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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

066 - The Athenian Agora

In this episode, we discuss the construction, the history, and the significance of the Athenian Agora, and a description of its many civic buildings that served as the nerve center for Athenian democracy, as well as the rest of the Periclean Building Program (the Temple of Hephaestus and Odeon in Athens, the Telesterion at Eleusis, and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

065 - The Athenian Acropolis

In this episode, we discuss the construction, the history, and the significance of the main buildings on the Athenian Acropolis (the Parthenon, The Propylaia, The Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, and a few others); together, these buildings mark the high point of the glorification of Athens, and the Acropolis thus became a confident assertion of Athens’ cultural leadership of Greece, a bold endorsement of her self-image, and a dazzling instrument of political propaganda, with the result that many people later would consider the Athenian Acropolis to be the symbol of the legacy and the glories of Classical Greece

Monday, December 4, 2017

064 - The Protectress of Athens

In this episode, we discuss the myths, iconography, and cultic worship of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, craftsmanship, and strategic warfare who served as a kind of symbol for the city of Athens and civilization in general

Monday, November 27, 2017

063 - The Lord of the Sea

In this episode, we discuss the myths, iconography, and cultic worship of Poseidon, the violent and unpredictable god who ruled over the sea

Monday, November 20, 2017

062 - Agricultural Festivals

In this episode, we discuss the Attic calendar year with a focus on the agricultural festivals; starting in the fall at the time of sowing we work our way around the year, month-by-month; particular focus is given to the Thesmophoria and the Eleusinian Mysteries but a dozen or so other festivals are described

Sunday, November 12, 2017

061 - The "Two Goddesses"

In this episode, we discuss the defining myth of Demeter and Persephone (that being her abduction by Hades), as well as the various ways in which these two were worshipped in the Peloponnese and in Magna Graecia (not including Eleusis and Athens)

Primary Sources:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

060 - Hades and the Underworld

In this episode, we discuss the mysterious, shadowy figure of Hades (king of the Underworld), necromancy (the summoning of the dead), and Homer's description of the abode of Hades in Book Eleven of the Odyssey and then comparing and contrasting that with the description found in Virgil's Aeneid Book Six, all while taking a tour of the Underworld, its major features, and its inhabitants.

Primary Sources:

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sunday, October 15, 2017

058 - Classical Temples

In this episode, we discuss the innovation during the 5th century BC in the realm of temple building (outside of Attica); included are the temple of Aphaia at Aegina, the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Hera II at Poseidonia (Paestum), the Temple of Victory at Himera, the Temple of Apollo at Syracuse, the Valley of the Temples at Akragas, the Temple of Hera at Selinus, and the unfinished temple at Segesta, and the Temple of Apollo at Bassae

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

057 - Classical Paintings

In this episode, we discuss the innovation during the 5th century BC in the realm of vase, wooden panel, and wall paintings

Sunday, October 1, 2017

056 - Classical Sculptures

In this episode, we discuss the innovation during the 5th century BC in the realm of free-standing statuary in the round, stelai, and architectural relief

Saturday, September 16, 2017

055 - The Dionysian Mysteries

In this episode, we discuss the Great Mother Cybele and her influence on the cult of Dionysos; some of the myths and the iconography of Dionysos; and Euripides’ Bacchae and the elements of Dionysiac worship

Primary Sources:

Monday, August 28, 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

052 - Early Euripides

In this episode, we discuss the life, innovations, and works of the third great Athenian playwright, Euripides; and we discuss the historicity and some of the major themes of his earliest surviving plays--Cyclops, Rhesus, Alcestis, Medea, and Hippolytus

Primary Sources:

Sunday, August 6, 2017

051 - Sophocles


In this episode, we discuss the life, innovations, and works of the second great Athenian playwright, Sophocles; and we discuss the historicity and some of the major themes of his surviving plays—Antigone, Ajax, Oedipus Rex, The Women of Trachis, Philoctetes, Electra, and Oedipus at Colonus

Sunday, July 23, 2017

050 - Early Tragedy and Aeschylus

In this episode, we discuss what is known about the lives and works of the earliest tragic poets that set the stage for the first great Athenian playwright, Aeschylus, to make all sorts of theatrical innovations at the onset of the Classical Period; and we discuss the historicity and some of the major themes of his seven surviving plays--The Persians, Prometheus Bound, Seven Against Thebes, The Suppliants, and the trilogy known as the Oresteia (which includes Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and the Eumenides)

