The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization

The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization

2000, History  -   85 Comments
Ratings: 7.80/10 from 166 users.

The Greeks: Crucible of CivilizationThe lavish and lengthy production of PBS's The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization is a fitting tribute to the glory of ancient Greece, telling the story of Greek democracy from its first stirrings in 500 B.C. through to the cataclysmic wars that virtually destroyed the empire.

It concludes with a fascinating look at how the Greeks were defeated, yet their philosophy endured and changed the world forever. Beautifully photographed, and with intelligent narration delivered by actor Liam Neeson, this documentary goes into considerable detail while also being engaging to the eye as well as the mind.

The photography at ancient sites is often spectacular and judicious use of actors filmed in re-creations of critical events provide immediacy. Much of the story relates how the Greeks essentially invented politics and democracy, and interviews with prominent scholars of classical history provide insight into the major characters, including Thales, Pericles, and Socrates.

The stories of epic battles on land and sea and a thoughtful treatment of the Greek ideals of heroism are presented well. But the documentary particularly succeeds in the latter stages, when the story turns to the downfall of Socrates and a thoughtful explanation of how Greek philosophy transformed civilization.

More great documentaries

85 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Chrissy

    So boring. Please try to make it a little more interesting. I love history but this documentary made me want to pluck my eyelashes out.

  2. don goodinson

    Greece is west of Persia not east.

  3. Irene

    All the hating comments only proves one its ok guys, we can not all be lucky enough to be Greeks. I am not even going to go in the process of telling you how wrong your non fact comments are because you already know that. Take a seat and shut up.

  4. Women SK

    As dawn broke Xerxes sat upon his portable throne overlooking the sea, and prepared to relish his victory over the defiant Greeks. However, as his vast armada sailed into the narrow straits between Salamis and the coast, they were met not by a fleet in disarray, but a well-ordered line of triremes, packed with Greek crewmen singing battle songs. Themistocles had forced them to fight.

  5. Charles Budde

    "THIS" is a top documentary?! This is a very poor video that has clearly had a lot of work put into it.

  6. Phillip Thomson

    Yes, Greece was influenced particularly by Egypt, and the Greeks made no bones about it. They made many references to this. But what the Greeks accomplished, especially in such a short period of time, was something so unique, so extraordinary and so powerful that it has deeply influenced our entire world to this very day and set the Gold Standards of which almost every nation on earth aspires to. The Olympics, Theatre and Drama - Trajedy and Comedy, Philosophy through which Science was born from, and the most powerful concept ever conceived to date - the concept and beginning practice of Democracy. There were innumerable other unique accomplishes beyond that just listed.
    The Greeks were not perfect, but the Greeks set the very foundations of who we are today. The Greeks created something truly astounding that made us what we are today even after two and a half thousand years. And to think that all what we currently know of and have been influenced by only represents about an estimated 5% of their total achievements. Most of Greek learning and achievements was destroyed by a Christian Bishop Theopilus as he and his mad monks burned down the Library of Alexandria in 391 AD. Way to go Christians!!
    We have so much we owe and still have so much yet to learn from the ancient Greeks.
    And yes, I am a student of Eastern Philosophy and Religion for there is much beautiful wisdom and learning to be found in such a culture and civilization as it is to found in the East. But, again for what the Greeks have accomplished and had passed down to us as a gift, but to use wisely, there is still no comparison!!!
    And I am not Greek!

    1. Andy

      This is untrue.

  7. Mette Thue

    There are alot of uncorrect facts in this documentary..

    1. Grammar Teacher

      I don't think anyone who thinks "alot" is a word gets to comment on "uncorrect" facts. And if they're facts, they're not incorrect.

  8. Alexander Svensson

    Ancient Greeks are 100% ALBANIAN ANCESTORS! The modern greek is a mix of diffrent breeds!

    1. Angelakatis4

      lol wtf? Hellenic (Greek) tribes is thousand years older than Pre-Albanian tribes. wtf is wrong with you people?

    2. Alexander Edgar Hickton

      That's actually very untrue and completely clueless for your dumb reasoning to say. Go get back to your animal tribe, humiliated monkey and then try to learn how to get down from your dirty tree, unwashed brainless animal.

      As my mother always said that truthful quote: "The end. Only Greece has civilization." and she was completely right since even USA can't invent absolutely nothing without 10000 Greek great scientific geniusses working there and inventing miraculous godly and magnificent useful achievements. Greece is the godliest brightest cradle of the most perfectly light of civilization and the ONLY civilization on the omniverse, so go cure your delusions which are truly and clearly occupy your poor pathetic mind.

  9. Steven Schroeder

    That was really fantastic! Highly recommended.

  10. Code Monkey

    These Empire series are awesome. Now where's the rest of them?

  11. Code Monkey

    This is the best sh*t ever! Where's the rest of the series?

  12. Daniel Ros

    But I am human so these are my ancestors as are you my cousin.

  13. John Christopher McDonald

    This documentary flows really slowly. It's great for smoking to.

  14. Rafael Roos Guthmann

    The ammount of BS in these comments is absurd. First, the Greeks did not influence our civilization: the Greeks are our civilization. The entire modern world came out of western civilization and western civilization came out of Greece. All the foundations for our modern culture, science, arts and philosophy came from Greece.

