Outline of Classical Athens

This post outlines history, philosophy, literature, art and architecture and covers mainly the fifth and fourth centuries BCE, with some events a little before that century. This is the birth of democracy and philosophy, literature, and the arts.

At the very end, there is a Conclusion section that asks the Western world to remember some things

If you’re in a hurry, use the ctrl-f search to find your term.

Outline of Archaic Greece

Outline of the Hellenistic World

Let’s get started on this very interesting period.

I.  Introduction

A.  Time Frame

1.  Apogee of the polis (Athens) (478-431)

a.  Previously, the rise of the polis

b.  Democracy

c.  Prosperity

d.  In 500, democracy set in Athens

2.  Crisis of the polis (431-404)

a.  Peloponnesian War (Athens vs. Sparta)

3.  Decline of the polis (404-338)

a.  Wars of Greek city-states

b.  Philip II of Macedonia

4. Polis is a city-state, a city that oversees surrounding region. Classical Greece had no imperial ruler, so the poleis (plural of polis) could develop their own traditions and cultures.

II.  Aftermath of Victory over Persia (478-431)

A.  Delian League (478/7 to 449)

1.  What

a.  Alliance with most islands and seaboard states of Asia Minor

b.  On island of Delos, swore oaths of allegiance with objective to secure liberty and drive back Persians

1)  They drop lumps of iron into sea, indicating that league will fail when iron rises to surface

c.  Each city-state has one vote per delegate

d.  Payment assessed at 460 talents per year, divided among members, paid either in cash to treasury in temple of Apollo at Delos or in ships

e.  Allies did enjoy policing of seas and protection

2.  Sparta

a.  Hands over foreign affairs to Athens

b.  Long-term commitment away from home and continuous naval presence

B.  Cimon (Kimon) (ca. 510-450)

1.  Identity

a.  Aristocrat and military leader

b.  Son of Miltiades

c.  Conservative, but supports Cleisthenes’ democratic institutions

2.  Attacks on Persia (477-461)

a.  Alliance eliminates poss. naval bases on west coast of Asia Minor

b.  In 469 he shatters Persian fleet at battle of Eurymedon river in Pamphylia

c.  Therefore, he is popular

3.  Lawsuit

a.  Cimon cracksdown on rebellion of Thasos Is. from Delian League after two-year seige (465)

b.  After return he is put on trial for not conquering Macedonia, which was not part of mission

c.  Prosecutor is Pericles

d.  Cimon is acquitted

e.  All of this is a ploy to unravel gains of Areopagus

4.  Sparta

a.  Cimon sympathizes with Sparta

b.  Democrats see him as soft on Sparta

c.  Helots revolt after an earthquake (late 460s)

d.  Cimon persuades Athenians to send aid

e.  But Spartans send them home, fearing their “boldness and revolutionary spirit”

f.  During his absence, Ephialtes and Pericles strip Areopagus of power

5.  Downfall

a.  Cimon’s alliance with Sparta makes him fall

b.  Ephialtes is assassinated

c.  Pericles takes over in 461

d.  Cimon is ostracized in 461

III.  Periclean Age (461-429)

A.  Pericles (?495-429)

1.  Identity

a.  Aristocratic lineage; father Xanthippus, mother Agariste, who was great-niece of Cleisthenes

b.  Reserved, haughty, and assoc. with thinkers like Anaxagoras, Sophocles and Phidias

c.  Popular with assembly because of his accomplishments in Delian league and great orator

B.  Politics

1.  Athenian Imperialism

a.  Athens forces city-states to convert to Delian league or to stay in

b.  Imperialism is popular with Athenian masses because they derive benefit

2.  Thirty Years’ Peace (455-431)

a.  Wars between allies of Sparta and Athens in ca. 460

b.  Athens helps its allies and removes army from protection of Athens

c.  Sparta invades during vulnerable time

d.  Pericles pushes for peace

1)  Athens must abandon all claims on mainland except Attica

2)  Sparta formally recognizes Athenian Empire

3.  Peace with Persia (449)

a.  Athens win some victories over Persia

b.  In ca. 455 Athenian fleet is defeated off Egypt

1)  Egypt rebels against Persian

2) Athens helps Egypt

c.  Loss of men, ships and prestige ignites rebellions of Delian members

d.  In 449 Athenians forced to sign peace treaty with Persia to crackdown on revolts

e.  Callias as main negotiator (bro. of Cimon)

1)  Persia not to send navy into Greek waters

2)  Persia not to trouble Greeks in Asia Minor, many of whom continued to pay taxes to them on lands

3)  In return Athenians drop offensive

4.  Panhellenic congress (449)

a.  Meeting summoned by Pericles at Athens

b.  Agenda

1)  Restore shrines destroyed by Persians

2)  Establish sacrifices promised in 480

3)  Policing of seas

c.  Athens takes the money

1)  We must restore shrines

2)  Athens suffered most from Persian Wars

3)  Therefore, Athens is justified in taking accumulated funds from Delian League to restore shrines

C.  Building Program (448-431)

1.  Parthenon

a.  Essentially a monument of civic pride, for when Pericles dies, other building programs abandoned

