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Chapter 3
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  1. Chapter 3 Civilization of the Greeks

  2. Early Greece • Geography played a major role in the development of ancient Greece • Mountainous peninsula, roughly the size of Louisiana • Small plains and river valleys surrounded by mountain ranges 8-10,000 ft high • Effectively isolated the Greeks from each other, allowing the city states to develop independently of each other • Caused city-states to become fiercely independent and highly competitive with each other Minoan Crete • Earliest civilization in the Aegean region on the island of Crete • Dating back to 2800 BC (Bronze Age) • Discovered at turn of 20th cent by Arthur Evans, named it Minoan after King Minos • Minoans were not Greek, but had influence on Greek mainland

  3. Minoan civilization reached its peak between 2000 and 1450 BC • The abrupt downfall of the civilization is debated • A tsunami destroyed much of the civilization after a volcanic eruption • An invasion from the Greek mainland by the Mycenaeans The First Greek State • Mycenaean civilization flourished 1600-1100 BC • Mycenaeans were a warrior culture that prided itself on heroic deeds in battle • Extensive commercial network, pottery found in Syria, Egypt, Italy & Sicily • Also believed to have conquered Crete and made it part of the Mycenaean world • The biggest question is – did the Mycenaeans, led by King Agamemnon, sack the city of Troy ~1250 BC? • Many believe Homer’s Iliad does have basis in fact

  4. The Greeks in a Dark Age (1100-750 BC) • After the fall of Mycenae , Greek pop. declined and food production dropped off • ~850 BC – farming revived • Large # of Greeks leave the mainland & begin to colonize • Dorians – Peloponnesus, Crete & Rhodes • Aeolians – Lesbos & part of coast of Asia Minor • Ionians – Asia Minor • Small revival of some trade • Iron replaces bronze in weapons & tools • Iron more affordable • Better made tools helps w/ farming • ~8th cent BC – adopted the Phoenician alphabet • Made learning to read & write simpler • Near the end of the Dark Age, the work of Homer appears

  5. Homer & Homeric Greece • Iliad & Odyssey – first great pieces of literature in the Western world • Passed from generation to generation orally until early 8th cent. BC • No one knows who Homer really was • Iliad – warned against the dangers of wrath & hubris • Odyssey – the importance of cunning & patience • All Greek poems were intended to teach younger generations which qualities to strive for and ones to avoid • Heroes strive for excellence (arete) • Expected of both aristocratic men and women • Homer gave the Greeks a model of heroism, honor & nobility

  6. World of the Greek City States (750-500 BC) • As the Greek civilization comes out of the Dark Age, two main developments take place • The evolution of the polis as the central institution in Greek life • Full-fledged interest in colonization of the Mediterranean & Black Seas The Polis • The polis developed during the Dark Age, but became the center of Greek society in 8th century BC • the polis encompassed the town/city and the surrounding countryside • Served as the central point where citizens could assemble for political, social, & religious activities • In may cases the meeting point was a hill (could be used as a refuge if attacked, later become the religious center of the polis) • Varied in size from a few sq. miles to a few hundred, Attica held 12 poleis which eventually all became part of Athens

  7. The Hoplites • In the Dark Age, wars had been fought by aristocratic cavalry soldiers • By the end of the 8th cent BC, a new military order based on the hoplites • Wore bronze or leather helmets, breastplates & greaves • Carried a shield, short sword, & short spear • Advanced into battle as a rectangular unit called a phalanx (usually 20x8) • Very strong as long as they held rank, but very weak if formation broke • Since the hoplite provided his own armor and weapons, wealthy aristocrats fought beside small-scale farmers • Minimized class conflicts, but allowed aristocrats to dominate society • But if you could afford to be a hoplite, one might challenge aristocratic control

  8. Colonization • Between 750-550 BC, large numbers of Greeks left the mainland • Growing poverty, overpopulation & developing trade all factors leading to colonization • Some were simply trading posts, some agricultural centers to supplement the food supply of the mother polis (metropolis) • As the colonies become established settlements, they become a polis in their own right, independent of the metropolis • Colonies established in southern Italy (Taranto, Naples, Syracuse) France (Marseilles) Spain, North Africa, Persian Empire (Byzantium) Effects of Colonization • Contributed to the diffusion of Greek culture • Helped Greeks develop a sense of Greek identity • Increased trade and industry

