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There was a certain Polybius, completely uneducated and ill-spoken, who said, “The emperor has honored me with Roman citizenship.” To which Demonax responded, “If only he'd made you a Greek rather than a Roman.”:
Lucian of Samosata, Life of Demonax

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classical:classical-period

Classical Period

Aeneas Tacitus

One of the earliest Greek writers on the art of war and is credited as the first author to provide a complete guide to securing military communications. According to Aelianus Tacticus and Polybius, he wrote a number of treatises (Hypomnemata) on the subject. The only extant one, How to Survive under Siege (Greek: Περὶ τοῦ πῶς χρὴ πολιορκουμένους ἀντέχειν), deals with the best methods of defending a fortified city. An epitome of the whole was made by Cineas, minister of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus.

Aeneas Tacitus Page

Aeschines

Greek statesman and one of the ten Attic orators.

Aeschines Page

Aeschylus

First of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays can still be read or performed, the others being Sophocles and Euripides. He is often described as the father of tragedy. Our knowledge of the genre begins with his work and our understanding of earlier tragedies is largely based on inferences from his surviving plays. Only seven of his estimated seventy to ninety plays have survived into modern times, and there is a longstanding debate about his authorship of one of these plays, Prometheus Bound. Fragments of some other plays have survived in quotes and more continue to be discovered on Egyptian papyrus, often giving us surprising insights into his work. He was probably the first dramatist to present plays as a trilogy and his Oresteia is the only ancient example of the form to have survived. At least one of his works was influenced by the Persian invasion of Greece, which took place during his lifetime. This play, The Persians, is the only extant classical Greek tragedy concerned with recent history (very few of that kind were ever written) and it is a useful source of information about that period. He was a deep, religious thinker. Few poets have ever presented evil in such stark and tragic terms yet he had an exalted view of Zeus, whom he celebrated with a grand simplicity reminiscent of the Psalms, and a faith in progress or the healing power of time.

Aeschylus Page

Agathon

Athenian tragic poet whose works have been lost. He is best known for his appearance in Plato's Symposium, which describes the banquet given to celebrate his obtaining a prize for his first tragedy at the Lenaia in 416. He is also a prominent character in Aristophanes' comedy the Thesmophoriazusae.

Agathon Page

Alcibiades

Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He was the last famous member of his mother's aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, which fell from prominence after the Peloponnesian War. He played a major role in the second half of that conflict as a strategic advisor, military commander, and politician.

Alcibiades Page

Anaxagoras

Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. Born in Clazomenae in Asia Minor, Anaxagoras was the first philosopher to bring philosophy from Ionia to Athens. He attempted to give a scientific account of eclipses, meteors, rainbows, and the sun, which he described as a fiery mass larger than the Peloponnese. According to Diogenes Laertius and Plutarch, he fled to Lampsacus due to a backlash against his pupil Pericles. Anaxagoras is famous for introducing the cosmological concept of Nous (mind), as an ordering force. He regarded material substance as an infinite multitude of imperishable primary elements, referring all generation and disappearance to mixture and separation, respectively.

Anaxagoras Page

Andocides

Logographer (speech writer) in Ancient Greece. He was one of the ten Attic orators included in the “Alexandrian Canon” compiled by Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace in the third century BC.

Andocides Page

Antimachus

Greek poet and grammarian, flourished about 400 BC. Scarcely anything is known of his life. His poetical efforts were not generally appreciated, although he received encouragement from his younger contemporary Plato. His chief works were: an epic Thebais, an account of the expedition of the Seven against Thebes and the war of the Epigoni; and an elegiac poem Lyde, so called from the poet's mistress, for whose death he endeavoured to find consolation telling stories from mythology of heroic disasters.

Antimachus Page

Antiphon the Orator

Statesman who took up rhetoric as a profession. He was active in political affairs in Athens, and, as a zealous supporter of the oligarchical party, was largely responsible for the establishment of the Four Hundred in 411; upon restoration of the democracy shortly afterwards, he was accused of treason and condemned to death.

Antiphon the Orator Page

Antiphon the Sophist

Lived in Athens probably in the last two decades of the 5th century BC. A treatise known as On Truth, of which only fragments survive, is attributed to Antiphon the Sophist. It is of great value to political theory, as it appears to be a precursor to natural rights theory

Antiphon the Sophist Page

Aphareus

Ancient Greek tragedian and orator. He attended the school of Isocrates, along with Theodectes. He was the son of Hippias the sophist, and the adopted son of Isocrates, left behind him thirty-seven tragedies, and had been successful in winning four victories.

