Week 4 + Week 5- CH 9, 10
CH9- The Archaic Cultural Revolution, 800-480 BC
• Archaic poleis were small, open societies in which debate was tolerated with those ruling
• During the 6th C BC the councils of aristocrats making the decisions for the state
expanded to include citizens.
• With increased travel and trade came new ideas from overseas- like Egypt and Babylon.
• Sometime before 3000 BC, someone in Egypt had created a 365 day calendar to help
predict the annual floods of the Nile. Babylonian thinkers developed the base 60
numerical system we use for minutes in an hour today. Mesopotamians developed
algebra, and recorded movements of the stars and planets. All these developments, and
more, came to influence Greek thought.
• The Egyptian pyramids are proof of their well developed mathematical abilities.
Natural Philosophy in Miletus
• Greek's settled in what is now western Turkey in early 1st millennium BC- emigrating
through Athens to avoid the problems of Dark Age Greece. Claiming to be descendants
of a man named Ion, they called the area Ionia.
• Ionian Enlightenment= Especially in Miletus, ancient Mesopotamian learning combined
with Greek institutions in the 6th C BC.
• The Milesians first articulated the theory that "natural causes", independent of the will of
this or that god, governs events in nature.
• Aristotle tells us the most about Milesian thinkers because little of their actual writings
survive. He tells us there were 3 main thinkers, Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes.
= all three had numerous followers and wanted to explain the material cause of things-
where the world came from= they were the first natural philosophers.
• Thales thought the primary element as the source of everything was water. He
suggested all matter was water in one of 3 states: solid, liquid, or gas.
• Anaximander suggested earth hung freely in nothingness, he thought the primary
element was the infinite. Thought the infinite had no qualities except boundlessess, but
within the Infinite 4 qualities were in competition: hot, cold, wet and dry.- all changes
were cyclical, like the seasons he argued. Earliest creatures were fish, humans evolved
from them= he theorized. He also produced the first known map of the world. • Anaximenes defined the Infinite as air, which through an eternal process of rarefaction
and condensation, air condenses into liquid water which further condenses into solid ice.
Heat reverses this process he argued. He believed the soul of a man is a rarefied form
• Aristotle thought these theories were childish, as he lived 200 years after these men.
Pythagoras: Philosophy and Social Science in the West
• Pythagoras, from island of Samos, near Miletus. Pushed Milesian thought towards
mathematics, mysticism and politics.
• Fled his home to escape a tyrant and settled in southern Italy in town of Croton.
• Argued the human soul was a spark of divinity, which dwelled in our bodies (as well as
animal bodies)- Pythagoreans never ate meat for fear of eating the spark of the divine.
• First to call the universe "kosmos"= meaning "ordered whole".
• Believed it was every humans job to turn away from the material dross enclosing the
diving spark within us and, through moral purity and ascetic practice, to free the spark to
rejoin its source in the divine infinite.
• Discovered how to express the intervals in musical harmony as relations between the
numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4= the building blocks of harmony.
• Mathematics proves the world is an ordered kosmos.
• Pythagorean theorem= in a right angled triangle, the square of the longest side is equal
to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.
• Mathematics uncovers how reality works, therefore Pythagoreans believed they were
unlocking the universe's secrets.
• 2 principles at work in the kosmos: 1- Unlimited- which was shapeless and bad 2- the
Limiting- which is good. Followers could attain perfection by replacing disharmony
(unlimited) in their own lives with harmony, achieving union with the kosmos by allowing
the divine spark to rejoin the infinite. 10 is a number of perfect harmony.
• Pythagorean aristocrats were (for a short while) the most powerful men in western
Greece- but eventually the Pythagora's utopias they had built failed= generating civil
Hecataeus, Herodotus, and "Historie"
• 500 BC other schools of thought developed by fusing Milesian and Pythagorean
thinking. • Hecataeus= improved Anaximander's map of the world, wrote a systematic account of
the peoples around the Mediterranean basin which combined geography, politics and
ethnography as well as he analyzed genealogies. He provided rational explanations for
many of the Greek myths claiming ancestry to the Gods.
• Herodotus= Account of the Persian invasions of Greece was first systematic attempt to
explain human events in human terms. Born around 484 BC= As Archaic times just
• In Greek, "historie" meant "inquiry", but it now meant "a rational, orderly investigation
into human events"
• Herodotus wished to preserve the memory of men's great deeds, making up speeches at
vital moments (even when he couldn't have possibly had any idea what was actually
said). God's are also present in his writing= like other Ionian Enlightenment thinkers,
Herodotus accepted the reality of the Gods.
