03:00 PM to 04:15 PM TR
Planetary Hall (formerly Science & Tech I) 206
Section Information for Fall 2019
Two and a half thousand years ago, a few million people living around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea embarked on a grand experiment. The world’s earlier complex civilizations had all shared a core idea: that a few people had special access to the gods and, because of this, could tell lesser mortals what to do. The Greeks largely rejected this way of thinking. By doing so, they created a new problem in world history: how do we know what to do if there are no god-given rulers to tell us? They sought answers in reasoned, open discussion, inventing history-writing, rational philosophy, timeless works of art, citizenship, and democracy. As they developed these concepts in a tough landscape of material scarcity and relentless competition, however, they also relied on unprecedented levels of slavery and misogyny, and engaged in endless, draining wars. In this course we will follow the Greeks’ story across the first millennium BCE, focusing on the interplay between the Greek Question and the hard realities of economics, politics, and war. We will begin with the emergence around 800 BC of city- states that were communities of roughly equal, free (male) citizens, and will end with the move after 350 BCE back toward accepting godlike kings. We will pass from the Greeks’ early struggles against giant, threatening empires to their own imperial triumphs and efforts to live in the multicultural world they made.