Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Becoming a Writer: Ancient Greeks (III of III)

NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art - Death of So...Image by wallyg via Flickr
Pyrrhus (319-272 B.C.E.) King of Epirus. Cousin of Alexander the Great. He led several cam­paigns against Macedonia and Rome. His victory at Heraclea in 281 B.C.E. against the Roman consul Laevinus came at such devastating cost to his army as to coin the term "Pyrrhic victory."
 Pythagoras (c. sixth century B.C.E.) Philosopher and mathematician. He founded an academy at Croton, in southern Italy. There, he took both men and women as pupils and some of his best students were women. Pythagoras' followers were secretive about his teachings and practiced a strict form of vegetari­anism. Pythagoras interpreted the universe through numbers. He dis­covered the musical scale. His mathematics influenced philosophers such as Plato, and his Pythagorean Theorem is today taught throughout the world.
Sappho (c. late seventh century B.C.E.) Poetess. From the island ofLesbos. Her verse is powerful and intimate. The prominent theme in her erotic poems is the love of a woman for another woman. She also composed hymns to the goddess Aphrodite. She is thought to have been a mentor to a group of female friends.
Socrates (469-399 B.C.E.) Philosopher from Athens. Veteran of the battles at Delium and Amphipolis. Socrates himself did not write down his teachings. They were transcribed later on by his pupil Plato and by Xenophon. His dialectic method was based on a question-and-answer process known as elenchos, examination. Socrates taught that anyone interested in learning would have to first discard everything he believed he knew ­before real knowledge could be attained. Socrates felt it was his moral duty as a philosopher and citizen to wake Athenians to this reality. In 399 B.C.E. he was found guilty of intro­ducing "false gods" in his teachings and after a trial was executed by having to drink hemlock. 

Solon (c. 639-c. 559 B.C.E.) Athenian statesman. A nobleman by birth, he abolished indentured slavery and revised most of Draco's strict laws. Solon not only freed Athenian citizens who had made themselves slaves by failing to repay their debts but bought back Athenians who had been sold as slaves abroad. He divided Athens into four classes based on their property and wealth. Everyone had the right to attend the state council, the so ­called Council of the Four Hundred. Solon allowed all Athenians to participate in trials as jurors. He was regarded as the father of Athenian democracy and he paved the road for Cleisthenes. He was also one of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece.
Sophocles (c. 496-406 B.C.E.) Athenian tragedian. Together with Aeschylus and Euripides is consid­ered to be one of the greatest tragic poets of antiquity. He wrote 123 plays, of which only seven survive. Among his extant plays are Antigone, Philoctetes, Oedipus Rex, Ajax, and Oedipus at Colonus. Aris­totle referred to Oedipus Rex as the perfect tragedy.
Strabo (c. 64 B.C.E.-24 B.C.E.) Geographer. The writer of many books on geography and topog­raphy, Strabo traveled widely around Mrica and Europe. His main work, Geography, composed of seventeen books, still survives.
Thales of Miletus (c. 625-547 B.C.E.) Philosopher. Ancient philosophers and scientists credited Thales with extraordinary scientific feats such as the measurement of the height of the pyramids and the calculation of solstices. He was believed to be an innovator in many sciences and was one of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece.
Themistocles (c. 524-459 B.C.E.) Statesman. Victor of the Battle of Salamis, Themistocles was respon­sible for the destruction of the Persian navy and, afterward, for the for­tification of Athens. He was ostracized and exiled to Argos. He ended up in Persia, where in 459 B.C.E. is believed to have committed sui­cide after being asked by Persian King Artaxerxes to betray Greece.
Theognis (c. sixth century B.C.E.) Poet from Megara. About fourteen hundred verses of his exist today in fragments. Theognis includes moral and aristocratic elements in his poetry.
Thucydides (c. 455-c. 400 B.C.E.) Historian. He documented the Peloponnesian War. Even though he was born an aristocrat, Thucydides was an ardent admirer of democ­racy and Pericles. Pericles' "Funeral Oration," as written by Thucy­dides, is an oratorical masterpiece that serves to evoke a sense of patriotism and civic duty as well as describe the greatness of Athens after the victories in the Persian Wars. His methodology, accurately describing historical events and using authentic sources, has served as a benchmark for later generations of historians.
Xenophon (c. 428-354 B.C.E.) Historian. An associate of Socrates, Xenophon fought in Cyrus' army against Cyrus' older brother, Artaxerxes, in the Battle of Cunaxa in
401 B.C.E. Cyrus was defeated and killed. Xenophon's adventures in reaching Greece from the midst of Asia after the defeat are docu­mented in his March of the Ten Thousand. He also wrote a history of Greece entitled Hellenica, the memoirs of Socrates, Memorabilia, as well as a dialogue on estate management, entitled Oeconomicus.
Zeno of Elea (co 490-454 n.c.s.)
Philosopher. Regarded as the founder of the dialectical argument. He is famous for propounding paradoxes on plurality, motion, predica­tion, and place.
Zeno of Citiurn (335-263 s.c.a.) Philosopher. Founder of Stoicism, Zeno opened a school in Athens where he taught logic, ethics, and metaphysics. Zeno maintained that virtue is the ultimate good and that in order to achieve happiness one would first have to be virtuous.
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