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Essay on Daily Life in Ancient Greece

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It is one thing to look at a map and understand the changes in territory held by ancient civilizations and states, but the issue of what daily life looked life for individuals living in these societies is arguably even a more fascinating subject. In many ways, ancient life was not so unlike our own. Families would cook, eat, work, and live together. On the other hand, many aspects of daily ancient life would seem alien to a contemporary observer. This sample essay takes the viewpoint of a young woman on the island of Crete in 2,000 B.C. Historical essays are just some of the many topics covered by our professional writers.

A Day in the life of a Greek Minoan woman

The year is 1800 B.C and our time has been called the middle Minoan age or the old palace age. My name is Ida and I am a 24 year old Minoan woman. I live in the village of Myrtos on the island of Crete. I am married to a fisherman and we have 4 children. My husband is a simple man who wears a loincloth. I am a simple woman as well, as I wear robes with slits that come up to my stomach. As it is summertime, the robe I am wearing has short sleeves and my skirt sashays as I walk along.  During the summer, the weather is dry and warm. We have been waiting for rainfall however it has not come. We have short mild winters so I am able to continue to wear the same style of robe during any of the seasons.

Family in ancient Greece

I have six siblings who live in the town. My mother recently passed away which made me feel very sad. We buried her in the circular Tholos tombs. Her remains were placed in a pottery jar according to our funerary customs which tell the story of our culture through what we leave behind. For an offering, I placed the ceramic pottery she would make which had images of fish and birds. As the tombs were full someone had to be moved along with their offerings from the tombs into the bone chambers. My mother owned a large number of cattle which my father raised. They now belong to my oldest sister. Her home was also inherited by my oldest sister who was its rightful heir.  Her home is beautiful, large and very modern compared to mine. It was three stories tall, was made of stone and brick with a flat tiled roof. 

City, sewage and houses

As my mother was wealthy, the home had a sewage system which many other homes in the area do not have. However, my mother’s home is not the only one in the town that has this extent of architecture or new technology. Many homes in our town, especially those belonging to upper classes, are built this way. The homes that are built have beautiful columns which are larger at the top than at the bottom. My husband told me of how foreign regions, and even other societies in Greece, such as Athens and Sparta, have columns which are larger at the bottom, however, I prefer the way in which our columns are built. Greek cities are also more modern as they are connected to each other by roads which make it easier to travel from city to city. The streets within our cities also have drains which take away the water and lead to cleaner cities compared to the way things were before the systems were installed.

Farming in antiquity

Draining the water from the streets makes the practice of farming much easier. We have begun to grow many different crops in our fields which was a new practice that was recently developed in order to improve our farming methods and food. We grow lettuce, carrots, celery, asparagus, pears and quince in our farms. This practice has just started as prior to this we would only grow one crop which did not lead to a lot of variety in our diet. Growing all these different crops led to increased fertility in the soil and allowed it to be able to be used longer. The farming tools have also been upgraded as we no longer use wood tools, but tools that have been made using bronze. My husband told me of how bronze was discovered far in the East and how we now benefit from the advent of this Bronze age.

New crops and meat 

The new crops have been a welcome addition to my family’s diet. This has also been helpful to me as I usually prepare the food and enjoy it when my family likes their meals. Along with the vegetables, seafood has been a staple of our diet due our proximity to the ocean. We frequently eat the fish and mollusks that my husband brings home from his daily catch. Meat is also included in my family's diet as we eat the deer or boar that populate the island. We eat the meat from the cattle raised on my mother’s land along with sheep, pigs and goats from other areas. Our diet is rich and plentiful compared to other nations which only grow single crops at a time, and I am grateful my family always has something to eat that they enjoy.

