The history of the development of ancient Greek Communication on showed the early versions of some of the very well known communication systems used in the modern world.
The man has puzzled over the method of sending messages over long distances without physical movement and within a short span of time. Gradually, the ancient Greek Communication system developed in two branches.
Great importance was placed on the techniques of communication as innovations had to be done in order to communicate with other states. The study of communication was known as Rhetorics, which was a part of Greek education for effective communication.
One relied on vision while the other relied on sound. The fire was the most widely used visual medium of communication while drums and bulges where the audio medium. The description of the different types of ancient Greek Communication system is found in many historical texts.
Difficulties of communication in Ancient Greece
Two-thirds of the land in ancient Greece was filled with mountains and highlands. The geography was very rough and made communication very difficult. The travel between states was very difficult due to the terrain which led to the flourishing of different cultures in respective states. This physical division led to a large number of small city states coming up the communication between which communication was very difficult.
What was the important aspect of Greek communication
In Ancient Greece, oral expressions and the ability to give speeches were very important. No mass media was available and even letters were very difficult in those times. So people had to depend on their vocal abilities to communicate.
A commander’s voice was considered to be a very important aspect to rally the troops in the war. Good speeches could sway assemblies which decided the policies of the state.
We see in the accounts of Homer how much importance was placed on the speeches of the Greek heroes. Oratory was a very valued skill in Ancient Greece which allowed them to reach a greater number of people. With no order of speakers in these assemblies, the ability of the speaker with his oral expressions to hold the attention of the crowd became very important to effectively deliver a message.
Ancient Greek communication using the visual media:
Several methods were developed in ancient Greece to communicate messages over long distances by sight. They ranged from the very simple to the highly complex ways to deliver messages. Some of these methods have been described as follows:
is the most well known visual system of ancient Greece communication. These are lighted torches. So, the fire was used to send the messages. They were probably invented by a mythical figure called Palamedes. As the light of a torch became visible on a mountain, the next torch was lighted and so on.
It reflected a variety of information like burning torches to warn the coming of the enemy. Heavy smoke was used to transmit these signals and for that special buildings were erected on elevated platforms known as Fryctories. There was a certain code of translation agreed upon between the parties which can be equated with modern day encoding of messages.
Several references are found about the factories in ancient Greece literature. They are mentioned in the works of Apollonius, Aeschylus, Herodotus, Aristophanes and many others. A few fry try tower even survive today like the one on the island of Icaria. One of the most famous examples of such ways to transmit news was the use of fire signals to inform about the fall of Troy.
Alexander the Great used the stenotopic horn to great effect to communicate with the soldiers. It only consisted of a tripod about four feet high and a rope was used to attach the large rounded horn to transmit the messages.
It was usually in war situations and one of them still exists and is displayed in a Vatican museum. It could be used to transmit messages over kilometres even up to probably 12.5 miles away at its maximum.
The reflection of the sunlight on mirrors and even shields were another method of ancient Greek communication. reflectors had used this method.
Birds, especially pigeons were used to deliver messages from one places to another. They were specially trained for such jobs but they were very risk, as it could become a prey to other birds or get caught by the enemy. So, it was mainly used for delivering of personal messages.
Another visual medium was a type of hydraulic telegraph used by Aeneas of Arcadia. The two communicating parties had identical water clocks. Each person had the same size jar with identical holes and sticks in each jar with different messages on the stick. As the two parties used fire signs to fill up the jar with water. When the desired level was reached, the pouring of water was stopped by another fire sign. The message up to which the water level had risen is the message which is communicated.
Cleoxenus and Democritus improved upon this to create the Persia. It is a system of encryption and visual telegraph.
Due to the difficulty in communication over long distances they devised their own mechanisms for transmitting messages like the runner system. They were specialized people who used to run for long distances to deliver messages in a short time and were trusted with the messages.
Finally, use of colored flags was another visual system of communication used to transmit messages in the Ancient Greek world.
Ancient Greek communication using the audio media:
The sound of the different musical instruments including the bugle, the drum, and the tam-tam had long been used to communicate over long distances. Some of these developed in Greece are as follows:
1. The Greek goddess Athena is credited with the invention of the bugle.
2. Descriptions are found of an instrument called the Stentor phonic tube. It was used in Alexanders army so that soldiers could hear their commander.
3. Some descriptions show how the stern of a ship was used to send messages to the next ship.
Apart from these, several other methods were used for communication in ancient Greece. Pigeons were popular for a time. A type of cryptography also developed. All these lead to the creation of many diverse methods of ancient Greek communication.
Communication with the Greek Gods
For the Ancient Greeks, their gods and goddesses were a very important part of life. The Greek mythological series are even popular today. So the Greeks had their own devices to communicate with the gods.
They had the ultimate love and also fear for their gods. Prayers were the most common way of communicating with gifts and they used to seek blessings or forgiveness for a deed. Sacrifices were an important part of such communication.Festivals were another form to honour the gods. Sporting events like the ancient Olympics were an effective way of performing and connecting with the divine.