Ancient Liberty and Alexander's Horse

      What is the difference between the liberty of the ancients and the liberty of the moderns? What would moderns find lacking in ancient liberty?
      The ancient view of liberty, that is, the idea of liberty that was prevalent in Greek city-states (most notable Athens) paints a very different picture of liberty than the one that we as modern individuals hold today. In fact, one could say that the ancient Greeks had an idea that is fundamentally opposed to our own ideas on what it means to be free.
      For the ancient Greeks of Athens, freedom and liberty were synonymous with government and community, as in "The freedom of the city to make decisions about its running for itself, and the freedom of the citizens to participate in the city's decisions." Every male citizen of Athens was allowed to play a direct part in the government, allowing every citizen to help rule the community. This was the Greeks' idea of freedom – city-state autonomy, run by the people.
      Our idea of freedom, however, is much different. We believe that every individual has inalienable rights, rights that cannot be taken away by any man or government, and our freedom allows us to do essentially as we please without infringing upon others' rights and freedoms. Our liberty is focused on the individual, while the Greeks' liberty was focused on the community – to the point where a citizen could even be banished from the city, guiltless of any crime, as long as enough citizens with their idea of community freedom decided he was too much of a problem to keep around and voted him out: "The good of the one for the good of the many."

      Plutarch tells about an important episode in Alexander's life. What characteristics is it intended to show?
      Plutarch tells a story about a young Alexander, son of Philip of Macedonia, watching a horse be trained by his father's men, who are unsuccessful even after many attempts to break it. Finally, when Philip's men had given up on the horse and the king had decided to sell it, Alexander stepped up to ask his father if he could try breaking it. Naturally Philip was displeased with Alexander's request, thinking that his son was being arrogant by not heeding the example of his elders, who had all failed to break the horse. Alexander insisted, however, and was given the chance to try training the horse.
      To everyone's astonishment, Alexander succeeded. Philip was amazed and, Plutarch says, told his son to "Seek another kingdom, my son, that may be worthy of thy abilities; for Macedonia is too small for thee."
      Plutarch uses this story to illustrate Alexander's independence and bravery in standing up to his father, which are both important parts of his character that eventually help shape his conquest of the known world.


Greek Art and Religion

Choose a piece of Greek art and describe what it is and when it is dated,  along with what period it is from and what the characteristics are of that period, and how this piece represents those characteristics.
      The piece I have chosen to research is from the second half of the 8th century BC, also known as the Late Geometric Period. It is a grave marker in the form of a large vase, which were common for that era. Depicted on the vase is a funerary procession, perhaps of the deceased person whose grave this vase would mark; it's possible to identify figures representing the deceased's wife and child, who along with other relatives have come to mourn and pay their respects. This piece is identifiable as being from the Geometric Period, noted for its shapes and designs (which are geometrical, as the period's name implies), because of the way the figures on the vase are rendered: people are shown in clear-cut profile (the deceased is painted on his side to provide clarity), and every detail is painted with an eye for geometric pattern and design that are characteristic for the Geometric Period.

How does ancient Greek religion resemble or differ from the religion of the Hebrews?
      Greek religion is very different from Hebrew religion, the most notable difference of course being the pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses, whereas in Hebrew religion there is only one God. The Greek religion in its time was much more characteristic of other religions across the world; the Hebrew religion, on the other hand, was the only religion like it at the time. Other difference between the beliefs of the Greeks and the Hebrews involved how their gods acted and were to be treated. Greeks believed that their gods were petty and childish, like superpowered human beings as opposed to omnipotent, omnipresent beings. Therefore Greeks believed that (and told myths to the effect that) Greek gods could be thwarted if one was clever or strong enough, and Greek mythology is littered with stories about humans thwarting their small-minded gods. Hebrew religion, of course, was very different. Hebrews believed that their God was omnipotent and omnipresent, and that thwarting Him was impossible – but the Hebrew God was not petty or childish. He did not spend His time on pointless wars with other gods or with humans, as the Greek gods were wont to do, because He was and is perfect.


The View of the Biblical Materials on the Role of Ethics in the Development of History

     Biblical ethics have played a large part in the history of man since the very beginning of time, starting with God's first commands to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and then influencing other major events like the receiving of the Ten Commandments by Moses, which eventually turned into the Mosaic Law of the Hebrews. But even cultures and peoples who do not recognize God as their sovereign, the ethics outlined in the Bible have contributed heavily to the way they view ethics and morality in general. Most cultures, for instance, have laws against stealing and killing, both of which are things that God has commanded us not to do in the Ten Commandments. Those who do not follow God will often still give food to the hungry or homes to the poor, and kindness in some degree to those worse off than yourself is a distinctly human trait that you would expect to find in most people that you meet. All of this has been influenced by biblical ethics; whether most people realize it or not, the Bible and God's Word have played an important part in the development of the world since the very beginning of time.

The Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War

     Describe the circumstances leading to the Persian Wars.  Were they significant events in Western history?
      The seeds were planted for the Persian Wars when Athens had sent ambassadors to the Persian rulers, hoping to make the rising power of Persia a non-threat to the city-state of Athens. Persian officials were open to this kind of relationship with Athens as long as Athens provided them with "token of water and earth" – which the Athenian ambassadors agreed to, not knowing the significance of what they had just done. For the Persians, tokens of water and earth meant that Athens was declaring Persia superior to Athens, essentially giving up Athenian freedom under the control of the Persians. By the time the Athenian ambassadors realized what they had done, it was too late. Persia continued to grow as a world power, and eventually all of the Greek city-states felt threatened enough to want to fight back. They asked Athens for help, and Athens agreed – which led to a furious reaction from the Persians, who believed that Athens was breaking her vows to Persia made with the tokens of water and earth. Athens, however, couldn't care less, and together with the other Greek city-states the Persian Wars were fought. Greece won against all odds, defeating the vastly greater Persian empire thanks to the courage and determination of her city-states. Had they not won, Greece and Greek culture could have been wiped out entirely and changed the whole course of history that followed.

      Why was the Peloponnesian War fought?
      The Peloponnesian War was a civil war in Greece that took place after their victory over the Persians. It was a war which resulted from Athens' growing power following the Persian defeat, a power which made many of the other city-states uneasy. Athens had organized the Greek city-states into an alliance called the Peloponnesian League for the purpose of defending Greece against powerful enemies, such as the Persians. In the League's early days, the other city-states were content with this arrangement, and they were also content to send tributes to Athens in order for Athens to build up a powerful navy to defend against conquering forces. But it wasn't long before the city-states began to realize that most of the money was not being used to build ships but was instead being used to beautify Athens herself, a fact which made one city-state eventually decide to leave the Peloponnesian League – and then Athens retaliated. Once the city-states realized that Athens was no longer in the business of protecting Greece from outsiders, they saw no reason to obey her any more, and the war with Athens began – the Peloponnesian War.

The Relationship Between Ethics and Sanctions in Proverbs 1-7

      Proverbs Chapter 1 verses 8-9 say, "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck." As far as sanctions go in the Old Testament, this one is clearly positive, with such language as "an ornament of grace unto thy head and chains about thy neck" illustrating just how positive it is. Ornaments worn on the head and chains around the neck were symbols of status and wealth in the Old Testament world; to be adorned with such jewelry told the world that you were somebody important or well-off. In this proverb, a son (which could be applied to any child) is admonished to listen and abide by his parents' instructions, because if he did then good things would befall him, as opposed to evil ones. An ornament for the head and chains for the neck: positive sanctions that relate directly to the biblical ethics of heeding one's parents.
      Proverbs Chapter 6 verses 9-11 say, "How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man." This is an example of a negative sanction – misfortune befalling those who do not hold to the ethics of God's Word. The person illustrated in this proverb is depicted as sleeping – specifically a person too lazy to work, too lazy to pick himself up out of his rest and do as he ought. Poverty sneaks up on him when he does not expected, and our lazy man becomes a poor one as well. This is a negative sanctions: evil happening to those who do not pay heed to the ethics of the Old Testament.

Aristotelian Liberals and Spartan Society

      How have libertarians, or "Aristotelian liberals," argued for liberty on the basis of Aristotle's ideas?
      Although we have no record of Aristotle ever saying or writing anything that directly relates to the libertarian (or "Aristotelian liberal") worldview, and despite the fact that for a long time historians assumed that Aristotle did not believe in libertarian values, arguments have been brought up and considered that Aristotle was, in fact, libertarian-minded. Aristotle's worldview was founded on the belief that happiness is achieved through virtue, and that virtue must be taught in the early years of life but will eventually become a habit that we fall into when faced with any life situation at all. Aristotelian liberals have begun to spread the idea that this worldview illustrates how libertarian Aristotle's thinking actually was, based on the argument that while a man practicing virtue still benefits society, if he is practicing virtue only because he is being threatened with a gun to his head, it is not true virtue because he did not choose to do this himself. Aristotle assumed that all men would practice virtue because it was primarily good for themselves (not to mention to the rest of society), and so a man coerced into virtuous behavior isn't virtuous at all. It has to be his own decision to be virtuous; himself, and no "higher power" in the form of a government or watchdog. Because of this argument, Aristotelian liberals make a very good case that Aristotle did have libertarian ideas.

      What was Spartan society like?
      Spartan society was cruel and hard on its citizens, a warrior society based off the need to have a strong military force to control the vast populations of slaves (called "helots") that the Spartans possessed for labor. Every citizen, make or female, was required to participate and serve the state of Sparta for as long as they lived. Men were trained by separating boys from their families at age seven and taking them away to training camps, where they spent the next thirteen years of their lives being trained and serving in the military. Camp life was hard for these boys. Allowed hardly any clothes and only a single cloak to keep them warm, they suffered trying to stave off the cold and their bitter hunger, for they were only allowed a small amount of food to eat. Stealing was expected of these boys; they were not punished unless they got caught, and if they were caught then punishment was severe. At age 30 men were allowed to return home and marry, and although they could live with their families, all Spartan soldiers were required to eat their meals in a common mess hall in order to reinforce the idea that their fellow soldiers were their real family.
      Girls were also trained in fighting and fitness, being allowed to stay at home with their mothers but also taking part in sports and physical instruction. Childbirth was considered every woman's battle, and a woman who died in childbirth was honored on the same level as a man who died fighting for Sparta. Spartan government was divided into four parts: two kings, a council of elders, a group of five officials known as ephors, and an assembly composed of every Spartan man over the age of 30.
      Although Spartan society was hard on its citizens, it was effective at producing one of the best trained, most dedicated society of soldiers that the world has ever seen.