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5 Golden Age Athens and the Hellenic World THE SCHOOL OF HELLAS 135
The Good Life and the Politics of Athens 136
Slaves and Metics 137
The Women of Athens 137
Pericles and the School of Hellas 138
Beautiful Mind, Beautiful Body 139
Rebuilding the Acropolis 141
Philosophy and the Polis 147
The Philosophical Context 148
Plato’s Republic and Idealism 149
Plato’s Symposium 150
The Theater of the People 151
The Performance Space 155
The Hellenistic World 156
The Empire of Alexander the Great 156
Toward Hellenistic Art: Sculpture in the Late Classical Period 158
Aristotle: Observing the Natural World 159
Pergamon: Hellenistic Capital 160
5.1 from Euripides, Medea (431 bce) 137
5.2a–c from Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars, Pericles’ Funeral Speech (ca. 410 bce) 138–139
5.3 from Plutarch, Life of Pericles (75 ce) 141
5.4 from Plato, Crito 168
5.5 from Plato, The Republic, “Allegory of the Cave” 169
5.6 from Plato, The Symposium 171
5.6a from Plato, The Symposium 151
5.7a–b from Sophocles, Antigone 153–154
5.8 from Aristotle, Poetics 172
CLOSER LOOK The Parthenon 142
CONTINUITY & CHANGE Rome and Its Hellenistic Heritage 166
6 Rome URBAN LIFE AND IMPERIAL MAJESTY 175
Origins of Roman Culture 177
The Etruscan Roots 177
The Greek Roots 180
Republican Rome 181
Roman Rule 182
Cicero and the Politics of Rhetoric 183
Portrait Busts, Pietas, and Politics 184
Imperial Rome 185
Family Life 186
Education of the Sexes 187
The Philosophy of the City: Chance and Reason 188
Literary Rome: Catullus, Virgil, Horace, and Ovid 189
Augustus and the City of Marble 191
Wall Painting 206
Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli 207
The Late Roman Empire: Moral and Social Decline 208
6.1a from Virgil, Aeneid, Book 2 180
6.1b from Homer, Odyssey, Book 8 181
6.1c from Virgil, Aeneid, Book 6 181
6.2 from Cicero, On Duty 183
6.3 from Cicero, Letters to Atticus 184
6.4 from Juvenal, Satires 188
6.5 from Seneca, Tranquility of Mind 189
6.6 Catullus, Poems 5 and 43 213
6.7 from Virgil, Georgics 189
6.8 from Virgil, the Aeneid, Book 4 213
6.9 from Horace, the Odes, Ode 13 215
6.10 from Letters of Pliny the Younger 204
6.11 Seneca, Moral Epistles, Epistle 86 209
CONTEXT The Roman Emperors 27 bce–337 ce 193
CLOSER LOOK The Forum Romanum and Imperial Forums 196
MATERIALS & TECHNIQUES Arches and Vaults 198
CONTINUITY & CHANGE Christian Rome 210
Chapter 5: Golden Age Athens and the Hellenic World
5.1 Explain the role of eudaimonia in Athenian life and contrast it with the role of women.
5.2 Describe Pericles' sense of Athenian greatness and how it is reflected in the art of the Golden Age.
5.3 Compare and contrast the philosophical positions of the pre-Socratics, the Sophists, Socrates, and Plato.
5.4 Outline the chief characteristics of both Greek comedy and Greek tragedy.
5.5 Describe the gradual shift in sculptural style from the Classical art of Phidias to the art of the Hellenic world, and discuss how Aristotle's philosophy reflects this stylistic change.
THE GOOD LIFE AND THE POLITICS OF ATHENS
When the Athenians returned to a devastated Athens after their victory at Salamis, they turned their attention first to the agora, an open place used for congregating or as a market (Map 5.1). The principal architectural feature of the agora was the stoa (Fig. 5.2), a long, open arcade supported by colonnades, rows of columns. While Athenians could shop for grapes, figs, flowers, and lambs in the agora, it was far more than just a shopping center. It was the place where citizens congregated, debated the issues of the day, argued points of law, settled disputes, and presented philosophical discourse. In short, it was the place where they practiced their politics.
Slaves and Metics
The limited Athenian democracy was based on its citizens’ ability to have others do its manual work. This marks a radical departure from the culture of Hesiod’s Works and Days, in which one advanced oneself by “work with work upon work.” To the Athenian citizen, work was something to be avoided. Typically, working fell to slaves or to metics, free men who were not citizens because they came from some other polis in Greece or from a Greek colony.
Greek Slavery, 5:09
The Women of Athens
Like the metics, the women of Athens were not citizens and did not enjoy any of the privileges of citizenship. In 431 bce, the playwright Euripides put these words into the mouth of Medea, a woman believed to be of divine origin who punished the mortal Jason for abandoning her. Medea kills Jason’s new bride as well as her own children (Reading 5.1):
athens women, 1:47
The Life of Women in Ancient Greece, 4:48
PERICLES AND THE SCHOOL OF HELLAS
What did Pericles believe to be the source of Athenian greatness and how is that greatness reflected in the art of the Golden Age?
No person dominated Athenian political life during the Golden Age more than the statesman Pericles (ca. 495–429 bce), who served for nearly 30 years on the Board of Ten Generals, which was elected annually rather than chosen by lot, and was thus truly representative of the people. An aristocrat by birth, he was nonetheless democracy’s strongest advocate. Late in his career, in 431 bce, he delivered a speech honoring soldiers who had fallen in early battles of the Peloponnesian War, a struggle for power between Sparta and Athens that would eventually result in Athens’s defeat in 404 bce, long after Pericles’ own death. Although Athens and Sparta had united to form the Delian League in the face of the Persian threat in 478 bce, by 450 bce, Persia was no longer a threat, and Sparta sought to foment a large-scale revolt against Athenian control of the Delian League. Sparta formed its own Peloponnesian League, motivated at least partly by Athens’s use of Delian League funds to rebuild its acropolis. Pericles resisted the rebellion vigorously, as Athenian preeminence among the Greeks was at stake. The Greek historian Thucydides recorded Pericles’ speech in honor of his soldiers in its entirety in his History of the Peloponnesian Wars (Readings 5.2a, 5.2b, and 5.2c). Although Thucydides, considered the greatest historian of antiquity, tried to achieve objectivity—to the point that he claimed, rather too humbly, that he was so true to the facts that the reader might find him boring—he did admit that he had substituted his own phrasings when he could not remember the exact words of his subjects. Thus, Pericles’ speech may be more Thucydides than Pericles. Furthermore, gossip at the time suggests that the speech was in large part the work of Aspasia, Pericles’ mistress and partner. So the speech may, in fact, be more Aspasia than Pericles, and more Thucydides than Aspasia. Nevertheless, it reflects what the Athenians thought of themselves.
CIVILIZATION VI - First Look: Greece (Pericles), 1:34
State of the Arts recently went behind the scenes of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's production of Pericles. A rarely-produced late work, Pericles is Shakespeare's epic re-imagining of a popular tale from Ancient Greece - the story of a young prince who flees his homeland and ends up on a journey spanning more than a decade, full of adventure, love, and loss.
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars, Pericles' Funeral Speech
Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. We do not copy our neighbors, but are an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many not the few. But while the law secures equal justice to all alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty a bar, but a man may benefit his country whatever be the obscurity of his condition. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private intercourse we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbor if he does what he likes, we do not put on sour looks at him which, though harmless, are not pleasant. We are thus unconstrained in our private intercourse, a spirit of reverence pervades our public acts; we are prevented from doing wrong by respect for authority and for the laws. … This “claim of excellence” defines Athenians’ political, social, and cultural life. It is the hallmark not only of their political system but also of their military might. It explains their spirited competitions in the arts and in their athletic contests, which the citizens regularly enjoyed. All true Athenians, Pericles suggests, seek excellence through the conscientious pursuit of the beautiful and the good.
Beautiful Mind, Beautiful Body
One of the most interesting aspects of Pericles’ oration is his sense that the greatness of the Athenians is expressed in both the love of beauty and the cultivation of intellectual inquiry. We find this particularly in the development of scientific inquiry. In fact, one of the more remarkable features of fifth-century Greek culture is that it spawned a way of thinking that transformed the way human beings see themselves in relation to the natural world. Most people in the ancient world saw themselves at the mercy of flood and sun, subject to the wiles of gods beyond their control. They faced the unknown through the agency of priests, shamans, kings, mythologies, and rituals.
0:02 / 4:27 The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece with Dr. Ian Jenkins
The Portland Art Museum's exclusive West Coast exhibit has arrived from the celebrated British Musuem. THE BODY BEAUTIFUL IN ANCIENT GREECE is thrilling in small and intimate, and unexpected ways. Dr. Ian Jenkins, senior curatorin the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the British Museum, here, offers an incredible depth of insight into the concept of "ideal beauty " as he reflects on what is only one of the many parts of this visually engaging exhibition.
Rebuilding the Acropolis
After the Persian invasion in 480 bce, the Athenians had initially vowed to keep the Acropolis in a state of ruin as a reminder of the horrible price of war; however, Pericles convinced them to rebuild it. Richly decorated with elaborate architecture and sculpture, it would become, Pericles argued, a fitting memorial not only to the war but especially to Athena’s role in protecting the Athenian people. Furthermore, at Persepolis, the defeated Xerxes and then his son and successor Artaxerxes I (r. 465–424 bce), were busy expanding their palace, and Athens was not about to be outdone.
"THE ACROPOLIS RESTORATION PROJECT", 3:08
The Architectural Program at the Acropolis
The cost of rebuilding the Acropolis was enormous, but despite the reservations expressed by many over such an extravagant expenditure—financed mostly by tributes that Athens levied upon its allies in the Delian League—the project had the virtue of employing thousands of Athenians—citizens, metics, and slaves alike—thus guaranteeing its general popularity. Writing a Life of Pericles five centuries later, the Greek-born biographer Plutarch (ca. 46–after 119 ce) gives us some idea of the scope of the rebuilding project and its effects (Reading 5.3).
Greek Architecture-The Acropolis, 1:53
Athens Acropolis, Ancient Greek Architecture, 3:53
Closer Look, The Parthenon
The Parthenon is famous both for its architectural perfection and for the sculptural decoration that is so carefully integrated into the structure. The decorative sculptures were in three main areas—in the pediments at each end of the building, on the metopes, or the square panels between the beam ends under the roof, and on the frieze that runs across the top of the outer wall of the cella. Brightly painted, these sculptures must have appeared strikingly lifelike. In the clarity of its parts, the harmony among them, and its overall sense of proportion and balance, it represents the epitome of Classical architecture. Built to give thanks to Athena for the salvation of Athens and Greece in the Persian Wars, it was a tangible sign of the power and might of the Athenian state, designed to impress all who visited the city. It was built on the foundations and platform of an earlier structure, but the architects Ictinus and Callicrates clearly intended it to represent the Doric order in its most perfect form. It has 8 columns at the ends and 17 on the sides. Each column swells out about one-third of the way up, a device called entasis, to counter the eye’s tendency to see the uninterrupted parallel columns as narrowing as they rise and to give a sense of “breath” or liveliness to the stone. The columns also slant slightly inward, so that they appear to the eye to rise straight up. And since horizontal lines appear to sink in the middle, the platform beneath them rises nearly 5 inches from each corner to the middle. There are no true verticals or horizontals in the building, a fact that lends its apparently rigid geometry a sense of liveliness and animation.
NOVA | NOVA Short | Optical Tricks of the Parthenon, 3:40
Ancient Greek architects were on to something when they built the Parthenon with subtle curves and no right angles. While it remains debatable, some scholars argue that these features were intended to counter the brain's tendency to see optical illusions. http://www.pbs.org/nova/parthenon Watch "Secrets of the Parthenon" Tuesday, January 29 at 8pm ET/PT on PBS (check local listings). Or join us online at http://pbs.org/nova. "Secrets of the Parthenon" is a Providence Pictures production for NOVA and WGBH Boston in association with Studio International and ARTE France. Funding for NOVA is provided by David H. Koch, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and public television viewers. Additional funding for "Secrets of the Parthenon" is provided by The Solow Art and Architecture Foundation.
