Category: Western Civilization I

The Early Christian Church and Greek Culture

Early Christian figures like Minucius Felix, contrary to popular thought, did not reject the idea of incorporating Greek classics into Christianity. Their view was that these Greeks were making their way towards the ultimate goal: the teachings of Jesus. These early leaders of the Church viewed Christianity as the culmination of the early Greek writings and philosophers.

Some Christians advocated for the removal of all Greek writings from the “modern” scope. They, ironically, were the most prone to heresies. While they did contribute substantially to early Christian theology and make-up, they did not embrace the idea of incorporating the Greek philosophy and writings into the Christian Church.

Most early Christian Apologists thought that the Greeks were, in fact, hinting at what Jesus had taught. Plato, for instance, had stated clearly in his Orations that there was another absolute world and that there were absolute values that we had to abide by. Although his teachings did had errors and misconceptions, they shared a lot in common with the sacred Christian texts.

Greek thought and word was adopted by the majority of early Christians, despite efforts of some influential figures to reverse the growing tide of respect and admiration for Homer, Socrates and Pythagoras. Christians like St. Basil the Great not only accepted Greek thought as part of their religion and culture, but thoroughly recommended it, suggesting that it would help to understand the Bible. (more…)

The Golden Age of Latin Literature

The golden age was a period of Roman literature from which emanate such classics as Virgil’s Aeneid and Ovid’s love booklet.

One of the main characters of the golden age was Horace. Horace introduced the genre of literature known as epistles. Epistles are basically letters; the Apostle Paul, for example, wrote epistles to the Corinthians. Horace lived at the time of Augustus Caesar, nephew and heir to Julius Caesar. Horace was a classic figure, admired by the emperor and widely respected.

Virgil, perhaps the most famous of Roman poets/writers, is best known for the Aeneid, which he wrote at the behest of Augustus Caesar, who claimed descent from Aeneas himself. Seeking to please him, Virgil wrote and established the popular legend: that Aeneas founded Rome itself.

Livy is another famous figure, though perhaps less known. He was a historian who lived around 59 BC. He wrote the history of Rome up to the time of Augustus. This series contained 145 books. No small undertaking! (more…)

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great was the son of King Philip of Macedonia, a kingdom just north of modern-day Greece. As a child he already showed the spark, the daring and the courage which would flame to light as he grew up and became Alexander the Great.

Legend tells of a horse named Bucephalus. A horse that none could train. King Philip was ordering it killed when Alexander intervened. Although only twelve, he offered to try and subdue the horse. Reluctantly, his father agreed.

atgwb (more…)

Aristotle: The Philosopher

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher who lived from 384-322 BC. He was the philosopher for a very long time, until other philosophers like Plato and Pythagoras got a slice of the pie.

Aristotle was the son of a physician which set him up to make many scientific observations about everything he did. His students gathered all kinds of scientific information, from Greek constitutions and the histories of science and philosophy to animals and plants.

Aristotle’s central difference with Plato, another famous Greek philosopher, was the Forms. Plato believed that (for example) every chair derived its chairness from one eternal source and that every chair answered to that source. Aristotle, on the other hand, claimed the opposite. Chairness answered to chair, not chair to chairness. I am more inclined to Plato’s way of thinking. An easy was to memorize this is to think Plato=eternal and Aristotle=physical.

Aristotle wrote a treatise on meteorology, which was very odd at times. He looked for natural causes.

Aristotle’s History of Animals categorizes and subdivides different animal species. Aristotle was fascinated by animals. He documented everything from locomotion and digestion to reproduction and hibernation. But the book also has many errors. (more…)

The Cyclopes

Some of you may have read the famous epic the Odyssey. It is the recounting of the travels of the king Odysseus as he returns from the war in Troy. Odysseus encountered a giant Cyclops in his travels. This raises a question—were the Cyclopes a civilization? If so, how did they live? What did they make a living on? What did they look like?

The Cyclopes were a race of giants with one eye in the middle of their foreheads. They were the likeness of a man, simply in larger proportions.

It is improbable that they were a civilization, since they lived separately in caves. They could have had contact with each other, but this is unlikely. (more…)

Hector, Prince of Troy

Hector was the prince of Troy, the son of King Priam. He had a wife named Andromache and a son named Scamandrius.

He did whatever his father asked him. He was a great warrior, but at the same time he was deeply religious and peaceful. He was an ‘all-around’ man.

In the Trojan War he led all the Trojans into battle. He killed 31,000 Greeks all by himself!

Then he engaged in the fateful battle with the mighty Greek warrior, the dreaded Achilles. They clashed together, until at last Achilles smote Hector on the ground, dead. (more…)