page contents




Who Is Socrates?

Socrates is regarded as the founding father of western philosophy, although very little is known about him. Socrates himself did not produce any written works and what we know about him is mostly derived from the works of his students, Plato and Xenophon.

SURVIVAL 101: How to survive in a MAN-ifested Greece


As many of you know, women had little or no rights in ancient civilization. Just take a look at all the emperors, kings or leaders we’ve learned about in our previous classes. Alexander the GreatQin Shi Huang. Gilgamesh. What do they have in common? That’s right, they’re all males! Throughout the evolution of ancient civilization, one thing that seems to have stuck is that women seemed to be considered the “inferior” gender or even looked upon as second-class human beings. The equality of women has been a hotly debated topic, even in today’s society, and we hope to contribute by showing awareness of how poorly women were treated, especially in the past. It is during the classical period in Greece that we begin our journey and for entertainment purposes, we have devised a survival guide for women living in those times.


Try imagining this in today's society...

It'll probably never happen!

Just to be clear, the ill-treatment of women did NOT happen in ALL of Greece. True, women were not seen as the equal of men but their treatment varies among certain Greek city-states or poleis. Although there are many other city-states such as Corinth and Thebes , many use the 2 more popular states as comparisons and we will be doing the same: the treatment of women in Athens vs Sparta.


If you were given birth and lived in a certain country for most parts of your life, you would definitely be considered a citizen in said country right? Well, that wasn’t the case for women in Athens. The foundation of being considered an Athenian is purely based on two things: firstly, one has to be given birth by parents who were born in Athens themselves and secondly, you had to be a male (page 9). Thus, women living in Athens throughout their entire lives aren’t even considered to be citizens of the state. Women were only valued for their use of being able to reproduce and to give birth to offspring that could contribute to the state’s military or political purposes (page 9). In contrast, Spartan women were given more responsibilities and were treated more of a citizen than their Athenian counterparts.


Imagine you could not have a property under your name. The whole idea of having a roof over your head is basically dependent on either your spouse, father or brother IF you were a women. However, in this instance, Spartan women were lucky enough not to share the same fate as female Athenians. Not only could they own properties, but there are also reports that an estimated “40% of agricultural land” belonged to women (page 222). That’s a stark contrast to women in Athens who were neither allowed to own any sort of land, nor buy or sell any kind of property (page 9).


Athenian women had very, very few legal rights. Firstly, there was even a law dictating the number of women allowed to attend a funeral (page 9). Astonishing isn’t it? To even limit the amount of women who wished to pay their respects to those who have passed away. Secondly, in the event that a women wanted a divorce, she has to seek out a male representative (has to be a relative) in order to initiate divorce (page 9-10). To make matters worse, not only do they have to return the dowries received upon marriage (page 10) but in the event that she has a child/children, custody would immediately be granted to the male parent (page 10). On the contrary, women in Sparta had significantly more legal rights. They do not have to suffer what we would deem as injustice in today’s society but they were also allowed more privileges. Spartan women could inherit an equal portion of their father’s properties (page 11) and this is something that is sorely denied to women in Athens. How could anyone be denied something that belonged to their family? This was the harsh reality that women in Athens faced.


Clearly, this wasn't the case in ancient Greece

Clearly, this wasn't the case in ancient Greece

As you may have already guessed, women in Sparta were allowed much more freedom as opposed to their Athenian counterparts. Apart from visiting relatives or other wives, women in Athens basically lived in seclusion (page 8). On the other hand, Sparta women were allowed as much freedom as they pleased (page 224). However, not all Athenians were confined to their own homes. There were a few exceptions, who come in the form of “prostitutes, concubines and mistresses” (page 9), otherwise known as hetaera.


Similar to freedom, women in Sparta were afforded the same amount of education as men (page 224) whereas Athenian women received little or no education (page 222). However, the hetaera received a much higher education than the rest of the women in Athens as they were “taught poetry and music” and could eventually join in on conversations such  as politics (page 9), something that was male dominated in ancient Athens.


Finally! Something that both Spartan and Athenian women have in common. Both sets of women had no public influence on political decisions. In Sparta, men did not allow women to speak publicly and they were isolated from men in this regard (page 11). This was harsher in Athens, where Athenian men felt that women “brought disorder, evil and were utterly useless and caused more confusion than the enemy” and thus, basically incapable of making correct political decisions (page 8).

