Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cultures of the Mountains and the Sea

The Minoans created an elegant civilization that had great power in the Mediterranean world
Greek culture is based on interaction of the Mycenaean, Minoan, and Dorian cultures

Geography Shapes Greek Life

The region's physical geography directly shaped Greek traditions and customs (peninsula jut out into Mediterranean Sea and have 2000 islands)

The Sea

→ Greeks did not live on a land but around a sea (important transportation routes: Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, Black Sea)
Lack natural resource → sea travel and trade were important and connected Greece with other societies

The Land

Rugged mountains covered about 3/4 of ancient Greece
The mountain chain ran from northwest to southeast along the Balkan peninsula
Mountains divided the land into many small, independent communities
Land transportation was difficult because of the uneven terrain
Small part land was arable and had small streams → could not support large population (at most a few million) → seek new sites for colonies
Tiny but fertile valleys covered about 1/4 of Greece

The Climate

Greece has a varied climate → support outdoor life for Greek citizens (discuss public issues, exchange news, and take an active part in civic life)

Mycenaean Civilization Develops

Large migration of Indo-European from Eurasian steppes to Europe, India, and Southwest Asia
Mycenaean was located in southern Greece on a ridge and surrounded by a protective wall more than 20 feet thick.
Ruled by a warrior-king (1600 to 1100 B.C.)

Contact with Minoans

Mycenaean contacted with the Minoan civilization through either trade or war
Influences -
1) Saw the value of seaborne trade (eastern Mediterranean)
2) writing system and decorated vases
(religious practice, art, politics, literature)

The Trojan War

During the 1200s B.C., the Mycenaeans fought a ten-year war against Troy
Because a Troy prince had kidnapped Helen, the beautiful wife of a Greek king
This attack on Troy was almost certainly one of the last Mycenaean battle campaigns

Greek Culture Declines Under the Dorians

Not long after the Trojan War, Mycenaean civilization collapsed
Around 1200 B.C., sea raiders attacked and burned many Mycenaean cities (Dorians - far less advanced than Mycenaeans)
Greeks appear to have temporarily lost the art of writing during the Dorian Age
No written record exists (400-year period between 1150 and 750 B.C.) → little known about history

Epics of Homer

Homer, the greatest storyteller also was a blind man
Composed his epics, narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds (750-700 B.C.)
The Iliad (backdrop is Trojan War) - one of Homer's great epic poems
Heroes are warriors: Achilles and Hector
→ Learn to be brave, to fight at the front, striving to win great fame for my father, for myself
→ Give insight into the Greek heroic ideal of arete (virtue and excellence)
→ Display this ideal on battlefield or in athletic

Greeks Create Myths

The Greeks developed a rich set of myths about gods → understand the mysteries of nature and the power of human passions
Source: the works of Homer and another epic, Theogony by Hesiod
Greeks attributed human qualities to their gods → gods quarreled and competed with each other constantly

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