2.  Others

a.  Long walls from Athens to Peiraeus

b.  Buildings

3.  After Pericles to 405

a.  Building on Acropolis ends in 405

IV.  Institutions of Democracy

A.  Assembly

1.  Who

a.  Eighteen yrs or older, registered in their deme

b.  43k such citizens in 440’s, yet in 411 it was claimed that no more than 5k ever actually attended no matter how grave the business

c.  Theoretically anyone can attend, but jobs and business duties prevent many

d.  Ostracism required 6k, but this done in agora

2.  What

a.  Makes laws and foreign policies

3.  When

a.  Meets several times each month

4.  Where

a.  On the Pnyx Hill, SW of the agora

5.  How

a.  Agenda set by Council of 500

b.  Assembly can demand that an item be placed on agenda

b.  Citizens can speak by ascending the rostrum (bema)

c.  Then a vote is taken by show of hands

B.  Council of 500

1.  Who

a.  Citizens thirty or over

b.  Each deme required to select councilors by lot; fifty men from ten “tribes”

c.  This ensures that citizens from all districts were represented

2.  What

a.  Steering committee of assembly

b.  This limits assembly’s power, which cannot initiate policy

c.  Administrative body of financial and other transactions

3.  When

a.  Meets on important matters, but sub-committees convene all the time

b.  Members serve for one year and no more than two in all

c.  Thus 1/4 to 1/3 of whole citizen body serve, perhaps even Socrates

4.  Where

a.  Sits in Council House (bouleuterion) in the agora

b.  Subcommittees meets in tholos

5.  How

a.  Chairman is selected daily and can serve as such only once ever

b.  Therefore, better than 70% chance that a member can become chairman

c.  Discuss items on agenda, hear financial reports

C.  Board of Ten Generals

1.  Who

a.  Theoretically citizens, but best qualified are elected by the assembly

2.  What

a.  In charge of military matters and foreign affairs

b.  Extremely powerful because they are “hired” by the assembly

3.  When

a.  Elected each year by assembly and can be re-elected continuously

1)  Pericles is elected fifteen times (443-429)

b.  Meets daily or as matters arise

4.  Where

a.  Military headquarters building in agora

5.  How

a.  Carries much influence in the assembly by their public speaking skills

b.  If unsuccessful in action of their ideas, then quickly lost ears of assembly

c.  Can be fined, as was Pericles, in 430 for a failure

d.  Opponents stand up in assembly and give a counter-speech

D.  Areopagus

1.  Who

a.  Prestigious and longest standing body

b.  Symbolizes traditional, aristocratic conservatives

c.  Orig. selected from nine archons who become members automatically after their year in office

d.  In 487 archons selected by lot from top property owners

e.  In 458/7 archonship thrown open to citizens of smaller landholdings, and theoretically even to the thetes

1)  Oresteia (458) by Aeschylus (525-456?)

2)  In Eumenides (668ff) Athena says men of Areopagus will be a law court, not the main power base

3)  Furies, old, scraggly, ugly, vengeful deities, complain that new generation of gods are robbing them of their rightful place

4)  Ath says she has backing of Zeus and that Furies will grow to love the new, developing polis

5)  Is Aeschylus a progressive?

2.  What

a.  Try matters of deliberate homicides, arson and sacrilege

b.  Jurisdiction diminished in 462/1 by transferring power to assembly in a vote

3.  When

a.  Presumably as matters arose or regularly

4.  Where

a.  On Areopagus hill (crag) btwn Acropolis and Pnyx

5.  How

a.  Presumably by standard legal proceedings

E.  Archons

1.  Who and what

a.  Used to be powerful aristocrats, but see Areopagus, under “Who”

b.  Eponymus archon

1)  Deals with state festivals and gives his name to year

c.  King archon

1)  Supervises religious life

d.  War archon

1)  In charge of lawsuits regarding metics and foreigners

2)  He ambiguously shares military power with a general until after Battle of Marathon

e.  Six archons

1)  thesmothetai organize state’s administration of justice

2)  Preside over various jury courts

f.  The Eleven

1)  Execute legal punishments

2)  Maintain state prison (desmoterion)

3)  Supervise police force of 300 Scythian archers

2.  When

a.  Hold office for a year only

3.  Where:  ?

4.  How:  ?

F.  People’s Courts

1.  Who

a.  Citizens are judge and jury combined

b.  Number 201 to 2,501, usu. 501

c.  Selected from an annual roll of 6k, by lot each day, thus preventing corruption

2.  What

a.  Hear law cases, often against politicians

b.  Cases can ergo bring social and economic ruin

c.  Payment introduced by Pericles as democratic measure at two obols a day, less than half of daily wage

