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10 Shocking Facts About Ancient Greece You May Not Have Known

10 Shocking Facts About Ancient Greece You May Not Have Known


The Ancient Greeks are famous worldwide for
their philosophy, inventions, understanding of math, science and medicine, incredible
armies, and their early forms of democracy. There are many articles, books, TV specials
and so on that go over the greatest deeds of the Ancient Greeks, but that isn’t what
we are here to talk about today. In today’s article, we will be going over
the strange, bizarre, absurd, and disgusting facts about the Ancient Greeks — the things
you don’t hear hailed as much as their greater achievements… 10. The Ancient Greeks Preferred A Sort Of “Blurred
Unibrow” On Their Women Today, having a unibrow is considered to be
among the highest tier of fashion “don’ts,” along with things like the fanny pack, and
wearing sandals with socks. Many people will not only shave, but even
painfully pluck their eyebrows today in order to avoid even the slightest appearance of
one, and at least for women (unless you’re Frida Kahlo), there are a decent amount of
looks that basically minimize the eyelashes as much as possible. However, fashion goes in and out of… well,
fashion, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Back in the days of Ancient Greece, the men
definitely preferred the eyebrows to be a little more connected than they tend to be
now. We do want to clear up a misconception, though,
as some people have heard about this and are under the impression that Greek men liked
whole, uninterrupted unibrows on their women. As far as historians can tell, though, what
they were attracted to was more of a blurred unibrow, where it wasn’t fully joined, but
only partially, to the point you could notice the contrast up close, but perhaps not tell
too well from a distance. 9. A Ridiculous Amount Of Athenians Were Actually
Enslaved By Full Citizens Today, ancient Athens is considered to be
one of the earliest bastions of democracy, learning, and free thought, which is kind
of surprising because a huge amount of the population at any given time were either enslaved,
or didn’t have the rights of full citizens. For starters, only those who were actually
born of Athens or families from Athens could ever be full citizens, which meant at any
given time, there were a large number of nationals living in Athens, who had citizenship in other
parts of Greece or elsewhere. These people were treated mostly with respect
and could do business and live temporarily in Athens, but they had no real say in the
Athenian system. And then in terms of slaves, the numbers are
hard to pin down. Ancient Athens was around for quite some time,
so it is likely these numbers fluctuated at different points, but some estimates put the
numbers at about 150,000 citizens, 50,000 nationals, and roughly 100,000 slaves around
the year 432 B.C. Of course, sometimes overall population numbers
written down from ancient times are hard to prove, or believed to potentially be exaggerations
by historians (we’re looking at you, Herodotus). However, while we may not know the actual
numbers for sure, and they may have changed throughout history, it is clear that at least
a significant minority was enslaved at any given time. 8. Spartan Warriors Were Guided By Flutes And
Sang War Hymns Before Battle In modern times, the Spartans — despite
being a relatively small population in a small space — are still infamous for their past
deeds and known as being among the most manly warriors to ever walk the land. However, what many people may not think much
about is how combat may have really looked so far back in the day. Nowadays we have radio communication, making
communication vastly easier, but back in the old days, armies usually used some kind of
music to give orders and keep people in proper lineup. And the Spartans were no exception to this
rule, but most people who imagine them going to battle with music would probably imagine
drums or some kind of tough sounding instrument, but this wasn’t the case. The favored musical instrument for giving
instructions in battle for the Spartans was the flute, a musical instrument that many
people now associate more with femininity. Also, the Spartans going to battle really
was almost a holiday-like affair for them, so perhaps the music was a way of adding some
extra levity. It is said that the Spartans’ training routine
was so brutal that going to battle was actually kind of a break for them. 7. The Olympic Torch Relay Did Not Originate
In Ancient Greece Today, the Olympic torch relay is considered
a pretty much essential part of the Olympic Games, and most couldn’t imagine the games
without it. It helps build up hype, and people like to
stand along parade lines, watching the torch pass and cheering along the relay runners. However, the truth is that while the Ancient
Greeks did employ a ritual fire, they did not do any kind of torch relay. Instead, the entire thing was dreamed up by
Carl Diem, the organizer of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Now, Diem was not himself a member of the
Nazi Party, but the Nazi Party was running the country, and Goebbels saw Diem’s idea
as great propaganda. The idea was that the relay would show the
games symbolically going from the ruins of Ancient Greece, all the way to modern Germany. This was an attractive idea to Hitler, as
he admired the Ancient Greeks, and felt that the Germans — being the “proper” Aryan
race — were the rightful heirs to the Ancient Greeks, and the place of respect, power, and
influence that they once held in the world. While the Olympic torch relay has become synonymous
with the games, it has not, as some in the Third Reich once hoped, made it synonymous
with the glory of Germany, or the supposed Aryan race. 6. Athens Famed Democracy Wasn’t Really Quite
How Many People Envision It Today people like to think of Athens as the
cradle of democracy, and while it was advanced for its time, it was hardly a fair system
as most people didn’t actually have a say. For starters, at any given time the population
of Athens had a lot of slaves (as we mentioned above), and those slaves couldn’t vote. While some sources say during the greatest
age of Athens the slave population was about a third, some sources suggest that near the
same time period (about the early 400s B.C.), the slave population was closer to almost
60%. Considering non-resident foreigners and women,
along with the aforementioned slaves, were unable to vote, this narrowed down the voting
population even further. Also, you had to be over 18 to vote, which
