IDEAL of Athenian Democracy

Discussion 3 (Chapters 6 and 7): Athenian (and American) Ideals and Realities at at TIme of Crisis

This exercise has you consider the IDEAL of Athenian democracy, as it appears in Thucydides–the second great Greek historian after Herodotus. The Athenian ideal appears in Thucydides’ version of  a funeral oration that was delivered by Pericles, Athens’s greatest leader, over the Athenian soldiers who died in the 2nd year of the war. We then consider this speech in relation to the REALITY that the Athenians were faced with when a plague visited their city–a situation not unlike the one we are experiencing with Covid-19.  Please read Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War Book 2, sections 34-54

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Actions (ATTACHED BELOW) and do the following TWO EXERCISES using quotation from the text

DO NOT USE ADDITIONAL SOURCES FOR THIS OR ANY OTHER DISCUSSION ASSIGNMENT.

1) List 10 specific descriptions that the funeral speaker, Pericles, gives of Athens in the Funeral Oration. (NOTE: I am NOT asking for a description of the circumstances of the oration; I am asking you to refer what Pericles SAYS about Athens throughout the speech; you can use minimal quotation but your list of 10 should mostly be 1 sentence summaries of Pericles’s main points.) (Word count is open: just follow these directions closely and you will end up with plenty of words!)

Then for EACH POINT, give a critical response to two questions: 1) Do we have this ideal in our society? 2) Do we live up to that ideal in our society, in reality? Keep in mind that these really are two different things! 

2)  Thucydides does not often make direct moral judgments on people and events in history, but instead arranges episodes in such a way as to force the reader to make moral judgments of their own. Note Thucydides’ arrangement in which the great funeral oration praising Athens is followed by the immediate onset of the plague in the next section. Having read both the Funeral Oration and Thucydides’ description of the Plague together, in 100-200 words, tell me what connections you can make with the Athenian situation and a) our idea of who we are as Americans and b) our country’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discussion 4 (Chapters 8 and 9): Aristophanes’s The Clouds

Classical Athenian comedy addressed the contemporary social and political landscape–albeit in a completely outlandish way, through mocking public figures, much like our Late Night TV shows do. In the Clouds, Aristophanes makes fun of Socrates (whose ultimate fate, spurred on perhaps partially by Aristophanes’s play, was no laughing matter; see A Brief History of Ancient Greece, pages 249-253, on the trial and death of Socrates, as well as the reasons he was considered a “sophist”). 

1) First, look at some background on the play by clicking here. DO NOT USE WORDS OR IDEAS FROM THIS DOCUMENT WITHOUT PROPERLY CITING IT. YOU CAN SIMPLY WRITE “(ON SATIRE)” WHEREVER YOU’VE USED IT. 

DO NOT USE ADDITIONAL SOURCES FOR THIS OR ANY OTHER DISCUSSION ASSIGNMENT.

2) Then read the play (Links to an external site.) and answer the following question in 300-600 words USING SPECIFIC PASSAGES/LANGUAGE FROM THE TRANSLATION. After each reference, please put in parentheses the nearest line numbers that appear in the translation. The references should come from the ENTIRE play from beginning to end:

Socrates was put on trial on three charges: 1) corrupting the youth through miseducation; 2) not believing in the gods of the city and 3) introducing new gods.

How does Aristophanes comically “prosecute” Socrates on those charges in his portrayal of the philosopher’s educational methods*and attitude towards religion? (Think in particular of our discussions concerning “sophism”, as well as Plato’s references in the Apology of Socrates to scientific inquiry.) Which of the three charges does he seem to emphasize the most (or does he seem to emphasize them equally)

Please use headings for each discussion and number.

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