Social Context

Social Information

In comparison to today, Greece was a very different place.  Instead of being a unified state, Greece was made up of many small independent city-states.  Three important ones were Athens, Thebes and Sparta.  These independent city-states had differing views and systems on politics and culture and so frequently there was conflict. Throughout the fifth century, Athens grew in power and took charge over many smaller city-states.  Probably because of this rapid growth, leading philosophers, poets, scientists, artists, rhetoricians and literary theorists were attracted from all over the Greek world to come to Athens.  This meant the city became a hub for activity and naturally you would expect to see advancements in all areas.  Only native-born males were granted citizenship and they made up not even a quarter of the population of the city. By the 5th century Athens was a democracy but only citizens could play a role in the political life of the city.  This meant that women, slaves and foreigners could not participate in the politics of the city.

The ancient’s religion was a real worship of nature and so had quite a different morality from ours.  They believed that there were a number of gods and goddesses and each of these gods had the authority over certain aspects of nature.  Festivals were held to celebrate these gods and some were specific to one god whilst others such as the Olympic Games celebrated a number of gods.


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