This post may have portrayed Spartan women to have such carefree and easygoing lives and while that is true (as compared to Athenian women at least), we cannot forget that they were still treated as the lesser gender. Therefore, we came up with a guide essential for women survival in ancient Greece dubbed “Survival 101”.


All jokes aside, women really were treated very harshly in the ancient times and although the issue of women equality has taken a massive leap forward in today’s society, it is important for us to keep it going and strive for total equality. Spreading awareness of the miserable lives women had to endure in the past is our way of contributing and we hoped that this post was an eye-opener for you readers!


More than Meets the Body?


Yes, you guessed it right! There's definitely more than meets the eye (and the body!) when we attempt to understand the lives of prostitutes who lived and worked in Ancient Greece. In a battle of brain versus brawn, it is undoubtedly obvious that these prostitutes, especially the hetaera, would ultimately emerge victorious in both categories. So who exactly were these remarkable sounding women, who had both the looks and intellect, and what did they do for a living? Let’s travel back in time to the Ancient Greek world during the Archaic period (800-500 B.C.) to find out more… Prostitution in Ancient Greece

Did you know that prostitution is widely known as the world’s oldest profession? The emergence of prostitution as a phenomenon in Greece occurred because of the fact that Athens was a developing coastal city and trade hub of the Ancient Greek world; eventually resulting in numerous merchants and sailors docking their boats and ships there for business and to take respite after their long journeys. The development of prostitution served to fulfill the necessity for entertainment for these men, and eventually grew to become an industry for the prostitutes as well as the owners of the brothels. These prostitutes played a very significant and critical role in influencing the foundations of Western civilization during that time, as they became central figures in the art, literature, philosophy, society, and government of Ancient Greece. Moreover, their presence also created more reasons for traders to stop over in Athens; generating more money for the city as sex trade became a major industry, and helping in its establishment to become a greater and more cosmopolitan hub. The trade of prostitution could also be attributed to the older age at which men in Athens married. Men in Athens often married after the age of 30. In order to gain sexual experience, men would often seek out prostitutes to broaden their experiences before they got married. Contrary to prostitution today whereby the profession is widely illegal and frowned upon, prostitution was legal in Athens and was morally acceptable.

Prostitutes classified

So maybe you’re wondering who were these prostitutes and what exactly did they do? Well, there were three classes of prostitutes that were officially recognized; namely the dicteriades, auletrides, and hetaera. The dicteriades formed the lowest class of prostitutes, and these were educated only in sexual technique. Next, the auletrides (literally translated to be “flute-players”) were middle class prostitutes who were also accomplished in the fields of music, singing, and dancing. The hetaera, on the other hand, were women that were both free and self-employed, and were known to be the most important women in Greece, as well as the most important sex workers in the entire history of the world. Hence, we will be focusing more on this interesting group of individuals -- the hetaera!

The Hetaera

The profession of being a hetaera was just as honorable as any other profession in Athens. The difference between a hetaera and a run-of-the-mill prostitute or pornai (as they were known) was that the hetaera were well educated and could hold their own in the conversations between men. They were treated more like “companions” for the men they served; in the sense that apart from providing the men with quality sexual service because of their stunning physical features, they were also stimulating company for Athenian men at drinking parties (symposia), and their company was often much more appreciated than their wives’. In a period whereby women had little say, and men were the ones making the decisions and throwing gatherings that only men could partake in, the hetaera were the only women who did not enter such parties as servants. Many of the prominent members of Athenian society had hetaerae for companions. Some of you may remember Pericles (a famous orator and general of Athens) in our classes on Greece, he too had a long-time female companion, a famous hetaera by the name of Aspasia who helped him in his work.

You could think of the hetaera as being somewhat like a modern business woman. She had the choice of how she would like to conduct her business. Some hetaera chose to only serve 2 to 3 wealthy clients, other hetaera chose to offer themselves as conversationalist or entertainers for parties, while some others would also offer services from their homes in the day. In a day and age where women who were considered “respectable” had to depend on men to provide for them, the hetaera proved to be independent women who were capable of earning their own keep. Hetaera who were talented in their profession could even earn enough to live a life that was considered to be wealthy and comfortable.

