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Smiling Through the Cultural CatastropheToward the Revival of Higher Education$
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Jeffrey Hart

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780300087048

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300087048.001.0001

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Athens: The Heroic Phase

Athens: The Heroic Phase

(p.14) Chapter Two Athens: The Heroic Phase
Smiling Through the Cultural Catastrophe

Jeffrey Hart

Yale University Press

This chapter examines Athens in terms of the proliferation of Homer's epics. Homer, in a sense, was the educator of Greece, according to Plato, who was not only inspired by him, but tried to go beyond him as well. The chapter notes, however, how the Homeric epic material has roots in common with other major epic emerging in the Middle East—particularly that of the patriarchs and Moses in the Hebrew Bible. Because of Homer's enormous talent, epics like those of Beowulf and Gilgamesh cannot compete. Furthermore, Greek culture furthered his epics by using them to engage in developing a Greek philosophical tradition that existed long before Plato—one which has been called the “pre-Socratics.” This chapter examines the heroic phase in Greek culture, particularly in Athens, comparing it and analysing its similarities with the epic of Moses.

Keywords:   Homer's epics, educator of Greece, Plato, Homeric epic, Moses, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Greek philosophical tradition, pre-Socratics, epic of Moses

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