Friday, January 20, 2012

Important People in Greek History

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Important People in Greek History

Pericles was the leader of Athens during its Golden Age. He encouraged democratic

principles, such as citizen involvement. Under Pericles rule, Athens gained beautiful art and

architecture and threw marvelous festivals, banquets, and parades. These attracted merchants,

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philosophers, and artisans from all over Greece. He had an imperialistic foreign policy; he wanted

the world to know the supremacy of Athens. Unfortunately, this policy led to the downfall of

Athens. When all the other city-states became angry enough, they revolted and conquered Athens.

Sophocles was one of the greatest playwrights in the history of Greece. He lived during

Athens Golden Age. He began his career as a playwright when he won the Dionysia, a prestigious

annual theater competition. From there, he wrote 10 plays in 6 years. 4 of his plays won first

place in the Dionysia, and the rest placed second. He made many innovations to the theater,

including a machine to raise and lower people to create the effect of flying and an increased

number of people in the chorus to allow for a more involved plot. He also introduced the idea that

people are responsible for their own actions and control their own fate, so they cant blame the

gods for their problems. Of all his works, only seven of Sophocles plays remain fully intact.

Plato was one of the most influential philosophers in Greece. Platos real name was

Aristocles, but he adopted the nickname Plato, meaning broad shouldered, due to his physical

build. Plato was born in Athens Golden Age to an aristocratic political family. The political

corruption he observed is what convinced him to not go into politics. Instead, he became

interested in philosophy after meeting Socrates. Plato was one of Socrates students until Socrates

was put to death for his beliefs. Plato then traveled to Italy. When he returned, Plato founded the

Academy, Europes first school. There, Plato taught and learned for the rest of his life.

Pindar was actually born in Thebes, but lived in Greece for most of his life. He began his

career by writing a victory ode for a couple whose son won an Olympic game. From there, Pindar

was hired to write odes for monarchs and nobles until he died.

Homer is Greeces most famous author. Nothing certain is known about Homers life. His

name means hostage, which he probably was, for he lived during a time of war between all the

city-states. The ancient Greeks later referred to him as The Poet. Homer most likely came from

Ionia. He may also have been blind. In any case, he wrote the two most famous pieces of Greek

literature, the Iliad and the Odyssey, making him one of the most prestigious writers ever.

Sappho lived on the island of Lesbos. Legend says she was an ugly prostitute who

committed suicide by throwing herself off of a cliff. She wrote nearly five hundred poems, and

was hated for her work. Most of her poetry was destroyed, but a few were found in an Egyptian

trash site, and later, more were discovered to have been used to stuff a crocodile and wrap a

mummy. Sappho did have a group of girls as her students and admirers of her work. Many of her

poems include them.

Aristotle was born the son of a doctor, but was raised by Proxenus once his father died. At

seventeen, Aristotle became a student at Platos Academy. Later, he moved to the island of Assos,

where he was the head of a group of philosophers. He also met his wife there. After the death of

his wife, he returned to Athens and founded his own school, the Lyceum. He later had to move

again do to political unrest and died shortly after. During his lifetime, Aristotle wrote many

philosophical books on government and law that are the basis of our Western world.

Socrates was an influential Greek philosopher. He actually never wrote anything. He

studied Greek rhetoric. He questioned people on the street, getting them to examine their morals

and beliefs. Socrates taught Plato along with a group of other philosophers until he was put to

death by the government of Athens. He was convicted with atheism and treason and sentenced to

drink poison.

Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia. He studied under Aristotle as a youth.

Later, he united Greece, and spread the Greek empire over a vast amount of area. He devised new

and brilliant war tactics. He also improved the living standards of Greece, creating a system of

roads and irrigation. It is believed he died of alcoholism. Once he died, his empire fell apart,

dissolving into many small, unstable kingdoms.

Euripedes is one of the best writers of tragedy and sadness ever. Five of his plays won the

Dionysia. Although he won these prestigious awards, he was disliked during his lifetime, but

became extremely popular posthumously.

Dionysus is the Greek god of dance, poetry, song, theater, festivals, and drunkenness. He

was said to have invented wine and is one of the twelve main gods in Greek religion. In ancient

Greece, there was a very popular annual play-writing competition dedicated to him, called the


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