The ancient Greeks had a great deal of influence in the advancement of Western world ”“ especially when it came to mathematics, education and philosophy. The culture offered the globe numerous inventions that are still in use or have been expanded upon over the years. In this article, you will learn more about ancient Greek philosophers and their contributions.
The ancient Greeks were the first people to explore the way the world worked in a systematic manner. Their ideas influenced the rest of the world and most of Western science was built upon the ideas of the ancient Greeks. In later years, the Romans, Arabs, and medieval Europeans would expand upon some of the beliefs and studies of ancient Greece.
Who is Thales?
Considered one of the first philosophers in the world, Thales of Miletus was an ancient Greek that lived between 624 and 546 BC. He is the first man in recorded history to ask the hard-hitting questions, such as inquiring the ins and outs of the universe. He offered answers without incorporating gods and demons. The Greeks would later compile a list of ‘seven wise men’ and Thales was at the top of the list, followed by the likes of Solon (of Athens), Periander (of Corinth), Cleobulus (of Lindos), Pittacus (of Mitylene), Bias (of Priene) and Chilon (of Sparta).
The Power of a Solar Eclipse
Astronomy played an important role in ancient civilizations. People used celestial bodies and other elements of space to make predictions and lead their lives by the signs of the sky. An example of this can be seen in the battle between the Medes and Lydians. For five years, the Lydians (allies of the Greek Spartans) and the Medes (led by Cyrus of Persia) had been warring against one another in Asia Minor.
However, on May 28th, 586 BC, the two sides witnessed a solar eclipse ”“ one that Greek philosopher Thales had predicted. Upon seeing the eclipse, the Medes and Lydians stopped fighting and agreed to sign a peace treaty. Because of this eclipse, the event became the earliest known that was put into record where an exact date was acknowledged.
Anaximander and the Earth
For many centuries, it was a popularly held belief that the Earth was flat, but it was Greek philosopher Anaximander who is considered the first person to assess the true shape of the planet. It was around 560 BC when he stated that the Earth possessed a cylindrical shape. By 350 BC, this concept of a spherical planet had become increasingly popular that many scholars agreed with the idea even though there was no concrete evidence. It was only when Ferdinand Magellan embarked on his expedition to circle the globe that the notion of a flat planet could be abandoned, which wouldn’t take place until another 18 more centuries.