    Athens was the single most important and influential city state in classical greece, so it would be natural that it would be the focus of a documentary about Classical Greece. That's not bias, that's focus. Also we do not have much information regarding other city states contemporary with Athens. So the focus on Athens is also due to the constrains on the surviving sources.

    The documentary is excellent. However there are some flaws: for instance at the beginning it is said that life expectancy in classical greece was 15 years. That's incorrect: modern studies on bone remains showed that life expectancy was around 35 years in classical greece, having increased by 10 years from the archaic period, indicating improving living standards. A life expectancy of only 15 years wouldn't be possible for long as population levels would decline surely.

    They also say that life was harsh brutish and short in ancient greece, that's not correct. Life was not that bad: in Athens a unskilled worker needed to work for only 50 days in order to make the income needed to purchase wheat for the whole year for a family of 4. Clearly to have the free time to do philosophy, arts, etc, would mean that living standards weren't that bad. Other ancient societies had terrible standards of living but the Greeks were different, in the same way they developed democracy and freedom while all other societies were tyrannies.

    1. Daniel Ros

      And your idea of archaic life expectancy is also flawed. Hunter gathers had the best nutrition the best physical activity and the least stressful lives given that they were not at war. To say they died young is simplistic and ignores mounds of evidence that contradicts that idea.

    2. robin propst

      You say that the greeks are our civilazation , this is is an absurd claim. a) you would have to skipp the whole idéa of cristendome ( if not Jesus was infact greek ? b) you wouldhave to skip the roman herritage ( this is the two biggest influences on the worlds history) C)? all the world ? the greek idéas did not have any inpact what so ever in say China.

      you say that the greek had no tyrants ?
      well i could write a lot for exampel Dionysios the older ruler off Syracuse.

      and last do you say that grecce had a democray , well for one a) the slaves had no vote ( oh i forgot did you say that the greeks injoind freedom) and then the wommens who didtent have a vote either.

      exusse me if this is a littel harsh but: WAKE UP

    3. Alexander Edgar Hickton

      That's the most autistic and dumbest propaganda I have read so far, robin propst. Greece didn't influence China? Actually what you said so far are obviously clueless and outright useless pieces of information. GREECE MADE CHINA. How? In reality Greece delivered its godly masterpiece of civilization to China during the period of Alexander The Great when Chinese didn't even know how to eat and talk. Alexander made Pankration fighting popular in China and that's why Chinese Martial Arts are originally GREEK. Chinese invented the mythical story of a fake Indian inventor of their martial arts and they also made up other stories about them inventing their own martial arts 1000 years ago when they didn't even know how to think back then. Why they did all that? To hide their own very humiliating embarassement knowing the factual proof that everything was invented by the GREEKS like Western Europeans and Americans did and do today in order to make everyone understimate the GREEK pride and the GREEK soul for not inventing much. So, what you have said so far is inaccurate since Ancient China didn't even exist, it was a deceptive fairytaile to fool the fools and I already provided much truthful proof for that and yeah I did. Even China today has an ill version of Greek democracy, logical thinking, scientific inventions and sciences. Now go read a history book and next time learn the alphabet, learn how to count and how to think. Oh, Christendom was also invented by the GREEK Byzantines, you have nothing here and you had nothing there. If we die the world will fall in darkness, so live with your brainwashing lies you believe in.

  15. Yiorgos Papadimas

    havent seen the doc yet, but i have read most of the comments. i will agree with epicurean logic that the modern way of thinking is greatly influenced by the teachings of ancient greece.
    Because one cannot understand it as he/she is growing up doesnt mean that its not there, unless you believe that any person below a certain age threshold is nothing more than a cro-magnon. You might think that something is common knowledge but make no mistake. it's not. because you are raised to know that when you are falling sick an aggressive virus is hosted in your body, it doesnt mean that people from ancient times believed that as well. because you are raised to hold some ideals, it doesnt mean that these ideals were respected throughout the human history.
    True, ancient greece practised slavery. And what of it? Of course by the way our society has evolved the last - hmmm- 2500 years slavery is unacceptable, and who can tell what would be unacceptable in another 2500 thousand years.. Hunger? maybe.
    To try to compare a civilisation that existed 2500 ago by todays standards is at the very least ludicrous. To even mention that women couldnt vote back then is laughable.. i will remind the user (i cant remember whom) that wrote this, that women's vote in the western civilisation is a quite a new thing...
    Even the comment of the last user about Napoleon is a bit out of place. I agree with him 100%, but it is not applicable in this case.
    This ancient history has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with nationalism, and how nations (particulary winners) bend the facts to their liking.
    There is a very simple reason that ancient greek history has been elevated at such a high status. It has really influenced everything we see around us. From architecture to mathematics, from oratory to the arts. Everything (and when i say everything, i mean by the western standard of life) is influenced by these ideas and ideals that the greek civilisation gave to the world. Even the way of war with its organised infantry battalions has its roots there. The list is to big.
    I will not even comment on what some illirianpapyrus or something said about the "ancient albanian" race.

