3. Pericles and Classical Greece

Week Three
tri = three
mis = bad/wrong/ill
re = again/back
I. Pericles and the Parthenon
West metopes of the Parthenon
The goddess Athena
The Parthenon
Paradox of Pericles and the Parthenon
The Athenian Empire,
designed to keep Greek
cities free, began to enslave
those very cities. Athens, the
most assertive democracy in
the ancient world, was
effectively ruled by a single
man who held no elected
II. Persian Wars
A. Battle of Marathon
After a stunning victory over the Persians, Athenians are
convinced of their invincibility, superior culture, and
efficiency of democratic government
B. Battle of Thermopylae
Ten years later, Greek city-states ally and fend off Persian
invasion led by Xerxes
C. Delian League
An alliance of equal city-states meant to free Aegean
territory from Persians
Gradually turns into an Athenian Empire
III. Pericles
A. Extender of democracy
An aristocrat, but extended
political participation to all free
citizens, abolished property
requirements, and paid juries.
B. Builder of public works
Helped fund construction of the
Lyceum, statue of Athena,
sym/syn = together/same
hypo = under/below/less
hyper = over/beyond/high
III. Pericles
C. Promoter of Greek Culture
1. The Examined Life
Sophists: Protagoras instructs skills of
rhetoric and logic
Socrates: condemns the Sophists for
failure to engage issues of morality;
Socratic method; “know thyself”;
executed for corrupting the morals of
The Death of Socrates (1787)
III. Pericles
2. Understanding the Past
Herodotus: the first
Analysis: of the Persian
Philosophy of history
Herodotus, The Histories, Book III
For if it were proposed to all nations to choose which seemed best
of all customs, each, after examination, would place its own first; so
well is each convinced that its own are by far the best. It is not
therefore to be supposed that anyone, except a madman, would turn
such things to ridicule. I will give this one proof among many from
which it may be inferred that all men hold this belief about their
customs. When Darius was king, he summoned the Greeks who were
with him and asked them for what price they would eat their fathers'
dead bodies. They answered that there was no price for which they
would do it. Then Darius summoned those Indians who eat their
parents, and asked them (the Greeks being present and
understanding through interpreters what was said) what would make
them willing to burn their fathers at death. The Indians cried aloud,
that he should not speak of so horrid an act. So firmly rooted are
these beliefs; and it is, I think, rightly said in Pindar's poem that
custom is lord of all.
III. Pericles
3. Athenian drama
 Roots:
Indebted to Homer and
early Greek material
 Sophocles: Analyzes the
competing allegiances of the
family and the state in Antigone
 Aristophanes: comedic
sympathy with common people
 Human condition
4. The human image
 Less
stylized; more natural
III. Pericles
5. Architecture
 Acropolis:
melding of idealism and realism; but the
grandeur is something of an illusion
“Secrets of the Parthenon”
D. Aggressor in Foreign Policy
End of Delian League
Peloponnesian War
 First
phase: inconclusive
 Second phase: Athens
defeated by a SpartanPersian alliance
IV. Pericles’ Demise
Destruction: Of Pericles and
the economic, political, and
civic foundations on which the
Parthenon had been built.
Philosophy and the Polis:
philosophers respond to
political disruptions by
elaborating new theories
IV. Pericles’ Demise
A. Platonic forms
Distrusted Athenian democracy; the best government
should rest in the hands of philosophers
Cave allegory: ignorance (darkness) and truth (light)
B. Aristotelian empiricism
Realism and systematic observation
C. Hellenistic philosophies
 Cynics:
freedom through renunciation of material objects
 Epicureans: freedom from pain
 Stoics: freedom from disorder
“West Wing”
IV. Pericles’ Legacy
Funeral Oration: “Our constitution is called a
democracy because power is in the hands not of a
minority but of the whole people. When it is a
question of settling private disputes, everyone is
equal before the law; when it is a question of
putting one person before another in positions of
public responsibility, what counts is not membership
of a particular class, but the actual ability which the
man possesses. No one, so long as he has it in him to
be of service to the state, is kept in political
obscurity because of poverty.”
Pieces of the Parthenon at the British Museum, the
Louvre, Copenhagen, and elsewhere.