History of Greek Culture

History of Greek Culture

Jacob Burckhardt

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0486420965

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This monumental work by a distinguished European scholar presents a scrupulously realistic approach to ancient Greek civilization. Professor Burckhardt dispenses with superficial and sentimental views of ancient Greece to embrace a more sophisticated and accurate vision of a complex culture that practiced both the best and worst elements of the social contract. A penetrating thinker with a genius for concrete illustration, Burckhardt begins with a thorough account of the development of the polis, or city-state, exploring its regional variations and offering a balanced appraisal of its virtues and faults. In the second part, he discusses fine arts and their expression, with particular focus on sculpture, painting, and architecture. Part Three examines poesy and music, with an in-depth account of Homeric traditions and their role in maintaining the form and order of Greek beliefs and myths, as well as a consideration of other poetic forms, including the classical theater. The final part comprises perceptive accounts of numerous and enduring Greek achievements in philosophy, science, and oratory. In addition to an excellent glossary, the work is profusely illustrated with 80 photographs and many fine drawings.

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type, some of which were distinguished by special rhythms. The names of thirteen popular flute melodies played as dance tunes come down to us from late antiquity; the same source gives a list of songs according to trades or occupations as sung by people while grinding grain, or while bathing, by women weaving or spinning wool, or nursing babies, by the reapers, by the peasants toiling in the fields, or by people trampling out grain; according to tradition the singing of pastorals was invented by

allegedly exposing Athens to ridicule at the Great Dionysia in the presence of foreign ambassadors, though actually for blows dealt him in the play; then, after his complaints to the council remained fruitless, Cleon had the theater police give Aristophanes a sound thrashing after the staging of The Knights, admittedly strongly partisan, though the poet evened the score in the secondary parabasis of The Wasps. The Birds is of the highest beauty. Performed in 415 B.C., this play avoids the

political science; by analyzing poetry, which many philosophers studied in minute detail, it created poetics; and by recording its own development it originated the history of philosophy. Contributions of philosophy also included historical, mythological, and antiquarian treatises of all kinds so that one can never be sure where philosophy ended and specialized knowledge began. As observed before, the one subject philosophy hardly touched was that of the visual arts, and seen in the proper

gigantic struggle between Athens and Sparta. He knew that this war was the most crucial event in the memory of man and set out to describe it with a dedicated love of truth, not just in terms of apparent findings but going to the root of matters with unbending objectivity. For this task he had the most thorough grasp of motives, occasions, course of events, and results. One perceives how the clash builds up and becomes inevitable. Avoiding all sensationalism, he calmly portrayed the fatal

at Olympia by Cypselus, the marvelous fountain of Theognis at Megara, the Olympieum [temple of the Olympian Zeus] of Peisistratus, the debt to him and to his sons for collecting and redacting Homer and perhaps for promoting the Attic Theater, the body of useful artificers Polycrates gathered about him at great expense, the useful animals they imported–all these could not avert the relatively premature downfall of these tyrants. And yet the most famous poets of that age sought out these courts and

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