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Thursday, August 15, 2019

095 - The Greek World Turned Upside Down



In this episode, we discuss the years 426 and 425 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the current nature of Athenian politics as dominated by Kleon the anti-aristocratic demagogue, his feud with Aristophanes as seen in the comedic plays "The Acharnians" and "The Knights", the Battles of Pylos and Sphacteria that turned the Greek world upside down, and the brutal conclusion to the Corcyraean civil war

Primary Sources: 
Aristophanes' The Acharnians
Aristophanes' The Knights
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 4)
Plutarch's Life of Nikias
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

**Special Guest Episode on Being a Modern Homeric Bard w/Joe Goodkin**


In this special guest episode, I am joined by Joe Goodkin, a Chicago-based singer/songwriter, who tours the country performing his one-man folk-opera interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey. He has performed his Odyssey over 290 times in 38 U.S. states and Canada.  Joe's Odyssey is part lecture, part musical performance, and part interactive discussion. The centerpiece of Joe's Odyssey is a 30 minute continuous performance of 24 original songs performed only with an acoustic guitar and voice and with lyrics inspired by Odysseus' famous exploits. 

We talk about how he was able to combine his Bachelor's Degree in Classics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his years as a professional musician to create something extremely unique, and discuss his methodology and his own odyssey towards creating the Odyssey, as well as what it’s like to be a modern bard and how that has shaped his understanding of not only the Homeric poems but the context in which ancient audiences would have experienced the. Then, we discuss his experiences of performing at the NJCL (or National Junior Classical League), which is where we first met, as well as in high schools and at universities, our views on the field of Classics at large, what it means to be “non-traditional” classicists, and what we can do and have been able to do to promote Classics to a general audience and why that is important.


**You can read an article Joe wrote about being a modern bard here.

To inquire about booking a performance of The Odyssey (or anything else) please contact Joe at joe@joesodyssey.com

Saturday, June 22, 2019

**Special Guest Episode on Translating Thucydides’ Speeches w/Johanna Hanink**



This is the fifth episode in a series where I converse with Classicists about either books or articles that they have published, their current research interests, or just unique classes and topics that they are teaching and exploring further. 

In this special guest episode, I am joined by Dr. Johanna Hanink, Associate Professor of Classics at Brown University in Providence, RI. Her primary teaching and research areas focus on various aspects of Greek antiquity and its legacy, but she is especially interested in Classical Athens, particularly the cultural life of the city's 4th century BC, and the strange relationships between modern politics and the ancient past. She is active in Brown’s Program in Modern Greek Studies and serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Modern Greek Studies and EidolonShe is the author and editor of a number of articles and books, including Lycurgan Athens and the Making of Classical Tragedy (Cambridge University Press 2014), Creative Lives in Classical Antiquity: Poets, Artists, and Biography (Cambridge University Press 2016), and The Classical Debt: Greek Antiquity in an Era of Austerity (Harvard University Press 2017), which explores how Western fantasies of classical antiquity have created a particularly fraught relationship between the European West and the country of Greece, especially in the context of Greece's recent "tale of two crises.” Her most recent book, How to Think about War: An Ancient Guide to Foreign Policy (Princeton University Press, 2019), is the topic of today’s conversation. 

"Why do nations go to war? What are citizens willing to die for? What justifies foreign invasion? And does might always make right? For nearly 2,500 years, students, politicians, political thinkers, and military leaders have read the eloquent and shrewd speeches in Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War for profound insights into military conflict, diplomacy, and the behavior of people and countries in times of crisis. How to Think about War presents the most influential and compelling of these speeches in an elegant new translation by classicist Johanna Hanink, accompanied by an enlightening introduction, informative headnotes, and the original Greek on facing pages. The result is an ideally accessible introduction to Thucydides’s long and challenging History."

