Internet Research Projects on Periclean Athens
During the next week we will use our laptops to create presentations that explore
the culture of the city of Athens during its Golden Age. After the
defeat of the Persians at the Battle of Salamis (479 BC), Athens
quickly became the dominant military power in the Eastern
Mediterranean. Her strong navy controlled the seas, and Athenian
merchants dominated trade. Money poured into the city. For the next eighty years,
Athens was the most innovative, culturally vibrant, intellectually
advanced city in the history of Western Civilization. Athens’ democracy
liberated the creativity of its citizens. The Acropolis was rebuilt;
art, literature, theatre, and philosophy flourished. Life became a
quest to realize ideals of virtue, justice, and beauty, not a
preparation for death. The Golden Age of Athens was shortlived. By the end of the century Athens had plunged into a
destructive, endless war with Sparta; ultimately, democracy in Athens
collapsed. However, the Athenians from this century established the
modes of thinking, the forms of government, the
styles of art which would dominate Western culture for the next two
will be doing presentations on subjects like The Rise of Democracy, The
Pre-Socratic Philosophers, Greek Sculpture, The Architecture of the
Acropolis, The Peloponnesian Wars, The Origins of Tragedy, and The
Philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
Instead of writing ‘term papers’ on these huge subjects, you will be
creating presentations (5-7 minutes in length) which introduce us to
the subjects. You will need to carefully document your sources for this
project using MLA format.
again, please observe the Siliciano
are the subjects from which you can choose:
Natural Philosophers: The Ionian School: Thales, Anaximander, and
2. The Natural Philosophers:
Heraclitus of Ephesus and The Eleatic School:
Parmenides, Pythagoras, and
3. The Natural Philosophers: The Atomists:
Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Democritus
4. Pre-Socratic Philosophy: The
5. The Philosophy of Socrates
6. The Philosophy of Plato and
7. The Philosophy of Aristotle
and the Lyceum
The Cynics, The Stoics, the Epicureans, and the Neo-Platonists
9. The Rise of Greek Democracy:
Draco, Solon, Pisistratos,
Cleisthenes, and Themistocles
10. Thucydides and The
11. Ancient Greek Architecture:
The Rise of the Classical Ideal
12. Sculpture of the Golden Age:
The Rise of the Classical Ideal
13. The Origins of Greek Tragedy
are some terms that you will encounter again and again:
Greek word, from phileîn,
“to love,” and sophía,
In an intellectual movement new to the ancient world, cosmologists
studied the origin and nature of the physical universe and advanced
scientific hypotheses as to its structure. Before, thinkers had
constructed myths of the gods to explain all natural phenomena.
The branch of philosophy that examines the nature of reality, including
the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact
research your presentation start by reading the appropriate section in Gaarder's Sophie's
World. To supplement Gaarder,
consult the following Internet sources:
Natural Philosophers: The Ionian School: Thales, Anaximander,
Anaximenes, and Heraclitus
(see Sophie's World, pp. 32-36)
the city of Miletus.
did this new way of looking at the world arise here?
the contrasting cosmologies of these philosophers.
did they believe was the basic constituent substance of the universe?
do they explain the transformation of this substance to the many forms
which exist in nature?
did these philosophers develop theories of justice and truth, good and
evil, from these cosmological theories?
- What did Heraclitus believe was the fundamental unit of reality?
does Heraclitus' explain the paradox of change in the natural world?
does Heraclitus incorporate moral thought into his cosmology?
Natural Philosophers: The Eleatic School:
Parmenides, Pythagoras, and Zeno (see
Sophie's World, pp. 33-35)
each of the philosophers.
did they live?
did each of these philosophers solve the problem of change?
did Pythagoras link music and mathematics?
was his cosmology?
the Pythagorean conception of the eternal, ideal realm.
were Pythagoras’ political ideas?
did Zeno deny the appearance of motion with his paradoxes?
Natural Philosophers: Atomists:
Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Democritus (see Sophie's World, pp. 36-46, 54-55)
each of the philosophers.
did they live?
philosophers influenced both of these schools?
did Empedocles resolve the dispute between Parmenides and Heraclitus?
What is everlasting? What forces make change possible? How does
perception take place?
was Empedocles' understanding of evolution?
was Anaxagoras' intricate conception of the structure of reality? How far fetched was his idea that
everything exists in each piece of everything? What force brings matter
was his conception of the mind?
the cosmology of Democritus. How did he resolve the problem of change?
Define atom. Why is Lego the most ingenious toy in
force brought matter together in different forms? What makes Democritus
did he explain sense perception?
was Hippocrates' explanation of disease?
ideal is at the heart of the Hippocratic Oath?
Philosophy: The Sophists:
(see Sophie's World, pp. 60-63)
- Sophists, 2MinuteThinker
each of the philosophers. Where did they come from?
major shift in the focus of philosophy took place when Athens became
the center of thought?
does the word ‘sophist’ mean?
how the sophists made their living.
the skills that the sophists taught.
purpose did the study of rhetoric and grammar serve in Athens?
did the sophists think of cosmological speculations? Define skepticism.
influence did the wide travels of the sophists have on their moral
philosophy? Define nomos
did their teachings stir up controversy in Athens?
Philosophy of Socrates
(see Sophie's World, pp. 63-69)
were his dates?
do we know about Socrates’ teachings (considering that he never wrote a
do we know of his early life? What did he look like?
Socrates’ teaching methods. How was he both a 'mid-wife' and a
did Socrates distinguish his avocation from that of the sophists?
did the oracle at Delphi say about him?
is Socrates a rationalist? What to him was eternal?
new focus did Socrates bring to Greek philosophy?
his definition of ‘the good’ and how it can be discovered.
was his understanding of the human soul fundamentally different from
earlier Greek conceptions?
did he infuriate the leaders of Athens? Why did Socrates allow himself
to be killed?
