HOW THE EARLY GREEKS LIVED
 AS has been said before, we do not know very much about what happened to the Greeks in the early times, what
wars they fought or what tribes they overcame. We do know, however, how they lived, how they amused themselves,
and what they thought on many subjects; and this is far more interesting.
If you had gone to the home of one of the Greek princes in the early days, you would have come first to a high,
thick stone wall, with a strong folding-door. When the door was drawn back and you stepped into the court, a
big dog would have sprung out of his kennel to see whether he, as well as his
master, thought you ought to be admitted. If the master was an especially wealthy prince he might not have a
real dog, but rather the image of one, made of gold or silver.
DOOR OF A HOUSE.
Close to the gates were benches of stone carved and polished, where people might sit and talk. In the farther
part of the court were stables for the horses and oxen and carriages, and also places for pigs and geese and
sheep. The court was large enough for a garden, and even an orchard of pear, apple, fig, and olive trees.
Indeed, the house with its court and heavy wall was almost like a fortified village. There was a fountain, of
course; and with plenty of water, with flocks and herds, and the grain that was
 kept in store, such a place could have endured quite a long siege without being starved out.
ANCIENT GREEK VASE.
The house itself had porticoes and pillars and many rooms. There was a second story; and here was a storeroom
where the treasures of the prince were kept. There was no money in it, for the early Greeks did not coin money;
they counted the value of things in oxen. A slave was worth from four to twenty oxen, for instance. There was
plenty of the precious metals in other forms than money, however, for there were vases, cups, bowls, and other
dishes of solid gold and silver. They were of graceful, beautiful shapes, for the Greeks so liked to have
everything around them pleasing to the eye that even the coarsest earthen dish often had a border pretty enough
for a silver vase; perhaps a dance of fauns was painted on it, or a foot-race, or Jason and his fifty
companions setting out on the quest of the golden fleece. In this storeroom there were, too, great wooden
chests ornamented with gold and silver and ivory; and in these were kept costly robes and cloaks and carpets
and fine linen and woven coverings for the benches and beds. There were bracelets and necklaces of many sorts;
and, more precious than all these, there were the swords and spears and knives and bows and arrows with which
the prince and his men would protect their treasures if the house was attacked by enemies. The metal used in
making weapons was sometimes bronze and sometimes copper; but the copper was hardened in some way that we do
THE VAPHIO CUPS.
(MASTERPIECES OF EARLY GREEK ART. THEY ARE MADE OF GOLD AND ARE 3 INCHES HIGH.)
The princes who lived in such houses had slaves, some of whom had been captured in war and some stolen away
from their homes; but the masters were no more afraid to work with their
 own hands than the poor people who lived in huts. Homer tells us that the royal Odysseus made his own bedstead;
and one of the poet's prettiest stories is of the fair young princess Nausicaš setting out with her
maidens and a basket of lunch for the river bank to do the washing of the family, and then playing ball with
the maidens as merrily as any girl who was not a princess might have done. It is a pity that we cannot know
what was in that picnic basket, full of "all manner of food to the heart's desire," as Homer puts it. There
must have been dainties made especially to please the young girls, for at the feasts there seems to have been
only the simplest of food, hardly more than bread and meat. The Greeks did not like to be hungry any better
 other people; but when they went to a feast, they thought less about the food they were to eat than about the
people with whom they should talk.
DESIGN ON ONE OF THE VAPHIO CUPS.
(IT REPRESENTS A WILD BULL HUNT.)
If we could have looked in upon one of their banquets, we should have seen a room full of guests, with servants
placing among them little tables only large enough for one person. A chair was put before each table, and the
guests took their seats. The servants brought them silver bowls of water, in which they washed their hands.
Then great joints were borne in and laid before the carver, who cut the meat into mouthfuls, a very necessary
thing to do, for there were no forks in those days, and if people ate at all they had to eat with their
fingers. A dish of meat was placed before each guest, and then baskets of bread were passed around. The drink
was wine, but often three times as much water as wine was poured into the cup. It was always passed to the
oldest first, even if he was only a common man and young princes were among the guests. To drink too much was a
disgrace; for to the Greeks a drunken man was a most disgusting object, and there was nothing more insulting
than to accuse a man of having ever taken too much wine. The bard was present, of course, and he was always a
welcome guest. This is the way Homer describes his reception:—
GREEK GIRLS PLAYING BALL.
