Salve readers! I say I am moving into Greek realms, for the moment anyway; it is by no means permanent. So I have begun my MA in Classical Civilisation at Birkbeck, UCL in London and my first term is focusing on Ancient Greek civilisation, an area entirely new to me. Therefore, as a result of my MA and a very busy work life, I realised I had been neglecting my blog and decided this was a perfect time to take it up properly, documenting my educational journey.
We began with the study of the relevance of classics int he 21st Century and historiography, looking into the work of Herodotus and Thucydides. Please do read up on both of these figures, you will find them fascinating, I promise. They are credited with being the first ‘real’ (whatever that means) historians and the first to begin documenting events for preservation. True, they had their own agendas, but it is thanks to them both that we have good accounts of both the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, by Herodotus and Thucydides respectively. Herodotus was the predecessor of Thucydides and many scholars say that Herodotus had large influences on Thucydides’ writing, much to, I imagine, the distaste of Thucydides. I shall write about this more in a separate blog post so keep an eye out.
Then we moved onto the Presocratics, and have I fell in love, or have I fell in love! What a subject. Such a fascinating part of human history, or dare I say history as a whole, a time when suddenly, or perhaps not (which is the subject of much debate) humans began rationally thinking and questioning life and its beginnings, removing divine intervention from the solution for the beginning, and workings (rules) of, the universe and earth. This area of history has claimed a handful of arguably some of the greatest and most revolutionary thinkers ever to have existed and has been collectively named by historians as the Presocratics (before Socrates). It is essentially the study of ‘mythos to logos’, or in other terms from myth to reasoned argument. We know much of what we do from this period thanks to doxographers (those who wrote about the work of the Presocratics, work of which we now often use as primary evidence, due to the lost of the real primary works) and fragments. We also owe large debts to Aristotle and Plato, of whom I shall also discuss in more depth in future blogs.
Which brings me on to my latest seminar subject: Socrates. I am due to go into this subject with my class on Tuesday and in my pre-reading can already begin to appreciate the transgression from one form of thought to the other. However, I am yet to understand the difference between the Presocratics and Socrates himself and how this line was defined – how was their thinking different and why was he chosen as a marker to describe the first rational thinkers as coming before him? Why was he so significant to mark such a turn in Western thought, or was it a turn at all? In other words, where did this term Presocratics come from and why was he used as a marker for his predecessors’ work; can they not stand alone or is he just the next step in movement towards a different stage in human history, thought and science as a whole?
I hope to answer these things in my study, so watch this space!