Summary: Sophacles, Antigone
Sophocles’s “Antigone,” is a tragedy and it describes a machine that is in perfect order. This machine proceeds automatically and it has been ready to operate since time began. There is tension in this plot, and it is the tension of the season being spring, which is an occasion that sets the machine off marching. The machine had been waiting for this catalyst to place it into action. This machine is somewhat out of time and place in the human realm. Even though there are multiple attempts at intervening with this machine, nothing can stop it.
This machine is paradoxical, and this is similar to how it represents the Greek people. The time of the Greeks was something that was so beautiful and it is something that is still beautiful. The Greeks, like the machine, are all-knowing of the end of time, at least that is what they are credited for knowing. This tragedy shows that everything has already happened, and that is a main point in many of the tragedies. The suspense component of the work is in the fact that the time does not have an impact on the events, because they have already happened, and in this sense they are inevitable. The Chorus is somewhat of a melodrama, and this is its general direction. However, it diverts from the melodrama theme and becomes more of a tragedy that does not have an indication of melodrama in it. The dialogues, characters, and plot becomes very thick, and full of tragedy. Each of the characters are judged, but they are all actually quite innocent. For example, the sistes, Antigone and Ismene, look to be rivals. However Ismene is actually quite reasonable and Antigone is fairly resistant and is somewhat just like one of the girls. This play on gender stereotypes and beauty is also linked closely to the Greek culture.
Summary: Menander, Dyskolos
In Menander’s “Dyskolos,” the character Pan, who is quite mischievous, dominates the play. He convinces Sostratos to fall in love with a girl who is a peasant, and who Sostratos had only briefly seen. Sostratos tells his servant to go see the girl’s father. However, this results in violence because Knemon is not a very nice person. In fact, he becomes angry at people who go on his land and tries to talk to him. He is such a bitter person that his wife and stepson have abandoned him, and his daughter and servant are the only people who live with him. When Sostratos meets Knemon’s stepson, Gorgias, he receives his assistance to encourage Knemon to permit Sostratos to marry his daughter. However, according to Gorgias, Knemon will not allow anyone who is not like himself to wed his daughter. This results in Sostratos wearing a rough sheepskin coat so he doesn’t look to be a gentleman. He also begins to work as a labourer. Then Knemon accidently falls down in his well and Gorgias jumps in to retrieve him. Sostratos is preoccupied with admiring the daughter that he pulls out the misanthrope and almost kills the old man due to the fact that he was not paying attention to him. Knemon thought he was going to die, and Knemon sees that he committed an error, so he gives all of his land to Gorgias, and tells him to take his daughter and find her a husband.
The story plays on the dynamic between men and women in Greece, and shows that there was a real formal way to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage. It also shows the need for each person at that time to play a particular role, and often people needed to be very manly in order to be accepted, at least this is what is represented by Knemon to Sostratos.
Summary: Herodotus, Histories, Book 3 chapters 1-38, 98-117; Book 4 chapters 1-82, 4. 168-199
In Book III (Thalia) the story describes the act of flourishing, and this is something that is held very close to the Greek culture. Thalia was the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who is the eighth-born of non-Muses. She is shown in the story to be a young woman who has a very joyous air about her. The book is about the Egyptian king, Amasis, who went against Cambyses, the son of Cyrus. In the story, Cryus has made his expedition, and he brought with him the Ionic and Aeolic Greeks. An invasion occurred because Cambyses, who was advised by an Egyptian that was angry with Amasis because he tore his family apart and sent him to the Persians. This struggle among the people is something that is very common in Greek literature, and the gods often become involved, often to the disapproval of Zeus. In Book IIII (Melpomene), the Persian wars continue, and this book shows much of the same kind of strife that was occurring in Book III.
This story reveals the rebellion and mistrust that the Greeks used commonly throughout their texts. The perceptions they had about the mythology played a major role in their lives, as it represented the good and evil that they needed to use as a benchmark on which to run their lives. This story about betrayal ends badly for the Egyptian king, and this shows the Greek society’s perception about the challenges in real life that they needed to figure out how to approach. The story is a bit of an ethical compass that the Greek people needed in their lives.
Lucian, True History
This story discusses athleticism and the need to take care of one’s body. This includes conditioning and exercise, and also relaxation. In fact, relaxation is an important component of training. When one relaxes their mind and body, they are better equipped to handle any labours that they might need to do in the future. However, it is also important to ensure that the mind and body are kept in shape. That means in addition to physical activity, it is also important to work out the mind. That means instead of reading for the sake of pure pleasure, it is also important to read material that can give a person’s brain a workout.
This type of attitude is something that the Greeks hold very dear. While they revelled in the stories about the gods, they also consider physical and mental fitness to be vital components of overall happiness. That means there is a need for people to work out on a regular basis, including their bodies and minds. The Greek culture was very much attuned to human perfection. And while not everyone was given the same benefits in life, such as beauty or intelligence, they can at the very least work on making themselves more psychically fit, and more intelligent. It is obvious that the Greeks hold these factors very close to their hearts. After all, it was the Greeks who began the Olympics, and this just shows the type of importance the Greeks put on human perfection. This story is a reflection of the purely materialistic, though likely rational, side of the Greek culture.