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Today few Americans believe that miracles happen every
day. This is not a mind set that plays an important
part in our interpretation of events. But political
attitudes may.

Most Americans and most Russians are
convinced that their own way of life is superior to any
other. In school they learn an interpretation of
history that probably conditions the way in which they
perceive events. The different attitudes some of them
have are clear in the following short passages:

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

"Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, that each time ended either in the revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes."

The Communist Manifesto

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands, which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

The Declaration of Independence

Do you think that a man who had been taught that the Communist Manifesto correctly interpreted the nature of the world would be likely to perceive events in the same way as a man who believed in the Declaration of Independence? Might mind sets like these have influenced the two men who reported events in the Hungarian Revolution about which you read in Reading III?



For the past five days we have been studying the way in which historians investigate the past. As you read and as you discussed the readings in class, you should have been developing your own interpretation of the nature of historical investigations. If you have been thoughtful, you should have already developed your own definition of history and your own conception of historical method.

For tomorrow you are to write a paper of no more than three hundred words in which you analyze the way in which you would approach a historical problem. Suppose you wanted to determine the cause of the Bolshevik revolution which took place in Russia in 1917. In your paper describe the way in which you would go about investigating this problem using the mode of inquiry which you have been studying.

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Between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. societies all over the world

passed through periods of great innovation. In China,
India, Africa, and the Mediterranean, societies were in
constant flux, developing new values, institutions, social
systems, and technologies. But about 500 A.D. all of
these societies began to lose the innovative spirit and to
cling to existing folkways and mores. In short, all of
these societies slipped into more traditional cultures
in which things were done largely as they had been in the
past. Western society, like the rest of the world,
passed through an innovative phase to a traditional
phase in these centuries, and remained primarily tradi-
tional for the next eight hundred years. The next

three units in this book concern themselves with this

long stretch of western history from 500 B.C. to

1300 A.D.



Stating the Issue

In the fifth century before Christ, a huge army from the Persian empire twice invaded the little peninsula that the inhabitants called Hellas and we call Greece. The two emperors, Darius and Xerxes, were confident that they would quickly subdue the disunified Greeks. The Persian army did make rapid progress against the independent cities of northern Greece, but they were repulsed at Athens by the courage of the citizen army and the ingenious strategy of the Athenian leaders. With the Persian defeat, Athens entered an era so brilliant that historians have called it a golden age.

The golden age of Athens was the product of many centuries of development. Over the years, the Ionian tribes that settled the Attic plain on which Athens stood had shaped institutions and a way of life based on a value system called humanism. Succeeding generations of western men have continued to admire the humanist traditions of the golden age. In the process, western man has tended to idealize the Greeks and to set their way of life as the measure against which all societies should be judged. Hundreds of generations of school children have been taught to value the things the Greeks valued. Greek humanism has, therefore, become the root of much of the western value system.

The readings for the next four days focus on elements of the Greek humanist tradition. As you read, ask yourself, "What were the values of the Greeks? How did these values influence their ways of living and their institutions?

And as you study remember to apply the methods of historical analysis you learned in Unit I.



The city in which the golden age flourished was situated on the stony plain of Attica. At its largest, Athens never numbered more than 150,000 souls with another 200,000 living in outlying areas. Among the 350,000 residents were nearly 150,000 slaves, another 50,000 resident foreigners or metics who conducted business in Athens but were not citizens, and 150,000 full citizens of whom one-half were women and not entitled to full participation in Athenian life. All of these people, whether slave or citizen, made some contribution to the golden age, for the age produced a number of outstanding contributions in art, drama, architecture, war, philosophy and politics.

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What was the Athenian way of 11 fe? Your reading for today consists of a twentieth century historian's attempt to construct the Athenian way of 11 fe from available sources. As William Stearns Davis, the author, explains, it is an attempt "to describe what an intelligent person would see and hear in ancient Athens if by some legerdemain he were transported into the fourth century B.C. and conducted about the city under competent guidance." Because it is a reconstruction, the reading itself is not first-hand evidence about Greek life. But from this reading you should be able to develop a hypothesis about what values seem to underlie the golden age.

As you read this selection, try to develop a tentative answer to the question: "What values were the basis of the golden age?" In succeeding readings you will be presented with primary evidence with which to test your hypothesis. To help you formulate your hypothesis, think about the following questions:

1. How did Athenians pass their time in the Agora? What

do their activities and interests reveal about Greek

2. What do the buildings in the Agora reveal about

Athenian values?

3. Who are slaves? How do Athenians justify slavery?

What contributions did slaves make to the "golden
age"? What does the slave system reveal about
Athenian values?

4. What was the purpose of Athenian education? What

were boys taught in school? What does Athenian
education reveal about Greek values?



From William Stearns Davis, A DAY IN OLD ATHENS, (New York:
Allyn and Bacon, 1914) 16-25 passim.

These passages from Davis' book tell of life and times around the
Agora, including the discussions that go on, the transactions that
are made, and the ordinary doings of the Athenians. In addition,
a passage on the life of slaves and on the education given to
young Athenians is included.

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