Life in Ancient Greece

Life in Ancient Greece

The way of life in Greek city-states remained
mostly the same for a long time. Depending on their wealth, people in the
urban center lived in low apartment buildings or single-family homes. Homes,
public buildings, and temples were where people gathered for conversation
and to buy food and crafts at daily markets. Citizens also lived in small
villages or farmhouses scattered around the city-state\'s countryside. In

Athens, more people lived outside the city\'s wall than inside.

Houses were simple, containing bedrooms,
storage rooms, and a kitchen around a small inner courtyard, but no bathrooms.

Waste was dumped in a pit outside the door and then collected for disposal
in the countryside. Most families consisted of parents and their children,
but generally no other relatives. Fathers were responsible for supporting
the family by work or by investments in land and commerce. Mothers were
responsible for managing the household\'s supplies and overseeing the slaves,
who fetched water in jugs from public fountains, cooked, cleaned, and looked
after babies. Light came from olive oil lamps, heat from smoky charcoal
braziers. Furniture was simple and sparse, usually consisting of wooden
chairs, tables, and beds.

Food was simple too; they grew olives,
grapes, figs, and some grains, like wheat and barley, and kept goats to
provide milk and cheese. Bakeries sold fresh bread daily, and small stands
offered snacks. Most people also raised chickens and ate eggs regularly.

Although the soil was poor for growing many types of grains, olive trees
and grapes grew quite well in Greece and they still do today. Fish,
seafood, and wine diluted with water were very popular food items. In some
of the larger Greek city-states, meat could be purchased in cook shops.

Meat was rarely eaten, and was used mostly for religious sacrifices.

Men kept fit by exercising daily to be
ready for military service. Every city-state had at least one gymnasium,
a combination exercise building, running track, bathing facility, lecture
hall, and park, open only to males. Men who lived in the city went there
for physical training, ball games, gambling, and relaxation. Women entertained
themselves by visiting friends and attending public festivals.

City-state festivals provided the most
exciting entertainment. Gods were honored with competitions in music, dance,
drama, and poetry. Athens boasted of holding a festival nearly every other
day. The huge Panhellenic festivals held at Olympia, Delphi, Nemea, and

Isthmia attracted spectators and professional contestants from throughout
the Greek world. Athletes and musicians who won competitions became rich
and famous. The most spectacular event was chariot racing, which required
excellent horses.