The Greek World: A Study of History and Culture
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The ancient Greeks, more than any other early people or culture, have given us the template for Western civilization. An amazing number of the cultural, civic, and intellectual institutions that we take for granted in today’s world were first fleshed out by the Greeks, including phenomenal achievements in the fields of political theory, law, philosophy, science, and art. ancient Greece was the birthplace of drama, as well as democracy. A look at the range of innovations of the ancient Greeks reveals a list of historical contributions that is nothing short of astonishing. Within the sciences alone, the Greeks invented the fields of anatomy, astronomy, biology, botany, optics, physics, pharmacology, physiology, and zoology. To this already impressive list, we can also add mathematics as we know it, anthropology, ethnography, political science, and the discipline of scientific history. Reflecting on this incredible legacy, Professor Robert Garland of Colgate University returns with The Greek World: A Study of History and Culture , guiding you in an enthralling and richly illuminating exploration of what the ancient Greeks have given us, and why they’re still important to us today. This wide-ranging inquiry into the history and contours of Greek civilization offers you far-reaching perspectives on our own origins and the development of Western thought and culture, as well as a deepened appreciation for the spectrum of Greek contributions in and of themselves. This fabulous civilization, also replete with stunning architecture, sculpture, painting, and literature, has fascinated and deeply resonated with humanity, not only in the modern era, but also down through the ages: During Greece’s era under Roman rule, the Roman Empire fell inextricably under the spell of Hellenism, which influenced every aspect of Roman life; In medieval Islam’s golden age, Islamic scholarship and learning were deeply influenced by Greek thought; In the rediscovery of classical Greece during the Renaissance, Greek thought, Greek philosophy, and Greek knowledge became essential to the developing West; and In the centuries following the Renaissance, Greek mythology became integral to Western art and literature, and Greek architectural forms were adopted across the Western world. Explore the Greatness of an Unparalleled Civilization Beginning with the earliest human traces on the Greek landscape, The Greek World: A Study of History and Culture charts the origins of Greek civilization, acquainting you with the early cultures of the Cycladic islands, the Minoans, and the Mycenaeans, as well as the important developments of the Greek Dark Age, before delving into the Classical and Hellenistic periods of Greek history, when so many iconic features of Greek culture flourished. As a distinguishing element of this course, the lectures take you well beyond Greece’s ancient history, leading you through the succeeding epochs and examining the Roman period, the Byzantine period, and the world-changing rediscovery of Greek literature, philosophy, and art in the Renaissance. You’ll also learn about the Greek experience under Ottoman rule, the Greek struggle for independence, and the history of the nation-state of Greece through the 19th and 20th centuries. From there, the course digs deeply and thoroughly into all of the major elements of Greek culture that have resonated and continue to echo down through the centuries to the present day, from mythology and religion to architecture and art, theater, politics, philosophy, science, and more. In these 24 thought-provoking lectures, you’ll stand before what Professor Garland calls the “maze of wonder” that the Greeks have given us, exploring the intersection of Greek history and Western culture as well as the Greeks’ conception of themselves. Casting a discerning eye on both the Greeks’ accomplishments and on what we may consider to be their failings, the course provides a remarkable opportunity to assess and come to terms with the Greeks’ contributions and the fascination and influence they have exercised over humanity for more than 2,000 years. Look Deeply into the Ethos of Greek Culture and Thought At the heart of the inquiry, Professor Garland’s richly detailed knowledge of the Greek world and his ability to bring diverse perspectives to bear allow you to discover the deeper motives, perceptions, and mindsets that drove the Greeks. In shedding light on what he calls “the complex bond between antiquity and modernity,” he goes to great lengths to provide glimpses of Greek culture as the Greeks themselves saw it. As a case in point, in the lecture discussing the Acropolis and the Parthenon, you’ll get the chance to see the site as Greek eyes saw it in the 5th century B.C.E., featuring the legendary gold and ivory adorned statue of Athena, symbol of Athens for over 1,000 years. Here, you’ll take account of the sublime structural features and sculptural reliefs that made the Parthenon the supreme example of Classical Greek architecture and art. You’ll discover the forces underlying the development of Greek civilization in examples such as: The Greek Worldview— In Lecture 1, examine key features of the Greek sensibility, from their intelligence and curiosity to their competitiveness, self-criticism, and egalitarian spirit; in Lecture 9, observe how their rich mythology allowed the Greeks to reckon with the dark side of human experience; and in Lecture 22, grasp how a look at the ancient Greek language, and their use of it, shows us something distinctive about the Greek view of reality. The Phenomenon of Hellenism— Discover how Greek culture flowered during the Classical Age, then spread through Alexander’s conquests across the Mediterranean world, the whole of the former Persian empire, and extensive territories beyond; and how it later left no aspect of Roman life untouched, from art, architecture, and education to medicine, science, philosophy, religion, and political theory. Athenian Democracy— Grasp the features and scope of democracy as it arose in Athens in the 5th century B.C.E. as a bold political experiment; observe the differences between the Greeks’ radical, participatory democracy and our system of representative democracy; also assess its flaws, including exclusion of women and acceptance of slavery, and the ways in which Athenian legal practice bolstered the democratic system. Religion and the Olympians— Explore the nature of Greek religious belief, and encounter the panoply of gods and goddesses, from Zeus, Apollo, and Dionysus to Athena, Aphrodite, and Persephone. Witness how the gods embodied very human traits, and were largely indifferent to human struggles. Take account of the kinds of human experience where the gods would intervene, and the ways in which the Greeks worshipped their gods. Greek Drama, Literature, and Philosophy— In individual lectures, study the forms and rituals of Greek theater going, and the cultural functions of tragedy and comedy in the plays of Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes. Dig into the essence of Homer’s great epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey . And consider the seminal ideas of philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and those of other Greek philosophical traditions. Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture— Savor the splendor and magnificence of Hellenic art. Survey the periods, techniques, and aesthetics of Greek sculpture, highlighting a range of standout masterpieces. Discover the superlative qualities of Greek vase painting, and its fascinating iconography. Study the key elements and forms of Greek architecture that have so deeply impacted Western architecture and art. Beautifully and amply illustrated, and with additional lectures focusing on mythology, history writing, science, law, language, and even food and drink, The Greek World: A Study of History and Culture offers you a multilevel immersion in Greek civilization, and an unforgettable view of the extraordinary power ancient Greece exerts over the Western imagination.

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