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My Notes on Massive Open Online Course:
The Ancient Greeks
This is a survey of ancient Greek history from the Bronze Age to the death of Socrates in 399 BCE. Along with studying the most important events and personalities, we will consider broader issues such as political and cultural values and methods of historical interpretation.
Notes on 16 Lectures I Watched in This Course:
Hesiod's Creation Myth: Theogony
The Spartan Way of Life
600 BC Tyrants and Sages: Cypselus and Periander
800-700 BC: Athens Before Solon
Solon Against Political, Economic, and Moral Decline
Peisistratos: Tyranny and Civic Identity
The End of Athenian Tyranny and the Democratic Revolution
508 BC: The Democratic Reforms of Cleisthenes
Herodotus and The Histories
The First Persian War and the Battle of Marathon
Themistocles, Silver, and Greek Naval Policy
Xerxes and the Second Invasion of Greece
The Delian League
From Delian League to Athenian Empire
Pericles: Aristocrat, Orator and Democratic Citizen
Sophocles' Antigone: Tragedy and Athenian Civic Life
7 People I Have Learned About in this Course:
Gerhard von Honthorst (1592-1656)
Dutch Golden Age painter who early in his career visited Rome (1616) where he had great success painting in a style influenced by Caravaggio
  • he was one of four artists from Utrecht who went to Rome at around this time, the others being Dirk van Baburen, Hendrick ter Bruggen, and Jan van Bijlert
  • in Rome, he painted "Christ Before the High Priest" in 1617
  • he became especially noted for his depiction of artificially lit scenes, receiving the nickname "Gherardo delle Notti," or "Gerard of the night"
  • following his return to the Netherlands he became a leading portrait painter
  • 1624, painted "Solon in front of Croesus"
Cleisthenes (570-500 BC)
Referred to by historians as the "father of Athenian democracy"
  • after a leaderless, popular revolution overthrew Kleomenes and Isagoras who had gathered with a Spartan garrison in the Acropolis to overthrow Athens, Cleisthenes was recalled from exile to lead the city
  • credited with reforming the constitution of ancient Athens and setting it on a democratic footing in 508 BC
  • increased the power of the Athenian citizens’ assembly and for reducing the power of the nobility over Athenian politics
  • a noble Athenian of the Alcmaeonid family
  • was the maternal grandson of the tyrant Cleisthenes of Sicyon
Thales of Miletus (624-546 BC)
Regarded by Aristotle as the the first philosopher in the Greek tradition, first to define general principles and set forth hypotheses for which he is often referred to as the Father of Science, along with Democritus
  • attempted to explain natural phenomena without reference to mythology
  • almost all of the other Pre-Socratic philosophers follow him in attempting to provide an explanation of ultimate substance, change, and the existence of the world without reference to mythology
  • in mathematics, Thales used geometry to solve problems such as calculating the height of pyramids and the distance of ships from the shore
  • credited with the first use of deductive reasoning applied to geometry, by deriving four corollaries to Thales' Theorem (any angle inscribed in a semicircle is a right angle)
  • referred to as the first mathematician to whom a mathematical discovery has been attributed
  • pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from the city of Miletus on today's western coast of Turkey, he is was also known as one of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece
William Etty (1787-1849)
English painter, best known for his paintings of nudes
  • copied a great deal from the old masters in the National Gallery
  • 1816, traveled to Paris and Florence
  • 1822, made a longer trip to Italy
  • from his studies of the Venetian masters he acquired the excellence in color for which his works are chiefly known
  • 1824, returned to England where his "Pandora Crowned by the Seasons" was much praised
  • 1828 made a member of the Royal Academy
  • possessed a great charm of color, especially in the glowing but thoroughly realistic, flesh tints
  • he remains a neglected and underrated artist, one of the few nineteenth-century painters to paint classical subjects successfully
Miltiedes (550-489 BC)
Known for his role in the Battle of Marathon, as well as for his tragic downfall afterwards
  • was elected to serve as one of the ten generals for the Battle of Marathon
  • credited with devising the tactics that defeated the Persians in the Battle of Marathon
  • Miltiades was firm in insisting that the Persians be fought immediately, as a siege of Athens would have led to its destruction
  • Miltiades had his men march to the end of the Persian archer range, called the "beaten zone", then break out in a run straight at the Persian army, which was decisive in defeating the Persians
  • in 489 BCE, Miltiades led an Athenian expedition of seventy ships against the Greek-inhabited islands that were deemed to have supported the Persians
  • attack Paros but failed to take it
  • suffered a grievous leg wound during the campaign and became incapacitated
  • his failure prompted an outcry on his return to Athens, enabling his political rivals to exploit his fall from grace
