Seven Facts About Zeus (the Greek God) | #GreekMyths

Zeus is perhaps the most well-known Greek god of Mount Olympus. Apart from his leading role in several Greek myths, he has also been featured in countless contemporary books and films. Here are seven facts you should know about Zeus.

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7 Facts about Zeus

  1. Zeus is the Leader of the Olympian Gods
  2. Zeus Looks Much Hotter Than You Might Think
  3. Zeus Is a Womanizer and a Serial Cheater
  4. Zeus Weapon of Choice is the Thunderbolt
  5. Zeus Is Associated with Hospitality (Xenios Zeus)
  6. Zeus Was Raised by a… Goat
  7. Zeus Has a Different Name in Modern Greek

Zeus is the Leader of the Olympian Gods

Zeus is the ruler of Mount Olympus and the leader of all Greek gods and goddesses but also humans. His arrival was predicted by an orator. Before Zeus was in charge, the world was ruled by a Titan with cannibalistic tendencies: Cronus. Cronus feared the prophecy that said that one of his children would violently overthrow him. As soon as his wife would give birth to a baby, he would eat it alive. Zeus was the Titan’s youngest son and the only one who survived. Zeus saved his siblings from his father’s belly and destroyed him. He became Greece’s leading god, and he is often associated with the “father god” of monotheistic religions. However, his appearance and personality are far from these figures.

Zeus Looks Much Hotter Than You Might Think

Fatherly god figures are usually portrayed as old wise men with long white beards, rather than muscular and powerful young men. In some modern-day films and depictions, Zeus is also portrayed as an old man. But, in reality, Greek gods and goddesses were thought to be fit, young, and more attractive than most humans. The same goes for Zeus. Ancient Greek sculptures and pieces of art depict him this way. Although he sports a beard, his facial hair is not that of an old man. Zeus’ appearance evolved over time and there was a time when he was mostly depicted as a wise grandfather.

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Zeus Is a Womanizer and a Serial Cheater

Zeus is an attractive god who used his looks to seduce mortal women on a regular basis. It is impossible to count all of his affairs. Zeus is married to his sister, Hera, who ends up punishing the women Zeus sleeps with. When the ruler of Mount Olympus is rejected in his regular form, he transforms himself into different animals. He appeared to Europe as a bull, to Danae as golden rain, and Leda embraced Zeus in his swan form.

Zeus Weapon of Choice is the Thunderbolt

Zeus’s signature weapon is the thunderbolt. That is why he is also named as the “god of thunder”, throwing lightning bolts to his enemies from Mount Olympus. Zeus’s weapon was created by the Cyclops as a “thank you” gift for freeing them from the tyranny of the Titans.

Zeus Is Associated with Hospitality (Xenios Zeus)

Apart from the ruler of the gods and the god of thunder, Zeus has also another role; that of Xenios. Xenios Zeus is the god of hospitality (philoxenia). The latter was taken very seriously in ancient Greece. There were sacred rules that were followed religiously by those welcoming someone in their home. At the same time, people who wandered in places they’ve never been before had a god to pray to for protection. That was Xenios Zeus.

Zeus Was Raised by a… Goat

As mentioned earlier, Zeus was the only child of Cronus that was not consumed alive. That is because Rhea, his mother, had managed to hide him far from his tyrannical father. Cronus ended up eating a rock, which was swaddled like a baby. Zeus then grew up far away from his family in a cave in the island of Crete. He was raised by a goat named Amalthea. In some variations of the myth, Amalthea is not a goat but… a beautiful nymph.

Zeus Has a Different Name in Modern Greek

Ancient Greeks called Zeus “Ζευς”, hence his international name. But modern Greeks refer to Zeus as “Δίας” (Dias). If you studied ancient Greek in school, then you might know that the genitive of “Ζευς” is “Διός”. And it is assumed that this is the reason why modern Greeks call Zeus “Δίας”.

Do you have any other facts to add to the list? You can leave a comment down below! If you enjoyed watching this video, like, subscribe and share with a friend who loves ancient Greek mythology. At helinika.com and Helinika’s YouTube channel you will find plenty of articles and videos on the Greek language, history, and culture.

Is This the Worst Greek God / Goddess? | Evil Greek Goddess

When looking for the evilest ancient Greek god or goddess, usually three come to mind: Pluton/Hades, Pan, and Hecate. But what if I told you that there is another divine being that shares more characteristics with the devil, than the previous three.

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Why Pluton, Pan, and Hecate are not the Worst

Pluton was the brother of Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon. He was the most unfortunate one because he ended up being offered the underworld as his kingdom, when the rest resided in Mount Olympus. However, Pluton willingly agreed to take care of Hades, the ancient Greek kingdom of the dead, and all the chthonic deities that resided there.

Hades is often described as the ancient Greek version of hell since it is located under the ground. But Hades was both heaven and hell. And Pluton had both positive and negative traits. He had abducted his niece, Persephone, but Zeus and other Olympian gods had committed similar acts. He was feared because he was associated with death, but he was not considered evil.

Pan and Hecate were two chthonic deities; they also resided under the surface of the Earth. Hecate is associated with witchcraft and magic and got a bad reputation in late antiquity and Medieval times. But she wasn’t necessarily an evil goddess. She was actually the only Titan who was liked and respected by the Olympians and she was the only one who felt bad for Demeter and helped her find her daughter, Persephone.

Pan on the other hand is not only a chthonic deity but he also has some physical similarities to the devil. He is half-man, half-goat. He is a trickster but, in certain circumstances, he can instill fear to people. For example, when Greeks and Persians were fighting in the battle of Marathon, Pan exited a cave and started yelling and making horrifying sounds. He caused panic to the Persians – and now you know where the word pan-ic comes from. But he was never considered an evil god.

There is in fact another deity from ancient Greek mythology who is the most diabolical of them all.

Eris: The Evilest Greek Goddess

The devil is the personification of evil. In Greek, the term «διάβολος» derives from the Greek verb «διαβάλω» (to slander). It represents all negative feelings but primarily jealousy and power-seeking by creating division. Just like the serpent that offered the apple to Eve in the creation myth. The snake slandered God and instilled the idea of rebellion to the first humans. It created division.

By looking at ancient Greek myths and specifically at the Homeric hymns, we can easily detect a goddess who, not only created division motivated by jealousy, but also did this by offering… an apple. And the result was a violent war that we call the Trojan War.

