Ancient Greece Culture and Society Foundations of the Modern World



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Ancient Greece
Culture and Society

Foundations of the Modern World

Overview

  • Greek Society

  • Literature

  • Philosophy

  • Religion and Mythology

The Rise of Humanism

  • "Man is the Measure of all Things"- Protagoras of Abdera (c. 480 - 410 B.C.)

  • Importance of the individual

  • Early communities were based on family

  • Colonists were rugged individuals

  • Humanism: individual’s

  • Uniqueness

  • Potential

  • Prerogatives (rights)

  • Athenian Democracy developed around the fifth century BC in the Greek city-state (known as a polis) of Athens, comprising the city of Athens and the surrounding territory of Attica. Athens is one of the first known democracies.

Greek Society

  • The flaw in Athenian democracy: only for true citizens

  • Adult males, Athenian ancestry (15 %)

  • Slaves

  • Foreigners, about 30 %

  • Worked shops, farms

  • Some special skills e.g. sculpture

  • Some mining, hard labour

  • Provided freedom to owners for politics & philosophy

  • Women

  • Sparta - public freedom

  • Athens - confinement

Athenian Marriage

  • Men absolute household authority

  • Families arranged marriages, usually older man to young woman

  • Custom deemed necessary to protect male property & citizenship rights

  • Women no formal education

  • Learned weaving, cooking

  • Patterns of the elite

  • Records written by upper classes

Separate Lives

  • Elite women

  • Had female slave attendants

  • Were confined to homes except for

  • funerals, festivals, visits to female relatives

  • Thesmophoria festival

  • 3-day camp
  • Mystery & ritual
  • Plays

  • Antigone, Lysistrata
  • About assertive women
  • Elite men

  • Work, politics by day

  • Dined, slept in men’s quarters

The Phylae

  • “tribes”: largest political subgroups in polis

  • Athens: 10 phylae

  • Kin groups

  • All citizens belonged

  • Religious

  • Own priests, temples

  • Military

  • Trained and served as hoplite units

  • Political

  • Own officials, representatives to Assembly and Council

Symposium

  • Means "drinking together"

  • Aristocratic social institution

  • After meal, men only

  • Private association of individuals

  • Slaves, musicians, dancers, prostitutes, young boys

  • Role of Conversation

  • Aristocratic males expected to participate

  • Debates on political & philosophical issues, recitations of speeches & poetry

Gymnasium

School for naked exercise”

  • Public institution for training athletes (opposite of palaestra - private school for physical training)

  • Staff: 10 gymnasiarchs, one from each tribe

  • Maintained gymnasium, paid athletes in training, held athletic festivals, supervised training staff

  • Facilities

  • dressing rooms, baths, training quarters, stadium, covered porticos for exercise & lectures in philosophy, literature, and music

  • Athens: three great public gymnasia: Academy, Lyceum and Cynosarges

Greek Literature

  • Lyric poetry: celebrating the individual

  • e.g. Sappho

  • Pre-Socratic Thinkers

  • Questions about nature

  • Air, earth, fire, & water

  • Atomic theory

  • History

  • Logographers: wrote historia, accounts of geography, cities, families

  • Herodotus 485 - 425 BC

  • First modern historian

  • Greek war with Persia, analyzed causes

Greek Thinkers

  • Sophists (“wise men”)

  • Traveling teachers

  • Taught logic, public speaking

  • Rhetoric: constructing persuasive arguments

  • Belief in Reason

  • phusis (nature): amoral, inhuman, often lethal

  • nomos (culture): custom, power of mind to order & control

Socrates

  • 470 - 399 BC

  • Sculptor by trade

  • Life

  • Teacher, thinker

  • Company of young men

  • Deflated pretensions, challenged people to think

  • Socratic method: asking probing questions

  • Death

  • Charged with

  • Corrupting youth

  • Not believing in gods

  • Condemned to death by drinking hemlock

  • Young men withdrew from public life

Plato

  • 428 - 347 BC

  • First truly literate generation

  • Founded school for young men

  • The Academy

  • Higher education, especially philosophy and mathematics

  • Wrote Dialogues

  • Socrates uses question and answer method

  • Meaning of justice, excellence, freedom

  • Best known Dialogue: The Republic

  • Theory of Forms: particular vs. ideal

  • Political Utopia: philosopher kings

Aristotle

  • 384 - 322 BC

  • Born in Macedon, father physician to king

  • Educated at Plato’s Academy in Athens

  • Tutored Alexander the Great

  • Founded school in Athens, Lyceum

  • Peripatetics: walking while lecturing

  • History, biology, zoology

  • Works: De Anima, Poetics, Metaphysics

  • Covered every field of knowledge, established modern arts & sciences

  • Only lecture notes survive: remarkable range, sophistication, originality, systemization

  • Approach is empirical, pragmatic, worldly

Greek Religion

  • Eusebia

  • Piety, reverence for traditional gods

  • Concern for family, clan, polis

  • Public display to foster peace, avert disfavour of the gods

  • Rite of animal sacrifice, feasts of music drama dance sport

  • Philosophy

  • Cosmology: origin of universe

  • Theology: gods’ nature & function

  • Psychology: study of soul

  • Ethics: man in society

  • Mysteries

  • Secret cults of individual gods

  • Two Goddesses of Eleusis, Dionysus

Public Worship

  • State-sponsored festivals

  • Civic pride & personal piety

  • Central ritual: sacrifice of animals

  • Temple: gods’ residence in town

  • Gifts for favours

  • Cake, wine at altar

  • Luck, protection

  • Oracles

  • Sacred sites where gods spoke with humans about future

  • Sought by individuals, city-states

  • Oracle of Apollo at Delphi most sought

Mythology

  • Living our myths

  • Not our history

  • Need for origin story

  • Literature is displaced mythology

  • Basic stories of our culture

  • Repeated in modern forms

  • Anthropomorphic gods

  • Looking & acting human

Principal Deities

  • Titans

  • Cronus & Gaia

  • Olympians

  • Zeus and Hera

  • Apollo & Artemis

  • Aphrodite & Athena

  • Poseidon & Hades

  • Ares & Hermes

  • Other Gods

  • Dionysus, Eros, Pan, The Muses


Ancient Greek Culture Page


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