The Sculptural Program at the Parthenon
If Phidias’ hand was not directly involved in carving the sculpture decorating the Parthenon, most of the decoration is probably his design. We know for certain that he designed the giant statue of Athena Parthenos housed in the Parthenon (Fig. 5.8). Though long since destroyed, we know its general characteristics through literary descriptions and miniature copies. It stood 40 feet high and was supported by a ship’s mast. Its skin was made of ivory and its dress and armor of gold. Its spectacular presence was meant to celebrate not only the goddess’s religious power but also the political power of the city she protected. She is at once a warrior, with spear and shield, and the model of Greek womanhood, the parthenos, or maiden, dressed in the standard Doric peplos. And since the gold that formed the surface of the statue was removable, she was, in essence, an actual treasury.
Phidias (?), Sculpture from the East Pediment of the Parthenon, c. 448-432 B.C.E, 4:58
Phidias (?), Sculpture from the East Pediment of the Parthenon, marble, c. 448-432 B.C.E. (British Museum, London) More free lessons at: http://www.khanacademy.org/video?v=Ip... Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Dr. Steven Zucker
PHILOSOPHY AND THE POLIS
How do the philosophies of Socrates and Plato compare?
The extraordinary architectural achievement of the Acropolis is matched by the philosophical achievement of the great Athenian philosopher Socrates, born in 469 bce, a decade after the Greek defeat of the Persians. His death in 399 bce arguably marks the end of Athens’s Golden Age. Socrates’ death was not a natural one. His execution was ordered by a polis in turmoil after its defeat by the Spartans in 404 bce. The city had submitted to the rule of the oligarchic government installed by the victorious Spartans, the so-called Thirty Tyrants, whose power was ensured by a gang of “whip-bearers.” They deprived the courts of their power and initiated a set of trials against rich men, especially metics, and democrats who opposed their tyranny. Over 1,500 Athenians were subsequently executed. Socrates was brought to trial, accused of subversive behavior, corrupting young men, and introducing new gods, though these charges may have been politically motivated. He antagonized his jury of citizens by insisting that his life had been as good as anyone’s and that far from committing any wrongs, he had greatly benefited Athens. He was convicted by a narrow majority and condemned to death by drinking poisonous hemlock. His refusal to flee and his willingness to submit to the will of the polis and drink the potion testify to his belief in the very polis that condemned him. His eloquent defense of his decision to submit is recorded in the Crito (see Reading 5.4 on pages 168–169), a dialogue between Socrates and his friend Crito, actually written by Plato, Socrates’ student and fellow philosopher. Although the Athenians would continue to enjoy relative freedom for many years to come, the death of Socrates marks the end of their great experiment with democracy. Although Socrates was no defender of democracy—he did not believe that most people were really capable of exercising good government—he became the model of good citizenship and right thinking for centuries to come.
PHILOSOPHY - The Good Life: Aristotle [HD], 5:57
Chris Surprenant (University of New Orleans) discusses the account of human well-being and the good life presented by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics and Politics. He explains why Aristotle believes that a human being lives well when he acts rightly and possesses all virtues, both intellectual and those relating to good character.
The Philosophical Context
To understand Socrates’ position, it is important to recognize that the crisis confronting Athens in 404 bce was not merely political, but deeply philosophical. And furthermore, a deep division existed between the philosophers and the polis. Plato, Socrates’ student, through whose writings we know Socrates’ teachings, believed good government was unattainable “unless either philosophers become kings in our cities or those whom we now call kings and rulers take to the pursuit of philosophy.” He well understood that neither was likely to happen, and good government was, therefore, something of a dream. To further complicate matters, there were two distinct traditions of Greek philosophia—literally, “love of wisdom”—pre-Socratic and Sophist.
1) An Introduction to the Ancient Greek Philosophical Schools, 4:41
This series details the different philosophical schools of ancient Greece - giving an outline of the schools core teachings, a brief overview of the schools members and their beliefs, and an overview of the school's rise and fall. Episode 1 is an introduction to the different philosophical schools of ancient Greece. It will provide the context in which the subsequent videos are set.
The Pre-Socratic Tradition
The oldest philosophical tradition, that of the pre-Socratics, referring to Greek philosophers who preceded Socrates, was chiefly concerned with describing the natural universe—the tradition inaugurated by Thales of Miletus. “What,” the pre-Socratics asked, “lies behind the world of appearance? What is everything made of? How does it work? Is there an essential truth or core at the heart of the physical universe?” In some sense, then, they were scientists who investigated the nature of things, and they arrived at some extraordinary insights. Pythagoras (ca. 570–490 bce) was one such pre-Socratic thinker. He conceived of the notion that the heavenly bodies appear to move in accordance with the mathematical ratios and that these ratios also govern musical intervals, producing what was later called “the harmony of the spheres.” Leucippus (fifth century bce) was another. He conceived of an atomic theory in which everything is made up of small, indivisible particles and the empty space, or void, between them (the Greek word for “indivisible” is atom). Democritus of Thrace (ca. 460–ca. 370 bce) furthered the theory by applying it to the mind. Democritus taught that everything from feelings and ideas to the physical sensations of taste, sight, and smell could be explained by the movements of atoms in the brain. Heraclitus of Ephesus (535–475 bce) argued for the impermanence of all things. Change, or flux, he said, is the basis of reality, although an underlying Form or Guiding Force (logos) guides the process, a concept that later informs the Gospel of John in the Christian Bible, where logos is often mistranslated as “word.”
Thales of Miletus in Five Minutes - The Pre-Socratic Philosophers, 5:22
Join us as we explore the philosophy of Thales, who said the entire world was made of water! This video is the first in a series covering Western Philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to the 21st century. Coming up next: Anaximander and Anaximenes in Five Minutes Like and subscribe to see more, and leave a comment in the description with your feedback!
The Sophist Tradition
Socrates was heir to the second tradition of Greek philosophy, that of the Sophists, literally “wise men.” The Sophists no longer asked, “What do we know?” but, instead, “How do we know what we think we know?” and, crucially, “How can we trust what we think we know?” In other words, the Sophists concentrated not on the natural world but on the human mind, fully acknowledging the mind’s many weaknesses. The Sophists were committed to what we have come to call humanism—that is, a focus on the actions of human beings, political action being one of the most important.
Sophists, 2MinuteThinker, 2:10
The Sophists are a group of Greek philosophers from the 5th Century B.C. that are responsible for initially conceptualizing rhetorical theory. One of the first Sophists was Protagoras of Abdera. Sources differ in stating the year he was born, but it is safe to assume he was born between 481-490 B.C and is said to have died around 420 B.C. He was a teacher and philosopher based out of Athens. He is considered one of the first teachers to charge students and/or their families for rhetorical training. The contributions he was most known for are in rhetorical discourse. He is considered by many to be the "father of debate". He is also known for the quote "Man is the measure of all things; of the things that are, that they are; of the things that are not, that they are not". He also taught "that for every idea, there is a corresponding contrary idea". This would be why he is considered the father of debate. Debate is public discourse and presenting to an audience two opposing sides. Gorgias is equally as important as Protagoras in learning about the Greek Sophists. Gorgias was born around 485 B.C. and died around 375 B.C. He was originally from Leontini and initially studied philosophy and medicine. Gorgias' works included Technai, Encomium of Helen, and Defence of Palamedes. He is responsible for what we consider to be speaker oriented rhetoric. The emphasis was not placed so much on discourse as much as it was placed on the speaker himself. He saw speech as having great power and saw speech as having "the power to put an end to fear, to remove grief, to instill joy, and increase pity". Honorable mentions for contributions to the Sophistic movement go to Prodicus, Hippias, and Thrasymacus for also contributing to Greek Sophist philosophy.
Socrates and the Sophists
Socrates despised everything the Sophists stood for, except their penchant for rhetorical debate, which was his chief occupation. He roamed the streets of Athens, engaging his fellow citizens in dialogue, wittily and often bitingly attacking them for the illogic of their positions. He employed the dialectical method—a process of inquiry and instruction characterized by continuous question-and-answer dialogue intent on disclosing the unexamined premises held implicitly by all reasonable beings. Unlike the Sophists, he refused to demand payment for his teaching, but like them, he urged his fellow men not to mistake their personal opinions for truth. Our beliefs, he knew, are built mostly on a foundation of prejudice and historical conditioning. He differed from the Sophists most crucially in his emphasis on virtuous behavior. For the Sophists, the true, the good, and the just were relative things. Depending on the situation or one’s point of view, anything might be true, good, or just—the point, as will become evident in the next section of this chapter, of many a Greek tragedy.
Classical F14 12-11 Socrates vs. The Sophists, 2:30
The Basic Moral Priniciples Rich Legum Classical Philosophy Course
Plato's Republic and Idealism
So far as we know, Socrates himself never wrote a single word. We know his thinking only through the writings of his greatest student, Plato (ca. 428–348 bce). Thus, it may be true that the Socrates we know is the one Plato wanted us to have, and that when we read Socrates’ words, we are encountering Plato’s thought more than Socrates’.
As Plato presents Socrates to us, the two philosophers, master and pupil, have much in common. They share the premise that the psyche is immortal and immutable. They also share the notion that we are all capable of remembering the psyche’s pure state. But Plato advances Socrates’ thought in several important ways. Plato’s philosophy is a brand of idealism—it seeks the eternal perfection of pure ideas, untainted by material reality. He believes that there is an invisible world of eternal Forms, or Ideas, beyond everyday experience, and that the psyche, trapped in the material world and the physical body, can only catch glimpses of this higher order. Through a series of mental exercises, beginning with the study of mathematics and then moving on to the contemplation of the Forms of Justice, Beauty, and Love, the student can arrive at a level of understanding that amounts to superior knowledge.
Socrates’ death deeply troubled Plato—not because he disagreed with Socrates’ decision, but because of the injustice of his condemnation. The result of Plato’s thinking is The Republic. In this treatise, Plato outlines his model of the ideal state. Only an elite cadre of the most highly educated men were to rule—those who had glimpsed Plato’s ultimate Form, or Idea—the Good. In The Republic, in a section known as the “Allegory of the Cave” (Fig. 5.12),
PLATO ON: The Forms, 3:59
Plato’s theory of the forms is at the centre of his philosophy and teaches us the virtues of thinking about the ideal version of things. If you like our films take a look at our shop (we ship worldwide): http://theschooloflife.com/shop/all/ Brought to you by http://theschooloflife.com Produced in collaboration with Mad Adam http://madadamfilms.co.uk
If Plato banned sex in his Republic, he did not ban it in his life. Indeed, one of the most remarkable of his dialogues is The Symposium. A symposium is literally a drinking party, exclusively for men, except for a few slaves and a nude female flute player or two. Dinner was served first, followed by ritualized drinking. Wine was poured to honor the “good spirit,” hymns were sung, a member of the group was elected to decide the strength of the wine, which was mixed with water (usually five parts water to two of wine), and then host and guests, seated usually two to a couch around a square room, took turns in song or speech, one after another around the room.
Plato’s Symposium recounts just such an evening. At the outset, the female flute player provided by the host is sent away, indicating the special nature of the event, which turns out to be a series of speeches on the nature of love, homoerotic love in particular. To the Greeks, it was considered normal for males to direct their sexual appetites toward both males and females, generally without particular preference for one or the other. Since the symposium was an all-male environment (Fig. 5.13), it is hardly surprising that homoerotic behavior was commonplace, or at least commonly discussed.