However, being a hetaera did not mean that one was guaranteed a lifetime of comfort. Most hetaera were not citizens in Athens, and this, coupled with the fact that they were not virgins, meant that they were not marriageable. Since youth and physical attributes would fade with age, so would buisness for the hetaera decrease as they aged. They often had to look for other ways to provide for themselves as they grew older. One of the ways in which they did so was by buying slaves or bearing female children to continue the trade of prostitution. Those who received significant favour may have also been taken by some Athenian men as concubines; however, it must be noted that any children she bore were not considered Athenian citizens.

Power to (some) Women in Athens

All in all, although most women had to depend on men’s provision because of the structure of society during that time period, prostitutes, and in particular the hetaera were allowed to make their own keep and were even in positions which were considered to be respectable in Athenian society. These women proved to be “more than meets the body” because besides their physical beauty, they had both talent and wit.  The hetaera proved to be powerful women in a society whereby there was little power and autonomy were given to women.



We bet you’ve all heard of Zeus, even if you may not know exactly who he is. Well, if you already knew who Zeus is, you’re still in for a treat because the number of people he slept with and the measures he took to achieve his amorous desires will serve as an eye-opener for you!


Well, technically, he isn’t on earth because he is the Greek god of sky! Not only that, he also ruled as the King of the Olympus gods after disposing his father, Cronus. Zeus was seen as unfaithful as he was notorious for sleeping around. However, most of his romantic pursuits weren’t consensual. He had the habit of transforming himself into animals to rape the women he was attracted to!

Statue of Zeus. By Riccardo Botta / EyeEm via Getty Images


Zeus’ official wife and queen was his sister, Hera, the goddess of marriage. He succeeded in bestowing that title upon her when he violated her in his real form after disguising himself as an injured cuckoo to receive Hera’s pity. Truly embarrassed by this incident, Hera had no choice but to wed Zeus to mask her shame.

Hera was notorious for her jealous and vengeful nature (also known as Hera’s wrath). She was always seen meddling in Zeus’ countless affairs and exacting revenge on her love rivals. In fact, Hephaestus, one of Hera's offspring, was her virgin-born child whom she bore in a fit of anger as she could not stand watching Zeus sleep around with other women!

Greek Gods Zeus and Hera were the rulers of Olympus. Their roman equivalents are Jupiter and Juno, By Cristian Baitg via Getty Images

Zeus’ first wife, Metis, the goddess of wisdom did not share a long union with him. Threatened by the knowledge of being overthrown by a second child, Zeus tricked Metis into turning herself into a fly and swallowed her before the birth of their firstborn, Athena. Nine months after swallowing Metis, Zeus had a terrible headache and ordered to have his forehead split open with an axe, from which Athena sprang out. (“The Goddess Athena”, loc. 16-19) Fun fact: Zeus became wiser after swallowing Metis and it was said that the goddess of wisdom was giving him advice from his tummy!

After Zeus’ marriage with Metis ended with her in his stomach, he married Themis and they had several children. Zeus also fathered the Three Graces with his third wife, Eurynome.

Zeus wanted it all, family or not. In fact, before Zeus wedded Hera, the sister he was first attracted to was Demeter! Despite Demeter’s resistance, Zeus successfully violated her by disguising himself as a bull. Zeus’ next wife was his aunt, Mnemosyne, who gave birth to the nine Muses after she slept with him for nine solid nights.

Zeus wedded Hera while his sixth wife, Leto, was pregnant with his child. Hera was incredibly jealous of Leto hence she gave Leto an incredibly hard time during her pregnancy. Thankfully, Leto managed to birth two children who grew up fast and protected their mother.


Aside from his marriages, Zeus had numerous affairs as well. In fact, he also slept with our Mother Earth, Gaia! Gaia was his grandmother and they bore two children together.

Zeus’ taste in women was far from exclusive. Divine or mortal, Zeus was unstoppable (imagine Hera’s rage). Zeus had an affair with a mortal woman, Semele, and when Hera came to know of this affair, she disguised herself before Semele and convinced her to ask Zeus to present himself in the same grandeur that he would before Hera. Zeus granted Semele’s wish although it meant her death as she was a mortal incapable of withstanding the grandeur in which Zeus appeared. 