• Herodotus did travel extensively and asked his own questions about which he was
writing, weighed what he saw and heard, and explained the events as he understood
them to have happened. = Father of history in the sense that he was the first to
investigate systematically the human causes of human events.
• Greek alphabet initially used to take down epic verse by dictation, the people who
possessed this technology were the "agathoi" whose social life was based in the
symposium, not a scribal class, but simply aristocrats with a taste for poetry.
• Within 100-150 years of learning the alphabet, the agathoi began creating new kinds of
poetic expression in writing, which was unknown in the oral past.
• Most of these poems are really song lyrics, but it's important they were written down.
• New words were invented.
• Choral Lyric- rhythms behind the words matched the dance steps
• Lyric poetry- sung by one person accompanied by a lyre.
• Archilochus- earliest and most celebrated poet 7th C BC.
• Poems of Archilochus and other lyric poets were created to be memorized and
performed in the all-male symposium setting. • Sappho 600 BC- written for weddings. = style of poetry called Epithalamium "the song
sung outside the bedroom"- her poetry uniquely allowed the celebration of a respectable
young woman's sexual desirability. Only 1 of her poems survives in completion.
• Later, in Roman times Sappho was interpreted as representing lesbian love.- Greeks
didn't see her poetry this way.
• ** Such small amounts of Lyric poetry survives because 2nd C AD when literary texts
were being transferred from papyrus rolls to codices (books with pages) almost no one
could read or understand them out of context, therefore so few actually survived**
Material Culture- Sculpture
• Immigrant craftsmen were important for introducing new styles of art.
• Near Eastern/ Egyptian Kings used stone sculpture to glorify themselves since the
Bronze Age= influencing early Greek travellers, but early basileis never had the money
to do so themselves.
• First experiments with stone carving took place on Crete (where Near Eastern influence
was strong) around 700 BC.
• As states began to spend more money on public sanctuaries, they borrowed Near
Eastern techniques to represent divinities in more elaborate ways. 650 BC Greek
carvers started making freestanding limestone statues of Gods. Very basic, block-like in
nature at first. 2D in appearance. Near Eastern in style= daedalic style= named after
Daedalus who built labyrinth for King Minos for the Minotaur.
• Historians use Daedalic to mean early Greek art, with primitive features.
• By 600 BC, the ruler of Egypt had ordered all Greek merchants to operate out of one
single port, Naucratis, which was a major factor in the transfer of styles and techniques
from Egypt to Greece.
• Egyptian style of statues (stiff, left foot slightly advanced, staring fixedly into space)
stayed relatively the same for almost 2000 years with little changing until the Romans
• Greeks borrowed Egyptian techniques to produce Kouroi ("young men" s. Kouros) and
Koari ( "young women" s. Kore) Very similar to Egyptian= straight arms, clenched fists,
unnatural pose, left leg out, feet flat on ground but unlike Egyptian statues, Kouroi were
supported by a stone slab at the back and was also naked if it were male, females were
clothed. • Egyptian sculpture barely changed over 3000 years, Greek changed by the decade
because Greek sculptors weren't serving religious hierarchies, they were free to
• Greek sculpture became more realistic by the 480's BC, artists observing the real human
body, statues now seem alive= sculptor reached out to create in stone the idealized
naked Greek youth.
• The female Kore was always clothed. "archaic smile"= fixed grin found on many 6th C
BC statues, meaning unknown.
• Sculpture was expensive, only the rich could afford to hire the carvers to create the
works, so in Greece a few wealthy nobles had Kouroi or Korai over their graves- most
were placed in sanctuaries.
• Separation of religious and secular space around 700 BC was the main change that
drove architectural innovation.
• After 700BC, basileis disappeared, and as egalitarian ideals developed, the worship of
the gods was largely separated from the homes of mortals.
• Earliest sanctuaries= simple altar under open sky, by 750 BC communities began adding
buildings for the god's image near the altar.
• Early 7th C BC roofs were tiled, some temples were 100 ft long. Heavy tiles needed
strong walls, columns developed to hold the weight.
• Building divided into a long room ("cella") where the cult statue stood, with a short back
porch (opisthodomos), unconnected to the cella, where civic treasure was stored. The
columns (colonnade) surrounded the building, the entire structure built on a platform
• These temples= very expensive, communities that built them inspired much civic pride in
• by 600 BC, Doric and Ionic orders has developed. Corinthian was added later.
