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Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece

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Ancient Greece

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    1. Ancient Greece The Emergence of Western Intellectual Thought

    2. First of all, why study the ancient Greeks and Romans? It is primarily from the Greeks and Romans that we, as westerners, received our basic understanding of science, mathematics, religion, and socio-political philosophy, developed our legal framework, organized our cities, educated our young, and began advanced medical practices. The modern novel, as well as comic books, have as their origins the ultra-heroic and fantastic characters found in Hellenistic literature. We, as a people, owe our world view to that of the ancient Greeks and Romans, both cosmopolitan, global economic and military superpowers whose distinctive worldview provide them with a sense of world citizenship.

    3. Greek Mythology and Early History The specifics of ancient Greeces earliest origins are lost in a unique blend of mythology and epic history a recounting of oral tradition captured in tales of heroism, trials, and tribulation A series of ever-changing bards tales that both entertain and serve to educate the public. Among the best surviving examples of such histories are the works by Homer The Iliad and the Odyssey

    4. Not to be born is best, when all is reckoned, But when man has seen the light of day The next best thing by far is to go back Where he came from, and as quick as he can. Once youth is past, with all its follies, Every affliction comes on him, Envy, confrontation, conflict, battle, blood, And last of all, old age lies in wait to besiege him, Humiliated, cantankerous, Friendless, sick and weak, Worst evil of all. -- Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus

    5. In the beginning . . . Greeks are descended from Indo-European peoples who begin to populate southern Europe 12 15000 years ago Their specific origins are obscure, shrouded in myth and pre-history They began to settle the peninsular land mass during the 8th millennium BCE and did so in a series of waves each one accompanied by the violent displacement of previous settlements and ending with the Dorian migration around 1100 BCE

    6. The Origins of Man The ancient Greeks (from the word Graeci) held many and various views as to the origins of mankind, however, they almost universally accepted the fact that Greece itself was the center of the universe and that mankind originated there. One thought was that man was autochthon, gegenes, an aborigine species that sprang from the earth as did the legendary men of Cadmus who rose from dragons teeth sown in the ground or that of Zeus changing ants into men. Another popular and somewhat familiar creation myth has Prometheus create man from blocks of clay

    7. Greek Cosmology The Greek world view was shaped in part by the various tribal migrations and displacements, as well as, geography. The Greek peninsula is small, approximately 45,000 sq. miles or roughly the size of the modern state of Louisiana. It is rugged with an east-west mountain chain across its northern section and a north-south series of mountains down its spine in the lower part of the peninsula. These mountains at 8 10,000 ft serve to isolate the population into pockets of habitation along the few river systems, high plains, and coastal lowlands. The coastline itself is rocky, uninviting with foreboding high cliffs, occasionally offering some well-protected natural harbors

    8. Each village, eventually each major urban center ( gr. Polis, poleis, pl), believed in its own legendary and mythical beginnings, established its own festivals, rituals, and means of worship. Each community appropriated its own gods as did its citizens. The mythical heroes of ancient Greece descended from gods and many of its most prominent citizens made similar claims. Even Plato, philosopher and rationalist, claimed that his parents descended from the sea-god Poseidon, and further claimed that the god Apollo had visited his mothers bed and that he was the product of that union

    9. To the Greeks, gods and men were of the same race, the gods only being immortal and possessing a more extreme range of human characteristics and emotion. While the gods could be benevolent, often times they were vindictive, envious, subject to fits of rage, and often amoral. Other than the gods, the Greeks believed in the Fates, the inescapable force of nature which ultimately determined mans lifespan on earth Here too, we have the legend of the Flood that destroyed mankind and a second story of creation or re-creation that predates the written biblical account and may have influenced the writers of the Noah story.

    10. The gods demonstrated their concern for the Greeks in many ways. According to various legends it was the Greeks who received, before all other nations, the gift of viticulture (pruning), small grains, such as, wheat and rye, the olive tree, the fig tree, the first ivy , and the bean a native plant of Greece. In mythology, it was Prometheus who gave to man (the Greeks) the gift of fire. The cultural history of the Greeks also lays claim to several inventions as first being Greek Argo, the first ship to sail the sea; in Sparta, Myles (the Greek word for miller) had invented the first mill; but, the Athenians lay claim for teaching men how to use fire The Greeks readily conceded that the more banal inventions of human toil were acquired from others; the trumpet, helmet, and shield from Lydia; the war chariot and geometry they received from Egypt; draperies from Libya; the alphabet from Phoenicia; and, the sundial and division of the day from Babylon

    11. Greek Socio-political Life As early fortified villages grew in size and population, larger urban centers formed. These autonomous communities, known as poleis, became for the Greeks the embodiment of the State, the religious, and economic center. Citizens, normally adult males, determined the communal course of action in all affairs. Women and children, although citizens, had no political voice or legal rights. Slaves were not considered citizens and had no rights or voice. At the heart of the polis was the agora or marketplace, it was the place to see and be seen and was a central focus in the lives of the communitys elite. The agora was the place where reputations were made or broken, deals and alliances arranged, and business conducted.

