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Life In Ancient Athens. Essay

1254 words - 5 pages

Reaction Paper--Daily Life In AthensIn reading of the life of ordinary Athenians, I can't help but realize how, generally, simple, their lives were. This is not to say that their lives were boring, far from it, in fact, I am very surprised to find out just how eventful life in the ancient world could be. By simple I am referring to the lifestyle that the average Athenian expected, to the "standard of living". I think it is very important to recognize that the Athenians of the classical age--at least the early classical age--lived, for the most part, without luxuries, and, although there certainly were a good deal of festivals and holidays in early Athens, the average person was not really concerned with luxury. In my opinion, this is something that is of key importance in a society, and, although I'm not sure of this, I'm willing to bet that the Greeks began to be eclipsed by their simple and straightforward western neighbors, the Romans at the same time as they began to embrace luxury, and to seek a lifestyle more expensive than that of their fathers.The section of the chapter that caught my attention more than any other was the section(pg. 177-179)that described the "daily life" of Athenian citizens. The description of Athenian clothing as essentially square sheets of cloth held together at the corners, worn, in some cases, for an entire lifetime, of an Athenian meal not as an elaborate ritual or even as what we think of as a polite time to socialize, but as simply a chance to eat food, and nothing else, and of Athenian beds as simply mattress and blanket portray, in my eyes, a society in which function is, in general, more important than appearance. Certainly, the Athenians had their share of festivals, and certainly they appreciated a lavishly decorated temple, but these were things that were the property of the entire polis, or, in some senses, of the gods, and in their personal lives, the Athenians did not seem to envy the lifestyle of others, or to distinguish themselves through a lavish lifestyle, or through their style of dress. I think that this speaks of a strong people, and a strong culture, a culture of hardworking, brave and ambitious people, even more so if we couple the knowledge of the Athenian lifestyle with the knowledge of the great cultural and intellectual achievements that were created by this people. What we see, if we evaluate Greek culture in these terms, is a culture that is more concerned with eternal issues, such as truth, knowledge and the difference between right and wrong, than with things like fashion and gluttony. On a personal level, admittedly, it is up to each person whether he would rather live in a society such as this, or one in which luxury and pleasure are the primary pursuits of life, and we, as historians, have no right to pass judgement on which type of culture is "better"; from an historical standpoint, however, we are able to state, unequivocally, that a culture such as this--in which people are...

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