• Temples had 3 parts 1- Entablature= tiled roof, decorated frieze beneath it and a plain
support of stone blocks called the architrave. At front and back of temple the triangular
areas under the roof are called pediments- often had sculpture decorating them. 2-
columns, doric= no bases and less fluted than Ionic and had a plain top. Ionic were
fancier capitals and Corinthian were the most decorative. 3- Temples base, columns
stood on stylobate, which stood on the steps. • Doric order= more "masculine" and it was generally preferred on the mainland and on
Sicily in both Ionian and Dorian cities. Ionic= more "feminine", preferred in Greek cities
on coast of Asia Minor.
• Corinthian= mid 5th C BC, not common until Roman Period.
• New houses also developed around 550BC with many rooms, presenting a blank wall to
the street with a small door, rooms grouped around an inner courtyard.
• Temple architecture developed rapidly as offering statues to the Gods and funding a
temple construction was a praiseworthy way for 6th C BC aristocrats to show off their
wealth, honouring their family name and wining the God's favour for the whole city.
• Cities began to build even larger structures to show off their wealth and devotion to the
Gods, and to exhibit civic pride.= For the first time Greek architecture competed with one
another and their Near Eastern neighbours in terms of scale, expense and beauty.
• Wall painting was less important in Archaic Greece than in the Bronze Age, however we
have lots of remains of painted pottery.
• orientalizing phase- in Greek art lasting through 7th C = Near Eastern influence on
• Protocorinthian flourished between 725-625 BC, warriors are flowing, energetic and
multicoloured in paint.
• 625 BC Ripe Corinthian style- favoured a dense texture of detail of Eastern Inspiration=
very busy floral patterns.
• Protoattic- style developed in Athens on large vessels, not as successful as the
Corinthian work. Less organized in style and design.
• early 6th C Athens developed Black Figure style, portraying mythical characters with
neatness and composition. Animal scenes used to provide subsidiary ornament, but the
human force became the painters main subject.
• Pottery was cheap compared to sculpture, but few Athenian painters had raised the
medium to the status of serious art by 550 BC.
• Exekias= the greatest artist. The suicide of Ajax became a popular depiction in pottery.
• Competition became intense for Athenian craftsmen. • Red Figure stlye invented 530 BC, within 10 years the best painters has switched from
Black to red figure style to help create different lines, shading and drapery- something
previously unable to be accomplished with black figure style.
Art and Thought in 6th C BC Greece
• 6th C BC Greeks began remarkable explorations of the human condition.
• Milesian scientists and Greek sculptors and artists developed new ways of thinking and
• Archaic poleis became cities with images open to everyone, thought-provoking
sculpture, architecture and paintings were everywhere.
• The weak hierarchy of Archaic poleis created an unusually open society in which
changes in art, architecture and thinking could develop and spread. The ancient learning
of Mesopotamia and Egypt were further developed and transformed by Greek thinkers,
in Ionia this new knowledge created the first natural philosophy and semiscientific
analyses of society.
• By 500 BC Greek society had developed to look different from its neighbours, and Greek
culture was winning admirers from all over.
Ch 10- A Tale of 2 Archai Cities: Sparta and Athens, 700-480BC
• Like all poleis, Sparta and Athens faced conflicts wihtin their ruling elites, between these
elites and the masses, and between the community as a whole and neighbouring states.
Both responded by creating internally egalitarian male citizen communities- but in very
• Sparta= state-owned serfs helots worked the land while the citizens followed a life-long
program of military training and centralized institutions.
• Athens= encouraged markets and democratic practice, monogamous families were the
core institution of Athenian society.
• "spartan mirage"= Greek and Roman authors loved to write about Sparta, the mirage
being an idealized and unrealistic vision of stability, hierarchy and order in which all
knew their place. Athens was often contrasted to Sparta, as being the archetype of
undisciplined, freedom and disorder.
• Lycurgus, according to legend created "perfect" laws for Sparta in which all Spartan men
were equal, regulated their lives, and forged the ultimate fighting machine. ** We don't
know how much of these stories were true, as anyone writing about Lycurgus was
writing generations after him. • Sparta was a major Bronze Age center, destroyed by fire around 1200 BC. Spartans
spoke Dorian, a dialect of Greek.
• Dorians were a distinct people who invaded southern Greece in 12th C BC after Trojan
War. *Archaeologists can't agree of whether there actually was a "Dorian invasion"
• Spartans believed they were descended from conquering Dorians, and believed this
connection gave them the authority to dominate the defeated indigenous peoples.
• 9th C BC Dorian Spartans conquered Laconia, reducing it's population to dependence.