Hera’s wrath also extended to another mortal whom Zeus had an affair with — Io, who was well-known for her long persecution by Hera. Zeus seduced Io under a cloud to prevent Hera from finding out. Fun fact: Io was a priestess at one of Hera’s temples so if Zeus and Io were caught red-handed in bed, Io would be damned! Zeus turned Io into a cow before Hera confronted him about the two of them. However, he was outsmarted by Hera as she knew that the cow was Io and demanded Zeus to gift it to her. When Zeus asked for Io to be delivered back to him, Hera sent a gadfly (no, not Socrates!) to chase after Io who was still in her cow form. Io ultimately escaped the clutches of Hera and the gadfly at Nile, where she transformed back to human form and gave birth to Zeus’ son.

The famous Helen of Troy was also fathered by Zeus when he visited Leda in the form of a swan which resulted in Leda giving birth to an egg from which came Helen and her twin, Clytemnestra. However, the exact paternity of Helen and Clytemnestra was questionable as Leda slept with a mortal man shortly after she was visited by Zeus. Leda also had another pair of twins who were supposedly fathered by the mortal man. Well, they didn't have the technology to run a DNA test back then!



Homosexuality wasn’t uncommon among the Greeks as we’ve discussed in class. Zeus’ erotic escapades certainly weren’t restricted to the female gender only! He was attracted to Ganymede, a Troy Prince and had him abducted to Olympus to serve as a cupbearer to the gods. Although not many cultures today approve of such behaviour, the Greeks practiced pederastyAs such, even though Zeus was perceived as being lustful and lecherous by raping women repeatedly, he assumed a more mature and responsible role of a mentor when he introduced an innocent boy into the ways of adult society. *Click here for more information on pederasty!

Zeus’ amorous escapades were difficult to track. Apart from his numerous erotic and incestuous relationships, he also had many children whose mothers were unknown, hence the genealogy of the gods could be really confusing and baffling! Oh well, guess we just have to . . .



Hey guys! So! To make our last blog post relatable and memorable to us, we decided on the topic of twins in mythology (Hurrayyyy!). Even though we are twins ourselves, we still find it fascinating when we come across another set of twins but perhaps, not as much a non-twin individual would (we might be wrong here). Anyway, back to the topic, we really wanted to do something fun and something that was particularly closer to us both so we thought why not twins? and here we are. In class, we already learnt about the story of the orphaned twins Romulus and Remus, who were raised in the wilderness and discovered the magnificent city of Rome. So for today, we will be exploring more on other twins in ancient mythology and what essentially made their story so interesting and famous. There are many different versions of every story so keep that in mind!

Heracles and Iphicles (Hercules and Iphecules)

Heracles (or Hercules) and Iphicles were twin brothers. Heracles was believed to be the son of Greek god, Zeus and thus, his superpowers. Iphicles on the other hand, was the son of Amphitryon and Alcmene (their mom) who were both mortals so he did not have any of his brother’s superpowers. This may perhaps explained why Heracles was more famous and why many of you did not know that he had a twin brother (AM I RIGHT?!). What essentially made people believe that Heracles was the son of Zeus is the story of when the twin brothers were infants. Apparently, when Hera, third lawful wife of Zeus, knew that he cheated on her and heard about the twins, she got jealous and sent two serpents down to kill them. While Iphicles screamed and cried when he saw the serpents, Heracles on the other hand, choked the serpents by their throats and killed them.

While we do not know much about Iphicles, what we do know is that he joined his brother on many adventures and eventually died battling the Moliones (another pair of twins, Eurytus and Cteatus, sons of Poseidon and Molione) with Heracles. In Greek mythology, Heracles was described as a demigod who grew up to become a strong warrior and a hero. He was famous for accomplishing the “twelve labors” that made him immortal. Additionally, he also played a big role in the victory of the Olympians against the Giants.(Read more about that here:

Apollo and Artemis

In Greek mythology, Apollo was the God of the sun, music and prophecy, and Artemis was the Virgin Goddess of the moon, childbirth, hunt, and nature.

The pair Apollo and Artemis was the son and daughter of Zeus (the King of the Gods) and his favorite lover, Leto (a Titan goddess). The birth story of the twins was not an easy one because Heta (the legitimate wife of Zeus) was envious and hated Leto despite the fact that the pregnancy happened before her marriage with Zeus. When Heta heard about the pregnancy, she made sure to stir up all sorts of trouble for Leto and even chased her out of Olympus. Heta also prohibited everyone in Greece from providing help and refuge to Leto. She went as far as to prevent her own daughter Eileithyia (the goddess of childbirth) from aiding Leto during childbirth. Even more outrageous, she had a large serpent called Python hunt down Leto WHILE SHE WAS PREGNANT!!! What a cruel woman!!