“Strife whose wrath is relentless, she is the sister and companion of murderous Ares, she who is only a little thing at the first, but thereafter grows until she strides on the earth with her head striking heaven. She then hurled down bitterness equally between both sides as she walked through the onslaught making men’s pain heavier.”, Homer says about Eris.

“Potter is angry with potter, craftsman with craftsman, and beggar is jealous of beggar (…)”, writes Hesiod in Works and Days.

Eris (Έριδα) is the Greek goddess of strife and discord. Contrary to Pan, Hades, and Hecate, Eris had no temples in ancient Greece. It is safe to say that she was the least liked deity. She is also thought to have inspired countless evil characters in fairytales, including Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. She even inspired a parody religion in the 1950s called “Discordianism”.

According to some sources, she was the daughter of the Night and she also gave birth to many children – including Ponos (pain), Loimos (death by pestilence), and Fonos (Murder). She is supposedly behind every fight, divorce, and problems that result from jealousy. But she is mostly well-known for the “apple of discord myth”.

Once upon a time, the mortal king named Peleus and the sea nymph Thetis got married on the mountain range of Pelion. All gods and goddesses were invited to the reception to celebrate the union of a mortal with deity. All except one: Eris. It was deemed inappropriate to invite the goddess of discord in the celebration of a marital union.

But Eris found a way to bring chaos from a distance. The ancient Greek goddess approached the wedding party holding a golden apple. She had inscribed on the apple the phrase: “to the fairest of them all”. Once she saw a group of goddesses, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, chatting with each other, she tossed the apple towards them and left.

What ensued was a vanity-fueled dispute among the goddesses, who asked for the help of a beautiful mortal man, Paris. They asked Paris to give his honest opinion but, they then proceeded to offer him different prices in return. Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love and probably the objective winner of the prize, offered Paris the only thing he was missing: a partner to stand by his side. Aphrodite ensured him that he will marry the “most beautiful woman in the world” who was no other than Helen, queen of Sparta. She won and a new war soon began.

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Greek Drama Ep.7: Medea by Euripides (Theatrical Play)

medea (play)

Medea (Μήδεια) is one of the most controversial female heroines to have ever existed. In modern Greek, her name is given to women who end the lives of their children. We know Medea from ancient Greek mythology and specifically the Argonautica. But the character is widely known thanks to the theatrical play with the same name, presented by Euripides in 431 BC.

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Medea’s Mythological Background

Medea is a mythological princess who lived in the city of Colchis, on the coast of the Black Sea, in an unspecified timeline. According to the legend, she was related to Circe, the witch who was keeping Odysseus captive in her island. Medea, just like Circe, practiced witchcraft and she worshipped the chthonic goddess Hecate. According to Hesiod, she was a divine being herself; not a mortal but not a goddess either.

According to the legend of the Argonautica, when Jason, prince of Iolcos, arrived in Colchis to obtain the golden fleece, goddesses Hera and Aphrodite intervened. They used their powers to make Medea fall madly in love with Jason. The princess would be willing to sacrifice everything for him. Indeed, with the help of Medea, Jason was able to take the golden fleece and return to the Greek city of Iolcos.

Since Jason ended up being denied the throne of Iolcos, he fled to Corinth along with Medea. There, they got married and had many children. In some variations of the myth, Jason and Medea had 14 children, most of whom were boys. In Euripides’ version, they have two boys. Jason and Medea were happily married for ten years, until another person entered the scene: the princess of Corinth, Glauce. It is worth remembering that Jason had married Medea because she helped him in his quest. Medea, on the other hand, was obsessively in love with Jason, after Hera’s and Aphrodite’s intervention.

According to the different variations of the myth, Medea lost both her husband and her children. Her husband broke his marital oath and married the much younger Glauce, and their children died prematurely. Poet Eumelus says in “Korinthiaka” that Medea caused the deaths by accident. The poet Creophylus mentioned that the children were attacked by the angry citizens of Corinth. It was the tragedian Euripides who changed the ending of the story, giving her a more active role. In Euripides’ version, Medea takes revenge.

Medea by Euripides (Theatrical Play)

The play “Medea” («Μήδεια») was performed for the first time at the theatrical festival of Dionysia in 431 BC. The characters include Medea, Jason, Glauce, King Creon of Corinth, king Aegeus of Athens, a messenger, an elderly nurse, a tutor, Medea’s children (two in this version), and a Chorus consisting of the women of Corinth.

The play starts after Medea has found out that Jason considers marrying the much younger princess of Corinth, Glauce. The back story is narrated by an elderly nurse. A tutor who converses with the nurse, helps unravel the events that caused the couple to break up.  

She (Medea) gave all sorts of help to Jason. That’s when life is most secure and safe, when woman and her husband stand as one. But that marriage changed. Now they’re enemies.”, the nurse says.

Jason, after being denied the throne of Iolcos, finds the opportunity to gain power by marrying the daughter of king Creon of Corinth. Medea is distraught. She wants to end her life. She refuses to eat and curses Jason and their two young sons, who are unaware of what is going on. Both the women of the Chorus and the nurse are trying to make her think logically and avoid acting aggressively towards those who have nothing to do with her husband’s actions.

The person who was everything to me, my own husband, has turned out to be the worst of men. This I know is true. Of all things with life and understanding,    we women are the most unfortunate.”, Medea replies, explaining the hardships of women’s lives at that time (no possessions, pains of childbirth, no participation in public life*).

The local king, Creon, enters the scene and tries to banish Medea and her children from Corinth. He is afraid she will try to take revenge for her husband’s actions. But Medea insists that, although she is mad against Jason, she has nothing against him or Glauce. She asks Creon to stay one more day in Corinth before she and her children leave the city. Creon, feeling bad for the woman, agrees and Medea focuses all her energy on her revenge plan, with the help of Hecate.

 Jason then enters the scene and tries to defend his actions. He also denies that Medea helped him fetch the golden fleece, saying that it was goddess Aphrodite the one who assisted him. He also offers money to Medea, which she rejects.

“Erotic love with too much passion brings with it no fine reputation, brings nothing virtuous to men.”, the women of the Chorus conclude.

After Jason, another man enters the scene. He is Aegeus, king of Athens, who tries to find a cure for his sterility. Medea narrates her story to Aegeus and offers him potions to solve his problem. Aegeus feels sympathy for Medea and, wanting to thank her for her offer, he promises before the gods to offer Medea refuge in Athens in return.  

Medea is then left alone on stage, where she reveals her plan to seek revenge on her husband. She will try to seem agreeable and nice; as if she has accepted Jason’s decision. She will ask him to keep the children in Corinth and raise them with his new family. She will use the children as a “trojan horse”. They will bear gifts that will kill Glauce and then their lives will end as well. Jason will be left alive and alone – his children and his young bride lying dead. He will know that he is the one who brought this tragedy into his life.