Aphareus Page

Archelaus

Ancient Greek philosopher, a pupil of Anaxagoras, and may have been a teacher of Socrates. He asserted that the principle of motion was the separation of hot from cold, from which he endeavoured to explain the formation of the Earth and the creation of animals and humans.

Archelaus Page

Archytas

Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, statesman, and strategist. He was a scientist of the Pythagorean school and famous for being the reputed founder of mathematical mechanics, as well as a good friend of Plato.

Archytas Page

Aristophanes

Comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his 40 plays survive virtually complete. These, together with fragments of some of his other plays, provide the only real examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy, and they are used to define the genre. Also known as the Father of Comedy and the Prince of Ancient Comedy, Aristophanes has been said to recreate the life of ancient Athens more convincingly than any other author. His powers of ridicule were feared and acknowledged by influential contemporaries; Plato singled out Aristophanes' play The Clouds as slander contributing to the trial and execution of Socrates although other satirical playwrights had also caricatured the philosopher. His second play, The Babylonians (now lost), was denounced by the demagogue Cleon as a slander against the Athenian polis. It is possible that the case was argued in court but details of the trial are not recorded and Aristophanes caricatured Cleon mercilessly in his subsequent plays, especially The Knights, the first of many plays that he directed himself. “In my opinion,” he says through the Chorus in that play, “the author-director of comedies has the hardest job of all.” (κωμῳδοδιδασκαλίαν εἶναι χαλεπώτατον ἔργον ἁπάντων)

Aristophanes Page

Aristotle

Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato's teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle's writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing ethics, aesthetics, logic, science, politics, and metaphysics. Aristotle's views on the physical sciences profoundly shaped medieval scholarship, and their influence extended well into the Renaissance, although they were ultimately replaced by Newtonian physics. In the zoological sciences, some of his observations were confirmed to be accurate only in the 19th century. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which was incorporated in the late 19th century into modern formal logic. In metaphysics, Aristotelianism had a profound influence on philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions in the Middle Ages, and it continues to influence Christian theology, especially the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church. Aristotle was well known among medieval Muslim intellectuals and revered as 'المعلم الأول' – “The First Teacher”. His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics. All aspects of Aristotle's philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues (Cicero described his literary style as “a river of gold”), it is thought that the majority of his writings are now lost and only about one-third of the original works have survived.

Aristotle Page

Astydamas

Bacchylides

Greek lyric poet. Later Greeks included him in the canonical list of nine lyric poets which included his uncle Simonides. The elegance and polished style of his lyrics have been noted in Bacchylidean scholarship since at least Longinus. He has often been compared unfavourably with his contemporary, Pindar, as “a kind of Boccherini to Pindar's Haydn”, yet the differences in their styles doesn't allow for easy comparison and “to blame Bacchylides for not being Pindar is as childish a judgement as to condemn…Marvel for missing the grandeur of Milton.” His career coincided with the ascendency of dramatic styles of poetry, as embodied in the works of Aeschylus or Sophocles, and he is in fact one of the last poets of major significance within the more ancient tradition of purely lyric poetry. The most notable features of his lyrics are their clarity in expression and simplicity of thought, making them an ideal introduction to the study of Greek lyric poetry in general and to Pindar's verse in particular.

Bacchylides Page

Cleon

Athenian statesman and a strategos during the Peloponnesian War. He was the first prominent representative of the commercial class in Athenian politics, although he was an aristocrat himself. Contemporaries Thucydides and Aristophanes represented him as a warmonger and a demagogue.

Cleon Page

Ctesias

Greek physician and historian from Cnidus in Caria. Ctesias, who lived in the 5th century BC, was physician to Artaxerxes Mnemon, whom he accompanied in 401 BC on his expedition against his brother Cyrus the Younger. Ctesias was the author of treatises on rivers, and on the Persian revenues, of an account of India entitled Indica (which is of value as recording the beliefs of the Persians about India), and of a history of Assyria and Persia in 23 books, called Persica, written in opposition to Herodotus in the Ionic dialect, and professedly founded on the Persian royal archives.

