Athenian democracy and Peloponnesian war.

Why was the Peloponnesian War fought? What was its long-term significance?  Greece was divided into independent city-states, these city states were independent from one another.  The two most significant city-states were Athens and Sparta.  After the Persian wars, that resulted in the weakening of Greece, Athens unified with other city-states and formed the Delian league to protect Greece from any further Persian attacks.  Athens, having a strong navy, supplied ships, while the other city-states contributed money.  However, after time had passed, there appeared to be no threat on Greece, and it appeared that this money was being used in the beautification of Athens.  When confronted, Athens argued that it was only fair as the Persians had destroyed their city, that they should take contributions to rebuild it.  It later appeared that Athens would not allow any of the city-states to leave the Delian league.

Thucydides, the great Greek historian said the following “The growth of the power of Athens and the alarm that inspired in Sparta, made war inevitable.”  Sparta and her allies formed the Peloponnesian league, and in 431 B.C., they invade Athens.  Athenians turn to their strength; naval confrontation.  However in 430 B.C., plague breaks out and kills a majority of the Athenian population.  There is a truce from 421-415 B.C., war starts again with Athens’ expedition so Sicily, however, they were unsuccessful.  Sparta had taken up arms again, Athens routed but the Peloponnesian war continued.  Finally, in 404 B.C., Sparta is victorious.  The Delian league is dissolved and Athens has to submit herself to Sparta.

How was Athenian government organized? How much citizen involvement in government was there?  Athenian government had four groups of authority.  The first, the assembly.  the assembly consisted of all Athenian citizens.  To be an Athenian citizen, one must come from two Athenian parents, and it is presumed that they must be male.  The second group of authority was the council of 500, this council consisted of 500 citizens chosen at random.  The council of 500 decided what matters should be presented to the assembly.  The third group was the  law court, the law court consisted of of 600 citizens chosen annually, this was the group from which the jurors were drawn, there were no professional lawyers, just 501 jurors.  Lastly, the Magistrates, about 1,000 citizens elected to fill political offices, these offices were available to most Athenian citizens.

Aristotle’s Main Points in His Ethics.

Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist.  Aristotle produced many individual works, one in particular of great significance, was his Ethics.  He called this the Nicomachean Ethics, because his father and his son both had the name Nicomachus.  In his ethics, he conveys several ideas that are foundational in western civilization.

According to Aristotle, the end goal of man is to achieve happiness.  Every action an individual takes part in, is in order to achieve something that is good.  The ultimate good, is happiness.  There can be many actions leading up to this ultimate good, but that is what the individual is striving for.  What Aristotle means by happiness may be different than what the modern day person would perceive happiness as.  By happiness, Aristotle means eudaimonia, which is the feeling of fulfillment, of contentedness, and blessedness.

How does the individual find eudaimonia? Well, to have eudaimonia, you possess a feeling of fulfillment.  To feel content and fulfilled, you must know the purpose of your existence.  Humans are separated from every other creature because they possess human reason, and the ability to think rationally.  So to find eudaimonia, the individual must exercise human reason through virtuous acts, to fulfill their existence.

What are virtues? Doing good unto others, and in turn receiving good.  Virtue is found in habitually doing the right thing.  To be virtuous, one must be disciplined in participating in the act of individual virtues.  Happiness is a virtue and in time it brings pleasure and develops your potential excellence.

Happiness is its own end, other ends have further ends but happiness is an ultimate end.

Western Civilization 1, Week 4 Writing Assignment.

1. What was the disagreement Socrates had with the Sophists?  The Sophists were a group of Greek teachers who believed there was no absolute truth.  They believed that truth is relative.  They mainly taught rhetoric, however, while the Sophists taught people to be persuasive through use of rhetoric, they did not place significance in the idea they were trying to persuade.  The famous philosopher, Socrates disagreed with what the Sophists were doing.  They believed that there was no absolute good, and no absolute bad, that each individual must determine good or bad for him or her self.  Socrates was in search of the absolute truth; e.g. what is justice? They did not look for the truth, because they had no absolute truth, Socrates disagreed with this.

