Aristophanes The Frogs THE FROGS was
probably produced at the Lenaean festival in Athens
in January, 405 B.C. where it took first prize. It
scored such a hit that it was staged a second time,
probably in March of the same year, at the Great
Dionysia. It is typical of the lyrical-burlesques of
Dionysus is in Hades and almost at once loud quarreling is heard. The disturbance turns out to be Aeschylus and Euripides disputing the place of honor as King of Tragedy, a position which Aeschylus holds and Euripides wants. It is finally agreed that since their plays were written for performance at the Dionysian festivals, Dionysus shall decide their dispute.
It is in Aristophanes' The Frogs that we get the closest look at the comic dimensions of the god. Lois Spatz points out that in this play Dionysus is also Iachus, god of mysteries. "It is he who leads the sacred procession from Athens to Demeter's shrine at Eleusis." The combination of the two gods offered to everyone, including women and slaves, the opportunity to become initiates into a cult which promised a blessed afterlife.
(c. 480–406 BCE)
was born on Salamis, and
died in Macedonia in 406. Though he was scarcely a generation
younger than Sophocles, his world view better reflects the
political, social, and intellectual crises of late 5th-century
Athens. He was friendly with the philosophers Anaxagoras and
Socrates and with Sophists such as Protagoras and Prodicus, and
his plays reflect contemporary ethics, rhetoric, and science. He
may have been prosecuted for impiety by the demagogue Cleon.
Less reverent than Aeschylus or Sophocles, Euripides criticized
traditional religion and shocked contemporaries by representing
mythical figures as everyday, unheroic people or even as
abnormal or neurotic personalities.
Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, along with Aeschylus and Sophocles. Euripides first competed in the famous Athenian dramatic festival (the Dionysia) in 455 BCE, one year after the death of Aeschylus. He came in third. It was not until 441 BCE that he won first place, and over the course of his lifetime, Euripides claimed a mere four victories. Euripides' final competition in Athens was in 408 BCE. Although there is a story that he left Athens embittered because of his defeats, there is no real evidence to support it. He died in 406 BCE, probably in Athens or nearby, and not in Macedon, as some biographers repeatedly state.
Euripides. The Bacchae The Bacchae was performed after his death in 405 BCE. Shortly after 408 he left Athens for the court of Archelaus, king of Macedon, and there wrote one his greatest plays, The Bacchae, the most demonic known work of the ancient Attic theater, revealing the punishment that the wine god Dionysus visits upon Thebes and its youthful king, the puritanical Pentheus, for rejecting his divinity. Euripides advances a bewildering array of techniques and ideas. Divine, human, animal, and sexual identities are confused; miracles and distortions of world, psyche and behavior abound. The Bacchae is the most explicit expression of Euripides' involvement with the ambiguities, paradoxes, and deceptions residing in the human condition.
|Heraclitus of Ephesus (Greek -- Herakleitos) (about 535 - 475 BC), known as 'The Obscure,' was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Ephesus in Asia Minor. As with other pre-Socratics, his writings only survive in fragments quoted by other authors. He disagreed with Thales, Anaximander, and Pythagoras about the nature of the ultimate substance and claimed instead that everything is derived from the Greek classical element fire, rather than from air, water, or earth. This led to the belief that change is real, and stability illusory. For Heraclitus everything is "in flux", as exemplified in his famous aphorism "Panta Rhei":|
Heradotus [c. 484-425B.C.] the Father of History
Herodotus was to make journeys to places like
Asia Minor, Babylonia, Egypt and Greece during his lifetime, and
he wrote about the different people and cultures he met.
Livy Titus Livius
(Titus Livius (around 59 BC - 17 AD), known as Livy in English, wrote a monumental history of Rome, Ab Urbe Condita, from its founding (traditionally dated to 753 BC). Livy was a native of Padua on the Po River in northern Italy
Livy's work was originally composed of 142 books, of which only 35 are extant; these are 1-10, and 21-45 (with major lacunae in 40-45).
Actual name was
Publius Ovidius Naso (Sulmona, March 20, 43 BC – Tomis, now
Constanta AD 17) Ovid, the Roman poet wrote on topics of
love, abandoned women, and mythological transformations. From
his own time until the end of Antiquity Ovid was among the most
widely read and imitated of Latin poets; his greatest work,
Augustus banished Ovid in AD 8 to Tomis on the Black Sea for reasons that remain mysterious. Ovid himself wrote that it was because of an error and a carmen – a mistake and a poem (Tr. 2.207). Likely referring to his publishing the Art of Love, a treatise that made no careful distinction between the seduction of citizens' wives and more conventionally accessible Roman demimondaines.
Even though he was friendly with the natives of Tomis, a people known as the Scythians. He still pined for Rome and his beloved third wife. Ovid died at Tomis after nearly ten years of banishment.