Ctesias Page

Critias of Athens

Ancient Athenian political figure and author. Born in Athens, Critias was the son of Callaeschrus and a first cousin of Plato's mother Perictione, and became a leading and violent member of the Thirty Tyrants. He was an associate of Socrates, a fact that did not endear Socrates to the Athenian public.

Critias of Athens Page

Damon of Athens

Greek musicologist of the fifth century BCE. He belonged to the Athenian deme of Oē (sometimes spelled “Oa”). He is credited as teacher and advisor of Pericles.

Damon of Athens Page

Demades

Athenian orator and demagogue. He was born into a poor family of ancient Paeania and was employed at one time as a common sailor, but he rose partly by his eloquence and partly by his unscrupulous character to a prominent position at Athens. He espoused the cause of Philip II of Macedon in the war against Olynthus, and was thus brought into bitter and lifelong enmity with Demosthenes, whom he at first supported.

Demades Page

Democritus

Ancient Greek philosopher born in Abdera, Thrace, Greece. A pupil of Leucippus, he was an influential pre-Socratic philosopher who formulated an atomic theory for the universe. His exact contributions are difficult to disentangle from those of his mentor Leucippus, as they are often mentioned together in texts. Their speculation on atoms, taken from Leucippus, bears a passing and partial resemblance to the nineteenth-century understanding of atomic structure that has led some to regard Democritus as more of a scientist than other Greek philosophers; however, their ideas rested on very different bases. Largely ignored in ancient Athens, Democritus was nevertheless well known to his fellow northern-born philosopher Aristotle. Plato is said to have disliked him so much that he wished all his books burned. Many consider Democritus to be the “father of modern science”.

Democritus Page

Demosthenes

Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by studying the speeches of previous great orators. He delivered his first judicial speeches at the age of 20, in which he argued effectively to gain from his guardians what was left of his inheritance. For a time, Demosthenes made his living as a professional speech-writer (logographer) and a lawyer, writing speeches for use in private legal suits. Demosthenes grew interested in politics during his time as a logographer, and in 354 BC he gave his first public political speeches. He went on to devote his most productive years to opposing Macedon's expansion. He idealized his city and strove throughout his life to restore Athens' supremacy and motivate his compatriots against Philip II of Macedon. He sought to preserve his city's freedom and to establish an alliance against Macedon, in an unsuccessful attempt to impede Philip's plans to expand his influence southwards by conquering all the other Greek states. After Philip's death, Demosthenes played a leading part in his city's uprising against the new King of Macedonia, Alexander the Great. However, his efforts failed and the revolt was met with a harsh Macedonian reaction. To prevent a similar revolt against his own rule, Alexander's successor in this region, Antipater, sent his men to track Demosthenes down. Demosthenes took his own life, in order to avoid being arrested by Archias, Antipater's confidant. The Alexandrian Canon compiled by Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace recognized Demosthenes as one of the ten greatest Attic orators and logographers. Longinus likened Demosthenes to a blazing thunderbolt, and argued that he “perfected to the utmost the tone of lofty speech, living passions, copiousness, readiness, speed”. Quintilian extolled him as lex orandi (“the standard of oratory”), and Cicero said about him that inter omnis unus excellat (“he stands alone among all the orators”), and he also acclaimed him as “the perfect orator” who lacked nothing.

Demosthenes Page

Dinarchus

Logographer (speech writer) in Ancient Greece. He was the last of the ten Attic orators included in the “Alexandrian Canon” compiled by Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace in the third century BCE.

Dinarchus Page

Diogenes of Apollonia

Ancient Greek philosopher, and was a native of the Milesian colony Apollonia in Thrace. He lived for some time in Athens. His doctrines are known chiefly from Diogenes Laërtius and Simplicius. He believed air to be the one source of all being, and, as a primal force, it was intelligent. All other substances are derived from it by condensation and rarefaction. Aristotle has preserved a lengthy passage concerning the organization of the blood vessels.

Diogenes of Apollonia Page

Dionysius Chalcus

Ancient Athenian poet and orator. According to Athenaeus, he was called Chalcus (“brazen”) because he advised the Athenians to adopt a brass coinage. His speeches have not survived, but his poems are referred to and quoted by such authors as Plutarch, Aristotle, and Athenaeus. The extant fragments are chiefly elegies on symposiac subjects and are characterized by extravagant metaphors.

