Greek Religion • Religion affected all aspects of Greek life because Greeks considered religion necessary for the well-being of the state. • Temples to the gods and goddesses were the major buildings in Greek cities.
Greek Religion • Homer described the deities of Greek religion. • Most important were the twelve gods and goddesses that lived on Mount Olympus. • The chief god and father of the gods was Zeus; • Athena was the goddess of wisdom and crafts;
Greek Religion • Apollo was the god of the sun and poetry; • Aphrodite was the goddess of love; • Zeus’s brother, Poseidon, was the god of the sea.
Greek Religion • Greek religion did not have a body of doctrine, nor was it focused on morality. • Principally, it was focused on making the deities look favorably on people. • Hence, rituals—ceremonies or rites—were the most important element of Greek religion. • After death, the spirits of most people, good or bad, went to a gloomy underworld ruled by Hades
Greek Religion • Religious festivals were used to honor the gods and goddesses. • These festivals included athletic events. • The games at Olympia honoring Zeus, first held in 776 B.C., are the basis of the modern Olympic Games.
Greek Religion • The Greeks wanted to know the will of the gods and goddesses. • To this end, they consulted oracles, sacred shrines where priests or priestesses revealed the future through interpreting the will of the deities. • The most famous oracle was at the shrine to Apollo at Delphi, on the side of Mount Parnassus. • Representatives of states and individuals traveled to this oracle.
Greek Religion • The responses of the priests and priestesses often could be interpreted in more than one way. • For example, Croesus, king of Lydia, asked the oracle if he should go to war with the Persians. • The oracle replied that if he did he would destroy a great empire. • Thinking he would destroy the Persians, Croesus went to war and destroyed his own empire.
Greek Drama • The Greeks, principally in Athens, created Western drama. • Plays were presented as part of religious festivals. • The original Greek dramas were tragedies, presented in trilogies around a common theme.
Greek Drama • Only one complete trilogy survives today, the Oresteia by Aeschylus. • It tells about the fate of Agamemnon and his family after he returned from the Trojan War. • Evil acts are shown to breed evil and suffering, but in the end reason triumphs over evil.
Greek Drama • Another famous Athenian playwright was Sophocles, whose most famous play was Oedipus Rex. • Even though Oedipus knows an oracle has foretold he will kill his father and marry his mother, he commits these tragic acts.
Greek Drama • A third important Athenian dramatist, Euripides, created more realistic characters and showed more of an interest in real-life situations and individual psychology. • He also questioned traditional values; for example, he showed the horrors of war and sympathized with its victims, especially women and children.
Greek Drama • Greek tragedies examined such universal themes as the nature of good and evil, the rights of the individual, the role of the gods in life, and the nature of human beings. • Greek comedy developed later, and criticized society to invoke a reaction. • Aristophanes is the most important Greek comic playwright.
Greek Philosophy • Philosophy (“love of wisdom”) refers to an organized system of rational thought. • Early Greek philosophers were concerned with the nature of the universe explained through unifying principles. • For example, Pythagoras taught that the essence of the universe was found in music and numbers.
Greek Philosophy • In the fifth century B.C., Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle raised questions that have been debated ever since. • Socrates taught many pupils but accepted no payment. • He believed the goal of education was only to improve the individual’s soul.
Greek Philosophy • He introduced a way of teaching still used today called the Socratic method. • It uses a process of question and answer to get students to understand things for themselves.
Greek Philosophy • Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” • The belief in the individual’s power to reason was an important contribution of Greek culture. • Socrates and his pupils questioned authority.
Greek Philosophy • After losing the Peloponnesian War, Athenians did not trust open debate. • Socrates was tried and convicted of corrupting the youth. • He was sentenced to death and died by drinking hemlock, in 399 B.C.
Greek Philosophy • Plato was one of Socrates’ students and considered by many the greatest Western philosopher. • He was preoccupied with the nature of reality and how we know reality. • According to Plato, an ideal world of Forms is the highest reality. • Only a mind fully trained by philosophy can grasp the nature of the Forms.
Greek Philosophy • The material objects that appear in the physical world (e.g., a particular tree) are images or shadows of these universal Forms (e.g., treeness). • Plato was concerned that the city-states be virtuous—just and rational. • Only then could citizens achieve a good life. He explained his ideas about government in The Republic, in which he outlines the structure of the ideal, virtuous state.
Greek Philosophy • The ideal state has three groups—rulers, motivated by wisdom, warriors, motivated • by courage, and commoners, motivated by desire. • Only when balance was instilled by the rule of a philosopher-king, who had learned about true justice and virtue, would there be a just state. • Then individuals could life the good life.
Greek Philosophy • Plato also believed that men and women should have the same education and equal access to all positions. • Plato established a school in Athens called the Academy. • His most important pupil was Aristotle, who studied there for 20 years. • Aristotle did not believe in a world of ideal Forms.
Greek Philosophy • He thought of forms, or essences, as part of the things of the material world. • We know treeness, for example, by examining individual trees. • Aristotle was interested, therefore, in analyzing and classifying things by observation and investigation. • In this way we could know reality. • He wrote on ethics, logic, politics, poetry, astronomy, geology, biology, and physics.
Greek Philosophy • Like Plato, Aristotle was interested in the best form of government, one that would rationally direct human affairs. • He tried to find this form of government by analyzing existing governments. • He looked at the constitutions of 158 states and found three good forms: monarchy, aristocracy, and constitutional government. • Of these, the third was the best. Aristotle’s ideas about government are in his Politics.
Greek Art • The standards of classical Greek art dominated most of Western art history. • Classical Greek art was concerned with expressing eternal ideals that would rationally civilize the emotions through the moderation, balance, and harmony of the artwork. • Classical Greek art’s chief subject matter was an ideally beautiful human being.
Greek Art • The most important architectural form was the temple dedicated to a god or goddess. • The greatest example is the Parthenon, built between 447 and 432 B.C. and dedicated to the patron goddess of Athens, Athena. • It showed Athens’ pride in itself and exemplified the principles of classical architecture: calm, clarity, and freedom from unnecessary detail.
Greek Art • Greek sculpture often depicted idealized, lifelike male nudes. • The sculptor Polyclitus, in his book the Doryphoros, explained the ideal proportions based on mathematical ratios found in nature that he used to create his idealized nudes.