Playwrights Discussed: Choerilus, Pratinas, Phrynichus, Polyphrasmon, Chionides, Magnes, and Aeschylus (also mentioned are Aeschylus' sons Euphorion and Euaeon, and his nephew Philocles, who themselves became playwrights)

Greek termssicinnismechanecothurni

Primary Sources:
Text/Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound
Text/Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes
Text/Aeschylus' The Suppliants
Text/Aeschylus' Agamemnon
Text/Aeschylus' The Libation Bearers
Text/Aeschylus' The Eumenides
Text/Aeschylus' Fragments

Monday, July 10, 2017

049 - Theater and the Dionysia

In this episode, we discuss the origins of drama; the Dionysia festivals, both Rural in the month of Poseideon (late December/early January) and City in the month of Elaphebolion (late March/early April), and the Lenaia in the month of Gamelion (late January/early February); the physical space of the theater; and the components of tragedy and comedy

Greek termstheorika (a fund set aside to pay for the Dionysia), tragos (goat), oíde (song), hypokritai (actor), paredroi (officials)epimeletai (curators), eisagoge (the bringing in)pompe (procession)phalloi (symbolic images of penises), phallophoroi (phallus carriers)kanephoroi (basket carriers)obleliaphoroi (long-loafed bread carriers)skaphephoroi (carriers of offerings)hydriaphoroi (water jar carriers)askophori (wine jar carriers), choregoi (sponsors of the choruses), xenismos (ritual reception and entertaining of a guest), komos (drunken revelry)enkomion (song sung at a komos)agonothetai/kritai (judges of the plays), proago(pre-contest)ikria (wooden bleachers), orchestra (circular area where chorus performed)theatron (viewing place), prohedria (special seats in front rows)choryphaios (chorus leader)skene (low stage or stage building), paraskenia (stage wall, "in place of a skene), episkenion (upper floor, "above the skene"), proskenion (projecting sides, "in front of a skene)pinakes (wooden plaques for decoration), paradoi/eisodoi (spaces between sides of stage and seating area), parados (first song sung by chorus), logeion (raised speaking place on the orchestra), mechane (crane), deus ex machina (Latin "god from a machine"), ekkyklema (a wheeled platform which could be rolled forward through the central door of the skene into the orchestra), kothornoi (special boots), prosopon (masks), epeisodia (episodes)stasima (choral interludes), agon (contest/dispute between the two characters), exodos (the exit of the audience), and katharsis (cleansing effect)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

048 - Food, Wine, and the Symposium

In this episode, we discuss how and when the ancient Greeks consumed food and their diet; the economic, religious, and medicinal role of winethe festival of Anthesteria in the month of Anthesterion (late February/early March)and the Symposium (drinking-party)

Greek terms: akratismos (breakfast), akratos (barley bread dipped in wine)tagenites (a kind of pancake made with wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and curdled milk), tagenon (frying pan), staitites (another kind of pancake topped with honey, sesame, and cheese), staitinos (of flour or dough)ariston (lunch), deipnon (dinner), hesperisma (light meal in afternoon), aristodeipnon (lunch-dinner), apomagdalia (pieces of bread used as spoon/napkin), ipnos (clay oven), pnigeos (dome-shaped cover for oven), sitos (wheat)krithe (barley)aleiata (wheat flour), artos (loaves), alphita (barley flour)maza (flatbread)esthein krithas monas (to eat only barley, i.e. a diet of bread and water)opson (relish), sitonai (grain buyers), etnos (thick vegetable soup)garon (fish sauce), balanoi (oak acorns), phake (lentil soup), melas zomos (black soup), bouturon (butter), pyriate/oxygala (curdled milk products), hedypatheia (life of luxury), katharsis (purification/asceticism), xerophagia (diet of dry foods), kykeon (barley gruel), kykao (to shake/mix), akraton (undiluted wine), skyphos (drinking vessel), kantharos (deep cup with handles), rhyton (drinking horn), anathessasthai (to pray up), anthos (flower), Pithoigia (The Jar-Opening), pithoi (jars), Choai (The Pouring), choes (jugs), Dionysos en limnais (Dionysos in the marshes), hieros gamos (sacred marriage), basileus (king), basilinna (queen), gerarai (matrons), Chytroi (The Pots), Hermes Chthonios (Hermes of the Underworld), sympinein (to drink together), andron (men's quarters)klinai (couches), tragemata (snacks)agathos daimon (good spirit), symposiarchos (lord of the drinking party), kylix (wine cups), oenochoe (pitchers), hetairai (high-class female prostitutes), aulos (flute-like instrument), barbiton (stringed instrument), kordax (specific dance), skolia (drinking songs), agon (contest), kottabos (specific drinking game), plastinx (tiny statuette holding manes), manes (large disc), latax (noise made when ringing disc with wine), komazein (to revel about the streets in a gang)komastai (revelers)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

