The Aspects of Ancient Classical Literature
This paper is about exploring the aspects of ancient classical literature that have somehow influenced the modern world or the aspects existed in ancient classical literature which are still existing in our lives one way or another. The most important aspect we have taken from ancient Greek culture is democracy. Democracy was the widely discussed topic in the ancient classical literature. Although, in modern form of democracy is different then that existed, but we can say that the ideology of democracy was born in ancient Greek culture and was given to us through their literature. The thing I learned from this course is the way human nature has preserved its essence after all these years, although technology has revolutionized our every way of life, but our thinking I believe is still primitive. Because, wars, concept of love, normalcy, justice, freedom, religion, politics and happiness of men are still widely discussed topic. So, I have discussed these topics and have tried to link them to the modern world.
Aristotle argues that man’s function must be something uniquely human, beginning with his conception of happiness, and then finds out what it’s. This he does by examining the human soul’s components. They contained the healthful soul, the mindset soul, the locomotive soul, which is directly responsible for development and reproduction he concludes how the only major thing that is entirely natural to human is the sensible soul. Therefore, the mechanism of man is a behaviour of the logical part of the soul according to virtue. But why a behaviour according to sheer virtue? His Nicomachean ethics, which necessitate men to fulfil these other requirements, can actually demonstrate the work of simple virtue to achieve peace and happiness in the life. The Nicomachean ethics, according to him, are all those behaviours that make man happy. Taking care of ill old and orphans, for example, can make people happy.
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In another word any moral and positive or act, can lead us to happiness. But it’s not possible to say that perhaps the action taken is morally acceptable or optimistic over here for mass murderers and psychos who feel pleased to kill people. He also emphasized education by suggesting that educated people are happier and healthier than non – educated individuals. By seeing, it through the image of modern world non-educated people can be easily manipulated into believing anything. For politician such people are an easy prey, they use emotion as tool to influence an un-educated people and those poor souls easily fell into to their trap. But for an educated person the things are different. He will not be influenced by the emotion or lame moto, but he would rely on the facts. He will see things from different angles. He will test the credibility of any information before accepting it and he will measure it through logical and ethical scale. So, according to Aristotle educated people can attain happiness more quickly then non-educated people. Educated man’s life would be more stable and secure, he would have a bright future for himself and his family if we look at our society, those people who didn’t do good in colleges are most unhappy, because they don’t have a good job or social status.
There life would be a complete mess, full of misery and obstacle They have work hard even to survive next day. It has been observed that such people can easily deviate from the normal path of life and fell prey to drugs and other crimes. According to Aristotle, concept of good is based upon universal good i.e. Good for all people. The good can be achieved by following the path of virtuous person and anything which can lead from one good to another good is beneficial.
Considering the concept of sexuality, its really hard to comprehend that ancient literature avidly discussed such topics which are still considered a taboo in some modern society. The great example of it is Sappho who openly discussed her love for another female in the poem, whereas talking about homosexuality is still considered abhorrent act in many parts of Middle East and Asia. Such poems show the culture of liberty and freedom, which are also the most important pillars in American society today. I think Greek culture was much more advance in this regard where person can openly acknowledge his/her love for another person of same sex. The other depiction of love, I found in the story of Hector and Andromache. They both love each other and when war was declared, Andromache tried to stop Hector because she didn’t want to lose her husband in war, and like any normal wife she thought about their future and how it could affect their children. So, she felt kind of insecure about letting her husband join the army for a war. The relationship between two couples at that time were also complex like they are now. Love, lust and betrayal also existed at that time. I believe modern form of romanticism has its roots in ancient Greek culture, as the poem of Sappho suggests that.
The other person who talk about sexuality was Aristophanes, who write about women in his play. It is important note that sexuality was an important part of life in ancient culture owing to its basis in physical needs. Sex is an important part of the life of humans. The poet Aristophanes has written about two women in his play. Aristophanes Lysistrata is famous for his comedy and nifty exchanges of jokes. His emphasis was on the gender struggles. Some of the jokes used today seemed to be funnier than they were before. These jokes might look quite different from what inspired the Greeks, but in the Lysistrata and the magistrates, the funny element that amuses the me most is that the women of Athens felt that they could influence man through a sex strike. It was the funniest mythology of taking what you want. Since the woman had little power in the past and such things cannot even come into women’s minds.