3.  When

a.  Allowing for festivals and so on, it may have met 150-200 days in the year

b.  More than one court each day

4.  Where

a.  Court House in agora

b.  Circuit courts out in rural areas

5.  How

a.  Six officials thesmotai (see Archons, “What” d) in overall charge of conducting justice

b.  Prosecution initiated privately, not by State of Athens; this causes rise of lawsuits

c.  Writ must be issued against accused

d.  No lawyers, so speaker had to speak on own behalf, though rich could hire an expert to write a speech for him

e.  No strict rules of evidence and witnesses not cross-examined

f.  Trials had to end on the same day started; water clocks limited speech length

g.  Jurors vote by placing ballot in acquittal or condemnation urn

V.  Crisis of the Polis:  Peloponnesian War (431-404)

A.  Motive

1.  Sparta

a.  Resents Athens’ supremacy

b.  Skirmishes of minor allies

2.  Athens

a.  Wants to eliminate Peloponnesian power forever

b.  Expansionism is popular with masses because of the benefits

B.  First Phase:  Stalemate (431-421)

1.  Strategy

a.  Pericles evacuates Attica and brings farmers into Athens

b.  Spartans ravage field and farm

c.  Meanwhile Athenian fleet conducts ineffectual raids around Peloponnesus

d.  But with Sparta on land (elephant) and Athens (whale) on seas: a stalemate

2.  Plague in Athens

a.  Strikes Athens early in 430

b.  Pericles dies in 429

c.  Cleon takes over with new dynamism and brutality

1)  Son of rich tanner

2)  He has some successes in commanding war

3)  He raises pay of jury to three obols, so he is popular

4)  He commands battle at Amphipolis in Thrace

5)  He is killed by Spartan general Brasidas in 422

3.  Peace of Nicias (421)

a.  Nicias, a negotiator (ca. 470-413)

1)  Moderate

2)  He is executed in Syracuse

b.  Athens returns hostages, evacuates coastal forts in the Peloponnesus (not actually done), and helps of Helots revolt

c.  Sparta relinquish posts in north Aegean and desert allies

C.  Interlude:  Sicilian Disaster (421-13)

1.  Preconditions

a.  Athens not bad off

b.  Empire intact, Peloponnesian league shaken

c.  Calm Pericles gone

d.  Cleon (d. 422), brutal rabble-rouser at helm

e.  Alcibiades attempts land operations on Peloponnesus, loses, but does not break treaty

2.  Causes

a.  Appeal from native city-state Segasta makes overthrow of Syracusan power and Sicilian takeover seem possible

b.  Sicily was rich; Athens wants money

3.  Disaster

a.  Alcibiades was a leader, but recalled on blasphemy charges (jealous enemies)

1)  He is convicted to death and property confiscated

b.  Rather than return home to face certain death, he went to Sparta to coax them to help Syracuse

c.  With Nicas in charge, Athens fails to take city, commanders decide to retreat but lunar eclipse occurs

d.  So Nicias refuses to leave for 27 days Syracuse regroups and takes Athenian fleet of 200 ships

e.  Retreating Athenians on land imprisoned in quarries and died of hunger and thirst; 4,500 men are lost

D.  Last Phase: Athenian Disaster (414-404)

1.  Sparta

a.  Athens again at war with Sparta

2.  Revolts

a.  Since Athens preoccupied in west, Aegean subjects revolt

3.  Alcibiades (?450-404)

a.  On advice of Alcibiades, garrison in Attic territory Declea hampers farming (413)

b.  Cuts off grain transport from Euboea (413)

1)  Falling from grace of Spartans (affair with wife of King Agis?), he makes his way to Ionia

2)  In 411 he is made commander of Athenian fleet and wins brilliantly until 406

3)  He retires to Thrace

4)  He is assassinated in 404, prob. by ….

4.  Persia

a.  Backs Sparta and finances ship building and paying rowers (412)

b.  But in return Sparta, the liberators of Greece, had to return Asia Minor back to Persia

5.  Oligarchic rule (411-410)

a.  In Athens itself, under-classes despair and a oligarchic rule briefly takes over (411-10)

6.  Defeat

a.  Lysander takes straits near Hellespont, Athens’ grain route (405)

b.  Proud Athens starves and surrenders in 404

E.  Outcome

1.  Thirty Tyrants

a.  Sparta sets up Thirty Tyrants

b.  Initiate bloody purge of democrats

c.  1,500 executed, 5,000 exiled

d.  Sparta takes over navy and demolishes Piraean walls

2.  Oligarchy and democrats

a. In 403 Thrasybulus, an exile, takes Piraeus

b.  By 401 Thirty thrown out and oligarchs and democrats in power

VI.  Philosophy in the Fifth Century

A.  Introduction

1.  Time Frame

a.  Zenith of the polis (478-431)

1)  Democracy and prosperity

b.  Crisis of the polis (431-404)

2)  Peloponnesian War

B.  Pre-Socratics

1.  Parmenides of Elea (?515-after 450)

a.  Elea is in SW Italy, a Greek colony

b.  Acc. to tradition, a follower of Xenophanes of Ionia

c.  Visits Athens and Socrates late in life

d.  Cosmos is self-consistent and unfragmented and cannot not exist

e.  Cosmos can be known through reason

f.  He insists on a scientific theory that accounts for and corresponds with observed phenomena

