Famous Greeks: Anaxagoras, Phidias & Aspasia

The names of Anaxagoras, Phidias, and Aspasia (fifth century B.C.) represent the leading intellectual, artistic, and cultural currents in an age of unsurpassed creativity. Anaxagoras was as one of the sophists, professors, who made Athens the intellectual center of the Greek world. He taught that reason is the motivating force of the universe. Phidias was an artist who sought to express, in his design for the Acropolis at Athens and in his sculptures, the ideal of divine and human reason. In a society that denied rights to women, Aspasia, the mistress of Pericles, combined a career as a madam of a bordello with intellectual attainments that made her a political adviser to Pericles. All three were friends of Pericles; all became targets of legal attacks by his enemies.

Questions to Consider:

1. How does the Parthenon embody the concept of divine reason?

2. Compare the role of sophists in the Athenian democracy with the role of professors and other academic experts in our democracy.

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