Golden Age of Athens, Pericles and Greek Culture | World History | Khan Academy

Golden Age of Athens, Pericles and Greek Culture | World History | Khan Academy

– [Instructor] In other videos, we’ve already talked
about how Classical Greece has had an immeasurable impact not just on Western civilization, but on civilization as a whole. In order to understand the period that we call Classical Greece, it’s valuable to place it
in context on a timeline, so I have significant conflicts or events that happened to the Greek
world on this timeline, especially in the fifth
and fourth centuries BCE In the beginning of the fifth century BCE, you have the Greco-Persian Wars, where the Greek city states
are able to fend off attack from the great Persian Empire, and then they go on the offensive. But as we exit the fifth century BCE, the city states start
fighting amongst themselves. You have Athens leading the Delian League in a fight against
Sparta and their allies, which significantly
weakens the city states. It ends with Athens losing, but all of the city
states have been weakened, and it leaves them open to be
conquered by the Macedonians, in particular Phillip of Macedonia, and then his son Alexander the Great is able to not just keep control of Greece, of the city states, but conquer Egypt and Persia and get all the way to modern
day Afghanistan and Pakistan, but after his death, you then have his successors, and Greece falls under
the Antigonid dynasty. But eventually as we get into the second and first century BCE, it goes under Roman control, and we’ve talked about
this Classical period, all of the various contributions. We’ve talked about the
contributions in philosophy, from people like Socrates, and Socrates’s student Plato, and Plato’s student Aristotle, but there were also
significant contributions in mathematics. You have Pythagoras, who actually predates these philosophers, and he’s most famous,
especially to many of us, for his Pythagorean Theorem and a lot of mathematics and the foundations of a lot of geometry. But he and his followers, they were actually creating
something of a mysticism, of a religion around mathematics, and even a philosophy
that would later influence some of the other philosophers
that we talk about, especially this ideal
of ideal platonic forms. You can imagine, if you’re
studying perfect right triangles, there’s no such thing as
a perfect right triangle in the universe. These are ideas that we use in geometry, and other things in the universe are really just approximations of these, but to appreciate the
philosophical side of Pythagoras, here are some quotes from him, or quotes ascribed to him. “There is geometry in the
humming of the strings. “There is music in the
spacing of the spheres. “Reason is immortal, all else mortal.” And you see even in the sixth century BCE this thread of Greek thinking, putting reason at a very high level, not just trying to explain everything with pure mysticism, although Pythagoras definitely was, and Pythagoreanism was
definitely about mysticism, but it was mysticism that at the core had mathematics and geometry. But continuing on with significant mathematical contributions
from ancient Greece, we have Euclid. We don’t know all of the exact details of his birth and his death, but he is the Father of Modern Geometry, and as you can see in this map here, he didn’t live in what we
call Greece proper today. He lived in Alexandria, a city established by Alexander the Great, and this is during the Hellenistic Period where all of the territory, or most of the territory
that had been conquered by Alexander the Great was
still ruled by his successors. Egypt was ruled by Ptolemy, establishing the Ptolemaic dynasty in the time of Euclid, and Euclid lived in that great center of learning and the arts, Alexandria, which even exists today, and he is most famous for his Elements. This is a much later
printing of his Elements, of Euclid’s eEements, but you would be amazed
how much of modern geometry has been described by Euclid. Even your geometry
textbook can trace it back directly to Euclid’s Elements. Abraham Lincoln famously
learned every proof in Euclid’s Elements in
order to fine tune his mind. So you can really view Euclid as the Father of Geometry, but that’s not all. There are many other contributors
in philosophy and math, and this is just, once again, a sample of all of the folks who contributed. On the side of philosophy, you have Xenophon, who was another one of Socrates’ students in addition to Plato, and in fact, the life of Socrates we learn from the writings
of Plato and Xenophon. Xenophon was also a historian who gave us some accounts of
the later Peloponnesian War. You have the famous cynics, Antisthenes and his student Diogenes, Diogenes, famous for living
in a barrel in Athens, and somewhat insulting
Alexander the Great. But these cynics, which
the word is derived from being dog like, these are people who were philosophers who gave up the trappings of materialism and caring, frankly, what
other people thought. As we go a little bit out of
our timeline right over here, you have Archimedes, one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of all time, but you also have
contributions in the arts, some of the most famous
playwrights of the ancient time, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides. Aristophanes, we might
remember as being a bit of a thorn in the side of Socrates. He wrote about Socrates, but it was more of a parody. You have contributions in medicine, the famous Hippocrates. The Hippocratic Oath
still has an influence on modern medicine. You have some of the earliest
what we could say historians that we know of, Herodotus, famously giving
us the accounts we have of the Greco-Persian Wars, a lot of what we even know about the ancient Persian Empire. You have Thucydides, who gives us accounts
of the Peloponnesian War along with Xenophon. And so when you see this density of arts, sciences, learning in one place, a lot of this was centered in Athens. It makes you wonder what
was going on at that time, and historians do call the period from when the Athenians were
able to fend off the Persians all the way until the end
of the Peloponnesian War as the Golden Age of Athens, and for good reason. Look at this flourishing of
the arts and the sciences that developed during that period. You might wonder what was
happening in terms of government, and government of this period might be one of the longest lasting influences. As we exit the sixth century BCE in 507, you have Greek Democracy
taking root in Athens, and in fact, the word
democracy is a Greek word, government by the people. And shortly after that, during the Golden Age of Athens, you start having leadership by Pericles. He was an orator. He was a statesman. He was a general. In this period right over here that I have in orange, often known as the Age of Pericles, he helped Athens invest significantly in the arts and in architecture. Some of the most iconic structures we now associate with
Greece or ancient Greece were built during his time. They were promoted by him. Here you have a picture of the Acropolis, which is this rock outcropping, which still exists in Athens as it likely looked during
the time of Pericles, during the Golden Age of Athens, and you can see here in particular the most famous structure. The Parthenon, a lot of
which still stands today, was constructed under
the rule of Pericles. As I mentioned, the Greek
city states get conquered by the Macedonians, but after the death of
Alexander the Great, falls under the control
of the Antigonid dynasty, but eventually, as we get
into the second century BCE, off of this timeline, it comes under Roman control, becomes part of the Roman Empire. But the Roman Empire is itself
significantly influenced by Greek culture, Greek mathematics, Greek architecture, Greek philosophy, and in a lot of ways, the Romans end up becoming the caretakers of much of this culture that
we talk about in this video, and once you have the
decline of the Roman Empire, especially the western Roman Empire, and Europe enters into the Middle Ages, you have the Islamic world that acts as a bit of a bridge of this Greek culture into
the European Renaissance and eventually the Enlightenment. And so we can trace even our modern views of science and philosophy all the way back to these Greeks, and so I’ll leave you with this quote from the Roman poet Horace who wrote this around
the first century BCE. “Captive Greece took
captive her fierce conqueror “and instilled her arts in
rustic Latium,” or Laecium. And so what he’s saying is, even though Rome had conquered Greece, Greece’s culture took
captive her conqueror, took captive the Roman culture, instilled Greece’s arts
in the rustic Latin world.


