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Lecture

CLA232H1 Lecture Notes - Theogony, Xenophobia, Greco-Persian Wars


Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA232H1
Professor
Victoria Wohl

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Oct 2nd
Greeks vs. Barbarians/Non Greeks: what makes Greeks Greek?
they all speak a dialect of the same language
pan Hellenic activities: Olympics, Oracle at Delphi etc.
Also the Theogony gave them a connection
We may be different, but we are more similar to each other than
foreigners
the foreigner helped to define the Greeks as Greek
how did they know who was a foreigner?
1. Geography: Hellespont- Dividing line between Europe and
Asia
however there were Greeks living in Asia Minor (Turkey)
2. Language: barbarian comes from barbaroi (an onomatopoeia
meaning that all the non Greek’s speech sounded like bar-bar-
bar-bar-bar)
3. Cultural differences: minor diffs like what you ate or war, or
major like your government or laws
however it was not so clear cut, much to the Greeks dismay:
some Asians would use Greek customs; and Greeks would use
Persian culture (letters, some art, maybe even the concept of
the polis!)
Greeks didn’t really racialize foreigners; such as physical
appearance
Greeks did define race: “genos”
they thought Ethiopia was closer to the sun, which is why
Ethiopians were so dark (fucking awesome)
it didn’t matter if you were black or white, but it mattered who
you served, how you thought etc.
the watershed moment for the divide between Persians and
Greeks was the Persian Wars (490-480 BCE)
before the war the Greeks had contact with Asia

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the Trojans were the ancestors of the Persians
however where the Trojans were viewed as human and not anti-
Greek, the Persians were (xenophobic, bad, scary etc.)
Greece won the battle! took great pride in that
Greece kind of came into the scene later culture wise; so this
was kind of the tipping point for them, they gained respect etc.
Herodotus wrote about this war, and also about their interactions
before the war. cultural contact, how they came to know each
other etc.
he’s going to tell about the conflict, but also about each side’s
accomplishments; look at the cultural differences that led to
conflict
how does Herodotus describe the Hellenos and the Barbaros
Herodotus says the wars started because of cultures stealing
each other’s wives (women snatching)
this could be another form of “women causing all the problems”
or that if one race could fall in love with another, so they might
not be so different, or stealing princesses could hurt the other
race
marriage can be a connector between cultures; but rape and
stealing is a rift creator
did Helen get raped and kidnapped? was Helen a slut? did she
fall in love with a foreigner?
according to Herodotus Io fell in love/ was raped by a
Phoenician; Medea; Helen
Herodotus was known as the father of history and the father of
lies
no clear boundary btw the personal and the political differences
Herodotus: the Persians blame the Greeks for the Trojan war;
getting Helen back was a matter of pride and honor for the
Greeks; the Trojans don’t think that’s so cool

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Hero doesn’t just tell the history form one perspective, but from
all sides, more or less equally- his method is to give you multiple
opinions on the same event, and juxtaposing them “I heard this
from the Delphians, but here is what the Persians say…”
ultimately he rejects that the women snatching is the start of the
war; says instead that the sacking of Lidia was the start
Croesus and Solon: Croesus (King of Lidia, lived two generations
before the Persian war) was the first king to come in contact
with the Greeks (alliance etc.) came into contact with Solon (a
Greek lawmaker)
Croesus himself was conquered by the Persians (attacked by
Cyrus); we can say Croesus the first main victim of Persian
aggression
Croesus is both an opposite and an analogy of the Greeks
Hero: during the 6th century there were a lot of wise men
wandering around: Solon was a lawmaker and politician in
Athens; he established the laws that led to democracy
the Greek representative was a lawmaker (laws were important
to Greeks); he had sworn the Athenians to uphold the laws for
ten years and then leaves for Sardis (on purpose)
Solon and Athens a parallel, both are rising (Bane)
Solon comes to the palace of Croesus, and Croesus offers xenia
(hospitality to foreigner; “xeno” means foreigner)
xenia was important to Greeks, Persians, Ethiopians etc. it was
guaranteed by Zeus himself (like in Euripides’ Cyclops, lack of
xenia on both sides)
the whole Trojan war can be seen as a lack of Xenia (Menelaus
offers Troy Xenia, then they steal his wife! WTF man)
xenia, like marriage, is a positive cross cultural connector
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