  16. Yusiley S

    *looks over at comments* Wow... some people must remember the words of Bonaparte Napoleon... "History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon." Highly mistaken as "History is written by the victors." Therefore of course the historical events from neighboring nations and especially the history in many of the countries in Africa aren't known. Whoever has the financial means will be the ones who control what will be taught and what is deemed as "important" (what's important to you may not be so for someone else). I know about my European roots, it has been pounded into my skull since the day I stepped into a classroom, but what about my Taino roots, and my deep down Yoruba roots? Those are tossed to the back burner and forgotten, yet the history of those nations had influenced a lot in my family and even the cultures that are within Cuba today. Unfortunately, only European and Asian nations are focused in the curriculum of schools...and not even all of the nations within these continents are explored. Shoot even Australia has disappeared from worth history books. If we're talking about knowing about ones history and about not denying those civilizations that has influenced modern world, than you HAVE to include ALL of the history of every nation on the planet, because each one had influenced humanity in one form or another.

    1. Daniel Ros

      That would depend on written documents and past on stories. Your right and your wrong. This documentary is about the most significant culture to contemporary western thought. And I'm not Greek.

  17. Dietrich

    I hate pretentious persons, its a documentary it has to be vaguely entertaining to say they left some info out, of course they did if they were to go into all details it would take days to watch and a fortune to make. If it is such a terrible doc then make your own seriously

  18. PatricktheAtheist

    I love all these fools that think athens isn't a democracy just because only male citizens could vote. The liberation of slaves, women, minorities, etc is called emancipation r****ds. In their time their society was the most advanced on earth: look at all the achievements athens made in just a handful of years- no other civilization has ever built such an environment. Its citizens felt and were truly free and indeed were more free and had more control of their government than anyone does today. All the western countries today aren't even democracies! They are modeled after Rome. The voters make almost no important decisions; all we get to do is elect corrupt retards that will accept massive bribes from corporations to take away our jobs and deny us healthcare. I have no doubt that if athens existed today women would vote and slavery would be abolished. Athens existed over 2000 years ago and you want to judge them by today's standards? Go get a real education instead of watching docs and reading wikipedia.

    1. Guest

      That's funny, I thought Athens does exist today. Must have an outdated map. Silly me.

    2. Yusiley S

      Very well said, though I would've used the thesaurus to replace the vulgar vocabulary words, but that's just me. Anyways I agree with the main point of your message. If the Athenian civilization continued on into present times, I think they would out do all of todays' societies and cultures. Not only would women vote and slavery be abolished, but that the wages of men and women would truly be equal pay for equal work... total equality for all citizens. They would be one the most democratic, wealthiest, strongest and greatest nation on Earth. Unfortunately, civilizations die off before they can reach to the point of being perfect. With this said, If given a choice to go back in time I would still prefer to visit ancient Egypt, since women had more rights in this culture than that of Athens. :) Also you are correct about modern governments...they are a republic not democratic. Peace be.

  19. Layla Phelps

    I love Greek culture. I am not Greek but I adore the history of this beautiful place. I guess I am pretty biased because my father gave me the middle name of Irene the Greek Goddess of Peace. Eirene

    1. kompikos

      @Layla Phelps: actually Irene also means peace in modern Greek :) My best friend's name is Irene :)) beautiful name!

  20. Chelsea19

    Its strange how they call Athens a democracy that emphasizes freedom and Persia a slavery based empire that emphasizes obedience when the only Athenians that could vote were men, women could not vote and the Athenians all owned slaves! How conveniently this has been forgotten to glory the west and vilify the east as barbarians. Not only that but the only reason Cleisthenes gave power to the people was because he knew that was the only way in which he could stay in power, he was an aristocrat through and through and had he been given the chance he would have kept the oligarchy that was in place before Pisitratus! A typical American documentary with very subtle forms of propaganda especially at this time.

  21. ilyrianpyrus

    People for got that the Illyrians were the sea people, with rich hisotry which still going today,the albanian. The Illyrians are known as Greeks to the world, but they were much different from the Greeks, they had thier own language and culture, which is today albanian. to much prapaganda from the greeks today, forgot that they Illyrians were the most powerfull people, the first Queen Teuta was the first Queen tobe known ruling the ancient world, which shows that they illyrians women had their freedome to be rullers. when u see soldiers and gods wearing white hats and fustanela, the albaians still wear them today. to back up, look at the 18 and 19 century, the albanians south of the albanian with fustanella and white hats and north albanians with white hats and albanian costum. Epiru which is known from the King Pyrus of Epirus, they were all the albanians and non of them spoke greek, during the greeke independence war, 80% of the soldiers were from south of Albanian, and wearing the fustanella, they onely thing in commmon they had with the greeks were religious.

    1. oxapampa

      Absolutely false!!! Albanians are nothing more than eastern Turks that migrated their in 1323......

    2. Thomas_Newfield

      Hmm then why does Albanian language bear no relation whatsoever to Turkish?

      A bit sad that even here neo-Nazi fantasies may intrude. I suggest if you are looking for some direct cultural links with humanistic aspects of ancient Greece one place you might look is within modern Albanian (and Anatolian) Alevi traditions.

    3. Alsatdarkman

      why you Greeks Like all ways be "clever" mix thinks...and misled people.
      Is you Greeks who gave Turkish even your as and Serbs who gave King daughter and not Albanian who fight with them for defending the Christianity...
      Do not forget Greek was Alvanitas=Albanians who liberate you from Turkish .
      And do not forget the New story and glory of Greece is create from Bavarian Lord...who actually was trying to create some kind of State of Myth...think the Same place today Germany regraded to take our of ever think they gave..