An Introduction to Plato's Symposium- Macat Philosophy Analysis, 2:52
Plato’s Symposium is one of the most influential works ever written in the field of philosophy. This short video from Macat explains the key ideas in the work in only a few minutes. Macat’s videos give you an overview of the ideas you should know, explained in a way that helps you think smarter. Through exploration of the humanities, we learn how to think critically and creatively, to reason, and to ask the right questions. Critical thinking is about to become one of the most in-demand set of skills in the global jobs market.* Are you ready? Learn to plan more efficiently, tackle risks or problems more effectively, and make quicker, more informed and more creative decisions with Macat’s suite of resources designed to develop this essential set of skills. Our experts have already compiled the 180 books you feel you should know—but will never have time to read—and explained them in a way that helps you think smarter. Dip in and learn in 3 minutes or 10 minutes a day, or dive in for 3 hours, wherever you are on whatever device you have. Get your journey started into the great books for free: www.macat.com Get a report on your critical thinking skills at no cost: www.macat.com/ct-study Find out more about critical thinking: www.macat.com/blog/what-is-critical-thinking *Source: WEF report Jan 2016 – “The Future of Jobs report”
THE THEATER OF THE PEOPLE
How do Greek comedy and tragedy compare?
The Dionysian aspects of the symposium—the drinking, the philosophical dialogue, and sexual license—tell us something about the origins of Greek drama. The drama was originally a participatory ritual, tied to the cult of Dionysus. A chorus of people participating in the ritual would address and respond to another chorus or to a leader, such as a priest, perhaps representing (thus “acting the part” of) Dionysus. These dialogues usually occurred in the context of riotous dance and song—befitting revels dedicated to the god of wine. By the sixth century bce, groups of men regularly celebrated Dionysus, coming together for the enjoyment of dance, music, and wine. Sexual license was the rule of the day. On a mid-sixth-century amphora used as a wine container (Fig. 5.14) we see five satyrs, minor deities with characteristics of goats or horses, making wine, including one playing pipes. Depicted in the band across the top is Dionysus himself, sitting in the midst of a rollicking band of satyrs and maenads—the frenzied women with whom he cavorted.
This kind of behavior gave rise to one of the three major forms of Greek drama, the satyr play. Always the last event of the daylong performances, the satyr play was farce, that is, broadly satirical comedy, in which actors disguised themselves as satyrs, replete with extravagant genitalia, and generally honored the “lord of misrule,” Dionysus, by misbehaving themselves. One whole satyr play survives, the Cyclops of Euripides, and half of another, Sophocles’ Trackers. The spirit of these plays can perhaps be summed up best
An Introduction to Greek Theatre, 6:53
For background detail on Greek theatre productions at the National Theatre, see our online exhibit http://www.google.com/culturalinstitu... This film explores the defining aspects of Greek Theatre. The theatre of Ancient Greece flourished between 550 BC and 220 BC. A festival honouring the god Dionysus was held in Athens, out of which three dramatic genres emerged: tragedy, comedy and the satyr play. Western theatre has its roots in the theatre of Ancient Greece and the plays that originated there. This collection features video about Greek theatre and productions of Greek plays staged at the National Theatre. Featured in this film are experts Edith Hall, professor of Classics at Kings College, London, Laura Swift from the Open University, Dr Sean McElvoy from Varndean College, Brighton and actor Michael Grady-Hall from the cast of Antigone. This film includes performance footage from the 2012 National Theatre production of Antigone, directed by Polly Findlay, starring Christopher Eccleston as Creon and Jodie Whittaker in the title role. This film was made and directed by Chloe White for the National Theatre.
Closely related to the satyr plays was comedy, an amusing or lighthearted play designed to make its audience laugh. The word itself is derived from the komos, a phallic dance, and nothing was sacred to comedy. It freely slandered, buffooned, and ridiculed politicians, generals, public figures, and especially the gods. Foreigners, as always in Greek culture, are subject to particular abuse, as are women; in fact, by our standards, the plays are racist and sexist. Most of what we know about Greek comedies comes from two sources: vase painting and the plays of the playwright Aristophanes.
Greek Tragedy and Greek Comedy, 2:37
Edith Hall (Professor of Classics, King's College London) talks about the differences between Greek tragedy and Greek comedy. Tragedy
It was at tragedy that the Greek playwrights truly excelled. As with comedy, the basis for tragedy is conflict, but the tensions at work in tragedy—murder and revenge, crime and retribution, pride and humility, courage and cowardice—have far more serious consequences. Tragedies often explore the physical and moral depths to which human life can descend. The form also has its origins in the Dionysian rites—the name itself derives from tragoidos, the “goat song” of the half-goat, half-man satyrs, and tragedy’s seriousness of purpose is not at odds with its origins. Dionysus was also the god of immortality, and an important aspect of his cult’s influence is that he promised his followers life after death, just as the grapevine regenerates itself year after year. If tragedy can be said to have a subject, it is death—and the lessons the living can learn from the dead.
Although many Greek playwrights composed tragedies, only those of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides have come down to us. Aeschylus (ca. 525–ca. 456 bce), the oldest of the three, is reputed to have served in the Athenian armies during the Persian Wars and fought in the battles at Marathon and Salamis. He won the City Dionysia 13 times. It was Aeschylus who introduced a third actor to the tragic stage, and his chorus plays a substantial role in drawing attention to the underlying moral principles that define or determine the action. He also was a master of the visual presentation of his drama, taking full advantage of stage design and costume. Three of his plays, known as the Oresteia, form the only complete set of tragedies from a tetralogy that we have.
Aeschylus - Top 10 Quotes, 2:53
The ten best quotes by the great ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus! (525 BCE - 456 BCE) See all quotes by Aeschylus at http://www.iperceptive.com/authors/ae... Enlighten yourself at http://www.iPerceptive.com The music used in this video is "Waltz (Tschikovsky Op. 40)"
Playwright, treasurer for the Athenian polis, a general under Pericles, and advisor to Athens on financial matters during the Peloponnesian Wars, Sophocles (ca. 496–406 bce) was an almost legendary figure in fifth-century bce Athens. He wrote over 125 plays, of which only 7 survive, and he won the City Dionysia 18 times. In Oedipus the King, Sophocles dramatizes how the king of Thebes, a polis in east central Greece, mistakenly kills his father and marries his mother, then finally blinds himself to atone for his crimes of patricide and incest. In Antigone, he dramatizes the struggle of Oedipus’ daughter, Antigone, with her uncle, Creon, the tyrannical king who inherited Oedipus’ throne. Antigone struggles for what amounts to her democratic rights as an individual to fulfill her familial duties, even when this opposes what Creon argues is the interest of the polis. Her predicament is doubly complicated by her status as a woman.
Sophocles - Top 10 Quotes, 3:02
The ten best quotes by the great ancient Greek writer and tragedian Sophocles! (496 BCE - 405 BCE) See all quotes by Sophocles at http://www.iperceptive.com/authors/so... Enlighten yourself at http://www.iPerceptive.com The music used in this video is "Relent" Like iPerceptive at Facebook http://on.fb.me/raUG1o Follow iPerceptive at Twitter http://twitter.com/iPerceptive
Reading, Sophocles, Antigone
Sophocles: Antigone - Summary and Analysis, 3:07
This video is a summary and analysis of three major themes in the Antigone of Sophocles. The themes discussed within the video are Fate, Law, and Mortality. My blog: http://www.gbwwblog.wordpress.com Please help support this channel: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr...
The youngest of the three playwrights, Euripides (ca. 480–406 bce), writing during the Peloponnesian Wars, brought a level of measured skepticism to the stage. Eighteen of his 90 works survive, but Euripides won the City Dionysia only four times. His plays probably angered more conservative Athenians, which may be why he moved from Athens to Macedonia in 408 bce. In The Trojan Women, for instance, performed in 415 bce, he describes, disapprovingly, the Greek enslavement of the women of Troy, drawing an unmistakable analogy to the contemporary Athenian victory at Melos, where women were subjected to Athenian abuse.
The Performance Space
During the tyranny of Pisistratus, plays were performed in an open area of the agora called the orchestra, or “dancing space.” Spectators sat on wooden planks laid on portable scaffolding.
THE HELLENISTIC WORLD
How does Greek sculpture change between the Classical and Hellenistic periods, and how does Aristotle’s philosophy reflect this shift?
Both the emotional drama of Greek theater and the sensory appeal of its music reveal a growing tendency in the culture to value emotional expression at least as much as, and sometimes more than, the balanced harmonies of Classical art. During the Hellenistic age in the fourth and third centuries bce, the truths that the culture increasingly sought to understand were less idealistic and universal, and more and more empirical and personal. This shift is especially evident in the new empirical philosophy of Aristotle (384–322 bce), whose investigation into the workings of the real world supplanted, or at least challenged, Plato’s idealism. In many ways, however, the ascendancy of this new aesthetic standard can be attributed to the daring, the audacity, and the sheer awe-inspiring power of a single figure, Alexander of Macedonia, known as Alexander the Great (356–323 bce). Alexander aroused the emotions and captured the imagination of not just a theatrical audience, but an entire people—perhaps even the entire Western world—and created a legacy that established Hellenic Greece as the model against which all other cultures in the West had to measure themselves.
Cultural globalisation during the Hellenistic Age, 4:10
Author Peter Thonemann explains the Hellenistic World and the ways in which it interacted with other civilizations, giving rise to a cultural globalisation. https://global.oup.com/academic/produ... Peter Thonemann, Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History, Wadham College, Oxford Peter Thonemann teaches Greek and Roman history at Wadham College, Oxford. He is the author of The Maeander Valley: A Historical Geography from Antiquity to Byzantium (2011), the winner of the Anglo-Hellenic League's prestigious Runciman Prize 2012, and co-author (with Simon Price) of The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine (2010). His most recent book is an introduction to Hellenistic coinage, The Hellenistic World: Using Coins as Sources (2015). He writes regularly on all aspects of Greek and Roman history and culture for the Times Literary Supplement. © Oxford University Press
The Empire of Alexander the Great
Alexander was the son of Philip II (382–336 bce) of Macedonia, a relatively undeveloped state to the north whose inhabitants spoke a Greek dialect unintelligible to Athenians. Macedonia was ruled loosely by a king whose power was checked by a council of nobles. Philip had been a hostage in the polis of Thebes early in his life, and while there he had learned to love Greek civilization, but he also recognized that, after the Peloponnesian Wars, the Greek poleis were in disarray. In 338 bce, at the Battle of Chaeronea, on the plains near Delphi, he defeated the combined forces of southern Greece, led by Athens and Thebes, and unified all of Greece, with the exception of Sparta, in the League of Corinth.
In the process of mounting a military campaign to subdue the Persians, Philip was assassinated in 336 bce, possibly on the order of Alexander himself. (Philip had just divorced the 19-year-old’s mother and removed him from any role in the government.) Although the Thebans immediately revolted, Alexander quickly took control, burning Thebes to the ground and selling its entire population into slavery. He then turned his sights on the rest of the world, and henceforth representations of him would proliferate. Even during his lifetime, but especially after his death, sculptures celebrating the youthful hero abounded, almost all of them modeled on originals sculpted by Lysippus (flourished fourth century bce) whom Alexander hired to do all his portraits. Alexander is easily recognizable—his disheveled hair long and flowing, his gaze intense and melting, his mouth slightly open, his head alertly turned
History of Europe #3 - Empire of Alexander the Great! 3:46
History of Europe #3 - Empire of Alexander the Great! (530-258 BCE) Song: Non-Stop Producer Series - NSPSVHT01_16_Run Away_Inst-WCPM
Toward Hellenistic Art: Sculpture in the Late Classical Period
During Alexander’s time, sculpture flourished. Ever since the fall of Athens to Sparta in 404 bce, Greek artists had continued to develop the Classical style of Phidias and Polyclitus, but they modified it in subtle yet innovative ways. Especially notable was a growing taste for images of men and women in quiet, sometimes dreamy and contemplative moods, which increasingly replaced the sense of nobility and detachment characteristic of fifth-century Classicism and found its way even into depictions of the gods. The most admired sculptors of the day were Lysippus, Praxiteles, and Skopas. Very little of the latter’s work has survived, though he was noted for high-relief sculpture featuring highly energized and emotional scenes. The work of the first two is far better known.