    12. The Greeks were very curious about the cosmos and the world in which they lived. They struggled with questions of their existence and sought rational explanations for things around them. They made great strides in mathematics, i.e., the Pythagorean Theorem (a + b = c), construction and architecture, metal fabrication, and ship building. In philosophy, we continue to study Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle while literature students struggle through The Theban Plays, the works of Homer, and Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus. Historians continue to garner more from the works of Herodotus (Historias) and Thucydides, whose history of the Peloponnesian War remains the seminal work of that disastrous affair.

    13. The Golden Age of Athens, 420 365 B.C.E. The idea of the Golden Age is as mythical as are the early legends of Greece. It is an invention of the 18th Century Enlightenment and the 19th Century Victorian Age in Great Britain in which the Greek revival took place Despite all of the advances in art and philosophy that are admired today, ancient Greece was still largely a violent and dangerous place to live. When not at war with each other, the various Greek tribes fought against other external forces; the Persians, the Egyptians, the Carthaginians, and ultimately, Rome. Not until Phillip of Macedonia finally united the individual Greek states in 338 B.C.E. were the Greeks ever united

    14. Displaced by war, famine, excess population and natural calamities, the Greeks began to inhabit the areas surrounding them and colonized southern Italy, Sicily, the Ionian coast of the Anatolian Peninsula, the area adjacent to the Black Sea, and the numerous islands of the Aegean Sea. These colonizers established their colonies along the lines of their particular polis of origin. At these fringes of the Greek world they came into contact with other peoples, cultures, and traditions. They established a growing network of trade and political alliances, subjugating some and, in turn, being subjugated by others.

    15. Greek Family Life For the elite upper classes family life was decidedly different than it was for the commoner. Monogamy was hardly ever practiced by the nobility who married repeatedly to establish important social and political alliances. Disgruntled wives would often plot against or murder their philandering husbands and their offspring. Infanticide was routinely practiced with the noted exception of the first-born male child. Both men and women practiced homosexuality although it was more common for males than females (See; Sapphos, author of lesbian poetry in ancient Greece). The Greeks practiced pedophilia, the body of a ten year-old boy would be a sought after sexual conquest in their society. Greeks had an obsession with youth and living in the moment. Even older Spartans, who served actively in the military to age sixty, would dye their hair for a more youthful appearance.

    16. The Greek Tragedy Life in Greece reflected and, in turn, was reflected in the works of the famous dramatists: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides The tragedies were performed at times of religious festivals and celebrations of the 5th and 4th centuries BCE and typically dealt with one or more of the following themes: The struggle of individual conscience and sensibility against the needs of the community (polis) and the power of the state Arrogance (hubris) that blinds the strong or self-righteous individual to possible misfortune and defeat The endless series of bloody revenges triggered by mad acts rising from anger and sexual drive Tragedies strip human nature of its protective clothing and societies from its pious myths

    17. Greek Communal Life At the heart of Greek communal life was the Polis, or the city-state. Each citizen subordinated themselves to the needs of the polis, whether a cave dwelling or urban city. Adult males served the polis in both socio-political roles and the military. The surrounding farmers fed the urban population in time of peace and served as its infantry in time of war The agora served as the community marketplace, chamber of commerce, and business development center. Warfare was a community activity. The victors vanquished the losers by laying waste to their lands, fields and polis, slaughtering their defeated enemies, men, women, and children, or hauling off survivors for use as slaves. If they felt generous, they would allow the ruling citizens to commit suicide.

    18. Persian Wars Ionian Revolt supported by Athens angers Darius who brutally puts down the revolt and then declares war on Athens which culminates in the Battle of Marathon 490 BCE. In 486 BCE, Xerxes begins preparations to renew the war against the Greeks. He assembles an large army of possibly 150,000 300,000 men, although Herodotus claims more than 2 million, and a navy of over 700 ships, many of them manned by Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Ionian Greeks. In a series of land and naval battles, Thermopylae, Artemesium, Salamis, and, finally, Plataea in 480 - 479 BCE, the Persians are defeated. (Nike, gr. victory)

    19. The Peloponnesian Wars, 431 -404 BCE Following the Persian Wars, the Greek city-states began to align themselves with one of the two remaining powerful city-states, Athens, with its demos and vast commercial enterprise, and Sparta, rich in its martial traditions and presumptive invincibility Athens, a naval power and dependent upon trade wanted to eliminate any further threat posed by the Persians remaining in the Aegean and Anatolian Peninsular following the Persian Wars. Sparta and her allies had no interest in continuing the war against Persia or contributing to Athens growing economic prosperity and political power During the period of the 440s BCE, the two superpowers engaged in a series of conflicts, without result, and then hastily agreed to a peace proposal that neither could ensure.