Leto eventually settled on an island called Delos. Leto was miserable and was in immense pain for nine days before finally giving birth to Artemis on the tenth day at a nearby pond. Soon after, Artemis assisted her mother in the delivery of her twin brother, Apollo. Hence, Artemis also became known as the new goddess of childbirth. AND! After only FOUR DAYS following their birth, the young and strong Apollo avenged his mother’s pain by killing Python. (YASSSSS!)

Yama and Yami

All direct quotes came from only one source linked in the above heading

Yama and Yami were the son and daughter of Surya (the Sun God) and Sanjna (meaning Conscience). The story goes that Yama and Yami were the first mortals on Earth. Like the story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis, they were also “born into a garden of earthly delights.” Their love for one another prospered as they grew. While Yama’s love for Yami was always platonic and brotherly, Yami wanted more. Yami was devastated by her brother’s rejection and distanced herself away from him.

When she came back later on, she found Yama lying motionless underneath a tree. She called out his name and shook him but he never woke up. The understanding that she was now the only human left on this world made her absolutely heartbroken and miserable. She cried so much that her tears became “a river (the Yamuna), which began to flood the earth.”

The gods wanted to help her but she would continuously say: “But Yama just died today! Yama died today!” The gods then realized that Yami’s nonstop grief and mourning was due to the fact that she lived in “a perpetual interval of time.” There was no yesterday or tomorrow. Hence, this was how night was created as the gods combined their powers to make the sun set below the western horizon and rise above the eastern horizon.

Then, Yami slept through the night for the first time ever and woke up and said: “Why, Yama must have died yesterday!” Therefore, as time passed, her sadness slowly diminished and she became prudent from her acknowledgment of her hardship and her understanding of what it means to be a human.

For Yama, because he was the first human to die and to “discover the ineffable secrets of life, death, and the cosmic laws that govern existence.” There, he became the God of Death, with a secondary title of Dharmaraja, which means “the ‘King of Dharma’ or righteousness.”

Hunahpu and Xbalanque (The Hero Twins)

The Hero Twins, known as Hunahpu and Xbalanque, are popular Mayan demigods. Their story came from Mayan ancient sacred text, the Popol Vuh otherwise known as “The Book of Council”.

To tell the birth story of the Hero Twins, we must first look at their father, One Hunahpu who happened to also have a twin brother, Seven Hunahpu. They were described as knowledgeable and good by nature. One thing that they most enjoyed doing was playing ball and this somehow angered the Death Lords of Xibalba (Mayan underworld). They were thus, summoned to Xibalba, where they were put to many trials and was eventually deceived by the lords and they died in sacrifice. The head of One Hunahpu magically appeared on a tree, which was then touched by Xquic, a goddess of Xibalba and she was pregnant with the Hero twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque.

Just like their father, the Hero Twins also enjoyed playing ball and they were great players. However, they made a lot of noise and this angered the Lords of Xibalba who called them to the Underworld to play a ball game. The Twins similarly went through the trials and they passed them all because they knew the story of their father and uncle. The Death Lords again tried to trick them but they did not fall into the trap. However, they did let the Death Lords kill them because they knew they had to die to essentially become divine. After they returned, the Hero Twins possessed a supernatural power that allows them to bring any living thing back to life when they wish to do so.  Upon hearing this news, the Death Lords eagerly asked the boys to kill them and bring them back to life but unfortunately for them, the Hero Twins knew better and they did not resurrect the Death Lords. Ultimately, the sky gods made the Hero Twins become the rulers of the Earth; they turned into the Sun and the Moon.

The video below tells another version of the story with beautiful artworks. Do check it out if you have time :)



Thank you for reading and we hope you've enjoyed reading about twins! Farewell!!! :D


Determining Pregnancy & Fertility in Ancient Times

Everyone knows how to test for pregnancy or fertility in modern times. An appointment with your doctor can determine your fertility. A trip to the pharmacy store, pay some money and you get a test kit, pee on it and magic happens! That’s about the easiest, fastest and most accurate method you can rely on to determine pregnancy and if you are fertile enough to conceive or not. Pregnancy Test Kit. (Image from Google)


But, how about women in the ancient times – Egypt & Greece? How are they supposed to know if they are pregnant or not? How will they ever know if they are fertile?