I am very excited that Dr. Hanink agreed to come onto THOAG to discuss what it was like to translate Thucydides and the deeper meaning behind many of his speeches.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

094 - New Leaders and New Strategies



In this episode, we discuss the years 427 and 426 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the destruction of Plataea, civil wars in both Megara and Corcyra, and Athenian campaigns in Sicily, central Greece, and northwestern Greece

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 3)
Plutarch's Life of Nikias
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

093 - Revolt in the Empire



In this episode, we discuss the years 428 and 427 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the introduction of Kleon and Nikias, the revolt of Mytilene (Lesbos) from the Athenian empire, and a "prison-style breakout" from Plataea

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 3)
Plutarch's Life of Nikias
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

092 - The End of an Era (Part II)



In this episode, we discuss the years 430 and 429 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including a failed Spartan invasion of Zakynthos and Acarnania, Phormio's naval victories at Rhium and Naupactus, an Athenian debacle at Spartolos, the end of the siege of Potidaea, the death of Pericles and Phormio, and a Thracian invasion of Macedonia

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 2)
Plutarch's Life of Pericles
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

091 - Attrition and Plague




In this episode, we discuss the first year and a half of the war (431-430 BC), as both Sparta and Athens initiated their war strategies, including a Theban sneak attack on Plataea that began the war, Peloponnesian land raids on Attica, Athenian naval raids on the Peloponnese and northwestern Greece, Athenian alliances with Odrysian Thrace, a famous funeral oration by Pericles, and a deadly plague that devastated Athens

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 2)
Plutarch's Life of Pericles
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)


Sunday, April 21, 2019

090 - The Road to War



In this episode, we discuss the two events over 433/2 BC that led Pericles to claim that he could see war "coming out of the Peloponnese" (the Potidaea Revolt and the Megarian Embargo); the speeches given by the Corinthians, Spartans, and Athenians on the eve of war; and both sides' financial and military resources, war arms, and tactical strategies

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 1)
Plutarch's Life of Pericles
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)


Sunday, April 14, 2019

**Special Guest Episode on Ten Caesars w/Barry Strauss**



This is the fourth episode in a series where I converse with Classicists about either books or articles that they have published, their current research interests, or just unique classes and topics that they are teaching and exploring further. 

In this special episode, I am joined by Dr Barry Strauss, a Professor of History and Classics at Cornell University, where he teaches courses on the history of ancient Greece and Rome, war and peace in the ancient world, history of battle, introduction to military history, and specialized topics in ancient history. Dr Strauss is a widely acclaimed military and naval historian who has spent years researching and studying the leaders of the ancient world and has written and spoken widely of their mistakes and successes. As such, he is a recognized authority on the subject of leadership and the lessons that can be learned from the experiences of the greatest political and military leaders of the ancient world (including Caesar, Hannibal, and Alexander, among many others). Some of the numerous books that he has authored include The Battle of Salamis (2004)The Trojan War (2006)The Spartacus War (2009)Masters of Command (2013)The Death of Caesar (2015), and his newest book, Ten Caesars (2019)

Dr Strauss also has appeared in more than a dozen television documentaries and radio programs (see http://barrystrauss.com/media/), and has published op-ed pieces in several popular media outlets (see http://barrystrauss.com/articles/). Recently, he has upped his public history to a new level by creating an ancient history podcast, called Antiquitas.

So it’s with great pleasure that Dr Strauss came onto THOAG and in the lively conversation that followed we discussed his new book, the Ten Caesars, his podcast Antiquitas, the importance of public history, and leadership lessons from the ancient world.

***You can order Dr. Strauss's book here (Simon & Schuster or Amazon)***
Recommended Articles
"Women in Ancient Rome Didn’t Have Equal Rights. They Still Changed History”


Sunday, March 31, 2019

**Special Guest Episode at MFA Boston w/Phoebe Segal**


In today's special guest episode, I am joined by Dr. Phoebe SegalMary Bryce Comstock Curator, Greek and Roman Art, at Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA). She gave me a one-on-one tour of their new Daily Life in Ancient Greece” exhibit (in Gallery 212A-B) and allowed me to record our conversation while doing it.

