Famous Greeks [TTC Video]
10 February 2017, 15:40
Course No 337 | AVI, XviD, 640x432 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.2GB
One of the most instructive and intriguing ways to learn history is through biography. By pondering the lives of great individuals—people who leave deep marks on both their own times and distant posterity—you can chart broad currents of events while also studying virtue and vice, folly and wisdom, success and failure. Moreover, you can appreciate them in the real circumstances of their times.
In a companion course to Famous Romans, classics scholar and master storyteller J. Rufus Fears examines a gallery of fascinating characters who shaped the story of Greece from the Trojan War through the rise of Rome.
Inspired by Monumental Works, Taught by a Great Teacher
These lectures—inspired and informed by the monumental works of Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch—allow you to do exactly that, guided by a truly great teacher.
Professor Fears is Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma—a 15-time award winner for outstanding teaching and three-time University "Professor of the Year."
From the heroes of the Trojan War to Alexander the Great and Cleopatra, he ushers you into the lives, achievements, and influence of many of the figures who made Greek history:
- Great warriors: Achilles, Agamemnon, Hector, Odysseus, and Alexander the Great
- Masterful statesmen: Lycurgus, Solon, and Philip of Macedonia
- Profound thinkers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle
- Enduring artists and writers: Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Thucydides, and Plutarch.
His eye for character and his shrewd judgments are informed by a fine moral awareness and a deep familiarity with the times these famous lives were lived.
Gain a New Perspective on Familiar Classics
By attending to that context, Professor Fears offers you new ways of reading familiar classics by Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Xenophon, and Plato.
Plutarch, a Greek writing during the heyday of the Roman Empire, composed his Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans out of a conviction that the study of such lives can make us better as individuals and as citizens.
For 19 centuries, readers—and great writers—have agreed:
- Plutarch fed the imagination of William Shakespeare, who based Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra on the Lives.
- The American Founders, including both the Harvard graduate John Adams and the self-taught Benjamin Franklin, regarded Plutarch as a treasure trove of wisdom and wanted to see a copy in every schoolhouse.
- Harry Truman was an avid reader of Plutarch, and spoke of the practical insights he gained from time spent with the Lives.
In keeping with that spirit, Professor Fears draws lessons from each life studied in this course, charting with you the intellectual and artistic currents of one of the most creative civilizations in world history.
The Center of Human Existence
For the Greeks, politics was the center of human existence. "Man," Aristotle said, "is a political animal."
This truth determines the selection of the lives covered and the course’s approach to them. The leading thinkers, artists, and writers of classical Greece can be understood only in the context of the political events of their day.
The most important single lesson we learn from Greece is that a free nation can survive only if its citizens care, at the deepest level, about politics.
The lectures focus on the five major periods of Greek history:
- The Trojan War
- Archaic Greece of the 8th through the 6th centuries B.C.
- The Persian Wars
- The golden age of Athens in the 5th and 4th centuries B.C.
- The age of Alexander the Great.
To the Walls of Troy: Homer’s Age of Heroes
For the ancient Greeks, the Trojan War was as real as yesterday’s headlines are to us, with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey holding near-scriptural status.
- Alexander the Great slept with his copies.
- Achilles, Agamemnon, Hector, and Odysseus were role models and cultural heroes.
- The influence of Homer resonated throughout Greek history.
Professor Fears argues that no modern work on leadership can rival the depth and power of Homer as the great poet dramatically explores what it takes to guide people and nations through the crises and hardships of life.
A Stand for Freedom and against the Odds: Greeks versus Persians
The decade of the Persian Wars (490–479 B.C.) was one of the most decisive in world history. It determined that Greece would remain free and bequeath to later ages the legacy of political liberty.
Professor Fears leads you in an examination of the lives of five of the most important actors in this momentous conflict.
Your path to understanding wends through the pages of Herodotus, as King Croesus of Lydia and the Persian emperor Xerxes serve as examples of all those who would abuse their power, and whom free peoples must resist.
And you look, as well, at three of the crucial Greek leaders—Leonidas, Themistocles, Pausanias—as you follow the stirring events of this epoch-making war for liberty.
Glory and Misery: Periclean Athens and the Peloponnesian War
The 5th-century golden age of Athenian democracy is the centerpiece of the course.
Although remembered as an age of glory, the 5th century was also a time of widespread misery. For it closed with the three-decade-long cataclysm of the Peloponnesian War.
That war—its causes, its course, and its consequences—forms the prism through which Professor Fears reads the lives who populate this part of the course.
- Why did Pericles lead Athens into war with Sparta and her allies?
- What lessons about morality, power, and leadership can we draw from Thucydides’s great account of it?
- Can the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides be read as comments on the war and the attitudes that lay behind it?
In addressing these and other questions, Professor Fears introduces you to new ways to read such familiar classics as the Oedipus plays of Sophocles.
From Socrates to Alexander the Great and Beyond
The trial of Socrates was the test case of the ideals of the Athenian democracy. Professor Fears discusses that trial in the context of its impact on the Peloponnesian War and its aftermath of recrimination among the Athenians.
The death of Socrates at the hands of that Athenian democracy convinced his influential followers, Xenophon and Plato, that the best form of government would be the rule of one outstanding individual.
Thus you will be introduced to the figures of Philip of Macedonia and his son Alexander the Great.
These monarchs, conquerors, and statesmen would expand and transform the Greek world and outline a vision of transnational brotherhood that remains an ideal today.
But Alexander died young, and the Romans and their empire would be his true heirs.
Thus your study of the lives of famous Greeks concludes with two remarkable figures who challenge Rome for world domination: Pyrrhus, the Greek-speaking king of Epirus, and Cleopatra, the last ruler of Egypt in the line of Alexander’s general, Ptolemy.
Both failed, but in instructive ways that make them worthy of inclusion in a course on Famous Greeks.
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