047 - Herakles: From Zero to Hero

In this episode, we discuss the iconography of Herakles, his early myths, his infamous twelve labors, his later life, his heroic persona and how he was worshipped as a pan-Hellenic divine hero, and his role as an apostle of Hellenism in the west

Cultic termsheroes theos (divine hero), Herakleion (Sanctuary of Herakles), Kynosarges (Athenian sanctuary of Herakles outside the city walls), Herakleia (festival to Herakles celebrated in the month of Metageitnion, or late July/early August), nothoi (non-citizen Athenians, who were the only ones who could be priests of Herakles), Alexikakos (as warder off of evils), oinisteria (ceremony given by Athenian boys embarking for military training), thiasoi (small cults that met regularly to celebrate Herakles), Iolaeia (festival at Thebes celebrated in honor of Iolaos, the nephew and lover of Heracles), Kallinikos (of the Beautiful Victory), Thasios (of Thasos)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

046 - Monsters and Heroes

In this episode, we discuss the importance of heroes in Greek mythology, the creation of various beasts and monsters, and the lives and accomplishments of various mythic heroes who often times fought against these monsters; including Cadmus of Thebes and the Ismenian Dragon, Perseus of Argos and the Gorgon Medusa;  Bellerophon of Corinth, Pegasus, and the Chimaera; the cursed family of Pelops and the Oath of Tyndareus; the Lapiths, the Centaurs, and the Centauromachy; Meleager, Atalanta, and the Caledonian Boar Hunt; and the troublemaking of Pirithous and Theseus

Monday, June 5, 2017

045 - Music and Victory Odes

In this episode, we discuss the various types of ancient Greek musical instruments during the Classical Period and how and for what purpose they were used; and the lives and works of the three great 5th century BC lyric poets who pioneered the genre of the epinikion (victory ode)—Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BC), Bacchylides of Ceos (ca. 525-ca. 450 BC), and Pindar of Thebes (522-443 BC), as well as their connections with the lesser known poets Corrina of Tanagra, Lasos of Hermione, and Timocreon of Rhodes

526 BC - Simonides was drawn to Athens and the court of the tyrant Hipparchus
514 BC - Upon the assassination of Hipparchus, Simonides traveled north to Thessaly, where he received patronage from the Scopadae and Aleuadae, the two most powerful aristocratic clans (while there he developed his "memory palace")
498 BC - Pindar received first commission by a ruling family in Thessaly to compose his first victory ode (labeled Pythian Ode 10)
490s BC - Bacchylides (the nephew of Simonides) received his first commissions from Athens for the great Delian festival (known as Ode 17) and from Macedonia for a song to be sung at a symposium for the young prince, Alexander I
490 BC - Simonides composed an epitaph honoring the Athenian war-dead at Marathon
490 BC - At the Pythian Games, Pindar met Thrasybulus, nephew of Theron of Akragas and formed a lasting friendship, paving the way for his subsequent visit to Sicily
480s BC - Pindar and Bacchylides compete to write victory odes for the Aeginetans
480 BC - Simonides composed an epitaph honoring the Spartan war-dead at Thermopylae
470s BC - Simonides, Bacchylides, and Pindar traveled west to Sicily where they received patronage at the courts of the tyrants, Hieron of Syracuse and Theron of Akragas
476 BC - The rivalry of Bacchylides and Pindar reaches high point when Pindar composed a poem for Hiero’s first victory in the chariot race at the Olympic Games (known as Olympian Ode 1), and Bacchylides composed an ode too for Hieron (his Ode 5) free of charge in the hope of attracting future commissions
470 BC - Bacchylides received the commission to celebrate Hieron's triumph at the Pythian Games (which would be his Ode 4), and taking a page out of his rival’s playbook, Pindar too composed an ode free of charge for Hieron’s victory (his Pythian Ode 1)
468 BC - Simonides died while at the court of Theron of Akragas
468 BC - Bacchylides was commissioned to celebrate Hieron’s second and most prestigious victory in the chariot race at the Olympic Games (his Ode 3)
465-440 BC - Arkesilaos IV served as a client king of Cyrene under Persian authority, was the eighth and last king of the Battiad dynasty 
464 BC - Diagoras of Rhodes wins boxing contest at Olympics (Pindar's Olympian Ode 7)
462 BC - Pindar composed two odes in honor of Arkesilaos IV's chariot race victory at the Pythian Games (his Pythian Odes 4 and 5)
447 BC - Athens was defeated by Thebes at the Battle of Coronea (possible influence for Pythian Ode 8 where he describes the downfall of the giants Porphyrion and Typhon)
440 BC - Pindar died while attending the Nemean festival in Argos