    4. Thomas_Newfield

      Think you need to brush up your English mate - not really getting the gist of that. By the way I'm not Greek, tho' I wouldn't be any less right (or wrong) if I was.

    5. Angelakatis4

      go back to your cave Mongol. Your message is monstrosity of ignorance.

    6. Effie Chantzos

      You must be dreaming!...You have nothing to do with the Greek culture, you have nothing to do with Epirus and King Pyrrhus.. He was king of the Greek tribe of Molossians,of the royal Aeacid house from circa 297 BC, and later he became king of Epirus... The fustanella was derived from a series of classical Greek garments such as the chiton (or tunic) and the chitonium or short military tunic. The pleated kilt has been linked to an ancient statue 3rd century BC located in the area around the Acropolis in Athens...You Albanians adopted it from the Greeks,and that's a fact! Teuta was not the first Queen to rule the ancient world..Greece had Kings and Queens since the dawn of time! There were .. Antiochis,Gorgo, Queen of Sparta,Antigone of Epirus,
      Arsinoe II,Cleopatra of Macedon,Olympias,Queen Clytemnestra
      Queen Helen of Sparta and many many more!...Behave now like a good boy,and leave the big talk aside! DISTORTION IS A CRIME!

  22. ilyrianpyrus


  23. ilyrianpyrus


  24. ilyrianpyrus

    what about the Illyrians, poeople forget that they were the birth of the gods, what u call them now the greek gods, the Illyrians had is known to the world as the Greek, but they had thier own language and culture, which is today albanian, and as u can see some good wearing the white hap, made of wool, Qeleshe in albanian, that the albanians still wear it today, also the fustanelly, people still wear it in south albania, which was called Epiru. also to back up see some albanian soldiers in 18 and 19 century, south albanian with fustanelly and whict hat, and north albanian with white hat! Illyrian were the sea poeple.

    1. ordinaryLEE

      greek gods hahaha if only my friend.Our history would be better for it ..No such thing as a god as you know

  25. ilyrianpyrus

    peolpe dont know that the Illyrian have been the kings of the sea and thier history is forgoten, or in mention as greeks, and Illyrian History is the birth of the democracy, the world nows the Illyriansa as greeks, but they had thier own language, which is today albanian. Epiri (south albania) is the Birth the goods!

    1. ordinaryLEE

      its forgotten because like other myths they disappear with time

  26. Chris Chase-Onions

    The documentary is decent, however it a very apparent Athenian bias.

  27. Epicurean_Logic

    To all that are denying the value of Greek history and its effect on the modern world. You really are being childish and silly. It's like denying your mother and father, however much you think that you don't resemble them or that you'll never be like them or whatever else... you are really just denying your own base nature. The ideas developed by the Greeks are so fundamentally ingrained into the human psyche that to remove or reject them is not even possible.

    Being childish, argumentative, rebellious and blinkered doesn't exempt you from the benefits bestowed upon you by the fathers of modern thought however much you deny it.

    You deny your own self and fail to see the causes put into play by the ancients and their effects upon you. There is no need to list the benefits, direct and indirect, that you have received from the ancients because if you don't have the ability to see what they are or the honesty to admit them, then frankly you are beyond help at the present moment in time.

    Some of the arguments that imply that the knowledge of the ancients was basic and obvious are just laughable. If they were so obvious then why didn't any other peoples write them down with such detail and energy until a thousand years later? And why were these ideas the foundation and direct cause of the great European revival and renaissance? Just because our tech-level is so far ahead of people who lived over 2000 years ago (duh, what do you expect?) you imply that their findings were trivial! If you like I will send you some basic Archimedean problems solved by the great man and we can see how far you can get with them!

    Ad hominem arguments of 'goat herders' just border on the racist and you should be ashamed of yourself at stooping so low in attacking the object of your hate. But for the life of me I cannot fathom why you hate the Greeks so much?

    Again I re-iterate. Whether you realise it or not to deny the greatness of the Greeks is to fundamentally deny your own self and to act lie a spoilt and ungrateful child.

    1. MaximesMC

      Well said!

      P.s. You are my idol here on TDF. Keep up the good work.

  28. Hector Velez

    Regardless of the veracity, or lack of it, in this documentary the opinions and the debates it sparked in the replies were just as interesting as the documentary itself.

    1. MaximesMC

      Who doesn't enjoy a mass-debate :) It's human nature. Nah, but in all seriousness, I agree. Subjects that evoke passion (such as this) is truly a beautiful thing.

