Introduction to Ancient Greek History (Open Yale Courses)

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Overview: In this lecture, Professor Kagan tells the story of the rise of Philip and describes his early actions: unifying Macedon, defeating barbarian armies, and creating a new, professional, national army. According to Professor Kagan, through these actions, Philip was able to make inroads into the Greek world. What made these inroads more effective was Philip's uncanny talent for diplomacy and the fighting between the various poleis. Eventually, the Greeks under the efforts of Athens and Demosthenes decided to face Philip in the battle of Chaeronea. The battle, though close, was won by Philip and his Macedonian forces. Finally, Professor …

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Tags: ancient, democracy, sparta, athens, higher education, kagan, phalanx, education, war, macedon, humanities, wars, dark, civilization, polis, philip, donald, athenian, greek, yale, peloponnesian, courses, of, ages, mycenaean, persian, greece, classics, open, marathon, history

Older Episodes

In this lecture, Professor Kagan describes the growth of a new power: Thebes. Under the leadership of Epaminondas and Pelopidas, Thebes grows into a major power among the Greek cities. In fact, the Thebans even rout the Spartans in a standard hoplite battle in the battle of Leuctra. Finally, Professor …
In this lecture, Professor Kagan examines the continuation of Spartan tyranny over the Greek poleis and the response of the Greek world. According to Professor Kagan, it became clear that the Greek poleis needed to do something to check the power of Sparta. So, Thebes, Argos, Corinth, and Athens along …
In this lecture, Professor Kagan describes the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War and how the Spartans began to dominate other Greek poleis, instead of liberating them. The Spartan general Lysander at this point not only grows in influence and power, but also follows an aggressive plan to establish pro-Spartan, oligarchical …
In this lecture, Professor Kagan examines Pericles as a general. First, he describes Pericles' strategy of war and then he evaluates this strategy. According to Professor Kagan, Pericles' strategy was characterized by being both defensive and rational. It was defensive, because the Athenians did not engage the Spartans in a …
In this lecture, Professor Kagan focuses on the causes of the Peloponnesian War and the possible motivations for Thucydides' book, The History of the Peloponnesian War. Concerning the first point, Professor Kagan parts ways with Thucydides and argues that the war was not inevitable and that the Athenians under Pericles …
In this lecture, Professor Kagan describes the aftermath of the Thirty Years Peace. He argues that the Peace had the potential to keep peace between Athens and Sparta due to the arbitration clause. In addition, he argues that during this time, Athens sends various diplomatic messages to the wider Greek …
In this lecture, Professor Kagan describes the events that lead up the Peloponnesian War. He argues that the rise of Athenian power and the concomitant challenge to Spartan dominance pointed to potential conflict. However, Professor Kagan also points out that there were many people who did not want war and …
In this lecture, Professor Kagan continues to discuss the constitution of Athens. In particular, he explores the judicial workings of Athens. He describes in detail the effort of the Athenians to create a system of justice that would not only minimize tampering, in order to insure justice, but also maximize …
15 - Athenian Democracy Oct. 30, 2007
In this lecture, Professor Kagan describes the mechanics of the Delian League and its transformation into the Athenian empire. This transformation caused Athens to rival Sparta as an equal in power and prestige. He also argues that this process took place rather smoothly due to the good relations between Sparta …
In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan examines the developments that took place after the Greek victory over the Persians in 479 BC. He argues that even after the Greek victories, there was great fear amongst the Greeks that the Persians would return to seek revenge. For this reason, many of …
13 - The Athenian Empire Oct. 23, 2007
In this lecture, Professor Kagan traces the development and the power of the Persian empire. He also shows how the Persian empire and the Greek world eventually came into conflict through a few incidents concerning Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor, which eventually turned into the Persian Wars. Professor Kagan ends …
12 - The Persian Wars Oct. 16, 2007
In this lecture, Professor Kagan examines in detail the development, growing pains, and emergence of Athenian democracy. He argues that the tyranny under the Peisistratids led to the development of the idea of self-government among the Athenians, which Cleisthenes used to develop Athens in a more democratic direction. One of …
In this lecture, Professor Kagan traces the development of Athens. He argues that Athens, like other poleis, undergoes political and social turmoil due to the rise of the hoplite farmer. This unrest is first seen in the attempted coup d'état of Cylon and the Law of Draco. Professor Kagan also …
In this lecture, Professor Kagan finishes up his description of the Spartan constitution. He argues that Sparta had a mixed constitution and gained great power due to alliances that the Spartans made with their neighbors. After the discussion of Sparta, Professor Kagan examines Athens and the development of the Athenian …
09 - Sparta (cont.) Oct. 4, 2007
In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan explores the development and character of Sparta. He points out that in Sparta, the ethos of the polis was present to an extraordinary degree. Then he describes how this came about. In short, Professor Kagan argues that the Spartans were able to create a …
08 - Sparta Oct. 2, 2007
In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan explores the rise, fall, and significance of tyrannies in the Greek polis. He argues that the various tyrannies in the Greek world had both negative and positive aspects, which need to be appreciated. For instance, on the one hand, tyrannies promoted economic, commercial and …
In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan explores the rise of Greek colonies. He argues that the rise of new colonies was primarily due to the need for new farmland, although he acknowledges several other important reasons. He also shows where the Greeks colonized and explains that the process of founding …
In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan discusses the emergence of a new style of warfare among the Greeks, the hoplite phalanx. After discussing the panoply of the hoplite solider and the method of fighting, he argues that this style of fighting came about early in the life of the polis. …
In this lecture, Professor Donald Kagan tells the story of the emergence of the polis from the Dark Ages. He shows that by the time of the poet Hesiod, there is already a polis in place. He describes the importance of the polis in the Greek world and explains that …