Greek Cultural Influences

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The culture of ancient Greece reflects the importance of the individual in society in many different ways. The Greeks used art, philosophy, and even their system of government to convey their beliefs in the importance of one single man in a society.

Greek artists showed value for the individual. All people were portrayed in Greek art, from the sagging old woman to the ideal athlete. Although early Greek art focused on the human ideal, their later art shows that the Greeks appreciated all forms, and found the human body in general to be a beautiful thing. Even the gods in Greek art showed how highly the Greeks valued humanity. The gods were depicted as humans, and were made to human scale; no huge overpowering deity was ever portrayed in their art. The Greeks appreciated themselves in their art as much as they appreciated the gods. Even on the most famous temple of all time, the Parthenon, humans were portrayed. The frieze that adorned the upper face of the Parthenon depicted the human procession in honour of the god Athena.

It was not just sculptures and architecture that showed Greek pride in the individual. Greek drama showed a huge appreciation for humans in all their glory. The Greeks valued human emotions; their plays covered a wide array of subjects, all the way from the tragedies of war to the comedic side of a society in the perils of war. These subjects made it possible to reveal the Greek appreciation for real life situations, showing the value they placed on human actions, but most of all on human nature.

Like the various forms of Greek art, the government of ancient Greece appreciated the individual by creating an environment in which individuals were free to express themselves. Tyrants like Pisistratus and Cleisthenes came to power to try and make the polis a better place for the individual. These tyrants reformed the state in many ways; they helped make it possible for the rich and poor to have equal rights, and they created the...
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