CLST 330 – Jan 7th
What is Classical?
“Classical” from Latin Classicus= belonging to the first class of citizens. The word was not a
common one, there are just a few occurrences in Latin literature.
Introduced after these occurrences: Fronto in Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae
Adsiduus: a member of the first five classes in the Servian constitution, and thus a full right citizen,
a landowner, a tax payer and a soldier
Proletarius: a citizen whose richness was below the limit of the fifth class. His sons were
sometimes his only possession. Didn’t own anything.
The use of classicus to mean a major author of the past, who is an authoritative model, is not found
in other ancient works.
What is the “Classical Age” of Greece?
The Athenians of the age of Pericles, consider themselves a model for Greeks
They set themselves in their own time as people of the present as the model for everybody
Pericles had planned for Greece to be the leader
Greeks of later periods and even Romans, the opinion was handed down and they looked at those
Greeks as their models
Began looking at 5th c Athens as a model
Greeks began studying the arts of Greece in the Hellenistic period
Pliny the Elder:
Uses Hellenistic sources, translating from Greek books
Revived again in the middle of 2nd c BC Early 3rd c means Hellenistic Age, established all over the eastern Mediterranean
Wrote in 2nd c BC
Statue of Zeus by Pheidias
Says he was the only artist who could depict a portrait of Homer’s Zeus
Pheidias the great model for art
He was in charge of the Athena Parthenos
Pliny the Younger
Classical Greece and the Polis Experience:
Is there a Classical Greece without a Polis?
Are they one and the same thing?
Polis was developed as a political form in which the Greeks developed themselves
Other forms of political organization in Greece:
Ethnos: a territory sometimes rather large without a central government, a central settlement, and
formal political union, but where the inhabitants felt connected and part of a larger unit because of
other forms of relationship, especially common cults and customs. The ethnos can either contain
poleis usually small or not.
Greeks without Poleis: Thucydides
The Aetolian nation although numerous and warlike yet dwelt in unwalled villages scattered far
apart, and had nothing but light armor, and might according to the Messenians, be subdued without
Greek Polis and Modern Perspectives:
To the Germans, the polis can only be described in a handbook of constitutional law, they focus on
how the polis works as a political body
The French polis is a form of Holy Communion, the cult of the republic, is what unites them
The English polis is a historical accident, it happens to be there in that period
The Americans polis combines the practices of a Mafia convention with the principles of justice and
individual freedom, because of the background of the Americans, conflicting groups
The Meaning of the word “polis” in Greek literature:
Polis= stronghold, fortress, walled citadel. Rarely used, sometimes as a synonym of Acropolis
Polis= settlement, town, almost the same as asty. It is more frequent meaning in Homer
Polis= the community of citizens, those who make the city***
Polis= the totality of town plus the hinterland, the space where the citizens live
Polis= the community in its political and institutional dimension, the city state