2. What was Plato’s point in his allegory of the cave?  Plato wrote his philosophy in the form of dialogues, almost like plays.  One of the most famous of these, was his allegory of the cave.  He paints a mental image of men who are blind to reality, who only see the lower materialistic world.

Plato believed there was a higher world and a lower world.  The lower world is that of objects; the world we live in and perceive.  The higher world is that of the forms that are the models and guidelines of the material objects we see.  The forms are not something we can perceive.  For instance, there are many different kinds of cups, but they are all based on one idea we have of what a cup should be.  In his allegory of the cave, he demonstrates that men are ignorant to the higher world of the forms, and that they are satisfied with the past present and future of the material world.  He believed that the highest form of contemplation was to contemplate the unchanging.  The group of men in the cave that he created a mental image of, refused to challenge this thought, and let themselves settle with what changed.

The Significance of Ancient Greece and the Pre-Socratic’s in Western Civilization.

What is the significance of ancient Greece in Western civilization?  Often, we look at ancient Greece and see a culture far different than anything we see in any form of modern civilization.  However, ancient Greece had a lot of significance in building the  modern world we live in.  This was the first culture to really pursue human reason.   human reason is the one feature that sets humans apart from all of the other creatures. This development of human reason, and the first individuals to apply this human reason, shaped western civilization. There are few brief accounts that modern day scholars have been able to decipher, and from that, we can see that these were real people with real values.

Why is pre-Socratic philosophy significant?  The pre-Socratic philosophers lived in the 6th century B.C., and they were the first recorded philosophers to use their human reason ask questions about life’s existence.  Many of their philosophies are far-fetched, and hard to process.  Their “wacky” answers were not what made them significant, it is the fact that they asked the questions in the first place that is significant.  They were the first group of people to challenge the process and existence of life.  Each one of these individuals had their own theory.  It is really impressive, these people had nothing to base their reason on, and they used human reason to dig deeper and try to learn more.  While they were mostly incorrect in their philosophy, they devoted their lives to finding out what really happened, and without any confirmed facts, that is remarkable.

Western Civilization, lesson 10 essay.

1. Minoan Crete. The history of the Minoan Crete is vague due to lack of archeological evidence.  But it has been proven that this civilization existed and archeologists have found evidence that leads to insights into their civilization.  The Minoan civilization developed and ruled the island of Crete from approximately 3600 to 1400 B.C..  The civilization was lost for a period of time, until the late 19th century, when it was “re-discovered” by British archeologist, Sir Arthur Evans.

This civilization is named after a figure from Greek legend “King Minos of Crete,”  Sir Evans gave them the name “Minoan Crete” because there is no documentation on what they called themselves.  Scholars are unsure of many aspects of this civilization because of lack of literature that present day scholars are able to decipher.

We know little about their religion, but from the art and drawings of the civilization, it is obvious that bulls were of significance.  It is believed that the Minoans were a peaceful civilization, there is no archeological or liturgical evidence that the civilization engaged in wars.  However, evidence was found that leads us to believe that the Minoans offered human sacrifices.  Human sacrifice was not peaceful, but it was found in almost all ancient civilizations.

2. Mycenaean Greece.
Mycenaean Greece represents the first advanced civilization in mainland Greece.  Mycenaean civilization originated and evolved from the society and culture influenced by the Minoan Crete.  Like the Minoans, there is still a lot that remains mysterious about this civilization that scholars just don’t know.  Mycenaean Greece refers to the entire civilization of Greece at that time period from 1600-1100 B.C. which was very much different from the civilization Greece would later become.  The name Mycenaean comes from the name of the city Mycenae in the north eastern section of the Pelopenniasianns.

It was believed that Greek history began in 800 B.C., scholars did not believe there was anything historically recorded prior to that.  In the 19th century, a German archeologist, Heinrich Schliemann was unsatisfied and was determined to find proof of Greek history prior to 800 B.C..  First, he successfully discovers the city of Troy, and later discovers the Mycenaean civilization, in an attempt to find proof of a Greek civilization earlier than 800 B.C..