Communication and trade

In order to communicate with each other we speak Ethocreatan. This is also the language we use to write in as another form of communication. Communication is one of the cohesive factors which unites our society. Although we do not write very often in our daily lives as we find it unnecessary and tedious. The traders are the main individuals who use Ethocreatan to write. They write in order to keep track of the transactions they have completed in their trades with other countries. The traders use the large navy we have in order to trade with other countries for goods such as:

  • Copper
  • Tin
  • Ivory
  • Silver
  • Gold and other raw materials

These materials are imported from Egypt, Asia Minor, and Syria. The tin is used with a copper alloy to make bronze which has been used to manufacture all kinds of tools. We trade the products that are abundant in our region like:

  • Timber 
  • Saffron
  • Wine
  • Currants
  • Olive oil
  • Wool
  • Cloths
  • Herbs
  • Dyes

I enjoy going to the markets to see which new items the traders have brought in from various other parts of the world.

Greek Military

My husband frequently goes out with the navy to trade and see the world which he is out doing now. These large navies that we have are used solely for trade as we do not have threats of war. We are a peaceful people who have no qualms with other nations. We do not have an army as there is no need for one. In our towns, you will not observe any fortresses or walls built for protection against invaders or designed for the purpose of defending our town. You will also not see weapons being used against each other. Our weapons are to be used in ritual or religious ceremonies and not against each other. 

Natural disasters and the gods in ancient Greek society

Earthquake

We had an earthquake today and I wish my husband had not gone out to trade with the traders during this time. This was the first time I felt an earthquake and it terrified me. We think the earthquake was brought upon by the Earthshaker, who is someone that has ties to nature. The Earthshaker is made of both the bull and the sun. Nature may be angry with us for letting the Earthshaker cause such a violent commotion. We must go the priestess in order to find out what offering will appease Nature so she does not call the Earthshaker back to destroy our town.

Offerings and tradition

Despite the earthquake, I am in high spirits as I am look forward to the festival which will be occurring next week in which my brother will be doing the coveted bull dance. He was chosen to be the one doing the bull dance as it is in his blood and previous generations of my family filled this role as well. We also participate in sport that involves leaping over a bull. While it is dangerous we get an adrenaline rush from playing the games. The bull and its horns are sacred symbols for our people and both the bull dance and bull leaping are sacred traditions. These rituals should satisfy Nature and the Earthshaker if our offerings do not please them. There is no central authority in our village however the Minoans do follow the teaching of the priestess. The priestess has dictated that a human sacrifice is needed to calm Nature and provide an alternate offering. No one has objected despite that it will result in someone’s death. The priestess is the one who makes the decision of the sacrifice.

The role of women in ancient Greece

Despite the lack of a government or central authority they have begun to build a palace for administrative purposes. I do not think it is beneficial or needed and my husband both agrees and respects my beliefs. My husband frequently respects my opinions as he views me as his equal, not his subordinate. While I have heard of other regions of Greece where women are subordinated, our society worships goddesses and considers women the equal to men. This is the case in our society because women are revered for our fertility as we are the bearer of children and the ones who continue life. Women hold the highest position in our society as they are our priestesses and connections to Nature. It is matriarchal to the extent that daughters inherit the property of their mothers rather than sons from fathers. I believe this is a better system because women take care of their homes. I am happy to raise my daughters in a society wherein they are valued and respected.

Conclusion

As a woman in Minoan society I have a fulfilling life. I am respected by others in society, as are my daughter and sisters. I have a large family who are close to me and supportive. There are festivals in which we celebrate our life and our peaceful, equal and loving society. We are open to other countries as we have free trade and have new technology and tools which is made from the bronze this trade has brought. We have wonderful structures within our city and are always building.  While there are a great many civilizations throughout the land, I would not choose to live or raise my family in any other.

Works Cited

"Introduction to Greek History." In2Greece. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012.

<http://www.in2greece.com/english/historymyth/ancient_hist_and_myth.htm>

"Minoan Civilization." Hellenica World. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. 

<http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/History/Minoans.html>

Sakoulas, Thomas. History of Greece. Ancient-Greece.org. 5 Dec. 2007. 

<http://www.ancient-greece.org/history/acropolis-archaic.html>.

"The History of the Minoans." Ancient Greece. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012. 

<http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/History/Minoans.html>

 
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