His Theogony is a genealogy of the gods of Greek mythology from primeval chaos onward. Pindar is a more recent poet who lived during the late VI century and early Vth century B. A Boeotian like Hesiod, he was regarded by the ancients as the master of lyrical poetry. Most of his poems were written for official circumstances, especially to celebrate winners at various panhellenic games , often at the request of the winners, who would pay him for the work. Aristophanes, the greatest Greek comic poet, was born in Athens in B. He was a contemporary of Socrates, and Plato mentions him in the Apology , and stages him in the Symposium.
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Aristophanes, on the other hand, stages Socrates in his comedy The Clouds , in which he gives a picture of him quite different from the one drawn by Plato in his dialogues, to say the least. He also offers, in The Wasps , a caricature of the judicial system of his time which help imagin what the judges who sat at Socrates' trial could have looked like. Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus , in Asia Minor, around B.
He is considered the father of History. His Histories , in 9 books named after the 9 Muses , tells the story of the Persian Wars, using them as a starting point to deal with many other topics of the past in trying to explain their causes and put them in perspective.
Thucydides, the son of an aristocratic family of Athens, lived in the Vth century B. It is customary to call "presocratic" the philosophers prior to Socrates and their pupils, including those who lived in Socrates' time, and possibly later: the Seven Wisemen, among whom was Thales, Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans, Heraclitus, Parmenides and the Elean philosophers, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Democritus and a few others. The sophists, on the other hand, such as Protagoras, Gorgias, Hippias, Prodicus, were contemporaries of Socrates whom Plato staged in several dialogues, some of which bear the name of one or another of them.
Only fragments of works of these thinkers are extant. Those fragments have been edited by Herman Diels in Germany in a work called Fragmente der Vorsokratiker , in , later improved in a new edition by W. A complete translation of Diels fragments is available in:.
The distinction between sophists and orators is not always obvious, as most sophists asked their pupils huge amounts of money to teach them how to successfully speak in the assembly and defend themselves in courts. The authors here considered are some of those whose political and court speeches have come down to us.
Phaedrus Introduction & Analysis
Though some of those speeches were written for the writer's own defense in court, many of them were written in order to be delivered in court by somebody else who would pay for the speech. Indeed, in Athens at that time, the defendant in a trial, as well as the accuser, had to make his own case in person in front of the court, but he was allowed to request the services of what was called a "logographer" etymologically, a "speech writer" to write the speech he would deliver. Lysias, one of the sons of Cephalus, a Syracusan arm dealer who had settled in Piraeus at the request of Pericles, was active in the democratic movement, and barely escaped the death penalty that killed his brother Polemarchus during the reign of the Thirty Tyrants, saving his life only by running away from Athens, as he himself tells us in his speech Against Eratosthenes Plato stages him as a mute spectator in the Republic , which takes place in his father Cephalus' home with the active participation of his brother Polemarchus, and mimics him in the Phaedrus , which begins with Phaedrus reading a speech suppoded to have been written by him.
The speeches that have come down to us as his range from a Funeral Oration 2, interesting to compare with Plato's Menexenus , which is a parody of such speeches to speeches for trials dealing with problems of everyday's life, which afford us a lively glimpse of daily life in Athens in the time of Socrates and Plato. For instance, the speech On the murder of Eratosthenes 1 is a speech in defense of a husband who killed his wife's lover caught in the act of adultery, and it is worth all the novels written since then on such a topic, showing that, in matters of love, things have not much changed since those remote times.
Isocrates, who is mentioned at the end of the Phaedrus , is almost contemporary of Plato, and headed in Athens a school competing with Plato's Academy, and whose teachings was centered more on rhetorics. Some of his speeches show that he more or less equated the kind of "philosophy" taught by Plato whom he never mentions by name and sophistry. Toward the end of his life, he wrote speeches that were sort of "open letters" in which he would take side on the main political issues of the time, especially regarding the stance he thought Athens should take in the face of the rising power of Philip of Macedonia , a matter of concern for the Greeks by then.
The speeches of Andocides are interesting because they are one of the few sources still extant, along with mentions in Thucydides' Histories , for our knowledge of the affairs of the Herms and of the parody of the Mysteries, in which Alcibiades was implicated at the very time he was taking, with Nicias, the lead of the Sicilian expedition he had convinced Athens to undertake.
And Alcibiades is the character who, after Socrates, is most often staged in the dialogues. The "scientific" for the time approach to medicine that developed most prominently among the Asclepiades, the most famous representative of whom is Hippocrates of Cos around B.
