Ancient Greece is considered to be the phenomenon of the development of human civilization. The association that arouses when hearing the word combination “Ancient Greece” is “genius”. The roots of philosophy, art, imaginative literature can be found there. The scientists and artist of different historical epochs have drawn inspiration from Ancient Greece, the inexhaustible source of inspiration. On the whole, Ancient Greece can be figuratively called a treasury of human wisdom. Especially interesting in this relation can be Athenian achievements during the fifth century. The “blossom” of Athens was caused by the military success in the Persian Wars that resulted in the Athenians’ pride for victory and general upheaval was its concequence. The present work is aimed at the creation of the picture of Athenian achievements in the spheres of philosophy, government, art and architecture, theater during the analyzed period.
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The first thing that deserves consideration is Athenian government that has evident connection with contemporary politics and the prevalence of democratic states in the modern world. The fifth century was the time of creation and development of Athenian democracy, the first democratic state in world history. A prominent historical figure in this relation was Pericles, “the guiding spirit of Athenian imperialism”, a person who was Athenian strategos for a long time due to numerous reelections and the trust of citizens (Pomeroy 215). The analyzed period is significant due to productive work of the outdoor assembly meeting (ekklesia) that gathered on the Phyx to create the policy of Athens and was the prototype of contemporary voting, the necessary part of modern democracy. Freedom of speech is characteristic of Athenian democracy and can be observed in contemporary democracy as well.
As for the contribution of Athens to philosophy, it is difficult to overestimate it since the fifth century introduced eternal names of philosophers, such as Socrates and Plato. The Sophists, for instance, Protagoras developed the art of rectory in Athens. The importance of rectory, the art of persuasion, is highly appreciated nowadays as well. Returning to the “big” names, Socrates and Plato, the “gift” of the fifth century have created the basis of philosophy. Among their greatest achievements are the invention of “the Socratic method” (Pomeroy 324) and the legacy of philosophical dialogues by Plato. On the whole, Athenian philosophy of this period is considered the basis of Western ideology.
The fifth century was the “Golden Age” of Athenian literature, as well as drama. Pindar, a great Greek poet, is famous for his odes, which are “rich in allusion and soaring in language” (Pomeroy 220). The theme of human virtue was the central theme of his poetry frequently quoted by Plato (Pomeroy 220). However, the fifth century was “the Age of Drama”. The evidence of this is the authority of such famous names as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Aristophanes. These names are known because only these authors created plays that have managed to survive, though dozens of dramatist were active Athens in the fifth century. Drama was the inevitable part of the life of the Athenians since it was related to religious events and was the political “vehicle” as well (Pomeroy 224). Contemporary interest to ancient drama can be explained by the prevalence of universal problems tackled by the authors. The themes of Athenian drama are still topical nowadays: power, betrayal, intellectual blindness, etc.
Finally, it is necessary to tackle the development of art and architecture in Athens. Moral and intellectual upheaval found its realization in visual art and architecture that became classical and was the source of inspiration of artists of subsequent epochs, such as the Renaissance. The analyzed period is famous for the creation of marvelous temples, such as the temple to Athena, the Parthenon that continues to attract visitors nowadays (Pomeroy 201). It is possible to set numerous examples of architectural monuments of Athens but the Parthenon is the embodiment of the best features of Greek architecture that is the model of harmony in contemporary architecture.
Drawing the conclusion, it is necessary to state that the fifth century in Athens is the epoch of harmony of human society. The harmony was achieved by the development of all spheres of human life and culture. This is why the century is called “Golden Age” as it still the model of human civilization for contemporary society (Pomeroy 82). However, if the Persian Wars were the causes of the upheaval, the Peloponnesian War was the cause of the decay of Athens with its marvelous culture.
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Ancient Greece: A Political, Social, and Cultural History. NY: Oxford University Press US, 1999.
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