The Heroic Sculpture of Lysippus
In sculpting a full-length standing figure of Alexander, which we know only from descriptions, Lysippus also challenged the Classical kanon of proportion created by Polyclitus—smaller heads and slenderer bodies lent his heroic sculptures a sense of greater height. In fact, he transformed the Classical tradition in sculpture and began to explore new possibilities that, eventually, would define Hellenistic art, with its sense of animation, drama, and psychological complexity. In a Roman copy of a lost original by Lysippus known as the Apoxyomenos (Fig. 5.19), or The Scraper, an athlete removes oil and dirt from his body with an instrument called a strigil. Compared to the Doryphoros (Spear Bearer) of Polyclitus (see Fig. 5.4), The Scraper is much slenderer, his legs much longer, his torso shorter. The Scraper seems much taller, though, in fact, the sculptures are very nearly the same height. The arms of The Scraper break free of his frontal form and invite the viewer to look at the sculpture from the sides as well as the front. He seems detached from his circumstances, as if recalling his athletic performance. All in all, he seems both physically and mentally uncontained by the space in which he stands.
Lysippos, Apoxyomenos (Scraper), c. 330 B.C.E. (Roman copy), 4:16
Lysippos, Apoxyomenos (Scraper), Roman copy after a bronze statue from c. 330 B.C.E., 6' 9" high (Vatican Museums) More free lessons at: http://www.khanacademy.org/video?v=RE...
Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris
The Sensuous Sculpture of Praxiteles
Competing with Lysippus for the title of greatest sculptor of the fourth century bce was the Athenian Praxiteles (flourished 370–330 bce). Praxiteles was one of the 300 wealthiest men in Athens, thanks to his skill, but he also had a reputation as a womanizer. The people of the port city of Knidos, a Spartan colony in Asia Minor, asked him to provide them with an image of their patron goddess, Aphrodite, in her role as the protectress of sailors and merchants.
Meditation on 'Aphrodite of Cnidus' by Praxiteles, 1:31
Number 48 in a weekly series of short Meditations on single works of art, produced by UK-born, Chicago-based artist Philip Hartigan.
Aristotle: Observing the Natural World
We can only guess what motivated Lysippus and Praxiteles to so dramatize and humanize their sculptures, but it is likely that the aesthetic philosophy of Aristotle (384–322 bce) played a role. Aristotle was a student of Plato’s. Recall that, for Plato, all reality is a mere reflection of a higher, spiritual truth, a higher dimension of Ideal Forms that we glimpse only through philosophical contemplation (see Fig. 5.12).
Aristotle disagreed. Reality was not a reflection of an ideal form, but existed in the material world itself, and by observing the material world, one could come to know universal truths. So Aristotle observed and described all aspects of the world in order to arrive at the essence of things. His methods of observation came to be known as empirical investigation. And though he did not create a formal scientific method, he and other early empiricists did create procedures for testing their theories about the nature of the world that, over time, would lead to the great scientific discoveries of Bacon, Galileo, and Newton. Aristotle studied biology, zoology, physics, astronomy, politics, logic, ethics, and the various genres of literary expression. Based on his observations of lunar eclipses, he concluded as early as 350 bce that the Earth was spherical, an observation that may have motivated Alexander to cross India in order to sail back to Greece. He described over 500 animals in his Historia Animalium, including many that he dissected himself. In fact, Aristotle’s observations of marine life were unequaled until the seventeenth century and were still much admired by Charles Darwin in the nineteenth.
He also understood the importance of formulating a reasonable hypothesis to explain phenomena. His Physics is an attempt to define the first principles governing the behavior of matter—the nature of weight, motion, physical existence, and variety in nature. At the heart of Aristotle’s philosophy is a question about the relation of identity and change (not far removed, incidentally, from one of the governing principles of this text, the idea of continuity and change in the humanities). To discuss the world coherently, we must be able to say what it is about a thing that makes it the thing it is, that separates it from all the other things in the world. In other words, what is the attribute that we would call its material identity or essence? What it means to be human, for instance, does not depend on whether one’s hair turns gray. Such “accidental” changes matter not at all. At the same time, our experience of the natural world suggests that any coherent account requires us to acknowledge process and change—the change of seasons, the changes in our understanding associated with gaining knowledge in the process of aging, and so on. For Aristotle, any account of a thing must accommodate both aspects: We must be able to say what changes a thing undergoes while still retaining its essential nature, and Aristotle thus approached all manner of things—from politics to the human condition—with an eye toward determining what constituted its essence.
What constitutes the essential nature of literary art, and the theater in particular, especially fascinated him. Like all Greeks, Aristotle was well acquainted with the theater of Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles, and in his Poetics he defined their literary art as “the imitation of an action that is complete and whole.” Including a whole action, or a series of events that ends with a crisis, gives a play a sense of unity. Furthermore, he argued (against Plato, who regarded imitation as inevitably degrading and diminishing) that such imitation elevates the mind ever closer to the universal.
Introduction to Aristotle's System of Tragedy, 3:02
The Golden Mean
In Aristotle’s philosophy, such Classical aesthetic elements as unity of action and time, orderly arrangement of the parts, and proper proportion all have ethical ramifications. He argued for them by means of a philosophical method based on the syllogism, two premises from which a conclusion can be drawn. The most famous of all syllogisms is this:
All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
In the Nicomachean Ethics, written for and edited by his son Nicomachus, Aristotle attempts to define, once and for all, what Greek society had striven for since the beginning of the polis—the good life. The operative syllogism goes something like this:
The way to happiness is through the pursuit of moral virtue; The pursuit of the good life is the way to happiness; Therefore, the good life consists in the pursuit of moral virtue.
The good life, Aristotle argued, is attainable only through balanced action. Tradition has come to call this the Golden Mean—not Aristotle’s phrase but that of the Roman poet Horace—the middle ground between any two extremes of behavior. Thus, in a formulation that was particularly applicable to his student Alexander the Great, the Golden Mean between cowardice and recklessness is courage. Like the arts, which imitate an action, human beings are defined by their actions: “As with a flute-player, a statuary, or any artisan, or in fact anybody who has a definite function, so it would seem to be with humans. … The function of humans is an activity of soul in accordance with reason.” This activity of soul seeks out the moral mean, just as “good artists … have an eye to the mean in their works.”
Despite the measure and moderation of Aristotle’s thinking, Greek culture did not necessarily reflect the balanced approach of its leading philosopher. In his emphasis on catharsis—the value of experiencing “fear and pity,” the emotions that move us to change—Aristotle introduced the values that would go on to define the age of Hellenism, the period lasting from 323 to 31 bce, that is, from the death of Alexander to the Battle of Actium, the event that marks in the minds of many the beginning of the Roman Empire.
Aristotle: Eudaimonia and the Golden Mean, 5:01
Pergamon: Hellenistic Capital
Upon his death, Alexander left no designated successor, and his three chief generals divided his empire into three successor states: the kingdom of Macedonia (including all of Greece), the kingdom of the Ptolemies (Egypt), and the kingdom of the Seleucids (Syria and what is now Iraq). But a fourth, smaller kingdom in western Anatolia, Pergamon (present-day Bergama, Turkey), soon rose to prominence and became a center of Hellenistic culture. Ruled by the Attalids—descendants of a Macedonian general named Attalus—Pergamon was founded as a sort of treasury for the huge fortunes Alexander had accumulated in his conquests. It was technically under the control of the Seleucid kingdom. However, under the leadership of Eumenes I (r. 263–241 bce), Pergamon achieved virtual independence.
THE MOST DAZZLING CITY OF THE ANCIENT WORLD, :40
A new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates Pergamon, the stunning city that reveals a great deal about the ancient world, writes Alastair Sooke.
When Alexander the Great died in Babylon, still only in his early 30s, in 323 BC, he left behind a vast kingdom, sprawling across three continents, but no suitable heir. The Macedonian king’s dazzling conquest of the Persian Empire had won him unimaginable wealth and territory, and, suddenly, all of it was up for grabs.
In the decades that followed, his generals and their sons competed viciously and bitterly, as each sought to position himself as Alexander’s sole successor. This was the start of the so-called Hellenistic period, which lasted from Alexander’s demise until the suicide, in 30 BC, of the renowned queen Kleopatra VII, known to posterity as Cleopatra.
By the early 3rd Century BC, a new world order had emerged. Broadly, it consisted of three dynasties, each presiding over a colossal kingdom. The Ptolemies ruled Egypt. The Seleucids held Syria. Meanwhile, in Macedonia, the Antigonids were in control. These three powers dominated the eastern Mediterranean until the arrival of the Romans.In time, though, several smaller but still important kingdoms, such as Bactria in present-day Afghanistan, broke away. And it so happens that we know more about the glittering capital of one of them, the realm of Pergamon in western Turkey, than any other Hellenistic city.
“We think of Athens, Rome and Istanbul as great cities,” says Carlos A Picon, the curator of a major, ongoing exhibition devoted to Pergamon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. “But, during the Hellenistic era, there were really only a handful [of important royal capitals] – and Pergamon was up there.”
‘Very Game of Thrones’
In part, we are familiar with Pergamon thanks to a quirk of archaeology. Other tantalising Hellenistic cities remain impossible to excavate. “Antioch seems to be lost forever,” Picon says. “Alexandria is now mostly underwater. Syracuse, in Sicily, is under the present city. But Pergamon was abandoned, more or less. And, since the 1870s, it has been excavated by the Germans, so it’s really the only Hellenistic city about which we know a fair amount.”
The Library at Pergamon
The Attalids created a huge library filled with over 200,000 Classical Athenian texts. These were copied onto parchment, a word that derives from the Greek pergamene, meaning “from Pergamon,” and refers to sheets of tanned leather. Pergamon’s vast treasury allowed the Attalids the luxury of investing enormous sums of money in decorating their acropolis with art and architecture. Especially under the rule of Eumenes II (r. 197–160 bce), the building program flourished. It was Eumenes II who built the library, as well as the theater and a gymnasium. And he was probably responsible for the Altar of Zeus (Fig. 5.21), which is today housed in Berlin.
Hunts on Site: Pergamum, 2:57
Hellenistic and then Roman Pergamum. Here the Attalid dynasty developed parchment and sponsored a library to rival that of Alexandria. One of the Seven Churches of Asia, the Lord addressed the church here at Pergamum, noting that it was "where Satan's seat is" (Rev 2:13), perhaps a reference either to the Hellenistic Altar of Zeus or the contemporary developing Roman imperial cult.
A New Sculptural Style
The altar is decorated with the most ambitious sculptural program since the Parthenon, but unlike the Parthenon, its frieze is at eye level and is 7½ feet high. Its subject is the mythical battle of the gods and the giants for control of the world. The giants are depicted with snakelike bodies that coil beneath the feet of the triumphant gods (Fig. 5.23). These figures represent one of the greatest examples of the Hellenistic style of sculpture that depends for its effects on its expressionism, that is, the attempt to elicit an emotional response in the viewer. The theatrical effects of Lysippus are magnified into a heightened sense of drama. Where Classical artists sought balance, order, and proportion, this frieze, with its figures twisting, thrusting, and striding in motion, stresses diagonal forces that seem to pull each other apart. Swirling bodies and draperies weave in and out of the sculpture’s space, and the relief is so three-dimensional that contrasts of light and shade add to the dramatic effects. Above all, the frieze is an attempt to evoke the emotions of fear and pity that Aristotle argued led to catharsis in his Poetics (see Reading 5.8, page 172), not the intellectual order of Classical tradition.
Pompeii exhibition: Alastair Sooke on Roman sculpture, 3:15
With exclusive access behind the scenes of the British Museum's major new exhibition on Pompeii and Herculaneum, Alastair Sooke takes a look at the ancient Romans' love of sculpture.