2.  Empedocles (ca. 484-424)

a.  B. in Sicily of aristocratic family

b.  Ardent democrat

c.  Political upheavals force an exile and travels to S. Italy and Greece

d.  Reputation of being statesman, doctor-healer, mystic and wonder-worker

e.  Disciple of Parmenides

f.  Eternally persistent elements

1)  Earth

2)  Fire

3)  Air

4)  Water

f.  Rearrangement of four gives rise to change

1)  Painter uses a few colors and mixes to get more

g.  Love and Strife

1)  Eternal

2)  Have no perceptible qualities of their own

3)  They can only be apprehended by effects on the four elements

4)  Love balances mixture

5)  Strife dissolves mixture into constituents that war with each other

3.  Democritus (ca. 460-357)

a.  B. in Abdera, Thrace

b.  Works survive in fragments

c.  Aristotle refers to him, always with respect

d.  Atomist

e.  Nothingness is a real as a thing

f.  What exists is single and indivisible, but in the form of particles

g.  People’s consciousness is entirely physical, accounted for by the arrangement of atoms

1)  To achieve cheerfulness, atoms must be kept from disturbance

4.  Anaxagoras (ca. 500-428)

a.  B. in Clazomenae in Ionia

b.  First philosopher to reside in Athens prob. between 480-430

c.  Friend and mentor of Pericles

d.  Seems never to have met Socrates

e.  Prosecuted by Cleon for impiety (and perhaps for Persian sympathies) when Pericles’ fortunes changed (ca. 430)

f.  He withdraws to Lampsacus, where he founds a school of high renown (NW Ionia)

g.  Matter is made of “seeds” or particles

h.  Animating principle of cosmos is nous or mind

i.  Nous remains pure, while cosmos can change

j.  Mind concept influences Socrates

C.  Sophists:  How to Succeed in Athens

1.  Context

a.  Law courts and Assembly hold the power

b.  Competition in commerce, religious festivals, poetry and technology converges in Athens

c.  Therefore, one has to learn how to win through speaking, esp. in law courts and assembly

2.  Alternative to Pre-Socratics

a.  Dissatisfaction with speculations of pre-Socratics

b.  They see practical need & fill it

c.  They teach their craft for a fee; top-notch get rich

d.  Apply logic to trial law, debate, and public speaking

1)  Example in Public Speaking:  Gorgias of Leontini (480-380) defends Helen

a)  Helen deserted her husband for one of three reasons:  Fate, irresistible passion or overpowering persuasion

b) If Fate, then she couldn’t resist it

c) If love, then force stronger than human will is responsible

d)  If persuasion, then words have power to master both mind and will

e)  Ergo, Helen was not wicked

3.  Protagoras (ca. 481-411)

a.  Argue both sides of a legal case

1)  It is not that both sides are equally just and unjust

2)  But arguer can arouse jury’s sympathy

b.  “Man is measure of all things”

1)  Truth is relative to culture and individual observer

4.  Skepticism

a.  Gorgias

1)  Doubted existence itself through clever argument

2)  If anything did exist, then humans could not know it

b.  Ethics and politics are based on convention, not nature

5.  Later distortions

a.  Older generations of sophists were urbane and courteous

b.  They hold responsible political office

c.  They encourage worship of gods for good of society

d.  Later generation distort all of this

1)  Justice is based on courts

2)  Injustice is not unnatural because it does not cause pain unless detected and punished

3)  Anything opposing nature always causes harm

e.  Polis is not in accordance with laws of nature, but is merely conventional

D.  Socrates (470/69-399)

1.  Life

a.  Legend says he was short, stumpy, and bald, not handsome

b.  Living in Athens all his life

1)  He is thirty when the Parthenon and its sculptures finished

2)  At forty he hears Pericles deliver funeral oration

c.  He serves in military in northern regions, enduring physical hardships like no other, such as walking on ice bare-footed

d.  He is fascinated with Ionian science

1)  By forty he learns that this science cannot satisfy other interests

e.  He circulates through Athens asking different classes of persons what Justice, Goodness, or Truth is

f.  Oracle of Delphi pronounced him the wisest man in Greece

1)  He interprets this as a command to become wise, after cross-examining oracle

g.  He lives most frugally, spending most of his time indoors or out, talking and listening and contemplating

1)  It is unclear where he got his money, though his needs were prob. met by gifts of friends

2)  He had one cloak for summer and winter

h.  He lives a pious life as he defines it

1)  God-ward direction of life and conduct

i.  He is married to younger Xanthippe

1)  Later traditions portray her as a shrew

2)  They have three children, Lamprocles, Sophroniscus, Menexenus

j.  In the Symposium at Agathon’s house, the tragic poet, he is out on the porch staring up to heaven contemplating or solving an abstract problem that gripped him, while others are inside chatting

1)  He could drink a lot without showing the least sign of drunkenness

k.  Caricatured in Aristophanes’ Clouds

1)  The stereotypical Sophist

2)  Though he does not agree with their distorted views

3)  He never takes a fee

l.  His listeners report how emotional and transfixed they are, as they realize their degraded condition

1)  Alcibiades in the Symposium

2)  Other orators do not have this effect

m.  During his 64th year one day it is his lot to preside over Assembly, only time of a political “office”

