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Lecture 9

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Classical Studies
CLAS 201
Nicholas Maes

CLAS 201 Lecture 9 NotesReview from Last ClassOne of Euripedes plays was Bacchae oIn this play Dionysus has returned with a group of female followers Bacchantesto enact revenge on the house of Cadmus that has spurned him for wanting to berevered as a godoIt is based on the mythological story of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agav and their punishment by the god Dionysus who is Pentheus cousin for refusing to worship himDuring the Persian Wars Athens played an instrumental role and rose to power as a resultAthens builds the Delian League and extorts a great deal of money and creates an empireoThis creates tension with Sparta In Athenian drama there are many conventions but can be modified with a great deal offlexibilityAnother important institution of Greek intellectual offerings aside from drama is philosophyIntroduction to PhilosophyScience takes a very long time to develop historically before this many relied on philosophyThere is a western thinker by the name of Alfred North Whitehead who collaborated with Bertrand Russell with his work Principia Mathematica that was written at the start of the th20 century 1910oWhitehead was a gifted intellectual who had a strong taste for mathematics and logic he was well train in philosophy and was also trained in the classics such as Greek and Latin which many educated men knew ofoHe once said that if the Greeks were tea drinkers then the industrial revolution would have taken place maybe 14 centuries earlieroHe meant that if the Greeks were tea drinkers they would had produced a Stevenson the man who came up with the steam powered engine and he would have made the same observations that Stevenson madeStevenson was waiting for pot to boil so he could make tea he saw that the lid was bouncing up and down there was power in steam and it could be harness it to do work such as spin turbines and generate energyoThe reason why Whitehead makes this statement is because he feels when you thth look at scientific theory it is not much more advanced in the late 18 or early 19rdAD century compared to 3century ADIn other words the Greeks were almost there from a theoretical point of view except they did not practice itThen the world collapsed with the collapse of Romeand the onset of the barbariansCoupled with the dawn of Christianity and the Dark Ages many of these discoveries fell to the backgroundWhen one looks at Greek philosophy the origins of science are touched upon as welloThe same rational processes are present and the same burning curiosity is present as well but the Greeks were not of an experimental turn of mindEarly PhilosophyWhen one uses the word philosophy one is using a Greek wordoIt comes from the word philosophia which means the love of wisdomoGreeks are considered to be the originators and developers of philosophyHowever every culture has a philosophy it stock wisdom each population has to navigate the complexity of life and will come up with maxims expression of experiences and conclusions based on some kind of analysis of the world around themGreek philosophy is unique from an ancient perspective because it is very systematic even in its primitive guiseoYou cannot tell a Greek that something is just the way it is they need to be reasoned by reason and rationalismWhen we take a look at the Greeks philosophy is immediately present however it is more often seen as religion or mythologyoIn Hesiods Theogony The birth of the Gods or The begetting of the Gods genealogy he is trying to describe as many Greek gods as he can fit into this work which means hundreds of themHe essentially fits them into a network of a family treeThe universe starts with Chaos who gives rise to five agents Gaia Tartarus Eros Nyx and ErebusChaos can be seen an arche which means beginning origin or first cause This concept is extended to ultimate underlying substance and ultimate undemonstrable principleGaia marries Ouranos and produces the Titans Hekatonkheires and CyclopesIt is a very large poem and is generally seen as mythology or religionoThis is considered to be philosophy for 2 reasonsFirst Hesiod feels that there is a specific element that serves at the foundation for this universe the family tree starts with a progenitor ChaosChaos is not a personality like Zeus Ouranos or Gaia and is not humanlike it is more of a phenomenon than a personalityIf you asked an Ancient Greek to draw Chaos it would be beyond them they can however draw any other character in theology and give them a humanlike guise arms legs eyes ears etcChaos is a very abstract elementSecond it is very systematicTheogony has all these different gods and Hesiod arranges them in a very methodical fashion when you read it you are not bombarded with information you are given all the information in away that is easily digestible because it comes to you in a veryrational wayThe presentation is very systematic and very Greek
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