***Clarification: This is not a special exhibition. It's a permanent collection gallery.


(03:58) INTRODUCTORY QUESTIONS
(1) How did the exhibit begin?
(2) How were the various categories of “daily life” decided upon?
(3) What was the determining factor in the aesthetics and overall layout of the exhibit?
(4) Are these all pieces that came from the MFA’s Art of the Ancient World collection or are there any newly acquired pieces specifically for the exhibit?
(5) What was the process like to get the objects ready for the exhibit?


(15:41) REMEMBRANCE
"Death was a family affair, and in Athens children were obliged by law to provide a proper burial for their parents. All over Greece grave monuments appeared on the roads leading out of towns. From the 5th century BC onwards, wealthier families owned their own burial precincts; they commemorated their loved ones with carved images of farewell scenes. Such works tell us a great deal, especially about women’s lives and roles in mourning."

(19:31) MARRIAGE / BEAUTIFICATION
"Marriage was a crucial institution in Greek society. While still teenagers, women were betrothed to men in their 20s or 30s. The Athenian wedding was a festival that lasted three days. The first day comprised sacrifices, ritual bathing, and the beautification of the bride. On the second, the procession and feasting took place. Day three, gifts were exchanged. The imagery on Athenian vases gives us a glimpse into these rituals. Wedding scenes became very popular in red-figure vases after 450 BC and are usually found on vessels used in a nuptial context—bottles for perfumed oils, bathing vessels, and various ceremonial jars. Ancient women looked to the goddess Aphrodite—the consummate seductress—as a model for their own beauty rituals. On view here are objects central to women’s beautification, including mirrors, cosmetic vessels, and bottles made to hold expensive perfumes. All were essential to a young woman as she prepared for the most critical and memorable event of her life: her wedding. Objects of personal memory, important to the women who used them, were frequently found buried with their owners."





(31:40) FAMILY / CHILDREN
"Usually, in art, young children appear in the company of women: mothers, sisters, aunts, or women slaves working in the house. When father and son appear together, it’s often in the form of a poignant farewell—the son departing for a war from which he may never return. Artists also turned to myth, portraying legendary families in scenes that modeled both positive and negative behaviors. There are also objects that allow you to see what it was like to be a kid in ancient Greece, showing you what activities children did on their own and with their families. Most of the objects here were dedicated either as gifts to the gods when children crossed into a new phase of life (such as puberty for boys and marriage for girls) or as grave gifts when they died prematurely. Together, they demonstrate how adults cared for and catered to the needs of children; how they cultivated in them a sense of belonging in the community; and how their families chose to remember them."


Miniature wine jug (chous) with boy playing with dog, 425 BC



Miniature wine jug (chous) depicting two boys boxing, 425 BC





(35:53) SPINNING, WEAVING, SEWING / DRESS
"Textile manufacture was central to the sustainability of any Greek household. An intensely collaborative process, it was overseen and carried out chiefly by women. Since few ancient textiles survive, images of women engaged in spinning, weaving, and sewing and the implements they used (spindle whorls, loom weights, and needles) provide evidence of their production. Wool was the chief fabric (sheep were everywhere in Greece), while linen and silk were imported for finer garments. Textiles served not just for apparel but also for furnishings (mattresses, cushions, covers) as well as wall hangings and window coverings. In ancient Greece, dress embodied and communicated various aspects of identity: gender, status, and even ethnicity. Among the many garments work by Greek men and women, the peplos, chiton, and himation were the most common. Only women wore the peplos, a woolen dress famously associated with the goddess Athena. Women and men alike sported the linen chiton (and its shorter version, the chitoniskos) and the woolen himation, a kind of mantel. Garments were given shape by pins and belts rather than tailoring. Vibrant dyes and woven patterning distinguished finer attire. Manufacture was extremely labor intensive and therefore clothing was highly valuable."