If Pergamon was a spectacular Hellenistic city, it paled beside Alexandria in Egypt. Alexander had conceived of all the cities he founded as centers of culture. They would be hubs of trade and learning, and Greek culture would radiate out from them to the surrounding countryside. But Alexandria exceeded even Alexander’s expectations.
The city’s ruling family, the Ptolemies (heirs of Alexander’s close friend and general, Ptolemy I), built the world’s first museum—from the Greek mouseion, literally, “temple to the muses”—conceived as a meeting place for scholars and students. Nearby was the largest library in the world, exceeding even Pergamon’s. It contained over 700,000 volumes. Plutarch later claimed that it was destroyed in 47 bce, after Julius Caesar ordered his troops to set fire to the Ptolemaic fleet and winds spread.
Carl Sagan introduces the library of Alexandria, 4:08
Clip from episode one of the COSMOS series
Continuity & Change
Rome traced its origins back to the Trojan warrior Aeneas, who at the end of the Trojan War sailed off to found a new homeland for his people. The Roman poet Virgil (70–19 bce) would celebrate Aeneas’ journey in his epic poem, the Aeneid, written in the last decade of his life. There, he describes how the gods who supported the Greeks punished the Trojan priest Laocoön for warning his countrymen not to accept the “gift” of a wooden horse from the Greeks.
How did the Romans conquer classical Greece? 4:33
Author Robin Waterfield discusses the premise for Taken at the Flood, the dramatic tale of brutality, determination, and the birth of an empire. He examines how the Romans managed to keep Greek territories under their control throughout this time. https://global.oup.com/academic/produ...
Rome and Its Hellenistic Heritage
Chapter 6: Rome: Urban Life and Imperial Majesty
World History I: Ancient Rome Emperors, Writers, Enemies and Rebels, Social Order, Religion, Life in Roman Times
6.1 Describe the dual origins of Roman culture.
6.2 Outline the patronage system of the Roman Republic and explain how it is reflected in its art and literature.
6.3 Discuss the imperial aspirations of Rome and their manifestation in art, architecture, and literature.
6.4 Examine the factors that led to Rome's decline.
ORIGINS OF ROMAN CULTURE
From what two sources did Roman culture spring?
The origins of Roman culture are twofold. On the one hand, there were the Greeks, who as early as the eighth century bce colonized the southern coastal regions of the Italian peninsula and Sicily, and whose Hellenic culture the Romans adopted for their own. On the other hand, there were the Etruscans.
The Etruscan Roots
The Etruscan homeland, Etruria, occupied the part of the Italian peninsula that is roughly the same as modern-day Tuscany. It was bordered by the Arno River to the north (which runs through Florence) and the Tiber River to the south (which runs through Rome). No Etruscan literature survives, although around 9,000 short texts do, enough to make clear that even though the alphabet was related to Greek, the language itself was unrelated to any other in Europe. Scholars know how to pronounce most of its words, although only several hundred words have been translated with any certainty. By the seventh and sixth centuries bce, the Etruscans were major exporters of fine painted pottery, a black ceramic ware known as bucchero, bronze-work, jewelry, oil, and wine. By the fifth century bce, they were known throughout the Mediterranean for their skill as sculptors in both bronze and terra cotta.
Tombs: Clues to Etruscan Life
The Etruscans buried their dead in cemeteries removed from their cities. The tombs were arranged like a town with a network of streets winding through them. They used a type of tomb called a tumulus, a round structure partially below ground and partially above ground, covered with earth. Inside, the burial chambers are rectangular and resemble domestic architecture. In fact, they may resemble actual Etruscan homes—only the foundations of their homes survive, so we cannot be sure—since entire families were buried together. Plaster reliefs on the walls include kitchen implements, tools, and, in general, the necessities for everyday life, suggesting that the Etruscan sense of the afterlife was in some ways similar to that of the Egyptians, with whom, incidentally, they traded.
Because of their mud-brick wall and wooden-column construction, only the foundations of Etruscan temples survive, but we know something of what they looked like from surviving votive terra-cotta models and from written descriptions. The first-century bce Roman architect Vitruvius described Etruscan temples in writings that date from between 46 and 39 bce, 700 years after the Etruscans built them. Vitruvius describes temples constructed on a platform, or podium, with a single set of steps up to a porch or portico in front of three interior cellas (modern archeological evidence demonstrates that there were many other arrangements as well, including one- and two-cella temples). The ground plan was almost square, and the space was divided about equally between the porch and three interior cellas which probably housed cult statues (Figs. 6.4 and 6.5).
The Etruscan Founding Myth
The city also had competing foundation myths. One was Etruscan. Legend had it that twin infants named Romulus and Remus were left to die on the banks of the Tiber but were rescued by a she-wolf who suckled them (Fig. 6.9). Raised by a shepherd, the twins decided to build a city on the Palatine Hill above the spot where they had been saved (accounting, in the manner of foundation myths, for the unlikely location of the city). Soon, the two boys feuded over who would rule the new city. In his History of Rome, the Roman historian Livy (59 bce–17 ce) briefly describes the ensuing conflict:
Then followed an angry altercation; heated passions led to bloodshed; in the tumult Remus was killed. The more common report is that Remus contemptuously jumped over the newly raised walls and was forthwith killed by the enraged Romulus, who exclaimed, “So shall it be henceforth with every one who leaps over my walls.” Romulus thus became sole ruler, and the city was called after him, its founder.
The date, legend has it, was 753 bce.
It has long been known that the figures of Romulus and Remus in the she-wolf sculpture are Renaissance additions, but scholars now believe the work itself is of medieval origin. Results of carbon dating of its bronze conducted at the University of Salerno in 2008 have resulted in a very precise indication that it was cast in the thirteenth century ce. In addition, it appears as if the method used to cast the bronze was unknown in Classical times. Nevertheless, the centrality of the she-wolf to Roman legend is indisputable.
The Greek Roots
The second founding myth, as told by the poet Virgil (70–19 bce) in his epic poem the Aeneid, was Greek in its inspiration. By the second and first centuries bce, Rome had achieved political control of the entire Mediterranean. But even after Rome conquered Greece in 146 bce, Greece dominated Rome culturally. The Romans loved Greek art (see Chapter 5, Continuity & Change). Even works of art that may be original to Rome, like the first-century ce bronze Thorn-Puller (Fig. 6.10), reveal strong Hellenistic influence. Depicting a young boy pulling a thorn from his foot, this statue is derived from Hellenistic models of the third century bce for the body, with a head derived from Greek works of the fifth century bce. The boy is probably a slave—masters rarely provided shoes for their slaves—or, given the rock he is sitting on, he might be a boy from the countryside. The realistic portrayal of his self-absorbed and intense concentration combined with the beauty of his physique both suggest the Roman attraction to Hellenistic precedents.
Rome’s sense of its Greek origins is nowhere more forcefully stated than in the story of its founding by the Trojan warrior Aeneas, who at the end of the Trojan War sailed off to found a new homeland for his people. Aeneas’ story is recounted by Virgil in the Aeneid, which was written around 30–19 bce. In the following extract from Book 2, Virgil recounts Laocoön’s warning to his countrymen not to accept the “gift” of a wooden horse from the Greeks (Reading 6.1a).
How is the Roman patronage system reflected in the art and literature of the Republic?
By the time of Virgil, the Greek and Etruscan myths had merged. Accordingly, Aeneas’ son founded the city of Alba Longa, just to the south of Rome, which was ruled by a succession of kings until Romulus brought it under Roman control.
According to legend, Romulus inaugurated the traditional Roman distinction between patricians, the landowning aristocrats who served as priests, magistrates, lawyers, and judges, and plebians, the poorer class who were craftspeople, merchants, and laborers. When, in 510 bce, the Romans expelled the last of the Etruscan kings and decided to rule themselves without a monarch, the patrician/plebian distinction became very similar to the situation in fifth-century bce Athens. There, a small aristocracy who owned the good land and large estates shared citizenship with a much larger working class (see Chapter 5).
In Rome, as in the Greek model, every free male was a citizen, but in the Etruscan manner, not every citizen enjoyed equal privileges. The Senate, the political assembly in charge of creating law, was exclusively patrician. In reaction, the plebians formed their own legislative assembly, the Consilium Plebis (Council of Plebians), to protect themselves from the patricians, but the patricians were immune from any laws the plebians passed, known as plebiscites. Finally, in 287 bce, the plebiscite became binding law on all citizens, and something resembling equality of citizenship was assured.
The expulsion of the Etruscan kings and the dedication of the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill in 509 bce mark the beginning of actual historical records documenting the development of Rome. They also mark the beginning of the Roman Republic, a state whose political organization rested on the principle that the citizens were the ultimate source of legitimacy and sovereignty. Many people believe that the Etruscan bronze head of a man (Fig. 6.11) is a portrait of Lucius Junius Brutus, the founder and first consul of the Roman Republic. However, it dates from approximately 100 to 200 years after Brutus’ life, and it more likely represents a noble “type,” an imaginary portrait of a Roman founding father, or pater, the root of the word patrician. This role is conveyed through the figure’s strong character and strength of purpose. In republican Rome, every plebian chose a patrician as his patron—and, indeed, most patricians were themselves clients of some other patrician of higher status—whose duty it was to represent the plebian in any matter of law and provide an assortment of assistance in other matters, primarily economic. This paternalistic relationship—which we call patronage—reflected the family’s central role in Roman culture. The pater, “father,” protected not only his wife and family but also his clients, who submitted to his patronage. In return for the pater’s protection, family and client equally owed the pater their total obedience—which the Romans referred to as pietas, “dutifulness.” So embedded was this attitude that when toward the end of the first century bce the Republic declared itself an empire, the emperor was called pater patriae, “father of the fatherland.”
By the middle of the third century bce, the Republic had embarked on a series of military exploits known as the Punic Wars that recall Alexander’s imperial adventuring of the century before. For over 100 years, beginning in 264 bce, the Republic advanced against Carthage, the Phoenician state in present-day Tunisia (see Map 6.1). Carthage controlled most of the wealth of the western Mediterranean, including the vast agricultural and commercial resources of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and the eastern portion of the Iberian peninsula.
In his History of Rome, Livy immortalized the Carthaginian general Hannibal’s march, from what is now Spain, over the Pyrenees, across the Rhône River, and through the Alps with his army of nearly 100,000 men—including a contingent of elephants. (Perhaps this was meant to imitate the armies of India that had terrorized Alexander’s troops.) Hannibal laid waste to most of northern Italy, defeating an army of 80,000 men in 216 bce, the worst defeat in Roman history. But Rome eventually defeated him by adopting a policy of cutting off supplies from the Iberian peninsula, and counterattacking back home in Carthage. When Hannibal returned to defend his homeland, in 202 bce, without ever having lost a battle to the Romans in Italy, he was defeated by the general Scipio Africanus (236–ca. 184 bce) in northern Africa. Despite the fact that Hannibal had occupied Italy for 15 years, marching to the very gates of Rome in 211 bce, his eventual defeat led the Romans (and their potential adversaries) to believe Rome was invincible.
Meanwhile, in the eastern Mediterranean, Philip V of Macedonia (r. 221–179 bce), Alexander’s heir, had made an alliance with Hannibal and threatened to overrun the Greek peninsula. With Greek help, the Romans defeated him in the northern Greek region of Thessaly in 197 bce, then pressed on into Asia Minor, which they controlled by 189 bce. (Just over 50 years later, in 133 bce, Attalus III of Pergamon would deed his city and all its wealth to Rome.) Finally, in the Third Punic War (149–146 bce), the Romans took advantage of a weakened Carthage and destroyed the city, plowing it under and sprinkling salt in the furrows to symbolize the city’s permanent demise. Its citizens were sold into slavery. When all was said and done, Rome controlled almost the entire Mediterranean world (see Map 6.1).