  9. Sparta & Athens Sparta • Located in Laconia, originally 4 villages that joined into a polis • Citizens of these original towns were Spartiates, duty is to the polis • Perioikoi– free inhabitants of towns in the polis, but non-citizens • Helots – state-owned slaves that came from Messenia, forced to farm the land and work as household servants • Sometime between 800-600 BC, Sparta underwent legal reform, attributed to Lycurgus • Restructured Spartan government into an oligarchy • Dual Kingship – responsible for military affairs & leading armies • Gerousia – council of elders, 28 citizens, over 60, elected for life • Apella – assembly of male citizens, only voted on issues presented by the gerousia and elected members of the gerousia and ephors • Ephors – college of 5 male citizens, elected annually, convened the Gerousia, oversaw the education process & served as judges

  10. Boys were taken into the care of the state at 7 • Trained for military service until age 20 • Age 20-30 - allowed to marry but lived in the city barracks • Age 30 – remained on active duty but could move home with family • Age 60 – relieved of military duties (essentially become reserves) • To preserve their way of life, Sparta isolated itself from the rest of the world • Foreigners discouraged from visiting • Travel by Spartans, except for military reasons, discouraged • Trade & commerce minimized • Philosophy, literature, or any subject that might foster thoughts counter to the Spartan way discouraged as well Athens • By 700 BC - Athens had established a unified polis on the Attican peninsula • By 600 BC – in political turmoil as economic problems saw many farmers sold into slavery after defaulting on debts to aristocrats

  11. Solon is elected sole archon in 594 BC allowing him to make reforms • Cancelled all current land debts • Outlawed new loans based with human collateral • Freed those in debt slavery • Refused to redistribute the land away from aristocrats, failing to fix cause of basic economic problems • He restructured the social strata of Athens by creating four social classes based on wealth instead of birth • The first three classes were allowed to be elected to specific offices • The fourth class could not hold office but could vote • Any citizen could bring charges against any magistrate • Govt officials now answerable to all citizens • After a period of tyranny, Cleisthenes took power and continued to reform the government • Gave more power to the people, laying foundation of democracy • Demos – people, Kratia - power

  12. Classical Greece • Era of Greek history from 500 BC (defeat of Persian invasion) to 338 BC (when Philip II subjugated Greece) • Historians believe that at least some of the Greeks saw the threat of the Persians as a contest between freedom & slavery • 499 BC – Ionian city-states under Persian control revolt • Athens sent 20 ships to aid the revolt, eventually burning Sardis • 494 BC – Miletus sacked by Persians & revolt suppressed • 490 BC – Darius sends his army across the Aegean as revenge for the Athenian interference & to expand his empire westward • Captured Eretria, swept over Boeotia & south towards Athens • Athenian & Plataean hoplites met the lightly armored Persians on the plains of Marathon, proved victorious & Persia would not attack again for 10 yrs • After the 1st Persian invasion, Themistocles of Athens persuades the rest of the assembly to pursue the development of a navy • By 480 BC, Athens had produced about 200 ships

  13. Just as the Ionian revolt was insulting to the Persians, so was the defeat at Marathon • Revolt in Egypt and the death of Darius in 486 BC kept Persia from attacking again • Xerxes, son of Darius, wanted revenge and to expand his empire • 480 BC - with a force of 150,000 to 200,000 troops, 700 naval ships & hundreds of supply ships; the Persians crossed the Hellespont • Some city-states formed a defensive league under Sparta, some remained neutral and some even sided with Persia • The defense plan involved a holding action at Thermopylae to give the Greek fleet a chance to fight at Artemisium • Leonidas had 9,000 troops at Thermopylae, led by 300 Spartans • They held off the Persians for 2 days, until betrayed by a shepard • Themistocles threatened to withdraw the Athenean ships if an effort wasn’t made to stop Persian advance • The Persian fleet was defeated at Salamis, Xerxes feared another revolt & returned to Asia

  14. Growth of an Athenian Empire • To defend against further attacks from outsiders, Athens formed a defensive organization called the Delian League • The League ended the Persian threat and when some states tried to withdraw, they were sacked by Athens • Athenians favored this imperial policy while expanding democracy at home • Under the rule of Pericles, Athens reached the height of its power • While building an Aegean empire and citing fear of a Persian attack, Athens tightened its control over the Delian League • 454 BC – Athens moved the treasury from Delos to Athens • The Athenian Empire was beginning to wear thin with the rest of Greece