To understand the significance of Ovid, one has to set him up as a clear foil to Virgil, who was his contemporary. Virgil is famous for Rome's national epic the Aeneid, high nationalist poetry, as well as his status as Augustus's star artist. Ovid wrote fragmented, non-linear works like Metamorphoses, The Art of Love, and The Heroides.
Ovid's work has been remembered fondly as a testament to the playful and erotically experimental side of Rome, the feel-good side of the Roman spirit, the comedic genius of its social life, and of course, the pain of being ultimately disgraced and shunned for speaking one's mind. Thus Ovidian sensibility is more transgressive, naughty, bohemian---more Carnaval like.
|"... Praise wine that is old, but praise the flowers of songs that are new." [Pindar, Olympian Odes 9.49]|
Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus, (23–79) better known as Pliny the Elder, was an ancient author and Natural philosopher of some importance who wrote Naturalis Historia. He completed a History of his Times in thirty-one books, possibly extending from the reign of Nero to that of Vespasian, and deliberately reserved it for publication after his death. Pliny collected much of the knowledge of his time into his great work, the Naturalis Historia, an encyclopedia.
Pliny was an adherent to the
Stoics. He was also influenced by the Epicurean and
the Academic and the revived Pythagorean schools. But his view
of nature and of God is essentially Stoic. It was only (he
declares) the weakness of humanity that had embodied the Being
of God in many human forms imbued with human faults and vices .
The Godhead was really one; it was the soul of the eternal
world, displaying its beneficence on the earth, as well as in
the sun and stars [penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/
(427 BC – ca. 347 BC) was an immensely influential classical
Greek philosopher, student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle,
writer, and founder of the Academy in Athens. Plato was also
deeply influenced by a number of prior philosophers, including:
the Pythagoreans, whose notions of numerical harmony have clear
echoes in Plato's notion of the Forms; Anaxagoras, who taught
Socrates and who held that the mind, or reason, pervades
everything; and Parmenides, who argued for the unity of all
things and may have influenced Plato's concept of the soul.
Plato's thought is often compared with that of
his most famous student, Aristotle, whose reputation during the
Western Middle Ages completely eclipsed that of Plato.
Mestrius Plutarch (cz.
46-ca. post 127) was a Greek historian, biographer, and
His best-known work is the Parallel Lives, a series of biographies of famous Greeks and Romans, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings. The surviving Lives contain twenty-three pairs of biographies, each pair containing one Greek Life and one Roman Life, as well as four unpaired single Lives. As he explains in the first paragraph of his Life of Alexander, Plutarch was not concerned with writing histories, as such, but in exploring the influence of character — good or bad — on the lives and destinies of famous men.
His collected works under the title of the Moralia (loosely translated as Customs and Mores) is an eclectic collection of seventy-eight essays and transcribed speeches, which includes On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander the Great - an important adjunct to his Life of the great general, On the Worship of Isis and Osiris (a crucial source of information on Egyptian religious rites
Plutarch lived most of his life at Chaeronea, and was initiated into the mysteries of the Greek god Apollo. However his duties as the senior of the two priests of Apollo at the Oracle of Delphi apparently occupied little of his time - he led a most active social and civic life and produced an incredible body of writings, much of which is still extant.
Plutarch's philosophy was eclectic, with borrowings from the Stoics, Pythagoreans, and Peripatetics (but not the Epicureans) grouped around a core of Platonism. His main interest was in ethics, though he developed a mystical side, especially in his later years; he reveals that he had been initiated into the mysteries of the cult of Dionysus, and both as a Platonist and as an initiate he believed in the immortality of the soul.
Plutarch's writings had enormous influence on English and French literature. Shakespeare occasionally quoted — and extensively paraphrased — Thomas North's translation of several of the Lives in his plays. American poet, philosopher, and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalists were greatly influenced by the Moralia (Emerson wrote a glowing introduction to the five volume 19th century edition of his Moralia).
Most Exhaustive Reference Guide To Greco-Roman Studies, March
Reviewer: Octavius (United States) - See all my reviews
The Oxford Classical Dictionary is the most reputed if not exhaustive reference guide to every conceivable subject involving antiquity. Each topic is organized alphabetically and has a detailed section with bibliographical references to contemporary works as well as classical sources.
"Although I wouldn't recommend this as a first book for the casual reader, this book is indispensable for all serious scholars of classical studies." at amazon.com
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.
Published first in 1842 to the last in 1890‑91. The standard
encyclopedia reference with over 1 million words
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities
John Murray, London, 1875. William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
This index page collects the articles in Smith's Dictionary on religion: temples, ritual, festivals, divination, priesthoods etc. For general information about the Dictionary, and for about 400 articles on other topics, see its homepage.
Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (search), and
Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (search)
|Pliny the Elder's encyclopedic Natural History, (search), a remarkable snapshot of the state of Geography, Ethnography, Astronomy, Biology, and Geology in the early Roman empire.|