Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ancient Greek art

Greece's Golden and Hellenistic Ages
Despite the failure of political unity in the Greek world, during the 400s B.C. Greek culture reached new heights. It was a period so magnificent that it is often called Greece’s golden age.

Ancient Greek art.
Greek art reflected the way in which Greeks viewed themselves and the world. The pride people took in their city-states was perhaps most effectively displayed in the great temples and public buildings the Greeks built to adorn their cities.

Structures such as the magnificent Parthenon, an engineering masterpiece in its own right, were decorated with the finest sculptures the Greeks could produce. The golden age in Greece produced some of the finest sculptors who have ever lived men like Myron, who created the famous Discus Thrower; Phidias, who created the statue of Zeus at the Temple of Olympia; and Praxiteles, renowned for his delicate, lifelike, and often life-sized figures. In addition to sculpture, the Greeks also painted their best preserved paintings are found on vases. Vase paintings illustrated everyday life as well as myths.

Thinkers and writers of the golden age. Even before the golden age, the Greeks displayed a keen interest in the things of the mind philosophy, mathematics, science, and literature. As they investigated the natural world, Greek thinkers moved away from the myths of the past and sought natural explanations for the phenomena around them. In the 500s B.C., for example, before the golden age began, the philosopher Pythagoras wrote that everything could be explained or expressed through numbers and the relationships, or ratios, between them. Hippocrates, considered the founder of modern medicine, taught that disease comes from natural causes, not as punishment from the gods.

During the golden age itself, Greek philosophers increasingly turned their attention to' human nature and the human mind. Socrates, for example, who lived in Athens from 470 to 399 B.C., wanted people to think for themselves and established a method of learning through questioning. Today we call this the Socratic method. In this way, he believed, people might acquire wisdom. Accused of corrupting the minds of the youth and for showing irreverence for the gods, he was condemned to death by his enemies in Athens. His pupil, Plato, founded the Academy, a school devoted to teaching philosophy. Plato was interested in discovering the true nature of things, which he expressed in his theory of forms the idea that everything physical is but an imperfect expression of a perfect universal form, or idea. Plato was also interested in politics and wrote the Republic, outlining his idea that society should be organized so that the best and brightest might govern it a meritocracy in which all people would do the work for which they were best suited.

One of Plato’s students at the Academy was Aristotle, who was determined to apply philosophical reasoning and logic to every branch of human knowledge. Aristotle concluded that the Greek ideal of style in the arts balance, order, and restraint also represented the highest ideal in terms of human behavior  an ideal that was most likely to bring people the greatest happiness. Applying his reasoning skills to politics, Aristotle concluded that the best form of government was one that combined certain elements of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy into a kind of limited democracy in the hands of the middle class.

The Greeks also applied this method of logical reasoning to human affairs, particularly to the writing of history. Herodotus and especially Thucydides, who wrote the History of the Peloponnesian War, were the first great historians of the Western world. Combining reason with beauty, however, they also saw history as a branch of literature. Another branch was drama. Greek playwrights explored the conflicts of human existence in terms of both tragedy, in which the major characters struggle unsuccessfully against their fate, and comedy, in which they succeed in solving their problems.

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