Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Spread of Hellenistic Culture

Alexander: sought to meld culture with Greeks
From Egyptian Alexandria to Asian Alexandrias linked together → shared Greek culture and common language
But had its own traditional ways of life, religion and government

Hellenistic Culture in Alexandria
Greek culture blended with Egyptian, Persian, and Indian influences → Hellenistic culture
Language: Konie (direct result of culture blending) → enabled people had different backgrounds to communicate

Trade and Cultural Diversity
The Egyptian city of Alexandria: the center of commerce and Hellenistic civilization
Trade ships grew and prosper because of Alexandria's thriving commerce
By the third century BC Alexandria became an international community → diverse population exceeded half of a million people

Alexandria's Attractions
Both residents and visitors admired Alexandria's great beauty
- avenues lined with statues of Greek gods
- magnificent royal palaces
- a much visited tomb contained Alexandria's glass coffin
- an enormous stone lighthouse called Pharos
Museum (a temple dedicated to the Muses): institute of advanced study
Library (first true researched library)
Contained many masterpieces of ancient literature → helped scholars produce commentaries to explain these works

Science and Technology
Alexandrian scholars provided most of the scientific knowledge available to the West until 16th and 17th centuries

Museum contained a small observatory helped astronomers study the planets and stars
Aristarchus of Samos:
1) Sun was at least 300 times larger than Earth
2) Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun
- incorrectly placed Earth at the center of the solar system
- astronomers accepted this view for the next 14 centuries
Eratosthenes (director of the Alexandrian Library):
- try to calculate Earth's size (28,000-29,000 miles)
- morden measurements 24,860 miles
- astronomer, mathematician, poet and historian

Mathematics and Physics
Euclid (mathematician):
- compiled a geometry text (Aristarchus and Eratosthenes used)
- taught in Alexandria
- best-known book was Elements
Archimedes of Syracuse (scientist):
- studied at Alexandria
- estimated the value of pi
- explained the law of the lever
- invented Archimedes screw and compound pulley
- Hellenistic scientists built a force pump using his ideas

Philosophy and Art
The teaching of Plato and Aristotle continued to be influential
In the third century BC philosophers concerned how people should live their lives

Stoicism and Epicureanism
- the school of philosophy founded by Zeno (335-263 BC)
- people should live virtuous lives in harmony with the will of god or the natural laws that God established to run the universe

- human desires, power and wealth were dangerous distractions

- the school founded by Epicurus
- gods who had no interest in humans ruled the universe
- real objects were only perceived by five senses
- greatest good and highest pleasure came from virtuous conduct and the absence of pain
- main goal of human was to achieve harmony of body and mind
- epicurean: a person devoted to pursuing human pleasure, especially the enjoyment of good food
- advocated moderation

Realism in Sculpture
People used statues to honor gods, commemorate heroes and portray ordinary people
Colossus of Rhodes:
- largest Hellenistic statue 
- created on the island of Rhodes 
- bronze
- 100 feet high
- one of the seven wonders of the ancient world

- toppled by an earthquake in 225 BC
Nike (Winged Victory) of Samothrace:
- found on Rhodes
- created in 203 BC to commemorate a Greek naval victory
Hellenistic sculpture created more natural works → feel free to explore new subjects, 
Carving ordinary people such as an old wrinkled peasant woman
By 150 BC the Hellenistic world was decline 
Rome → Greek culture was preserved and became the core of Western civilization

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