Week 21

Week 21: Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Socrates and the Decline of Athens

During the Spring Quarter we are going to watch Greece be transformed from hundreds of feuding city-states into one vast monolithic empire under the leadership of King Philip and his son Alexander of Macedon. This is one of the great political stories of all time, and generations of students of politics and have come to this study to search for reasons that explain why the Athenian democracy floundered as it did. The event that encapsulates the changes and the decline is the decision by an Athenian jury to vote for the execution of Socrates (399). We will begin our quarter with this event, this man, and his teaching. And we will read the four dialogues collected in our Penguin Classics edition of The Last Days of Socrates.

The Michael Scott book is the best, most recent, general survey of this period in a very informal style. (For some it may be too breezy.) It is for the general reader, and therefore it is perfect for all of us who want a quick background on this rather lesser known period in Greek history.

REQUIRED READING

Plato,

The Last Days of Socrates,

Christopher Rowe, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140455493

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

 

22

Week 22: Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Isocrates 436-338 BC

The life and career of Isocrates introduces us to the new world of 4th century Athens in which the tricks of speechmaking can make you rich. That is what happened to Isocrates. His long life will allow him to watch the slow decline of Greece as city-states battle with each other while larger enemies watch carefully and make plans.
Here below is a brief  biography from Wikipedia:
"Isocrates was born to a wealthy family in Athens and received a first-rate education. He was greatly influenced by his sophist teachers, Prodicus and Gorgias, and was also closely acquainted with Socrates. After the Peloponnesian War, his family lost its wealth, and Isocrates was forced to earn a living. His professional career is said to have begun with logography: he was a hired courtroom speechwriter. Athenian citizens did not hire lawyers; legal procedure required self-representation. Instead, they would hire people like Isocrates to write speeches for them. Isocrates had a great talent for this since he lacked confidence in public speaking. His weak voice motivated him to publish pamphlets and although he played no direct part in state affairs, his written speech influenced the public and provided significant insight into major political issues of the day. Around 392 BC he set up his own school of rhetoric (at the time, Athens had no standard curriculum for higher education; sophists were typically itinerant), and proved to be not only an influential teacher, but a shrewd businessman. His fees were unusually high, and he accepted no more than nine pupils at a time. Many of them went on to be philosophers, legislators and historians. As a consequence, he amassed a considerable fortune. According to Pliny the Elder (NH VII.30) he could sell a single oration for twenty talents."

REQUIRED READING

Plato,

The Last Days of Socrates,

Christopher Rowe, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140455493

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

23

Week 23: Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Demosthenes

Demosthenes is the senior citizen in the off-the-shoulder-blue casually lounging across the steps of Athens. Demosthenes  (384-322 BC) was the most influential Athenian between the death of Socrates and the end of Athenian liberty under the force of Macedon. He was considered one of the greatest orators of all time among the Athenians, but his political skills and his international diplomacy turned out to be a total disaster. He led Athens against Philip and Alexander and lost completely, bringing Athens to its lowest point ever. If we compare Pericles and Demosthenes as political leaders, we would have a profound look deep into the Athenian decay from 450 down to 350 BC.

Bust of the Greek orator Demosthenes. Marble, Roman artwork, inspired from a bronze statue by Polyeuctos (ca. 280 BC). Found in Italy[/caption]

 

REQUIRED READING

Plato,

The Last Days of Socrates,

Christopher Rowe, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140455493

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

Demosthenes,

Selected Speeches,

Oxford University Press,

ISBN 9780199593774

24

Week 24: Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Philip and Alexander of Macedon

Alexander's first biographer wrote this:
"Anyone who belittles Alexander has no right to do so on the evidence only of what merits censure in him; he must base his criticism on a comprehensive view of his whole life and career. But let such a person, if blackguard Alexander he must, first compare himself with the object of his abuse: himself, so mean and obscure, and, confronting him, the great King with his unparalleled wordly success, the undisputed monarch of two continents, who spread the power of his name over all the earth. Will he dare to abuse him then, when he knows his own littleness and the triviality of his pursuits, which, even so, prove too much for his ability? It is my belief that there was in those days no nation, no city, no single individual beyond the reach of Alexander’s name; never in all the world was there another like him." ARRIAN

RECOMMENDED READING

Mary Renault,

The Nature of Alexander,

Pantheon Books,

ISBN 039473825X

Peter Green,

Alexander of Macedon,

Penguin Books,

ISBN 0520071654

These two excellent books about Alexander are both in print. The Renault book reads as an essay about Alexander and the literature about him. The Green book is considered the masterpiece of the world's leading expert on Alexander. Renault's book reflects her adoration of Alexander; Green's book is cooler and more academic. Both are excellent and well worth reading.