Yes, I can endure guilt, however horrible; the laughter of my enemies I will not endure”, she says, shocking the women of the Chorus who warn her that such an action will make her unwelcome in the civilized city of Athens.

Medea follows her plan and Jason is very happy to raise his children with Glauce. She then has a dress and a coronet delivered to Glauce, which the princess accepts. But the dress and the coronet were drenched in a corrosive substance that killed Glauce and Creon who tried to save her.

At the same time, Medea decided to proceed with the murder of her own children and then leave with their bodies on a flying chariot which is pulled by her grandfather, the Sun. She has been wounded herself but this is a price she was willing to take to see Jason suffer. She refuses Jason to visit their sons burial grounds and leaves Corinth flying, cursing Jason to have an unheroic death. Jason and the Chorus are left wondering what are the plans of the gods, who often “contradict our fondest expectations”.

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Themes and Critical Perception of Medea by Euripides

The theatrical play Medea did not win the hearts of the Athenian audience. People were shocked with the ending, since it was very different from the ones they were used to. That is why Euripides was placed in the third place, although the play is now considered as one of the best ancient Greek dramas.

Medea and the Place of Women in Ancient Greece

There are also numerous ways to understand and analyze the story. Euripides’ plays tended to focus on marginalized people, such as women in the ancient world. We have already seen this in his play called “Helen”, where he gives voice to Helen of Troy. In Medea, he highlights the difficulties women face in their lives (*) through the voices of the Corinthian women and Medea herself. He then refuses to give a passive role to Medea and offers her the opportunity to take revenge by committing the biggest taboo of that time -and of today-: ending the lives of her own children.

Medea vs. Jason: Emotions vs. Logic

But “Medea” is not a play that focuses only on the place of women in the ancient Athenian society. There is another theme that is often overlooked and that is emotion vs. logic. Medea represents emotion (both positive and negative) and Jason represents logic.

Medea jumps from being extremely in love with Jason to hating him and wanting to harm him in a matter of seconds. She is lead by her emotions and her actions are ruled by them. She helps a man she just met, Jason, steal her family’s treasure (the golden fleece) and leaves with him because she fell in love. She brings chaos and destruction when she is filled with anger, jealousy, and other negative emotions.

Her emotional distress grows at the sight of Jason who remains composed and calm throughout the play. The women of Corinth feel sympathy for her but remind her to find “the middle way”, as they say. This refers to the Greek concept of the golden ratio and being able to find the middle ground of two extremes. But Medea is unable or unwilling to do so.

Jason, on the other hand, represents logic in its absolute form. He married Medea because she helped him obtain the golden fleece. He then decided to remarry to gain power in the city of Corinth. He remains calm when talking to his distressed wife and tries to reason with her, which she finds infuriating. He seems rigid and cold; unable to understand Medea’s feelings. Jason finally breaks down and releases his emotions when Medea leaves the scene on a flying chariot.

With his play “Medea”, Euripides showcases how destructive uncontrollable emotions and rigid logic can be. How would things end if Medea was able to control her extreme emotional responses and if Jason could develop a strong emotional attachment to his wife? Or even if he persisted on remarrying, how would things have developed if he showed empathy towards Medea?

The play “Medea” is a reminder that extremities can lead to tragedies. It is important to find the golden ratio between emotions and logic. To not ignore our emotions, positive or negative, but learn how to control them. And lastly, Euripides reminds us that people who take revenge end up being as hurt, if not more, than those who receive it.

Medea by Euripides in an Essence:

  1. “Medea” was presented in 431 BC in the festival of Dionysia.
  2. It features a wife, Medea, taking revenge on her unfaithful husband, Jason, by killing everyone he cares for.
  3. Euripides was placed in the third position for his play “Medea”.
  4. The play contradicts previous mythological stories by giving Medea a less passive role – she is a victim and a villain.
  5.  “Medea” is more than a story about romantic betrayal, jealousy, and revenge.
  6. The play showcased the difficulties women faced in the ancient world.
  7. The main theme is logic (Jason) vs. emotions (Medea) and the importance of finding the golden ratio.
  8. “Medea” also proves that revenge always backfires.

Greek Drama Ep.6: The Concepts of Hybris, Nemesis, and Catharsis

Hybris, nemesis, and catharsis are three important aspects of every ancient Greek tragedy. Hybris and nemesis were mentioned way before the birth of Greek theatre; we know the terms from ancient Greek mythology. And catharsis is a concept that was introduced in drama. But what is the meaning of these three theatrical terms?

Greek Drama Ep.5: Antigone by Sophocles

Antigone by Sophocles is one of the most well-known ancient Greek theatrical plays. It belongs to a collection of tragedies – the Theban plays – since it takes place in the Greek city of Thebes. It was written by the great tragedian Sophocles and was presented at the theatrical competition of Dionysia in 441 BC. It is based on the myth of Oedipus but Sophocles manages to make the story even more tragic. It focuses on the subject of written vs. unwritten rules and absolute power.

Greek Drama Ep.6: The Concepts of Hybris, Nemesis, and Catharsis

Hybris, nemesis, and catharsis are three important aspects of every ancient Greek tragedy. Hybris and nemesis were mentioned way before the birth of Greek theatre; we know the terms from ancient Greek mythology. And catharsis is a concept that was introduced in drama. But what is the meaning of these three theatrical terms?

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Hybris and Ancient Greek Drama | Pride and Injustice

The English word “hybris” derives from the Greek «ὕβρις». In modern Greek, the term is used in a way that can be translated as “insult” or “curse word”. But in ancient Greek, the term refers to an insult which was targeted towards gods and goddesses, rather than other humans. But how could a mortal offend a god or a goddess?

The easiest way an ancient Greek could manage to commit hybris, was by being excessively proud and overconfident. This is why the English word “hybris” is often translated as “excess pride”. Odysseus, for example, committed hybris when he started mocking Cyclops Polyphemous, after managing to blind him. Blinding him was an act of self-defense – it was the only way he could escape the island. But repeatedly making fun of him was unnecessary. Odysseus insulted Poseidon in this way, and the god of the sea punished him for his arrogance.

In ancient Greek theatre, the concept of hybris still revolved around excess pride and overconfidence but it also included other negative traits and actions. The gods and goddesses in ancient drama were presented as more sensitive and caring than in ancient Greek mythology. They also cared for the injustices towards humans.

