Comparing and Contrasting Classical Greek and Hellenistic Cultures
Alan Rogers, PhD
The Origins of Western Culture – HUM101
April 26, 2011
Classical Greek and Hellenistic Cultures
There are many similarities, yet distinct differences between the ancient classical Greek culture, and the ancient Hellenistic Culture. This paper explores these similarities and differences with a focus on each area’s art, architecture, literature and philosophy.
The Classical Age began recorded Greek culture during the fifth century which essentially laid the foundation for many later achievements. Spanning 75 years, from 479 to 404 BCE, this period was noted for Athenian rule, and was under full control by its leading statesman, Pericles, nicknamed “Zeus.” One of Zeus’s most note-worthy accomplishments was his commissioned work on the Parthenon in the Acropolis, chosen because it was the highest point over Athens, and served as the center for Athenian life. The intent of the design of the building was to give it an air of richness and grace. The Parthenon was constructed by Phidias who engineered the building columns with incredible exactitude of mathematical calculation. The detailed sculptural decorations depicted stories of the age, and gave it renowned splendor. The work on the Parthenon was completed by 432 BCE.
During this period of time, the Greeks were pioneers in areas such as drama, art, philosophy, government, medicine, and community planning. By the end of the Peloponnesian War and the fall of Athenian democracy in 404 BCE, changes in these areas, particularly philosophy, began to surface.
Two of the most influential philosophers of the fourth century following the Athenian rule were Plato and Aristotle. In 387 BCE, Plato founded the Academy whose curriculum focused on political theory, mathematics, and law, and was the first permanent institution in Western civilization devoted to education and research. The founding...