Lesson 2: How did the arts influence the values of the ancient Greeks?


Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will be able to describe how Greek lives were influenced by religion, the arts, and architecture
  • Students will be able to identify ways that the some ideas and accomplishments made by ancient Greeks relate to us today
  • Students will be able to identify major contributions to the arts, science, literature, and government made by ancient Greeks

Key Terms to Know

Directions: Look up each term in your textbook (pages 157-161) and define each in your Social Studies Notebook.

  • epic
  • Homer
  • fable
  • Aesop

Greek Poetry and Fables


Ancient Greeks used poems and fables as a tool to teach morals and values.

Homer was a famous Greek poet. He wrote epic poems about people doing heroic things. Many believed that the stories Homer wrote were true. Only some were based on actual events.

  • Iliad- based on the events of the Trojan War
  • Odyssey- a heroic story of the 10-year journey home of Odysseus

Epic poems, like these, inspired Greeks. They provided heroes for them to look up to. The stories Homer told taught the importance of courage, bravery, and loyalty. The stories showed Greeks how to be the best they could be and their heroes became role models for young Greek boys.

Click below to get a brief summary of The Odyssey

The Odyssey

Aesop was a slave that wrote fables. The fables used the personification of animals to teach morals and lessons to Greeks. The stories showed people's flaws and strengths.

  • The Tortoise and the Hare
  • The Goose with the Golden Eggs

Click the link below for a read aloud of Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables

In addition to epics and fables, Greeks wrote plays. The plays were either comedies or tragedies. The plays were performed in outdoor theaters (its where we get stadium seating from) and dealt with the big questions of life.

  • What is the nature of good and evil?
  • What rights should people have?
  • What is the role of the gods in peoples' lives?

Ask Yourself

  • Why do you think Greeks used epics and fables to teach morals and values to the people?
  • Can we learn from the lessons taught in Aesop's Fables today?
  • Based on the stories written by ancient Greeks, what qualities do you think the valued most?


  • Choose one of Aesop's Fables from the link above.
  • Summarize the fable and identify the moral of the story.
  • What does the moral of the fable say about the values of the ancient Greeks?

Click below for the next lesson

Lesson 3: How did the ancient Greeks express ideas through art and architecture?

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It's All Greek To Me!