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Clas 201: Lecture 1 Notes

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Classical Studies
CLAS 201
Nicholas Maes

Description NO CLASS ON SEPT. 25! -they came up with the notion of government/democracy -archaeological sources (temples, etc.) – material culture -written sources – literature Who were the Greeks? -they understood they lived in a place called Hellas (name for ancient Greece) -they called themselves Hellenes -one city state was not a member of another city state (neighbours were seen as enemies) -was not a wide, united nation st -1 divison: Pelasgians -the people who were living in the area we call Greece from a very early era nd -2 division: Minoan -population living on the island of Crete -have a cultural and religious impact -Arthur Evans decided he’d call the people Minoans from the Minotaur (King Minos son) -the capital of Crete is in a place called Knossos -Thalassocracy -Poseidon (God of the dew and fresh spring; water from the ground) -Naval power; rules by the sea -lots of trading with surrounding islands; a trading nation -had palaces surrounded by fields -Minoans had a rich material life; had lots of gold and artwork, etc. -the bull seemed to be very important to them (Minotaur = half bull/half human) -Chthonic religions = religion based around a female deity or group of female deities -earth itself is a strong component (things perish so that other things can come to be) -cycle of life (birth and death) -very often allow for some type of immortality (when your life comes to an end, it leads to another life; possibility of being “one” with the goddesses and living forever) -Christianity gets stuff from Hellenistic/Jewish/... religions -snakes were a symbol of chthonic religions (statue of priestesses/goddesses holding snakes) -Olympian religions = usually based on mountain.... and gods are males -male gods are far removed from human beings (human beings and gods do NOT mix; there are mortals, and there are immortals) -Zeus and Opollo = product of Olympian religion -Demeter = product of Chthonic religion 3 important contribution of Minoans: idea of Linear A -usually a symptom of a complex society -120 characters -known as a Syllabary; simplified form of symbols as language (symbol for each syllable) -simpler than having symbols for every word (words can be broken down into syllables) -phonics = 26 for English, 24 for Greek; allows anyone to write words with just those characters -Linear B (another writing system like Linear A) = it occurred at a later stage after Linear A -Linear B was deciphered by Michael Ventris (Linear A is a foreign la
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