means some estimates suggest that the population of voting people was only about 40,000 citizens,
which would suggest only 15% of the population could vote at any given time. Now, some sources do suggest the slave percentage
was a lot lower, and historical records on the exact population numbers at any given
time are mostly estimates, but the point is that the vote was limited to a very small
demographic of the overall population at any given time. 5. The Spartans Had A Slave Population Called
Helots That They Hunted Every Year Something that is often glossed often when
kids are being told the history of the Spartans is how they managed to take care of all their
agricultural needs. With all the men being warriors and all the
women doing homemaking, it does leave the question of how their farming and other basic
labor needs were met. Well, the Spartan solution was a population
of slaves they called the Helots, although some sources suggested they might have once
been a group of Messenians who were conquered long ago. Regardless, in various sources they tend to
outnumber the Spartans by different figures depending on the time period, but always by
absurd margins. This left the Spartans in constant fear of
a revolt — a fear that was realistic, as multiple revolts were attempted (and eventually
successful). In order to strike fear in the hearts of the
Helots and make it less likely for them to rebel, they would ritually have their newest
and youngest warriors hunt the toughest and bravest Helots every Autumn. As we mentioned, the Helots eventually did
manage to successfully revolt, showing that no matter how tough a group of warriors you
are, when your slaves vastly outnumber you, you cannot control them forever. 4. Ancient Greeks Diluted Their Wine, They Considered
It Uncultured Not To Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans were known
for their love of wine, and some people imagine that pretty much everyone was getting drunk
on a regular basis — especially those with a lot of wealth or power. And while there is some truth to this in any
time period (after all, rich people and poor people sometimes drink to excess), people
may have a bit of a confused picture of the situation. The truth is that the Ancient Greeks believed
in watering down their wine, usually with a ratio of at least three parts water to one
part wine. In fact, they considered it rather barbaric
and uncouth to go drinking wine without diluting it with water first. The Ancient Romans are said to have diluted
it even further, despite how many think them to be super hedonistic as a culture, and would
sometimes dilute it at 10-to-1 ratio, or even further. Some historians have pointed out that this
is more like adding some wine to your water than water to your wine, and might have been
an attempt to kill off bacteria and make a glass of water safer to drink, while still
keeping your wits about you. 3. Married Women Were Not Allowed To Watch The
Naked Olympic Competitors While many people like to think of the Ancient
Greeks as a very sexually free culture (and there is some truth to this compared to today),
like many cultures of the time period, one thing they were absolutely not okay with was
adultery. And for this reason, situations that might
give someone adulterous desires were something that the Ancient Greek authorities believed
should be avoided. Now, this presented a bit of a problem when
it came to the Olympic Games, as the men competed entirely in the nude. For this reason, married women were not allowed
to watch, as they may get lustful desires for men who were not their husbands. This meant that they couldn’t even watch
their husband compete if he happened to be in the games, because there might be other
naked men she could see as well. While this emphasis is put on married women,
married men, as we mentioned, could still compete in the games, and young, single women
could see them compete, and potentially make advances toward them afterwards. The rule here has an expectation that the
party most likely to commit adultery would be an unfaithful woman. 2. Their Methods For Wiping After Defecation
Were Almost Entirely Unpleasant Most people have heard of the famed bathroom
and plumbing systems of Ancient Rome, and the relatively advanced systems in cities
like ancient Athens. And, in modern days, many people have also
learned that the Roman sewer system, in particular, could actually be a bit of a horror show. However, what would probably alarm folks more
than anything, when it came to the bathroom hygiene habits of the Romans and Greeks, was
how they cleaned up afterward. Of course they didn’t have toilet paper
back in those days, so instead they used a sponge on a stick. Before and after using it to wipe, the stick
was either left in a channel of running water, or dunked in a bucket of water that was also
mixed with salt and vinegar (try to enjoy those potato chips while reading that one!). The really gross part is that this stick was
communal, meaning that in public bathrooms, you could be cleaning up with a sponge used
by a lot of other people. However, people sometimes got inventive, and
there wasn’t always a single, standard method. According to the theory of a French anthropologist
named Phillippe Charlier, the Ancient Romans and Ancient Greeks may have sometimes used
small, flat-ish stones (without too many rough edges) in order to clean up after defecation. We guess it still beats the three seashell
method. 1. Part Of Testing A Spartan Babies Strength
Was Dunking It In Wine The Spartans were known for being incredibly
unforgiving to little ones, and for practicing one of the earliest and most shocking forms
of eugenics. They were known for testing babies for any
birth defects, weaknesses, or other abnormalities, and then literally tossing the baby out as
garbage if they didn’t pass muster. However, before the baby was brought before
a group of elders, he had to go through the wine test. The wine test is about as messed up as it
sounds. They would bathe the newborn baby in wine,
and then just wait and see what happened. If the baby convulsed and died, obviously
it was too weak to be a proper Spartan warrior, and the now shamed father could throw out
the baby, move on and try to make more badass progeny. If the baby didn’t convulse and die from
being bathed in wine, he would be taken before a group of elders. These old men would then decide the newborn’s
fate, looking it over for any sign of weakness, and decide whether it would have a harsh life
growing up knowing nothing but pain and war, or whether it would be left on a mountainside to die.