  • charged with treason, he was sentenced to death, but sent to prison
  • he was sent to prison where he died, probably of gangrene from his wound
Cimon (510-450 BC)
  • Athenian statesman and military general in mid-5th century BC Greece, played a key role in creating the powerful Athenian maritime empire following the failure of the Persian invasion of Greece by Xerxes I in 480-479 BC
  • son of Miltiades, the victor of the Battle of Marathon
  • elevated to the rank of admiral after fighting in the Battle of Salamis (against Persian Empire in 480 BC)
  • one of his greatest exploits was his destruction of a Persian fleet and army at the Battle of the Eurymedon river in 466 BC (now the Köprüçay river in Turkey)
Themistocles (524-459 BC)
  • Athenian politician and general, one of a new breed of non-aristocratic politicians who rose to prominence in the early years of the Athenian democracy
  • a populist, having the support of lower class Athenians, and generally being at odds with the Athenian nobility
  • elected archon in 493 BC, he convinced the polis to increase the naval power of Athens
  • during the first Persian invasion of Greece, he fought at the Battle of Marathon, possibly one of the 10 Athenian generals in that battle
13 Vocabulary Words I Learned in this Course:
boule, n. [BOO-lay] a council of citizens appointed to run daily affairs of ancient Athens, originally a council of nobles advising a king, in democracies a boule was composed of members typically chosen by lot and served for one year  "After the exile of Hippias, the first step of Kleomenes and Isagoras was to dissolve the boule."
cleruchy, n. [κληρουχία] a specialized type of colony established by Athens in Classical Greece (510-323 BC). Normally, Greek colonies were politically independent, they would have a special relationship with the mother city the metropolis, but would otherwise be independent entities. Cleruchies were significantly different: the settlers or cleruchs would retain their Athenian citizenship and the community remained a political dependency of Athens. Cleruchies were established as a means of exporting excess and generally impoverished populations to conveniently distant localities. Under the cleruchy arrangement, the participating citizen received a plot of agricultural land, hence a means to earn his livelihood. This elevated the citizen to the property class of zeugitai (those whose property or estate could produce 200 bushels of wet or dry goods per year). The cleruch would be obliged to defend his colony by serving it as a hoplite. This arrangement benefited Athens in three principal ways: (1) reduced population pressure in Athens, (2) increased Athenian military power, (3) increased the economic power of Athens, as it enabled more of its citizens to become property holders. Some early known cleruchies were nearer to Athens such as Salamis and Chalcis, but many others created during the Second Athenian Empire (378–355 BC) were farther away such as Samos Island near present-day Turkey.  "During Classical Greece, the Athenians established colonies, not the kind of colonies as were common back in Archaic Greece but these were called Cleruchies, outposts constantly in contact with and beholden to the mother city."
corslet, n. a piece of defensive armor covering the body  "In Ancient Greek armies, the hoplite wore a bronze corslet or known as the thorax to protect his upper body."
deme, n. [deem] a suburb of Athens or a subdivision of Attica, the region of Greece surrounding Athens, enrollment in the citizen-lists of a deme became the requirement for citizenship  "Males 18 years of age were registered in their local demes, thereby acquiring civic status and rights."
ephors, n. [Ἔφορος] From "one who oversees", ephors were leaders of ancient Sparta who shared power with the Spartan kings, five ephors were elected annually, who swore on behalf of the city, the ephors were elected by the popular assembly and all citizens were eligible for election and forbidden to be reelected. Ephors provided a balance for the two kings, who rarely cooperated with each other. Up to two ephors would accompany a king on extended military campaigns as a sign of control, even gaining the ability to declare war at some points in Spartan history. Every autumn along with the Krypteia, a kind of state security force organized by the ruling classes, the ephors would declare war on the helot population so that any Spartan citizen could kill a helot without fear of blood guilt. The ephors did not have to kneel down before the Kings of Sparta and were held in high esteem by the citizens, because of the importance of their powers and because of the holy role they earned throughout their functions. Cleomenes III abolished the ephors in 227 BC, but they were restored by the Macedonian king in 222 BC. While Sparta fell under Roman rule in 146 BC, the position existed into the 2nd century AD, when it was probably abolished by the Roman emperor Hadrian and superseded by Imperial governance as part of the province of Achaea.  "On his arrival in Sparta, the ephors had Pausanias imprisoned, but he was later released, as nobody had enough evidence to convict him of disloyalty, even though some helots gave evidence that he had offered certain helots their freedom if they joined him in revolt."