  15. The Peloponnesian War • In History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides pointed out that the long-term cause of the war was Sparta’s fear that Athens would challenge for control of the Peloponnesus • Short-term: Athens’ conflicts w/ allies of Sparta • Sparta sent an ultimatum to Athens; Athens disregarded b/c to back down was admit Sparta was the greatest power in Greece • Fighting began in 431 BC and a peace was signed in 421 BC • 415 BC – an Athenian general was removed from command & he fled to Sparta and informed them how to fight Athens • Alcibiades told the Spartans to seek aide from Persia • Also in 415 BC, Athens sent 5,000 troops to take Sicily • The entire army was eventually captured & killed or sold into slavery • Despite continuous setbacks, the Athenians continued to raise armies & build more ships • 404 BC – Athens surrenders, its walls are torn down, navy disbanded & the Athenian empire was dissolved

  16. Culture of Classical Greece Writing History • The systematic analysis of past events was a Greek creation • historia – Greek word for research or investigation • Herodotus (484-425 BC) author of The Persian Wars, considered the “father of history” • Sometimes criticized for not being impartial & taking extensive creative liberties • Thucydides (460-400 BC) by far a better historian than Herodotus, looked at cause & effect relationships and was much more objective than his predescesor Greek Drama • Plays were used to educate and entertain; content generally based on legends & myths people already knew

  17. Aeschylus(525 – 456 BC) • considered father of Greek tragedy • works show an awareness of human weakness & dangers of power • retained belief that right would triumph in the end • characters in his plays had to suffer to learn from their mistakes • most famous works: Oresteia trilogy • (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Oresteia) Sophocles (496 – 406 BC) • most prosperous & successful of the 3 poets • much less positive outlook on life than Aeschylus • many of his plays warn against too great a belief in self-reliance • wrote over 120 plays, but only 7 have survived • most famous play: Oedipus the King Euripides (484 – 406 BC) • expresses weariness & disillusionment of war-torn years at the end of 5th century BC • accused of impiety because of how he portrayed the gods • deepest hatred reserved for war & its senseless misery • exhibits sympathy for problems of women in society • unpopular in his own time, later became the most widely read of the 3 playwrights

  18. Philosophy in the Late Period philosopher – meant “lover of wisdom” in ancient Greek • Philosophers tried to explain the unseen & unexplained aspects of the world around them Socrates(469-399 BC) • one of the most important figures in Greek history. • most philosophy of the Greeks and later cultures were inspired by his teachings. • would travel around to Athens, asking difficult questions to point out faults in society • Teaching style referred to as the Socratic Method • wrote nothing himself, all the information we have came from the works of his student, Plato. • after the Peloponnesian War, Socrates’ enemies accused him of corrupting the youth of Athens • put to death by administration of hemlock (a poisonous plant, induces repertory failure)

  19. Plato (428-347 BC) • most famous student of Socrates • recorded teachings of his mentor in The Republic • after Socrates died, Plato left Athens until 387 BC • upon returning, he founded the Academy (the 1st permanent educational institution in Western society) • most of his works deal w/ political theory & ideal society • His ideal society is presented in his Theory of Forms • there is a higher dimension where a perfect form of anything imaginable in this world exists • all real world (imperfect) forms pale in comparison • his vision presented is too authoritarian for most tastes • philosophers were the only ones intelligent enough to rule in society • calls for careful breeding of children • censorship of music & poetry • abolition of private property • Plato did not intend for this to be taken literally, but instead to challenge people to think seriously about how we should organize our lives

  20. Aristotle (384-322 BC) • a student of Plato • at first, continued to develop the ideas of his teacher • in 335 BC, he founded the Lyceum, a school in competition w/ Plato’s Academy • he introduced a rival philosophy to Plato’s ideas • was hired as a tutor for a young Alexander the Great • his greatest work is Metaphysics • Metaphysics deals w/ his chief dispute with Plato – the basic ideas in Theory of Forms • Aristotle believed that perfect forms existed in our world Other works by Aristotle • Rhetoric – describes ideal model of oratory (public speaking) • Poetics – does the same for poetry & defines tragedy • His works were later uses by Cicero (a Roman statesman) • St. Thomas Aquinas’ synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy & Christian theology is still the official philosophical position of the Roman Catholic Church.