CLA160: Lecture 1
Reading #1: Hesiod’s Works and Days
A general view of Greek society:
- Polytheist society.
- Very defined justice system.
- Hard work is valued.
- There is a connection between man& god but a separation between man& nature.
- There is a very dark view of women (Pandora).
- There is a clear emphasis on the agricultural aspect of society.
From an archeological point of view…
- Lived all around the Mediterranean.
- Emphasis on trade: grain from Egypt, wood from Bulgaria, precious stones from Syria.
- The Greeks depended on the Sea (fish, salt, vital in geopolitics).
- They were often fighting for the control of the Mediterranean.
- Greece is very mountainous, only 20 to 30% of the land serves agricultural purposes.
- The agricultural existence was difficult but so their general philosophy was based on
- Greece was divided into little communities (valleys, little cities, local communities,
kingdoms then city states).
- In the 19 century Greece became unified, before it consisted of myriad city states and
- The Greek territory was inhabited since the Stone Age.
The Minoans were the first civilization
- 2000-1300 BCE.
- Linear A was the primary script used in palaces and religious writings. - They are known through their archaeology: Palace at Knossos, the largest Bronze Age
archaeological site on Crete. This complex has lots of family suites and the palace runs
into the city with nice houses.
- We can deduce that it wasn’t a terribly hierarchical society, that it was quite wealthy and
quite egalitarian. These ideas are confirmed by their art (pictures of everyday people
doing everyday things.
- They worshipped nature (presence of female goddesses), although the status of women
at that time remains relatively obscure.
The first Greek civilization: the Mycenaean civilization
- 1600-1200 BCE.
- Dozens of Mycenaean Palaces, wealthy, walled off and outside the palaces there was
generally nothing except a few wooded houses. Clearly, the walls were to keep people
with little privileges separated. Maybe there wasn’t a big Middle class?
- They valued defensiveness over esthetic.
- It was a hierarchical and militaristic society.
- 17 century: Tholos graves (plural is Tholoi) are burial structures characterized by their
- In the graves, there was pottery from all over the Mediterranean = they travelled.
- There was also lots and lots of gold, depicting a very wealthy society (death masks,
crowns, child- sized gold armour). It was a royalist culture.
- They are inscribed (hunting, army beseeching a city).
- They had a written language: Linear B. In the 1950’s, the code was broken and the signs
stand for syllables. It is very similar to the traditional, Modern Greek language.
- The texts were decrypted: list of items received and sold, tax invoices etc.
- 600 tablets came from Pylos (town and a former municipality in Messenia, Pe