Dionysius Chalcus Page

Dionysus the Younger

Syracuse, Sicily from 367 BC to 357 BC and again from 346 BC to 344 BC. He was the son of Dionysius the Elder. When his father died in 367 BC, Dionysius began ruling under the supervision of his uncle, the philosopher Dion. Dion's disapproval of the young Dionysius's lavishly dissolute lifestyle compelled him to invite his teacher Plato to visit Syracuse. Together they attempted to restructure the government to be more moderate, with Dionysius as the archetypal philosopher-king.

Dionysius the Younger Page

Euenus

5th-century BC philosopher and poet who was roughly contemporary with Socrates. Several fragments of his poetry exist in the Palatine Anthology and Euenus is mentioned several times in Plato's Phaedo, Phaedrus (dialogue), and Apology of Socrates. He is quoted in the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle. He was apparently, although obscure, well respected, and was never called a Sophist by Socrates, even though he charged a sizeable sum for teaching students.

Euenus Page

Euripides

One of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most. Of these, eighteen or nineteen have survived complete (there has been debate about his authorship of Rhesus, largely on stylistic grounds) and there are also fragments, some substantial, of most of the other plays. More of his plays have survived intact than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together, partly due to mere chance and partly because his popularity grew as theirs declined—he became, in the Hellenistic Age, a cornerstone of ancient literary education, along with Homer, Demosthenes, and Menander. Euripides is identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times, especially in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This new approach led him to pioneer developments that later writers adapted to comedy, some of which are characteristic of romance. Yet he also became “the most tragic of poets”, focusing on the inner lives and motives of his characters in a way previously unknown. He was also unique among the writers of ancient Athens for the sympathy he demonstrated towards all victims of society, including women. His conservative male audiences were frequently shocked by the 'heresies' he put into the mouths of characters. His contemporaries associated him with Socrates as a leader of a decadent intellectualism, both of them being frequently lampooned by comic poets such as Aristophanes. Whereas Socrates was eventually put on trial and executed as a corrupting influence, Euripides chose a voluntary exile in old age, dying in Macedonia. Recent scholarship casts doubt on ancient biographies of Euripides. For example, it is possible that he never visited Macedonia at all, or, if he did, he might have been drawn there by King Archelaus with incentives that were also offered to other artists.

Euripides Page

Gorgias

Greek sophist, Italiote, pre-Socratic philosopher and rhetorician who was a native of Leontini in Sicily. Along with Protagoras, he forms the first generation of Sophists. Several doxographers report that he was a pupil of Empedocles, although he would only have been a few years younger. Like other Sophists he was an itinerant, practicing in various cities and giving public exhibitions of his skill at the great pan-Hellenic centers of Olympia and Delphi, and charged fees for his instruction and performances. A special feature of his displays was to invite miscellaneous questions from the audience and give impromptu replies. His chief claim to recognition resides in the fact that he transplanted rhetoric from his native Sicily to Attica, and contributed to the diffusion of the Attic dialect as the language of literary prose.

Gorgias Page

Herodotus

Ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria (modern day Bodrum, Turkey) and lived in the fifth century BC (c. 484–425 BC). He has been called “The Father of History” (firstly conferred by Cicero), and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent, and arrange them in a well-constructed and vivid narrative. The Histories—his masterpiece and the only work he is known to have produced—is a record of his “inquiry” (or ἱστορία historía, a word that passed into Latin and acquired its modern meaning of “history”), being an investigation of the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars and including a wealth of geographical and ethnographical information. Although some of his stories were fanciful, he claimed he was reporting only what had been told to him. Little is known of his personal history.

Herodotus Page

Hermippus

One-eyed Athenian writer of the Old Comedy who flourished during the Peloponnesian War. He was the son of Lysis, and the brother of the comic poet Myrtilus. He was younger than Telecleides and older than Eupolis and Aristophanes. According to the Suda, he wrote forty plays, and his chief actor was Simeron, according to the scholiast of Aristophanes. The titles and fragments of nine of his plays are preserved. He was a bitter opponent of Pericles, whom he accused (probably in the Moirai) of being a bully and a coward, and of carousing with his boon companions while the Lacedaemonians were invading Attica.

