Ancient Greece

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Caryatids of Erechtheum2.jpg

Think of Crystal Spires and Togas, but without the crystal spires or the togas.

Home of columned temples, chiton-wearing gods, slinkily dressed goddesses, amazons, and bearded philosophers. Also home to mythic thong-wearing heroes who ride winged horses and do great deeds (all without getting either chafed or sunburnt). The Spartans live here too, and they're known for their brutal training methods, stylish slow-motion fighting techniques and for being manly enough to charge nearly naked into battle even when outnumbered 70 to 1. And they definitely aren't gay. Frequently confused with Ancient Rome by directors who just don't care.

In fact, this picture is a blend of two distinct periods; mythical Greece, conventionally said to end with the Trojan War around 1000BC, and classical Greece, home to the first philosophers. The "classical Greece" period itself tends to blend cultures that evolved and combined over the course of many centuries. Until Athens pulled the city-states together for defense against Persia, Greece didn't have a monolithic culture; it was the sum of the cultures of many independent city-states, all angling to make their patron gods the most important, and all ultimately blended together in the giant food processor of history. If you were to visit the Balkan Peninsula in, say, Pythagoras' day, you'd find that religious practices and social mores varied heavily depending on what city you were in.

Popular tropes that feature this time period are
  • Achilles' Heel
  • Achilles in His Tent
  • Action Girl (Artemis, Atalanta, Athena, the Amazons...)
  • An Aesop
  • Badass Army: The Spartans.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Inverted to Tartarus and back. A small wang was a sign of virility, while being hung like a horse was just plain silly looking to them!
    • Though played straight with Priapus, a Greek god of fertility, who sported such a monster, and in fact is the source of the medical term for an unnaturally long-lasting erection. However Priapus' erection is also seen as a symbol of his incredibly boorish and vulgar nature, and all the other gods scorn him.
  • Cassandra Truth
  • Erastes Eromenos
  • Everyone Is Armed: Downplayed. Slaves, women, and foreign visitors weren't and just lugging a sword around town in the middle of the day wasn't always polite. But the franchise tended to be associated with the possession of weapons. Indeed in Athens there was a long controversy over whether naval rowers should be enfranchised as they clearly were contributing to the common defense, but they were not decked out like honorable hoplites, did not own their own weapons, and did not have enough land to prove they would be interested in the survival of a state that guarded it. With all those complications, being armed was considered part and parcel of being a citizen
  • Fatal Flaw
  • Forever War: War was at first a seasonal activity although Greeks preferred to have one battle a year and then adjust each cities turf accordingly so they could get back to their crops. After the Persian invasion showed them what war was like when an absolutist monarch imposed his ideas of war on it war became more bitter and all pervasive.
  • Home by Harvest: One reason they "liked"(in a manner of speaking) phalanx fighting was that it got the war over for a year instead of spending a drawn out period raiding each other.
  • Home Guard: The phalanx was specifically acclimated to this. It's ponderous nature kept it from being used for subtleties but it was a giant thing that rolled over everything in it's path and for a while little could stop it except another phalanx. Thus it equalized things for farmers who did not wish to pay protection to a trained warrior class. Spartans curiously incorporated the phalanx into a regular army.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: It was a common lament during the Peleponesian War that new weapons and tactics had made the manly phalanx fighting obsolete.
  • Love Potion (Eros's arrows)
  • Lucid Dream: The Greeks are aware of lucid dreaming. Aristotle, wrote in "On Dreams"

...often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream.

  • Our Dwarves Are Different: According to historian Victor Davis Hanson they were usually about five foot tall, and while they preferred a track star build as an image of male beauty usually had knotted muscles from pushing plows. They went into battle lugging tons of armor and, well, just look at Socrates. In other words they were Dwarves. On the other hand they did not live underground, they were great sailors, and were famous for philosophy and art. So maybe they were both elves and Dwarves?
  • Physical God
  • Salt the Earth: Zig-zagged. Invading armies would certainly go after the enemies agriculture if seldom using actual salt. However the project was much to difficult and what they were really doing was holding the land hostage to get their enemies to come out and fight, because land was held to equal liberty in sanctity.
  • The Spartan Way
  • Training from Hell
  • The Wrongful Heir to the Throne: In the Classical Period there were few kings but many cities were ruled by Tyrants. Tyrant in the original terminology did not just mean someone like Hitler or Stalin(although these would certainly match as both were prepared to use violence to get to the top) but someone who ruled through Asskicking Equals Authority. Several of these were actually fairly good rulers for their time and no worse then kings and the Greeks just used the word as a description rather then a slur. Perhaps the best rendering is "warlord" although that carries bad connotations today as well unless used ironically. But Greeks though they did not like war normally, had a more ambiguous and less negative attitude toward waging War for Fun and Profit then modern people.

Series set in this time period include:

Anime and Manga

  • Historie
  • So far, alluded to in Axis Powers Hetalia though Herakles/Greece's as yet unseen mother, Mama Greece. It's also implied that she eventually became the Byzantine Empire...only for her to die in Turkey's hands.

Comic Books


Live Action TV

Video Games

Web Comics