For example, the tragedies of Oedipus and Antigone root back to an hybris that was committed by a human towards another human. Oedipus’ father had attacked a young boy, which enraged the gods. The entire family got stuck into a series of tragedies. In Antigone, the ruler Creon enrages the gods for being both arrogant and being cruel towards Antigone and her deceased brother, Polynices. Therefore, “hybris”, in the context of drama, can also be translated as “injustice”, “outrage”, or “immoral act”.

The necessity of hybris in ancient tragedy is therefore obvious. Tragic events would not be possible without an act of hybris. Hybris – either in the form of arrogance and pride or in the form of injustice- is the usual cause of every single tragedy. And from the stories that ancient tragedians narrated on stage, we can assume that pride and injustice are often connected – with acts of injustice being the result of excess pride. In other words, an arrogant and proud person is more likely to be unjust and, as a result, insult the gods and goddesses.

 

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Nemesis and Ancient Greek Drama | Divine Punishment

Nemesis is the result of hybris. It derives from the Greek word «νέμεσις» that can be translated as “delivering justice”. That meant bringing good fortune to the virtuous and bad fortune to immoral people. Similar to the concept of karma. But, because the term “nemesis” was used predominantly in tragedies, the negative aspect persisted. “Nemesis” today is translated as “punishment” or “bad karma”.

It is important to note that the concept of nemesis has been personified. Goddess Nemesis, also called Rhamnousia, has been mentioned in many ancient texts, including Hesiod’s “Theogony”. She is the goddess who punishes the ones who commit hubris.

Just like hybris, nemesis is an important part of every ancient Greek tragedy. Without it, the tragic characters will never face their problems or deal with their inner demons. Nemesis – divine punishment- leads us to the final and most important concept of ancient Greek drama: catharsis.

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Catharsis and Ancient Greek Drama | Emotional Cleansing

Hybris and nemesis were two concepts that were present in ancient Greek myths. A hero or heroine would be blinded by his or her pride and they would be punished for it with a long period of bad luck. But ancient Greek theatre was born at a time when ancient Athenians were rethinking their old values and tried to construct a more sensitive and humanitarian society. Ancient Greek drama does not stop at nemesis. Punishment for the shake of punishment is too cruel. Instead, punishment should be a learning lesson for the person who receives it and anyone who witnesses it.

Catharsis is tragedy’s ultimate goal. The term derives from the Greek «κάθαρσις», which means “cleanse”. But it is mostly known for its metaphorical meaning – the “spiritual or emotional cleanse” that can be achieved through art. Catharsis is the reason why rich Athenians paid for the tickets of the financially struggling citizens. Every Athenian had to participate to “cleanse” their soul and be better citizens.

The term is attributed to Aristotle who used the metaphor of soul cleansing in his work “Poetics”. In tragedy, catharsis is experienced by both the play’s characters and the audience. The tragic characters who commit hybris and then receive nemesis, “cleanse” their mind and heart from all the negative emotions that led them to make unjust decisions or actions.

In Antigone, the tyrannical ruler of Thebes, Creon, sees the body of his diseased son and immediately regrets all his past decisions. The audience leaves knowing that, from now on, he will be an empathetic and caring leader. Having experienced tragedy, he will be able to get in other people’s shoes.

At the same time, the members of the audience of a tragic play can leave the theatre feeling “lighter”. They experienced intense negative emotions while watching the tragic characters’ misfortunes but, in the end, something positive comes out of it. Theatre acts as a form of psychotherapy. The viewers can resurface their suppressed emotions – jealousy, fear, regret, anger- and let them go. They exit the theatre with their emotions purified. And that is what catharsis is.

Greek Drama Ep.4: Helen by Euripides

In 412 BC, the ancient Greek tragedian Euripides presented a trilogy of plays at the annual theatrical competition of Dionysia in Athens. One of those plays was Helen – inspired by the legend of Helen of Troy.

Greek Drama Ep.5: Antigone by Sophocles

Antigone by Sophocles is one of the most well-known ancient Greek theatrical plays. It belongs to a collection of tragedies – the Theban plays – since it takes place in the Greek city of Thebes. It was written by the great tragedian Sophocles and was presented at the theatrical competition of Dionysia in 441 BC. It is based on the myth of Oedipus but Sophocles manages to make the story even more tragic. It focuses on the subject of written vs. unwritten rules and absolute power.

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Main Characters in Antigone

The main characters of Antigone by Sophocles are Antigone (daughter of Oedipus), Ismene (Antigone’s sister), Creon (Antigone’s uncle), Haemon (Antigone’s fiancée), Eurydice (Creon’s wife), Tiresias (the prophet), and the Chorus that consists of a group of elderly men.

Antigone: Summary of the Plot

The play begins with the sisters Antigone and Ismene meeting outside of the palace of Thebes. The two young women are the daughters of the mythical king of Thebes Oedipus and his mother, Iocaste. But what do we know about this family from ancient Greek mythology?

Antigone’s Background

Oedipus and Iocaste married each other without knowing that they are mother and son. This unorthodox marriage was their punishment from the gods for the serious hybris the father of the family had committed. Laius, father of Oedipus and first husband of Iocaste, had abused a young boy, which enraged the gods and goddesses. Since then, countless misfortunes and tragedies hit the family.

The royal family of Thebes could be compared to the cursed families we often talk about today, such as the Kennedys. Some of these misfortunes resulted by their own despicable actions. For example, Oedipus was once so enraged by his two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, that he cursed them. He said that they would kill each other one day – which came true after Oedipus’ self-exile.

Eteocles and Polynices fought over the throne of Thebes, after their father left the city-state in a state of shock. He had just learned that he is related to his wife. Polynices then decided to also leave Thebes and go to the city of Argos. There, he married the princess of Argos and ordered the local army to attack his hometown. He wanted to punish his brother and take over the city. Both Eteocles and Polynices died during the battle.

The throne was then overtaken by their uncle, Creon. Creon immediately turned into a tyrant. He wanted to make clear that he wouldn’t allow anyone to overthrow him or question his power. He honored Eteocles for trying to protect Thebes and shamed Polynices publicly for turning against his hometown. He refused to offer a burial ceremony for him and left his body laying on the battleground. Citizens of Thebes were not allowed to touch it. And this is the exact timeline of Antigone’s storyline.

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Main Storyline: Antigone

Antigone and Ismene were the sisters of Polynices and Eteocles. Antigone, the eldest and most rebellious sister, tries to conspire against Creon and bury Polynices. Burying the dead following the rites of the time was an unwritten rule that, according to Antigone, was more important than the rule Creon came up with. Ismene is skeptical. She does want to honor her brother, but she doesn’t want to defy the state either.