  29. Tryfon Farmakakis

    After watching the first half of the documentary I decided not to go on watching for the following two main reasons, the second being the most important.
    1. It is elementary. It didn't add almost nothing new to my knowledge.
    2. There are grave historical omissions and in all the whole story is presented in a -possibly intentionally- biased way. Some examples:
    - It revolves exclusively around Athens and no mention is made to the other Greek cities and their role and participation in events.
    - The history of the evolution of democracy in Athens is presented poorly, to say the least. Kleisthenis is characterized like the man who put democracy in place which is a completely wrong to say. He was just the first of a series of lawmakers who introduced democratic reforms and the system he implemented was far from democratic. I suppose, for example, that no mention is being made later in the documentary to Ephialtes, the lawmaker from the common people -and not the aristocrats- who radicalized the system rendering it more democratic than it had ever been until then. Democracy in ancient Athens was a continuously evolving system, a continuous revolution one could say. A system where everything was questioned and changed every single day and therefore it should be no surprise that it gave birth to philosophy, drama, historiography, the sciences etc
    - No mention at all is being made to what democracy meant for the Athenians and the institutions which realized it. No mention for example that the Athenians, having debated and discussed extensively upon systems of government, regarded representation, elections and professional judges and politicians as characteristics of oligarchic regimes, and on the other hand direct participation in all forms of power, lot, officials controlled by the assembly, with short terms and recallable at any time, as characteristics of democracy. Obviously to my eyes, this is done intentionally from the part of the documentary makers in order to obscure the startling differences between true democracy and today's "democracies". The fact that the whole story of Athens is presented like it revolved exclusively around charismatic figures, with aristocratic origins, who pretty much manipulated the people however they wanted adds to this. In my mind this is done in order to intentionally draw parallels between ancient Athens and its empire and modern US and its empire. Nothing further from the truth. Parallelizing modern US with ancient Rome would be much more accurate. The fact that the Romans always marveled and envied the Athenian culture and never managed to produce anything as original and as marvelous in their multi-century empire as the Athenians did in a couple of centuries but made merely bad copies of the Greek works speaks by itself.

    I bet that I would discover another dozen of objections if I kept on watching, but I couldn't stand it anymore.

    1. Guest

      I am sure including yours, there would have been thousands of ways to make this movie. What i command is the fact that someone has an idea and does it. If you want to make a better one, i would gladly see it, you really appear to know a lot....please do..and tell us where to find it.
      In everything we can find faults as in "modern art"(since we are being shown a couple docs on the subject) we can find ugliness. Tell us the things you thought were OK, just to see if you took the time to look for them at any moment.


    2. ?????

      I find your comment bitter. Every film is bound to be subjected in both positive as well as negative reviews. Thats why they are released to the public.

  30. Amy van den Enden

    Absolute drivel. Saddening to the core.

    Not one mention or I should say complete selective representation of the ancient Greek society.

    They keep going on and on about democracy, this is Greek democracy a SLAVE society in which only non slave males can vote.

    This gross omission of the facts is a distortion worse then lying about it.
    During these times women in the tribal north had positions from higher to equality to men.
    Societies there were vastly different including models more democratic then the Greeks could ever dream of.

    Has anyone ever read Socrates and so on, 99% of their work doesn't get further then a proper phrasing of COMMON knowledge, the reason they are revered is that they were rich slave holders with all the spare time on their hands to compile knowledge.

    So sorry if I don't buy into the deeply racist nationalistic propaganda they left behind for us to copy paste as history as good little sheepish inferior races.
    Try finding socrates explanations why slaves ought to be slaves, and the examinations of different races of slaves and their clearly inferior minds but useful traits as physical laborers.

    1. Farking Spamhell

      Well said!

      A bunch of sheep herders that got lucky.

      The same drivel keeps getting rammed down our throats like it was all destined just for us and how we should all be so grateful.

    2. Tryfon Farmakakis

      I haven't seen the doc yet but I know a thing or two about ancient Greece.
      I've heard the argument about slavery a thousand times. It is similar to the argument about war. It fails to see the historical context. Slavery was everywhere in the ancient world and it was accepted as something as natural for the losers in war back then as it is accepted today to go to jail for your crimes. In the ancient world, slavery was everywhere, democracy though appeared only in ancient Greece, most notably Athens. And if you've studied you would know that slaves in ancient Athens where treated so well that you couldn't make them out from normal citizens in the street. People from other oligarchic cities in ancient Greece were mocking the Athenians for this. (By the way slavery was abolished in the US quite recently if I am not mistaken. And you assume I suppose that there isn't there any today, eh? Well take a look at the US prison system. Last time I checked the prison population is the highest in the world, more than 2 million today, in a private prison system, working and producing for no payment. Slavery from the back door I would say. Today you go to prison for debts. When the Athenian people revolted and established democracy, slavery as a consequence of failure to pay off debts was one of the main reasons. They abolished it right afterwards. I believe it still exists in the modern western world though.)
      The other argument about them having slaves therefore having time to worry about the commons, discuss about things, take part in the administration, the courts etc is not even worth wasting my time on. It can be easily refuted by the same observation. Slavery was everywhere, democracy appeared only there. The ancients believed that to participate in the commons was one of your most important obligations and the people who didn't, the "idiotes" (=private citizens. That's where the modern ?nglish word idiots comes from) were regarded as worthless.
      With regards to the Greeks having racist views and attempting to excuse slavery philosophically on these grounds is unfortunately true, with regards to Aristotles at least, who tried to do this (pathetic effort, very sad for a thinker of his magnitude). It is true that ancient Athenians were arrogant and they thought that not all of the people had the potential to be free. That's what they thought about the Persian people for example because they found it incomprehensible, being used in freedom themselves, how the Persian people tolerated living like this. But at the same time there existed philosophical schools and rhetors in Athens which argued against slavery. Pretty impressive eh? Well at least in Athens they had the right to argue for something, which was totally against the dominant beliefs, publicly, without being threatened to be burn in the stake.
      With regards to women not having political rights, well every society which organizes itself democratically has to decide who gets to have political rights and who doesn't. At the time in Athens as well as in a large part of the known world the womens place was inferior. But before rushing to condemn them think about when did the women gain full political rights in the modern West?
      You refer to societies which had more democratic models than the ancient Athenians. Gimme a documented example please because what you say is interesting and I didn't know about it.
      And with regards to Socrates, first you can't read him because he never wrote anything, second you should mind your words because if you conduct "hyvris" then "nemesis" will eventually find you, as the Greeks used to say.