MORE RECOMMENDED READING: historical fiction

The best introduction to ancient Greece that I know is the historical fiction of Mary Renault:

Mary Renault (4 September 1905–13 December 1983), born Eileen Mary Challans, was an English writer best known for her historical novels set in ancient Greece. In addition to vivid fictional portrayals of Theseus, Socrates, Plato, and Alexander the Great, she wrote a non-fiction biography of Alexander.

Historical novels:

The Last of the Wine (1956)—set in Athens during the Peloponnesian War; the narrator is a student of Socrates.

The King Must Die (1958)—the mythical Theseus, up to his father's death

The Bull from the Sea (1962)—the remainder of Theseus' life

The Mask of Apollo (1966)—an actor at the time of Plato and Dionysius the Younger (brief appearance by Alexander near the end of the book)

Fire from Heaven (1969)—Alexander the Great from the age of four up to his father's death

The Persian Boy (1972)—from Bagoas's perspective; Alexander the Great after the conquest of Persia

The Praise Singer (1978)—the poet Simonides of Ceos

Funeral Games (1981)—Alexander's successors

HAPPY ROYAL FAMILY

25

Week 25: Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Plato

As most of you know. the painting above is a fresco completed by Raphael in the Vatican papal apartments in 1512. The painting has come to be known as "The School of Athens" since it depicts the great philosophers of Ancient Greece gathered around the steps of a vast soaring Classical temple building in Periclean Athens. At the top of the stairs stand two majestic figures who lord it over the gathering as their real life counterparts did lord it over all the other philosophers of the day. The two men standing there are Plato and Aristotle. And if we add Socrates to the top step, we then have the three men who shaped western philosophy for 2500  years. Plato (Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn) (427 to 347 BC) was  the founder of the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely considered the pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle. Alfred North Whitehead once noted: "the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."

 

In addition to the Phaedo, we will concentrate on The Republic the single most influential work of philosophy in the whole of the Western Tradition.

REQUIRED READING

Plato,

The Last Days of Socrates,

Christopher Rowe, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140455493

 

 

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

26

Week 26: Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Aristotle

384 born Stagira, Macedon, northern Greece.
364 Aristotle in Athens studying with Plato
343 Aristotle in Macedon, tutor to Alexander
336 Assassination of Philip II
334 Alexander on the road
334 Aristotle to Athens
334 set up school (Lyceum)
334 Alexander sends huge donation for school
333 Alexander sends plants and animals to Arist (Botany etc)
334-322 Aristotle writes books
323 death of Alexander
Aristotle leaves Athens
322 Aristotle dies at Chalcis

REQUIRED READING

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

27

Week 27: Wednesday, May 20, 2020
After Aristotle

When Aristotle died in 322 BC, just one year after the death of his friend and patron Alexander the Great, he left behind  a vast collection of books, notes, student notes, lecture notes etc. These works were a summary of all of western philosophical thought in the late 4th century BC in Greece. The trinity of Socrates-Plato-Aristotle had changed western thought forever. Now the challenge was for these ideas to endure and to be passed down to later generations. This Aristotelian legacy is our story in this week twenty-seven of Ancient Greece Spring Quarter.

Among the recommended books below, I want to call your attention to Richard Rubenstein's Aristotle's Children.

This is a brilliant history of the two thousand year long journey of Aristotelian ideas and documents that have flowed through Western Civilization ever since Aristotle's death in 322 BC. Especially helpful are the details about Aristotle's texts and where they were kept, where they went, how they got to Iran and Iraq, how they got to Spain, how they got to Paris and then back into the philosophical schools of Europe in the 13th century and then finally to Renaissance Italy where the first printed texts of Aristotle and Plato in Greek were primed in Venice about 1500.

