Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Long Shadow of the Ancient Greek World

The Long Shadow of the Ancient Greek World covers Greece from early civilization to Alexander the Great.

The Greek society has been an important base for modern western thought. These lectures start with early Greek thinkers from the "archaic" age. We get the originator of democracy. He did not necessarily create it out of some high-minded ideal, but merely thought it was a could we to keep order and reign in some of the problems in his current society. It didn't really hold, but was eventually restored.

We also get the origins of "Draconian" law. The law was finally written down. However, the punishment for nearly everything was death. Well, at least that was what was going to happen without the law. At least now, there is some support of the state.

Then we have the history of Sparta. They evolved into a warrior state. Even the women had to be strong in order to birth strong babies. They were able to keep their warrior state going by enslaving some of the neighboring communities.

There are many details of Greek history that we just don't know for sure. We do have plenty of records, but they tend to be very opinionated. You could easily argue both sides of an issue and find some support.

The Persian wars were a dividing line between archaic and classical Greece. Athens got a little too cocky in the end. Greece had a very slave-driven economy, thus giving people free time to engage in things like arts, war and democracy.

Ian Worthington had a very personable opinionated style of lecture delivery. He would present the "common" historical view, but also give balanced weight to his "heresy". His views often run somewhat counter to historical consensus, but are well supported. He also presents them in such a way that makes it easy to pick to believe in either view (or adopt one of your own.) He tends to view people like Alexander the Great as being overrated, while some others as underrated. It makes for a very well done series of lectures that not only teaches that facts but also gets you thinking.

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