7: Hellenistic Greece

Objectives

  • To outline three major periods of Greek history from 479–323 B.C.E.: Classical, Late Classical, and Hellenistic.
  • To detail the Classical Ideal and the artistic achievements of Athens.
  • To explain the impact of the Peloponnesian War.
  • To examine the significance of Athenian drama and dramatists.
  • To explore the contributions of the three most famous Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
  • To trace the rise of Macedon and the impact of Alexander the Great.
  • Know and understand the significance of the works The History of the Peloponnesian War, the Parthenon, Discobolus, and Aphrodite of Cyrene.
  • Know the contributions of Aristophanes, Sophocles, and Aristotle.

Plato and Aristotle

Key Terms

Classical Period
Pericles
Peloponnesian War
Sophocles
Aristophanes
Doctrine of Ethos
Discus Thrower
Parthenon
Aphrodite of Cyrene


I. Historical Context

  • A. The Classical Period
    • Golden Age of Greece
    • Occurs between the Persian Wars and the time of Alexander the Great
    • Artistic and Intellectual Achievement
    • Dedication to the Classical Ideal

  • B. The Classical Ideal
    • Existence can be ordered and controlled
    • Ability can triumph over chaos
    • Balance and equilibrium
    • Perfect proportion
    • Nothing in excess
    • Understanding human motivations


II. Politics

Peloponnesian_war_alliances_431_BC

Green - Sparta & allies
Orange - Athens & allies

  • A. Pericles
    • Athens is the center of the Classical Period
    • Pericles, leader in Athens who sponsored many achievements 431-404 BCE
    • The Delian League safeguarded general defense funds
    • Athens used Delian League funds to build the Acropolis
    • Other members of the Delian League felt this proved Athens’ desire to rule them all
    • Ended when Sparta laid siege to Athens

  • B. The Peloponnesian War (Link to Map)
    • 431-404 BCE
    • The Delian League safeguarded general defense funds
    • Athens used Delian League funds to build the Acropolis
    • Other members of the Delian League felt this proved Athens’ desire to
      rule them all
    • Ended when Sparta laid siege to Athens

  • C. Late Classical Period
    • Athens no longer center of Greek Culture
    • Macedon comes to power under Phillip II
    • Phillip unifies Greece (except for Sparta) in the League of Corinth
    • Assassinated in 336 BCE
    • Son, Alexander the Great succeeds him
    • Alexander conquers most of the known world

  • D. The Hellenistic Period
    • Time between the death of Alexander the Great (323 BCE) to the rise of the Roman Empire
    • Artistic Freedom as opposed to Classical Order
    • New patrons of the arts like Alexandria, Pergamum, and Antioch


III. Religion - Drama in Classical Greece

Euripides_Statue

Euripides holding
a Greek mask

  • A. Theater
    • Attending theater = religious ritual
    • Honors Dionysius
    • Physical theaters = sacred ground
    • The Drama Festivals of Dionysius
      • Featured 3 tragic plays and a Satyr play (comedy)
      • Plots focus on mythology, relationship between mortals and gods
      • Actors = priests
      • Elaborate masks and costumes
      • Function of Chorus - perspective, spectator point of view, commentary
  • B. Athenian Tragic Dramatists
    1. Aeschylus
      • Optimistic philosophy - growth of civilization through reason and order
      • 3 plays are called the Orestia Trilogy (458 BCE)
      • Agamemnon - violence breeds violence
      • The Libation Bearers - violence breeds violence
      • The Eumenides - only reason can end violence
    2. Sophocles
      • Tragic consequence of human error
      • Most traditionally religious
      • Antigone - stubbornness and bad judgment have tragic effects
      • Oedipus the King - ambiguous
    3. Euripides
      • Realistic plays
      • Focus on injustice
      • Sympathy for problems of women
      • Suppliant Women
  • C. Greek Comedy and Aristophanes
    • Aristophanes - greatest Athenian comic poet
    • Mixed political satire and fantasy
    • The Birds - Cloudcoukooland
    • Lysistrata - women prompt peace with Sparta


IV. Key Texts

  • Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War
    • Impartial account of war
    • Attempt to analyze human motives


V. The Arts

shapeimage_3

Bronze Copy of Discus Thrower
Copenhagen, Denmark

  • A. Greek Music in the Classical Period
    • Popularity
    • Doctrine of Ethos (Character) - affect behavior
    • Pythagoras - octaves, fourths, tetrachords
    • Recorded musical notation - simplistic
    • Harmony
  • B. Sculpture in Classical Greece
    • Myron’s Discus Thrower - naturalism, ideal athlete
    • Focus on proportion, symmetry, balance
    • Polykleitos - believed a mathematical formula existed to determine the extent of human beauty
    • Focus on the individual
    • Late Classical
      • Fate of the individual
      • Human motivation
      • Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Cyrene
        • First time the female form is the subject of art
  • C. Art in the Hellenistic Period
    • Emphasis on emotion and expression rather than order and balance
    • Inspired by heroic efforts of Alexander
    • Freedom of expression
    • New patrons = New opportunities for art


VI. Architecture

shapeimage_4

The Acropolis
Athens, Greece

  • A. Architecture in Classical Greece
    • Part of Pericles’ building program
    • Monument built on top of a hill
    • Two significant parts: Parthenon and Erechtheum
    • Parthenon
      • Dedicated to Athena
      • Focus on balance, proportion
      • Ideal beauty in realistic terms
      • Low relief frieze depicts yearly procession to honor Athena
    • Erechtheum
      • Porch of the Maidens
      • Columns in the shape of women
  • B. Architecture in Late Classical Greece
  • C. Architecture in Hellenistic Greece
    • Alexandria - library, lighthouse
    • Pergamum - Altar of Zeus and Laocoön


VII. Key Ideas (Philosophy in Ancient Greece)

  • A. Socrates
    • Questioned the fate of the individual
    • Questioned traditional values
    • Developed the Socratic Method
    • Most notable teachings were recorded by Plato
      • The Apology
      • Symposium
      • Memorabilia
  • B. Plato
    • Student of Socrates
    • Recorded Socrates’ teachings and final days
    • Founded the Academy (387 BCE)
    • Political theory - wrote about the ideal society
    • Inspired by the chaos of fourth century Greek politics
  • C. Aristotle
    • Student of Plato
    • Taught Alexander the Great
    • Founded the Lyceum (335 BCE) to compete with the Academy
    • Metaphysics, Physics, Rhetoric, Poetics, Drama
    • “Master of those who know”


VIII. Historical Context

  • Much of Alexander’s kingdom was controlled by Rome by the end of the third century BCE
  • 146 BCE Rome captures Corinth, the last symbol of Greek independence
  • Greek culture lives on