Mycenaean Greece appears to have been divided into independent cities, each city ruled by a king.  Evidence suggests that these were very war-like civilizations unlike the Minoans.  It is proven that the civilization traveled and traded widely, this can be found through the discoveries of their art in different civilizations throughout the world.  And finally, sometime around 1100 B.C., the civilization collapsed, there are competing theories as to why, but it still remains mystery.

Key Events in Hebrew History

The events that took place in the history of the Hebrews had a significant role in the shaping of western civilization.

Abraham, as a majority of people know, was a crucial figure in the history of the Hebrews.  Through a series of events, Abraham chose to take up his life and devote himself to God.  Because of the strength of his faith, he was prepared to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, to God, but God angelically prevented him from going through with this sacrifice (this was the end of the period of time that people were convinced a blood sacrifice was the highest level of worship).  Because of his great faith and works, God promised a land to Abraham and his sons.

Abraham’s son Isaac, had two sons Esau and Jacob.  Esau was older, and therefore possessed the birthright, which meant he would receive the blessings of being the older son, from his father.  Jacob did not like this, so he chose to deceive his elderly father.  Jacob fled because he feared the anger of his brother, which he had stolen from.

Jacob had 10 sons with a woman named Leah, after the death of Leah, he marries her sister, Rachel, the woman whom he initially wanted to marry from the start.  With Rachel, he has two more sons, Joseph, and Benjamin.  Jacob favors Joseph.  On a level, he spoils Joseph, by clothing him in nicer garments than his older brothers, and giving him lighter work.  His brothers are angered by this and they grow jealous.  Joseph builds on their jealousy by telling them of dreams he had, where he was above them.  They became so envious, that they sold him into slavery.

Joseph was then transported to Egypt, where he was bought by the Captain of the Pharaoh’s men.  He was treated well, until he was falsely accused of an offense, and sent to prison.  While in prison, he interpreted the dreams of a couple of inmates, and he interpreted them accurately.  Pharaoh heard of this, and sent for Joseph, for he had been troubled with dreams of his own.  Joseph interpreted Pharaohs dream, and predicted a 7 year famine.  Egypt was able to preserve their resources and prepare for this famine.  When the famine finally did come, Egypt was prepared and survived because of the warning Joseph interpreted from the dream.

During this famine, Joseph’s brothers traveled to Egypt seeking provisions for their families.  Other Hebrews came as well.  Joseph reached out to his brothers, and forgave them for their offense.  Joseph had political power in Egypt, he made it possible for the Hebrews to live in Egypt.  After the death of Joseph, The Egyptians worried that the Hebrews would overpopulate and take over their land, so they enslaved the Hebrews.

Time passed, and the Egyptians still feared the growing population of the Hebrews, so the Pharaoh passed a law that all boys under the age of 2, must be put to death.  During the duration of this law, there was one important baby boy that was spared, this was Moses.  Moses was left by the river and eventually adopted by the pharaoh’s daughter.  Moses was raised in the household of the pharaoh; an unlikely fate for a Hebrew baby.

As Moses approached manhood, he took interest in the fate of the Hebrews, and related to them in different ways.  He once saw an overseer severely beat a slave, this angered Moses to the extent that he killed the overseer.  He feared the consequences of the offense so he fled to the desert.  While he was in the desert, he was instructed by God that he must lead his people from their bondage in Egypt and back to the land promised to Abraham by God.

Through a series of events, Moses succeeds in leading his people from Egypt.  Pharaoh changed his mind and went after the Hebrews, but God provided.  The Hebrews walked through the Red sea that was parted by the power of God and a path was made through it.  However, when Pharaoh and his men attempted in passing through it, it swept them up.

Moses succeeded in delivering the Hebrews from their bondage, to the promised land.  and there, after the death of Moses, they continued to shape Western civilization.