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For a topical guide of this subject, see Outline of culture

The Culture Portal

An album leaf painting by Ming artist Chen Hongshou (1598–1652) depicting nature scenes. The Chinese viewed painting as a key element of high culture.
Culture generally refers to the patterns of human activity, and the symbolic structures that give such activities significance and importance. Cultures can be "understood as systems of symbols and meanings that even their creators contest, that lack fixed boundaries, that are constantly in flux, and that interact and compete with one another". Culture can be defined as all the ways of life: including arts, beliefs, and institutions of a population that are passed down from generation to generation. Culture has been called "the way of life for an entire society". As such, it includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, and norms of behavior, such as law and morality and systems of belief as well as art.

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Today the Greeks call themselves Hellenes (Έλληνες), though they have been known by a number of different names throughout history. The soldiers that fell at Thermopylae did so as Hellenes. During the time of Jesus, the term shifted and any person of non-Jewish faith was called Hellene. By late Antiquity, the Greeks referred to themselves as Romaioi, i.e. Romans. Western Europeans used the term Greeks and the Persians and the Turks used the term Yunans, i.e. Ionians. An interesting and unique form is kept in Georgian. In ancient times, Georgians (Colchians and Iberians) called Greeks ბერძენი berdzeni. This form derives from the Georgian word ბრძენი brdzeni – wise. According to Georgian historians, the name is connected with the notion that philosophy was born in Greece. Modern Georgians still call Greeks ბერძენი berdzeni and Greece საბერძნეთი saberdznet'i, 'Greeks' land' or literally 'land of the wise'. The onset of every historical era was accompanied by a new name, either entirely new or formerly old and forgotten, extracted from tradition or borrowed from foreigners. Each of them was significant in its own time, and all can be used interchangeably, which means that the Greeks are a polyonymous people.

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