Introduction to Ancient Greece, pp. 176—189, Glencoe World Literature Textbook Notes

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Introduction to Ancient Greece, pp. 176—189, Glencoe World Literature Textbook Notes
View the Art, Page 176: What do the three figures (Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis) in Phidias’ Parthenon frieze suggest about ancient Greece?

The ancient Greeks were interested in realistic sculptures of human forms; Greek artists were careful about details, as shown by the natural draping of the sculptured fabrics; ancient Greece flourished a long time ago because this sculpture is weathered and broken.

The frieze of the Parthenon is a long, narrow, horizontal band of sculpture carved in low relief on the outer wall of an inner room. These three figures from the frieze depict Poseidon, god of the sea; Apollo, sun-god and patron of poets; and Artemis, goddess of the moon and the hunt.

What do the postures of the figures express? Grace, serenity, dignity.

How does the arrangement of the figures contribute to the overall composition? Lines of limbs echo each other.

What effect is created by the different textures of skin and fabric? Texture of fabric accentuates the smoothness of skin.

What seems to be the artist’s point of view toward the subject? Reverence, admiration.
Page 179

1. The textbook dates Ancient Greece from: 1500 B.C.—1 B.C.

2. Ancient Greece developed on: a rugged peninsula and many islands.

3. Separated by natural barriers, the Greeks developed small, fiercely independent communities called: city-states.

4. Greeks were threatened by their mighty neighbor: the Persian Empire.

5. Greek character was formed by: history and geography.

6. In art, history, and philosophy, Greeks focused on: the human body and mind.

7. Ancient Greek literature explored:

a. An ideal of heroism

b. A concept of the good life

c. A tragic sense of human destiny
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8. About how many years passed between the Golden Age of Athens and its collapse? 500 B.C.—405 B.C. = almost 100 years.

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9. The Greeks proximity to the sea: encouraged trade and provided access to other cultures.

10. Another name for city-state is: polis.

11. The most powerful ancient Greek city-states were: Athens and Sparta.

12. Although fiercely independent, city-states shared a common:

a. Language

b. Religion

c. Social organization

13. By the fifth century B.C., history’s first democratic government was formed in: Athens.
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  1. Wealth came from:

  1. nearby silver mines

  2. other cities paying tribute

  3. trade

  1. Some 40 percent of the Athenian population was: enslaved.

  2. Slaves could never gain their full right as: citizens.

  3. Free women could not participate fully in: politics.

  4. Athens was a direct democracy, meaning the vote of all male citizens determined public issues, whereas the United States is a representative democracy, where citizens elect representatives who make laws.

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  1. The Spartan government believed the lives of its citizens should center on the: military. Young men were taken away from their parents and trained. Girls were trained in all-female groups. From age 20 to 60, men belonged to the army. Although they were allowed to marry, they could not live with their wives until age 30.



celebrated for its culture

respected for its military strength


In 490 B.C., an invading Persian force landed on the Plain of Marathon, 26 miles from Athens. Although badly outnumbered, the Athenians defeated the Persian army. Legend has it that a messenger raced from Marathon to Athens with news of the Persian defeat and uttered only one word (Nike, victory) before he dropped dead of exhaustion.

Ten years later (480 B.C.), 300 Spartans held off 180,000 Persian troops at the pass of Thermopylae while fighting to the last man. The Athenians abandoned their city, and the Persians burned it. The Greek fleet, however, defeated the Persians in a battle off the island of Salamis, and Athens assumed leadership of Greece.

Under Pericles, who ruled from 461–429 B.C., Athens was rebuilt and became the center of Greek culture. Art, architecture, and philosophy flourished. The Parthenon was built to honor Athena, goddess of wisdom; its hallmarks are grace and harmony, the ideals of classical art.

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Greek sculptors usually presented human forms, using symmetry and proportion; initially with figures with their weight balanced equally on both legs. Greek sculptors began experimenting with an asymmetrical style in which the weight of the figure rests primarily on one leg, creating a more relaxed and life-like posture.

The Olympics

Athletics were highly valued in ancient Greece. The Olympic Games were held every four years in the Greek city of Olympia and focused on religion, poetry, and music, as well as on sports. The first Olympics featured on one event, a foot race across the distance of the stadium. More events were added in later years. Only men could compete.
Primary, Secondary Sources

Primary sources are firsthand accounts, records, or artifacts of a person, an event, or a culture.

A secondary source is an account or record created by someone not immediately acquainted with the the person, present at the event, or part of the culture.

Which one is it, primary (a.) or secondary (b.)?

  1. a poem by Sappho a.