41:24 MEDICINE
"Medical practice was an art – a gift from the gods. Greek philosophers taught medicine, and famous medical schools existed at Knidos, in Asia Minor, and on the island of Kos, where Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” pioneered a method based on observation and reason. Doctors today still take a version of his Hippocratic Oath, swearing to practice ethically. Greek texts reveal that patients suffered a host of maladies, including cancer (especially breast cancer); typhoid fever; pneumonia; tuberculosis; chicken pox, arteriosclerosis (a hardening of the arteries). Treatments ranged from drugs and purges to surgery, using instruments similar to those on view here."

Medical Instruments

42:52 LIVELIHOODS / ARTISANS
"Butchers to barbers, doctors, shoemakers, vintners, fishermen and farmers: the Greeks worked all manner of jobs. Artisans and artists included the potters who made the vases throughout this gallery and the painters who decorated them as well as sculptors, metalsmiths, and more. Both the state and private individuals profited from enslaved labor in a variety of settings – from quarries and mines, to the home, and beyond. Archaeological evidence at Athens suggests that metalworkers, potters, and terracotta sculptors (coroplasts, “modelers of small figures”) lived and worked in close proximity. Coroplasts used molds like the ones in this case, pressing thin pieces of moist clay into them layer by layer. (Molds for the front and back of sculptures were sometimes tied to together with string.) Once the sculptures were leather-hard, accessory molds might be added for details, while other features were incised by hand. Often figurines were hollow; the bottoms were left open (or vents added) to allow steam to escape during firing process."

Two-handled jar (amphora), 500-490 BC





Fragment of drinking cup (kylix) with man decorating a kylix, 480 BC



Drinking cup (kylix) with man painting a head, 510 BC



Mould of a Youthful Face, 330-31 BC



Barber cutting a man's hair, 500-475 BC



(43:58) AGRICULTURE / MEDITERRANEAN DIET
"The Greeks depended on agriculture to prosper and thrive. Producing a surplus of food meant some members of society could be free to pursue other essential functions. Ancient farmers often diversified their crops, growing cereals and grapes in addition to olives – which could be risky and expensive to cultivate. Favored livestock were sheep and rams because they provided milk, wool, and meat. They were also the preferred animal to be sacrificed to the gods, so many miniature versions are found in households and sanctuaries as votive offerings. Donkeys and oxen were used for transport and heavy lifting. Fish and olive oil have been staples of the Greek diet for millennia. Unlike hunting (which was associated with the wealthy) fishing was embraced by all levels of society. And all Greeks ate fish, fresh from the waters, salted, dried, or smoked. Greece was also the Mediterranean’s main olive oil producer – a part of Greek culture identity. A component of ritual and social gatherings, a prize for athletic victors, it was also used for bathing, leather tanning, as a base for perfumes and unguents, and of course cooking."

Fish Hook, 5th-4th cent BC



Fishing net needle, 5th-4th cent BC


***To see other items in the exhibit that were not discussed in this episode, please check out the MFA's digitized collection here.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

089 - The Breakdown of Peace



In this episode, we discuss the mid-5th century BC history of two areas that were important economically and politically to Athens--the west (the Sicel Revolt, Syracuse's defeat of Akragas, the establishment of Thurii, and new Athenian alliances with Segesta, Leontini, and Rhegium) and the northeast (the founding of Brea and Amphipolis on the Strymon River and rise of the Odrysrian kingdom of Thrace and the Spartokid dynasty of the Bosporan Kingdom); Athens' growing hostilities with Macedon; and the breakdown of the Thirty Years' Peace treaty (its inadequacies, the Samian Revolt, and Corcyraean/Corinthian hostilities with the battles of Leukimme and Sybota)