    20. The war itself was conducted in four major phases over 27 years. Political in-fighting, internecine rivalries, and self-serving motives all acted to continue the conflict and prevent a suitable resolution during the time The fighting ultimately ended when the Athenian navy was destroyed and a Spartan force entered Athens after destroying her food production and means of replenishment by sea. In addition, the Athenian colony in Sicily suffered an out break of the plague further reducing Athenian influence and resolve. Although the terms of surrender were generous by Spartan standards, many of Athens citizens were slaughtered or committed suicide

    21. Athens and Sparta Athens, under the leadership of Pericles was governed by a demos, a body of all male citizens over 18 years of age (numbering around 43,000), which had the power (gr. kratia) to, among other things, legislate, establish treaties, and declare war. It was, by the 5th century, a cosmopolitan city built around commercial enterprise and international trade. Its citizenry consisted of predominately lower and upper middle-class families, foreigners, and a significant number of slaves a total population of 150,000. Athenians produced about 35% of their food supply, relying on imports to feed its populace. Its Sicilian colony contributed to much of this trade. Athens controlled the treasury of the Delian League and moved the treasury form Delphi to Athens, which gave Athens control over its allies, forcing them to remain in the League and to pay tribute

    22. Sparta, located in the southwestern Peloponnesus, was an oligarchy a militaristic society whose prime function was warfare. A small population, never exceeding 35,000, Sparta relied upon conquest to expand its control over the Peloponnesus rather than establishing external colonies like other states. Spartas conquest of neighboring Messenia in 730 B.C.E. and subsequent subjugation of its population who had been reduced to serfs serving the Spartan state a.k.a. helots, from the Greek meaning capture At the age of 7, young males were taken from their families and moved into military barracks where they would be trained in martial arts and educated in Spartan ways. Spartans served in the army until age 60. Spartan women had more, albeit relatively speaking, rights than women in other Greek city-states, but they too served the state. Their primary function was to raise warriors.

    23. Rise of Western Culture: Classical Greece Herodotus (c. 484 -425 B.C.E.) the Father of History. His History of the Persian Wars is commonly regarded as the first real historical work in western civilization, that is a systematic analysis of past events. His biased writings lauded Athens and presumed the wars to be a struggle between freedom (or state freedom) and despotism. He also traveled extensively, catalogued human behavior and is considered more of an anthropologist today. Thucydides (c. 460 c. 400 B.C.E.) a failed and exiled Athenian general who participated in and wrote extensively about the Peloponnesian War. Unconcerned with the influence of the gods and fate, Thucydides examined the causes of the war in a clear, methodical, objective fashion, placing much emphasis on accuracy and the precision of his facts, and is considered by scholars to be the greatest historian of the ancient world

    24. Classical Greek art is represented primarily through both architecture and sculpture. The construction of the Parthenon, built between 447 432 B.C.E. as a dedication to Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, perhaps best represents the style and characteristics of fifth century Greek architecture in Athens. It typifies both the enthusiasm for construction and the defining principles of classical architecture: the search for calm, clarity, and the freedom from superfluous details. Greek revival architecture dominated the American scene in the 19th century and is commonly seen today. In sculpture, the male nude form was the favorite subject of the classical Greeks who attempted to achieve an idealized form, life-like, yet perfected. Polyclitus, a 5th century sculptor authored a treatise (Doryphoros) on proportions that utilized mathematical ratios found in nature that produced the ideal human form, perfected and refined the dominant feature of standards in classical sculpture

    25. Greek Philosophy: love and wisdom Early Greek philosophers were concerned about the development of critical or rational thought about nature and the divine forces operating in nature, however, most Greeks had no interest in such speculations. By the 5th century, a group of philosophical teacher known as Sophists rejected such speculations as foolish arguing that comprehension of nature was beyond the reach of the human mind; the improvement of the individual was a more worthwhile endeavor, therefore, they stressed the study of human behavior. Sophists were wandering educators who sold their services as teachers of young men They stressed the importance of rhetoric (or the art of persuasive oratory) in winning debates and swaying an audience Sophists were typically skeptics who questioned traditional values in their society.