1)  On that day the whole Assembly clamors for the swift execution of all generals who had failed to rescue sailors overboard at victory of Arginusae

2)  He prevents this, for they act against the law

n.  When Thirty Tyrants ask him to arrest an innocent man, he goes home instead

1)  He does not wish to be a party to injustice

2)  “It is better to suffer [injustice] than to commit injustice”

3)  Restoration of democracy in 403 saves him

o.  Officially charged

1)  “Not recognizing the gods that the State recognizes and introducing other new divinities”

2)  “Corrupting the young”

3)  He is convicted and ordered into exile or death

4)  He chooses death by drinking hemlock juice

5)  He is given chance to escape, but refuses because he honors the law

6)  Phaedo

2.  Socratic Method

a.  Dialectic: Q & A that goes back and forth until truth is reached

1)  Accept the opinions of others

2)  Then logically dismantle the opinions by a series of Q & A

b.  Socratic Irony

1)  Plead ignorance of a subject of which others claim expertise

2)  Then demolish their opinions through dialectic

c.  Result

1)  This enthralls some and enrages others

3.  Basic beliefs

a.  God

1)  He is altogether good

2)  Persons should pray for good in general and leave it to God to decide what is good in each particular case

3)  He uses the language of polytheism indifferently, “gods”

b.  Soul is immortal

c.  Right Living

1)  To live right, we must know what is goodness

2)  Therefore, knowledge is goodness

3)  Further, goodness is knowledge

4)  If a man really understands the truth in all its ramifications, he cannot deliberately do the wrong thing

5)  It is impossible for a man to prefer what is disastrous and ruinous in the full conviction that it is disastrous and ruinous

4.  Improve the polis

a.  When it is prosperous, he questions citizens “for the greatest improvement of the soul”

b.  When polis is declining, he still questions them

c.  He sees citizens as ruining polis

d.  Thus, he disapproves of democracy with these citizens

Please click on Outline of Socrates’s Apology (Defense).

VII.  Classical Drama

A.  Tragedians

1.  Aeschylus (ca. 510-456)

2.  Sophocles (?496-406)

3.  Euripides (?480-406)

B.  Comedy

1.  Aristophanes (ca. 445-388)

C.  Origins

1.  Tragedy

a.  Dithyramb

1)  Orig. of word itself may mean two-step

2)  Thriambos may mean three-step

b.  Song celebrating god Dionysus composed for chorus

c.  Arion of Corinth (625-585) created its use with choruses

d.  Lasos (548-545) of Hermione in Argolis

1)  He instituted of Dithyrambic contest in Athens

2)  Elaborated rhythms and range of notes in music (adjusting it to polyphony of flutes

3)  Perhaps he increased rapidity of delivery

4)  Phrygian mode is orgiastic and passionate

5)  Modes believed to influence emotions

e.  Dithyramb was danced and sung by a chorus of fifty men and boys, with dancers arranged in a circle

1)  Sometimes performed in hairy satyr costumes

2.  Thespis (fl. 540s-20s)

a.  Connection between playful satyr performance and noble seriousness of tragedy may be in a Pentheus play and other resistance plays

b.  Introduces spoken prologue before first chorus

c.  Speeches between choruses (not choruses between speeches)

d.  Poss. introduced mask

3.  Comedy

a.  Bands of revelers, accompanied by phalloi, sing and dance in procession, exchanging banter with onlookers

b.  Sicilian drama which may have added plot

c.  Otherwise, unknown or unclear

D.  City Dionysia

1.  Name

a.  Contrasted with Rural Dionysia, aka The Dionysia or Great Dionysia

b.  Importance: advertisement for wealth and power of Athens

2.  What

a.  Festival in honor of Dionysus, god of wine and reveling

3.  When

a.  March (month Elaphebolion)

b.  In 414 three days were taken up each with three tragedies, a satyric play, and a comedy

c.  Before and after Peloponnesian war, four days required for the above and five comedies

4.  How

a.  Three tragic poets entered three plays and a satyr play, sometimes three plays were connected, other times no

b.  Usu. five comic poets entered one play

c.  Archon selected poets who applied for a chorus, provided by state (rich man)

1)  Politics can enter

2)  Cratinus, who had been refused a chorus, attacks an archon

d.  Each poet read excerpts from his play

e.  Tragic poet produced his own play

f.  But not frequently in comedy

1)  Realization that composition or production requires different qualifications

2)  But this is not valid, for why did tragic poets produce their own?

