CS 1000 - Week 13
Lecture 1 December 2, 2013
• Slide: Comedy – the papyrus of Menander’s Dyskolos
o This is dialogue; there are no spaces between words or names of speakers.
• Slide: Vase. Many vases depict comic scenes.Agreat majority of them have been
found in southern Italy. After the Classical Period, drama became a cultural
export and it was performed in many places of the Greek world.
o This vase shows human figures dressed as birds (fromAristophanes’
• Slide: Vase. We know this is comedy because of the grotesque faces of the men.
This vase represents the komos and he goes to a window with a woman on the
• Slide: Vase. The stage is visible and an old slave tries to push an old man up a
o This might not be a theater but it might be some type of popular street
o It is clearly influenced by comedy.
• Slide: Vase showing a couple of comic cooks with grotesque faces.
• Slide: Old man with a walking stick (right) and a slave (left), phalluses are both
visible, carrying a pot (post symposium), the platform suggests something
• Slide: House of Menander from Mytlilene, Lesbos. This house is from the Roman
period. It is decorated entirely in a Menander theme and he inspires all of the floor
o Slide: Thalia, Muse of Comedy
o Slide: Comic masks
o Slide: Floor mosaics. There are also a series of mosaics in this house that
shows direct scenes from some of his plays and they show the exact place
in the comedy where they are from.
• Menander became hugely popular in places other thanAthens. New Comedy
(unlike Old Comedy) lent itself more directly to exportation because it is not
topical and not linked directly withAthens.
• At some point, the popularity of New Comedy stopped. The Byzantine school
system (which kept alive ancient comedy) kept Old Comedy and not New
• Greek philosophy has been influential to the modern discipline of philosophy. The
influence of Plato andAristotle in particular is still quite pervasive. 2
• It is important to understand the way philosophy developed before Plato,
Socrates, andAristotle (i.e. Pre-Socratic philosophy)
• Socrates was the informal teacher of Plato and Plato was the informal teacher of
What is Philosophy?
• There are various subdivisions within philosophy (ethics, science, metaphysics,
history of philosophy etc.)
• The word philosophy means ‘love of wisdom’from philo ‘love’and sophia
‘wisdom’. This translation, however, does not explain the development of the
word sophia itself.
o Originally, sophia refered to skill. If one possessed sophia, this meant that
they were good at something (ex. Horsemanship). This shows how words
start out as being very practical and become more.
• The Greeks probably started using the word philosophia much later.
• It begins to explain the world in a particular way. It is very close with myth in
o How does it differ from myth?
Myth is often interested in the nature of the kosmos.
Ex. Hesiod’s Theogony: Hesiod tries to answer the question of the
creation of the world by offering narrative of the creation of the
cosmos and the gods. This does not mean that he is a philosopher.
The pre-Socratic philosophers were interested in the physical
reality we live in. Ex. What is the nature of the earth and the
• Philosophy offers a systematic, apparently logical account of the nature of the
world. In myth we have stories about the world, in philosophy there are
intellectually constructed systems to account for the world.
Evidence for Early Greek Philosophy
• No works survive completely for the pre-Socratics (vs. Plato where we have
mostly everything he has written)
o Instead, we have quotations from later writers (fragments).
• Poetry by its nature is artificial and organized language whereas prose is more
natural. The Pre-Socratic philosophers wrote in both poetry and prose: it is easier
to tell when a later writing is quoting a work in poetry than prose because the
style changes dramatically.
• Doxographic tradition: writing about their opinions and views. Philosophers
tend to look backwards and base their own theories on the past. 3
o Greek: doxa = opinion and graphos = writing.
o At the same time, terminology and ideas begin to develop into basic tools
about thinking a bout the world. The Pre-Socratics are presented to us
through a filter because the later thinkers do not distance themselves from
the Pre-Socratics. Later thinkers tend to assimilate the ideas and way of
thinking of past philosophers with their own which makes it difficult to
tell what the Pre-Socratics said.
o For example, inAristotle’s Metaphysics every past thinker winds up being
interested in the same things Aristotle is interested in.
• These men were all active in and around Miletus on the coast ofAsia Minor
(modern day Turkey).
• They were active in the 6 cent. BCE
• Often called ‘physical’or natural philosophers (the physikoi)
• They were concerned with understanding the material nature of the world: what is
the world made of? How was the world made?
• They developed the idea of arche (“beginning”): they argued that everything
came from one basic substance and they attempt to figure out what this substance
was and how this process worked.
• Slide: Map – Miletus is close to Ephesus. The location of Miletus is important
because many think that this mode of thinking came from influence from the East
(there is no settled view on this).
o Many other things (ex. Epic) started inAsia Minor rather than mainland
• Thales was from Miletus
• He is a legendary figure, we do not have a lot of information about him but he
was very famous. Many discoveries are attributed to him.
• We are told that he predicted an eclipse – this probably isn’t true because they
didn’t have the proper records to do this (those who argue for Eastern influence of
the Milesians say that he probably found out from the records in the East).
o The Greeks considered eclipses to be among the unintelligible things of
the world, to predict one was a supreme accomplishment. These sorts of
accomplishments are often attributed to extraordinary figures like Thales
whether or not they are accurate.