In Lysistrata a profound social commentary actually exists on women’s roles in war, while it may be widely accepted that females also have an impact on battles in their communities over the course of human history however it is absolutely clear that all these accomplishments have been largely unrecognized, unappreciated, and unnoticed. Throughout Lysistrata, girls and women in Athenian ancient society have no power. Even when they fully acknowledge influence and power they return to its original role as women well after the victory. This subculture means we have to ask our-self why the women in all these societies around the world have been tried to push to the bottom of history. Aristophanes underlines the exhaustive character of women during the time of war in Lysistrata by characterizing Athenian nation, by depicting them and by diction throughout the known history, women have indeed helped in wartime without any political force in their efforts. By characterizing the females in his plays, Aristophanes demonstrates us that while these females have been not adequately acknowledged as such initiatives, they definitely deserved some type of political power. At Lysistrata it is obvious that women in the Athenian culture can be united to have effective change in their own society and to overshadow their homelands in which the man policies have been completely failed by classifying Lysistrata as a lady of superior intellect and the best touch and blessing of all “rather than as a housewife unable to maintain civilized enterprise. While women are making statistically significant and solid advancement over the decades in various areas, I noticed that, while progress had been made, that it was not the story when it comes to the problem of women in war. The more and more I investigated the women the more I was fascinated. Women still don’t play a major role in war. When it comes to the war, man still rules. I was mesmerized when I actually read Aristophanes ‘ Lysistrata.
The underlying assumption of the whole play that females would finally end conflict by trying to capitalize on sexual identity seems to have been a few important facts concerning the basic nature and conception of power. Lysistrata is concerned not just with the sex, as well as with relationships in particular: between the men and the women and between Greek citizens. In a modern-day perspective, the feminist goal is not totally incompatible with Lysistrata. Because I believe that Aristophanes actually speaks comically for women’s equality as it was not an even much discussed issue in the first place. He vows the woman to always participate in every aspect of life. Because women didn’t play a major part in society’s development. Nowadays, the primary role of women in our society has increased significantly, but much more is needed to be done.So, we can saw Lysistrata is the first piece of work that talk about women empowerment and how they can still play their role in tough conditions like war.
Besides romanticism, depiction of destruction is also widely used in ancient literature. One of the prominent descriptions is Plague in Athens and Iliad which resulted in the death of many people. Which caused the destruction of normalcy in their life? There social, political and justice system was badly damaged in this plague. They had lost faith in their Gods and all their morale values. Because of the deaths they watched each and every day. The people that remained alive their life was full of challenges and obstacle’s. Those who survived lived suffered even more because each and every day they would have to watch their loved one dies in front of their own eyes and yet they couldn’t do nothing about it.
If we related such circumstances to our modern world, we can still see the destruction of normalcy from the people lives. The wars in the middle east are prime example of it, where the social, political and justice system doesn’t exist, and people are living the lives in poverty like the people of Athens in plague. In these countries, watching dead bodies of loved one’s is their everyday routine like Athenians. People there don’t eat food even for several days because their economic and agricultural system is completely destroyed. So, the people that are still alive there are living a life full of misery and are suffering more pain then the dead ones. They are being bombed every day and there is no way to hide. There so much uncertainty in their life and they don’t know what is going to happen very next moment.
The thing I learned from Pericles speech was the importance of democratic system and the influence of his speech in democracy and how his speech paved a way for specific system that is now system of All democratic country. The Major pillar of democracy are still the same but there is some major advancement like woman can now also contribute to a society was a major part skipped in Athenians democracy aspect that it can be said that Pericles democracy is basis of modern-day democracy. Pericles essentially felt that war was an extra sacrifice needed even though many already had died, they actually died honourably in defence of a huge and powerful civilization. In short, the speech was actually made to praise the huge sacrifices absolutely necessary he also stated that both the military personnel and the individuals must endure to hold onto power and greatness in their beautiful land. The play by Aristophanes reveals the will to prevent war and the ability to build peace between the town of Sparta and the town of Athens.
In hector and Andromache conversations hector wanted to participate in war but Andromache wanted him to stay at home and don’t participate in war. What I have learned from Hector and Andromache conversations Is that Man still shows patriotism when the war is declared. Like when war Happened between USA and Vietnam. Not just the army but ordinary people of USA wanted to participate in the war which shows how much the people are still patriotic. Plus, there is also another aspect of this conversation that men are so patriotic when it comes to war that the forget how there loved one’s will live if they died in the war and how much difficult it would be for them if they live without them.
Considering the Melian dialogue, which I think is the most logical and rational dialogue between two nations to solve their dispute instead of resorting to war. The most important part of this dialogue is the argument given by the two parties. The Melians argue it’s because they are a politically neutral metropolis, not an enemy, so Athens does not have to invade and conquer them. The Athenians mitigate that even if perhaps they just acknowledge the impartiality and sovereignty of Melos, they would really look incompetent: people would assume they spared Melos since they weren’t strong and resilient enough to invade and occupying it. Melians contend that some other impartial Greek regions will be outraged by an incursion, which may become hostile and aggressive to Athens.