The Aftermath of Conquest
Whenever Rome conquered a region, it established permanent colonies of veteran soldiers who received allotments of land, virtually guaranteeing them a certain level of wealth and status. These soldiers were citizens. If the conquered people proved loyal to Rome, they could gain full Roman citizenship. Furthermore, when not involved in combat, the local Roman soldiery transformed themselves into engineers, building roads, bridges, and civic projects of all types, significantly improving the region. In this way, the Republic diminished the adversarial status of its colonies and gained their loyalty.
A Divided Empire
Wielding the threat of civil war, the First Triumvirate soon dominated the Republic’s political life, but theirs was a fragile relationship. Caesar accepted a five-year appointment as governor of Gaul, present-day France. By 49 bce, he had brought all of Gaul under his control. He summed up this conquest in his Commentaries in the famous phrase “Veni, vidi, vici”—“I came, I saw, I conquered”—a statement that captures, perhaps better than any other, the militaristic nature of the Roman state as a whole. He was preparing to return home when Pompey joined forces with the Senate. They reminded Caesar of a long-standing tradition that required a returning commander to leave his army behind, in this case on the Gallic side of the Rubicon River, but Caesar refused. Pompey fled to Greece, where Caesar defeated him a year later. Again Pompey fled, this time to Egypt, where he was murdered. The third member of the Triumvirate had been captured and executed several years earlier.
Cicero and the Politics of Rhetoric
In times of such political upheaval, it is not surprising that one of the most powerful figures of the day would be someone who specialized in the art of political persuasion. In pre-Augustan Rome, that person was the rhetorician (writer and public speaker, or orator) Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 bce). First and foremost, Cicero recognized the power of the Latin language to communicate with the people. Although originally used almost exclusively as the language of commerce, Latin, by the first century ce, was understood to be potentially a more powerful tool of persuasion than Greek, still the literary language of the upper classes. The clarity and eloquence of Cicero’s style can be quickly discerned, even in translation, as an excerpt (Reading 6.2) from his essay On Duty demonstrates.
Portrait Busts, Pietas, and Politics
This historical context helps us understand a major Roman art form of the second and first centuries bce, the portrait bust. These are generally portraits of patricians (and upper-middle-class citizens wishing to emulate them) rather than equites. Roman portrait busts share with their Greek ancestors an affinity for naturalistic representation, but they are even more realistic, revealing their subjects’ every wrinkle and wart (Fig. 6.12). This form of realism is known as verism (from the Latin veritas, “truth”). Indeed, the high level of naturalism may have resulted from their original form, wax ancestral masks, usually made at the peak of the subject’s power, called imagines, which were then transferred to stone.
How do the art and architecture of imperial Rome reflect the aspirations of its emperors?
On January 13, 27 bce, Octavian came before the Senate and gave up all his powers and provinces. It was a rehearsed event. The Senate begged him to reconsider and take Syria, Gaul, and the Iberian peninsula for his own (these provinces just happened to contain 20 of the 26 Roman legions, guaranteeing him military support). They also asked him to retain his title as Consul of Rome, with the supreme authority of imperium, the power to give orders and exact obedience, over all of Italy and subsequently all Roman-controlled territory. He agreed “reluctantly” to these terms, and the Senate, in gratitude, granted him the semidivine title Augustus, “the revered one.” Augustus (r. 27 bce–14 ce) thereafter portrayed himself as a near-deity. The Augustus of Primaporta (Fig. 6.13) is the slightly larger-than-life-size sculpture named for its location at the home of Augustus’ wife, Livia, at Primaporta, on the outskirts of Rome. Augustus is represented as the embodiment of the famous admonition given to Aeneas by his dead father (Aeneid, Book 6), “To rule the people under law, to establish / The way of peace.”
Augustus also quickly addressed what he considered to be another crisis in Roman society—the demise of family life. Adultery and divorce were commonplace. There were more slaves and freed slaves in the city than citizens, let alone aristocrats. And family size, given the cost of living in the city, was diminishing. He reacted by criminalizing adultery and passed several other laws to promote family life. Men between the ages of 20 and 60 and women between the ages of 20 and 50 were required to marry. A divorced woman was required to remarry within six months, a widow within a year. Childless adults were punished with high taxes or deprived of inheritance. The larger an aristocrat’s family, the greater his political advantage. It is no coincidence that when Augustus commissioned a large monument to commemorate his triumphal return after establishing Roman rule in Gaul and restoring peace to Rome, the Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace), he had its exterior walls on the south decorated with a retinue of his own large family, a model for all Roman citizens, in a procession of lictors (the class of citizens charged with guarding and attending to the needs of magistrates), priests, magistrates, senators, and other representatives of the Roman people (Figs. 6.14 and 6.15).
Education of the Sexes
The Romans educated their girls like their boys. Patricians probably hired tutors for their daughters, but the middle classes sent both their boys and girls to school until they were 12 years old, where they learned to read, write, and calculate. Education as a whole was left largely to Greeks, who came to Rome in Republican times to teach language, literature, and philosophy, as well as what the Romans called humanitas. Humanitas was considered the equivalent of the Greek paideia, the process of educating a person into his or her true and genuine form. It developed from Plato’s insistence on the four sciences—arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music—as well as grammar and rhetoric. Both formed the core of the curriculum from Roman times through the Middle Ages. Through the study of Classical Greek literature, a student possessing true humanitas should be able to find beauty in the equilibrium and harmony of a work of art, which should in turn inspire the student to search for such beauty in his or her own way of life.
The Philosophy of the City: Chance and Reason
Many wealthier Romans hired Greek philosophers to teach their children in their own homes, and as a result Roman philosophy is almost wholly borrowed from the Greeks. Two of the most attractive philosophical systems to the Romans were Epicureanism and Stoicism.
Epicurus (341–270 bce) was a Greek philosopher who taught in Athens. His ideas were promoted in Rome, particularly by the poet Lucretius (ca. 99–ca. 55 bce) in his treatise On the Nature of Things. Epicureanism is based on the theory of Epicurus, who believed that fear, particularly fear of death, was responsible for all human misery, and that the gods played no part in human affairs. All things, he argued, are driven by the random movement of atoms swirling through space. There are no first causes or final explanations, only chance. Thus, life can be enjoyed with complete serenity, and pleasure is the object of human life. At death, he concluded, our atoms simply disperse. Epicurus’ philosophy might seem hedonistic, but, in fact, he argued that pleasure of the soul, attained through the quiet contemplation of philosophy, was far preferable to bodily pleasure. He stressed clarity and simplicity of thought, and “sober reasoning.” In Lucretius’ version of the philosophy, love is but a mental delusion.
Most Romans rejected Epicureanism because they associated it with self-indulgence and debauchery, despite Lucretius’ efforts to emphasize its more moderate and intellectual aspects. Stoicism, a hardheaded, practical philosophy that had developed in the Athenian stoa during the late fourth and early third centuries bce, was far more popular. In the first century ce, as the population of Rome approached 1 million and the Empire expanded almost unimaginably, the rational detachment and practical commonsense principles of Stoicism appealed to a citizenry confronting a host of problems related to the sheer size of city and Empire. By submitting one’s emotions to the practice of reason, one could achieve what the playwright and essayist Lucius Annaeus Seneca (ca. 8 bce–65 ce) called “tranquility of mind.” In his most famous essay, Tranquility of Mind, Seneca argues that the best way to achieve peace of mind is to avoid responsibilities, especially those associated with excessive wealth (Reading 6.5).
Literary Rome: Catullus, Virgil, Horace, and Ovid
Perhaps the most influential poet in Rome before the Augustan age was Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84–54 bce). In his short life, Catullus wrote only 114 poems, many of them very short, but in their insistence on revealing the details of his personal emotional life, they reflect the Roman taste for the kind of verism we see in the ancestral masks and sculptures that dominate Roman portraiture (see Fig. 6.12). Particularly popular were a series of poems written to a woman many believe to be one Clodia, sister of a Roman patrician and senator, and wife of another, with whom he had a passionate if short-lived affair. In the poems, he addresses her as Lesbia, a clear reference to the poems of Sappho (see Readings 4.6a and 4.6b in Chapter 4), and a testament to the Greek poet’s lasting influence on Roman literature. Catullus’ poems to Lesbia move from the passion of his early infatuation to a growing sense of despair that their love will not last (see Reading 6.6 on page 213).
Virgil and the Aeneid
After Augustus’ triumph over Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 bce, Virgil retired to Naples, where he began work on an epic poem designed to rival Homer’s Iliad and to provide the Roman state—and Augustus in particular—with a suitably grand founding myth. Previously he had been engaged with two series of pastoral idylls, the Eclogues (or Bucolics) and the Georgics. The latter poems (Reading 6.7) are modeled after Hesiod’s Works and Days (see Chapter 4). They extol the importance of hard work, the necessity of forging order in the face of a hostile natural world, and, perhaps above all, the virtues of agrarian life.
The Horation Odes
Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known as Horace (65–8 bce), was a close friend of Virgil. Impressed by Augustus’ reforms, and probably moved by his patronage, Horace was won over to the emperor’s cause, which he celebrated directly in two of his many odes, lyric poems of elaborate and irregular meter. Horace’s odes imitated Greek precedents. The following lines open the fifth ode of Book 3 of the collected poems, known simply as the Odes.
Ovid's Art of Love and Metamorphoses
Augustus’ support for poets did not extend to Publius Ovidius Naso, known as Ovid (43 bce–17 ce). Ovid’s talent was for love songs designed to satisfy the notoriously loose sexual mores of the Roman aristocrats, who lived in somewhat open disregard of Augustus and Livia’s family-centered lifestyle. His Ars Amatoria (Art of Love) angered Augustus, as did some undisclosed indiscretion by Ovid. As punishment—probably more for the indiscretion than the poem—Augustus permanently exiled him to the town of Tomis on the Black Sea, the remotest part of the Empire, famous for its wretched weather. The Metamorphoses, composed in the years just before his exile, is a collection of stories describing or revolving around one sort of supernatural change of shape or another, from the divine to the human, the animate to the inanimate, the human to the vegetal.
Augustus and the City of Marble
Of all the problems facing Augustus when he assumed power, the most overwhelming was the infrastructure of Rome. The city was, quite simply, a mess. Seneca reacted by preaching Stoicism. He argued that it was what it was, and one should move on as best one can. Augustus reacted by calling for a series of public works, which would serve the people of Rome and, he well understood, himself. The grand civic improvements Augustus planned would be a kind of imperial propaganda, underscoring not only his power but also his care for the people in his role as pater patriae. Public works could—and indeed did—elicit the public’s loyalty.
Rome had developed haphazardly, without any central plan, spilling down the seven hills it originally occupied into the valleys along the Tiber. By contrast, all of the Empire’s provincial capitals were conceived on a strict grid plan, with colonnaded main roads leading to an administrative center, and adorned with public works like baths, theaters, and triumphal arches. In comparison, Rome was pitiable. Housing conditions were dreadful, water was scarce, food was in short supply. Because the city was confined by geography to a small area, space was at a premium.
The Forum of Augustus (2000), 4:12
Urban Housing: The Apartment
At least as early as the third century bce, the ancient Romans created a new type of living space in response to overcrowding—the multistoried apartment block, or insula (Fig. 6.18). In Augustus’ time, the city was increasingly composed of such insulae, in which 90 percent of the population of Rome lived.
Public Works and Monuments
Augustus inaugurated what amounted to an ongoing competition among the emperors to outdo their predecessors in the construction of public works and monuments. His ambitions are reflected in the work of the architect Vitruvius (flourished late first century bce to early first century ce). A military engineer for Julius Caesar, under Augustus’ patronage, Vitruvius wrote the ten-volume On Architecture. The only work of its kind to have survived from antiquity, it would become extremely influential over 1,000 years later, when Renaissance artists became interested in Classical design. In its large scale, the work matches its patron’s architectural ambitions, dealing with town planning, building materials and construction methods, the construction of temples, the Classical orders, and the rules of proportion. Vitruvius also wrote extensively about one of Rome’s most pressing problems—how to satisfy the city’s needs for water. In fact, one of the most significant contributions of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, which extends from Augustus through Nero (r. 54–68 ce), was an enormous aqueduct, the Aqua Claudia. Such aqueducts depended on Roman ingenuity in perfecting the arch and vault so that river gorges could be successfully spanned to carry the pipes bringing water to a city miles away. The Aqua Claudia delivered water from 40 miles away into the very heart of the city, not so much for private use as for the fountains, pools, and public baths. (See Materials & Techniques, page 198.)