Hermippus Page

Hippias of Elis

Greek Sophist, and a contemporary of Socrates. With an assurance characteristic of the later sophists, he claimed to be regarded as an authority on all subjects, and lectured on poetry, grammar, history, politics, mathematics, and (not) much else. Most of our knowledge of him is derived from Plato, who characterizes him as vain and arrogant.

Hippias of Elis Page

Hippocrates | Hippocratic Corpus

Ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. He is referred to as the father of western medicine in recognition of his lasting contributions to the field as the founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine. This intellectual school revolutionized medicine in ancient Greece, establishing it as a discipline distinct from other fields that it had traditionally been associated with (notably theurgy and philosophy), thus establishing medicine as a profession. However, the achievements of the writers of the Corpus, the practitioners of Hippocratic medicine, and the actions of Hippocrates himself were often commingled; thus very little is known about what Hippocrates actually thought, wrote, and did. Hippocrates is commonly portrayed as the paragon of the ancient physician, credited with coining the Hippocratic Oath, still relevant and in use today. He is also credited with greatly advancing the systematic study of clinical medicine, summing up the medical knowledge of previous schools, and prescribing practices for physicians through the Hippocratic Corpus and other works.

Hippocratic Corpus Page

Hippon of Rhegium

Presocratic Greek philosopher. He is variously described as coming from Rhegium, Metapontum, Samos, and Croton, and it is possible that there was more than one philosopher with this name. According to Hippolytus, Hippo held water and fire to be the primary elements, with fire originating from water, and then developing itself by generating the universe. Simplicius, too, says that Hippo thought that water was the principle of all things. Most of the accounts of his philosophy suggest that he was interested in biological matters. He thought that there is an appropriate level of moisture in all living things, and disease is caused when the moisture is out of balance. He also viewed the soul as arising from both mind and water. A medieval scholium on Aristophanes' The Clouds attributes to Hippo the view that the heavens were like the dome of an oven (Ancient Greek: πνιγεύς) covering the Earth.

Hippon of Rhegium Page

Hippon of Samos

Isaeus

One of the ten Attic Orators according to the Alexandrian canon. He was a student of Isocrates in Athens, and later taught Demosthenes while working as a metic speechwriter for others. Only eleven of his speeches survive, with fragments of a twelfth. They are mostly concerned with inheritance, with one on civil rights. Dionysius of Halicarnassus compared his style to Lysias, although Isaeus was more given to employing sophistry.

Isaeus Page

Ion of Chios

Greek writer, dramatist, lyric poet and philosopher. He was a contemporary of Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles. Of his many plays and poems only a few titles and fragments have survived. He also wrote some prose works, including a Pythagorean text, the Triagmos, of which a few fragments survive.

Ion of Chios Page

Ion of Samos

Isocrates

Ancient Greek rhetorician, was one of the ten Attic orators. Among the most influential Greek rhetoricians of his time, Isocrates made many contributions to rhetoric and education through his teaching and written works. Isocrates' professional career is said to have begun as a logographer, or a hired courtroom speech writer. Athenian citizens would not hire lawyers because legal procedure required self-representation. Instead, they would speak for themselves and hire people like Isocrates to write speeches for them in exchange for a fee. Isocrates had a great talent for this since he lacked confidence in public speaking. His weak voice motivated him to publish pamphlets and although he played no direct part in state affairs, his written speech influenced the public and provided significant insight on large political issues of the fourth century BC. Around 392 BC he set up his own school of rhetoric, because at the time Athens had no set curriculum for higher education (sophist teachers often travelled), and proved to be not only an influential teacher, but a shrewd businessman. His fees were unusually high, and he accepted no more than nine pupils at a time. Many of them went on to be philosophers, legislators and historians. As a consequence, he amassed a considerable fortune. According to Pliny the Elder he could sell a single oration for twenty talents.

Isocrates Page

Lycophron the Sophist

Sophist of Ancient Greece. The details of his life remain obscure, other than a number of references in the works of Aristotle. Lycophron was probably among the students of Gorgias, and is mentioned as a sophist by Aristotle.

Lycophron the Sophist Page

Lycurgus

Logographer in Ancient Greece. He was one of the ten Attic orators included in the “Alexandrian Canon” compiled by Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace in the third century BCE. Lycurgus was born at Athens about 396 BC, and was the son of Lycophron, who belonged to the noble family of the Eteobutadae. He should not be confused with the quasi-mythological Spartan lawgiver of the same name.