      By the way, there exists no democracy anywhere in the world today as far as I know and there hasn't practically been any since Alexander the Great murdered it for good in ancient Greece. Since then the most progressive thing we've had has been mere republics, oligarchies in other words, modeled according to the ancient Roman one.

    3. Amy van den Enden

      Whahaha, I am sorry this was really hilarious.
      For the dozens of posts I have received about being a-historic a-scientific and having an emotional response I can only see a severe lack of introspection on behalf of many bookworm here trying to elevate their narcissism with intellectual swordsmanship.
      If truly you were so scientific non emotional and rational you would have gone for the arguments represented instead of attacking my person and then saying what I said in other words.
      Furthermore I referred to the Greek as rich slave holders not Socrates personally.
      He might not have documented but documented he was.

      You talk of back in the days when people were still retarded.
      I don't think the way you do, everyone is responsible for their own actions regardless of social climate or what have you.
      I will speak for myself when I say that at an early age I explored my own mind and any time I read the great philosophers I merely see old concepts regurgitated.
      You can argue that I was influenced by them by social climate and I would call you desperate and mad cause I know my own upbringing.

      OKay so just for clarity I agree with some things you mention and this post is a response to all the replies I cannot reply to piece for piece. not just you but mostly.

      I will give you a response for a more civilized form of "demos cratos".
      Using ones own mind and not the preset notions of what something is supposed to mean "aka" democracy as a majority dictates system.
      "The people rules" really only exists in anarchism, statelessness.
      free cooperation.

      As you I don't believe democracy to the full term of the word exists anywhere in the world today.
      If you look at it mathematically it becomes ridiculous the more you way in the appropriate factors.
      I do not understand why you create this attempt to a personal attack referring to slavery in the penitentiary system in the U.S.A.
      I am quite aware of it, dislike it and can do just about nothing about it.

      You do point out quite rightly that I mixed up socrates with aristotle.
      I will admit to not being a walking dictionary but being very intimate with the general outline and the critical content of a subject.

      I go more with a Daoistic outlook then a western absolutist mentality, I will allow myself the room to unlearn and mistake given I don't generate complete hogwash and can bring across my understanding of things.

      Now to speak of more democratic societies, tribal life everywhere that it is found is in essence vastly more democratic then states.
      Wherever this model was found it was eradicated.
      Many tribes all around the world have social structures dating back forever you merely need to pick a couple of names to gather this information.
      Outside of their time frame though.
      To truly go into detail about this would be insanity but I do suggest you look at the northern European tribes, they were vastly different in social behaviors but the Celts having a warrior Queen riding her chariot to battle would be an indication.
      Unfortunately the Northern tribes were woodworkers, no metals or clay or clear-cut industrial enablers like olive oil.
      The Iroquois are a beautiful example as well.
      Unfortunately those with hearts of stone will grind away anything that is not of stone.
      And so the "gentiles" are eradicated.

      I just find it sad that the Greek essentially have a massive cloud of magic hanging around them to stupidify the masses with.

      But my main difference with you and the "scientific mindset" you represent is the fanatic unsaid assumption history is a darwinistic process in all shapes and forms.
      Which I find ridiculous because history disappears as fast as it is made.
      Can societies learn yes, can they forget yes as well.
      We simply can't see back much further then the greek times.
      I see the Greeks and the Romans like Freud annexing a heap of insights others came up with and boasting ones achievements.
      And then us being sucked into a morphing power center of corruption turning from Greece to Rome to the
      Catholic church etc. etc. propagating greatness being handed out like candy.
      And Im sure you are familiar with how the Church had a hand into leaving only one kind of truth, not so much by repression but by preferring Latin.
      But enough of the swordsmanship.
      Sorry for posting on my wife's account.
      P.S. It would have be nice if you try to keep from posting a WALL of text, and thank you for replying with actual arguments unlike most people.

    4. John

      good criticism, but dont take the doc personal, you didnt have to watch it. It seems to be for the uneducated anyway, the educated would know better.
      it is foolish to get mad at the drivethrough window of burgerking when they mess up your order. this is all I see this doc as.

    5. Tryfon Farmakakis

      I kinda fail to understand how you regard Amy van den Enden's criticism as a good one and at the same time you like mine. Amy's arguments are elementary and show big ignorance in history as well as science.

