Classical Studies 1000 Lecture 1: Classics 1000 – Classes 1 to 6

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Classics – Classes 1 to 3 16:29
Sources of The Ancient World
Sources for antiquity:
How do we know what happened in the Greek and Roman world?
How do we know when it happened?
How do we know what events meant to the ancients?
The Greeks and Romans left texts that we today could interpreted and read from the
ancient world. We can find out where it happened, when it happened and get the ancient
take on how they felt when events occurred.
Literary Sources:
Greek and Latin Literature
- Architecture
- Painting
- Sculpture
Chronology and Time reckoning
This course focuses on the period ca 1500 BC to ca AD 476
BC: Before Christ (400,399,398)
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BCE: Before the common era (400,399,398)
AD: After Death (001,002,003)
These dates are a modern convention, reflection of the modern calendar.
The ancient situation was more complex:
A strong awareness of the changing seasons and months (astronomy)
There were many calendars for individual cities
Caesar reformed the Roman calendar, bringing it closer to the modern system.
There was a very different take on time at the time of the ancient world compared to
Ancients used stars to guide or navigate.
All the ancients had their own calendar; the fact was none of them worked!
Romans had a calendar that worked… better then most (The Julian calendar).
Caesar reformed the roman calendar to something we use similar to today.
The Ancient situation continued
Historical events were typically dated by the year of a particular priest or magistrate in
which they fell.
Often reference is made to a particular season.
Rough lengths for a single generation were used to date past dynasties.
The “acme” system was widely used in ancient biography. The age of a person in their
prime would be on average of the age of 40. Prime meaning they would fulfill a large
accomplishment in there life at this time.
Occasionally the distance is measured from some single event, common era (e.g. The
first Olympics 776 BC, founding of Rome 753/2 BC, Trojan War 1183/2 BC)
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Modern statements of historical chronology represent a conversion of ancient
modes of time reckoning to modern.
e.g. a Roman writer would say that Caesar was murdered on the Ides of March C.
Caesar M. Antonio consulibus.
We would say that Caesar was killed on 15th of March 44 BC.
This modern “fact” represents a series of interpretations.
Many dates studied in the ancient world are not always correct.
Languages: Greek and Latin
Greek is descended from Indo-European, and Indo-European speakers seem to have
moved into the Greek world some time before the Mycenaean Age (ca 2000 BC). This
would change the culture of the indigenes population that already inhabited Ancient
Greece at the time.
This new language seems to have displaced an indigenous language (or languages), but
traces of pre-Greek vocabulary remain in the lexicon
(Spoken language) of classical Greek.
Language encodes culture, if we were able to bring back dead languages we would be
able to uncover cultures and lost stories and technology.
Different dialects showed different populations.
The Greek word is geographically disparate, and during the classical period Greeks
inhabited not onlu mainland Greece, but the Aegean islands, the coast of Asia Minor,
parts of north Africa and southern Italy.
A number of dialects flourished, each with considerable cariation in phonology,
morphology, and vocabulary.
Although to the modern student ancient Greek is often snonous with Attic Greek, inface
a standard version of Greek did not emerge until the later part of the Hellenistic period
when koinê was used throughout much of the Greek-speaking world.
Latin began as the language of Latium, the region of which Rome is the most important
centre, and Latin belongs to the Italic group of Indo-European languages.
Having originally been spoken at Latium from ca 800 BC, Latin came to be the dominant
language of Italy, and later became the common tongue of the western Mediterranean
world and as far as the Balkans to the east.
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