The Spicy Lotus

July 5, 2010

Crito, Plato/Socrates

Filed under: Classic,Greek — pha9 @ 2:22 pm

The Crito (Ancient Greek: Κρίτων [ˈkriːtɔːn]; in English usually /ˈkriːtoʊ/ KREE-toh) is a short but important dialogue by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. It is a conversation between Socrates and his wealthy friend Crito regarding justice (dikē), injustice (adikia), and the appropriate response to injustice. Socrates thinks that injustice may not be answered with injustice, and refuses Crito’s offer to finance his escape from prison. This dialogue contains an ancient statement of the social contract theory of government.

June 29, 2010

Apology, Plato/Socrates

Filed under: Classic,Greek — pha9 @ 11:13 am

The Apology of Socrates is Plato’s version of the speech given by Socrates as he defends himself against the charges of “corrupting the young, and by not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel” (24b). “Apology” here has its earlier meaning (now usually expressed by the word “apologia”) of speaking in defense of a cause or of one’s beliefs or actions (from the Greek απολογία).

May 31, 2010

Gorgias, Plato/Socrates

Filed under: Classic,Greek — pha9 @ 2:27 pm

Gorgias is a Socratic Dialogue in which Plato sets the rhetorician in opposition to the philosopher. The art of persuasion was widely considered necessary for political and legal advantage in classical Athens, and rhetoricians promoted themselves as teachers of this fundamental skill. Some, like Gorgias, were foreigners attracted to Athens because of its reputation for intellectual and cultural sophistication. Plato’s Socrates suggests that he is one of the few (but not only) Athenians to practice true politics.

March 6, 2010

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare

Filed under: Classic,English,Shakespeare — pha9 @ 2:09 pm

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a comedy by William Shakespeare. It is believed to have been written around 1594 to 1596. It portrays the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions with the Duke of Athens, Theseus, the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta, and with the fairies who inhabit a moonlit forest. The play is one of Shakespeare’s most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world.

February 27, 2010

Meno, Plato/Socrates

Filed under: Classic,Greek — pha9 @ 8:06 pm

Meno is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. Written in the Socratic dialectic style, it attempts to determine the definition of virtue, or arete, meaning in this case virtue in general, rather than particular virtues (e.g. justice, temperance, etc.). The goal is a common definition that applies equally to all particular virtues. Socrates moves the discussion past the philosophical confusion, or aporia, created by Meno’s paradox with the introduction of new Platonic ideas: the theory of knowledge as recollection,anamnesis, and in the final lines a movement towards Platonic idealism.

The Clouds, Aristophanes

Filed under: Classic,Greek — pha9 @ 7:22 pm

The Clouds is a comedy written by the celebrated playwright Aristophanes lampooning intellectual fashions in classical Athens. It was originally produced at the City Dionysia in 423 BC and it was not well received, coming last of the three plays competing at the festival that year. It was revised some time between 420-417 BC and thereafter it was circulated in manuscript form. No copy of the original production survives and scholarly analysis indicates that the revised version is an incomplete form of Old Comedy. This incompleteness however is not obvious in translations and modern performances. The Clouds can be considered not only the world’s first extant ‘comedy of ideas but also a brilliant and successful example of that genre.[6] The play gained notoriety for its caricature of the philosopher Socrates ever since its mention in Plato’s Apology as a factor contributing to the old man’s trial and execution.

December 23, 2009

Histories, Herodotus

Filed under: Classic,Greek — pha9 @ 4:15 pm

The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known in the Mediterranean and Asia at that time. It is not an impartial record but it remains one of the West’s most important sources regarding these affairs. Moreover, it established without precedent the genre and study of history in the Western world, although historical records and chronicles existed beforehand.

Perhaps most importantly, it stands as one of the first, and surviving, accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, the events of, and causes for, the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Herodotus portrays the conflict as one between the forces of slavery (the Persians) on the one hand, and freedom (the Athenians and the confederacy of Greek city-states which united against the invaders) on the other.

