Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Greek Timeline

I'd normally put up biographies of Aeschylus and Herodotus but I did that last year.  You can find Aeschylus here and Herodotus here.  Last year I wrote that it was important to have a feel for the overall contemporary history of this period and I still think that's true.  So I'll just reproduce the timeline that I made then. 

There were three different wars that pictured the ancient Greek worldview and it's useful to put the various writers in context of those wars.  (As future historians learn about the 20th century, they'll need to be very aware of both world wars and the Vietnam war.  Same deal.)

Trojan War - (Sometime in the 1200s or 1100s BC)  This was the legendary war that provided so many stories of heroism and courage.  The Greeks wrote and sung about the happenings of this war for centuries.

Homer - (850 BC?)  The Homeric epics cemented the Trojan war and its aftermath in Greek storytelling.

Aeschylus - (525 - 456 BC)  Wrote about Agamemnon's return from the wars and the ensuing bloodbath.

Greco/Persian wars - (499 - 449 BC)  Notably, this started with a Greek adventure into Persian territory.  The Persians counter-invaded in 492 and the incredibly influential battle of Marathon happened in 490.  Two generations of Greeks lived with the reality of war with the Persian empire.

(Battle of Thermopylae 480 BC) A battle within the greater Greco/Persian war. 

Herodotus (484 - 425 BC) - Both men grew up in the wars.  It's notable that Herodotus traveled extensively during this whole period.  When he wrote about the conflict with Persia, he undoubtedly talked with veterans and contemporaries. 

Socrates (469 - 399 BC) - Grew up as the wars were winding down.  Was in his late 30's when the next war really heated up.

Thucydides (460 - 395 BC) - Was alive as an adult during the whole of the Peloponnesian War. 

Peloponnesian War (431 - 404 BC) - This war had many phases, but the most important for this timeline is that Athens was completely humbled by the end.  We're set to read Thucydides on this subject next year.

Plato (428 - 348 BC) - Grew up during the long fight with Sparta.  His adulthood was mostly in the post-war era.

Aristotle (384 - 322 BC) - Lived entirely after the wars.  By this time Athens was no longer had an empire nor a world power.

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