Western Civilization I
18 September 2008
Classical and Hellenistic Greece
The Classical Age of Greece was marked by an explosion in literature, philosophy, drama, and history. This period produced such philosophers as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; the Greek drama and comedy was introduced; Alexander the Great built one of the largest empires ever known. The Classical Age forced people to reexamine themselves and the world they lived in.
The Classical Age began with the philosophers. They first began to investigate how the universe was made. There were several theories, beginning with the philosopher Thales, who proposed that everything in the universe was made of water. This theory was followed by one proposal by Anaximander of Miletus, a pupil of Thales, who believed that everything was an infinite body of matter, or “the boundless”.
Over time, however, philosophy evolved more towards the study of human nature and interaction. Socrates was one of the first philosophers to question what was right and wrong. Plato continued and expanded Socrates’s teachings and opened a philosophic school called the Academy. Aristotle founded a school called the Lyceum which stressed all fields of learning such as logic, biology, and astronomy.
In addition to philosophy, there were huge advances in the literary arts, namely the creation of the Greek tragedy and comedy. Sophocles changed the format of the Greek drama by adding a third actor, when previously there were only two. This was done mainly to explore relationships between the characters and to emphasize the greater issues of society.
The Hellenistic Age began with the death of Alexander the Great and lasted until the death of Cleopatra VII. Known primarily as Hellenization, the Greeks carried their culture and language into the Near East. There were major changes in the life of the Greeks pertaining to industry, art, and religion. Economic life in...
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