Philosophy of Plato and the Academy
(see Sophie's World, pp. 78-93)
Plato's dates and a brief biography.
works all survived?
was taught at the Academy? How long did this school survive?
Plato, what was the purpose of philosophy?
did Plato distinguish between the eternal (ideal) and the natural
Plato's Theory of Ideas. (Use his examples of the distinctions between a
horse and horse-ness
and between a circle in nature
and a perfect circle.)
did Plato distinguish between knowledge derived from the senses and
knowledge derived from reason? (Use his Allegory of the Cave
to explain this idea.)
role did mathematics and geometry play in Plato's theory of ideas?
Plato's conception of the soul and of innate
was the political situation in Athens when Plato founded his school?
Plato's conception of the hierarchies in the ideal political state.
place did women have in Plato's ideal state?
- How did Socrates influence Plato’s
philosophical method and his conception of the good?
The Philosophy of
Aristotle and the Lyceum (see
Sophie's World, pp. 104-120)
Aristotle's dates and a brief biography.
did he found the Lyceum? What does ‘peripatetic’ mean?
did Aristotle rebel against his mentor Plato?
did Aristotle refute Plato's Theory of Ideas? According to Aristotle,
how is the idea of a horse formed?
is the only source of knowledge according to Aristotle? How does our
mind organize these impressions? Is Aristotle a rationalist
or a materialist?
Aristotle believe in innate ideas? How then does he explain the
relation between form and substance?
Aristotle's conception of causation in nature.
(Distinguish between material causes, efficient
causes, formal causes and final
Aristotle's hierarchy of the natural world.
considered the father of the modern sciences of astronomy, biology and
Aristotle’s conception of the soul. What is the first cause?
is Aristotle’s conception of the good life? How could it be achieved?
Explain his conception of the ‘golden mean’.
was his conception of the best political government?
is his understanding of the purpose of art? Why did he consider tragedy
to be the greatest art form?
Hellenism: The Cynics, The Stoics, the Epicureans, the Neo-Platonists
(see Sophie's World, pp. 120-139)
did the Greek philosophical tradition spread throughout the
did Rome arrive on the scene as the dominant political power?
syncretism and describe its impact on
religious belief throughout the Hellenistic world. What new notion of the concepts everlasting
and ideal were creeping into thought?
city became the new scientific capitol of the Hellenistic world? Why?
according to the Cynics Antisthenes and Diogenes, could true happiness
and where was Stoicism founded? Describe the Stoics' conception of natural
law and monism. How was their approach
to happiness similar to the Cynics' view?
route to happiness was proposed by Aristippus
and Epicurus? How did Epicurus define pleasure?
did Epicurus overcome the fear of death?
does Plotinus build his vision of the soul out of Plato's Theory of
Ideas? What is the difference between the two philosophies?
Rise of Greek Democracy: Draco, Solon, Pisistratos,
Cleisthenes, and Themistocles
unique cultural, economic and military factors contributed to the rise
of Greek democracy?
the relationship between the rise of family farms and the rise of the polis.
the relationship between the rise of the hoplite phalanx
and the rise of the polis.
how each leader contributed to its development.
how Greek democracy functioned in practice.
didn’t this experimental form of government degenerate into chaos?
role was each citizen expected to perform in this democracy?
were the Areopagus and Pnyx?
did the Council of Five Hundred function?
and why did the Greek experiment in democracy come to an end?
and The Peloponnesian Wars
did Thucydides change the way history was studied and written?
the progress of the Peloponnesian War.
long did it last? What were the strategies of the various leaders?
were the key battles?
were the major conflicts? Why did the Spartans win?
did Athenian unity come apart?
form of government replaced democracy in Athens?
Greek Architecture: The Rise of the Classical Ideal
was the Acropolis rebuilt?
a good drawing and show the class the different elements of
Greek Temple architecture.
were the functions of these temples? How does their appearance reflect
the Greek attitude towards life and the gods?
the development of classical Greek temple architecture to its most
perfect expression in The Parthenon on the Acropolis.
The Temple of Hera at Paestum (560 B.C.) and The Temple of Apahaia at Aegina (510 B.C.) to
the Parthenon. What refinements were made to these earlier designs?
how the Golden Section applied to the Parthenon.
the sculpture carved on the Parthenon friezes and in the pediments.
Additional Internet Resources:
Sculpture of the Golden Age: The Rise of the Classical Ideal
the development of Greek sculpture from its origins in Egyptian
influenced style to the full expression of the Classical
as many of the following statues as you can find: Egyptian statues,
Greek Kouros sculptures
of the 6th c. B.C., the Kritios boy (480 B.C.), the Charioteer of
Delphi (470 B.C.), The Doryphoros
(Spear-Bearer), (450 B.C.), Discobolous
characteristics express the Classical Ideal?
The Origins of Greek Tragedy
how tragic theatre developed out of the worship of Dionysus, the
half-human god of wine and resurrection.
- What rituals and practices were used in the Dionysian revels?
- What is a dithyramb? A satyr? The bacchae?
- How did Thespis’ innovations led to the creation of plays themselves?
- What does the chorus do in a Greek tragedy?
- Describe the festivals in which tragedy played a central
- Who was Aeschylus? For which tragedies was he famous? What innovations
did he bring to Greek drama?
- Who was Sophocles? What made his best
tragedies so great? What innovations did he bring to the stage?
- Who was
Euripides? What made his best tragedies so great? What innovations did
he bring to the stage? Show us the parts of an ancient Greek
- Explain how the actors were costumed. Why did they wear masks?
Internet Resources: Greek Drama