April 5, 2013

"Ancient Greece is considered by most historians to be the foundational culture of Western Civilization."

"Greek culture was a powerful influence in the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe. Ancient Greek civilization has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, art and architecture of the modern world, particularly during the Renaissance in Western Europe and again during various neo-Classical revivals in 18th and 19th century Europe and the Americas."

Today's "History of" country is Greece.

19 comments:

Archilochus said...

Long before our own time, the customs of our ancestors moulded admirable men, and in turn these eminent men upheld the ways and institutions of their forebears. Our age, however, inherited the Republic like some beautiful painting of bygone days, its colors already fading through great age; and not only has our time neglected to freshen the colors of the picture, but we have failed to preserve its form and outlines. For what remains to us, nowadays, of the ancient ways on which the commonwealth, we are told, was founded? We see them so lost in oblivion that they are not merely neglected, but quite forgot. And what am I to say of the men? For our customs have perished for want of men to stand by them, and we are now called to an account, so that we stand impeached like men accused of capital crimes, compelled to plead our own cause. Through our vices, rather than from happenstance, we retain the word “republic” long after we have lost the reality.

–Cicero, De Re Publica

The Founders learned from the Achean experience that republics don't last forever.

wyo sis said...

What we could use is another neo-Classical revival instead of all the neo-Socialism we're getting.

James Pawlak said...

Well, some have claimed that it was the Western Christian Church which preserved that knowledge and added it to Roman materials, with a very small dash of what Islam had from India, Persia and Egypt. Then the Church established what we know as universities (Beyond the theological schools of Islam) and laid the real foundations of the Western World.

YoungHegelian said...

A really good history of ancient Greece is John V.A. Fines The Ancient Greeks.

I found the chapters on the Greek "Dark Age" (1200-750 BC) and the age of Mediterranean colonization be (750 to 500 BC) to especially informative because it's almost impossible to piece together this information without an in-depth knowledge of both the classical authors & recent archaeological work.

Archilochus said...

And Edward Luttwak's "Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire" offers a fascinating glimpse into that period of Greek history. I find it interesting that they still called themselves Romaioi a thousand years after the Western Empire collapsed.

ironrailsironweights said...

Snow in Greece is usually associated with the higher elevations, but maybe once every few years there will be a significant snowfall in Athens. Snow is very uncommon on most of the islands.

Peter

Rusty said...

wyo sis said...
What we could use is another neo-Classical revival instead of all the neo-Socialism we're getting


Mark it well. Our great grandchildren will ask us why we gave up so much for so little.

Archilochus said...

But I thought socialism delivers heaven on earth?

n.n said...

And baby, look at them now.

Archilochus:

It doesn't have to be inevitable. However, liberty is only suitable for men and women capable of self-moderating behavior. Unfortunately, dysfunctional behaviors are progressive and when permitted to develop unchecked will eventually converge.

Anyway, a majority of men and women are making the wrong demands. There is no fulfillment for dreams of material, physical, and ego instant gratification without consequences.

So, it seems that dysfunctional convergence is inevitable with a democratic majority. The Republican form of government was supposed to diffuse this collusion. Unfortunately, we ignored the guidance in our national charter and Constitution. We decided to legalize dysfunctional behaviors to accommodate our base desires.

edutcher said...

You should have a pic of fellow blogger Victor Davis Hanson.

I love how he hooks today's issues into Classical studies. That was why a good Liberal Arts education was so valuable. you learned how history repeats itself because human nature doesn't change that much.

rcocean said...

Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

Dr. Franklin: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Sadly, we failed to "keep it" years ago.

CWJ said...

Archilochus, I would submit that your original post reflects the Roman rather than the Greek view.

CWJ said...

My goodness Archilochus @4:22, read some Gibbon. They WERE the Roman Empire. That the West fell is a footnote!

chickelit said...

The hoary Baby Boom cohort is a kind of eminence Greece.

Mumpsimus said...

Well, we've heard from Archilocus. Where's virgil xenophon? He's half Greek.

chickelit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickelit said...

Modern Greek landscape seems so barren, sterile and time worn that it's difficult to believe how much past it bore. All that rich fruit seems gone now and long since sucked dry. At least the seeds took hold.

Mitch H. said...

I go out drinking Tuesday nights with a group that includes Greek expats. One of them is from somewhere up in the mountainous northwest, he likes to tell the story of his ancestor, who bought the homestead the old-fashioned way, by dropping a boulder on the prior owners.

There's way too much Greek history to sit down with a Wiki page on the subject. I always had a weak spot for Bury's victorian tome on Ancient Greece, although by now it's probably about as accurate and useful as Gibbon's Decline and Fall.

Westerners tend to project their abstractions upon Greece, and not really see the country as it is. Like Lord Byron, who died like a Regeny Che Guevara, helping lead a revolution against the terrible Turk.

Professor, didn't you have a post a couple years ago about the early 19th century American craze for the cause of "white slavery" in Greece?

West Town said...

"There is this exceptionally beneficial and fruitful advantage to be derived from the study of the past, that you see, set in the clear light of historical truth, examples of every possible type. From these you may select for yourself and your country what to imitate, and also what, as being mischievous in its inception and disastrous in its issues, you are to avoid."

Livy, Book 1