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Greek Religion, Philosophy, and Literature. Chapter 6, Section 2. The Golden Age of Athens. 479 B.C. – 431 B.C. Athens grew rich from trade and from silver mined by slaves in regions around the city. Tribute (payments) made to Athens by its allies added to its wealth.

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the golden age of athens
The Golden Age of Athens
  • 479 B.C. – 431 B.C.
  • Athens grew rich from trade and from silver mined by slaves in regions around the city.
  • Tribute (payments) made to Athens by its allies added to its wealth.
  • Made amazing achievements in the arts, philosophy, and literature
  • Democracy reached its high point.
the golden age of athens1
The Golden Age of Athens
  • For about 30 years during this time, an Athenian leader named Pericles was the most powerful man in Athenian politics.
    • Well-educated, persuasive
    • Best interests of his city at heart
    • Member of an aristocratic family but supported democracy
  • Around 460 B.C. he became leader of a democratic group.
  • He introduced reforms that strengthened democracy.
    • City pay a salary to its officials poor citizens could afford to hold public office
the flourishing arts
The Flourishing Arts
  • Pericles is best-known for making Athens a beautiful city.
  • 480 B.C.  Acropolis was destroyed
  • Pericles decided to rebuild it and create new buildings to glorify the city.
    • Hired the Greek world’s finest architects and sculptors for the project
magnificent architecture
Magnificent Architecture
  • The builders of the new Acropolis brought Greek architecture to its highest point.
  • Parthenon  a temple to the goddess Athena
    • Marble
    • Rows of columns surrounding all 4 sides
    • Room that held statue of Athena, made of wood, ivory, and gold
    • Rose 40 feet as high as a four-story building
a t h e n a


lifelike sculpture
Lifelike Sculpture
  • The great statue of Athena disappeared long ago, however much of the sculpture on the inside and outside of the temple still exists.
  • Decorative scenes have three important characteristics & reflect the goal of Greek art:
      • They are full of action.
      • The artist carefully arranged the figures to show balance and order.
      • The sculptures are lifelike and accurate.
  • This goal was to present images of human perfection in a balanced and orderly way, but real people and animals would not look like these sculptures.
the search for knowledge
The Search for Knowledge
  • Greeks worshipped a family of gods and goddesses called the Twelve Olympians.
  • Each ruled different areas of human life.
greek religion
Greek Religion
  • Wherever the Greeks lived, they built temples to the gods.
  • Since the gods had human forms, they also had human characteristics.
    • Main difference between gods & humans  gods were perfect in form, had power, and were immortal (lived forever)
  • In addition to the 12 great gods led by Zeus, the Greeks worshipped many lesser ones.
  • They also honored mythical heroes.
greek science and philosophy
Greek Science and Philosophy
  • Most Greeks believed their gods were the source of all natural events.
  • A few thinkers disagreed – about 150 years before the Golden Age, some people thought about ways besides myths to understand the world.
    • Philosophers  believed that people could use the power of mind and reason to understand natural events
greek science and philosophy1
Greek Science and Philosophy
  • Thales one of the first philosophers, believed that water was the basic material of the world – everything was made from it
  • Over the years, other philosophers had other ideas about the universe.
    • No experiments, but were careful observers and good thinkers
  • Democritus  lived in the 400s B.C., thought that everything was made of tiny particles called atoms
    • 2,000 years science proved him correct.
greek science and philosophy2
Greek Science and Philosophy
  • Socrates taught in the marketplace of Athens at all hours of the day
    • Wanted people to consider the true meaning of qualities such as justice and courage
  • To do this, he asked questions that made others think about their beliefs.
    • Sometimes they became angry because Socrates often showed them that they didn’t know what they were talking about.
  • His questions frightened many Athenians.
  • He was brought to trial and accused of dishonoring the gods and misleading young people – condemned to death (drank poison).
greek drama
Greek Drama
  • The Athenians were the first people to write dramas.
  • Among the city’s greatest achievements were the plays written and produced there in the 400s B.C. during the Golden Age.
  • These plays soon became popular all over the Greek world.
  • Some of the most famous Greek plays were tragedies.
  • Tragedy  a serious story that usually ends in disaster for the main character
    • Told of fictional humans who were destroyed when forced to make impossible choices
    • Consisted of several scenes that featured the characters of the story
  • Between scenes, a chorus chanted or sang poems.
  • In most plays, the author used the chorus to give background information, comment on the events, or praise the gods.
  • Performances of tragedies were part of contests held during religious festivals.
  • At the main festival at Athens in the spring, three playwrights entered four plays apiece in the contest.
  • The city chose wealthy citizens to pay the bills for these dramatic contests.
  • Comic writers also competed at the dramatic festivals.
  • During the 400s B.C. these poets wrote comedies that made fun of well-known citizens and politicians, and also made jokes about the customs of the day.
  • Because of the freedom in Athens, people accepted the humor and jokes.