The end of Nero’s rule was increasingly tumultuous. First, fire destroyed a large portion of the insulae in 64 ce. When Nero revealed that, in taking the opportunity to institute a new code of building safety to protect against future fires, he would also confiscate a large piece of land previously in private occupation for an enormous new house (the Golden House, as it became known) and spacious parks in the center of the city, rumors quickly circulated that he had set the fire himself and recited his own poems as the city burned. Nero claimed, however, that Christians had set the blaze, and publicly burned them alive, to the horror, particularly, of the upper classes. Taxes levied to support the new construction met with the disfavor of this same elite; assassination attempts followed, Nero was declared a public enemy, and he subsequently committed suicide. He was succeeded by one of his own generals, Vespasian (r. 69–79 ce), the former commander in Palestine. Across from Nero’s Golden House, Vespasian built the Colosseum (Fig. 6.19), so named in the Middle Ages after the Colossus, a 120-foot-high statue of Nero as sun god that stood in front of it. The Colosseum formed a giant oval, 615 feet long, 510 feet wide, and 159 feet high, and audiences of as many as 50,000 could enter or exit through its 76 vaulted arcades in a matter of minutes.
The Imperial Roman Forum
The Colosseum stands at the eastern end of the imperial Roman Forum. (See Closer Look, pages 196–197.) This vast building project was among the most ambitious to be undertaken in Rome by the Five Good Emperors. Rome thrived under the rule of the Five Good Emperors: Nerva (r. 96–98 ce), Trajan (r. 98–117 ce), Hadrian (r. 117–38 ce), Antonius Pius (r. 138–61 ce), and Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–80 ce). The stability and prosperity of the city was due, at least in part, to the fact that none of these men except Marcus Aurelius had a son to whom he could pass on the Empire. Thus, each was handpicked by his predecessor from among the ablest men in the Senate. When, in 180 ce, Marcus Aurelius’ decadent and probably insane son, Commodus (r. 180–92 ce), took control, the Empire quickly learned that the transfer of power from father to son was not necessarily a good thing.
The Forum Romanum, or Roman Forum, was the chief public square of Rome, the center of Roman religious, ceremonial, political, and commercial life. Originally, a Roman forum was comparable to a Greek agora, a meeting place in the heart of the city. Gradually, the forum took on a symbolic function as well, becoming representative of the imperial power that testified to the prosperity—and peace—that the emperor bestowed upon Rome’s citizenry. Julius Caesar was the first to build a forum of his own in 46 bce, just to the north of the Forum Romanum. Augustus subsequently paved it over, restored its Temple of Venus, and proceeded to build his own forum with its Temple of Mars the Avenger. Thus began what amounted to a competition among successive emperors to outdo their predecessors by creating their own more spectacular forums. These imperial forums lined up north of and parallel to the great Roman Forum, which over the years was itself subjected to new construction. Stretched out along the Via dei Fori Imperiali (Street of Imperial Forums) were Vespasian’s Forum of Peace (laid out after the Jewish War in 70 ce), the Forum of Nerva (completed in 97 ce), the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Caesar, and the Forum of Trajan (completed by Hadrian, ca. 117 ce). The result was an extremely densely built city center. Trajan’s was the last, largest, and most splendid forum. It sheltered the Column of Trajan, Trajan’s Market, and the Basilica Ulpia—the largest basilica in the Empire (see the discussion of the basilica in Chapter 8, page 264).
The Forum Romanum and Imperial Forums
Materials & Techniques
, Arches, Vaults
While the arch was known to cultures such as the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians, and the Greeks, it was the Romans who perfected it, evidently learning its principles from the Etruscans but developing those principles further. The Pont du Gard, a beautiful Roman aqueduct in southern France near the city of Nîmes, is a good example.
Triumphal Arches and Columns
During Vespasian’s reign, his son Titus (r. 79–81 ce) defeated the Jews in Judea, who were rebelling against Roman interference with their religious practices. Titus’ army sacked the Second Temple of Jerusalem in 70 ce. To honor this victory and the death of Titus 11 years later, a memorial arch was constructed on the Sacred Way. Originally, the Arch of Titus was topped by a statue of a four-horse chariot and driver. Such arches, known as triumphal arches because triumphant armies marched through them, were composed of a simple barrel vault enclosed within a rectangle, and enlivened with sculpture and decorative engaged columns (Fig. 6.21). They would deeply influence later architecture, especially the facades of Renaissance cathedrals. Hundreds of arches of similar form were built throughout the Roman Empire. Most were not technically triumphal, but like all Roman monumental architecture, they were intended to symbolize Rome’s political power and military might.
Hadrian’s Pantheon ranks with the Forum of Trajan as one of the most ambitious building projects undertaken by the Good Emperors. The Pantheon (from the Greek pan, “all,” and theoi, “gods”) is a temple to “all the gods,” and sculptures representing all the Roman gods were set in recesses around its interior. The facade is a Roman temple, originally set on a high podium, with its eight massive Corinthian columns and deep portico, behind which are massive bronze doors (Fig. 6.26). Photography presents little evidence of its monumental presence, once elevated above a long forecourt (Fig. 6.27). Today, both the forecourt and the elevation have disappeared beneath the streets of present-day Rome. Fig. 6.26 shows the Pantheon as it looks today.
In 79 ce, during the rule of the emperor Titus, the volcano Vesuvius erupted southeast of Naples, burying the seaside town of Pompeii in 13 feet of volcanic ash and rock. Its neighbor city Herculaneum was covered in 75 feet of a ground-hugging avalanche of hot ash that later solidified. Living in retirement nearby was Pliny the Elder, a commander in the Roman navy and the author of The Natural History, an encyclopedia of all contemporary knowledge. At the time of the eruption, his nephew, Pliny the Younger (ca. 61–ca. 113 ce), was staying with him. This is his eyewitness account (Reading 6.10).
Top 5 Pompeii Facts, 5:40
The Mount Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD is one of the most famous natural disasters of European history, killing thousands of people and completely decimating several Roman settlements, including Pompeii. Welcome to WatchMojo's top 5 facts. In this installment, we're looking at the most amazing facts about Pompeii, arguably the most well known victim of that fateful day. Suggestion Tool►►http://www.WatchMojo.com/suggest Subscribe►►http://www.youtube.com/subscription_c... Facebook►►http://www.Facebook.com/WatchMojo Twitter►►http://www.Twitter.com/WatchMojo Instagram►►http://instagram.com/watchmojo Channel Page►►http://www.youtube.com/watchmojo Special thanks to our user Corie John-William Taranto for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at http://www.WatchMojo.com/suggest Want a WatchMojo cup, mug, t-shirts, pen, sticker and even a water bottle? Get them all when you order your MojoBox gift set here: http://watchmojo.com/store/ WatchMojo is a leading producer of reference online video content, covering the People, Places and Trends you care about. We update DAILY with 4-5 Top 10 lists, Origins, Biographies, Versus clips on movies, video games, music, pop culture and more!
Domestic Architecture: The Domus
Although by no means the most prosperous town in Roman Italy, Pompeii was something of a resort, and, together with villas from other nearby towns, the surviving architecture gives us a good sense of the Roman domus—the townhouse of the wealthier class of citizen. The domus was oriented to the street along a central axis that extended from the front entrance to the rear of the house. The House of the Silver Wedding at Pompeii is typical in its design (Figs. 6.29 and 6.30). An atrium, a large space with a shallow pool for catching rainwater below its open roof, extends directly behind the vestibule. The atrium was the symbolic heart of the house: the location for the imagines, the wax masks from which portrait busts were later made (see Fig. 6.12), and the main reception area. Imagines were also housed in the reception rooms just off the main one, which in turn opens onto a central peristyle courtyard, surrounded by a colonnaded walkway. The dining room faces into the courtyard, as do a number of cubicula, small general-purpose rooms often used for sleeping quarters. At the back of the house, facing into the courtyard, is a hall furnished with seats for discussion. Servants probably lived upstairs at the rear of the house.
Domus and insulae, 4:16
Mosaics decorated many floors of the domus, and paintings adorned the walls of the atrium, the hall, the dining room, and other reception rooms throughout the villa. Artists worked with pigments in a solution of lime and soap, sometimes mixed with a little wax, polished with a special metal or glass, and then buffed with a cloth. Even the cubicula bedrooms were richly painted.
Ancient Roman Art | Wall Paintings/Frescoes, 3:05
Roman painting provides a wide variety of themes: animals, still life, scenes from everyday life, portraits, and some mythological subjects. During the Hellenistic period, it evoked the pleasures of the countryside and represented scenes of shepherds, herds, rustic temples, rural mountainous landscapes and country houses. Erotic scenes are also relatively common. In the late empire, after 200AD, early Christian themes mixed with pagan imagery survive on catacomb walls. Our knowledge of Ancient Roman painting relies in large part on the preservation of artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum, and particularly the Pompeian mural painting, which was preserved after the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE.
Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli
If the domus was the urban townhouse of Rome’s wealthier class of citizen, the villa, or country residence, was often far more luxurious, and among the most luxurious ever constructed was the emperor Hadrian’s at Tivoli, some 18 miles east of Rome at the edge of the Sabine Hills. Situated on over 300 acres on a slope overlooking the surrounding countryside, it was a masterful blending of inventive buildings, waterworks, and gardens. At the turning of almost every corner, a surprising new vista reveals itself. The buildings themselves were copies of Hadrian’s favorite places throughout the entire Empire, including the Stoa from the Athenian agora (see Fig. 5.2 in Chapter 5), the Ptolemaic capital of Egypt, Alexandria, and the Academia in Athens, where Plato conversed with his students in the shade of an olive grove. One of the complex’s most attractive features is a long reflecting pool, called the Canal (Fig. 6.32). It was surrounded by a colonnade with alternating arched and linteled entablatures. Between the columns, Hadrian set copies of the most famous sculptures of ancient Greece, including a marble copy of the Discobolus, or Discus Thrower, originally cast in bronze by the Greek sculptor Myron in the middle of the fifth century bce. Hadrian was so enamored of Greek sculpture that he had the caryatids from the Erechtheion on the Athenian Acropolis (see Fig. 5.7 in Chapter 5) copied for the villa. In its architectural and sculptural scope, the villa embodied the imperial reach of Rome itself.
Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, 2:28
The Institute for DIgital Intermedia Arts (IDIA Lab) at Ball State University has developed a virtual simulation of the villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian - a UNESCO World Heritage site located outside of Rome in Tivoli, Italy. The project was designed and built for the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory at Indiana University. This large-scale recreation virtually interprets the entire villa complex in consultation with the world's foremost villa scholars and educators. The project has been authored in the game engine of Unity as a live 3D multi-user online learning environment that allows students and visitors to immerse themselves in all aspects of life in the simulated villa.
The project not only recreates the villa buildings but also includes a complete Roman avatar system, non-player characters with pathfinding, furniture, indigenous vegetation, over 300 acres of walkable terrain, fountains, shared gestures, live map, teleportation, public chat, Vivox voice, private messaging, scalable graphics, and a solar tracker. IDIA Lab's solar tracker allows users to change the position of the sun to any date in 130 AD using data from the Horizons database at JPL NASA -- testing theories of astro-alignments of architectural features during solstices and equinoxes and allowing for new discovery. Learning communities are briefed on the culture and history of the villa and learn the virtual environment prior to immersing themselves within it. The avatar system allows for visitors to enter the world selecting class and gender -- already being aware of the customs and behavior of the Roman aristocracy, soldier, slave or politician.