eupatrid, n. [yoo-PAT-rid] member of the nobility of ancient Athens, it is likely that public office before 594 BC was in practice confined to the eupatridae and that they had a political monopoly comparable to that of other Greek aristocracies in the Archaic period, Solon's reforms, by establishing property qualifications for office, limited their power, which disappeared entirely after 580  "In Athens, we see the domination of clans who called themselves the Eupatrids."
kouros, n. [KUR-ohs] free-standing ancient Greek sculptures which first appear in the Archaic period in Greece and represent nude male youths  "A direct influence between Egyptian statues, in particular the figure of Horus, and the kouros type has long been conjectured, not least because of trade and cultural relations that are known to have existed since the mid-seventh century BCE."
ostrakon, n. [ὄστρακον] a piece of pottery, usually broken off from a vase or other earthenware vessel, used in ancient Athens, each person of the voting public would scratch the name of a person on the shard of pottery in order to banish or exile that person from society from the city for a period of ten years, thus giving rise to the term ostracism  "In the late 480s, certainly at the instigation of Themistocles, one Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, was ostracized, this ostrakon showing one vote in his favor."
phyle, n. [FIGHL] an ancient Greek term for clan or tribe, usually ruled by a basileus  "A large citizens' organization based on kinship, constituting the largest political subdivision of an ancient Greek city-state."
scion, n. descendant or heir  "Pausanias was a Spartan general of the 5th century BC who was a scion of the royal house of the Agiads but was not in the direct line of succession."
skene, n. [σκηνή] In ancient Greek theater, a building behind the playing area that was originally a hut for the changing of masks and costumes but eventually became the background before which the drama was enacted. First used c. 465 BC, the skene was originally a small wooden structure facing the circle of spectators. It developed into a two-story edifice decorated with columns, with three doors used for entrances and exits and the appearance of ghosts and gods; it was flanked by wings (paraskēnia). By the end of the 5th century bc, the wooden skene was replaced by a permanent stone structure. In the Roman theater it was an elaborate building facade. The modern concept of the theatrical scene, which is an integral and functional part of the play, evolved from the Renaissance. In the ancient theater the skene was merely a conventional background.  "You had a stage building called a skene, which had a low stage in front of what was a simple square building which could function in the play as anything from a cave to a palace."
trireme, n. [τριήρης] an ancient vessel and a type of galley (a low, flat ship with one or more sails and up to three banks of oars, chiefly used for warfare, trade, and piracy) that was used by the ancient maritime civilizations of the Mediterranean, especially the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks and Romans, the name means "with three banks of oars".  "What Themistocles did was to persuade the Assembly not to spend the proceeds from the newly discovered silver mines to build a wall, but to build ships, specifically triremes, the Greek war ship par excellence."
trittys, n. [TRIT-is] a population division in ancient Attica, established by the reforms of Cleisthenes in 508 BC, the name means thirtieth and there were in fact thirty trittyes in Attica  "Each tribe, or phyle of Athens was composed of three trittyes, one from the coast, one from the city, and one from the inland area. Trittyes were composed of one or more demes; demes were the basic unit of division in Attica."
14 Flashcards I Recorded in this Course:
a paradigm of how tyranny works
Corinth with Cypselus [KIP-sel-us] and his son Periander
who painted picture of Solon visiting Croesus
Gerhard van Honthorst, 1624
ruler who tried to become tyrannt three times, 527 BC
Peisistratos [pie-SIS-trah-tus]
free-standing ancient Greek sculptures which first appear in the Archaic period in Greece and represent nude male youths
kouros [KUR-ohs]
the king of Lydia from 560 to 547 BC until his defeat by the Persians, renowned for his wealth
Croesus [KREE-sus]
who were Peisistratos' sons who ruled after him
Hippias and Hipparchus
who killed Hipparchus
Harmodius and Aristogeiton
who was the father of Athenian democracy
Cleisthenes (570 BC - 500 BC)
Cleisthenes was from what clan?
Alcmaeonidae [alk-MEE-an-id-igh] or the Alcmaeonids [alk-MEE-an-ids]
pr. Mycenae
pr. Thermopylae
who were the 7 Sages of of Greece?
1. Cleobulus of Lindos ("Moderation is the best thing"), 2. Solon of Athens ("Keep everything with moderation"), 3. Chilon of Sparta ("You should not desire the impossible"), 4. Bias of Priene ("Most men are bad"), 5. Thales of Miletus ("Know Thyself"), 6. Pittacus of Mytilene ("You should know which opportunities to choose"), 7. Periander of Corinth ("Be farsighted with everything")
what did Anaximander consider the basic element?
Apeiron [AP-er-on], the "immeasurable"
when was the Battle of Marathon
490 BC