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The City in History: Reading Guide Citizen Versus Ideal City Chapter 6 #1-18

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York University
Social Science
SOSC 2730
Lewis Code

The City in History Reading Guide Citizen Versus Ideal City Chapter 61How does Mumford describe the Hellenic cities of Attica and Asia Minor Turkey of the 4th and 5th centuries BCEthBy the 4 century it was a little better than a country town both in street layout thand in buildings and by the 5 with all the violent irrational tormented aspects of Greek life there was still the love of abstract perfection The city was full of imperfections but presents momentary concentrations of significant form Athens was the work of men ready as Alcaeus said to use their every resource2What was Platos thinking about citiesWhy were his ideas importantPlatos ideas are important because the nearest equivalent to the architectural form of the Hellenic city would not be the surviving structures themselves but Platos Banquet There a rational framework articulated and logicallaughing challenges highflown words passionate declarations and reeling abandon to drink only to allow the esthetic tension to collapse at the end There is no better place to confront the relation between the mind and the body through which it expresses itself the social body that becomes a humanized landscape or city than in the Greek polis above all in Athens3What was the ideal form of the Hellenic city that became established by 430 BCEThe polis for the first time assumed an ideal form that distinguished it from all earlier villages and cities an ideal form not primarily in stone but in flesh and blood Greeks added a new component to the city unknown to earlier cultures dangerous to any system of arbitrary power or secret authority they brought forth the free citizen4What was the acropolis and why was it important to the Hellenic cityThe acropolis was the core of the city the center of its most valued activities and the essence of its total existenceIt was above all the home of citys gods and here were all the holy offices derived from the nature and history Beneath these buildings was a source of both their esthetic power and activities the mighty rock This was a holy mountain indeed and its original primitive attributes helped to make it so5What were other elements of the built environment of the Hellenic cityIf the acropolis represents the city in depth the agora represents it in extension reaching out beyond its visible spatial limits Almost any function might be performed there and almost any kind of building can be found there The beginnings of a more formal order with a new criterion of spaciousness and
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