Despite major achievements in the political front, Ancient Greece would come to be defined by its vibrant and path-breaking intellectual culture. Such luminary figures as Aristotle, Socrates and Plato would found what is now referred to as Western Philosophic thought, which has continued to grow and develop over the course of two thousand centuries. Let us now consider the contributions of Aristotle. Born in 384 BC and believed to have died on 322 BC, Aristotle remains the figure head of Ancient Greek philosophy. He also founded the Peripatetic school of philosophy, which remains in currency even today. Aristotle was widely regard during his time and continues to be revered through the ages. It is perhaps his common-sense approach to philosophy which has endeared and sustained him to academics and laypeople alike. While also expounding on such specialized subjects as physics, metaphysics, linguistics, biology and ethics, Aristotle theorized a great deal on poetry, music, theatre, rhetoric and government. The latter group of subjects is of common interest and appeal to a wide audience. (Ackrill, 1981, p.125)
Socrates is another philosopher whose ideas had profound influence on subsequent Mediterranean history. According to Socrates, a commitment to moral reasoning is an essential condition of a well-lived life. An individual should base his actions upon the outcomes of such internal dialogues. The exercise of self-examination and introspection as a way of arriving at moral truths is of paramount importance to Socrates. So much so that he unequivocally declared that ‘an unexamined life is not worth living’. This commitment to truth by way of rational, critical enquiry would eventually cost Socrates his life. But, even when in sight of his impending death, Socrates calmly reasoned with his friends and supporters that accepting the judgment of the state is to follow the moral course of action and he refused to escape into exile. The precedence set by Socrates proved to be a benchmark for subsequent generation of Mediterranean philosophers and scientists on intellectual honesty and integrity. One stand out instance of such brave adherence to principle was the later life of Italian scientist Galileo Galilee, who defied Christian authorities and eventually sacrificed his life.
Another major achievement of Ancient Greece was in the realm of architecture. Structure such as the Parthenon in Acropolis is a symbol of Greek architectural advancement. Sites such as Alexandria, Antioch, Pergamon, Ephesus and Seleucia are still home to impressive architectural relics from this golden age. Indeed, the flourishing of art, architecture and philosophy in Ancient Greece would shape and mould key events of the Roman Empire that is to follow. (Austin, 1981, p.223)
Ackrill, J. L. (1981). Aristotle the Philosopher. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
Bakalis Nikolaos, (2005), Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics Analysis and Fragments, Trafford Publishing ISBN 1-4120-4843-5
Austin, Michel M., The Hellenistic world from Alexander to the Roman conquest: a selection of ancient sources in translation, Cambridge University Press, 1981. ISBN 0521228298