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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Most CRAZY Things Ancient Greeks Did!

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From metal bulls roasting people to death to philosophers in barrels, here are ten crazy

things the ancient Greeks did.


Milo of Croton

The Ancient Greeks invented progressive strength training.

Milo of Croton won six Olympiads in the wrestling events.

He also won multiple times at the Pythian Games, Isthmian Games, and Nemean Games.

Milo loved to show off his strength and dexterity.

According to sources, his favorite trick was to hold a pomegranate and have people try

to take it from him.

No one was strong enough to take the pomegranate from him and he also managed to not damage

the fruit.

How did he gain such prodigious strength and skill?

According to popular legend, Milo noticed a newborn calf near his home.

He decided to lift the animal and carry it on his shoulders.

He returned the next day and did it again.

He did it every day until the calf grew to a four-year-old bull.

Thus was progressive strength training born.

Heres another wild athlete story.

Theagenes of Thasos was a formidable fighter who won over 1,300 bouts over his two decade


He even won a crown for long-distance running in the city of Argos.

As a boxer, he was never defeated.

According to legend, years after his death, a vandal tried to deface a statue honoring


The bronze statue broke in half and crushed the would-be criminal.


Birth Control by Sneezing

The Ancient Greeks had various forms of birth control.

Some forms involved certain herbs and plants, which worked very well.

However, one physician, Soranus, advised women to do something a little odd.

After intercourse, women were told to squat and sneeze to avoid becoming pregnant.

He also suggested jumping up and down to dislodge the sperm.

If thats not crazy enough for you, the website was still debunking the

jump up and downmethod of birth control as recently as 2007.


Brazen Bull

In the 6th century BC, a brass worker named Perilaus of Athens created a large, hollow

bull made of brass and gave it to a ruler named Phalaris.

A door on the side of the bull allowed a man to climb into the sculpture.

Once the door was closed, a fire could be lit from underneath and slowly roast the person

to death.

But it doesnt end there.

In the head of the bull was a series of stops and pipes that transformed the screams of

the person intothe tenderest, most pathetic, most melodious of bellowings”.

Phalaris was far from impressed.

So disgusted by the cruelty of the piece, he asked Perilaus to climb into the bull and

demonstrate the capabilities of the pipes.

Once inside, Phalaris shut the door and ordered a fire lit beneath the bull.

He reportedly said, “Receive the due reward of your wondrous art; let the music-maker

be the first to play.”

Before Perilaus died, they removed him from the bull and threw him off a cliff.

Despite Phalariss disgust, the brazen bull became the most common form of execution in

Ancient Greece.

Heres an extra fact.

Phalaris was a tyrant ruling in Acragas in Sicily from 570 BC to 554.

Hes known for several building projects but he did have a cruel streak that made him

the proverbialevil tyrant”.

According to legend, after he was overthrown by a general, the new ruler ordered Phalaris

to die by roasting to death inside the brazen bull.


Victorious Corpse

Did you know?

Cheating was a huge problem in Ancient Greek sport, just like today.

Most of the time, it was the usual bribery or foul moves during games.

Here is a picture of a scene on a kylix depicting two pankratists fighting.

One of them is trying to gouge out the eye of his opponent while simultaneously biting.

The umpire is preparing to strike the fighter for the foul.

Some fighters would find an easier way and try to curse or hex their opponents using

curse tabletsto make them lose.

An event held during the Olympic Games was the pankration, which was a mixed martial

arts style that blended boxing and wrestling.

Most famous of the pankratists was Arrhachion.

During the 54th Olympiad in 564 BC, Arrhachion entered the pankration to defend his championship.

However, his opponent got the better of him and put Arrachion into a chokehold.

It is said Arrhachions trainer shouted, “What a fine funeral if you do not submit

at Olympia”.

Arrhachion responded by twisting and kicking his opponents foot and dislocating it.

The pain forced his opponent to surrender.

Unfortunately, the move broke Arrhachions neck.

Despite that, the judges named Arrhachion the victor.

In death, he successfully defended his title.

His fame spread as people held him up as the athletic ideal.

Geographer Pausanias mentioned a statue immortalizing Arrhachion during his description of Phigalia,

making it the oldest victor statue ever recorded.


Throw an Apple

Throughout history, there have been dozens of ways for one person to declare love to


The Ancient Greeks put an interesting twist on it: they threw apples.

According to Greek myth, Eris, the goddess of discord, was upset that no one invited

her to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis.

True to her nature, she threw a golden apple inscribed with the wordsto the most beautiful

into the wedding party.

Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all claimed the apple.

For whatever reason, they chose Paris of Troy to select the recipient.

Hera and Athena bribed him, but Aphrodite offered the best prize: the most beautiful

woman in the world, Helen of Sparta.

Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite, claimed Helen, and started the Trojan War.

Isnt that romantic?

From then on, Greeks considered the apple sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

Throwing an apple was the symbolic way of declaring love and catching it meant you reciprocated

the persons feelings.