December 16, 2009

The Bacchae, Euripides

Filed under: Classic,Greek — pha9 @ 4:34 pm

The Bacchae (Greek: Βάκχαι / Bakchai; also known as The Bacchantes) is an ancient Greek tragedy by the Athenian playwright Euripides, during his final years in Macedon, at the court of Archelaus I of Macedon. It premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BCE as part of a tetralogy that also included Iphigeneia at Aulis, and which Euripides’ son or nephew probably directed.[1] It won first prize in the City Dionysia festival competition.

The tragedy is based on the mythological story of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agavë, and their punishment by the god Dionysus (who is Pentheus’ cousin) for refusing to worship him.

December 12, 2009

Hippolytus, Euripides

Filed under: Classic,Greek,Play — pha9 @ 3:09 pm

Hippolytus (Ancient Greek: Ἱππόλυτος / Hippolytos) is an Ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides, based on the myth of Hippolytus, son of Theseus. The play was first produced for the City Dionysia of Athens in 428 BC and won first prize as part of a trilogy.

Euripides first treated the myth in Hippolytos Kalyptomenos (Hippolytus Veiled), now lost. Scholars are virtually unanimous in believing that the contents to the missing Kalyptomenos portrayed a shamelessly lustful Phaedra who directly propositions Hippolytus, to the displeasure of the audience.

This failure prompted Euripides to revisit the myth in Hippolytos Stephanophoros (“Hippolytus who wears a crown”), this time with a modest Phaedra who fights her sexual appetites. The surviving play offers a much more even-handed and psychologically complex treatment of the characters than is commonly found in traditional retelling of myths.

The gods play a very important role in Hippolytus, framing the action. Aphrodite appears at the beginning and Artemis at the end, and they were possibly represented onstage throughout the action in the form of statues. These two goddesses can be taken as representing the conflicting emotions of passion and chastity.

November 28, 2009

The Peloponnesian War, Thucydides

Filed under: Classic,Greek — pha9 @ 3:31 pm

The Peloponnesian War, 431 to 404 B.C., was an Ancient Greek war, fought by Athens and its empire against thePeloponnesian League, led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases. In the first, the Archidamian War, Sparta launched repeated invasions of Attica, while Athens took advantage of its naval supremacy to raid the coast of the Peloponnese attempting to suppress signs of unrest in its empire. This period of the war was concluded in 421 BC, with the signing of the Peace of Nicias. That treaty, however, was soon undermined by renewed fighting in the Peloponnese. In 415 BC, Athens dispatched a massive expeditionary force to attackSyracuse in Sicily; the attack failed disastrously, with the destruction of the entire force, in 413 BC. This ushered in the final phase of the war, generally referred to either as the Decelean War, or the Ionian War. In this phase, Sparta, now receiving support from Persia, supported rebellions in Athens’ subject states in the Aegean Sea and Ionia, undermining Athens’ empire, and, eventually, depriving the city of naval supremacy. The destruction of Athens’ fleet at Aegospotami effectively ended the war, and Athens surrendered in the following year.

The Peloponnesian War reshaped the Ancient Greek world. On the level of international relations, Athens, the strongest city-state in Greece prior to the war’s beginning, was reduced to a state of near-complete subjection, while Sparta was established as the leading power of Greece. The economic costs of the war were felt all across Greece; poverty became widespread in the Peloponnese, while Athens found itself completely devastated, and never regained its pre-war prosperity. The war also wrought subtler changes to Greek society; the conflict between democraticAthens and oligarchic Sparta, each of which supported friendly political factions within other states, made civil war a common occurrence in the Greek world.

Greek warfare, meanwhile, originally a limited and formalized form of conflict, transformed into an all-out struggle between city-states, complete with atrocities on a large scale. Shattering religious and cultural taboos, devastating vast swathes of countryside, and destroying whole cities, the Peloponnesian War marked the dramatic end to the fifth-century-B.C. golden age of Greece.

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