Lycurgus Page

Lysias

Logographer (speech writer) in Ancient Greece. He was one of the ten Attic orators included in the “Alexandrian Canon” compiled by Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace in the third century BC.

Lysias Page

Mamercus

Melanthius

Ancient Greek painter of the 4th century BC. He belonged to the school of Sicyon, which was noted for fine drawing.

Melanthius Page

Metrodorus of Chios

Greek Pre-Socratic philosopher, belonging to the school of Democritus, and an important forerunner of Epicurus. Metrodorus was a complete sceptic. He accepted the Democritean theory of atoms and void and the plurality of worlds, but held a theory of his own that the stars are formed from day to day by the moisture in the air under the heat of the Sun. According to Cicero he said, “We know nothing, no, not even whether we know or not” and maintained that everything is to each person only what it appears to him to be. Metrodorus is especially interesting a forerunner of Anaxarchus, and as a connecting link between atomism proper and the later scepticism.

Metrodorus of Chios Page

Nessas of Chios

Panarces

Ancient writer of riddles.

Panarces Page

Philiscus of Miletus

Philolaus

Greek Pythagorean and Presocratic philosopher. He argued that at the foundation of everything is the part played by the limiting and limitless, which combine together in a harmony. He is also credited with originating the theory that the earth was not the centre of the universe.

Philolaus Page

Pindar

Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian wrote, “Of the nine lyric poets, Pindar is by far the greatest, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich exuberance of his language and matter, and his rolling flood of eloquence, characteristics which, as Horace rightly held, make him inimitable.” His poems however can also seem difficult and even peculiar. The Athenian comic playwright Eupolis once remarked that they “are already reduced to silence by the disinclination of the multitude for elegant learning”. Some scholars in the modern age also found his poetry perplexing, at least up until the discovery in 1896 of some poems by his rival Bacchylides, when comparisons of their work showed that many of Pindar's idiosyncrasies are typical of archaic genres rather than of the poet himself. The brilliance of his poetry then began to be more widely appreciated. However his style still challenges the casual reader and he continues to be a much admired though largely unread poet. Pindar is the first Greek poet to reflect on the nature of poetry and on the poet's role. Like other poets of the Archaic Age, he has a profound sense of the vicissitudes of life, but he also articulates a passionate faith in what men, by the grace of the gods, can achieve. His poetry illustrates the beliefs and values of Archaic Greece at the dawn of the classical period.

Pindar Page

Plato

Philosopher in Classical Greece. He was also a mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of Western philosophy and science. Plato's sophistication as a writer is evident in his Socratic dialogues; thirty-six dialogues and thirteen letters have been ascribed to him. Plato's writings have been published in several fashions; this has led to several conventions regarding the naming and referencing of Plato's texts. Plato's dialogues have been used to teach a range of subjects, including philosophy, logic, ethics, rhetoric, religion and mathematics. Plato is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy.

Plato Page

Polycleitus of Argos

Greek sculptor in bronze of the fifth and the early 4th century BCE. Next to Phidias, Myron and Praxiteles, he is considered the most important sculptor of Classical antiquity: the 4th-century catalogue attributed to Xenocrates (the “Xenocratic catalogue”), which was Pliny's guide in matters of art, ranked him between Phidias and Myron.

Polycleitus of Argos Page

Praxiteles

Most renowned of the Attic sculptors of the 4th century BC. He was the first to sculpt the nude female form in a life-size statue. While no indubitably attributable sculpture by Praxiteles is extant, numerous copies of his works have survived; several authors, including Pliny the Elder, wrote of his works; and coins engraved with silhouettes of his various famous statuary types from the period still exist.

Praxiteles Page

Prodicus

Greek philosopher, and part of the first generation of Sophists. He came to Athens as ambassador from Ceos, and became known as a speaker and a teacher. Plato treats him with greater respect than the other sophists, and in several of the Platonic dialogues Socrates appears as the friend of Prodicus. Prodicus made linguistics and ethics prominent in his curriculum. The content of one of his speeches is still known, and concerns a fable in which Heracles has to make a choice between Virtue and Vice. He also interpreted religion through the framework of naturalism.

Prodicus Page

Protagoras of Abdera

Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato. In his dialogue Protagoras, Plato credits him with having invented the role of the professional sophist. He is also believed to have created a major controversy during ancient times through his statement that “man is the measure of all things”, meaning that there is no truth but that which individuals deem to be the truth. This idea was revolutionary for the time and contrasted with other philosophical doctrines that claimed the universe was based on something objective, outside the human influence.