“I will not urge thee,-no nor, if thou yet shouldst have the mind, wouldst thou be welcome as a worker with me. Nay, be what thou wilt; but I will bury him: well for me to die in doing that. I shall rest, a loved one with him whom I have loved, sinless in my crime; for I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living: in that world I shall abide forever. But if thou wilt, be guilty of dishonoring laws which the gods have stablished in honor.”, Antigone says.

The two women leave the stage and the Chorus, consisting of elder men, starts narrating the events before the death of Polynices and Eteocles. How Polynices left Thebes and managed to influence the ruler of Argos to attack his hometown.

Then, Creon enters the scene and converses with the Chorus. Is he in the wrong? The elders of Thebes reassure him that he has the power to make decisions for the living and the dead of Thebes. But everything changes when a guard who was supposed to monitor the battleground, enters the scene to announce that the body has been buried.

“Well, this is it.-The corpse-some one hath just given it burial, and gone away,-after sprinkling thirsty dust on the flesh, with such other rites as piety enjoins.”, the guard says.

Creon leaves the stage frantically and the Chorus starts highlighting the importance of laws and state power.

Antigone’s Punishment

Creon comes back on stage, along with Antigone. The young woman confesses to the crime, saying that the law of god was more important to her than the law of the state ruler.

“Yes; for it was not Zeus that had published me that edict; not such are the laws set among men by the justice who dwells with the gods below; nor deemed I that thy decrees were of such force, that a mortal could override the unwritten and unfailing statutes of heaven. For their life is not of to-day or yesterday, but from all time, and no man knows when they were first put forth.”, she says.

Creon orders the arrest of Antigone and Ismene. He speculates that the younger sister knew about her sister’s actions but did nothing to alert him nor the guards. Then, another character enters the scene. A young man named Haemon. He is the son of Creon and fiancée of Antigone. He tries to persuade his father to spare the two women, but a fight ensued. Haemon leaves and the Chorus starts talking about the power of love and compares Antigone to Niobe, whose children were killed and were not given a proper burial after an act of hybris.

Creon then decides to free Ismene and punish Antigone by burying her into a cave. The young woman is led into her eternal prison, while mourning her youth and the wedding she was planning all this time.

“Tomb, bridal-chamber, eternal prison in the caverned rock, whither go to find mine own, those many who have perished, and whom Persephone hath received among the dead! Last of all shall I pass thither, and far most miserably of all, before the term of my life is spent. (…)”

Creon’s Punishment

Once Antigone is led and abandoned into the cave, a prophet named Teiresias enters the scene. He warns Creon of the hybris he is about to commit: leaving the dead unburied and burying the living. Not only that, but everyone in Greece will despise the ruler of Thebes. The Chorus asks Creon to listen to prophet Teiresias but he leaves angrily.

What follows is the discovery of Antigone’s body in the cave. She ended her own life. Haemon, just like Romeo, then stabbed himself, ending his own life. Once Creon’s wife and Haemon’s mother hears the news, she proceeds to do the same. The play ends with Creon holding the body of his son, acknowledging his mistakes.

“Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards the gods must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise.”, the leader of the Chorus concludes.

Antigone in a Nutshell:

  • “Antigone” is a tragedy that was first presented by Sophocles in 441 BC.
  • The play is set in Thebes, Greece.
  • Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, is the main heroine.
  • She defies the written laws of the state and follows the unwritten laws of the gods.
  • Creon, her uncle and ruler of Thebes, commits hybris by punishing Antigone – he ends up being punished by fate.
  • “Catharsis” is achieved when Creon sees the consequences of his actions and acknowledges his mistakes.

Main Theme in Antigone: Written vs Unwritten Rules

Just like in most ancient Greek tragedies, the main theme of Antigone is hybris – the consequences of pride, arrogance, and overconfidence. Creon, the ruler of Thebes, treated the death of Polynices with a lack of compassion. He needed to reestablish order after the battle with Argos, but he got blinded by the absolute power. Yes, Polynices betrayed his city-state, but Creon decided to continue his punishment, after his death. He came up with an inflexible and strict rule and then punished Antigone for disobeying him. He didn’t listen to anyone who tried to warn him – not even prophet Teiresias.

Another theme in Antigone that differentiates it from other plays, is about status quo, moral/ divine law versus human law. Antigone is an archetypical rebel: a young, fearless female against a powerful older male. Antigone chose the unwritten rules over the rules of the state. She even ends up sacrificing her own life for her beliefs.

Were her actions worth it? Could there be another solution to this problem, such as debating with Creon? Did Creon turn into a tyrant before or after the rebellious act? How is a tyrant born? And what if everyone started disobeying the law to follow their moral standards? These are the questions that viewers are called to answer after watching the play. Feel free to share your opinions in the comment section.  

Greek Drama Ep.4: Helen by Euripides

A beautiful woman accused of causing chaos and bringing all evils to this world. She could be Eve or Pandora. But, this time, she is Helen. The one accused of causing the Trojan War. The one who left her husband’s side and traveled to Troy with another man, Paris.

Greek mythology and the Homeric hymns that kept them alive focused on brave heroes who fought battles and explored the world. Greek tragedy, on the other hand, placed the misunderstood characters under the spotlight. In the IIiad and the Odyssey, we hear what men had to say about Helen. In the play Helen by Euripides, we listen to her side of the story.

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Euripides’ Helen (Theatrical Play)

In 412 BC, the ancient Greek tragedian Euripides presented a trilogy of plays at the annual theatrical competition of Dionysia in Athens. One of those plays was Helen – inspired by the legend of Helen of Troy.

Helen’s Myth | Helen of Troy

According to the myth, Helen was the most beautiful woman in the world. She was the daughter of Zeus and Leda and wife of king Menelaus of Sparta. One night, Helen reportedly escaped Sparta with her Trojan lover, Paris. The latter was a young prince who was promised by goddess Aphrodite the most beautiful woman in the world. And, despite popular belief, it is not clear whether Helen chose to leave with Paris.

Ancient Greek sources are contradictory regarding Helen’s stance on this matter. Herodotus and most sources mention she was abducted by Paris. The poet Sappho, however, argues that Helen left Sparta willingly. “Full easy it is to make this understood of one and all: for she that far surpassed all mortals in beauty, Helen her most noble husband. Deserted, and went sailing to Troy, with never a thought for her daughter and dear parents.”, she writes.

