Ancient Greece Essay Research Paper During the

Ancient Greece Essay, Research Paper During the Greek Golden Age, art and philosophy expressed hellenic "weltanschauung", their unique outlook on the world and way of life. Through the works of

Ancient Greece Essay, Research Paper

During the Greek Golden Age, art and

philosophy expressed hellenic "weltanschauung", their unique

outlook on the world and way of life. Through the works of

artists, playwrights, and philosophers, one can see both sides

of the conflicted systems of the world, such as; good vs. evil,

order vs. chaos, stability vs. flux, relativism vs. absolutism

and balance and harmony. The Greeks were materialists.

They adopted the philosophical doctrine which says that

physical matter is the only reality in the universe; everything

else, including thought, feeling, mind and will can be

explained in terms of physical laws. Their materialism was

expressed in an excessive regard for worldly, beautiful

material things and concerns. They used their art to show the

glories of humanity and man. The sculptors of the Golden

Age aimed to create graceful, strong and perfectly formed

figures. Their art showed natural positions and thoughtful

expressions rather than abstract art forms. Their standards of

order and balance became standards for classical art in

western civilization. The Greeks were proud of their temples

and other architecture, made to honor the gods and beautify

the polis (city-state). Their famous architectural styles were

the heavy Doric columns and the slender scrolled Ionian

columns. The Parthenon, the Greek temple for the goddess

Athena, is a impeccable example of symmetry and

proportion. The sides of the Parthenon give an optical

illusion of perfect balance on all sides. Their desire for

balance in art and architecture represents the balance of the

world; order and moderation are expressed in the simplicity

of lines and shapes. The resulting overall structure works

together to achieve harmony. In ancient Greece, public

drama was more than entertainment. It was a form of public

education. It dealt with issues of importance to the people,

such as; the authority of the leaders, the power of the

people, questions of justice, morality, wars, peace, the duties

of the gods, family life and city living. Aeschylus wrote about

the furies and how they punished man for wrongdoings. This

shows that he believed that chaos would be punished

because order (and law) is the ideal state. Sophocles is best

known for his plays of Oedipus. Those plays dealt with

family and civic loyalty. The Greeks emphasized, particularly

in their plays, the importance of loyalty as a goal to strive for.

We learn a lot about Greek views through their philosophy,

which literally means the love of knowledge. The Greeks

educated through a series of questions and answers, in order

to better teach about life and the universe. The first

philosopher was Thales. He believed in absolutism and

eternal matter. He said that water was the original matter and

that without it, there would be no life. Parmenides stated that

stability and permanence were the underlying conditions of

the universe. He believed that change is only an illusion and

that one’s senses can only grasp superficial realities of

change. Heroditus argued with Parmenides saying that

change was the basic condition of reality. He further claimed

that all permanence was false. Thus he saw things as

naturally being in flux rather than a stable state. Democritus

argued with both Parmenides and Heroditus. He insisted that

there is nothing spiritual and that only matter existed. He then

went on to say that everything is made of little invisible

particles, hooked up in different arrangements. He was an

atomist. The Greek philosophers went on to question the

nature of being and the meaning of life. Pythagoras was the

first metaphysicist, one who studies beyond physical

existence. He believed in a separation between spirit and

body, an opposition between good and evil and between

discord and harmony. In the 5th century, the Greeks learned

from Sophists, who believed that the views of society are

standards and the sole measurement of good, truth, justice

and beauty. Protagoras was a sophist. He said that, "man is

the measure of all things." He believed in a constant flux, and

that nothing is absolutely right or wrong, but subject to

change. His view is much like that held by Parmenides. The

philosophers then asked a question such as; what would

happen if things that were wrong were seen by society as

acceptable? What, for example, if society condoned

murder? Socrates was one who argued this point of view.

He stressed truth as absolute, not changeable depending of

the thinking of society as a given time. He believed in set

standards of ethics. He said that right and wrong can be

figured out on an absolute level. If one understands the

truths, he can live a good life, without evil. Plato agreed with

Socrates. He, too, said that morals, ethics, as well as matter,

were absolute. He stated two levels of existence; the

physical world of "shadows" and the real world of "ideas".

Plato wanted a philosopher-king who would stress harmony

and efficiency, as Plato did. Another philosopher, Aristotle,

believed in a world of moderation and balance. He

disagreed with Plato’s two levels of existence. Instead,

Aristotle said that all functions of the soul die with the body

and that there is no afterlife. Aristotle also said that truth

followed logically from other truths. One must reason, step

by step, before reaching conclusions. Greek thinkers

assumed that the universe was put together in an orderly

way. They insisted that people could understand their laws,

merely, through the process of reason. There were many

conflicting ideas among the elite of ancient Greece, of what

the "Greek outlook" is. Our western society has learned a lot

from the Greeks. We inherited their art and love of

symmetry, their literature and understanding of man, their

philosophies which stimulate our thinking, causing us to ask

questions about our existence. As modern and

knowledgeable as we are today, we would not be nearly as

sophisticated if not for our ancestors the great thinkers of

Greece in ancient times. Bibliography Jantzen, Steven L.,

Krieger, Larry S., Neill, Kenneth. World History, D.C.

Health & Company: Massachusetts, 1988. The American

Heritage Dictionary, Dell Publishing Co. Inc., New York,