The Athenians are really surprised by Melians ‘ unrealistic attitude. They say that even a tougher opponent, particularly the one that offers specific conditions, has no shame in submitting to them. The Melians do not even change their opinions and rejected the delegations politically. The example of Melian dialogue is everywhere in our world which is torn apart due to terrorism and wars. The powerful always use its power to occupy on the weak people. The WWII was started as the Germany believed they could conquer their neighbouring countries owing to the power of their army and politics. The modern-day examples can be seen in Syria, where all super powers of the world are trying to prove their point that they are superior than the other. But who is suffering in this struggle of power? The poor people of Syria like the Melian people. So, the essence of human nature has remained same, the exploitation of poor and weak by the powerful and wealthy has always existed in human history. Throughout the history war has never settled anything but brought a chaos in the life of people Only thing that has brought peace is dialogues and use of political forum. But many countries still believe that war is the only solution and when war happens There is only destruction and loses of a precious life.
The Iliad discuss the war between Priam and Achilles and how it affected the lives of other people and how one-man anger can put whole nation in the flames of war. The encounter between Achilles and Priam was due to Achilles killed Priam son. The Priam was the king of troy and Achilles was Greek’s commander of the Army Priam comes to Achilles camp and begs him to return his dead son’s body. In this dialogue, the Homer tries to convey us about the cruel imminent war in the next couple of days and here Priam as a king pleads Achilles to give the corpse of his son back to him. They wept together after the conversation, not just because they both afraid of losing the war but because they had become a good friend, on the very next day they battle each other. What I discovered mostly from the talk is that battle is still cruel regardless of who won It or loses. Mother loses her son, wife loses her husband, and daughter loses her father. So many lives are attached to one man and if he’s gone, the life of another person is badly affected and can leave him traumatized entire his life.
The war was started as an act of revenge, but soon it become uncontrollable. Both parties thought they will beat each other and took control over their rival land. But the war is very unpredictable, one cannot say that he will conquer their rival easily. The war lasted 10 years, and who did it affect the most? The general citizens on both sides. Well, modern form of such wars still exists in our societies. I believe modern day Afghan and Iraq war is the prime example of it and can be easily correlated with war like conditions depicted in the Iliad. This war was also started as an act of revenge and retaliation, what was thought to be a just few months task has now prolonged for more than 18 years and still USA is. I think we should learn from our past, wars are never the solution of anything, showing off power and scaring and killing the innocent people won’t solve the real problem. The wars are very easy to start but ending the war is very difficult and things don’t remain in control in the war.
So, in Iliad there is lesson for every person who thinks war will bring peace and prosperity in their country. I believe resorting to war will make the situation worst, not for the enemy but also for those who are invading war. Considering the aspects of judicial system in ancient culture, there is nothing better than to discuss about the trials of Socrates. The thing that Socrates apology taught me is that his trail showed many flaws of their criminal judicial system. The Socrates was defendant himself and there were many accuser, burden of proof was non-existent at that time and the accuser can easily won the case through the efficiency of his dialogues. But, the dialogues of the Socrates although were more efficient than his accuser, he wasn’t successful, because the jury was already corrupted even before the trial has started. Since there was no sense of what’s wrong or right, and the evidence of the defender didn’t really have any values, and people perception was intended to be the final decision. These major failings laid the groundwork for the reconfiguration of the criminal justice system that we are currently employing in modern days. Now a days, accuser can blame anyone without providing solid evidence, also if the accuser is unsuccessful then the defendant has the rights to push defamation charges against the accuser. So, the justice system now is impartial and doesn’t favour anybody. He shall never be charged for such crimes if he has evidence which proves himself innocent even if he has committed a crime.
The ancient Greek literature has depictions of artwork as well. Many plays were written by Greek scholars for theatrical performance. Festivals were mainly organized in the ancient times during the Great Dionysia. This was Greece’s world’s oldest theatre and numerous plays including the first performance by Antigone took place here. The theatre’s patron was God Dionysus, and in his honour and respect was a temple close by. The Patron Goddess also had a statue. The theatres of today actually share several resemblances with the Greek predecessors, but they are quite different as well.
From my analysis of ancient classical literature, there are several things I have learn about their culture, religion, political and justice system. Its really astonishing to read that those people have many things in common with our society. Such as their emotions and their nature. The one thing I really feel sad about is that we haven’t learn anything from our past, we are still making those mistakes which Greeks regretted it. Such as waging wars on other and the urge to have superiority over one another. Other than that, I felt really good about reading about their culture, religion, expression of love and justice system. And how some aspects are still existing in our modern world one form and another.