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Why Did Greek Writers, Painters and Sculptors Compare and Contrast the Values and Virtues of Greeks and Barbarians - Term Paper Example

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This paper explores the way that Greeks define themselves and the barbarians through various artifacts including literature, painting, and sculpture. It covers the values of Greek and of the barbarian as seen from the Greek point of view as demonstrated through actions and appearance. …
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Why Did Greek Writers, Painters and Sculptors Compare and Contrast the Values and Virtues of Greeks and Barbarians
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Download file to see previous pages Greek history has uncertain beginnings and varying boundaries because it encompasses eras of expansion over many centuries. In this context Greek authors, artists and sculptors took it for granted that Greek culture was superior to the other cultures When the Greek civilization was at the height of its powers in the archaic and classical periods, from around 800 BC until about 300 BC it ruled vast areas of the Eastern Mediterranean and much further inland, exacting tribute from conquered peoples and passing on its illustrious literature and culture to many other tribes and nations. In this context Greek authors, artists and sculptors simply took it for granted that Greek culture was superior to the cultures that could not demonstrate the advanced technologies that the Greeks possessed. Some cultures like the Egyptians, for example, had great cities, stone monuments and works of literature which earned the respect of the Greeks, but those who preferred a nomadic lifestyle were regarded simply as ‘barbarians.’ Very often this label was used in ignorance, and it served to make as big a distance as possible in Greek minds between those who were within its extended territorial reach, and those who were beyond it. In short, all that was culturally good and proper and admirable was Greek, and all that the barbarian cultures represented were depicted in opposite terms. In modern language, we would call this a stereotype, and then, as now, there was some truth in this stereotype, but it was by no means the full story. Hall points out that there were hundreds of tragedies written for fifth-century Athenian theatre and that more than half of them introduce barbarian characters, choruses and locations, even when there is no need for these details in the main plot: “Supernumerary foreign characters or choruses, and the ubiquity of allusions to the other, inferior, world beyond Hellas, therefore provide evidence that barbarians were a particular preoccupation of the Greek tragedians.  ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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