Looking closely at the storyline, we can easily notice how irrelevant Helen’s stance appeared to be. Nobody really cared whether Helen was abducted or decided to escape from Sparta because she was unhappy. She was portrayed as the destructive woman – source of all evils- for whom several ships sailed towards Troy. And many young men fought and lost their lives. She, a “wicked woman”, was blamed for starting a vicious war.

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Euripides’ Take on Helen’s Myth

The unconventional ancient Greek tragedian Euripides wanted to defend Helen. Inspired by Herodotus’ claim that the Spartan queen was taken to Egypt by god Hermes, he told her version of the story.

In Euripides’ version of the story, Paris did not travel to Troy with Helen herself, but with an “eidolon” – a lifeless copy of her. Goddess Hera, protector of marriage, wanted to stop Paris from doing so. The Trojan prince had offered the apple of discord to another goddess and she aimed at punishing him. She ordered the messenger god Hermes to guide Helen out of her palace and transport her to Egypt, where she took refuge at the palace of Proteas.

The play starts with Helen standing next to Proteas’ grave, explaining her story. She is hopeless. She was taken away from home against her will. She had no way of returning home and she knew her name was tainted anyways. Not only that, but she felt uneasy in Egypt after her protector’s death. King Proteas’ son, Theoklymenos, put a lot of pressure on her. He wanted to marry her.

Helen then comes across a familiar face. Teucros, the best Greek archer who participated at the Trojan war, had visited the palace of Proteas to ask for a prophecy. Proteas’ daughter, Theonoe, was a well-known fortune teller at that time. Helen is desperate to know where her husband is and if he is searching for her. Teucros, however, informs her that Menelaos is probably dead. She also becomes aware of how hated she is by both Greeks and Trojans. Helen then starts mourning on stage, along with a group of Spartan women. She has lost all hope.

But what Helen, the tragic character of play, does not know, is that Menelaos is alive and hiding on the riverside of the Nile. He was washed ashore when his ship sunk. Him, the counterfeit Helen, and his men, were all hiding in a cave.

Menelaos then decides to seek for help at the palace of Proteas, where he comes across an old maid. The woman explains that Greeks are not welcome here. Theoklymenos, the son of Proteas, will execute any Greek who steps foot at his house, to keep Helen by his side. Menelaos is buffled. Who is this Helen she is talking about?

Menelaos and Helen finally meet and after a long dialogue – during which they are both skeptical about each other – they reunite. “I was tricked by the gods into taking to my arms a misty phantom-form, to my sorrow.”, he says. With one of the characters replying: “How so? Was it then for this we vainly toiled?”.

With Theonoe’s help, they manage to escape by boat and return to Sparta. Theoklymenos becomes enraged and almost kills his sister. But Theonoe is saved last minute with the help of the gods and goddesses.

Helen, a Play with Anti-War Sentiment

On a surface level, the tragedy focuses on the importance of virtue and oaths, especially between husband and wife. But Helen is more than a play about loyalty. The play is about the nonsense of war. What was the purpose of the Trojan war? Just a lifeless shadow. Euripides had just witnessed the defeat of Athens in the Sicilian Expedition. This war had caused great panic to Athenians and people started questioning the necessity of war.

Moreover, the play brings forward the voices of women who have been shamed and blamed from society without much proof. Both the feminist and anti-war sentiment of the play were inspired by the teachings of the sophists. The latter were Greek lecturers who questioned the values and ethics of their time. Some of them argued that women should be equal to men, that war only brings destruction, gods and goddesses do not exist, and that humanity should focus on science.

Euripides’ plays were controversial, since they questioned the morals of his time. He is known as the misunderstood tragedian and it took years to get recognized for his contribution to theatre. Helen has inspired many contemporary artists, including the Greek poet Yorgos Seferis.

Diogenes the Cynic: Understanding the Roots of Cynicism | #Philosophy

Today, cynicism is synonymous to pessimism, lack of enthusiasm, skepticism, and selfishness. But Cynicism -literally translating to “living like a dog” (from the Greek «κύων»= dog)- is also a school of thought. An ancient Greek school of though to be precise. And the ideas of these philosophers have few in common to our current perception of cynicism.

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What is the Philosophy of Cynicism About?

Cynicism is a philosophical movement that appeared in Greece around the 5th Century BC. It was founded by Antisthenes, one of Socrates’ pupils, in Cynosarges – a temple of Heracles and public gymnasium on the outskirts of Athens.

Cynics wanted to live in virtue. They rejected superficial values, such as wealth, power, and fame. They wanted a simple life in accordance to nature. Although this school of thought declined on the 3rd Century BC, Cynicism reappeared in the Roman Empire in the 1st Century.

This time, Cynics would follow an ascetic life. They would often beg on the streets, dismissing all their possessions, and preach in public spaces. It comes as no surprise that their teachings inspired many early Christians.

Today, Cynicism is often perceived as a personality trait, rather than a philosophical movement. If you call someone “cynical”, you don’t necessarily mean that this person disregards power and material possessions, but rather the opposite. A cynical person today is someone who is skeptical towards the morals of his or her time. Someone who sees people as motivated mostly by money and success, rather than morality.  

Who was Diogenes the Cynic? | Facts about Diogenes

Although Antisthenes was the founder of Cynicism, it was Diogenes of Sinope who is the archetypal Cynic. You might have seen him depicted sleeping in a barrel, surrounded by dogs. Indeed, Diogenes often slept in a pithos – an ancient Greek clay barrel – because he was against owing a house and wanted to live as “naturally” as possible.

The beggar philosopher of Athens grew up in Sinope, near the Black Sea. His father was a banker who minted coins for a living but, as it usually happens, he became the opposite of his father figure: someone who rejects coins. For reasons that are not clear, he was exiled from the city of Sinope and lost everything he owned. This event changed him. In order to cope with the loss of his citizenship and fortune, Diogenes chose to underestimate their importance. There must be something else, more important than money and security, right?

In a search of virtue, Diogenes ended up in Athens, the philosophical capital of the world. But the cosmopolitan Greek city did not meet his expectations. Athens attracted many philosophers and great thinkers, but the majority of people there seemed to be fixated upon money, beauty, clothes, and fame.

Diogenes then started romanticizing a mythical hero – Heracles. He wanted to be virtuous, rather than successful. He rejected the traditional lifestyle of his time and did not want to live in a fixed address. He owned nothing. The philosopher displayed poor manners in public and showed no respect to people. He challenged anything people loved or cared for. All the traditional values of his time. It is even rumored that he mocked Alexander the Great some years before his death. People started comparing him to an uncultured dog.