  2. a modern biography of Socrates b.

  3. an ancient Greek account of the battle of Marathon a.

  4. a Greek statue a.

  5. a scholar’s introduction to Homer’s Iliad b.

page 185


Every city-state had an acropolis, or fortified area at the highest point of the city, where temples were built. The Acropolis of Athens includes the Parthenon, the temple of the goddess of Athena (parthenon means “maiden’s room”).

  1. The Athenian Acropolis contains examples of the three main styles, or orders, of Greek architecture:

  1. Doric—plain, severe, and dignified; the earliest style, which the Parthenon exemplifies.

  2. Ionic—lighter, delicate, complex; came into wide use about a century after the Doric.

  3. Corinthian—last and most elaborate style, featuring decorations of leaves and scrolls.

26. 27. 28.


  1. Ionic

  2. Doric

  3. Corinthian

  1. What modern buildings reflect the influence of Greek architecture?

  1. The Heroic Ideal—shared cultural heritage included the literature of Homer, whose epic poems provided models of heroic behavior.

  2. The Good Life

  1. Greek lyric poets, such as Sappho, explored what mattered personally.

  2. Greek philosophers, such as Socrates, questioned traditional values in an attempt to determine how individuals should behave.

  1. The Tragic Vision—Greeks of Athens invented drama, used to explore social and religious questions.

  1. Dramatists, such as Sophocles, created a powerful, darkly beautiful visions of human destiny, as well as tragic heroes, whose character flaws partly contribute to their downfall.

  1. How do these ideas influence American culture today? Use examples from literature, fine art, music, movies, or other kinds of artistic expression.

page 186

The Heroic Ideal

  1. To the Greeks, arête meant excellence in whatever ways a human might excel. This might include physical power, intellectual ability, and moral strength (such as bravery and endurance). The Greek heroic ideal was based on the aristocratic warrior but valued all-around excellence, the ability to do well at whatever was required, from sailing a ship to delivering a speech. Examples include Odysseus and Achilles.

Homeric Epics

Homer’s epic poems were the foundation of Greek literature. Set in the “Heroic Age,” the poems retold stories of war and adventure.

  1. To the ancient Greeks, Homer was

  1. the greatest poet

  2. the authority for their early history

  3. their moral teacher

  1. The Iliad and Odyssey were used in schools to teach Greek students the values of

  1. loyalty

  2. courage

  3. honor

  1. Heroes typically displayed arête in a struggle or contest on the athletic field or in battle.

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The Good Life

What constitutes the good life?

Greek Lyric Poetry

  1. The Homeric epics are objective and impersonal; the poet seldom introduces personal feelings into the narrative.

  2. Later Greek poets, such as Sappho, created lyric poetry that dealt with the concerns of individuals and everyday life; it was subjective and personal. Sappho’s lyrical poetry celebrates the

  1. beauty of the world

  2. pleasures and pains of love

  3. joys of family life

  4. power of art to transcend death

Greek Philosophy

  1. Systematic questioning and observation of the world at large led the Greeks to great advances in

  1. science

  2. medicine

  3. philosophy

  1. Philosophy is the methodical use of reason to discover the truth (philos means loving; -phile means one who loves or prefers).

  2. Sophists were influential ancient Greek philosophers who taught there was no absolute right or wrong (moral relativism). i,e., denied the reality of absolute truth.

  3. Socrates was a critic of the Sophists. Although he left no writings, we know about him from his works of his pupil, Plato. Socrates taught using a question-and-answer format to lead students to discover the truth, known as the Socratic method. Socrates believed individuals could discover the truth within themselves through rational inquiry; absolute truth was Socrates’ ultimate quest.

  4. Other notable Greek thinkers include:

  1. Hippocrates, looked into causes of disease.

  2. Aristotle, systematized the study of science.

  3. Herodotus, established that history could be studied as a collection of facts, rather than a series of legends.

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The Tragic Vision

Athenian Drama

  1. In Athens, tragedies were performed at religious festivals and explored the relationship between humans and the gods and encouraged people to question their own behavior. The first Greek tragedies were presented in a trilogy, or a set of three plays, that explored a common theme. An example is Aeschylus’ Oresteia. Sophocles’ Oedipus the King is part of a cycle of plays, as well.

The Nature of Tragedy

  1. Central to Greek tragedy is the fall of a great man—the tragic hero, whose fate is partly brought on by a flaw within his character. The tragic hero’s aim was to inspire audiences

  1. to examine their own lives.

  2. to define their beliefs.

  3. to cleanse their emotions of pity and terror through compassion for the character.

Greek tragedies continue to be relevant today.

