Classical Greece Desire, Emotion, and Knowledge: Greek Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Classical Greece

Desire, Emotion, and Knowledge: Greek Society and Culture in the Classical Period (480-338 B.C.)

Following the aftermath of Greeks' victory over Persians during 480-479 B.C., Greek society has undergone rapid changes and revival in its political, economic, and cultural structures, called the Classical period of Greek society and culture. This period, 480-338 B.C., is characterized by the emergence of new reforms in the society, such as the establishment of a new Athenian democratic government, the gradual assertion of women equal treatment in a patriarchal Greek society, and the flourishing of the arts through philosophy, literature, mathematics, and science.

Indeed, the Classical period is more appropriately described as a time wherein human potential and intelligence is at its highest. As Plato had stated, "Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, knowledge." This statement from the Greek philosopher brings into lucidity the important works of literature that had helped change the course of Greek history. In desire, Greeks have shown their need to become independent from colonizers and establish their own form of government. Through emotions, Greeks were able to discuss and express everyday life according to prevalent social issues. Lastly, knowledge served as the guiding principle in which Greeks have enriched their society and culture through intellectual development.

These assertions are discussed thoroughly in the texts that follow. Using texts from Thucydides, Euripides, and Plutarch, this paper provides an in-depth look at the important cultural and social changes that occurred in Greece during the Classical period.

One of the most important events that occurred in Greece during this period is the establishment of an Athenian democracy. A new form of government in Athens developed, mainly because Sparta became inactive right after the Greeks have attained freedom from Persian rule. Thus, since Athens had greater leadership and naval power that made it necessary to maintain Greece's freedom, Sparta gave the bastion of leadership to Athens. From the Delian League, Greeks began building a new government, which includes a democratic legislation and the existence of a popular assembly, which is composed of 51 to 1, 501 citizens. What makes Athenian democracy remarkable during the period is the absence of a police force, truly a mark of the society's desire to become a democratic empire.

Thucydides, in his discourse entitled, "The Delian League becomes the Athenian Empire," elucidates on the function of the Delian League for the eventual establishment of the Athenian Empire and democracy. He defends the Delian League as a necessity for post-colonial Athens, since he considers the allied nations comprising the Athenian Empire as inefficient, wherein "defections" are prevalent. He cites these "defects" as follows: (1) their (allies) neglect to pay the tribute or to furnish ships and (2) failure of military service. In this discourse, it is evident that Thucydides argues for the abolition of the former alliance of Athens before the Persian rule. Being subjected to colonization allowed Greeks to reconsider the kind of governance that they want to have in the society -- that is, a government wherein leaders are efficient, allied societies are not "exacting and oppressive," and society is prepared and trained for future occurrences of war or conflict with other societies or nations.

Apart from the Greeks' desire to attain an almost perfect and efficient government, Greek civil society also took an active role in participating in current issues that are important for Greeks during the time.…

Sources Used in Document:


Kagan, D., S. Ozment, and F. Turner. (1995). The Western Heritage. NJ: Prentice Hall.

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