"The page drew near, leading the honored bard. The muse had greatly loved him, and had given him good and ill;
 away his eyesight, but gave delightful song. Pontonous placed for him among the feasters a
silver-studded chair, backed by a lofty pillar, and hung the tuneful lyre upon its peg above his head, and the
page showed him how to reach it with his hands. By him he set a tray and a good table, and placed thereon a cup
of wine to drink as need should bid."
A GREEK BARD.
If a stranger appeared and asked for food, he was treated as a friend, and no one questioned who he was or
whither he was going, until he had eaten all that he wanted. Even if a man's worst enemy came to his door with
an olive branch in his hand, or made his way into the house and knelt at the hearth, he must have food and
shelter, and no one was allowed to do him harm.
The children of the early times did not go to school. Why should they when the chief thing for a girl to learn
was how to manage the house as her mother
did; and the chief thing for a boy to learn was how to do what his father did? Therefore the girl followed her
mother about house, learning how it should be cared for, and how to teach
 slaves to do their work. She must learn to spin and weave, of course, and to sing and dance. The boy, too, was
taught singing and dancing; but he must also learn to care for the herds and flocks, to cultivate the land, and
to use weapons. There was no need of studying reading or writing, for there was little if any to study. All the
arithmetic that was necessary could be learned from counting the flocks. As for history, that consisted of
myths and legends, which were no harder to remember than so many fairy tales. Geography, too, must have seemed
almost like a fairy tale; for the early Greeks thought the earth was a plain, around which the ocean, a broad
river, was ever flowing. Beyond this ocean-stream was darkness, and no one knew what fearful monsters. The sky
was two mighty domes, a bright one that was overhead by day, and a dark one that shut down at night: Greek
children played games, of course, and some of them were much the same as those played to-day. One was called
"Five Pebbles." In this the child tossed up five little pebbles and tried to catch as many as possible on the
back of his hand. Those that fell to the ground he might pick up, but in so doing he must not drop the others.
ULYSSEUS AND NAUSICAA
(SHOWING THE HAPPY OUTDOOR LIFE OF THE GREEKS.)
The Greeks enjoyed life, and looked upon death as putting an end to all their joys. They believed that they
would live forever, but they did not expect to be happy in the after life. Great heroes, to be sure, were borne
to a beautiful place called the Elysian Fields, which lay far to the west, close beside the
ocean-stream. Homer said of it, "No snow is here, no winter long, no rain; but the loud-blowing breezes of the
west the Ocean-stream sends up to bring men to coolness."
 There the heroes went on with whatever they had liked best to do on earth, and there they enjoyed all sorts of
pleasures; but no such happiness was in store for common men. They expected to be sent to a sad and gloomy
place called Hades. There they would remember the light of the sun and long to see it again; they would
remember their homes and friends, but almost as if they were dreaming. Nothing would seem real, and all things
would be dull and cheerless. They would wander about like shadows in the dismal twilight forever, with nothing
to enjoy and nothing to hope for.
As the Greeks did not expect any happiness after death, they
 were all the more eager to have as much as possible while they lived. They thought the gods had power to give
them whatever hey wanted, provided the Fates did not forbid; therefore they worshiped them in order to win
favors for themselves. They did not often think of the gods as being better than men, but only as being more
powerful. Parents did not say to their children, "Zeus is good, and therefore you must try to be like him";
they said, "Zeus can give you what you want, and so you must offer up a sacrifice to him." They believed that
one god had the power to give safe returns from journeys; another, recovery from illness; another, victory over
enemies; and therefore they prayed to the one whom they thought most likely to grant the special favor that
HADES, RULER OF THE LOWER WORLD.
How to please the gods, and so get what they wanted, was an important matter. The Greeks who lived at the time
when Homer is thought to have sung used to talk together of the golden days when the gods walked about among
men, doing them harm sometimes, to be sure, but often helping and advising them. They no longer expected to
meet gods and goddesses when they were walking about in the forests, and to learn their commands and feelings
they watched for signs and tokens. If a sacrifice was offered to Zeus, the falling of a thunderbolt meant that
he was pleased and would grant the prayer. A sudden tempest showed that he was angry. Birds that flew far up in
the air were supposed to have learned the secrets of the gods, and therefore their movements were closely
(THE PROCESSION IS APPROACHING THE STATUE OF A GOD)
There was a surer way, however, of learning the will of the
 gods, and that was by going to an oracle, or place chosen by them to make their will known. There were many
oracles in Greece, usually situated in wild, gloomy spots, in the depths of a forest or among the most jagged
rocks and precipices. The oldest oracle was that of Zeus, in the narrow valley of Dodona in
Epirus. Whoever wished to consult it first made gifts to the priests. They offered up sacrifices, and
then listened to hear what answer would come. The only sounds heard were the cooing of doves, the rustling of
the breeze among the leaves of the sacred oaks, and the murmuring of the spring at their foot; but the priests
claims that they could understand these sounds and interpret them. No question was too important to be carried
to Dodona, and non was too trivial. Heracles himself was said to have gone to ask when his labors would be at
an end; and one troubled house-holder went to inquire whether his vanished coverlets and pillows were lost or
had been stolen.