Philosopher in a Barrel

Diogenes of Sinope is a larger than life figure who we know little about with any certainty.

He left behind no writings or other first-hand accounts.

Most of what we know comes from legend and theory.

If half of this was true, he must have been a fascinating figure.

Diogenes immigrated from modern-day Turkey to Athens in the 4th century BC because he

and his father may have been defacing money.

Diogenes fled before authorities arrested him.

Why he defaced money remains a mystery.

Anyway, Athens at the time was the center of Greek philosophy and Diogenes fell in love

with the teachings of Antisthenes, who preached asceticism and simplicity.

At first, Antisthenes was unimpressed by Diogenes and tried to chase him away with a stick.

Eventually, though he relented and took Diogenes on as a pupil.

In an effort to fully live this new philosophy, Diogenes gave away all of his possessions

save a stick, a cloak, and a bread bag.

He lived in a barrel, urinated in public, and did everything he could do to show that

happiness was not found in wealth or possessions but in oneself and in pure honesty.

People thought he lived like a dog, so they called him acynic”, which meantcanine”.

His philosophy, therefore, became known ascynicism”.

Diogenesstory doesnt end here.

Pirates captured him during a voyage to Aegina and took him to Corinth, where he lived until

dying around the age of 90.

How he died is a thing of legend.

Some say he died from a dog bite, others that he ate some bad octopus, and still others

say he held his breath until dying.

Most historians think it was just old age.

Diogenes requested that his friends throw his remains to the dogs but they gave him

a proper burial, placing a marble pillar and a statue of a dog over his grave.

Want to hear a funny story?

One day, Diogenes sat by his barrel to enjoy the sun.

Alexander the Great approached him and asked if he could do anything for the famous philosopher.

Diogenes replied, “Yes.

Step to one side.

Youre blocking the sun.”



Those of you who enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey might also enjoy this.

Otherwise, you might want to skip this number.

A BDSM practice today, figging began as a Greek practice for horses, calledgingering”.

Ginger was placed into the anus of a horse to cause the horse to hold its tail up high.

At some point, someone decided to use it as a punishment for female slaves and it became

known asfigging”.

A skinned ginger root was inserted into the anus or vagina, causing a burning sensation.

The slave was then restrained so she could not remove the root.

Interestingly, the practice of figging as a punishment was carried on until the Victorian

era, when the same was done to female prisoners.

Did you know?

Slaves filled in important gaps in the workforce because working for money, outside of a government

job, was frowned upon.

Slaves worked as cooks, artisans, maids, miners, nurses, porters, and even in the army as attendants

to their masters, baggage carriers, and sometimes as fighters.

The weirdest example?

The police in Athens during part of the fifth and fourth centuries BC consisted mostly of

Scythian slaves.


Red Lipstick

In ancient Greece, if a woman wore red lipstick, it meant she was a prostitute as it was seen

as extremely sexually suggestive.

Most women during this time avoided makeup altogether.

The lipstick was often made from a combination of dye, wine, sheep sweat, human saliva, and

crocodile excrement.

Because it was a mark of prostitution, it also led to the first law concerning lipstick.

If a prostitute appeared on the street during the wrong hours of the day or without the

required lip color, she could be fined for posing as a lady.


Naked Exercise

When we think of the termgymnasium”, we think of exercise, basketball courts, and


The word we use, though, has a double meaning.

It comes from a Greek noun that meanta place to exerciseanda place to be


In Ancient Greece, men exercised in the nude.

They believed that doing so honored the gods.

In fact, the practice was so beloved that when someone tried to introduce loincloths,

they were vehemently refused.

The Greek gymnasium, however, was more than a place to work out.

It functioned as a sort of mens club, where they discussed politics and philosophies of

the day.

Young boys and older men met and became lovers in gymnasiums.

It was an accepted practice of Ancient Greek life because the older man was supposed to

act as a mentor for the boy.


Burning the Temple

The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and

was built around 550 BC.

The temple was 350 feet by 180 feet.

The statue of Artemis was made of gold, ebony, silver, and black stone.

A garment decorated with reliefs of animals and bees covered the legs and hips.

Wonderful works of art adorned the interior of the temple.

A young Ephesian man named Herostratus wanted his name remembered throughout history.

On July 21, 356, he set fire to the wooden furnishings of the mostly stone building and

put rags placed in key places throughout the sanctuary so it would burn faster.

By morning, only the pillars were left behind.

The Ephesians were so enraged that, after executing Herostratus, they made a law to

strike Herostratusname from all record and make it illegal to speak his name.

However, a non-Ephesian historian named Theopompus recorded the arsonists name.

The date is also important as it was the same night Alexander the Great was born.

Legend has it that Artemis was so preoccupied by the birth of Alexander, she didnt notice

her own great temple burning.

Ephesians rebuilt the temple, only for it to be destroyed again later, by the Goths.

The Description of Most CRAZY Things Ancient Greeks Did!