On behalf of the ancient Egyptians & Greeks, this post will be answering these 3 questions:

  1. How do women in ancient times determine or confirm their pregnancy?
  2. How to determine fertility in women in ancient times?
  3. Are the methods/tests for pregnancy & fertility scientifically reliable?




One of the earliest written forms of records from the Berlin Medical Papyrus in 1350 BCE suggests that Egyptians women should do a urine-based pregnancy test. It is stated that a woman who suspected herself to be pregnant should pee on wheat or barley seeds for several days. If both seeds did not grow it means that the woman is not pregnant. However, if the barley seeds grew, it means that the woman is expecting a male child. If the wheat grew, it means the woman is expecting a female child.


Barley & Wheat. (Image from Google)

Sounds absurd? Maybe not! Scientists and researches did a testing in 1963 and found that the pregnant women urinating on barley and wheat had indeed promoted growth and it had 70% accuracy in determining pregnancy. That is oddly high. Scientist thought that the elevated growth of the barley and wheat had something to do with one of the components found in pregnant women urine. However, it is not proven that the barley or wheat can determine the gender of the child so that part of the pee test is untrue!


There were 2 other methods named in the same papyrus to determine pregnancy. One of the methods was drinking the breast milk of a mother who had a son and if the woman vomited, she is pregnant. Another method was to get the woman to sit on a pile of mashed dates and beer and if she vomited, she is pregnant.


Is this scientific? NO! Maybe all those vomiting may detect early signs of pregnancy – morning sickness. But then again, the tests are all pretty gross that even men could vomit from them!



The Greeks had a less gross test for pregnancy! It is the Honey Test. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician (460-370 BC) believed that beverages made with honey could determine whether a woman is pregnant. Women were asked to drink a beverage made with honey before sleeping. If she had a bloated stomach or cramps at night, she is definitely pregnant.


Honey. (Image from Google)

So how scientifically sound is the honey test? Not sound at all. Some people just have a bad stomach or weak digestive system. Men can go to bed feeling bloated or cramped after a honey drink too, this shows that the honey test is inaccurate in determining pregnancy!


This brings us to the final question of how the ancient Egyptians and Greeks determined whether a woman is fertile enough to be pregnant?


Both the Egyptians and Greeks believed in the same fertility test. The fertility test involved inserting a clove of garlic or an onion into a woman’s vagina.

Wait...What? (meme image from google)

If the woman’s breath reeked of garlic/onion then she must be fertile! The Egyptians and Greeks logic behind this test is simple. They assumed that every part of the human body is linked, so if the breath smells, it means that there is no blockage at the womb, which allows the smell to travel from the vagina all the way up to the woman’s mouth.


Garlic & Onion

So, how accurate is the garlic/onion fertility test? No scientific basis, every person’s breath differs and the smell of garlic/onion breath could be acquired through food. This means that a man or a woman that is not pregnant can have garlic/onion inserted into the anus (for men) or vagina (for women) can also have garlic/onion breath from the food they ate last night. It does not mean that men could conceive or women wombs were unblocked or blocked. IT DOES NOT DETERMINE ANYTHING ABOUT FERTILITY CASE CLOSED.



To conclude, I thank technology for its advancement that I do not have to wait several days to determine my pregnancy unlike the Egyptians (Need to wait for the Barley/Wheat to grow out) or go through horrid and disgusting tests to determine my fertility. (Nobody wants to have an onion/garlic inserted into their body other than the mouth.)







ξέρετε τι λέτε - Do you know what you're saying?

Greek language has a long history together with the rich heritage of the Greeks in general and it has evolved many times into Modern Greek today. As we have learnt, Greek is an Indo-European language. We have also learnt that Greek language and the culture have been playing huge roles in shaping our society and the influence is still seen in our world today. For instance, the philosophy texts which are credited for the Western world foundation were in Greek and in many dialects of Greek to be exact. The New Testament of the bible was also written in common Greek (Koine Greek). The words we use every day also have Greek etymology and influence, sneaking into our everyday lives and once again, re-emphasising how Greek culture has shaped our society today.

