Three Traits of the Golden Age of Athens in Literature
The beginning of the Golden Age of Greece or Athens started with the Persian war, when the Persian army was defeated by Greeks. One of the main defining features of the Golden Age of Athens are that Law comes from men not the gods as we can see in the book of Antigone, another one is explaining history through the actions of people not the gods, as we can see in the book Odyssey, and the last one is focusing of rational thought and discourage, as we can see in the book Medea. These three books have tragedies that reflect the three most important traits of the Golden Age of Athens.
Firstly, in the book of Antigone, we can see the transition, where men created the law and not the gods. We can see this through the tragedy where the two sons of Oedipus, Eteocles and Polynices, were fighting over the throne and ended up killing each other, which made Creon the king. Creon decides to bury the older brother Eteocles to be buried in honor and left the younger brother Polynices to rot in pain. We can see on page 69 where Leader tell Creon “The power is yours, I suppose, to enforce it with the laws, both for the dead and for all of us, the living” (Fagles 69). This quote emphasis, that the law was transitioning to be made by people and not by the gods, even thought, we see Creon praying to the gods he is the one making the final decision not the gods. This is one of the main traits of the Golden Age of Athens.
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Secondly, in the book Odyssey, we can see that history was told though the actions of men and not the gods. The main character in this book, Odysseus, is on a journey returning home from Troy to his home island Ithica. Odysseus and his crew experience many tragedies along the way, and most of his crew gets killed because of these tragedies. The most famous tragedy was when Odysseus and his crew went on the island of the Cyclops, where many of his men died. This tragedy reflects that it is told by the actions of people and not by the actions of gods, because even though Poseidon and Zeus are both mentioned in this story, the actions were made by men and not by gods. As Odysseus says “if no man is hurting you, then your sickness comes from Zeus and can’t be helped. You should pray to your father Poseidon” (Homer 136). This quote shows that, even though gods had some role in this tragedy, it was told through the actions of people and not gods, as were also other tragedies in the book.
Lastly, in the book of Medea, we can see that people were transitioning to thinking more rationally and discourage. The tragedy in Medea, happens when Medea’s husband Jason leaves her and remarries the daughter of the king Creon. She decides to plot a revenge against her ex husband by killing his wife and hers and Jason’s children. Medea is plotting the revenge, because she is mentally destroyed because of what Jason has done to her. Throughout the book we can see that other people are discouraging Medea not to kill her children, and everybody except Medea are thinking rationally. We can see this form of discourage from Chorus, “Will you have the nerve to kill your children? And to make yourself the miserable women.” (Euripides 37). This shows how people are transitioning to making rational decisions and discouraging people from doing the wrong thing. Even though Medea ends up killing her sons, we still see a progress in people overall thinking rationally and discourage.
The main three traits of the Golden Age of Athens that started after the end of the Persian war are that law comes from men and not from the gods as we can see in the book of Antigone, where the king Creon was making major decisions, and gods were not affecting him, second was the journey of Odysseus where we saw that history was starting to be told by the actions of people and not by the actions of gods, where the tragedies that Odysseus and his men went through were told by the actions they have made even thought, gods played a role in those tragedies, last was the tragedy of Medea were we saw that people were starting
to think more rationally and they were discouraging Medea to not kill her children, because of what her husband has done to her.