 

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Richard E. Rubenstein,

Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages,

Harcourt,

ISBN 140256872X

28

Week 28: Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Stoicism

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. While Stoic physics are largely drawn from the teachings of the philosopher Heraclitus, they are heavily influenced by certain teachings of Socrates. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one's mind to understand the world and to do one's part in nature's plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.The Stoics are especially known for teaching that "virtue is the only good" for human beings, and that external things—such as health, wealth, and pleasure—are not good or bad in themselves, but have value as "material for virtue to act upon". Alongside Aristotelian ethics, the Stoic tradition forms one of the major founding approaches to Western virtue ethics.[1] The Stoics also held that certain destructive emotions resulted from errors of judgment, and they believed people should aim to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is "in accord with nature". Because of this, the Stoics thought the best indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said, but how a person behaved.[2] To live a good life, one had to understand the rules of the natural order since they thought everything was rooted in nature.Many Stoics—such as Seneca and Epictetus—emphasized that because "virtue is sufficient for happiness", a sage would be emotionally resilient to misfortune. This belief is similar to the meaning of the phrase "stoic calm", though the phrase does not include the "radical ethical" Stoic views that only a sage can be considered truly free, and that all moral corruptions are equally vicious.[3]Stoicism flourished throughout the Roman and Greek world until the 3rd century AD, and among its adherents was Emperor Marcus Aurelius. (Wikipedia)

SEE BELOW LINK TO PDF COPY OF LECTURE FOR WEEK 28
28.ancientgreece.stoicism.5.20

REQUIRED READING

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

Epictetus,

Discourses and Selected Writings,

Robert Dobbin, Editor, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 9780140449464

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

 

29

Week 29: Wednesday, June 3, 2020
The Last Greeks

The most important achievement among all the dozens of great achievements of Rome was the extension of Greek culture into the Roman Empire and the European world that Rome built. If there had been no successor to Greece as there was in her daughter culture of Rome, it is unlikely that the Greek Miracle, the Greek Achievement would never have been as powerful as it was. Rome extended Greece into all of Europe, all the provinces, into barbarian England and savage Belgium and France and North Africa and all the world. Rome worshipped Greece and its cultural achievement and all Roman leaders of Cicero's generation were bilingual: Greek and Latin. They all went to Athens to study Greek the way we go to Paris to learn French. They read all the Greek writers, the philosophers, the historians, all of it. And because of this, the massive Greek achievement in philosophy and science was preserved and extended into Latin books and texts and given a whole new life in the writings of the Christian writers  such as Augustine and Ambrose and Jerome. But what about the Greeks who lived in the Roman Empire? Did they continue to read and write Greek and did they have any cultural impact? Yes. There were dozens of Greeks who knew and preserved and continued the great Greek achievement in the arts and sciences and handed such  a heritage along to the Romans and to later readers of Latin. We will look at these fascinating Greeks:
Polybius
Plutarch
Strabo
Galen
Pausanias
All of these five men were Greeks, Greek-speaking, Greece born, yet lived within the expanding Roman Empire and thus all were bridges from Greece to Rome and beyond to Medieval Europe.

SEE BELOW THE PDF COPY OF LECTURE WEEK 29

29.ancientgreece.lastgreeks.5.27

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

 

30

Week 30: Wednesday, June 10, 2020
The Last Great Greek city

We all know that Alexandria was not really the last Greek city in that many other cities survived as Greek cities into the era of the Roman Empire. But Alexandria really is in a way the last very greatest of all Greek cities, and so we will devote out last meeting to this extraordinary explosion of creativity and research and.publishing and librarianship and all these great things that came out of this very Greek city in Egypt that flourished all the way to the Islamic  conquest in the 600s.

 

REQUIRED READING

Plato,

The Last Days of Socrates,

Christopher Rowe, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140455493

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

RECOMMENDED READING

Here is the information about the best book available right now on Alexandria. You can get it in either a hardcover or a paperback or kindle and or audible audio recording so you have your choice of all.

It is not here linked yet to the amazon site but I wanted you to have this info this week.

It is a great book and you might want to own the beautiful hardcover.

