To celebrate the release of The Legend of Hercules on 3D Blu-ray and DVD we take a look at the most epic and interesting true facts about Ancient Greece. In the film, Kellan Lutz stars as the mythical Greek hero, Hercules, in an epic origin story. The son of Zeus is betrayed by his stepfather, a tyrant King (Scott Adkins) and sold into slavery. Hercules must then embark on a legendary odyssey using his extraordinary strength to overthrow the king and restore peace to the land…
So here we have 20 of the most interesting facts about the world of Hercules and the Ancient Greeks:
1. The earliest Greek civilizations were going strong nearly 4,000 years ago (approximately 1600 BC). The Ancient Greek Empire spread from Greece through Europe and in 800 BC, the Greeks started to split their land into city-states until 146 BC when the Romans invaded Greece.
2. The ancient Greeks all spoke the same language, believed in the same Gods and shared a common heritage. And they all considered themselves to be Greeks.
3. The first Olympic Games were held in 776 BC at the Greek city of Olympia in honour of their God Zeus. Their Olympics included boxing, javelin, long jump, discus, chariot racing and wrestling. Wrestling events had barely any rules, except that participants had to be naked!
4. Greek city-states were often at war with each other. But before their Olympics, a truce would be called so that people could travel to Olympia and enjoy the event.
5. Miniature elephants used to live on the Greek islands of Crete, Cyprus, and various other Mediterranean islands too.
6. The Greeks believed that dance was vital to maintain emotional and physical well-being.
7. Music was a form of mathematics as well as art. Pythagoras discovered this by listening to the hammer work of blacksmiths.
8. They believed that an oath sworn by Gaia (their name for the Earth) was strongest, since no one could escape from the Earth herself.
9. Electrical shocks were given to people using torpedo fish for medicinal purposes.
10. The Ancient Greeks helped develop the alphabet as we know it today. The first two letters of the Greek alphabet – alpha and beta – gave us the word ‘alphabet’ itself.
11. The ancient Greeks considered their children to be ‘youths’ until the age of 30.
12. Poems sang by bards were newspapers and literature of their time.
13. Ancient Greeks did not eat tomatoes, potatoes, oranges and lemons since these were unknown to them. They also had some strange superstitions about food – some wouldn’t eat beans as they thought they contained the souls of the dead. They also would never eat meat unless it had been sacrificed to a God.
14. Ancient Greek children played with toys we would recognise now like rattles, clay animals, horses on wheels that could be pulled on a string, dolls and yo-yo’s.
15. The yo-yo was used 3,000 years ago by the Greeks. This makes it the second oldest known toy in the world after the doll.
16. Slaves were very important to daily life. Slaves cleaned and cooked, worked in the fields, factories, shops, in the mines, and on ships. Even the police force in Athens was made up of slaves. Most slaves lives were not that different from a poor Greek citizen’s life.
17. Most Ancient Greeks wore a chiton – which was a long t-shirt made from one large piece of cotton. The poor and slaves made do with a loincloth.
18. Men of ancient Athens would rival each other in the excellence of their beards. As a result beard trimming became an art and barbers became important citizens.
19. The Ancient Greeks invented theatre. Most cities had a theatre – some big enough to hold 15,000 people. Only men and boys were allowed to be actors, and they famously wore masks to show if their character was happy or sad.
20. Hercules (called Heracles by the Greeks) was the greatest of all heroes in Greek mythology. Hercules was said to be the strongest man on earth. Besides his tremendous physical strength, he had great self-confidence and considered himself equal to the Gods.
Lionsgate UK releases THE LEGEND OF HERCULES on 3D Blu-ray and DVD on 4th August 2014