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Some idioms and phrases relating to Greek mythology

Updated on January 29, 2016

World History Timeline Ancient Greek


Ancient Greeks built strong city

Many great artists, thinkers and sculptors came to Athens and thrived

It started in the form of epic songs, collected by the poet, Homer, in Iliad and the odyssey. The flourishing city – states of ancient Greece provided the perfect setting for art and literature of thrive.

Ancient Greeks built strong city –states such as Sparta and Athens. Sparta was a military state and its brave soldiers formed the most powerful army in Greece. Young boys left their homes when they were seven years old to begin their military training. Men had to serve in the army until they were sixty years old.

Athens became a great democracy and the assembly of Athenians made law in order to deal with social relationships, trade agreements, crime and so on. Athens became especially prosperous from 500 to 430 BC. It was a period of great writing and learning, and Athens the centre of Greek civilization and culture. Many great artists, thinkers and sculptors came to Athens and thrived.

The Parthenon is regarded as the supreme achievement of Greek architecture-this temple still stands atop the Acropolis. The temple took 15 years to build and was dedicated to Athena, the guardian goddess of Athens.

The ancient Greeks believed that their Gods looked like human beings and experienced human emotions that led them to fall in love and quarrel. People also thought that Gods had magical powers and were immortal. The gods were thought to influence human life and were kept busy with requests for help, from curing illness to ensuring a victory in war. Individual made sacrifices, left offerings for them and prayed to them.

The ancient Greeks had different gods and goddesses, one for each aspect of human life. Zeus was the king of Gods who ruled over earth and heaven from Mount Olympus. This mountain is located on the border with Macedonia. Hera was his wife and she was the goddess of women and marriage. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, courage and victory.

`Trojan horse’ means hidden danger

This derives from the event of the Trojan horse in Greek history.
This derives from the event of the Trojan horse in Greek history. | Source

There was a great rivalry among the city

Time period: 500 BC-338 BC

Places: two city-states of ancient Greece –Athens and Sparta

Even after three thousand years, the ancient Greek Legacy survives in art, literature, philosophy and science. The origin of democracy, medieval mathematics and science can all be traced back to golden age of Athens when there was a high level of achievement in very field.

There was a great rivalry among the city –states, especially between Athens and Sparta which eventually led to a war to rule Greece in 431 BC. Finally, Macedonian power was established in 338 BC and the golden period of ancient Greece came to an end.

`To lead a Spartans life’ that is the meaning of `to lead a simple life, because the Spartans were traditionally indifferent to comfort and luxury.

`Achilles’ heel’ refers to the one weakness, flaw or vulnerable point in person’s otherwise strong character.

`Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’ means to be suspicious of presents or to be on one’s guard against `treachery in the guise of gift.’ This derives from the event of the Trojan horse in Greek history.

`Trojan horse’ means hidden danger or something intended to hide someone’s true intentions or secret purposes.

Epic songs: a poem which is long and has a lot of action, usually dealing with a historical subject.

Legacy: something that is part of your history or which stays from an earlier time.

Parthenon: the temple of Athena built on the acropolis in 447 -432 BC.

Acropolis: a fortified part of ancient Athens built on a hill. 

Immortal: lasting for ever


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