 

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

All

Week 21: Wed., Apr. 8, 2020
Socrates and the Decline of Athens

During the Spring Quarter we are going to watch Greece be transformed from hundreds of feuding city-states into one vast monolithic empire under the leadership of King Philip and his son Alexander of Macedon. This is one of the great political stories of all time, and generations of students of politics and have come to this study to search for reasons that explain why the Athenian democracy floundered as it did. The event that encapsulates the changes and the decline is the decision by an Athenian jury to vote for the execution of Socrates (399). We will begin our quarter with this event, this man, and his teaching. And we will read the four dialogues collected in our Penguin Classics edition of The Last Days of Socrates.

The Michael Scott book is the best, most recent, general survey of this period in a very informal style. (For some it may be too breezy.) It is for the general reader, and therefore it is perfect for all of us who want a quick background on this rather lesser known period in Greek history.

REQUIRED READING

Plato,

The Last Days of Socrates,

Christopher Rowe, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140455493

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

 

Week 22: Wed., Apr. 15, 2020
Isocrates 436-338 BC

The life and career of Isocrates introduces us to the new world of 4th century Athens in which the tricks of speechmaking can make you rich. That is what happened to Isocrates. His long life will allow him to watch the slow decline of Greece as city-states battle with each other while larger enemies watch carefully and make plans.
Here below is a brief  biography from Wikipedia:
"Isocrates was born to a wealthy family in Athens and received a first-rate education. He was greatly influenced by his sophist teachers, Prodicus and Gorgias, and was also closely acquainted with Socrates. After the Peloponnesian War, his family lost its wealth, and Isocrates was forced to earn a living. His professional career is said to have begun with logography: he was a hired courtroom speechwriter. Athenian citizens did not hire lawyers; legal procedure required self-representation. Instead, they would hire people like Isocrates to write speeches for them. Isocrates had a great talent for this since he lacked confidence in public speaking. His weak voice motivated him to publish pamphlets and although he played no direct part in state affairs, his written speech influenced the public and provided significant insight into major political issues of the day. Around 392 BC he set up his own school of rhetoric (at the time, Athens had no standard curriculum for higher education; sophists were typically itinerant), and proved to be not only an influential teacher, but a shrewd businessman. His fees were unusually high, and he accepted no more than nine pupils at a time. Many of them went on to be philosophers, legislators and historians. As a consequence, he amassed a considerable fortune. According to Pliny the Elder (NH VII.30) he could sell a single oration for twenty talents."

REQUIRED READING

Plato,

The Last Days of Socrates,

Christopher Rowe, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140455493

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

Week 23: Wed., Apr. 22, 2020
Demosthenes

Demosthenes is the senior citizen in the off-the-shoulder-blue casually lounging across the steps of Athens. Demosthenes  (384-322 BC) was the most influential Athenian between the death of Socrates and the end of Athenian liberty under the force of Macedon. He was considered one of the greatest orators of all time among the Athenians, but his political skills and his international diplomacy turned out to be a total disaster. He led Athens against Philip and Alexander and lost completely, bringing Athens to its lowest point ever. If we compare Pericles and Demosthenes as political leaders, we would have a profound look deep into the Athenian decay from 450 down to 350 BC.

Bust of the Greek orator Demosthenes. Marble, Roman artwork, inspired from a bronze statue by Polyeuctos (ca. 280 BC). Found in Italy[/caption]

 

REQUIRED READING

Plato,

The Last Days of Socrates,

Christopher Rowe, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140455493

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

Demosthenes,

Selected Speeches,

Oxford University Press,

ISBN 9780199593774

Week 24: Wed., Apr. 29, 2020
Philip and Alexander of Macedon

Alexander's first biographer wrote this:
"Anyone who belittles Alexander has no right to do so on the evidence only of what merits censure in him; he must base his criticism on a comprehensive view of his whole life and career. But let such a person, if blackguard Alexander he must, first compare himself with the object of his abuse: himself, so mean and obscure, and, confronting him, the great King with his unparalleled wordly success, the undisputed monarch of two continents, who spread the power of his name over all the earth. Will he dare to abuse him then, when he knows his own littleness and the triviality of his pursuits, which, even so, prove too much for his ability? It is my belief that there was in those days no nation, no city, no single individual beyond the reach of Alexander’s name; never in all the world was there another like him." ARRIAN

RECOMMENDED READING

Mary Renault,

The Nature of Alexander,

Pantheon Books,

ISBN 039473825X

Peter Green,

Alexander of Macedon,

Penguin Books,

ISBN 0520071654

These two excellent books about Alexander are both in print. The Renault book reads as an essay about Alexander and the literature about him. The Green book is considered the masterpiece of the world's leading expert on Alexander. Renault's book reflects her adoration of Alexander; Green's book is cooler and more academic. Both are excellent and well worth reading.