    6. tomregit

      @ Amy ven den Enden
      If you think that Greek philosophy has been studied for over two thousand years because it is merely a "proper phrasing of COMMON knowledge" (whatever that means) you are sadly mistaken. Socrates did not write anything for you to have read, he was far from rich, and he did not own slaves. He did justify slavery, but like everyone, he was a product of his time; slavery was universally accepted. Probably his best known maxim is "know thyself". Plato records him saying, as he prepared to sip from his deadly cup, "The hour of departure has arrived and we go our ways, I to die, and you to live. Which is better the gods only know". A brave and wise man dispensing "common knowledge".
      The Athenian's relationship to their polis ran far deeper than in today's representative democracies. They did not accidentally stumble into democracy, but debated at length the best form of government.
      The very foundation of our traditions and understanding of philosophy, ethics, logic, mathematics, geometry, government and countless other studies are so deeply rooted in ancient Greece that perhaps you perceive them as "common knowledge".
      I have not viewed the documentary, but am about to now. I could not resist my impulse to reply to your angry tirade first.

    7. Amy van den Enden

      I thought I would give you a personal response.
      I actually think debating and the so called Greek democratic model is an abomination.
      How often does debating get to a mutual understanding.
      In practical terms it really equates to intellectual poop slinging.
      The largest problem with this is highly self defeating.
      The more complex a society becomes the less useful it becomes, simply because everyone becomes uneducated and opinionated with philosophies that never touch the ground.
      Because lets face it man kind thinks magically.

      "If I stick to neo-Liberalism everthing will work out"
      Feel free to replace neo-liberalism with socialism communism pray 4 times a day, take 1 vitamine-C pill a day.

      As you said that slavery was commonly accepted, I agree with Tryfon Farmakakis that it never disappeared.
      So I don't look down upon the ancients with "they didn't know better" in the back of my mind.

      The they or we didn't know argument is actually so classic its not even funny.
      "wir habben es nicht gewust" (Germans after world war 2 "we didnt know"), there is some good literature on slavery that makes perfect sense but is still not excusable.

      Actually quite the nice quotation, forgot the author but a souther critique of the north saying that.(American civil war)

      "You say we in the South are uncivilized, because our laborers are our property.
      Yet you hire your poor for whatever sum you please and discard them without any responsibility whenever you please.
      Where as we own our slaves and have incentive to keep them healthy."
      Not word for word exactly but the message in a nutshell.
      Conditions in slavery were improving in the south, I still wouldn't defend it with, it was normal those days and go from there.

      P.S. I dont mean that the Greek model doesn't work it is just not a fit all model, only on small scale actually.
      And since it can't grow cause its state based it is not the solution in my opinion.

    8. Vandermoore

      What is saddening to the core is that in your critique you are doing the exact same thing as this documentary, which is viewing history through modern glasses and judging it by today's standards and values.

    9. Serban Dragulin

      You clearly have no idea what you're talking about. You cannot READ Socrates, as Socrates never wrote anything. You can only read Plato's dialogues which reference Socrates as the main character of the debate. Moreover, if you read the dialogues, you realize that Socrates criticized COMMON knowledge and his society. THAT'S WHY HE WAS SENTENCED TO DEATH!! Even more important, the status of slaves in Athens was not the same as what we now call slavery. No master could punish his slave without proper trial, slaves could buy their freedom, they were protected against rape, etc. Just give me a freaking break with the "racist" and "nationalistic" labels.

    10. Amy van den Enden

      I am referring to actual Greek consensus of the time.
      You might not like it but yes aristotle did compliment on different races of slaves a beast of burden.
      And described their inferiority, if you cant handle that then that is non of my concern.
      As to it not being the same concept of the modern concept slave, seriously now. tskk tskk tskk.
      Look I'm not saying the Greek were backwards I just don't attribute to them what most do.

      Why? Because I understand how history is written.
      If you did you might have made an argument instead of attacking my person like empty words like, "give me a break".
      Acting like I'm denying Greek history is merely putting words in my mouth.

      Socrates was an interesting fellow I just don't feel like accepting history as a ready meal.
      History takes up way too little space in society, it is all centralized around Rome and Greece to the point that northern people don't even give a crap about their own.
      Not that it isn't there it is just not valued.
      And half of the history that is there is highly distorted because historians create a consensus of intellectual atmosphere.
      If you knew how much peer pressure rapes the history books you would think differently.

      There is a large panel of officials that decide what history is or isn't dumbing us all down.

  31. Taras Moskvichov

    overall its a good doc, but some turning points are unfortunately left out. I.e the full story of Phidippides ends abruptly and the spartan´s involvement is kind of missing...

    1. Tryfon Farmakakis

      Actually overall it is not a good doc at all, especially from a scientific perspective. Read mine as well as Vandermoore's comments.

    2. Vandermoore

      Actually, I would be inclined to say it is a fine documentary for people that know little about the subject, as an intro into ancient Greek history. A couple of years ago I would probably have enjoyed it thoroughly, and perhaps be inspired to further my knowledge of the subject.
      That is perhaps all we should ask of these documentaries, that they interest people and stimulate them to find out more, find out better and maybe, just maybe, read a book.

  32. Vandermoore

    This documentary should be called: The Athenians, for it completely ignores the role of the other Greeks, except when they appear as the bad guys. The Spartans did in fact march to aid the Athenians at Marathon; the Battle of Thermopylai is left out, as is the major role in art and culture of the Ionian city states, which in fact preceded that of Athens. I guess the valor and greatness of the non-democratic city-states doesn't strengthen the point, which seems to me very American, moralistic and anachronistic. While very shiny and dramatic, this documentary should hardly be valued for its scientific approach to history or its accuracy.