 The most famous oracle was that of Apollo, at Delphi in Phocis. Here was a deep cleft in the
rocks of Mount Parnassus, and from a fissure rose a stupefying vapor. The priestess was placed on a
tripod over this fissure, and soon the gas made her half unconscious. Then the priests noted all her
mutterings, and interpreted them for the one who had come to consult the oracle.
THE VALE OF DELPHI.
These priests must have contrived to know a good deal about what was going on in the world, for their replies
were exceedingly keen and shrewd. They were especially skillful in so framing their the oracle answers that
they could be read with opposite meanings; and if the event did not result as the questioner expected, they
could say that it was his own fault for not reading the answer aright. For instance, King Crúsus of
Lydia asked, "If I invade Persia, shall I succeed?" The answer was, "If you invade Persia, you will
overthrow a mighty empire"; and so he did, but it was his own, and not the Persian, as he had expected. The
question was once asked, "Is there any man who is wiser than Socrates?" and the answer was "No." When
the philosopher heard of this, he said. "The oracle is right. None of us know what is truly good
 and honorable; but I see my ignorance, while they do not see theirs; therefore I am wiser than they."
Wherever there was an oracle, there a temple was built. Suppliants always gave generously to these temples, and
therefore they became very rich, especially that at Delphi. All Greeks looked upon the oracles as sacred, and
lest some harm should come to the temples with their masses of treasure, groups of cities began to unite that
they might protect them if need should arise. These unions were called amphictyonies, or "groups of
neighbors." The Delphic amphictyony was, as one would expect, the strongest of all. This was made up of twelve
tribes, all of whom dwelt north of the Isthmus of Corinth. They agreed to protect the temple of Apollo at
Delphi, and to punish whoever might attempt to steal its treasures. They also took care of the roads that led
to the shrine; and if any one ventured to annoy the suppliants who were on their way to it, he had the whole
Delphic amphictyony to reckon with. In spite of this union, the tribes expected to make war upon one another if
they chose; but they agreed that when they fought, they would not destroy one another's towns or try to cut
them off from running water; and even this was a vast improvement on the usual way of fighting in those times,
when it was thought fair to get the better of an enemy in any way possible.
AN ANCIENT GREEK TEMPLE, RESTORED
The amphictyonies did much to make the Greeks feel that they were of one race, and that even if they did
quarrel, they all belonged to the same family. This feeling was strengthened by their speaking the same
language. A third bond that united them more closely with one another than with the "barbarians" was the
"games," in which Greeks alone were allowed to contend. Even in Homer's time, and no one knows how much
 earlier, the Greeks believed that the gods liked to watch athletic contests; and, therefore, at any large
festival in honor of a god the races were as important as the sacrifices. Four of these festivals became
famous, and the one held at Olympia in honor of Zeus was the most renowned of all. In later times, as
will be seen farther on, many different kinds of contests were practiced; but the foot-race was always the
chief event, and in earlier days it was the only one. In 776 B.C. the Greeks began to record the names of the
victors. This date marks the end of the legendary times and the beginning of the real history of Greece.
The home of a Greek prince in early times was almost like a fortified village.
The house contained many beautiful and costly articles and also weapons.
The feasts were simple, and the bard was ever a welcome guest.
 Children were taught to do what their parents did.
The Greeks expected to live forever, but did not expect happiness in the after life. They worshiped the gods in
order to win favors for themselves. The oracles were believed to reveal the will of the gods. The most famous
was at Delphi. The temples at the oracles were very rich.
Three bonds uniting the Greeks were, (1) the amphictyonies; (2) the language; and (3) the games.
SUGGESTIONS FOR WRITTEN WORK
Describe a visit to a Greek prince.
Write a story of a child's offering a sacrifice to Zeus.
Describe (from a picture) a Greek vase or cup.
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