Greek Thought and Culture

Greek Thought and Culture - I Early Greek Religion A...

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I. Early Greek Religion A. Hesiod’s Works and Days and Theogony (c. 700 BC) 1. The Origin of the Universe a) Cosmos out of Chaos b) Olympian gods, lead by Zeus, overthrow tyrannical titans and imprison them in the underworld. c) Prometheus and the creation of man 2. The Golden Age, The Flood, The Heroic Age, and The Dark Age B. Gods Created in Mans Image 1. Like Paleolithic culture, spirits of animals are worshiped, and Mesopotamian cultures, in which gods are imagined as part-animal, Greek culture imagines the gods as representations of natural forces (both creative and destructive) that must be courted and appeased through sacrifices, festivals and dances – they tell stories about the gods to explain natural phenomena, such as the seasons, the weather, and solar cycles. 2. But the Greeks also imagine the gods as beings much like humans, with distinctive personalities subject to human feelings. a) Zeus, Sky God and king of the Olympians – mighty and terrifying, but lustful and henpecked. b) Apollo, Sun God and god of prophecy – enlightening and life-giving, but also destructive and capricious. c) Aphrodite, Goddess of love and beauty – embodiment of sexual fulfillment and joy but also of vanity, jealousy, and spite.
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3. Athena, virgin goddess of wisdom, combat, the arts, and patrons of Athens – the youngest of the gods, she is mans teacher rather than tormentor. 4. Humans can be great but within limits – those who aim to be as powerful as the gods are punished for “hubris” (excessive ambition). a) Niobe and Arachne: boastfulness b) Phaethon and Icarus: The middle air II. The Homeric World-View A. The Trojan War Begins 1. Homer writes the Iliad and the Odyssey c. 750 BC, two epic poems that celebrate the legendary heroes and kings of Mycenaean civilization – while showing how their ethics of honor can lead to mindless destruction. 2. In the Iliad, Paris, female vanity among goddesses leads to catastrophe on earth – Aphrodite promises Paris the object of his lust. 3. Paris takes Helen, the wife of the king of Sparta, to Troy – a 20 year war begins thanks to the lust of Paris and Helen, and the outraged honor of the Greeks (furious for having their hospitality violated by Paris). B. Achilles: Courage and Glory 1. He clashes with Ajax and Agamemnon over Briseis – restrained by Athena (rational self-control) but refuses to fight Agamemnon. 2. Patroclus, Hector’s death and Priam C. Odysseus: Cunning and Pride 1. The Trojan Horse 2. The Cyclops and the Sirens 3. Penelope as the ideal wife
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III.Art of the Greek Golden Age A. Greek Invention of realistic Sculpture 1. Early in the Archaic Age, Greek sculptors copy the very stiff and formal Egyptian style. 2. Sometime between 580 and 490 BC, the “Greek
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Greek Thought and Culture - I Early Greek Religion A...

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