The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization

Category: Civilization, Crucible
Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
Pages: 3 Views: 616

The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization is a documentary and TV series about the rises and falls of Athens. Liam Neeson narrates throughout the documentary of the civilization of ancient Greece. The filmmaker Anthony Geffen covered both the fourth and fifth centuries B. C. Actors were also used to portray historical events and people during this period. The documentary starts with the history of Athens beginning with the rule of Peisistratos whom transformed the city. He needed allies, in that way his son could have the throne.

Peisistratos encouraged farming and provided loans and soon Athens was exporting olive oil to nations around the Mediterranian to Egypt, Persia, and Phoenicia. The booming trade made Athens wealthy and prosperous. Athens became the big apple of Greece. At this time potters were the lower of the lows in Athens. After the death of Peisistratos, his son Hippias took over. He ruled fairly at first, but after his brother’s death, he turned to be a tyrant. Self defense was his only motive and since his only threat was from aristocrats, he turned against them.

The aristocrats under the leadership of Cleisthenes captured Hippias and banished him from Athens. The people of Athens then took destiny into their own hands. Isagoras and his partners locked themselves in the Acropolis, but they were forced to surrender and he was forced into exile. Cleisthenes was recalled from exile and asked to form a Government. He came up with the idea of people, both rich and poor, discussing the issues facing them and casting votes to make a decision.

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On issues like rising of taxes, building of roads and going to war, votes were cast, with a white stone for yes and a black one for no. The super power in the world at that time was Persia. Athens was attacked by the Persians in the battle of Marathon. Athens asked for Sparta’s help, but did not receive it. Though outnumbered, Athens won the battle. A man who participated in the war was Themistocles. He was risen to power through democracy. He was one of history’s greatest leaders and he knew that to hold out against another Persian invasion, they would need a strong navy. The Triremes were warships.

They became useful in another war against the Persia when Athens defeated them in the Straits of Salamis. Themistocles was then ostracized, and then died in Persia. The other people highlighted in the documentary were Pericles who built the Parthenon. A major decision was taken by Pericles to attack Sparta resulting in the Peloponnesian War. This war lasted 27 years and finally Athens surrendered to Sparta. Aspasia was his lover. She was made fun of in the theaters and in some tragedies. Pericles died from the plague, which was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history.

Socrates was a man who used reason and logic and cared about individuals. He was a man who loved debates. He was later blamed for Athens defeat by Sparta. He was pleaded guilty with the death penalty. The reason why he dies was because he questioned the world around him and was easiest person to blame. Though the film is called The Greeks, however it is essentially a story of Athens and its people. The movie contains re-enactments of various scenes which consist of people dressed in ancient costumes moving in front of an out of focus camera.

It gives the viewers a basic knowledge of their society at the time. However, the music in the background was too loud and very distracting making it difficult to hear the movie. One information that struck to my attention that they forgot to mention is that there were four major battles in this war; Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea. Only Marathon and Salamis are noted in the documentary. This film covers the basic information about the history of Athens and is directed towards people who are beginners in this subject.

However, for the people who are experts might find some inaccuracies and embellishments in this documentary. In conclusion, Athens had been through many battles and changes throughout their history, from the battle of Marathon to the creation of democracy. It shows viewers who are new to this subject a good understanding of their leaders and famous philosophers. The documentary does a great job explaining and depicting the social, economic, political and cultural aspects of that period.

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The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization. (2017, May 18). Retrieved from

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