Greece is known as the breeding place of Western culture and has served as the foundation to the continuous development of modern society. It is where the richest works of art, science, and philosophy were originated which led to the civilization of the modern world. Perhaps, the country owes its fame from the complexity of its past which involves the exceptional strengths of their politics, culture, and social structure systems. These conditions greatly influenced the evolution of their contemporary culture and creative visual arts making the country exceptionally famous. Obviously, the country and the modern world received so much from the genuine and creative minds of the Greeks who took and contributed in large parts to the successes of not just the Greek culture alone but to the modern world also. These people truly deserve special recognition and must be given credit as the world is indebted to them for their colorful existence and essential contributions.
1. Alexander the Great: 356 BC-323 BC
His global fame came from his ingenuity and continuous successes in his military career. His exceptional courage and bravery enabled him to remain invulnerable against the series of battles he waged. He was born in Macedonia’s capital city, Pella. Being famously credited as Alexander the Macedonian and Alexander III, he bravely conquered and established at least 70 towns which were all his profits from the successes he gained in every battle. He was also a student of Aristotle, one of Greece’s famous philosophers, which perhaps influenced him in his ingenuity and courageous skills. His death, however, remained a mystery to the world as it is debatable whether he died from excessive alcohol or from a plague. Today, Alexander the Great is a famous, historical figure.
2. Aristotle: 384 BC-322 BC
His contributions to philosophy, his being a polymath, and his being a founding father of Western philosophy were some of the credentials which made him a prominent historical figure in the modern world. He was also known to be Alexander the Great’s teacher and a writer to various fields related to arts and sciences. He defined subjects and made essential contributions to poetry, metaphysics, logic, linguistics, theater, and sciences. His writings paved way to the broad system of Western philosophy underlining some of its major elements including logic and sciences, politics, morality, and aesthetics.
3. Archimedes: 287 BC-212 BC
His outstanding contributions to mathematics and other related fields made him deserving to be gazed at among other prominent Greek figures. He was highly considered as the most intelligent Greek mathematician in the world encircling the fields of astronomy and physics. He was also an inventor and the founder of the simplest solution of calculating an object’s density while leaving its original state undisturbed. That was, in fact, a discovery through accident when he happened to be in a bathtub yelling ‘Eureka’ after such a discovery. Aside from this, he was also known for his innovative designs on machines and the founder of today’s most common mathematical formulas.
4. Plato: 424/423 BC ”œ 348/347 BC
He was one of the founding fathers of philosophy and Socrates’ most intelligent student. He took part in building the foundations of Western culture and became famous for his writings on philosophical dialogues and mathematics which were published in various styles and led to a more complex reference naming Plato as the original writer of those texts. He also highlighted the following subject areas with Socrates: rhetoric, ethics, mathematics, logic, and philosophy. Later he established the Academy of Athens which introduced a more complex learning system.
5. Parmenides of Elea: Early 5th Century BC
He was one of the great contributors to the ancient Greek philosophy and was the one who established the Eleatic School of Philosophy. The only work which credited and highlighted his today’s fame was his poem entitled ‘On Nature.’ The poem, which was supposed to be longer than it has existed today, was left only as a collection of fragments compiled to be able to build up its original message. This poem highlights the two perspectives of reality. It explains that existence is constant and timeless, and the world is fake and false. His ideas were among the most essential to the foundation of Western philosophy which had affected Plato and has lead to the introduction of a more complex system of Greek philosophy.
6. Pythagoras: About 495 BC
He was a mathematician and a Greek philosopher who belonged to the Ionian tribe of the ancient Greeks. He was also known as the one who established the Pythagoreanism, a religious organization of the early Greeks. History failed to record the accurate biological information about the philosopher, however his works, which were truly a Greek heritage, customarily helped him to be given credit in modern society. He made essential contributions to religious teachings underlining philosophy as a life subject and was, most of the time, greatly considered as a scientist, a mathematician, and a mystic. His contributions also received critical reactions to Plato which opened the gate of a higher form of Western philosophy.
7. Nikos Kazantakis: 1883- October 26, 1957
He was formerly an academician and a philosopher before he claimed his fame in literature. He was a great thinker, a novelist, and a poet. His life as a novelist started after the release of his poem epic The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel in 1938. It is known today as the longest and most successful epic ever alive in Greek history. His subject mainly focuses on fiction including theater screenplays which were mainly non-fiction. He never started writing his novels (after the release of The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, until he was in his 60s. He wrote the first one entitled Zorba the Greek in 1946, The Last Temptation of Christ in the 1960s, and God’s Pauper: Saint Francis of Assisi in 1961. He received an award from Austria which was the International Peace Award on June 28, 1956. Today, his grave lies in Heraklion, Crete bearing his words, ‘I expect nothing. I fear nothing. I am free’ sculpted in the marble.
8. Yorgos Seferis: 1900
He witnessed the genocide and the destruction of his Greek population in Smyrna, Asia Minor in 1922. He was the first Greek awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1963. He was a writer, poet, and a diplomat, and a promoter of Hellenism, a movement which he believed a beneficial way to spread freedom, equality, and democracy to his society. His works are a combination of European and authentic Greek ideas.
9. Vasilis Vassilikos: 1934
He was a novelist and an agent of literature. However, his main interest focused on television directing more than being a novelist. Kamy and Kafka, which inspired his work, pushed him to write a novel The Narration of Jason in 1953. He then became a polygrapher and wrote Z, a novel about Grigoris Lamprakis’ assassination in 1966. The book later was turned into a film in 1969 through the help of Constantinos Gravas, a famous TV director.
10. Yannis Ritsos: 1909-1990
He had witnessed the brutal death of his mother and eldest brother during his youth which perhaps inspired him to be a novelist. His father, who suffered from mental problems, completed his urge to move on after marking the complete devastation of his family. He spent four years in the hospital with his father while establishing a link to a Greek Communist Party. He then started writing and had published his first work, Tractor in 1934 then Pyramids in 1935. These books achieved equity against the faith in the future and the fragile society formed by Communist ideas.
These are just some of the countless Greeks who shared their works for the civilization of today’s modern world. They opened the foundation of various subject areas, and perhaps they’d wish us to continue their unfinished journey. Greece, being the center and the heart of Western culture, is truly the origin of more complex human knowledge.