E.  Actors

1.  Professionals

a.  Orig. poet acted in own play

b.  Then poet employed pro actors

c.  Three protagonists provided by state

1)  Protagonist won prize

2.  Number

a.  Each play had 3 actors and a few silent ones

b.  Agamemnon

1)  First plays Clytemnestra

2)  Second plays Agamemnon

3)  Third plays Cassandra

4)  Parts of the Watchman, Herald, and Aigisthos could be variously assigned

c.  Antigone

1)  First plays Creon and Eurydice

2)  Second plays Ismene and the guard

3)  Third plays Antigone and Haemon (poss.)

d.  Hippolytus

1)  First plays Hippolytus, messenger

2)  Second plays Aphrodite, Theseus, and Phaedra

3)  Third plays servant, nurse, Artemis

4)  But withdrawal of all three makes this distribution uncertain

e.  In comedy, three or four

3.  Masks

a.  Linen, perhaps artificially hardened

b.  Carried by string or strap

c.  Covered entire head

d.  Naturalism attempted

f.  Variety of colors as ordered by poet; heroes and heroines who were beautiful wore fair hair (Phaidra, Iphigeneia, and Helen)

g.  Ogkos, or high forehead in use late 4th c.

h.  Evidence discovered includes 6 tragic masks of old men, 8 of young men, 3 of servants, 11 of women of various ages; special masks, such as Actaeon wearing horns, blind Phineus, Argos with many eyes, Furies with ugly masks

4.  Dress

a.  Chiton robes, sometimes with fitted sleeves, sometimes with trousers; ornamented fabrics grow with time

b.  Special dress was a sleeveless garment of white linen

F.  Chorus

1.  Number

a.  Twelve in Aeschylus

1)  Danaid trilogy may have fifty

b.  Fifteen in Sophocles and Euripides

c.  In comedy, twenty-four men

2.  Occasional Second Chorus

a.  Aeschylus:  Suppliants final scene

b.  Euripides:  Huntsmen in Hippolytus

3.  Formation

a.  Rectangular, not circular as in the dithyramb

b.  It may break up into a round dance

c.  When leader talks with actor, faces him

d.  When chorus is alone, it faces audience

e.  Leader might address others

4.  Entry, Exit

a.  Flute player precedes its entry

b.  Sometimes entry is in disorder

c.  Sometimes text requires liveliness in play, vigorous dancing exit

VIII.  Other Writings

A.  History

1.  Herodotus (ca. 484-430)

a.  B. in Halicarnassus in Caria

b.  From a distinguished family

c.  Travels widely, even to Egypt

d.  Arrives in Athens ca. mid-440s

e.  Friend of Pericles

f.  Writes Histories or inquiries

g.  Cicero calls him “Father of history” because he is first on such a wide and comprehensive scale never before attempted

h.  War between Persia and Greece

2.  Thucydides (ca. 500-401)

a.  B. in Athens

b.  May have been related to Cimon

c.  As strategos in 424 he fails to protect coast of Thrace from Spartan Brasidas

d.  He is condemned and exiled in his absence

e.  He begins History of Peloponnesian War

f.  He returns to Athens twenty years later when war is over

g.  He displays a passion for accuracy that no other ancient historian ever had

h.  He reports what can be observed and does not consider role of gods

i.  He favors Pericles

j.  He is conservative and distrusts democracy and its manipulators

B.  Oratory

a.  In assembly and law courts

b.  Borrow from sophists, and some are sophists

IX.  Art and Architecture

A.  Temple

1.  Ionic

a.  Freer and more graceful than Doric

b.  Opulent (Ionic) vs. simplicity (Doric)

c.  Running frieze to which sculptures could be added

d.  Columns had elegant bases and adorned capitals, i.e. with scrolls to ram heads

e.  Columns more slander and delicate

f.  Erectheum

B.  Sculpture

1.  Severe Style

a.  Ushers in the period and lasts until 450

b.  Dignified nobility

c.  Contrapposto (counterpoise):  tilting head slightly to right and slightly twisting torso, and putting weight on one foot

d.  Thereafter, sculptors freer to adapt statues

1)  Kritios Boy

2)  Ludovisi Throne

2.  High Classical

a.  Coincides with Zenith

b.  How to show motion in a static medium

1)  Freeze action without agitated movement

2)  This stops time for an ideal world to emerge

3)  Poseidon or Zeus

c.  Ideal human form at rest

1) slightly brutal facial features

2) relaxed contrapposto

3) controlled muscles

4) Doryphoros

3.  Fourth Century Style

a.  Coincides with decline and fall of polis

b.  Free expression is guiding rule

c.  Beauty for its own sake

d.  Delight in sensuality

e.  Praxitelean Curve: Sinuous S curve, named after sculptor Praxiteles

1) Hermes with Infant Dionysus

X.  Decline of the Polis (404-338)

A.  Hegemony of Sparta (404-371)

1.  Persian Wars (405-387)

a.  Successes for Sparta even in Mesopotamia

b.  This reveals Persian weakness

2.  Greek Wars (395-371)

a.  In 395 Thebes, Corinth, Argos, and even Athens wars with Sparta

b.  King’s Peace in 387 with Persia

c.  Battle of Leuctra in which Thebes defeats Sparta and humiliates them (371)

d.  Fewer than 2,000 men can be mustered

e.  Thebes frees Helots and help them build own city

3.  Decline

a.  Petty bickering inside Spartan territory

b.  Class structure breaks down

c.  Land transfers freer

d.  Women eventually own two-fifths of farmland

B.  Hegemony of Thebes (371-362)

1.  Where and What

a.  North of Athens & Attica

b.  Federal state embracing number of democratic city-states in Boeotia

2.  Battle of Leuctra (371)

a.  They defeat and humiliate Sparta

3.  Battle of Mantinea (362)

a.  Coalition of Greek cities, including Athens

b.  Thebes loses

C.  Exhaustion of Greek States (by 355)

1.  Sparta

a.  Stubbornly refuses to admit loss of prestige but no longer had any influence

2.  Thebes

a.  At war with western neighbors, Phocians, for seizing Delphi and using gold and silver to hire mercenary armies

