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Ancient Greek Influences

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Historians have long considered Ancient Greece to be one of the most influential societies on modern day life. Ancient Greece has inspired the modern world in five main areas: theatre, government, philosophy, art, and architecture.

Theatre flourished in Greece, particularly in Athens, between c. 550 BC and c. 220 BC. During its beginnings theatrical performances were part of Dionysia, a festival held in honour of the god Dionysus. The plot of the plays was always inspired by Greek mythology, a theme that is still common today. Many modern plays and movies have been directly based on or incorporated elements of Greek mythology or simply mythology in general. Every play had a chorus, though the size and importance of it varied. The chorus was used to provide background and summary information to the audience. The chorus is still used in modern musicals to provide interpretation of the mental and emotional states of main characters. The chorus is also a precursor to the narrator.

Three theatrical genres – tragedy, comedy, and satyr plays – began to emerge in Ancient Greece. These three genres, though altered over time, still exist in the modern theatre. Tragedy in Ancient Greece were plays that show human misery and suffering. This genre has remained largely unchanged over time and has inspired many famous playwrights including William Shakespeare. Ancient Greek comedy began as political satire, a theme that is still evident in television shows such as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Saturday Night Live. Over time the subject of satire in Greek theatre became more general, and specific public figures were generally not satirized. Playwrights focused on creating stock characters (easily recognizable characters) that l...

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...cratic philosophers, such as Anaximenes – who conducted the first scientific experiment – also influenced the development of Western science and math. The theories and experiments they conducted provided a basis for others to expand on later in history. If they had not created these theories, our modern knowledge of science and math would be more limited than it is now.

Greek art has had a profound effect on artists over the ages. The style of Greek paintings and sculptures has been imitated over the ages by some of the most famous artists, such as Michelangelo. All modern day art can trace its origins back to ancient Greek art. Western art and sculpture is derived from the Romans, who had a deep respect for Greek art and often copied their styles. Alexander the Great's conquests gave birth to Greco-Buddhist art, which has even had an influence as far as Japan.
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