The history of ancient Greece is very interesting. Ancient Greek people told stories to help each other learn about the world around them. They had ideas about their food that seem weird to us today they also invented theatre as we know it and the Olympic games.
The Mycenaeans of Crete formed the first Greek civilization about 4,000 years ago. The Greeks split their land into city-states, which each had their own laws, customs and rules. They had interesting superstitions about food; for example, they commonly avoided eating beans, because they thought beans contained dead souls. They talked about gods and goddesses in stories that celebrated these divine personalities. These myths also contained mythological monsters such as Cerberus, a three-headed dog; Medusa, a sorceress who turned people into stone; and the Cyclops, a creature with one eye on its forehead.
A famous legend tells us how the cunning Greeks defeated the city of troy—by hiding inside a giant wooden horse! The horse was left outside the city’s wall. The people in the city of Troy wheeled it inside thinking it was a gift, only for the Greek soldiers inside to creep out and sneak into the city and mercilessly defeated the Trojans.
The Olympic games were believed to originate in Olympia, Greece. Ancient Greeks had many festivals to revere their gods. To honor Zeus, they held the first Olympic games in Olympia. The games included wrestling, boxing, long jump, javelin, discus and chariot racing. Those who entered the games had to be very tough. There were barely any rules, but there was one rule where competitors had to compete naked. The winners were given free meals, a wreath of leaves and the best seats in the theatre. When the city-states were at war, a truce would be called so that everyone could travel to Olympia safely to participate in the games.
Statues of gods and goddess were built by the Greeks. They put statues of their gods inside temples. The most famous temple is the Parthenon. The Parthenon was built in Athens for goddess Athena, the protector of poor slaves. The ancient Greeks invented the theatre. They loved plays; some cities had theatres big enough to hold 15,000 people! Only men and boys were allowed to be actors, and wore masks. Some masks had two sides, so the actor could turn around to change their mood for each scene.
They had a lot of special thoughts, temples and theatres. We now celebrate our god Zeus through the Olympic games today.
[Sources: National Geographic Kids; Art that Changed the World; Wonders of the World; The Atlas of Legendary Places]