Thursday, February 18, 2016

Democracy and Greece's Golden Age

Golden Age of Athens (447-431 B.C.): experienced a growth in intellectual and artistic learning

Pericles' Plan for Athens
Pericles dominated Athens from 461 to 429 B.C. (the Age of Pericles)
Three goals:
1) to strengthen Athenian democracy
2) to hold and strengthen the empire
3) to glorify Athens

Strong Democracy
Increased the number of public officials who were paid salaries → poor people could serve
Direct democracy: a form of government in which citizens rule directly and not through representatives (power is in the hands not of a minority but of the whole people)
In Athens, male citizens who served in the assembly established all the important government policies that affected the polis

Athenian Empire
Athens took over leadership of the Delian League and dominated all the city-states in it
Used the money from league to make the navy strong → strengthen the safety
Other city-states formed their own alliances to resist Athens (Sparta)

Glorifying Athens
Used money from league to beautify Athens:
- buy gold, ivory and marble
- pay the artists, architects, and workers

Glorious Art and Architecture
Goal was to glorify Athens through sculptures and buildings
center → the Parthenon

Architecture and Sculpture
Parthenon (temple) → not unique in style, built to honor Athena
Pericles entrusted much work to sculptor Phidias who created a 30 feet tall statue of Athena with many precious materials in the center of temple
Classical art: shows serenity on face and the grace of idealized human body in motion (ideal beauty), uses harmony, order, balance, and proportion

Drama and History
The Greeks invented drama and built the first theaters in the West
Theatrical productions in Athens were expression of civic pride and tribute to the gods
Wealthy citizens bore the cost of producing the plays

Tragedy and Comedy
Tragedy - a serious drama about common themes such as love, hate, war or betrayal
usually has an main character (tragic hero) with extraordinary abilities and the tragic flaw (excessive pride) caused his downfall
- wrote more than 80 plays
- most famous work is the trilogy Oresteia (idea of justice)
- wrote more than 100 plays, including tragedies Oedipus the King and Antigone
- author of the play Medea (often featured strong women)
Comedy - contained scenes filled with slapstick situations and crude humor, made fun of politics and respected people and ideas of the time
- wrote the first great comedies including The Birds and Lysistrata

No written records from the Dorian period
Herodotus - his book on the Persian Wars is considered the first work of history
Thucydides (Athenian) - the greatest historian of the classical age
believed that certain types of events and political situations recur over time → study history can help understand the present

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