  33. RileyRampant

    the greeks invented, apparently: democracy, taxonomy, a formal system of disputation / rhetoric, a western dramatic tradition, a western aesthetic tradition, a western ethical tradition, a range of philosophical systems radiating from both the objective and the ideal, a transformed ideal of the great man from a simple warlord to one congenial within a civil order.

    in short, they provided a template for modernity.

    not too shabby for a few hundred years of cultural evolution, amidst the great empires of the day.

    did they invent everything? no. has anyone said they did? no.

    if the impulse exists to deride them, that stems from something unreasonable and injudicious.

    the greeks were simply an amazing people. the greatest, certainly, within the western world. their pattern greatly influenced the world in which they lived, judeochristian & arab thought thereafter, and fueled, millenia later, a renaissance (with a lot of help from the arabs, who preserved their record amidst the intervening lost age)

  34. MaximesMC

    @ tariqxl

    I'm inclined to agree with your point, despite your undervaluations of Greece. Yet I'm averse to accept the views of Farking Spamhell.

    It is true, the Chinese and the Arabic world (and, yes, perhaps the world over, in their own rights) no doubt founded a great many of the intellectual properties we use, and are grateful for, today. The spiritual influence, too, of the east, is profound.

    I hold no bias to either the west nor the east. I simply tend towards deploring the views (such as is Farking Spamhell's), in which the ancient civilizations and their people are disrespected, arrogantly ignored and disregarded.


  35. Farking Spamhell

    "The Greeks: A bunch of goat herders that got lucky"

    Simplistic and theatrical documentary.

    The usual "freedom" this "democracy" that through modern naive tinted glasses.

    Although it was nice to see how mob rule, violence, vanity and self interest eventually reigns. A lesson from history or more like a glimpse into our future.

    1. extremiste100

      you said it man!

    2. MaximesMC

      Are you serious?! The Greeks (and the Romans) gave us pretty much everything we have today. I think you should realize the culture of the times. War and violence was the custom of any ancient civilization-- and can you not deny that of our own times?

      The Greeks have influenced any civilization that have followed since; especially through Socrates and his philosophic ideals.

      Do you think we'd have the sciences, and human rights if it were not for Socrates and the Greeks? or ethics? I doubt it.

      Socrates and his students changed the way we think about everything in life, influencing the way we think and live even today, two thousand years later.

      We owe much to the Greeks, (and the Romans). Argue as you like, and I'm happy to be on the receiving end, but I think you're being quite ignorant.

    3. Farking Spamhell

      Imagine in about 2000 years when people look back at this era and say. "Wow without Google and Apple we would not have had computers or the internet".

    4. tariqxl

      He has got a point, from the Chinese art of war and gun powder to Arabic farming and sciences the Greeks have only contributed as much as Africa, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Isreal. Influence is seen through out mankinds history, the chinese had tomes on the funtcion of the heart before the ancient egyptians were using hieroglyphs

    5. tanzanos

      Goat herders? Perhaps it is you who is the goat herder! Ungrateful is how I will describe you!

    6. krissto0871

      Well, considering the fact that your ancestors, during that period, were probably still living in caves, it's not so bad with what the ancient Greeks achieved.

    7. Epicurean_Logic

      Your thoughts are shallow and inpenetrable. Shame the same can't be said about your arsehole. You obviously have a chip on your shoulder about the Greeks, get over it!

    8. Tryfon Farmakakis

      To call a people's revolt and conscious invention of a system which secured in the best way possible the equality of power amongst everyone mere luck is pathetic, to say the least and you are as well. You live today in a system which renders you as free as a fly in a sealed glass vessel. Yet you do nothing about it and moreover you have the nerve to mock those who didn't just do something about it, but actually invented a groundbreaking system and fought every single day to keep it alive and make it even more democratic than the day before.

      I suppose you enjoy watching mob rule, violence and self interest to reign because it fits your character. Pathetic and cowardous to say the least.

  36. Squeezle42

    Very informative, I recommend it purely for the Greek history, although I agree with equidae a little melodramatic at times. Well put together, and of good quality in my opinion.

    I would also recommend the free Philosophy Course on 'Death' (Class Title) Which also goes into a lot of the Greek frame of mind and some history. Not sure how links work here so will tell you how to get there :p google search 'Academic Earth' and from their search you can just type 'Death' to get his course.

    I am not affiliated with that website, but it and Top Docs are my two web browser windows :p Almost every course you could want to learn for free from Academic Earth, and then some mellow learning from here, a winning mix ;)

  37. Squeezle42

    Edit: Removed double post

  38. equidae

    A little melodramatic at times. But as everyone else says one of the best if not the best on ancient greece, and amongst the best documentaries on any subject.

  39. tanzanos

    Excellent documentary. Once more thanks Vlatko

  40. MaximesMC

    Great documentary film. This is probably the best documentary on ancient Greece you're ever likely to watch. 5*

  41. MaximesMC

    Great documentary film. This is the best documentary on ancient Greece you're ever likely to watch. 5*

  42. canrespub

    First! Best. Documentary. Ever.