Note: this post was based on ten YouTube clips, which have been taken down since then. The post corresponds to roughly one-tenth-length of the series.
An astonishing generation of individuals – Our city is an education – Theater, a cultural revolution – War with Sparta – Not an easy war to win – Retreat behind the great long walls – Socrates, a man unique in Athenian society – Taking the Gods out of the heavens and replacing them with reason – The birth of Science
A new way of thinking – Life in the city: one of Socrates’s major concerns – Freedom of thought is paramount – A life unexamined is not worth living – Spartans burn the surrounding farm land – The plague devastates Athens – Pericles, Lynchpin of the Athenian state dies – The populists rise – Athens slides into mob rule – Socrates protests, but is not heeded – War with Sparta rages on for a decade – The Sicilian expedition – The Athenians throw themselves into the project – An Athenian invasion force sets out
Athens reaches an educational and cultural peak via the pursuit of science and art. A host of genial minds set the pace, with a democratic society following suit, capitalizing on the opportunity.
But feats of excellence give way to dreams of superiority, and a vision of war emerges. The aim is the destruction of Sparta, the bellicose city-state to the south, so that Athens may galvanize its dominion.
Socrates, an astute philosopher and investigator of human behavior and rational thought, criticizes the notion. His aim is to question everything in order to separate fact from folly, and formulate a solid understanding of the world. War with Sparta is an unwise option, as far as he’s concerned, despite the consensus for it. His voice of dissent is not heeded, and the war continues.
One year into the conflict, Athens is under siege by the Spartans, the city’s supply routes kept open via sea. Plague finds its way into the crammed city and a humanitarian catastrophe ensues. A third of the population dies, among them Pericles their visionary leader, and the Athenians are terrified.
With Pericles gone, the city falls in the hands of populists. Democracy degenerates to demagoguery and mob rule, giving rise to temporary tyrants, insurgencies, deadlocks and stalemates, leading to crisis after crisis.
The years slide painfully by, and the siege is not letting up. Desperate measures are needed to make things right, and a new military campaign is proposed, rejuvenating the Athenians.
From the phenomenal Atlantic Productions Documentary Series, The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization
Narrator: Liam Neeson