ritually killed and then
eaten. A portion of the slaughtered
animal was offered to the gods. Male
gods received the offering of male
animals and female gods received female offerings.

Bloodless sacrifices could be vegetables
and grains that were offered to the gods.

These bloodless sacrifices were burned
upon the altar.

Finally, there were offerings. Offerings
were left out in the open, sometimes
placed on an offering table, where birds
and other animals might reach the items.

The offerings could be anything, from
food to childhood toys. The items were
not burnt and could simply be left
outdoors to rot.
10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece - History & Culture

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
3. Beer was a Woman’s Drink

The men of ancient Greece did not care
for beer. They considered the drink to be
effeminate and preferred wine with their
What is interesting about their wine was
that it was stronger than the wine we
drink today. With a higher alcohol
content, the ancient wine was also far
sweeter than what we are accustomed
to. Because of this, the ancient Greeks
watered down their wine before drinking
it. Undiluted wine was considered
unhealthy to drink whereas watered
down wine was seen as medicinal,
especially when it was mixed with
aromatic herbs or honey.
10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece - History & Culture

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
2. Chamber Pots and Outdoor Etiquette

The men and women of ancient Greece
used separate chamber pots within their
homes. The men’s chamber pot had an
opening in the front for urination and
women used a boat-shaped pot. These
would be emptied out onto the street.
There were even chamber pots for babies
that contained two holes for the legs and
a hole in the seat so that the baby could
be held in place while going to the
bathroom. However, it is believed that
few of these types of baby potties were
used. In general, people in the cities
would hold their babies out of the
windows until their business was done
on the streets below.
According to Hesiod, the famous Greek
poet, there were rules when it came to
urinating outdoors. For one, men were
not supposed to relieve themselves
outside while facing the sun. This was
considered offensive to the sun god.
Hesiod also believed that good men
should sit or use a wall away from the
roadways because, again, the gods
walked among people and might be
offended by the sight.
10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece - History & Culture

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Rufai Oladimeji
, Nigeria.
1. Ankle Deep in Waste

Of course, not too many people
appeared to listen to what Hesiod
thought regarding toilet habits and they
continued to use the streets as their
literal dumping grounds . The simple fact
is that there were no public bathrooms
in ancient Greece and there was no
indoor plumbing. People had to do
something with the waste, and the
streets were the easiest place to dump it.
In crowded cities, such as ancient
Athens, it takes little imagination to
realize just how terrible this waste
dumping could be. In fact, with so many
people dumping waste out of their
windows and doors, it was said that
while walking through the streets of
Athens, the human fecal matter was
ankle deep in some places.
Men, women, children, and livestock
sloshed through the mess on the streets,
dragged it into their homes, and
contaminated drinking water and food.
Drawn to the disgusting mess were rats,
mosquitoes, and hoards of flies. There is
very little wonder that disease and
epidemics were rampant in the cities of
ancient Greece.

Source: www.toptenz.net/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-ancient-greece.php

Alright! I will see you in another one.

With love, with love... L. O. V. E
10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ancient Greece - History & Culture

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Mathew Oluwaseun
University of Ilorin (Unilorin)
Mechanical Engineering
500Level, Nigeria.
Thanks For sharing, this is really informative

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