PAGAN WORLD

Who was HomerActive about 850 B.C., nothing is known of Homer apart from the Iliad and Odyssey.  Both are epic poems that define the Greek world view and set the pattern for all later Greek literature. The epics are poetical fiction rooted to some extent in historic fact. 

Who was Aristophanes? (448?-385 B.C.) Aristophanes was a Greek playwright who wrote “old comedy.”  Most of his work came near the end of the Peloponnesian War when Athens faced defeat by Sparta (431-404BC). Aristophanes also served as head of the Athenian Council. Eleven of about 40 of his plays survive, nine of which relate to the War.

Who was Socrates?  Socrates was the son of a sculptor and midwife (469-399 B.C.) who grew up to be an Athenian soldier and philosopher.  He was known for his stoic patience in hardship. “Having the fewest wants, I am nearest to the gods,” was the way he explained it. One day a friend found Socrates at the market staring in apparent awe at a display. 

Who was Plato (427-347 B.C.) Plato was the pupil of Socrates and his main biographer. The last 50 years of his life he spent in philosophical study with students at his “pleasure-grove” or Academe near Athens. Plato is perhaps best known for his theory of the “forms.”  He considered abstract math to be the highest expression of truth. 

Who was Aristotle? (384-322 B.C.) Aristotle studied under Plato for about 20 years, but rejected his master’s philosophic Realism, He replaced it with his own   Conceptualist view.  His father was a doctor in the court of the King of Macedonia in northeastern Greece. Aristotle taught in a gymnasium called the “Lyceum.” He used a “peripatetic” (teach while walking)  method and system of thought.

Who was Cicero? (106-43 B.C) Cicerowas the most fruitful Roman political theorist. He was a Roman Senator during the period of turmoil between the old Roman republic and the Empire. He is deemed to be the greatest Roman prose writer and a great orator. He often sprinkled his speeches with wit. Caesar had multiplied the number of Senators, thus diluting the power of the original group. 

Who was Virgil? (70 B.C.-19 B.C.)  Virgil was born to an obscure peasant farm family in Northern Italy.  He rose to a position of intimacy with the mighty Augustus, first Emperor of Rome. At Augustus’ request, he wrote the Aeneid, the most influential book produced in Rome.