Greek wordsmousika (literally "music", but also included all the arts under patronage of Apollo and nine Muses), mousikos (epithet synonymous with good taste), amousikos (described a person who lacked refinement or education), lyra (literally "lyre", a stringed instrument similar to small harp), plectron (a pick to play lyre), zugon (the crossbar of lyre), kithara (a bigger box-framed string instrument similar to a guitar), barbiton (a taller, bass-like version of the kithara), phorminx (a stringed instrument with crescent shape box), aulos (double-piped wind instrument), auletai (aulos player), monaulos (a single pipe wind instrument)monos (single), plagiaulos (a single pipe held horizontally, like the modern flute)plagios (sideways), askaulos (a pipe with a bag to allow for continuous sound, like a bagpipe), askos (wine-skin), phorbeia (leather strap worn around the head to help support the lips while blowing), syrinx (aka the Panpipes, a series of pipes that were bounded together with different lengths for different sounds), salpnix (a very long, slender bronze trumpet-like instrument), tympanon (a type of frame drum or tambourine), krotalon (a kind of clapper or castanet), koudounia (a bell-like percussion instrument), kymbala (cymbals), sistra (rattles), choregeion (school where choirs were trained), 
epi nike (upon a victory), ode (song), skolia (drinking-songs), partheneia (chorus of young girls)

Primary Sources:
Text/Simonides' Epigrams
Text/Bacchylides' Dithyrambs
Text/Bacchylides' Epinicians
Text/Pindar's Olympian Odes
Text/Pindar's Pythian Odes
Text/Pindar's Nemean Odes
Text/Pindar's Isthmian Odes
Text/Pindar's Fragments

Monday, May 15, 2017

044 - Democracy under Pericles

In this episode, we discuss the democratic machinations of Classical Athens; including the role the Athenian statesman Pericles had on the radicalization of Athenian democracy, the magistracies, the ekklesia, the boule and prytaneis, the law courts and jurors, contemporary critiques of Athenian democracy, and the economics of running the democracy (through a system of public donations known as the liturgies)

Greek wordsdemokratia (rule of the people), demos (the people), kratos (power or strength), philia (friendship), ekklesia (people's assembly), pentakosiomedimnoi (wealthiest class of Athenians), hippeis ("upper middle class" of Athenians), zeugitai ("middle class" of Athenians), thetes (the poorest class of Athenians), agoranomoi (those who looked after the agora), metronomoi (those who inspected weights and measures), sitophylakes (those who were in charge of the grain supply), hodopoioi (those whose duty it was to ensure that the workmen provided by the state repair the roads), hieropoioi (those who were chosen to make sacrifices and be in charge of certain religious festivals), astynomoi (city commissioners), euthunai (audit, public account of city's finances), graphe para nomo (indiction concerning the law that could brought by any citizen), prytany (one tenth of the year), prytaneis (those currently in charge of the Boule for a prytany), Heilaia (law court that heard all cases concerning treason and murder), dikastai (jurors), dikasteria (law courts), misthophoria (paid function, i.e. the money that jurors received), pinakion (bronze token used for jury allotment), kleroterion (device in which all pinakion were slotted), klepsydra (water clock used to keep time), sukophantai (sycophants, who tried to get wealthy through bringing prosecutions in the law courts), strategia (generalship), strategos (general), metoikoi (metics, i.e. foreign residents), eisphora (special tax during war on wealthy), liturgos (liturgy, a public service rendered by the wealthy), trierarchos (the liturgy that built and maintained a trireme), keleustes (those who set the pace for the oarsmen to row), epebatai (sailors who fought, i.e. marines), gymnarchos (liturgy that maintained a gymnasium), choregos (liturgy that maintained a Chorus for the dramatic competitions)

Primary Sources:
Text/Aristotle's The Athenian Constitution