CLAA01 Oct. 18
We have more information about Ancient Athens because they gave us the largest body
(corpus) of literary work.
This is not even because they literally wrote more books. Athenian were judged
to be ‘better’ by scholars and they lasted until today because everyone was
The ‘canon’: a group of books that were considered ‘necessary to know’
The first of these canons may have been created by Dionysus of Halicarnassus
Was an attack by the Athenians against the Sicilians; was a complete failure on
behalf of Athenians.
Athens lost over 100 war ships
Quite a few Athenians were captured alive
o Some executed right away
o Some were left in stone quaries to die of heat exhaustion, starvation etc.
Deceleian War (413 – 404)
Alcibiades was in Sparta, helping the Spartan army
He suggested building a fort at Decelalia, a border between Athenian and
Fort was built, allowing Spartans to attack Athens year-round
Athenians were constantly under siege. This would have continued because Sparta
really had no ways to breach the walls that surrounded Athens.
Alcibiades was too frivolous for Spartan society. When he impregnated one of the wives
of the king, he was forced to flee.
Fled for Sardis, part of the Persian Empire.
There he advised the ruler on how best to defeat Greece: to keep them infighting
among themselves until they eventually destroyed each other.
Alcibiades eventually had to flee Sardis for Athens, after displeasing the ruler. CLAA01 Oct. 18
Athenians won the battle of Arginusae over Sparta.
Many Athenians were left floating in the sea during the battle because their ships
had been destroyed.
Five captains had been told to take their ships to rescue these soldiers but did
not go once a storm rolled in. The sailors left in the sea drowned.
These caused a huge outcry in Athens. Eventually, the captains were put to
death without a trial, a decision made by the Assembly.
Afterwards, this decision was considered illegal and was struck down (after the
death of the captains)
Graphae paranomon: in which the person who sponsored an illegal bill is put to
Lysander: Spartan captain
Athenian boats just followed the Spartans around to goad them into war.
o Athenians lost
When Athens surrendered, Sparta proceeded to make ridiculous, unrealistic demands
Sparta and Athens became ‘allies’
Democratic system was replaced by ‘the Thirty’. Composed of thirty men loyal to
Sparta, governing Athens
Critias became the ruler of Athens, was pretty much the Athenian equivalent of
Hitler. Was also Socrates’ nephew.
For the next hundred years, there was a three-way struggle between Athens, Sparta,
Was actually considered a mandated city religion
Theatre allowed for recognition of own faults, catharsis
Tragedies could contain violence but it could not be shown on stage so role of
‘messenger’ to recount gory details. CLAA01 Oct. 18
Some ‘flaw’ (mistake) always caused the downfall of the hero
Wrote ‘old comedy’ : slapstick, political/personal attacks on others
Wrote ‘new comedy’ : was more like romantic comedy
Plato (427 – 347)
Was a minor during the Peloponnesian Wars
Published ‘Conversations with Socrates’, in the form of dialogues
Was a student of Socrates
Had a system of education enforcing music/physical activity/geometry in schools
to make good people i.e. eventual ‘philosopher king’.
Plato’s idea of a philosopher king never really worked out: in the case of Dion of
Syracuse, he’d been taught all of Plato’s knowledge on how to be a successful
ruler. He was eventually assassinated.
Aristotle (384 – 322)
Teleology: everything is directed to have some sort of result/end.
Intrinsic end: happiness is the only goal that is truly the end.
Socrates (469 – 399)
Known for Socratic method (way of questioning people)
o Actually went around questioning people and manipulating their belief