CLASSICS 222 NOTES FOR 2/4/09
Reminder: If you signed up for the first paper topic, due in one week, on 2/11, the
topic has been posted in the course documents area of the Blackboard site since 12:01am
For Friday, you will read Euripides’
. Euripides is very good about telling you at
the start all you need to know to understand his plays, so no brief introduction is required here.
Note that the
is a 4
play. While it is not a full-blown satyr play, it is not a tragedy. It
even has a happy ending. Enjoy.
First, we need to set up the intellectual revolution of 5th century Greece.
Starts traditionally in Sicily where there is the polis of Syracuse. They throw out tyrant in
460’s- establish a radical democracy, and realize they need new skills to get along under a
radical democracy. They export these skills to Athens, as do similar folks from the eastern part of
the Greek world.
In Athens, under the radical democracy, the minimum jury size is 201, and people
regularly speak for themselves rather than employing an advocate. If you can speak persuasively,
you stand a better chance of winning your case. If you can't speak persuasively, you may not be
able to protect yourself and your family.
Men come from Sicily in the West and Ionia in the East and say to Athenians that they
will teach people the arete of living in a polis
That arete is very different from the Homeric arete of Ajax. It amounts to the art of
Athenians thought of these teachers as wise men—called Sophists. They were the first
"higher education professionals", and their instruction was amazingly expensive.
Protagoras, an early Sophist and one of the most expensive, understood that the new
technology of persuasive argument means that, at the moment when a vote is taken or a jury
decides, the most important thing is the opinion they hold at that moment. In that sense, "Man is
the measure of all things."
The new technology of persuasive argument is overwhelming for the Athenians.
Technology of rationalization, for those unaccustomed to it, can persuade people of just about
anything. And that persuasive power allows one not only to defend one's household in the law
courts, but to get ahead in the community. Those without this technology are equally
disadvantaged. [We demonstrated this with the generous help and good humor of Mr. Downey.]