Archive | May, 2017

Greek Religion D.17.06.01

31 May

Greek religion offered an excellent explanation for the troubles and triumphs and tragedies of human life. Why did good things happen to bad people? Because, some god didn’t find that in their interest. By helping one god you annoyed another, and so you did the right thing but you were punished.
What Greek religion didn’t offer was much hope of transcendence. Herodotus, the historian, tells a story where he suggests that you should never say that a person is happy until after they’re dead, because only then do you know the final outcome of their life.
So no matter how good your situation is, something bad could always happen to you tomorrow. And so it is not possible to make a judgment about you until after you’re dead.
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Greek Gods D.17.05.31

31 May

Greek Gods were thought of as powerful but not perfect beings. They had emotions, and often acted selfishly out of lust, jealousy or anger. While they took an interest in human affairs and could be influenced by prayer and sacrifice, they were primarily concerned with their own relationships and quarrels.
Humans needed to respect the gods, but honouring one might bring down the wrath of another.
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Ancient Religion D.17.05.30

30 May

Like most ancient religions, Greek religion was polytheistic. Gods represented aspects of nature, like the sun, the moon, the sea and the sky. They also embodied human activities and abilities.
There was a god of war, goddess of love, a goddess of wisdom. The most powerful gods were thought of as a family, living on Mount Olympus in Northern Greece. Beyond the major deities there were innumerable lesser gods, spirits of particular woods, streams, fields and so on.
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The Learned Slaves D.17.05.29

29 May

We think of slaves as being without education and yet there is evidence to suggest otherwise. Slaves were often teachers or probably teachers were often slaves in Greece and later in Rome.
Slaves could be highly skilled. A slave might be a scholar who was a citizen of a Greek city that was defeated by another and then that scholar went on and became a slave.
When Athens conquered a town and captured scholars, those scholars became Athenian slaves and they taught Athenian children.
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Women and Men of the Past D.17.05.28

27 May

It is difficult to imagine life in antiquity and the hardships endured by so many people. It was not clean cut like it is today in some civilized places.
Female and male slaves were involved in sex trade and prostitution. In Greek society there were slaves which made up to about 30% of the population by some estimates. It is hard to estimate exactly how many slaves there were in Greece but some scholars have estimated as much as 30% of the Greek population was enslaved.
This is somewhat difficult to imagine such a large proportion of the population had their freedom removed from them. Some of these people would have been ethnic Greeks who were captured in war or the descendants of those captured in war. Some of them would have been people from other parts of the Mediterranean world and areas further east.
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The Wealth of Athens D.17.05.27

26 May

Without the silver from the Laurium mines, Athens couldn’t have had a navy. Without the navy, it couldn’t have had an empire. Without an empire, it couldn’t have had the Parthenon and the Acropolis and all the other things that we think of that make Athens great.
Slavery unfortunately was an intrinsic part of Greek society. It is something that cannot be wished away. The images from antiquity of slaves are obvious because they depicted as being smaller than their mistress. The slave is presented as smaller because he/she is less significant. Women were slaves as well as men. Slaves worked in households, as well as in fields and mines.
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Slaves as Commodities D.17.05.26

25 May

Aristotle wrote books on ethics. He thought about what is good and what is right and he had no problem at all with the notion that some people were naturally slaves.
Slavery started in the Greek world probably as a matter of captured prisoners in warfare, two towns would fight, one town would be conquered, the men would be killed and the women and children would be enslaved.
There came a time when there was a market for slaves, partly because slaves were something the Greeks could export to other countries to buy goods with.
Slaves became part of the commodity trade. The question is what did slaves do in Greek society? It wasn’t a situation of plantation slavery in the Caribbean or the American South before the Civil War and the Greeks did not have a system of plantation slavery.
Slaves worked everywhere in the economy, often side by side with free labourers. They were often paid the same as free labourers. The difference was that slaves were considered to be absolute property of whoever their master was and they had absolutely no civil rights of any kind. They were property, not people in terms of the law.
Slaves worked in the fields. Slaves worked in mines and this was one of the harshest and most difficult places for slaves to work. Slaves in mines were basically worked to death and it’s worth remembering that all the glories of classical Athens were made possible in great part, because of the discovery of silver mines at Laurium, not far from Athens and these mines were worked constantly by slave labour.
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