Athenian Women, Politics, and Plays Essay

Total Length: 548 words ( 2 double-spaced pages)

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Athenian Culture

The connection between the development of Athenian culture and the development of Athenian democracy was intimate. Culture and politics flowed together in Athens, as the philosophers (from Socrates to Aristotle), the playwrights (from Aeschylus to Euripides) and the statesmen (from Solon to Pericles) all played fundamental roles in shaping how both culture and democracy developed. The playwrights showed the importance of worship and of civic duty (Aristophanes in particularly emphasized the duty that Athenians had in civic matters) and Solon and Pericles were instrumental in laying the groundwork for and building up Athens' political framework. Plato meanwhile served a pivotal role by writing works addressing the role of government and each served to impact the other.

Aeschylus, Socrates and Euripides all present heroes and heroines differently. Euripides presents them most tragically and complexly: his Medea is a sympathetic yet monstrously revengeful woman who slays her children to get back at Jason who cruelly leaves her for another woman. Socrates' hero Oedipus is strong, confident and a truth-seeker even to the extent that it leads to his own ruin, while Jocasta is conniving, interested in protecting her own -- unwilling to have the truth revealed because she knows what will result. She is similar to Aeschylus's Clytemnestra in Agamemnon, but Clytemnestra is murderous; Cassandra is prophetic and Agamemnon himself is lordly and majestic -- but brought down by his own faults and his own neglect of his wife's feelings; thus she seeks revenge much like Euripides' Medea.

Nomos meaning law/order and physis referring to nature, the modern implications of this debate are truly great. There are profound political, social, economic and religious implications to whether man should follow nature or follow order and law. The Greeks tended to view women as representative of physis -- emotional, strong-willed, passionate; while philosophers promoted nomos -- a way of life dedicated towards achieving the one, the good, the beautiful, the true. In modern times, philosophers like Rousseau and Nietzsche shifted society away from nomos towards physis and nomos became something antiquated: economics, politics, society and religion were all impacted. The West became secular (as it was once Christian for many centuries); the politics went from monarchic to democratic to somewhat kleptocratic; society became fractured to a large extent, which fragmentation illustrated by poets like T. S. Eliot.

Ancient Athenian trial differed from the modern jury equivalent in the sense that women were not allowed….....

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