In this blog post, I will be focusing on how Greek language has influenced all of us reading this blog post (or those who speak English, which is a huge number), through our everyday spoken words.

Do you really know what you’re saying? I mean, how well do you know the words you’re using, about their etymologies?


The brand: Hermes

Have you ever struggled with trying to pronounce the luxury brand that people rave about for their handbags, belts and bracelets? I know I did and I can help you with that today! It is not pronounced as “her-mess” but “airrr-misz” in Greek. You’ve got to roll your tongue for the rrrrrr’s. However, the English pronounciation would be “her-miss”, much easier for daily conversational use. Unless you want to be as fancy as the luxury brand, then the Greek pronunciation would probably be a better option.Click on the hyperlink for the actual pronunciation if you’re still unsure.

This word used for the French luxury fashion brand has its roots from Greek culture and Greek mythology to be exact. Hermes is the son of Zeus (yes, again) and Maia. He was a Greek messenger god, god of trade/merchant as well as the god of thieves, travellers and athletes. Hermes was a cheeky god who enjoyed tricking other gods for his own enjoyment or at times he tricked them in order to help the mortals. He was cunning ever since he was an infant as he sneaked out of his cradle and stole Apollo’s goats which made Apollo so mad. He was also skilled in many aspects such as having eloquence, dexterity, inventing.

With all the recent lectures about trade, I guess Hermes must have been a popular Greek god to worship then because of the prevalence of trade and how trade can bring riches to people and society.

In my opinion, he was a really competent and witty god that was just a little too mischievous at times and like how every story needs a witty-comedic character, Hermes has that role in Greek mythology. Kind of like Puck in Midsummer Night's Dream.


Also, his symbolic objects or “logos” are a sandal with wings (talaria), the kerykeion (herald's rod), petasos (brimmed cap) with wings and chlamys (traveller's cloak).







The above images are the logos or symbols of “Hermes” the Greek god, On the other hand, the logo representing “Hermes” to most people today are these...



Now, it’s time for a more commonly used term in our spoken language- Chronology. Chronology is defined as the order in which a series happened and Chrono- is a word-forming-element of time. These words or terms have Greek etymology and it is related to the Greek god of time, Cronos/Kronos. Cronos is a titan, the father of the Greek Olympian gods that we are more familiar with such as Zeus, Poseidon and Hades (the big 3). He overthrew his father and his children overthrew him, because karma.

Before he was overthrown by his children, he made the extra precaution of eating his children once they were born. However, his wife was upset and managed to trick Cronus and prevented Zeus from being eaten. Zeus then forced his father to spew his siblings out who fought together with Zeus against their father in which they succeeded.


Other Words/Terms

Other than words with etymology related to Greek mythology, there are also words that are not related to Greek mythology. For instance, kudos which means praise in Greek and even today in English. Anemia which means the lack of red blood cells today came from the Greek word “aneimon” means unclad, or without. One “without” red blood cells would thus have Anemia. Eureka, an exclamation when one discovers something. A word which was shouted by a Greek mathematician who found out if he was cheated by a goldsmith during his bath.



The list of words could go on forever and this just shows how much we are influenced by Greek language unknowingly or maybe knowingly, every day. As such, continuing and carrying the culture of Greeks even though we do not seem closely related to the Greeks. The language of Greek shown through English single-word etymologies demonstrate what the Greeks valued-their religion, mythology, trade, mathematics. And yet people say “a picture paints a thousand words”! I think it should be “a word tells a thousand/billion/gazillion words”.

I know there has been many blog posts written about the Greeks and it is not tested in our upcoming exam, but I really am attracted to Greek culture and I hope you guys enjoy learning about it as much as I did while preparing for the blog post!


Picture URLs


Makeup Timeline

Makeup. The commodity that got people to spend $8 billion on annually, just in the USA alone. The industry that allows makeup gurus on YouTube to become billionaires, have their wax figures made in Madame Tussauds, just like any Hollywood stars. All these demonstrates how much love we have for makeup. It can be seen as a form of fashion, art and sometimes even a way of making people feel better about themselves. Furthermore, it is also a topic that creates many debate about how much to wear, what to wear and when to wear since the beginning of history. Makeup can tell us about how one’s culture is like, especially when you know how makeup is perceived as in particular cultures.  




