Athens

This essay has a total of 1331 words and 15 pages.


Athens




Athens



A "Golden Age" for Athens?



The 5th century BCE was a period of great development in

Ancient Greece, and specifically in Athens. The development

of so many cultural achievements within Athens and the

Athenian Empire has led scholars to deem this period a

"Golden Age." It is true that his period had many

achievements, but in the light of the Athenians treatment of

women, metics (non-Athenians living in Athens), and slaves

it is given to question whether or not the period can truly

be called "Golden."



The 5th century and the Athenian Empire gave birth to

an amazing amount of accomplishments. One such

accomplishment was the minting of standard Athenian coins

that were used throughout the Athenian holdings as valid for

trade. The use of standard Athenian-minted coins helped the

Athenians establish and maintain control over their empire

by helping to control trade and the economy of the area to

the Athenians' benefit.



Since Athens regularly received tribute from the states

it controlled, Pericles, the leader of Athens, began a

building project in Athens that was legendary. Athens had

been sacked by the Persians during the Persian Wars and

Pericles set out to rebuild the city. The city's walls had

already been rebuilt right after the end of the second

Persian War so Pericles rebuilt temples, public grounds, and

other impressive structures. One of the most famous

structures to result from Pericles' building project was the

Parthenon. The Parthenon and other such structures re-

established Athens's glory and while some Athenians

criticized the projects as too lavish, most Athenians

enjoyed the benefits of the program. A major benefit to the

Athenian people was that there was an abundance of work in

the polis.



The 5th century BCE was also an important time for

Athenian thought. "Sophists," paid teachers, taught rhetoric

amongst other subjects to wealthy Athenian citizens.

The Sophists were criticized by Athenians who thought that

Sophists were destroying Greek tradition by emphasizing

rationalism over a belief in superstition, however it was

this rationalism that became so important to Greek

philosophers such as Socrates and Plato, both who belonged

to the 5th century BCE. The Sophists high regard for

rhetoric was later of great use to citizen addressing the

Assembly in the developing Athenian democracy.



Athenian democracy is perhaps considered the crowning

achievement of the 5th century BCE. Democracy grew out of

the status that poorer Athenians were gaining as rowers for

the ships of the large Athenian fleet. Since these poorer

Athenians now played a large part in the Athenian military,

they ga8ined more say in the Athenian government. This

led to a democratic government where "every male citizen

over 18 years was eligible to attend and vote in the

Assembly, which made all the important decisions of Athens

in the 5th century BC_" (Demand 223). This democratic

government is considered by some scholars to show the full

enlightenment of the Athenians in the 5th century BCE.



This glorious enlightenment seems somehow less

enlightening, however, when one views this period from other

than a male Athenian's eyes. Athenian enlightenment and

democracy was by and for male citizens. The underprivileged

of Athens included women, metics and slaves. The position of

Athenian wives in Athenian society is clearly stated by

Xenephon in his Oeconomicus. Ischomacus, a young husband, is

conversing with Socrates about the duties of husband and

wife. Ischomacus relates how he explained to his wife that

the duties needed to support a household consisted of

"indoor" and "outdoor" activities. He then explains to his
Continues for 8 more pages >>




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