3.  Athens

a.  Loses its renewed naval position in Aegean by 355

D.  Philip II of Macedonia (382-36)

1.  Identity

a.  Youngest son of Amyntas, king

b.  King of Macedonia

c.  Father of Alexander the Great

2.  Conquers neighbors (359-352)

3.  Battle of Chaeronea (338)

a.  Duel with Athens (352-338)

b.  Demosthenes (384-322) persuades Thebes in 339 to fight Philip

c.  Each side has about 30k men

d.  Allies lose, and Athens prepares for siege

1)  Philip feigns a withdrawal and bounces back on over-pursuing allies

e.  But Philip would not crush seat of Greek culture

4.  League of Corinth (337)

a.  Philip convenes Greek states in Corinth

b.  They agree to attack Persia

5.  Assassination (336)

a.  He marries a young woman after throwing out Olympias, Alex’s mother

1)  Olympias and Alex leave angrily

b.  Philip murdered by dissatisfied noble

c.  Without difficulty Alex ascends throne when he is 20 (336)

XI.  Philosophy in the Fourth Century

A.  Plato (428/7-347)

1.  Life

a.  Born to Ariston and Perictione, wealthy and aristocratic family, either in Athens or in Aegina

b.  Plato’s father dies when P is young and claims descent from last of the lines of kings of Athens, Aristocles, his father

1)  Plato’s mother traces her line back to Solon

c.  Two older brothers (Adeimantus and Glaucon, mentioned in Repub.) and a sister, Potone, mother of Speusippus, who succeeded him in Academy

1)  Half-brother Antiphon from his mother who remarried her uncle, Pyrilampes, an intimate friend and supporter of Pericles

2)  Mentioned in Parmenides, who spent his time with horses

d.  Plato was instructed by eminent teachers in grammar, music, and gymnastics

1)  Reportedly distinguishes himself in athletics in Isthmian games

2)  Serves in cavalry

e.  At about twenty years old he spends eight years with Socrates

f.  Shortly after Soc’s death he travels to Megara to the house of Euclid, founder of Megarian school of philosophy

g.  Then he travels to Egypt and returns to Athens in 395

h.  He buys a piece of land just beyond the city limits

i.  In his earlier years he hoped of entering politics, but the Thirty Tyrants (404) and death of Soc. (399) aborted that goal

j.  In 387 he travels to Syracuse to visit philosophers

1)  He is treated as a prisoner of war and sold into slavery(?)

2)  Shortly thereafter, ransomed by a friend, Anniceris, the Cyrenean

k.  In 387 he founds the Academy as a religious corporation

1)  Formed for the worship of the Muses and Apollo

2)  Members ate meals and shared expenses

3)  Training in dialectic method

4)  Curriculum was math (including harmonics and astronomy), political theory, natural science, and biology

5)  Plato delivers lectures to students and to a wider audience

6)  As often as possible he teaches using Socratic method

l.  In 367 and 361 he ventures to Syracuse to instruct rulers how to be philosopher-kings

1)  Dismal failures

m.  Plato returns to Athens for good in 361

n.  He teaches in the Academy until his death in 347

2.  World of Ideas/Forms

a.  Ideal world

1)  Perfect, beautiful, immutable, eternal, wanting nothing

2)  Being is complete

b.  Physical world is a copy or replica of the eternal world of reality, dependent and limited to space and time

3.  Dialectic

a.  Technique of discourse, dialogue, conversation, connotes debate:

1)  It is the technique of deliberating on philosophical issues

2)  One raises raising questions and seeking answers to them, with the prospect that truth may evolve

b.  Plato’s Ideas or Forms can only be ascertained through reason without the senses

c.  Dialectic method carries enquirers upward to the world of true Being

4.  Allegory of the Cave

a.  Argument against some poetry

5.  Reform the polis

a.  He believes deeply in it, for it is in accordance with the laws of nature

1)  Sophists emphasized the convention of the polis

b.  He wants to rid anything that stands in the way of the individual’s devotion to it

1)  Private property or family

Please click on Plato the Soul Man

And Outline of Plato’s View of Justice and the Soul

B.  Aristotle (384-323)

1.  Life

a.  He is born in Stagira in Macedonia, an insignificant Greek colony

1)  Greeks are dominant race among Illyrians and Thracians, still at tribal stage of society

b.  His father is Nichomachus, a court physician to Macedonian king Amyntas II at Pella

1)  Medicine is passed down like an apprenticeship to the son

2)  He learns fundamentals necessary for biology

c.  In 367 he arrives in Athens to study with Plato at the Academy

1)  He remains there for twenty years

2)  Plato nicknames him “the Brain”

d.  In 347 Plato dies and A leaves Athens

1)  But he writes poem for Plato

2)  He is one “who alone, or first, among men revealed both in his way of life and in his formal teaching that to become good and to become happy are two sides of the same endeavor”