If taking breakfast is nothing out of place, then it is nothing out of place in the marketplace. But taking breakfast is nothing out of place, therefore it is nothing out of place to take breakfast in the marketplace.”, he said when asked about eating his breakfast in the marketplace of Athens.

The philosopher did not mind being compared to dogs. He found dogs to be virtuous. Dogs are true to their nature and unhypocritical, while humans possess the exact opposite traits. Dogs live in the present, they don’t care where they sleep, and they eat anything. At the same, their instincts help them understand who is a true friend and who is an enemy.

The Cynic finally ended up being captured by pirates and sold as a slave to a Corinthian man named Xeniades. The latter was very impressed by Diogenes. He had a very intriguing personality and, instead of using him in the fields or to do chores, he asked him to tutor his children. Diogenes lived the rest of his life in Corinth, where he was cherished by the people in his household and his local community.

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Other Cynical Philosophers

  • Antisthenes
  • Crates of Thebes
  • Onesicritus
  • Monimus
  • Bion
  • Teles
  • Menippus

Daedalus and Icarus | #GreekMyths

One of the most well-known ancient Greek myths is the one of Daedalus and Icarus. You might remember these two as the architects who designed the labyrinth, the huge maze that was the home of the Minotaur in Crete. We talked about the birth and destruction of the legendary beast in another Greek mythology video. Today, we will be following the tragic story of a talented father and son duo: Daedalus and Icarus.

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Who Were Daedalus and Icarus?

Daedalus was a legendary ancient Greek hero who possessed many talents. He was an inventor, an architect, and craftsman. Rumor had it that he had god Hephaestus’ blood running through his veins, giving him the ability to create innovative constructions. There is no proof that there was a real craftsman bearing the same name in ancient Greece. Therefore, Daedalus is considered a mythical figure.

The talented man was an Athenian of aristocratic background. His name derives from the Greek verb “δαιδάλω” meaning “to work cunningly”. He was reportedly the creator of a wooden cow for queen Pasiphae of Crete. The latter was attracted to bulls after meeting god Poseidon in this form and used the wooden cow to… attract bulls. Daedalus’ less weird and most admired creation, however, was the Cretan labyrinth of the Minotaur. A huge maze with countless traps and dead ends.

Icarus, on the other hand, was the son of Daedalus. His mother was a slave. The young man possessed many of his father’s talents and followed him around his trips. Father and son once travelled to the island of Crete, where they were hired by king Minos to construct the labyrinth, the wooden cow, and many other items.

Creators and Prisoners of the Minoan Labyrinth

King Minos was very impressed by the works of Daedalus and Icarus. But everything changed when an Athenian prince, who we have seen in a previous video, visited Crete. Prince Theseus wanted to end a barbaric tradition that wanted young Athenian men and women to be sent to the labyrinth of King Minos as a sacrifice to the beast that resided there: the Minotaur.

Daedalus and Icarus were from Athens and rooted for Theseus. One night, Minos’ daughter, princess Ariadne visited the two men and asked for their advice. She was in love with Theseus and wanted to protect him. Was there a way to find his way through the labyrinth and destroy the beast? Daedalus then recommended that she utilized her yarn. Theseus would attach it at the entrance of the labyrinth and use it to explore the maze safely.

Daedalus recommendations were indeed very useful. Once Theseus destroyed the Minotaur and escaped, King Minos ordered the prosecution of the two craftsmen. Father and son were thrown into the maze with no tools or weapons to use. But cunning Daedalus was able to come up with a new plan, after watching the birds flying above their heads.

According to the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus, Daedalus utilized the only two things he could find in the maze: feathers from the birds flying above him and wax from the numerous candles that would light up their way. After days of collecting feathers and hard work, Daedalus was able to create two sets of wings by gluing the feathers together with the wax.

He then instructed his son how to wear the wings on his hands and what movements to make in order to fly. He also warned him of how dangerous it would be to fly too high. The sunlight could melt the wax and the feathers would be scattered around.

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Escaping Crete | Icaria and the Icarian Sea

The two men were successful. They were able to fly high over the maze they had built and look over Crete. Daedalus instructed Icarus to hurry up; they needed to reach Sicily now that their wings were intact. They couldn’t reach Athens, because Daedalus was unwanted there after committing a crime.

But Icarus was completely blown away – literally and metaphorically. He was ecstatic seeing the whole world from above and continued flying higher and higher. But the sunlight was also getting stronger and stronger. Icarus wanted to be at the top of the world. But his wings started losing all their feathers as the wax started melting away. The young man fell from the sky and his short life ended in an area that we now call Icarian Sea, where the island of Icaria is found.

Daedalus was shocked at the sight but managed to travel to Sicily safely. His life, however, ended there, since he was murdered by the daughters of a local king. It is worth mentioning that, before the Bibliotheca, there were many other variations of the myth which are less popular nowadays. Some of them, for example, want Daedalus and Icarus to successfully escape Crete on a boat.

What Does Icarus’ Myth Represent?

Icarus’ myth and specifically the ending is a story of hybris. The latter is extreme or foolish pride and dangerous overconfidence. Ancient Greeks believed that there was nothing that Olympian gods disliked the most than arrogance.

Icarus was a young person who was able to escape a dead-end situation with his and his father’s cunningness. However, instead of being thankful for making it alive, he wanted to show-off. He flew aimlessly in the sky and even tried to reach the sun. He paid for this with his life. This is not the first time we encounter this. We have seen stories of hybris in the past, especially in the Odyssey, but also in the story of Atlantis.  

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Theseus and the Minotaur | #GreekMyths

One of the most fascinating ancient Greek myths is the one of Theseus. The young Athenian hero is a legendary figure, although many scholars believe that he might had been a real king during the Late Bronze Age. But let’s see his story from the beginning.

The Legend and Allegory of Atlantis | Plato’s Atlantis

The lost city of Atlantis is a legend that survives for thousands of years. According to the myth, it was a utopian civilization with a great naval power. Founded by semi-gods, Atlantis was one of the most affluent and successful city-states in the Mediterranean region. But its people soon started getting greedy and believing they are the greatest in the world. Until the great city sank and disappeared from the face of the Earth.

Is this story real? What is the connection to Plato, the philosopher? And if it is not real, could it be based on a true story? Today, we are resurfacing the story of Atlantis.  