458/454 BC - Diplomatic alliance possibly established between Segesta and Athens
453 BC - Dulcetius organized a federation of the Sicel towns of central Sicily, aiming to bring the Greek cities under native Sicel rule of the island once again
452/1 BC - Sybaris was re-founded
451 BC - Ducetius defeated Akragas and Syracuse in battle 
450 BC - Syracuse avenged prior defeat by routing Ducetius' Sicel army at Nomae; Ducetius fled to Syracuse as a supplicant and was spared and exiled to Corinth
448 BC - Perdiccas II ascended to the Macedonian throne
446 BC - Ducetius returned from exile to Sicily to found Kale Akte on the northern coast
446/5 BC - Sybaris was destroyed by Croton once again; the growing power of the Odrysian kingdom of Thrace forced the Athenians to founded the colony of Brea somewhere on the lower reaches of the Strymon River 
445 BC - Akragas was defeated in battle by the Syracusans; the Athenians and Spartans agreed to the Thirty Year’s Peace treaty; the Sybarites approached Sparta and Athens for help; Leontini and Rhegium concluded diplomatic alliances with Athens
444 BC - The Athenians consolidated and reorganized their empire into five tribute paying areas (including Thrace, the Hellespont, Ionia, Caria, and the Aegean Islands)
444/3 BC - Panhellenic colony of Thurii was founded
442/1 BC - Thurii was defeated in battle by Taras
441/0 BC - Samos quarreled with Miletus
440 BC - Ducetius died from natural causes, the remnants of the Sicel federation were destroyed by Syracusans; the Samians defeated the Milesians, who then appealed to Athens for help; Samos refusal to meet Athens' demands caused them to revolt from the empire and seek aid from the new Persian satrap of Ionia and Caria, Pissuthnes
440/439 BC - Pericles led a nine month siege of Samos, bringing the rebellion to an end
439 BC - The Athenians reorganized their empire once again into four tribute paying areas (Thrace, the Hellespont, Ionia/Caria, and the Aegean Islands)
438 BC - the Archaianaktidai of the Bosporan Kingdom overthrown by Spartokos
438/7 BC - Series of legal and judicial attacks were made on Pericles and his friends
437/6 BC - The Athenians founded the colony of Amphipolis on the upper Strymon River; Pericles led a peaceful expedition into the Black Sea, most likely to secure the continued grain trade with the new Spartokidai dynasty of the Cimmerian Bosporus 
436/5 BC - Civil war broke out in Epidamnus (in northwest Greece) between the oligarchs and democrats, who turned to Corcyra and Corinth for aid
435 BC - Corcyra and Corinth went to war over the fate of Epidamnus; the Corcyraean navy defeated the Corinthian navy at the Battle of Cape Leukimme
434 BC - Athens backed Philip I in his quest to rid Perdiccas II from the Macedonian throne
434/3 BC - the Delphic oracle claimed Thurii for Apollo
433 BC - Athens concluded a defensive alliance with Corcyra; the naval battle of Sybota took place which ended in a stalemate but saw Athens and Corinth fight one another (straining the peace); the naval leaders were Lacadaemonius (Athens) and Aristeas (Corinth)
431 BC - Spartokos died and his son Satyros succeeded him as the Bosporan king

Greek words: aitiai (grievances), diaphorai (disputes), prophasis (truest explanation), apoikia (colony), oikistes (colony founder), proxenos (a kind of honorary consul who looked after the interests of another state's citizens in their own city-state), stasis (civil war), symmachia (an offensive and defensive alliance), epimachia (a defensive alliance only)

Primary Sources: 
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 1)
Plutarch's Life of Pericles
Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History (Book 12)


Sunday, February 17, 2019

088 - Thucydides and Periclean Politics



In this episode, we discuss the life, influences, drawbacks, and positives of the “Father of Scientific History”, Thucydides (ca. 460-395 BC); the nature of Athenian politics and of political organizations in the time of Pericles; and the domestic political scene in Athens in the late 440s and early 430s BC, including the ideological clash between Pericles and the conservative Thucydides (not the historian) and the series of personal and judicial attacks on Pericles and his three closest associates (Phidias, Aspasia, and Anaxagoras)