Protagoras of Abdera Page

Simmias of Thebes

Ancient Greek philosopher, disciple of Socrates, and a friend of Cebes. In his Memorabilia, Xenophon includes him in the inner circle of Socrates' followers. He appears in Plato's Phaedo as a main discussion partner of Socrates alongside Cebes, as well as Crito, Phaedrus, and Epistile XIII.

Simmias of Thebes Page

Socrates

Classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon and the plays of his contemporary Aristophanes. Many would claim that Plato's dialogues are the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity. Through his portrayal in Plato's dialogues, Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the field of ethics, and it is this Platonic Socrates who lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the Socratic method, or elenchus. The latter remains a commonly used tool in a wide range of discussions, and is a type of pedagogy in which a series of questions are asked not only to draw individual answers, but also to encourage fundamental insight into the issue at hand. Plato's Socrates also made important and lasting contributions to the field of epistemology, and the influence of his ideas and approach remains a strong foundation for much western philosophy that followed.

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Sophocles

One of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides. According to the Suda, a 10th-century encyclopedia, Sophocles wrote 123 plays during the course of his life, but only seven have survived in a complete form: Ajax, Antigone, The Women of Trachis, Oedipus the King, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus. For almost 50 years, Sophocles was the most-fêted playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. He competed in around 30 competitions, won perhaps 24, and was never judged lower than second place. Aeschylus won 14 competitions, and was sometimes defeated by Sophocles, while Euripides won only 4 competitions. The most famous tragedies of Sophocles feature Oedipus and Antigone: they are generally known as the Theban plays, although each play was actually a part of a different tetralogy, the other members of which are now lost. Sophocles influenced the development of the drama, most importantly by adding a third actor, thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot. He also developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights such as Aeschylus.

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Speusippus

Ancient Greek philosopher. Speusippus was Plato's nephew by his sister Potone. After Plato's death, Speusippus inherited the Academy and remained its head for the next eight years. However, following a stroke, he passed the chair to Xenocrates. Although the successor to Plato in the Academy, he frequently diverged from Plato's teachings. He rejected Plato's Theory of Forms, and whereas Plato had identified the Good with the ultimate principle, Speusippus maintained that the Good was merely secondary. He also argued that it is impossible to have satisfactory knowledge of any thing without knowing all the differences by which it is separated from everything else.

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Thrasymachus of Chalcedon

Sophist of Ancient Greece best known as a character in Plato's Republic. Thrasymachus was a citizen of Chalcedon, on the Bosphorus. His career appears to have been spent as a sophist at Athens, although the exact nature of his work and thought is unclear. He is credited with an increase in the rhythmic character of Greek oratory, especially the use of the paeonic rhythm in prose, and a greater appeal to the emotions through gesture.

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Thucydides

Greek historian and Athenian general. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC. Thucydides has been dubbed the father of “scientific history” because of his strict standards of evidence-gathering and analysis in terms of cause and effect without reference to intervention by the gods, as outlined in his introduction to his work. He has also been called the father of the school of political realism, which views the relations between nations as based on might rather than right. His text is still studied at advanced military colleges worldwide, and the Melian dialogue remains a seminal work of international relations theory. More generally, Thucydides showed an interest in developing an understanding of human nature to explain behaviour in such crises as plague, massacres, as in that of the Melians, and civil war.

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Xanthus

Native Lydian historian and logographer who, during the mid-fifth century BC, wrote texts on the history of Lydia known as Lydiaca (Λυδιακά). Xanthus also wrote occasionally about geology. It is believed that Xanthus was the earliest historian to have written a significant amount on the topic of Lydian history. He is also believed to have written a work entitled Magica (Mαγικά), as well as one entitled Life of Empedocles. It is believed that Xanthus had some knowledge of Persian traditions, and it is plausible that he, a Lydian, would write about Persian religion, but it seems unlikely due to the available evidence.

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Xenophon

Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates. He is known for his writings on the history of his own times, the 4th century BC, preserving the sayings of Socrates, and descriptions of life in ancient Greece and the Persian Empire.

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Zeuxis

Painter who flourished during the 5th century BC.

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classical/classical-period.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/15 11:55 (external edit)