1. Describe the character of government in Greece during the "Dark Ages."
  2. What was the Greek conception of religious piety? How did this relate to the Greek view of the gods, their powers, and their expectations of humans?
  3. Discuss how the Greek view of Hades and of the fate of humans after death compares with the idea of the transmigration of souls found in ancient India. How would these two views affect ideas about the purpose of life?
  4. What supplied the foundations of Greek ethics and morality?
  5. Discuss the consequences of relatively widespread literacy in Greece.
  6. Evaluate the effects of intense militarism on the political and social life of Sparta.
  7. How did the origins of Sparta differ from those of Athens? How did those differences affect their respective destinies?
  8. Trace the evolution of Athenian democracy from Solon to Pericles. At the peak of its development what were the limitations of that democracy?
  9. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the Athenian system of "direct" democracy.
  10. Describe the similarities and differences between Athenian democracy and twentieth-century American democracy.
  11. What were the consequences for Greece (both positive and negative) of the Persian War?
  12. What were the causes of the Peloponnesian War? What were its results?
  13. Describe the roles of women in ancient Greece, and the reasons for their subordination.
  14. Identify the most important social changes in Greek society in the fifth to fourth centuries B.C.E.
  15. "Although the various conclusions of the Pre-Socratics would not stand up to later questioning and testing, their insistence on looking for natural laws and rational explanations was pathfinding." Explain the meaning of this statement.
  16. Cicero said of the Sophists that they "brought philosophy down from heaven to the dwellings of men." What did he mean?
  17. What did Plato mean when he referred to an "Idea"?
  18. Aristotle's philosophy "was a compromise between Platonism, which tended to ignore matter, and the purest materialism, which saw no patterns in the universe other than the accidents of matter impinging on matter." Show how this statement is justified by Aristotle's philosophy.
  19. Explain the differences between epic poetry and lyric poetry. Keep in mind themes as well as performance styles.
  20. What was the Greek conception of tragedy?
  21. How did the art of the Greeks illustrate their social, political, and aesthetic ideals?
  22. In what ways did Athenian social life differ from that of other peoples of the ancient world, including other Greeks?
  23. The Hellenic Greeks are often described as humanists. What is meant by this description? To what extent is this description appropriate, and what were the limitations of Greek humanism?
  1. Why did Athenians turn to imperialism at the peak of their democratic development? Is there any parallel in the history of other countries in modern times?
  2. Read a play by Sophocles and another by Euripides. Compare their themes and attitudes. Which playwright do you prefer? Why?
  3. Investigate further any of the following:
    a. Homeric religion
    b. The nature of Spartan militarism
    c. Greek tactics in the Persian War
    d. Athenian government under Pericles
    e. Thucydides' account of the Peloponnesian War
    f. Socrates and his thought
    g. Plato's Republic
    h. Aristotle's biology
    I. Greek sculpture
    j. Athenian life in the Golden Age
  4. Compare Athenian ideals as described in the Funeral Oration of Pericles (found in Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War) with those of Sparta as described by Plutarch in his life of Lycurgus (found in Plutarch, Lives of Illustrious Men).
  5. Discuss the effects of wars on Hellenic civilization.
  6. It is said that "the Greeks invented philosophy." What does it mean to "invent" philosophy? Explore the thought of the Pre-Socratics, the Sophists, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Analyze the main features of the ideas of these philosophers. Pay particular attention to the questions they sought to answer, and the approaches they adopted in searching for answers.
  7. Study the philosophy of Plato as contained in The Republic. What aspects of his ideal state would you like to see in put into practice today? In your opinion, what are the weaknesses or dangers inherent in his prescription for the ideal state?
  8. Trace as many elements of Greek civilization as possible to their origins in the civilization of western Asia.
  9. Read the discussion of Euripides in Edith Hamilton's The Greek Way. Why does she disagree with the dictum that he was the most tragic of the dramatists? Why does she consider him the exponent of "the modern mind"?
  10. Explore this statement: "To a startling degree the very concept of 'humanity' itself . . . comes to us from the Greeks."


W.W. Norton
REVIEW: World Civilizations
Page created by Thomas Pearcy, Ph.D and Mary Dickson.
Direct questions or comments to Webmaster.
Last revised January 30, 1997
Copyright (c) 1997. W. W. Norton Publishing. All Rights Reserved