5 Controversial Explanations for How Racism Was Invented That Most People May Not Know


racism in ancient greece

Racism Originated Out of the Nationalism of the Ancient World

In his book The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity, the scholar Benjamin Isaac argues that modern-day racism may have evolved from a type of proto-racism that existed in ancient Greece and Rome.

One form of the evidence that he uses is a quote from the ancient document titled Airs, Waters, Places, a medical treatise where Hippocrates of Kos presented the idea that Asiatic people are weak and cowardly because of their temperate climate, while European people were courageous fighters, because of the cold.

Isaac also quotes Aristotle at length:

“The peoples of cold countries generally, and particularly those of Europe, are full of spirit, but deficient in skill and intelligence; and this is why they continue to remain comparatively free, but attain no political development and show no capacity for governing others. The peoples of Asia are endowed with skill and intelligence, but are deficient in spirit; and this is why they continue to be peoples of subjects and slaves. The Greeks, intermediate in geographical position, unite the qualities of both sets of peoples. It possesses both spirit and intelligence: the one quality makes it continue free; the other enables it to attain the heights political development, and to show a capacity for governing every other people, if only it could once achieve political unity”

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