Ancient Greece forms the basis of many civilizations in the world today. Greece influenced art, literature, mathematics, and democracy among other things. Through philosophy and leadership, Ancient Greece developed ideologies that sought to explain reality by analyzing issues that do not meet the collective eye. Some of the philosophers and political leaders include Plato and Pericles, whose works have influenced the perception of the nature of reality and the idea of democracy, respectively. Through their works, both Plato and Pericles reflect the values of Greek at the times in which they lived, as well as portraying the ideas of Greek civilization.
First and foremost, Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and Pericles’ “Funeral Oration” reflect central ideas of the ancient Greek civilization. According to Plato, civilization is based on divine truth and human reason, which influence both individual and governmental affairs. Plato opines that there is more than meets the eye and individuals should be guided by reason, instead of believing in what they see. The perception of reality is influenced by how people interpret what they see, hence forming the divine truth, which, according to Plato, should serve as the guide for individuals and rulers.
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Pericles represents democracy, which was part of the ancient Greek civilization. Citizens are required to obey the law and practice in favor of the majority, not out of compulsion, but out of the will. Through democracy, citizens will be able to uphold state loyalty hence making the state better regarding equality and government.
Secondly, the central message in the allegory is the need to identify the true nature of reality by shying away from the moral conventions of society. This point is depicted through the illustration of the cave, the shadows, the game, the escape, and the return. The tale of the prisoners trapped in a cave shows how quickly people believe in empirical evidence, which should not be the case, especially with the pursuit of knowledge. Reality is based on philosophical truths, which people are afraid of embracing. “Last of he will be able to see the sun…but he will see him in his proper place, and not in another, and he will contemplate him as he is,” (EWC 6.3, p. III).
Through his speech, Pericles is trying to say that citizens should strive for a better city by willingly obeying the law and public officials, who all demonstrate mutual trust and desire for freedom. Obedience of statutes upholds democracy, which governs the state and influences the conduct of the people. Compliance with a code that is unwritten but cannot be broken without acknowledged distress (EWC 6.9, p. III) should be what governs civilizations.
Both Plato and Pericles reflect Greek values of the age through describing issues affecting them. Pericles lived in the Golden Age, characterized by art, literature, and democratic advancements. He demonstrated Greek loyalty to the city-state through honoring of fallen Athenian soldiers during the war with Sparta. This loyalty shows democracy. Plato reflects on human reason and divine truth by explaining mind or body dualism. He tells that the mind leads to self-awareness, which informs consciousness. Furthermore, the human experience is formed by the interaction between functional and physical body elements, hence creating the divine truth.
In conclusion, both Plato and Pericles define Greek civilization in a manner that influences modern cultures. They both highlight the nature of truth and democracy, thus urging citizens to embrace knowledge, as it results in the fact, and obedience of the laws and government officials, which leads to loyalty, hence democracy. Both authors highlight the Greek values of the ages in which they lived.
EWC, 6.3. Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”
EWC, 6.9. Pericles’ “Funeral Oration”