Greek Civilization: Compare Greek Religion in the Essay

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Greek Civilization:

Compare Greek religion in the two different periods in history in the eighth century, the time of Homer, and in the fifth century BCE, according to the following:

The different ways they believed their gods intervened.

During the Epic Age, that of Homer, they believed that the God directly intervened in the lives of human beings. Over time, as the rulers of Greece became more powerful, the population began to feel that although the Gods could control lives, they were mostly observers rather than direct participants.

Whether they believed their gods favored or punished specific individuals for moral reasons.

In the 8th century BC, the people believed that the Gods punished behavior, but that the punishments were more targeted at individuals who disrespected the gods rather than those who committed crimes or sins. As exemplified in Antigone, the people feared that if they defied the gods then they would be punished either in this life or in the afterlife, which is why she feels the need to properly bury her brother.

3. How personal and human-like they believed their gods were.

The older Greeks believed that the gods had humanistic tendencies, such as the constant mating with human beings. Also, stories from this period tended to give the Gods emotions. Later Greeks made the gods more of the traditional deity as it is known in the modern era.

B. Compare the Athenian political and social system to that of Sparta.

1. How did each address the problem of the conflict between private interests and the public good?

In Athens, the government was a democracy which meant that all the citizens had a say through the vote of their representatives. It would be the duty of that representative to act in the way which was best for the general population. The Spartans had an oligarchy with a single leader in control; he could overrule the Ephors which was the Spartan version of the Senate.
By having people voice opposition to the leader, the government ensured that they acted for the general populous rather than for themselves.

2. What differences, in their early development and in their social structure, do you think contributed to the two cities' very different lifestyles?

Athens was a city which favored things like art and philosophical thought. Those in society who were most appreciated were the intellectuals. Once class delineations had been established, they continued through the bloodlines; it was hard to overcome the station of birth, keeping the wealthy class wealthy and the lower classes in want. Sparta, on the other hand, was a less luxurious city which practiced minimalism and did not support things like art which they felt was unnecessary. They focused on militarism and training physically which led to generations where physicality directly determined social value.

3. What do you think about the arguments that the supporters of each city use to defend the one they admired and to criticize the one they dislike?

Those who lived in Athens would have argued that their city was better because they had richer lives than the Spartans. They had art and drama and encouraged thinking and expansion of knowledge. The Spartans would argue that all those reasons made Athens worse. In addition, Spartans would say that their citizens were stronger and braver, making them better able to physically defend the city. They might also point to the more enlightened attitude they had of women in Sparta while Athenian women were not allowed to own property or divorce a vicious husband.

C. Greek philosophy, Plato and Aristotle: Please compare the views of Plato and Aristotle on the following questions:

1. How can we learn what is real and good and how can we avoid mistaking illusions for truth?

Plato believed that things which are considered "good" are those which are just for the general population. The seeking of truth was an.....

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