acropolis - A collection of buildings built as a safe haven on high ground. The acropolis at Athens had been a fortress but became the site of two temples to Athena ( the Parthenon and Erectheion) and the magnificent gateway (the Propylaea).
aesthetics - Ideas about what is good in art. The Greeks believed that balance and symmetry were very important in art.
agora - A large open space, usually situated in the center of a town, used for the open-air market and public meetings.
amphora - A two-handled pottery container for storing food.
andron - A dining room in a private house used by men only.
assembly - The chief council of Athens. Any Athenian male over the age of eighteen was a member.
barter - To exchange goods for something other than money.
caryatid - A draped female sculpture figure in ancient Greek architecture.
citizen - A man who had the right to own property and take part in politics and law.
city-state -A small country controlled by a powerful city.
Classical Age - 5th century B.C. in Greece when arts and sciences flourished.
comedy - A popular type of play in ancient Greece where characters are put in humorous situations.
cubit - An ancient measurement, about 18-22 inches, using the forearm as a rule.
demagogue - A leader who uses popular prejudices or false claims to gain power.
democracy - A political system based on government by the citizens. In Greece, only men with property were entitled to be citizens with the right to vote on matters of government.
drachma - A coin worth 6 obols.
epic - a long narrative poem; a famous example is The Iliad.
fable - A legendary story, especially where animals speak like humans, often told with morals.
gynaeceum - The women's rooms in a private house.
herm - A small statue of the god Hermes, which was placed in front of the house to protect it.
hoplite - A heavily-armed footed soldier. Greek hoplites often fought in large, disciplined groups called phalanxes.
isthmus - narrow strip of land connecting two larger areas of land.
labrys - The double-headed axe which was a sacred symbol of the Minoans.
metic - A foreigner living in a city state.
metroon - A storage place for archives (records and documents)
mina - A coin worth 100 drachmas
Mount Olympus - The mountain in Greece where the gods were thought to have lived.
oath - A promise. The Hippocratic Oath, sworn by doctors, is a promise to treat people properly and fairly.
obols - A coin of less value that a drachma, worth about 3 cents.
odeon - A theater.
oracle - A holy place where the gods could be asked questions with the help of a priest or priestess.
ostraka - A pottery fragment on which citizens wrote the names of the politicians they wished to banish from the city.
Parthenon - A temple in ancient Greece honoring Athena, patron goddess of Athens.
peplos - A long tunic worn be women only.
phalanx - A battle formation in which soldiers are arranged in a block.
philosopher - A person who seeks wisdom and enlightenment through study and reasoning.
polis - A state consisting of a city and the surrounding countryside.
sacrifice - An offering made to a god to bring good fortune or to ask the god not to be angry.
slave - A worker who was owned by a citizen. Slaves had few rights, but they could buy their freedom if they saved enough money.
soothsayer - A person who could predict the future and tell fortunes.
Sparta - A powerful city in southern Greece. Sparta was famous for its soldiers, trained from birth.
state - A small, independent country, usually controlled by a powerful city.
stoa - A portico or roofed colonnade.
stoics - Students who listened to philosophers.
strigil - A curved blade, usually of metal, used for scraping oil and dirt from the skin.
sweetmeats - A small sweet snack often made from preserved fruit or nuts.
symposium - A drinking party where discussions were held, and entertainments may have taken place.
talent - A coin worth 60 minas.
tholos - A circular building used for training choruses.
tragedy - Type of play invented by Greeks that ends sadly.
tireme - A Greek warship which had three rows of oars.
tyrant - A ruler with absolute power.