447 BC - the decree of Pericles authorized the immediate use of 5,000 talents (and a further 3,000 talents later) on his building program; the building of the Parthenon began
444 BC - the pro-democratic Pericles and pro-oligarchic Thucydides clashed multiple times in the ekklesia over the way that Pericles was spending state money, as he considered it immoral to use allied phoros to finance an Athenian building program
443 BC - the Athenians voted to ostracize Thucydides over Pericles; possible date of the Old Oligarch's The Constitution of the Athenians
440 BC - Aspasia and Pericles had a son (Pericles the Younger) out of wedlock
440-439 BC - The Samian war; Aspasia became very unpopular as it was believed that she persuaded Pericles to intercede on behalf of her home city, Miletus, against Samos
438 BC - Phidias completed his great statue of Athena Parthenos for the Parthenon that was worth 100 talents of gold and ivory
437 BC - Draconides moved a decree, requiring Pericles to deposit the financial accounts for his building program with the Prytaneis of the Boule; Pericles' enemies prosecuted Phidias unsuccessfully for embezzlement but successfully on a charge of impiety for representing himself and Pericles on the shield of the statue of Athena Parthenon; Aspasia was also charged with impiety (unsuccessfully) on unspecified grounds; Diopeithes brought forward a decree, authorizing that atheism and "teaching about the heavens" were to be considered public crimes, probably directed against the philosopher Anaxagoras

Greek wordsphilia (political friendship), phoros (tribute), misthophoria (the payment for public service), emmisthos polis (a city of wage-earners), stasis (ideological clash/civil war between factions), kaloikagathoi (the noble and the good), aristoi (the best men), eugeneis (the well-born), gnorimoi (the notables), chrestoi (the useful), ochlos (the mob), penetes (the poor), poneroi (the worthless), phauloi (the vulgar), deiloi (the cowardly), bema (the platform from which orators spoke in the Athenian assembly), kurios (legal protector)

Primary Sources: 
Marcellinus' Life of Thucydides
Thucydides' The History of the Peloponnesian War (Book 1)



Sunday, February 3, 2019

087 - Rhetoric and the Sophists



In this episode, we describe the development of rhetoric in the ancient Greek world as an art that could be studied and employed in the law courts and for political purposes, and its importance especially in Classical Athens; the roles and various opinions of the Sophists, who were lecturers that traveled from city to city, teaching not only rhetoric but also all of the other important subjects that were not being covered by an Athenians’ traditional education; and the lives, influences, writings, and various theories put forth by the earliest Rhetoricians and Sophists, including synopses on several of Plato's dialogues (Protagoras, Gorgias, Hippias Major and Hippias Minor)


Rhetoricians and Sophists Discussed:
Korax and Tisias of Syracuse (fl. mid-5th century BC)

Protagoras of Abdera (ca. 490-420 BC)
Gorgias of Leontini (ca. 485-375 BC)
Antiphon of Rhamnous (ca. 480-411 BC)
Hippias of Elis (ca. 460-400 BC)
Prodicus of Keos (ca. 465-390 BC)
Thrasymachus of Chalcedon (ca. 459-400 BC)


Primary Sources Discussed:

Greek words: rhetorike (rhetoric), rhetor (orator), logon techne (skill with arguments), sophia (wisdom), Sophistes (experts, literally “those who have become wise”), physiologoi (natural philosophers), physis (nature), nomos (law or custom), techne (art or skill), arete (excellence or virtue), macrologia (many words), paradoxologia (the idea of paradoxical thought and expression), schemata (figures of speech), isokolon (balanced clauses), antithesis (the joining of contrasting ideas), parison (the structure of successive clauses), homoeoteleuton (the repetition of word endings), epitaphios (funeral oration), topos (plausible argument), logos (logical), ethos (ethical), pathos (emotional), deiknunai (to show), epideiktikos ("showoff" speech), enkomion (praise), dunamis (power), logographoi (speech writers), poly (many or much), mathes (having learned), polymathes (polymath, literally "someone who has learned a lot"), kalon (beauty or noble)