Classics Notes – Feb. 16/12
Aristotle (384-322 BC, 4 c. BC)
Theophrastus (373-288 BC)
Alexander the Great (356-323)
- The 5 c. BC was the classical period and was a century of plague and Greek tragedy. From 431-404
BC was to Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. The war resulted in a weakening of both
cities and this marked the end of the classical period.
- The early 4 c. BC was the post-classical period. There were changes in education. In 5 c. BC th
teachers were itinerant and they were called sophists (because they have knowledge). In the 4 c. BC th
Plato formed an academy and Aristotle formed a Lyceum. Aristotle was a student in Plato’s academy.
Teachings took place in stoa and involved walking around. Peripatos means to walk and Aristotle’s
philosophy was called peripatetic. Aristotle was interested in animals. Theophrastus was interested
in plants and tried to classify plants. He noticed that there is a limit in classification (cannot be put
into categories). He classified plants according to whether they were trees, shrubs, or herbs, and
whether they are cultivated or not. He found there were cross-divisions, making it difficult to classify
things into neat little categories.
- Socrates died in 399 BC. Macedonian victory under Phillip II over Greek forces and subsequent
Macedonian supremacy over Greece occurred in 338 BC. Conquest and Hellenization of the Eastern
Mediterranean and Asia Minor occurred in 334-323 BC. From 323-280 BC, the division of Alexander’s
empire into Greece, Asia Minor, and Egypt occurred. The foundation of Alexandria in Egypt occurred
in 331 BC.
- Theophrastus talks about the effects of drugs, which depends on the constitution of the person. Drugs
can be poison to one person, but not to another. The effect on a person depends on their lifestyle.
Hellebore was a drug with purging effect. Drugs were sold at marketplaces, and the vendor Thrasyas
was able to eat a lot without any effect, which made his famous. A shepherd came along and could eat
more, destroying the vendor’s reputation. The main difference between food and drugs is the body is
used to food and can assimilate it, but the body is not used to drugs and tries to get rid of it by
expectorating and vomiting. Drugs had a purging effect. If you accustom the body slowly to the drug,
the body will get used to it and will not try to eliminate it any more. Eudemus was another vendor
who could not take strong drugs. Main ideas from this passage are – the effect of a drug depends on
constitution, custom, and habit of the person. The effect of drugs can be countered by taking an
antidote (another drug that counters effect of drug). The idea of an antidote is found in Homer.
Someone gives Ulysses a poison, but he is given an antidote and it helps him. Kings were afraid of
being poisoned so they would take daily antidotes.
- Macedonia (kingdom in northern Greece) starts to come into power in the 4 c. BC. This marks the
end of Greek city states. Alexander the Great expands from Greece to the eastern part of the
Mediterranean. He founded new cities, including Alexandria in Egypt. Ptolemy I Soter (367-282 BC)
made Alexandria the capital of Egypt, established the Alexandrian library, and founded the museum
as a research institution. Ptolemy II Philadelphus was the patron of art and science. He encountered
many different people and tried