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Plato’s Allegory of Atlantis

The story of Atlantis is a made-up story, and the creator is no other than the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. The philosopher was using allegories to make his points clear. In a previous video, we discussed Plato’s allegory of the “Cave” and its symbolisms. But what is the allegory of the lost city of Atlantis about?

In the Socratic dialogues “Timaeus” and “Critias”, both written in 360 BC, Plato describes the conversations between his teacher, Socrates, with other thinkers of his time. These include the Pythagorean philosopher Timaeus of Locri and the Athenian politician and author Critias. Although Plato is not involved in the conversation, the main ideas and allegories are attributed to him.

Plato used the city of Atlantis as an example of what “hybris” can do to humanity. How an affluent state can sabotage itself. Hybris is any wrongful action against the divine order, usually stemming from over-confidence. Odysseus, for example, committed Hybris when he attacked a Cyclops for self-defense reasons but, instead of stopping there, he started teasing and mocking him. You can compare it with the concept of bad karma.

Atlantis, according to the philosopher, was a Mediterranean civilization, close to modern-day Gibraltar, that existed thousands of years before Plato’s birth and the beginning of the Classical Era. It was a land surrounded by sea and, from the description, we understand that it was a giant island. It was ruled by kings and it had well-organized military and naval forces. The city had an excellent irrigation system, and its land was fertile. Its god-protector was Poseidon, the god of the sea, and bulls were their sacred animals.

But the rulers of Atlantis were not satisfied with how successful the city was and wanted to dominate the world. Its army started occupying nearby lands and steal their resources. They would enslave people and force them to work for their own benefit. But one small city-state, Athens, wanted to stop the imperialistic plans of Atlantis. The Athenians managed to defeat the Atlantian army and even liberate some of the nearby occupied lands.

What followed was a period of decline for the city of Atlantis. Not only that, but a natural catastrophe gave Atlantis the final blow. Hit by earthquakes and floods, the legendary city sank and disappeared from the face of the Earth. Its rulers and citizens had committed hybris. Blinded by success, they became greedy and wanted more, even if others had to suffer.

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Could It Be Real?

Scholars agree that the story of Atlantis is fictional. Plato is widely known for his imagination and his ability to craft stories to make his points clear. There is no proof that this civilization existed but there are several theories: that Atlantis was located in Santorini, in Spain, even in the Bermuda Triangle. These theories are considered pseudoscientific, rather than scientific.

But could Plato have been inspired by real events and then came up with this fictional city? This is possible. Plato could have been inspired by the destruction of the Minoan civilization (3000 BC – 1100 BC), the first advanced civilization in Europe. The civilization bears a lot of similarities with Atlantis: both located in the Mediterranean, both were islands, both were dedicated to god Poseidon, and both considered bulls as sacred animals.

Just like Atlantis, the Minoans suffered from a series of natural disasters, mostly earthquakes, until the great catastrophe known as the Minoan eruption. A catastrophic volcanic eruption that submerged part of the island of Santorini and caused enormous tsunamis that destroyed the ports of the Minoans in Crete. Not only that, but the ashes that covered the nearby lands, made the soil infertile, causing famine. Archaeologists speculate that this catastrophe caused the decline of this great civilization.

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Five Facts About Plato | #Philosophy

You may already know that Plato (428/427 BCE – 348-347 BCE) was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. You may also be familiar with him thanks to the Italian Renaissance fresco in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican called “The School of Athens”. Here are five facts about Plato that you may or may not know. Stay till the end and comment down below whether you knew some of the facts already.

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Facts about the Athenian philosopher Plato:

  1. Plato was the student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle
  2. Plato is one of the most influential authors to have ever existed
  3. Plato was an aristocrat in body and mind
  4. Plato was the founder of “the Academy”, the first higher learning institution in the West

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Plato was the student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle

The Athenian philosopher was closely connected to two other highly influential ancient Greek philosophers. Plato was a student of the Athenian philosopher Socrates, whom we know mostly through Plato’s writings. Plato later taught many influential philosophers and leaders, including Aristotle, who is credited with the earliest study of logic.

Plato is one of the most influential authors to have ever existed

Although his teacher, Socrates, did not leave any written heritage, Plato dedicated his life to writing. The philosopher did not view writing merely as a tool to organize and record his ideas, but also as a creative process that he really enjoyed. You might have heard of Plato’s dialogues; a collection of written conversations between different philosophers on various topics, including ethics, politics, physics, and metaphysics. Perhaps, the most well-known dialogue of Plato is “The Republic”, which we will cover in detail in a future video.

The philosopher is also the creator of some highly-influential allegories, such as the “Cave” (which we will also discuss in another video), and his writing style is often described as “poetic”. At the same time, Plato often expressed his disapproval of poets and poetry, because “it is based on falsehood”. Based on this idea, poetry is an “illusion” that drives us away from the “truth”.

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Plato was an aristocrat in body and mind

Plato was born into an aristocratic Athenian family. His father was Ariston, a descendant of king Codrus of Athens, and his mother was Perictione, who descended from an oligarchic family. The philosopher considered Aristocracy the best form of governance. Aristocracy places the power of a city-state in the hands of a few. The main difference from monarchy is that, in monarchy, the rulers inherit their power, whereas, in aristocracy, the rulers are selected based on their skills. The aristocrats are «άριστοι» (aristoi – meaning excellent).  Plato suggested that the ideal ruler is the philosopher, the lover of wisdom, and he even stated that philosophers, who usually despise power, should be forced to rule a city.

Plato was the founder of “the Academy”, the first higher learning institution in the West

The Platonic Academy was founded in 387 BC in Athens. Plato’s Academy was the first school of higher education in the West and it attracted countless great thinkers, such as Aristotle, Heraclides, and Eudoxus. Students would be taught mathematics, dialectics, natural science, among other sciences. You can visit the archaeological site of the Academy of Plato the next time you visit Athens.

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Plato was the first most influential dreamer and idealist

Although Plato despised illusions, he is generally perceived as the “dreamer” among the ancient Greek philosophers, especially when compared to the more rational Aristotle. That is because classical idealism is closely associated with Plato, although the philosopher cannot be considered an idealist in the modern sense. In philosophy, idealism is focusing on the perception of reality from a metaphysical point of view. Plato is often considered as the “earliest representative of metaphysical objective idealism”.

Did you know any of these facts about Plato? Leave a comment down below. If you enjoy watching videos from Helinika, don’t forget to subscribe and follow the platform on other social media!

This Is Your Sign for Learning Greek

You have been debating whether you should start learning modern Greek and you constantly postpone it. Whatever the reason might be, here is the sign you were looking for. Start learning Greek today.