The civilization famous for the dark lined eyes, wigs and elaborate fashion sense. They wore makeup for a variety of reasons as seen in simsyeunice  in details in her blog-post. So I will just talk about the uses relatively briefly.

For instance, for magical protection provided from the god Horus when they lined their eyes with black-khol and green malachite.

Furthermore, some researchers reported that their makeup protected them from infections and even increased their immune system because the ingredients they used (arsenic and lead) could kill bacteria. However high dosage would cause high toxicity. The fact that Egyptians were attracted to such compounds due to the colour payoff produced is not very arguable, however whether the Egyptians were aware of the toxicity or benefits of such compounds is disputed.

They viewed cosmetics as objects with magical healing properties, rather than non-magical objects with healing properties like medicine to us. As we have learnt in lecture that they have integrated music into all aspects of life, it makes it difficult for them to view objects with healing properties as non-magical. In my opinion, because of the fact magic was so intertwined with their lifestyles, they themselves probably were not very sure of the actual properties of the substances. Even if they were good at making cosmetics, they may just think that each ingredient possess a special therapeutic function due to the rituals they perform while making the cosmetics rather than having knowledge of the properties.

Makeup was not restricted to some privileged few, but rather something that everyone had access to because both men and women of all classes wore makeup then. We can also infer from this that women enjoyed some degree of independence or rights. Makeup was also used religious reasons, beauty, and health by everyone. Its presence was weaved into their culture, deeply ingrained. The role of makeup in creating the history of Ancient Egypt and telling us about their history is thus significant.


Classical Era 1000BCE-300 CE:


Classical Greece 800-350BCE:

With the influence of women’s role in the Classical Greece culture, women were expected to be virtuous and were not supposed to reveal anything. This social expectation extended into the practice of makeup because women were not allowed to wear heavy makeup since they should be virtuous and focus on domestic chores. Hence, women would only wear a light layer of white powder on their face, colours on their lips and cheeks with fruits or plants. Sometimes they would even use toxic lead-based of mercury-based ingredients for their cosmetics. They also had a unique perception of beauty…

The uni-brow.



If one did not have a uni-brow naturally, they would draw them on with soot or apply animal hair.

They preferred a natural look, just like the current trend of “no-make-up-make-up look” minus the uni-brow of course.

The minimal take on makeup expected by Classical Greece women shows us that the women had little freedom as they were not supposed to be concerned with how they look, but rather focus on being virtuous and fulfilling their domestic duties.


Medieval Era 300-1450CE

Due to the religion during the Early Medieval Era by the churches, women in Europe were not allowed to wear make-up because it was taught to be associated with loose morals. There were even periods where make-up could only be used in brothels. They were also associated with deception and sin. This inspired women to look as natural as possible with their own sneaky techniques experimented at home. This reflects on how women were perceived as the source of temptation and probably did not enjoy much freedom. It also shows that the society then valued spiritual beauty rather than outward appearances due to religion.


During the Late Medieval Era, makeup was back in use. Contrary to the culture in the Early Medieval Era, it was said that an Italian Catholic priest reluctantly agreed that woman should wear makeup to be attractive enough to prevent their husbands from committing adultery and not cause husbands of other wives to commit adultery with them.

Flawless and fair skin was seen as beautiful because of the prevalence of diseases then and also because fair skin meant that one was a wealthy person who did not have to work outdoors (Hmm, fair enough! See what I did there). English women also made their skin pale by applying flour or even based makeup. The females would make their face pale, plucked their brows  and applied rouge to make their cheeks pink. Up to this moment, I cannot help but wonder what is up with society and their eyebrow trends? Frst unibrows, then no brows and today, thick bushy brows!


In conclusion, the practices of makeup can reflect on the cultural values of a society as well as giving us an insight on women were perceived as during then and even today. I am thankful that we do not have such restricting rules for makeup today but just some flexible ones that are even encouraged to be broken at times (eg. "Thou shall not wear heavy eye makeup with a bold lip").

Gro-man Mythology?

Have you heard of Groman Mythology? We are pretty certain you have not. Read to find out more! :) Here's the link, if you cannot view the document below. Blog Post Final

[google-drive-embed url="" title="Blog Post Final! .pdf" icon="" width="100%" height="1100" style="embed"]


By: Anastasia, Renuka, Sherilyn