DBQ – Greece Essay

Contributions from ancient Greece are still influencing our society today. The ancient Greeks improved our society with great inventions, ideas, and contributions to Western civilization. The Greeks’ contributions to Western civilization have shaped our society to be what it is today. Throughout the world, societies have been fashioned differently than the society would be if the Greeks had never existed because of the Greeks’ numerous contributions. However, the most distinct contributions to Western civilization are in drama, government, and philosophy.

The theater of ancient Greece is an important contribution because it has influenced much of the theater in modern day society. The theater and arts in the Greek society were mainly influenced by the classical period. Classical Greek theater was concerned with civilizing the emotions through reason, moderation, balance, and harmony (PK). Drama as we know it in Western civilization was created by the Greeks. Plays and shows took place on stages as parts of Greek festivities. Some of the first of these plays were tragedies, which were presented in a trilogy built around a common theme (PK).

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Much like today, tragedies are one of the main types of plays and many plays revolve around a theme or main idea. In Sophocles’ play, the main character, Antigone, defies the king’s orders for her not to bury her brother’s corpse. She then tells the king the theme of the play: no matter how powerful a mortal is, the gods’ rule should not be ignored (Doc. 6). Over time, the dramas evolved into more realistic stories. Euripides brought about this change in Greek plays by creating realistic characters and believable plots (PK).

Ancient Greek tragedies conveyed themes and ideas still pertaining to modern day, such as good and evil, human nature, and human rights. Therefore, this contribution has influenced Western civilization greatly by giving theater dramas that rotate around a central theme. In addition to the artistic qualities of ancient Greece, the Greeks made significant contributions to government. One of the greatest contributions to government occurred during the Age of Pericles. Pericles, a dominant figure in Athenian politics between 461 B.

C. and 429 B. C. , expanded Athens’ empire and created a direct democracy (PK). In Pericles Funeral Oration, Pericles stated, “Our plan of government favors the many instead of the few” (Doc. 3). This shows that Pericles’ direct democracy encouraged all citizens to participate in governmental decisions and it made it possible for all citizens to take part in supporting their city-state, not including women. By creating a direct democracy, Pericles expanded the involvement of Athenians in their government (PK).

Many parts of Western civilization, including North America, use democracy as the main form of government because this type of government appeals to all of the social classes. The Greeks built the political basics of Western society through their city-state’s democratic ideas. Philosophy is a major contribution to Western civilization. Philosophy refers to an organized system of thought (PK). In philosophy, wisdom is key. Some of the earliest Greek philosophers tried to find this wisdom on the basis of unifying principles (PK).

Pythagoras, famous for the Pythagorean theorem, taught his students that answers and wisdom could be found in numbers and music. On the contrary, many did not agree with Pythagoras’ ideas. For example, the Sophists argued that humans were not able to understand the concept of the universe and people should work on improving themselves instead of speculating about such topics. The Sophists’ goal was to argue effectively through rhetoric, the art of persuasive speaking in debates and swaying an audience, not to promote a belief or idea (PK).

Many of these debating techniques are still used today during all levels of government. Some modern day schools have debate clubs where teachers, much like the Sophists, teach pupils how to win a debate. However, there were doubts about Sophists as well. For example, Socrates, a sculptor with a love for philosophy, taught his pupils how to live by a code of ethics. Socrates believed that people could be happy if they lived moral lives, he taught this to his students by using the Socratic method. Socrates stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living” (Doc. ). This shows that the Socratic method uses a question-and-answer format to lead students to the answer. Socrates believed that all answers could be found inside. Only reasoning and critical examination is needed in order to call the answers forth. Many more philosophies were created during ancient Greece and they all contributed to Western civilization by giving modern day people philosophies and methods to answer questions. Ancient Greece influenced the way Western civilization has formed with the three main contributions in drama, government, and philosophy.