    26. To Sophists there was no absolute right or wrong, true wisdom consisted of the ability to perceive and pursue ones own self-interests. Is this attitude beneficial or harmful to society? Of Greeces city-states, the one most closely associated with philosophy is Athens. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all lived there making Athens the center for the development of western thought

    27. Socrates (469 399 B.C.E.) a stonemason whose true love was philosophy. He left no writings of his own and what we know about him comes primarily from his pupils, especially Plato. He taught a number of students, however, he took no pay believing that the goal of education was to improve the individual. His teaching style made use of a question-and-answer method that is still in use today and is known as the Socratic Method. Socrates believed that all knowledge was within each person and critical examination was needed to bring that knowledge out. Such was the real task of philosophy. His questioning of authority, particularly in the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War during a climate of intolerance caused Socrates to be accused and convicted of corrupting the minds of Athens youth a sentence that resulted in his death

    28. Plato (c. 429 327 B.C.E.) one of Socrates most famous students is considered by many scholars to be the greatest philosopher of the western world. Unlike his famous teacher, Plato wrote extensively, questioned reality, and arriving at the conclusion that a higher world of eternal, unchanging ideal Forms had always existed and to understand these Forms was to attain the knowledge of truth. The Republic is a collection of Platos thoughts on government. As a citizen of Athens, he distrusted the masses as individuals could not be trusted to be ethical, just, or rational. He divides the population into three groups: the ruling elite or philosopher-kings, the warriors who protected society, and the masses, those not driven by wisdom or courage, they were the producers of society, the tradesmen, artisans, and farmers. Plato also believed that men and women should have equal access to education and all positions contrary to popular belief The Academy a school in Athens established by Plato to train philosophers. One of his students was Aristotle who later tutored Alexander the Great

    29. Aristotle (384 322 B.C.E.) rejected the teachings of Platos Ideal Forms and taught the analysis and classification of things based on thorough research and investigation. His interests and writings were wide ranging and included topics on: ethics, logic, politics, poetry, astronomy, geology, biology, and physics. He founded the Lyceum, a school to educate young men In his political treatise, Politics, Plato also questioned the efficiency of the Athenian government, but he carefully examined 158 different forms of constitutional governments and determined that constituted good forms: monarchy, aristocracy, and constitutional government. He also recognized that each form had certain drawbacks and that a constitutional form was his favorite. Platos work influenced the writings of 18th century philosophes and enlightenment thinkers to include those of the American and French Revolutions. With regard to women, Aristotle believed them to be inferior to men in all respects an influence that persisted well into the 20t h century of the modern era.

    30. Unification and Conquest Greece in the 4th century BCE was in turmoil following the fighting in the Peloponnesian Wars. Macedonia, to the north of Greece, was inhabited by rural tribal clans who the Greeks thought to be barbarians, but it was in Macedonia that Philip II rose to power and would, by treaty and warfare, unite all of Greece for the first time in 338 B.C.E. Philip united the Greek states into the Corinthian League. Philip planned to invade Persia and end Persian influence in the Aegean once and for all, but was assassinated in 336 B.C.E. on the eve of the planned invasion.

    31. Alexander the Great Alexander was one of two children born to Philip and Olympias and he was estranged to his father until late in his fathers military campaign to unite Greece At the age of 20, Alexander becomes king of Macedonia and leads his army against rival and rebelling Greek factions before embarking on an invasion of Persia. Between 334 B.C.E. and his death on June 10, 323 B.C.E., Alexander and his Macedonians conquer most to the known world: Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia, and western India. There are many inconclusive views of Alexander which scholars use today to portray him. He certainly was a capable military commander, both bold and brutal, but also visionary. He was distrustful of all but few of his closest intimates. He divided the administration of the conquered territories and often relied upon local leaders to remain loyal, which most did. He created opportunities to extend Greek culture, language, architecture throughout the empire.

    32. The Hellenistic Kingdoms Alexanders death resulted in a power struggle amongst his generals and the empire that was created so quickly, dissolve even more rapidly. From 323 283 B.C.E., Alexanders generals and their sons bickered and fought each other. Eventually four Hellenistic monarchies emerged: the Macedonian kingdom under the Antigonid dynasty; Syria and Palestine under the Seleucids, the Attalid kingdom of western Asia Minor; and the kingdom of the Ptolemies in Egypt, which lasted until 30 B.C.E. and ended with the death of Cleopatra resulting in the change of control of Egypt to Roman hands.

    33. Quiz #3: Identifications Mycenaean(s) Iliad and Odyssey Phalanx Tyrants Oligarchy and democracy Delian League Peloponnesian War Oracle at Delphi Battle at Chaeronea Antigonid, Seleucid, Attalid, and Ptolemaic Dynasties Use the instructions for doing identifications found on my website to properly complete this assignment