Ancient Greece is well known for its myths and legends of epic heroes and powerful gods and goddesses. During this time, it was also important to become famous in order to be remembered after death.
One way they honored Greeks who achieved fame was by building statues after them. The statues represent the abilities to create, invent, and explain as well as physical courage, endurance and strength.
Some of Greece's most famous people were poets, writers and philosophers. Homer, the blind poet who lived during 700 B.C.E., is known for his two stories, The Iliad and The Odyssey. About 100 years later, another poet, Sappho, penned nine poetry books, though only one complete poem endures today. Love and beauty are topics she wrote about. Her work inspired artists and writers many centuries after her death. Finally, we have Socrates, who lived from 469 to 399 B.C.E. Today, he is is thought of as a brilliant philosopher, but during his time, his teachings were considered controversial and resulted in his martyrdom.
Ancient Greece has a very rich military history. Sophocles was a general and politician, but also a playwright. He is thought to have written 123 plays altogether, but only seven of them have remained. He lived from 496 to 406 B.C.E. Living from 495 to 429 B.C.E., Pericles was elected general 20 times. While he was in office, he built a strong navy, and organized a powerful defense. He also gave people more say in the government. Pericles was expelled from Athens after he led them into an awful war with Sparta.
But their military exploits paled in comparison to the son of Philip II of Macedonia, Alexander the Great, who spent his life expanding his territory. His empire extended from the Middle East in Persia and Afghanistan, to as far as the Indus River. He died in 323 B.C.E. at the young age of 33. Many suspected he was poisoned. After his death, his empire was destroyed.
Last but not least, Archimedes was a mathematician, scientist, astronomer and inventor. He was from the city of Syracuse, a city in modern day Sicily, and lived from 287 to 211 B.C.E. When Romans invaded his city, he is said to have made a huge lens and burned the Roman ships. Archimedes had also studied how things floated and balanced.
To this day, people admire these intellectual heroes their contributions to the world around them.
Encyclopedia of the Ancient World