MORE RECOMMENDED READING: historical fiction

The best introduction to ancient Greece that I know is the historical fiction of Mary Renault:

Mary Renault (4 September 1905–13 December 1983), born Eileen Mary Challans, was an English writer best known for her historical novels set in ancient Greece. In addition to vivid fictional portrayals of Theseus, Socrates, Plato, and Alexander the Great, she wrote a non-fiction biography of Alexander.

Historical novels:

The Last of the Wine (1956)—set in Athens during the Peloponnesian War; the narrator is a student of Socrates.

The King Must Die (1958)—the mythical Theseus, up to his father's death

The Bull from the Sea (1962)—the remainder of Theseus' life

The Mask of Apollo (1966)—an actor at the time of Plato and Dionysius the Younger (brief appearance by Alexander near the end of the book)

Fire from Heaven (1969)—Alexander the Great from the age of four up to his father's death

The Persian Boy (1972)—from Bagoas's perspective; Alexander the Great after the conquest of Persia

The Praise Singer (1978)—the poet Simonides of Ceos

Funeral Games (1981)—Alexander's successors

HAPPY ROYAL FAMILY

Week 25: Wed., May. 6, 2020
Plato

As most of you know. the painting above is a fresco completed by Raphael in the Vatican papal apartments in 1512. The painting has come to be known as "The School of Athens" since it depicts the great philosophers of Ancient Greece gathered around the steps of a vast soaring Classical temple building in Periclean Athens. At the top of the stairs stand two majestic figures who lord it over the gathering as their real life counterparts did lord it over all the other philosophers of the day. The two men standing there are Plato and Aristotle. And if we add Socrates to the top step, we then have the three men who shaped western philosophy for 2500  years. Plato (Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn) (427 to 347 BC) was  the founder of the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely considered the pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle. Alfred North Whitehead once noted: "the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."

 

In addition to the Phaedo, we will concentrate on The Republic the single most influential work of philosophy in the whole of the Western Tradition.

REQUIRED READING

Plato,

The Last Days of Socrates,

Christopher Rowe, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140455493

 

 

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

Week 26: Wed., May. 13, 2020
Aristotle

384 born Stagira, Macedon, northern Greece.
364 Aristotle in Athens studying with Plato
343 Aristotle in Macedon, tutor to Alexander
336 Assassination of Philip II
334 Alexander on the road
334 Aristotle to Athens
334 set up school (Lyceum)
334 Alexander sends huge donation for school
333 Alexander sends plants and animals to Arist (Botany etc)
334-322 Aristotle writes books
323 death of Alexander
Aristotle leaves Athens
322 Aristotle dies at Chalcis

REQUIRED READING

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY

Week 27: Wed., May. 20, 2020
After Aristotle

When Aristotle died in 322 BC, just one year after the death of his friend and patron Alexander the Great, he left behind  a vast collection of books, notes, student notes, lecture notes etc. These works were a summary of all of western philosophical thought in the late 4th century BC in Greece. The trinity of Socrates-Plato-Aristotle had changed western thought forever. Now the challenge was for these ideas to endure and to be passed down to later generations. This Aristotelian legacy is our story in this week twenty-seven of Ancient Greece Spring Quarter.

Among the recommended books below, I want to call your attention to Richard Rubenstein's Aristotle's Children.

This is a brilliant history of the two thousand year long journey of Aristotelian ideas and documents that have flowed through Western Civilization ever since Aristotle's death in 322 BC. Especially helpful are the details about Aristotle's texts and where they were kept, where they went, how they got to Iran and Iraq, how they got to Spain, how they got to Paris and then back into the philosophical schools of Europe in the 13th century and then finally to Renaissance Italy where the first printed texts of Aristotle and Plato in Greek were primed in Venice about 1500.