  1. Congratulations and thank you combined. This was one of the most educational videos I have ever seen – so succinct and informative – really great job.

  2. It's little exaggeration to say that since the early day's of human civilization, there's been some wars fought every year in some parts in the world.

  3. How can Pythagoras or Euclid be the so called "father's of modern day 'JAH-metry'…WHEN THE PYRAMIDS PREDATE THEM!!!!!!??? You people are still caught in delusions…

  4. I watched all of you accounts regarding the Greek Civilization and i must admit that I am utmost impressed about the way you managed to present that complex period (considering all the years, concepts and characters involved) in such a simple and pleasant manner and it was very easy understanding everything because you used that TIMELINE everytime making the historical links more clear. THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR VIDEOS! Keep up the good work,

  5. Fifth-century Athens is the Greek city-state of Athens in the time from 480 BC-404 BC, which is a weird convention because I would think that Fifth-century means 400 AD-499 AD.

  6. Pythagoras' father was a Phoenician merchant from Tyre. Pythagoras was half Phoenician, half Greek. We should learn this in schools.

  7. The name of the Cynic philosophy isn't to do with being "dog like", though they did use that concept. It comes from the Cynosarges gymnasium, where Antisthenese originally taught, which just happens to mean "Place of the white dog". It's a coincidence, not the origin.

  8. When you are talking about government, you didn't touch on Solon, the Father of Democracy. the man whose idea it was to try this form of government. I don't know if its because you think he is not important, or anything, but I think it would be worth touching on if you make any future vids on this. Just sharing some thoughts! Keep up the good work!

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