5.3 democracy and greece's golden age

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  • 1. The Golden Age of Athens
  • 2.
    • The Persian Wars are over with Persia abandoning its designs on Greece in about 477 BC
    • The after effects of this lead to what the book calls the golden age of Greece, but it was more the golden age of Athens
    • The Greeks didn’t know if the Persians were going to try another invasion some years down the road. In case an invasion did come, they wanted to be ready.
    • Some of the city-states banded together in 477 BC to form the Delian League
  • 3.
    • The Delian League
    • So called because it was founded on the holy island of Delos (was thought to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis) and because that’s where the League’s treasury was located.
  • 4.
    • Was composed of multiple poleis, but Athens was the main one and held the equivalent of the presidency of the council
    • Each city-state had to contribute ships, troops, weapons, or money to the common defense. Most gave money because they had neither the wealth nor the capacity to do the rest in large numbers, especially the expensive triremes.
    • The League not only operated against remaining Persian forces in the Aegean but also squashed piracy.
    • As time went on, the League’s protective role became more ominous. It, under Athens’ influence, used force to make poleis join or prevent others from leaving.
      • The working logic was that these city-states were enjoying the protection the League provided and so they needed to contribute instead of mooching.
  • 5.
      • Several city-states were conquered and their populations enslaved.
    • Eventually, the treasury is moved from Delos to Athens in order to keep it safe from the Persians.
      • Riiiiiight.
    • That and Athens starts to only accept money and not materiel. This increases Athens’ feeling that other city-states are obligated to pay into the League because they’re the ones risking their lives for them.
    • Athens then starts using the money not just for the joint defense of Greece, but puts it towards its own building projects and other non-military items that contribute to Athens’ own glory.
    • Athens thus began to look more like the head of an empire.
  • 6.
    • Pericles
    • Athens’ leading citizen.
    • 495-429 BC
    • Politician, orator, general
    • Was also stoic, aloof, handsome, and engaging.
    • Also had a large, oddly shaped head, which is why all his portrayals have that helmet on.
  • 7.
    • Pushed through several reforms that expanded and strengthened Athens’ democratic institutions
      • Lowered property requirement to be an archon (one of nine judges).
      • Raised the pay for citizens participating in the court.
        • This meant that more citizens could afford to be away from their duties or jobs and so more could participate.
      • Stripped the areopagus of its remaining powers, thus taking away the last vestiges of the noble aristocrats
      • Makes it so that only those who are children of Athenian citizens can be citizens themselves. This further breaks the power of the old aristocracy, but creates its own problems.
  • 8.
    • All the power was held in the Assembly, which was composed of all of Athens’ free-born citizens.
      • This was actually a small minority of Athens’ overall populace since women, slaves, freed slaves, and those without two Athenian parents were ineligible to participate. Out of a population of nearly 300,000 only about 30,000 could participate.
      • Any citizen could participate; they just had to show up. This made it a direct democracy, not a representative one.
      • Met about 10 times a year. More as needed.
      • Had almost absolute power. They passed laws, installed, removed, and prosecuted public officials. They decided when to go to war and with whom.
      • The Boule (Council of 500) was still around, but acted as a steering committee for the Assembly.
  • 9.
    • Pericles funneled a great deal of money into the glorification of Athens
    • Theatre
    • It was during the golden age that the great playwrights lived
    • The tragedians:
      • Sophocles
        • Most known for Oedipus Rex and Antigone
        • We know he wrote 123 plays. Only seven currently exist in their entirety and we have fragments of another 17.
  • 10.
      • Aeschylus
        • Best known for the Oresteia trilogy.
        • We know he wrote 76 plays, but only 6 currently exist in their entirety.
      • Euripides
        • Best known for The Bacchae, Electra, and Medea
        • We know he wrote 92 plays, but only 18 currently exist in their entirety.
      • There were dramatic competitions in Athens every year, the Dionysia, in which playwrights would submit their plays. Aeschylus won 13 times, Sophocles 18, and Euripides just 3 (although he later became the most popular).
      • They didn’t all compete at the same time – Aeschylus, for example, died before Eur’s first one.
  • 11.
      • First play presented at a Dionysia was by Thespis, hence ‘thespian.’
  • 12. Aeschylus Sophocles Euripides
  • 13.
    • The comics
      • Main one was Aristophanes
        • Wrote 40 plays, seven survive
        • He satirized almost everyone: Pericles, Euripides, Socrates, and others.
        • Can sometimes to be hard to translate for effect since comedy tends to involve a lot of period knowledge and idioms that may be hilarious in the native culture and/or language, but leave others scratching their heads about why it’s supposed to be funny.
  • 14. The great acropolis is built up during the golden age Here’s what it looks like today.
  • 15. What it would have looked like then.
  • 16.  
  • 17. Placement of stuff on the acropolis.
  • 18. We could spend a semester talking about everything on the acropolis, but let’s focus in on its most famous structure, the Parthenon.
  • 19.  
  • 20.
    • Contrary to what your books says, the Parthenon WAS novel in style. Though it followed from temple-building traditions that had been around for a long while, it was unique and an odd duck as far as ancient Greek temples go.
