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Friday 15th December
Greece Facts
The bull was sacred to the Minoans and the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur is connected with this belief.

Minoan paintings show young men and women dancing with bulls and even leaping over their horns.

Some people believe that the legendary Atlantis was the Minoan civilization on Crete.

In 3000 BC Minoan Crete had a sophisticated system of plumbing and drainage.

Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, was said to be the home of the Gods - the Olympians.

Delphi was one of the most important religious sites of Ancient Greece and sacred to Apollo. The Oracle at Delphi was consulted by visitors from all over Greece, seeking advice on the future.

Hercules was a famous Greek hero, son of Zeus and the world's strongest man.

Homer's Odyssey tells the story of the legendary travels of Odysseus after the Trojan War.

The Olympic Games originated in Greece around 776 BC. Sports included chariot-racing, athletics and boxing. There were also Olympic events in singing and the arts.

The first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Athens.

In 490 a Persian invasion of Greece was defeated by the Athenians at Marathon (the marathon race recalls the distance run from the battle to Athens with news of the victory).

It is said that in the city of Sybaris, a Greek colony, a chef who invented a new recipe was the only person allowed to use it for a year - the first example of a patent or copyright.

Archytas of Tarentum (428-350 BC) was a mathematician whose work inspired Euclid's The Elements, a leading mathematical work.

Greek philosophers remembered today include Socrates, his student, Plato, Plato's student, Aristotle, Diogenes and Epicurus.

Aristotle was the tutor of Alexander the Great who conquered Persia, Egypt, parts of India and Afghanistan.

Principles evolved by Pythagoras of Samos (mathematics) and Hippocrates of Cos (medicine) form the basis of European scientific thought.

Hippocrates, the famous doctor and medical teacher of Ancient Greece, wrote an oath which is still sworn today by newly qualified doctors.

The works of the ancient Greek playwrights Aeschylus, Euripdes and Sophocles were originally performed in large theatres by players wearing masks. Aristophanes was Athens' most famous comedy writer.

One of the Seven Wonders of the World was the Colossus of Rhodes - a giant statue of the sun god.

Mary Renault wrote a number of historical novels about Greek history including The King Must Die (Theseus), The Last of the Wine (Athens/Sparta war) and The Fire from Heaven (Alexander the Great).

In 1824, the English poet, Lord Byron died during the War of Independence (from the Ottoman Empire) while training Greek soldiers.

Aristotle Onassis, the shipping multimillionaire, married Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of the assassinated US President, John F Kennedy.

In 1981 the singer and actress Melina Mercouri became the Greek Minister of Culture,

In both 1983 and 1997 the Greek government asked the UK to return the marble sculptures from the Parthenon frieze which were removed by Lord Elgin in the nineteenth century.

The present Greek Royal family came from Denmark in the 1860s. A referendum, after the overthrow of army rule in 1975, voted to abolish the monarchy.

The worst rioting for several years took place in Athens in December 2008 sparked by the death of a 15-year-old boy, shot by police. Riots spread to Thessaloniki, Komotini, Ioannina, Corfu and Crete.

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