Greece

From a group of small city states, isolated among high mountains, arose a surge of creative brilliance that laid many of the foundations of European civilization. A broad range of human activities, from sport to drama, from medicine to philosophy, still follow a pattern derived from the Ancient Greeks whose Gold Age, dawning around 800 BCE, reached its pinnacle in 5th century BCE Athens. Memories of an earlier Greek civilization based on Mycenae had survived through a 500 year Dark Age, to live again in the epics of gods and heroes recorded by Homer. At a time when most people were regarded by their rulers as not more than chattels, one of the great achievements of the Greeks of the Golden Age was to assert the dignity and rights of the individual human being, in a pattern of government from which true democracy was to spring.