Greece for Kids
There is a period
in ancient Greek history called the Grecian Dark Ages. This is the time
when the Dorians ruled the people who lived scattered across the Greek
peninsula. A dark age is a time period we know little about. One reason
for the Grecian or Greek dark age is that the Dorians did not have a
written language. The Dorians were not into
art or music or literature. The Dorians were into war. Their life was
spent fighting. The Dorians did not build cities. They destroyed
It was easy for the
Dorians to conquer ancient Greece. Before Dorian rule, tribes of early
people might vaguely know there was a village downstream. They might
even trade with them. But they did not work together. They did not
speak the same language. They did not have a common history. They used
stone tools. They had stone weapons. The Dorians had metal
weapons. When the Dorians swooped down on the Greek peninsula, they
had no trouble taking over. Their rule lasted for about 400
We do know a few
interesting things that happened during the Grecian Dark Ages thanks to
During the Greek dark
ages, some people earned a living with their storytelling skills. The
storytellers went from town to town. Because the townspeople did not
like the Dorians, the storytellers told stories about other people. Some
storytellers told their stories in the Greek language, to further
distance themselves from the hated Dorians.
Using the Greek language
to tell their stories caught on among the storytellers. It made it
easier for them. The storytellers did not need to speak every language
spoken on the Greek Peninsula. They only had to speak Greek. The people
in the towns and villages quickly learned the Greek language so they
could better understand the stories. The Greeks always loved a good
story. Soon, the ancient Greeks had a common language.
Storytellers told fables,
myths and legends. Different storytellers might give a new twist to a
story, but the basic story was told over and over.
A fable is a very short
story with a moral. Fables gave these early people a common culture, a
way of behaving.
A myth is a story about
gods and goddesses and other mythical creatures. Myths gave these early
people a common religion.
A legend is a story about
an event that happened in the past. To qualify as a legend, the story
cannot be proven, although it might be true. The legends told by the
storytellers were all about heroes, but the heroes were not Dorian
warriors. They were about people who cleverly worked together to defeat
a common enemy. One of the most popular legends was the story of the
Trojan horse. Legends gave these early people a common past. Legends
also gave them a blueprint of what they needed to do to defeat the
Dorians - they had to band together. This probably was not intentional
by the storytellers, but it was effective just the same.
Thanks to the
storytellers, the people now had a common language. They had a common
history. They had a common religion. They thought of themselves as one
people. They though of the Dorians as intruders. And they knew if they
wanted to beat the Dorians they would have to work together.
These early people did
learn one important thing from the Dorian invaders. They learned to make
metal tools and metal weapons. This came in quite handy when the Greeks
began to organize themselves into city-states, and work together.
City-states could be defended. The Greeks used their new knowledge of
metal weapons to defeat the hated Dorians.
the Dark Ages:
The Ancient Greek City-States