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The wonders of Greece (1 hour documentary) You must watch this, link inside...

Download and enjoy my friends, it is an excellent program by the BBC, that will make Greeks swell with pride, and will also be of great interest to non-Greeks.Just visit the link below, but be warned it will only be available for a week.

I have also provided some links from the background of the series from the BBC and the Open University, feel free to read them and visit the links whilst you wait for this video (350mb) to download.

What's in a word?We may live in a very different and much more complex world, but without the ancient Greeks we wouldn't even have the words to talk about many of the things we care most about. Take politics for example: apart from the word itself (from polis, meaning city-state or community) many of the other basic political terms in our everyday vocabulary are borrowed from the ancient Greeks: monarchy, aristocracy, tyranny, oligarchy and - of course - democracy.

The ancient Greek civilisation flourished for about a thousand years, not as a unified country but rather as a loose association of city states, both on the mainland of Greece and elsewhere around the Mediterranean. The philosopher Plato described the states as being like a series of frogs sitting around a pond. Although the Greeks drew on the ideas of various earlier civilisations, they were the people who, more than any other, handed down to us the foundations of our democracy, our notions of ethics and justice, our science, our mathematics and our music.

But it mustn't be forgotten that the Greeks were a warlike lot and in order to pursue their territorial ambitions they invented some deadly weapons – for instant take the bow and arrow. Aware of its limitations and short range they mechanised it like a giant cross bow. It was loaded by bearing down on it with your whole body weight and it became known as the Belly Bow. The Greeks also invented the catapult and designed monster machines that could throw huge pieces of ammunition crushing their hapless opponents. Archimedes is reputed to have built a solar powered death ray which could set ablaze any enemy ships that came in range. In wartime communications between allies is vital so they came up with telegraphy and later semaphore.

To keep their troops in the peak of fitness they invented the Olympic games of 776 BC and built wonderful stadiums to hold them in. To keep the sport fair they also invented the starting gate which was based on a torsion mechanism. To keep things fair in politics they encouraged democracy and invented Jury Allotment Machines - a clever device designed to select people for jury service which aimed to cut out the possibility of corruption. When it came to having fun they gave us drama, acting, stage sets, literature and built wonderful outdoor theatres. They also invented the first Robots to amuse and baffle the audiences, and to raise their spirits they listened to the Water Organ, a machine that claims the first known use of compressed air.

But perhaps their most amazing invention is the first known computer. This was a small box stuffed with cogs and moving parts all skilfully made and by turning a handle it would display the movements of planets to an astonishing degree of accuracy -in fact it was a planetarium.
The Greeks combined medicines, surgery and dietetics (regulating the whole life-style) in their treatment of ailments. Surgical skills were developed on the battlefield, whereas training for the army and athletic competition (e.g. the Olympics) created specialists who focused on exercise, bathing, massage and regulation of food and drink. Hippocrates developed the concept of the four humours, in line with this ‘prevention is better than cure’ philosophy and the Romans adopted both concepts, as well as employing Greek and Egyptian physicians.

The basis of Greek medicine was the body’s natural ability to heal itself (pepsis), so diet and exercise were more important than taking medicines. Hippocrates of Kos (c450-370 BCE), the ‘father of medicine’ whose school produced over 60 medical texts (the Hippocratic Corpus), claimed that the four humours must be balanced, with a person’s environment and lifestyle being responsible for imbalances. Treatment consisted of a prescription of diet, exercise and limited medicines.

A religious healing system, the cult of Aesculapius (Greek god of healing), began in Greece in the 3rd century BCE and soon spread to Rome and throughout the Roman Empire. As the cult spread the original shrines developed into great spa complexes with hostels, baths, gymnasia and theatres growing up around the healing waters of the thermal or mineralised springs.
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