Reader Comments

  1. Oh sure, it's the women's adultery that's concerning. Got to make sure your property only gets diseases from the owner.😏

  2. A bar that was around while was in college dilutes there hard liquor in a 10-to-1 ratio as well. They should market them as Ancient Greek drinks

  3. Flutes are tough as hell always will be. Don't you listen to Jethro Tull. I've seen Ian Anderson Live believe me flutes are for Warriors and their badass I'm a huge fan.

  4. The sponge on a stick has been proven to be a myth.
    There aren't enough sponges in the Mediterranean, etc.
    They likely used moss or washed with water.

  5. When I was at school, I was taught that spartan new-born children were left out overnight on the roof to see if they survived. Never seen that mentioned anywhere on YouTube though. If true, it would have been a bit harsh on those born in winter…

  6. I like to lick woman's armpits, and behind the kneecaps, I also like it when they spit in my face. I also tried to get a girl to throw up in my face, but she was not down with that.

  7. One major reason for adding wine to water was to cut down the chances of getting some sort of disease from polluted water. The alcohol in the wine killed bacteria in the water, making it much safer. That was true all over southern Europe and perhaps northern Africa. The rationalization about why one "added water to wine to dilute it" came later, when people forgot what their ancestors had learned empirically, i.e., adding wine to water makes the water safer to drink.

  8. The sponge on a stick isn’t particularly bad, especially considering the time period. In fact, as long as you thoroughly washed the sponge it would probably be far cleaner than just using dry toilet paper.

    I think this fact should have been replaced with paederasty.

  9. "Abandoning" babies who did not pass the tests allowing them to remain in Spartan society usually was done so that couples without children, seeing the babies at the side of the road, could sdopt them and take them home. This wasn't always the case; many abandoned babies died of exposure and their bodies were eaten by wild animals. But there was always the chance that someone who wanted a child and couldn't have one of his or her own would discover the baby before it was too late for the baby to survive and take it home. This was also true in Hawaii before Hawaii was discovered by Europeans, and, to some extent, afterward.

  10. Greece of ancient times sounds quite a lot like America and elsewhere. Vis. Democracy, social inequality, slavery, etc. Hey, at least we don't do the flute thing before our military wacks someone, right? Sounds like progress to me.