 

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Richard E. Rubenstein,

Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages,

Harcourt,

ISBN 140256872X

Week 28: Wed., May. 27, 2020
Stoicism

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. While Stoic physics are largely drawn from the teachings of the philosopher Heraclitus, they are heavily influenced by certain teachings of Socrates. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one's mind to understand the world and to do one's part in nature's plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.The Stoics are especially known for teaching that "virtue is the only good" for human beings, and that external things—such as health, wealth, and pleasure—are not good or bad in themselves, but have value as "material for virtue to act upon". Alongside Aristotelian ethics, the Stoic tradition forms one of the major founding approaches to Western virtue ethics.[1] The Stoics also held that certain destructive emotions resulted from errors of judgment, and they believed people should aim to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is "in accord with nature". Because of this, the Stoics thought the best indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said, but how a person behaved.[2] To live a good life, one had to understand the rules of the natural order since they thought everything was rooted in nature.Many Stoics—such as Seneca and Epictetus—emphasized that because "virtue is sufficient for happiness", a sage would be emotionally resilient to misfortune. This belief is similar to the meaning of the phrase "stoic calm", though the phrase does not include the "radical ethical" Stoic views that only a sage can be considered truly free, and that all moral corruptions are equally vicious.[3]Stoicism flourished throughout the Roman and Greek world until the 3rd century AD, and among its adherents was Emperor Marcus Aurelius. (Wikipedia)

SEE BELOW LINK TO PDF COPY OF LECTURE FOR WEEK 28
28.ancientgreece.stoicism.5.20

REQUIRED READING

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

Epictetus,

Discourses and Selected Writings,

Robert Dobbin, Editor, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 9780140449464

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

 

Week 29: Wed., Jun. 3, 2020
The Last Greeks

The most important achievement among all the dozens of great achievements of Rome was the extension of Greek culture into the Roman Empire and the European world that Rome built. If there had been no successor to Greece as there was in her daughter culture of Rome, it is unlikely that the Greek Miracle, the Greek Achievement would never have been as powerful as it was. Rome extended Greece into all of Europe, all the provinces, into barbarian England and savage Belgium and France and North Africa and all the world. Rome worshipped Greece and its cultural achievement and all Roman leaders of Cicero's generation were bilingual: Greek and Latin. They all went to Athens to study Greek the way we go to Paris to learn French. They read all the Greek writers, the philosophers, the historians, all of it. And because of this, the massive Greek achievement in philosophy and science was preserved and extended into Latin books and texts and given a whole new life in the writings of the Christian writers  such as Augustine and Ambrose and Jerome. But what about the Greeks who lived in the Roman Empire? Did they continue to read and write Greek and did they have any cultural impact? Yes. There were dozens of Greeks who knew and preserved and continued the great Greek achievement in the arts and sciences and handed such  a heritage along to the Romans and to later readers of Latin. We will look at these fascinating Greeks:
Polybius
Plutarch
Strabo
Galen
Pausanias
All of these five men were Greeks, Greek-speaking, Greece born, yet lived within the expanding Roman Empire and thus all were bridges from Greece to Rome and beyond to Medieval Europe.

SEE BELOW THE PDF COPY OF LECTURE WEEK 29

29.ancientgreece.lastgreeks.5.27

RECOMMENDED READING

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

 

Week 30: Wed., Jun. 10, 2020
The Last Great Greek city

We all know that Alexandria was not really the last Greek city in that many other cities survived as Greek cities into the era of the Roman Empire. But Alexandria really is in a way the last very greatest of all Greek cities, and so we will devote out last meeting to this extraordinary explosion of creativity and research and.publishing and librarianship and all these great things that came out of this very Greek city in Egypt that flourished all the way to the Islamic  conquest in the 600s.

 

REQUIRED READING

Plato,

The Last Days of Socrates,

Christopher Rowe, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140455493

Aristotle,

The Nicomachean Ethics,

J. A. K. Thomson, Translator,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140449493

RECOMMENDED READING

Here is the information about the best book available right now on Alexandria. You can get it in either a hardcover or a paperback or kindle and or audible audio recording so you have your choice of all.

It is not here linked yet to the amazon site but I wanted you to have this info this week.

It is a great book and you might want to own the beautiful hardcover.

 

Michael Scott,

From Democrats to Kings,

The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),

ISBN 1590203917

Edith Hall,

Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,

Penguin Press,

ISBN 0735220808

Paul Johnson,

Socrates: A Man for Our Times,

Penguin USA,

ISBN B01K0U1QNY