3)  He may have left because Plato’s nephew was chosen successor

e.  In 347 he arrives in Assos, on the mainland behind the island of Lesbos, to help a branch of the Academy spread Hellenism

f.  After three years (344) he moves to Lesbos with his friend Theophrastus, a native of the island

1)  He devotes himself to biology

g.  In the Politics he prescribes the ideal ages for marriage:  man thirty-seven, woman eighteen

1)  He marries Pythia

2)  They have a daughter named after her mother, but mother died soon afterwards

h.  He remarries to Herpyllis

1)  She bears him a son, Nicomachus

2)  In his will he made provision for her

3)  “In recognition of the steady affection she has shown me”

i.  In 341 Philip II asks him to tutor his son, Alexander (the Great), who is thirteen years old

1)  He performs this duty until Alex is eighteen

j.  In 335 he founds the Lyceum

1)  Named after Apollo Lyceus

2)  A plot of ground was surrounded by a colonnade (peripatos)

3)  School derives its familiar designation, Peripatetic

k.  There he spends the rest of his life, dying at sixty-two

2.  His Legacy

a.  Rationalist

1)  Among first great rationalists

2)  Universe is a rational order

3)  Human reason is competent to understand it

b.  Scientific method

1)  Pioneer of it

2)  Observe, measure, explain, verify (cf. Francis Bacon)

3)  Pose a question about nature

4)  Collect evidence

5)  Form an explanatory hypothesis

6)  Deduce its implications

7)  Test them experimentally

8)  Then accept, reject or modify the hypothesis

c.  “Renaissance” man

1)  Impressive by the purview or range of interests

a)  Invented formal logic

b)  Improves biology

c)  Ethics

d)  Politics

e)  Literary criticism

f)  Comprehensive world view of nature and metaphysics

g)  Set in order all parts of philosophy

d.  New natural worldview

1)  Look at universe biologically, not mechanically (dead), nor mathematically (abstract)

2)  But living

e.  Teleology

1)  World has a purpose or moves toward goal

2)  Socrates rejected the how of life and asked why

3)  Aristotle asks both

3.  Purpose in the polis

a.  To provide humans with the good life

b.  Human is an animal of the polis

c.  Polis provides humans with context to realize full potential

d.  Blend laws in constitution with oligarchy and democracy

Please click on Outline of Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics.

C.  Early Cynics

1.  Diogenes of Sinope (ca. 412-323)

a.  Sinope is in Pontus, colony of Miletus

b.  Exiled

c.  Attracted to Antisthenes (ca. 445-360)

1)  True founder of Cynics

d.  “Cynic” comes from “dog”

e.  Though meant as insult, they take designation as watchdogs of philosophy

3.  Way of life

a.  Live as simply as one can

b.  Asceticism means getting used to hardships, poverty, contempt, insults

4.  Self-sufficiency (autarkeia)

a.  Reject desire for superfluities and get back to nature

b.  Independence, not dependence

5.  Renounce the polis

a.  Structure of Greek city-state was reprobate

b.  Diogenes was a cosmopolitan

c.  Flout convention and society’s norms and customs

d.  “Change the currency” was motto

1)  Means change the political currency

2)  Abolish accepted norms of Greek society

XII.  Writings of the Fourth Century

A.  Tragedy

1.  Decline

a.  Does not measure up to fifth century

b.  Very little has survived, only fragments

c.  Reproductions of old tragedies

B.  Middle Comedy

1.  Description

a.  Almost all of it is lost, though large number of fragments

b.  Fifty dramatists are known

c.  No single type of play

d.  Cosmopolitan and less Athenian

e.  Chorus drops off sharply

f.  Costumes no longer sexual

g.  Myth and politics still popular as themes early on

h.  Political and mythic themes drop away later

i.  Replaced by satire of familiar types of society

2.  Examples (?)

a.  Aristophanes’ Ecclesiazusae (391)

b.  Aristophanes’ Plutus (388) may be typical early examples

C.  History

1.  Xenophon (ca. 428-354)

a.  B. in Athens and a knight

b.  Has two sons

c.  Meets Socrates and becomes his disciple

d.  In military and writes about his return home from expedition with Persians (401) in Anabasis

1)  His own skill and determination gets 10k men home

2)  Tries to copy spirit and style of Thucydides, but does not measure up

e.  He has distaste for democracy

D.  Oratory

1.  Description

a.  Still going strong

b.  Some argue for democracy, some for oligarchy

c.  Some argue for imperialism and conquest to end poverty and troubles


The Western world needs to reclaim its good heritage and leave any negative aspects behind. The Athens that founded democracy, theater, plays, philosophy, strong history writing, and literature needs to be relearned over and over.

Wake up, Western world, and live as free people!


Outline of Archaic Greece

Outline of the Hellenistic World

Outline of Socrates’s “Apology”

Plato the Soul Man

Outline of Plato’s View of Justice and the Soul

Outline of Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s