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Lecture 2

CLA230 Lecture 2 Notes

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Dimitri Nakassis

CLA230 Lecture 2 Notes Introduction to Ancient History - two most famous sources of ancient Greek history – Herodotus and Thucydides - two categories – history and prehistory - historical – contemporary historical documents - prehistorical – no documents; writing still not invented, therefore considered as before history was recorded – Neolithic era - division between prehistoric and historic – 776 B.C. – the first Olympiad (date of the first Olympics) - it is highly doubted that the first Olympiad took place of the date specified – not a historical reality - divisions – ancient history is divided into three – Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages – triads are prevalent in historical periods - prehistory – Stone, Bronze Ages - history – Iron Age – however it is not entirely historical - each age is divided into three: → Stone Age – divided into Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic periods → Bronze Age – divided into Early Bronze Age, Middle Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age → Iron Age – early Iron Age “Dark Age” – considered ‘protohistory’ – only group not divided into three – not truly historical, unclear – Dorian invasion, Ionian migration, later legends that took place in this age are considered slightly historical → three other periods as part of the Historical Age – Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic – part of Iron Age but considered separate - chronological periods – imply certain kinds of storied of Greece, especially Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic - Classical – high point of Greek history, most significant accomplishments - Archaic – build-up to Classical - Hellenistic – “sort-of Greek”, downslide - organic metaphor – ages of life: Archaic – early in life; Classical – middle age, most accomplished; Hellenistic – old, decrepit, decline - same is true for the Bronze Age stages – initially thought to be the case - major technological revolution – agriculture, domestication of plants and animals – happened in Neolithic period (Stone Age) - earliest evidence of humanity – archaic homo sapiens or homo erectus Geography - large – ancient Greek activity, spans entire Mediterranean, including Black Sea, to western India with the conquest of Alexander - most important – what is now modern Greece – around Aegean Sea, etc. - Massalia – Greek colony - Alexandria – founded by Alexander - Constantinople – later foundation, area around it is important at the beginning of the Classical period – Byzantium Herodotus - considered to be the “father of history” - inventor of historical writing - best source for Persian wars and archaic Greek history - wrote in 420s B.C., about times past – Persian War took place in his early childhood - first sentence of Herodotus’ Histories: “This is the display of the inquiry (historie) of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, so that things done by man not be forgotten in time, and that great and marvelous deeds, some displayed by the Hellenes, some by the barbarians, not lose their glory, including among others what was the cause of their waging war on each other.” - “display of the inquiry” – public performance perhaps - historie – where the word “history” comes from – meant more as ‘inquiry’ than actual history meant today – broad term - Halcarnassus – city where Herodotus is from, modern day Turkey - Athens – fair amount of time spent there – knows Athenian geography well - Greece is not politically unified throughout most of Greek history – basically a collection of people who share language, culture etc. and consider themselves related to one another in a very general sense – later called themselves Hellenes - barbarian – non-Greek person - political affiliation is primarily to their city-state – generalization is to be a Greek, but do not identify themselves thusly – first an Athenian, then a Hellene - purpose of the words of Herodotus – “so that things done by man not be forgotten in time” – fight against the natural decay of human memory - focus on human activity – Greek action and deeds - focus on military and political history, mainly aristocratic male history – around the time of the Persian War - not just about Greeks – emphasis on both Greeks and non-Greeks in history - considered a “barbarian lover” – Herodotus often shows praise and genuine interest in what non-Greeks do and how they do things - states that the Egyptian calendar is better than that used by the Greeks - believes that Egyptians invented the gods and brought them to Greece - importance of causality – causes for events – speculation on what could have happened differently - much of his histories are narratives and causality – how and why rather than just basic facts and events that took place - methodology is primarily oral history – recording of stories passed down or told firsthand - quote by Herodotus: “I myself feel obliged to say the things that have been said to me, but under no obligation at all to believe them.” - often criticized for recording things that are difficult to believe - fording the Halys River: “The story goes that... [Thales] dug a deep channel curved in such a way that it would pass behind the army’s encampment; in this way he diverted the river from its original bed into the channel... The immediate result of this division of the river was that it became fordable on both sides. There are those who go so far as to claim that the original riverbed completely dried up, but I find this implausible, because if it were true, how would they have crossed the river on their way back?” - two stories exist on how the river was crosses – one in which the river was divided and became half as shallow, and another in which the river was completely diverted - sometimes this style of recording is considered bad history – but important for reconstructing what actually happened – as well as to know what stories were told in ancient times Thucydides - generation later than Herodotus - another great historian - more emphasis in reign, also a focus on was and the greatness of it – Peloponnesian War – as well as methodology - establishes himself as an authority on the Peloponnesian War - attempts to put his was in a broader context – similar to Herodotus - quote: “This belief was not without its grounds. The preparations of both the combatants were in every department in the last state of perfection; and he could see the rest of the Hellenic race taking sides in the quarrel; those who delayed doing so at once having it in contemplation. Indeed this was the greatest movement yet known in history, not only of the Hellenes, but of a large part of the barbarian world ‐‐I had almost said of mankind. For though the events of remote antiquity, and even those that more immediately preceded the war, could not from lapse of time be clearly ascertained, yet the evidences which an inquiry carried as far back as was practicable leads me to trust, all point to the conclusion that there was nothing on a great scale, either in war or in other matters.” - sees the war as not just important to the Greek world, but in terms of a universal world history – broader perspective - emphasis on forgetfulness and not being sure – eroding of time and past events - more of a clinical historian than Herodotus – who was more of a storyteller - Thucydides and Homer: “There is also another circumstance that contributes not a little to my conviction of the weakness of ancient times. Before the Trojan War there is no indication of any common action in Hellas, nor indeed of the universal prevalence of the name; on the contrary, before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion, no such appellation existed…. It was not till Hellen and his sons grew strong … that one by one they gradually acquired from the connection the name of Hellenes, though a long time elapsed before that name could fasten itself upon all. The best proof of this is furnished by Homer.” - stated that Hellas doesn’t even exist until the Trojan was – Hellenes do not exist until Hellen, son of Deucalion – Homer does not call Greeks by that name – instead goes by specific city-state titles - Thucydides mines history – to find common action among Greeks in the past - mines mythological stories – Minos - Thucydides on Minos: “And the first person known to us by tradition as having established a navy is Minos. He made himself master of what is now called the Hellenic sea, and ruled over the Cyclades ,into most of which he sent the first colonies, expelling the Carians and appointing his own sons governors; and thus did his best to put down piracy in those waters, a necessary step to secure the revenues for his own use.” - first person in history – Minos – legendary king of Crete - Thucydides thinks of the Athenian empire and projects back into antiquity - attempts to understand the p
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