• Thales was seen as the typical scientist or intellectual (cf. Einstein)
o We have to be skeptical about what we claim to know about him. In
Metaphysics A byAristotle, he says that he was unable to get a hold of
works from Thales and he had to write what other people have said. This
likely means that a text of Thales didn’t exist (and may have never
• Thales is credited with a variety of discoveries
• Water was the arche: he thought that everything arose in one way or another
from the element of water.
o Egypt: there is an emphasis on primordial water in Egyptian mythology as
they believed that the whole universe arose from this water.
Does this suggest Eastern influence?
• We are told that he was 64 in 547/6 BCE. This suggests that he left behind
writings and he said something about his age at a certain event (maybe the
advance of the Persians toward the city ofAsia Minor).
• We have part of one of his sentences preserved by Symplicius who was an ancient
commentator of Aristotle’s Physics:
o He is concerned with how things come in and out of being. We know that
this is a quotation because Symplicius writes inAttic and this quote is in
Ionic (these are two different dialects of Greek). He flags this as a
o In this quote, Anaximander talks about opposites (popular for the Greeks,
see the theories lecture about Structuralism). He says that existing and
destruction occur because of Necessity (a personified abstraction). He
situates the universe in the context of Time (things occurs through the
interchange of opposites through time)
• Arche was to apeiron (‘the unlimited’). Many people understand this to mean ‘the
infinite’.thhe problem, though, is that Greek thought didn’t conceive of infinity
until the 5 century BCE and later thinkers probably imposed this translation
o To apeiron might mean ‘that which has not been subjected to limits’. This
suggests a process of defining things and limiting them this way and then
o Anaximander thinks that things become things when they are defined and
that they achieve their essential character through a process of definition.
• Active until ca. 500 BCE
• Argued that the arche was air. He argued that all matter was air and making air
denser or less dense shapes things.
• His arche was fire.
• He also appealed very heavily to the logos (thinking of the world according to a
• His influence was considerable. 5
Lecture 2 December 4, 2013
• Fl. ca. 540 BCE
• Wrote a poem which showed his philosophical views (even though the poetry
itself is not very good)
o Poetry may be more memorable than prose but it is also a traditional form
that brings with it a certain kind of authority.
• In the poem he begins with a mythic prelude (given to us by an ancient
• Parmenides imagined a journey somewhere in a chariot that somehow belonged to
the daughters of the Sun. He meets a goddess who reveals the true nature of
• He argues that there are two worlds. There is a true world (what actually exists)
and there is a false world (what we see and experience). Our perception of the
world, then, is fundamentally false.
o Parmenides thinks that our world of sensory is experience is false and that
the true world is different.
o What we know to be reality is false.
• For him, the most important thing is “is” and “being”. The Greek verb “to be” is
sometimes used in different ways. It sometimes means “exist” (existential usage),
“is true” (veridical usage).
o Exactly what Parmenides means by “is” is difficult.
o For him though, “is” is the only thing that exists and it is illogical to
o Based on this, he denies motions, change and difference because all these
things presuppose that something “is”.
• His true world is unchanging and eternal being.
• He posed a major logical challenge for subsequent philosophers.After him, a
whole series of philosophers try to deal with this. How can you prove difference
Empedocles of Acragas
• Life of Empedocles: 6
o We have a rich biographical tradition.
o He lived ca. 495-435.
o Aristotle tells us that he was an ardent democrat.
o There are many stories that suggest healing powers and even weather
o At a certain point, he committed suicide by leaping into the volcano Mt.
Etna and all that was left was a pair of golden shoes (this is interesting
because gold suggests divinity so perhaps this is how he thought of
• He is credited with two poems: On Nature and Purifications (Katharmoi)
New Evidence for Old Problems
• This is one of the many ancient figures that has benefited from papyri
• The Strasbourg Papyrus: was purchased in 1904 by a member of the University of
Strasbourg and forgotten until 1998. The papyrus itself had been adapted.
o Before it was purchased in 1904, the papyrus had been folded up and
bended to be an elegant collar for a man. The buyer had seen this on sale
in Cairo and, because he was a scholar, he saw that it was a genuine
ancient papyrus and he could recognize the writing.
o In the early 1990s scholars realized that the papyrus was from a text of
o There are a few points that overlap with things we already knew.
o It gives 69 continuous lines that are more or less complete.
o Slide: Picture of the papyrus itself and the attempts at reconstruction.
o Our knowledge of Empedocles has been vastly changed because of this.
(1) On Nature Physica
Empedocles’View of the Physical World:AResponse to the Eleatics
• On Nature (Physica):
• At one level, Empedocles is clearly responding to the challenged proposed by
Parmenides and his followers (called the Eleatics).
• No one seems to have offered a direct challenge to Parmenides’revelation
concerning being until Plato
• Empedocles responded to a number of points:
o (a) Generation and destruction
o (b) Motion and change
o (c) Plurality: for Parmenides, the true world was one unchanging reality
(arche) while Empedocles answered by saying that there was a number of
o These are all things Parmenides denied, so an explanation had to be
The Four Roots
• Irreducible elements
• According to Theophrastus (Aristotle’s successor). It seems that Empedocles
talked about divine beings in relation to the material world:
o Zeus = fire
o Hera = air
o Aidoneus = earth
o Nestis = water
• The building blocks for reality are these four elements and all matter is derived
from these things derived in different combination.
Love and Strife
• He also posited a cosmic cycle
• He says that mortal things never cease their continual interchange.At some time,
all things come together and then at another they are driven apart.
o This drives motion in the universe
o Love brings things together and Strife spreads things out
• Philotes “love”
• Neikos “strife