Lesson 3: Everyday Life in Ancient Greece

Getting Started

In this lesson, you will learn about ancient Greek beliefs, explore the daily lives of people in ancient Greece, and discover the achievements of some famous ancient Greeks.

Stuff You Need

  • Ancient Civilizations by Joseph Fullman (DK Eyewitness)
  • colored pencils, crayons, or other art materials* (Activity 2 - Option 2)
  • costume and prop materials* (Activity 1 - optional)

* - denotes an optional material that may or may not be needed

Ideas to Think About

  • What is life like for different people in a society?
  • What roles do stories, myths, and legends play in a culture?
  • How do cultures endure over time?

Things to Know

  • Women and men had very different roles in ancient Greece.
  • On a typical day, most ancient Greek people ate a simple diet of bread, porridge, supplemented with cheese, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, honey, and wine. Meat was typically eaten only during festivals or by rich people.
  • A monologue is a lengthy speech by a single character in a play.

Skills

  • Analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the early civilizations of ancient Greece. (SS)
  • Explain the significance of Greek mythology to the everyday life of people in the region and how Greek literature continues to permeate our literature and language today, drawing from Greek mythology and epics, such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and from Aesop's Fables. (SS)
  • Describe the enduring contributions of important Greek figures in the arts and sciences (e.g., Hypatia, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Thucydides). (SS)
  • State the key differences between Athenian, or direct, democracy and representative democracy. (SS)

Introducing the Lesson

In this lesson, your child will learn about ancient Greek beliefs, explore the daily lives of people in ancient Greece, and discover the achievements of some famous ancient Greeks.
Reading and Questions
Materials: Ancient Civilizations by Joseph Fullman (DK Eyewitness)
Read pages 44-45 of Ancient Civilizations. In addition, read the information at the following web link about life in a Greek family. NOTE: Be sure to click on each family member to learn more about him or her. You do not need to enable Flash — you can read all of the text even if Flash is blocked.
Web Link

Questions
  1. How would your education be different than it is today if you lived in ancient Greece?
    Answers will vary. Information about Greek education appears on the BBC website (click on the the images of the boy and the girl). In ancient Greece, school was for boys only, who started school at age 7. School was not free, so poor children were often not well educated. Girls could not attend school and would instead learn cooking and household chores from their mother.
  2. What role did women play in ancient Greek life?
    Women looked after the homes (cooking, spinning, weaving), raised children, and often did tasks like fetching water and shopping. Your child may mention that women, especially wealthy women, did not get out into the community very much and could not leave the house without their husband's permission. Your child may also mention that female slaves worked in homes taking care of children, cooking, and cleaning. (On the BBC website, click on the images of the two women.)
  3. Name one way in which a typical Greek home was like your home and one way in which it was different.
    Answers will vary. An image and description of a typical Greek home is shown on p. 45, and the BBC website supplies additional details.
  4. Describe the type of clothing that Greeks wore.
    Your child may mention that men and women dressed similarly, wearing a tunic called a chiton. Women also usually wore a cloak called a himation. People were barefoot or wore sandals, and those who could afford it enjoyed wearing jewelry.