A huge body of works ascribed to Hippocrates has come down to us, but it is likely that not all of these works are from him. Reading some of these works helps get a feel for what was that medicine Plato so often talks about. Mathematics, and especially geometry, made important advances in the time of Socrates and Plato, in part due to the work of Plato's colleagues at the Academy, such as Eudoxus of Cnidus , whose works, now lost, may have been at the root of several books of Euclid's Elements.
Most of the works of the mathematicians of the time are now lost and known only through references in later works. Some of these are collected in :. Poetics 4, b [quoted above, I, ch. This explicitness is certainly not found in Plato. Sophist , d ff. What is not usually noticed about this passage of the Sophist is that Plato is assuming that the objects imitated are themselves beautiful, and beautiful because they realize symmetry or proportion, so that their beauty can be preserved in the reproduction only if this remains faithful to the symmetry or proportion which is instanced by the original, otherwise it is somehow impaired.
One may question his concern with faithfulness to the original, which cannot be defended in this way if the original is not itself beautiful, but one cannot say that the aesthetic point of view is left out of consideration by him. He tends to summarise the techniques of illusionism under the term skiagraphia , which is probably used by him in a generic way to cover them all the sense of depth due to perspective seems to be suggested more by skenographia than by this other term, which initially must have alluded to the use of shading to give relief to the figures in pictures As we shall see in connection with his treatment of tragedy, he uses that term to suggest the recourse to some form of deception, which for this very reason is to be rejected.
To those developments in Greek art he opposes in Laws II, d ff. Egyptian art in that passage is appreciated for having remained the same across the centuries and possibly also for its hieratic character, but it is not clear whether he had any precise idea of its technical nature and wanted to commend it also from this point of view.
It can only be remarked that these, just as the other criteria that have been mentioned, are not apt to put in evidence the originality of the works that are submitted to judgement or the creativity of the artist. Already from the presentation of these works it is evident that symmetria he renders the Greek word with a transliteration was a central notion in architecture as well cf. Another term of which he makes use, eurythmia , is treated by him as venusta species cf. It would thus seem that all the terms he uses as permitting us to give a judgement of the value of a building are to be considered as forms or criteria of beauty.
I cannot enter into an examination of the definitions he gives of these terms, but it is sufficiently clear that there is some adaptation to architecture particularly evident in the introduction of distributio of terms that, as we have seen above, were commonly used to make evident the requirement that any object must satisfy in order to be said to be beautiful.
This he suggests somewhat confusedly by expressly using the term proportio as an equivalent of the Greek analogia cf. III, ch. There is some confusion, because this term is also the equivalent of the Greek summetria , and Vitruvius is unable to keep them well distinct. It is manifest that he depends on some Greek writer on architecture who maintained that the summetria that is realized by the human body and the summetria that is realized by a building such as a temple show the existence of an analogia between them.
The temple thus tends to be conceived symbolically as an extended reproduction of the human body just as the Christian temple tends to be conceived as an extended reproduction of the cross , but clearly it would be out of place to talk of mimesis in this connection. It does not seem, however, that any distinct account of its beauty is given either by Plato or Aristotle. Thus in the passage of the Timaeus quoted above ch.
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In the Republic he admits as was also seen in ch. Since virtue is made to depend on order and harmony in the soul, these two accounts are complementary to one another.
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Pleasure in the refined form is reserved to those who appreciate music which conforms to those formal characteristics and have a grasp of the intelligible structure they reveal, while irrational pleasure is reserved to those who appreciate music which involves emotional excesses and are deprived of any such grasp. Plato does not usually talk of beauty in this connection.
Manual ION (Annotated) (Dialogues of Plato Book 11)
However in the passage of Phaedrus , c to which reference was made in ch. If tragedy, in spite of this, becomes an object of condemnation, it is one can reasonably presume because these formal qualities cannot compensate the morally negative contents it presents.
While in music there may be a reciprocal integration between the images of virtue it offers and the formal characteristics it presents, this does not happen in the case of tragedy, for the images of virtue it offers are deceptive as we shall see below, esp. A similar contrast between form and contents is also presented by comedy, but what it represents is less harmful than what tragedy represents for reasons to be given there , so that it can be tolerated within certain limits.
This leads him to stress the composition and arrangement of the tragedy as a whole and its parts, by concentrating his attention on the plot or story muthos and on those crucial moments such as recognition and reversal which determine the way in which a plot develops. Though some features thus considered are rather typical of tragedies, this sort of approach does not serve much to clarify what is peculiar to a tragedy.
The category of the tragic is even absent in his Poetics. He has more to say on drama in general, for he shows some recognition of its nature as pointed out above, esp. One question which remains open is how a tragedy or a comedy can be beautiful in spite of having some ugly contents. I come back to this issue below, ch. About the parallel that Plato propounds there between painting and poetry it is difficult to escape the conclusion that it is rather unsatisfactory.