  1. Greeks also invented comedy. Aristophanes, the greatest Greek writer of comedy, created social satires in which he poked fun at important people and commented humorously on social issues.

  2. Look up the definitions for the two types of satire: Horatian and Juvenalian.

page 190

Repetition and rhythm helped oral poets like Homer in recounting epics, and their use pleases the audience, like the chorus of a song.
page 191—characteristics of epic poetry and epic narration

page 192

Homer (c. 9th century B.C.), probably lived in Ionian. The Iliad runs about 16,000 lines; it tells the story of the Trojan War, which occurred around the early the 12th century B.C.
In epic tradition, the Iliad begins in medias res, in the middle of things, in the 10th year of the war. The Iliad contains formulaic expressions that made the verses easier to remember, like epithets, such as “the swift runner Achilles.” What are some of the other epithets?
Much of the western literary heritage derives from Homer’s epics.
page 193

Iliad Book I background; heroic ideal characteristics; epic hero definition
page 194

first line of the epic: “Rage—”

page 210

Iliad Book XXII background; epic simile definition
page 228

Who speaks at the end of Book XXII?

Ancient Greece and Iliad Test Study Guide
Background—Be able to answer the following questions:

· Where did Greek civilization begin? Crete

· How did the Greeks view their god/goddesses? Gods controlled humans like puppets

· Where was the first demographic government established? Athens

· Who are the three greatest tragedy authors in the history of Western literature? Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus

· What does the word “philosopher” literally mean? Lover of wisdom

· Who is considered to be the first western historian? Herodotus

· Who wrote a series of dialogues, or conservations, in which the “character” Socrates would pose and answer questions philosophical questions? Plato

· What were the Greeks religious beliefs? Belief in many gods, a person controlled his/her fate

Characters—Be able to identify the following characters:

· AgamemnonMenelaus’ older brother, takes the girl named Chryseis

· Aphroditechosen as the fairest goddess in a beauty contest

· Apollosides with the Trojans, sends a plague to the Greeks in Book 1

· Athenasides with the Greeks, stops Achilles from killing Agamemnon

· ChrysesA priest of Apollo, his daughter is taken by Agamemnon

· HecubaHector’s mother

· Helenthe most beautiful woman in the world, cause of the Trojan War

· Paris- took Helen away from her Greek husband

· PatroclusAchilles’ best friend who is killed in battle by Hector

· PeleusAchilles’ father

· PriamHector’s father

· ThetisAchilles’ mother

· ZuesFather God

The Iliad, Book 1—Be able to answer the following questions:

· How does book 1 follow the conventions of Homer’s epic? Starts in the middle of the action (in media res)

· Who is the quarrel that opens book 1 between? Achilles and Agamemnon

· What does Chryses beg Agamemnon and Achilles to do? Give his daughter back

· What does Apollo do to punish the Greeks? Sends a plague

· On what condition does Agamemnon agree to Apollo’s request? Agamemnon gets a new girl

· Who talks Achilles out of killing Agamemnon? Athena

· What does Apollo want the Greeks to do before he will stop the plague? Return Chryseis to her father

· What characteristics describe the behavior of both Achilles and Agamemnon? Stubborn and prideful

· What does Achilles lose to Agamemnon? Briseis (his prize/woman)

· Why did Achilles come to Troy to fight? As a favor to Agamemnon

· What is an epithet? a stock description, i.e., “white-armed goddess Hera.”

· What promise/threat does Achilles give to Agamemnon? He won’t fight with the Greeks against Troy.

Iliad, Book 22—Be able to answer the following questions:

· What relationship best describes the image suggested by the epic similes Homer uses to compare Hector and Achilles? Predator and prey.

· What does Hector ask Achilles that appeals to his code of honor? To return his body to Troy for burial.

· Why is Zeus unable to save Hector? Hector is fated to die.

· Where does Achilles deliver Hector’s fatal blow? Neck/throat

· What is Hector’s dying plea to Achilles? Give his body back to his parents for burial.

· Why is it important that Priam be allowed to bury his son, Hector? The soul will not be at rest if the body is not given a proper burial.

· What does Achilles do after he kills Hector? Drags his body around Troy.

Literary Devices—Be able to define, identify, and analyze the following terms:

· Homeric Epithetcomparison using “like” or “as”

· Foreshadowingclues or hints to suggest future events

· Imagerydescriptive language that appeals to the senses

· “in medias resin the middle of the action

· Invocation to the Musea prayer to the Muse in which the poet asks for inspiration in telling the epic

· Ethosethical appeal

· Pathosemotional appeal

· Logoslogical appeal

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