    • Somewhat ironic since it’s considers the epitome of Greek architecture
    • The Parthenon was expensive. It cost around 469 talents of gold. Though difficult to compare, this would be roughly equivalent to $1 billion - $3 billion in today’s money.
  • 21.
    • The most expensive building on the acropolis was actually the Propylaeom, the grand entrance to the acropolis
      • It cost 2,012 talents
      • One talent was equal to 60,000 drachmas. One drachma was the standard wage for one day’s work.
    • Built on top of the site of pre-Periclean Parthenon
      • Remember that the Persians razed the acropolis and destroyed everything on it. It must have taken years to clean up everything.
      • A lot of stone from destroyed temples were converted into being part of the city walls. The walls were seen as the most important things to rebuild, so they were first and they used whatever was at hand, including statues.
  • 22.  
  • 23. 2 views of the floor plan The front Statue of Athena Treasury
  • 24.  
  • 25. It was Doric in style, which refers especially to the style of columns used.
  • 26. Also had beautiful sculptures on the pediments and around the outside.
  • 27. The frieze was one long continuous scene that ran around the entire temple.
  • 28.  
  • 29.  
  • 30.
    • Another interesting feature is that the Parthenon didn’t have a single straight line.
    • This was actually done on purpose. Why, you ask? Optical illusion. If they had been straight, they would have appeared curved. By making them curved, they appeared straight. It’s called entasis.
    Exaggerated View
  • 31.  
  • 32.
    • It was made entirely of pure white, high quality marble shipped in from a quarry on Mt. Pentelicus, 16 km away. This was the most expensive part of building the Parthenon.
    • The stones were cut so precisely and fit together so precisely that you can’t even see the seem between them
    • Modern tolerance is 1 inch error in 250 inches. The Parthenon’s was 1 inch error in 2,000 inches.
  • 33. Its main function was to house the grand statue of Athena Parthenos
  • 34.  
  • 35.
    • It was made of gold and ivory. It would have been quite intimidating and awe inspiring to walk in and see it looming over, shining in the shadows.
    • Was made by the master sculptor Phidias
    • Was 12 m tall and took 9 years to make
  • 36.
    • The Parthenon stood for another 2,100 years.
    • It was used as a church (AD 450) and then as a mosque (1458) and was in varying levels of preservation.
  • 37.
    • In 1687, the Venetians were fighting the Ottoman Empire in Athens.
      • Unsurprisingly, the Ottomans had fortified the acropolis and were holding out there.
      • They used the Parthenon to store gunpowder (great idea!). A Venetian cannonball hit the Parthenon, detonated the gunpowder, and blew up a good chunk of the temple.
      • Most of the temple lay in ruins.
      • In 1806, Lord Elgin brought many of the sculptures to London (he sawed them off). They’re now known as the Elgin Marbles.
  • 38.  
  • 39. Places on Parthenon columns and walls that were stuck by Venetian cannonballs.
  • 40.  
  • 41.  
  • 42.  
  • 43.  
  • 44. 1920’s era recreation of Parthenon in Nashville, TN
  • 45. For the philosophers, just look at your book. I’m loathe to give such general characterizations of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, especially without doing philosophy.
  • 46.
    • So, as we have established, Athens has been exploiting the League and oppressing its neighbors
    • Not only this, but they’re coming into increasing conflict with the Spartans who don’t like Athens’ increasing influence in Greek affairs.
    • Both sides agitated for war. Finally, it happens. Athens declares war on Sparta.
  • 47.
    • Pericles decides on a particular tactic. He doesn’t want to get into a land war with the Spartans. The Spartan army is better, but Athens rules the seas.
    • Instead, Athens will abandon the land around the city and stay behind the city walls. The long walls that connect Athens to its port, Piraeus, would protect Athens’ supply lines.
    • It didn’t need the land as long as it could receive goods by sea. The navy would then launch sneak attacks on Sparta’s allies and weaken it until it was defeated.
    • This is one of the reasons the wars lasted nearly 30 years. Sparta couldn’t fight Athens on the sea and Athens couldn’t fight Sparta on land. They couldn’t really confront each other in decisive battles.
  • 48.  
  • 49.
    • It was a good plan, but three things happened.
      • First, in 430 BC, a plague swept through Athens and killed about 30,000 people, including Pericles himself.
      • Second, in 415 BC, the Athenians suffered a massive loss in attacking Syracuse on Sicily.
        • Might have gone better had Alcibiades not been accused of sacrilege (story), which compelled him to ally with Sparta (he later rejoined the Athenians and became a big hero – may also have contributed to dislike of Socrates).
      • Third, the Athenians executed or exiled its top naval commanders in 406 BC for sacrilege.
        • Due to a storm following a battle, they couldn’t rescue shipwrecked sailors. Radical democracy is sometimes prone to rashness.
  • 50.
    • Athens holds out for a while longer, but is eventually defeated by Sparta in 404 BC. The 30 oligarchs are installed.
      • The Spartans had no desire or ability for occupation or control, though, and the Thirty are overthrown a year later and democratic rule is reinstituted.