A companion website has been developed by IDIA that is linked to the immersive Unity environment. Users can learn about the villa, its structures and sculptures via interactive connections to this website which contains plans, photos, historical drawings, interactive panoramas, expert interviews, 3D models and a searchable art database of over 300 objects attributed to the villa site.
The 3D simulation and supporting website was produced under the direction of John Fillwalk, IDIA Lab at Ball State University under contract for the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory (VWHL) at Indiana University, directed by Dr. Bernard Frischer and funded by the National Science Foundation.
THE LATE ROMAN EMPIRE: MORAL AND SOCIAL DECLINE
What factors contributed to Rome’s decline?
Most of the late emperors were themselves “Romanized” provincials. Both Trajan and Hadrian were born on the Iberian peninsula, near present-day Seville, and during his reign, Hadrian had the city redesigned with colonnaded streets and an amphitheater. Septimius Severus (r. 193–211 ce), the founder of the Severan dynasty which came to power in the civil war following the emperor Commodus’ murder in 192 ce, was African, and two of his successors were Syrian. Septimius Severus lavished an elaborate public works project on his hometown of Leptis Magna, on the coast just east of Tripoli in present-day Libya, giving the city a new harbor, a colonnaded forum, and an aisled basilica, the Roman meeting hall that would develop into the earliest architectural form of the Christian church.
Septimus Severus’ building campaign at Leptis Magna was, in no small part, a way to secure the African frontier. However, Rome was threatened, in the east, by the Persians along the frontier demarcated by the Euphrates; to the north, by Germanic barbarians along the frontier defined by the Rhine–Danube; and, in England, by Hadrian’s Wall. Much of the fortification of the wall still stands, running just south of the current Scottish border. By Hadrian’s time, the majority of the Roman army was, however, deployed in defense of the Danube area, where 12 legions were stationed, and the Euphrates, where 6 legions were in place.
By the mid-third century, the major threat was, in fact, from the Goths, who launched massive attacks on the Roman Balkans and Asia Minor. It was a period of considerable unrest in the Empire, as in rapid succession emperor after emperor vied for power, resulting in near political anarchy. By the end of the next century, between 395 and 418 ce, the Visigoths, or Western Goths, streamed across the Empire by the hundreds of thousands, sacking Rome in 410 ce. Even more ferocious invaders from the Eurasians steppelands would arrive later, in the mid- and late fourth century. These were the Huns, whose fierce appearance many Roman writers felt was the result of self-mutilation, and whose cruelty was matched only by their raw indifference to hygiene. Under threat from these hordes, the Empire’s borders were becoming increasingly indefensible.
Of course, a large number of these barbarian invaders were Romanized, especially the mercenary soldiers whom the Empire increasingly relied on to defend its borders. One of the most famous of these was Stilicho, an East Germanic Vandal, who rose to a position of extraordinary power, as can be inferred from a set of ivory panels of a kind usually reserved for the commemoration of Roman consuls, depicting himself, his son, Eucherius, and his wife, Serena (Fig. 6.33). An advisor to the emperor Theodosius I (r. 379–95 ce), Stilicho would, upon the emperor’s death, serve as regent to the emperor’s young son, Honorius (r. 395–423 ce), who was but 11 years old. Thus Stilicho effectively ruled the Western Empire from 395 to 408 ce. He dreamed of making his own son, Eucherius, emperor, and his daughter, Maria, did in fact marry Honorius. Accused of treason—in the tradition of Roman emperors, it is hard to say whether Honorius’ charges were true or false—he was executed in 408 ce.
Under pressure from invading hordes, as well as the growing popularity of Christianity, maintaining the loyalty of the masses was ever more important for Roman rulers. Public works, as ever, remained the primary way to accomplish this. In the third century ce, during the Severan dynasty (193–235 ce), Rome’s every amenity was imitated at its outposts, especially baths, like those begun by Septimius Severus, and dedicated in 217 by his son and successor, Caracalla (Fig. 6.34). The baths were set within a 50-acre walled park on the south side of Rome and were fed by an aqueduct dedicated exclusively to this purpose. Although no ceilings survive, the vaulted central hall appears to have been 140 feet high. There were three bathing halls with a combined capacity of 1,600 bathers: the frigidarium (cold bath), the tepidarium (lukewarm bath), and the caldarium (hot bath). There were two gymnasia (exercise rooms) on either side of the pools, as well a barbershop and a hair salon, sauna-like moist- and dry-heat chambers, and outdoor areas for sunbathing or exercising in the nude. Other amenities of the baths included libraries, a painting gallery, auditoriums, and, possibly, a stadium. Early in the fourth century, the emperor Diocletian would build even more enormous and sumptuous baths at the northern end of the city. Although dedicated to public health and hygiene, the baths came to signal a general decline in the values that had defined Rome. Writing as early as the mid-first century ce, in his Moral Epistles, Seneca complained that no one in his day could bathe in the simple way of the great Republican general Scipio Africanus, who had defeated Hannibal in 202 bce (Reading 6.11).
The decline of Rome
Continuity & Change
Throughout its history, the Roman Empire had been a polytheistic state in which literally dozens of religions were tolerated. But as Christianity became a more and more dominant force in the Empire, it threatened the political and cultural identity of the Roman citizen. No longer was a Roman Christian first and foremost Roman. Increasingly, that citizen was first and foremost Christian.
Christianity in Rome, 5:09
Chapter 5: Golden Age Athens and the Hellenic World
- The Good Life and the Politics of Athens
- Rebuilding the Acropolis
- Philosophy and the Polis
- The Theater of the People
- The Hellenistic World
- Chapter 5 (pp. 140-147) Athenian Acropolis and Art, (pp. 151-156), ancient Greek drama
- Video with article from British Museum’s Elgin marbles (from the Acropolis) at http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/galleries/ancient_greece_and_rome/room_18_greece_parthenon_scu.aspx
- Article with video of digital reconstruction of the Parthenon at http://arth251f11.blogs.wm.edu/2011/09/17/digital-reconstruction-of-the-parthenon/
- Theater at Epidauros (double click on images to enlarge) at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/artifact?name=Epidauros%2C+Theater&object=Building
Question 1: Multiple Choice
Why does Pericles claim in his funeral speech that Athens is "the school of Hellas"?
Given Answer:Athens taught all of Greece by its example Correct Answer:Athens taught all of Greece by its example
Question 2: Multiple Choice
Why did the Athenians turn first to rebuilding the agora following the Persian War?
Given Answer:They needed a place to worship their gods Correct Answer:They needed a place to practice politics and shop for food
Question 3: Multiple Choice
What is often the focus of most Greek tragedies?
Given Answer:Conflict between individual and his or her community Correct Answer:Conflict between individual and his or her community
Question 4: Multiple Choice
With which cult was drama originally associated?
Given Answer:The cult of Dionysus Correct Answer:The cult of Dionysus
Question 5: Multiple Choice
Why was Socrates brought to trial and condemned to death?
Given Answer:Engaging in homoerotic relationships with a politician Correct Answer:Subversive behavior, impiety and corruption of Athens' youth
Question 6: Multiple Choice
Why does the Etruscan language present such a problem for translators?
Given Answer:The language was unrelated to any other in Europe Correct Answer:The language was unrelated to any other in Europe
Question 7: Multiple Choice
Why is Pompeii such an important archaeological site?
Given Answer:Its ruins document Pliny the Younger's descriptions Correct Answer:It tells us most of what we know about everyday Roman life
Question 8: Multiple Choice
According to the Roman poet Virgil, to whom do the Romans trace their origin?
Given Answer:The Trojans Correct Answer:The Trojans
Question 9: Multiple Choice
What deeply-seated Roman virtue demanded respect towards the gods, country, and parents?
Given Answer:Pietas Correct Answer:Pietas
Question 10: Multiple Choice
Why was the Pantheon constructed with a 30-foot-diameter oculus (hole) in its roof?
Question 1: Multiple Choice
What qualities define Hellenistic art?
Given Answer:Animation, drama, and psychological complexity Correct Answer:Animation, drama, and psychological complexity
Question 2: Multiple Choice
What is often the focus of most Greek tragedies?
Given Answer:Conflict between individual and his or her community Correct Answer:Conflict between individual and his or her community
Question 3: Multiple Choice
With which cult was drama originally associated?
Given Answer:The cult of Dionysus Correct Answer:The cult of Dionysus
Question 4: Multiple Choice
How did Socrates' view of the good, the true, and the just disagree with that of the Sophists?
Given Answer:The meaning of these things was not relative Correct Answer:The meaning of these things was not relative
Question 5: Multiple Choice
How does the Kritios Boy define classical beauty?
Given Answer:He shows a lively posture and a sense of action Correct Answer:He shows a lively posture and a sense of action
Question 6: Multiple Choice
Why did Rome have multiple forums?
Given Answer:Emperors competed with their predecessors to build the grandest forums Correct Answer:Emperors competed with their predecessors to build the grandest forums
Question 7: Multiple Choice
What Roman invention enabled builders to construct the Colosseum's vaulted arches?
Given Answer:Concrete Correct Answer:Concrete
Question 8: Multiple Choice
Why is the city of Rome's location geographically improbable?
Given Answer:Its hillsides were not favorable to building Correct Answer:Its hillsides were not favorable to building
Question 9: Multiple Choice
According to its founding story, why was Rome named after Romulus, not his twin brother Remus?
Given Answer:Romulus killed Remus and became Rome's first king Correct Answer:Romulus killed Remus and became Rome's first king
Question 10: Multiple Choice
Why was the Arch of Titus constructed?
Question 1: Multiple Choice Correct Why did Qin Shihuangdi order the building of the Great Wall of China? Given Answer: Correct To discourage invasion from nomadic invaders from the north Correct Answer: To discourage invasion from nomadic invaders from the north out of 4 points Question 2: Multiple Choice Correct Why was Cai Lun's invention of cellulose-based paper so significant? Given Answer: Correct It enabled China to develop widespread literacy Correct Answer: It enabled China to develop widespread literacy out of 4 points Question 3: Multiple Choice Correct To what does the Yi Jing (Book of Changes) provide a guide? Given Answer: Correct Interpreting the workings of the universe Correct Answer: Interpreting the workings of the universe out of 4 points Question 4: Multiple Choice Correct Why, around 483 BCE, were eight of the earliest stupas built? Given Answer: Correct To contain Buddha's remains, which were divided into eight parts Correct Answer: To contain Buddha's remains, which were divided into eight parts out of 4 points Question 5: Multiple Choice Correct Why have archaeologists been unable to find many ancient Chinese edifices? Given Answer: Correct Most were built of wood, which did not survive time's ravages Correct Answer: Most were built of wood, which did not survive time's ravages out of 4 points Question 6: Multiple Choice Correct Why is Masada one of the most symbolic sites in all of Israel? Given Answer: Correct It represents the sacrifice of Jews rather than submit to Roman defeat Correct Answer: It represents the sacrifice of Jews rather than submit to Roman defeat out of 4 points Question 7: Multiple Choice Correct Why did the Byzantine emperor Leo III inaugurate a program of iconoclasm? Given Answer: Correct He argued that God in the Ten Commandments had prohibited images Correct Answer: He argued that God in the Ten Commandments had prohibited images out of 4 points Question 8: Multiple Choice Correct As explained in the chapter's "Continuity and Change" section, why is Venice home to a vast amount of Byzantine art? Given Answer: Correct Venetian mercenaries looted Constantinople of art during the Fourth Crusade Correct Answer: Venetian mercenaries looted Constantinople of art during the Fourth Crusade out of 4 points Question 9: Multiple Choice Correct Which of the following did Boethius consider the highest form of music? Given Answer: Correct Musica mundana Correct Answer: Musica mundana out of 4 points Question 10: Multiple Choice Correct Why did the emperor Justinian begin construction of the Hagia Sophia in 532 CE? Given Answer: Correct To divert attention from domestic turmoil stirred up by warring gangs Correct Answer: To divert attention from domestic turmoil stirred up by warring gangs