  11. Ancient wine was watered down due to it being so high proof there are records of people who died from drinking as little as half a bottle of wine not watered down

  12. Actually one of the main reasons the ancients (Greeks, Romans) diluted their wine was because it wasn’t simply fermented grape juice as we think of wine today. ‘Wine’ was somewhat of a catch all phrase for [what we consider] wine mixed with other ingredients. Some herbs, spices, etc. Hell, even opium could be added to their wine. Hence the need for dilution.

  13. It would be incredibly ignorant of us to judge people pre-modern era based on ethics. It doesn't make any sense judge people from the past based on the standard of today's Society..

  14. Yup. The ancient world was weird and terrible. You lived and you died. There was no heaven, but there was hell. Life was simply life, like the birds and the dogs. You lived until you died. Period. That's why Christianity was so popular. It offered life after death.

  15. I stil try to figure out the 3 shells, If you hold them in a certain position you create a vacuum maybe. Or they are living and suck it clean🚾🐚🐚🐚😉

  16. Saw #10. Was weirded out. Kept watching. Still thinking about #10…

    HOW does that count as "attractive"? What's the idea behind that?
    I mean, look at today's greeks and you can tell this had an effect…but why?

  17. The reason Simon mentioned the "3 seashells" wasn't just for humor. It was because Stallone's character's surname was "Spartan".

  18. A little Spartan boy ran away from home. He didn't like the way his father was rearing him. He finally went back because he didn't want to leave his brother's behind.

  19. I thought it was even more limited- to landowners, making the total voting populatuon of Athens about 500- the owners of estates.

  20. High-pitched instruments like a flute or Picollo or fifewill cut through the noise of a battlefield so you can hear the orders.

    The reason infants were washed in something like wine or vinegar or even animal urine was to kill bacteria and this is still done in some parts of the world and medical science Endorses the practice. The reason adultery among women is considered very important is due to the rules of inheritance, law and real estate as well as political power. It is disastrous if a possible heir should turn up Creating all kinds of confusion and sometimes in extreme cases among important people, a civil war

  21. Whenever ancient Greece is referenced, I always think of Athens. Athens was remarkable.
    Sparta was unremarkable.
    They were one of many warrior cultures with a slave underclass.

  22. Simon my name is Simon and I'm from Greece thank you for the video you're absolutely right it is an irony for democracy to have slaves

  23. The Spartans were really weird. Look up the marriage customs. As mentioned, look up how young men were sent out to prey on the helots.

  24. Flutes are "feminine"? Many of the greatest orchestral flutists are men. By the way, your accent is very standard but you use syntax which indicates a Spanish background, perhaps during childhood?

  25. The callousness with which the spartans handled baby eugenics just makes the inciting incident of Assassin's Creed Odyssey laughable.

  26. So I really don't get the wine thing. Did they more or less waterboard the baby in wine, or was it just skin contact? In the case of the latter, how would that be harmful? We taking super high proof and/or long time? Feel like I'm missing something here.

  27. Looks like you had a hard time getting through this video , thank you very much respect from Hamilton Ontario Canada 🇨🇦✌

  28. A faded unibrow is better than pencil thin eyebrows of today.. those things are tragic or even worse the tattoo eyebrows…

  29. FYI Wine of that period was thicker. Almost viscous syrup. Needed to be made into what we call today as table wine via water dilution…

  30. Athens was an autonomous city state – comparable to a modern-day nation. Makes perfect sense that only Athenians born or bred were citizens, and had a say on matters directly concerning their well-being and that of their state. Shocker, huh?! 🙄

  31. All of these 'facts' were presented with enough caveats, double-talk, and outright error as to render the entire vid pointless.

  32. I was expecting to hear about Pederasty, but I guess google wouldn't like that being mentioned in any video for The sake of advertisement.

  33. "Where are you going on vacation this year Leonidas?"
    "I'm going to die in battle at Thermopylae."
    "Be sure to take lots of pictures."

  34. I believe that the picture of the 2 people getting it on is actually a fresco from one of the Pompeii brothels. The pictures showed what the woman would be willing to do so the man could just point at the picture menu.

  35. Horribly by today's "standards," but one thing that cannot be disputed, is just how effective a soldier that Sparta churned out every generation.

  36. The division of labor and voting sounds like the world at the turn at the last century. Women couldn't watch the Olympic games, women were totally under the thumb of men. How fun to stay in a kitchen and have babies. In some parts of the world, it's still what women do.🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈

  37. Wow, harsh fact to end on.😬 But hey I understand, don't kill the messenger.😂 Enjoy your videos.👍🇨🇦

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