Classical Greece and Rome

From Polis to Empire, the cornerstone of Western Civilization was laid. No longer seeking to become human, the Greek and Roman classicist accepted man's humanity as a given and sought to organize the world around it. Perhaps the universe itself, since the cosmos revolved around man's earth. Perfection unobtainable in the concrete world could be discovered in a world of ideas. Through the power of man's reason, truth could be discovered and in so doing the world he touched might reach closer to perfection itself.

This focus on man transformed a recondite pantheon of gods into a divine human family. At times a dysfunctional family as actual human experience was all too prone to demonstrate. Jealousy, hate, wrath, greed, infidelity…what could be said of god that wasn't said of man? If through this cosmic folly man might better identify with the gods, could the inverse be said? Could the gods identify with man? Charting a new course was the sine qua non of humanism: God becomes man. Many a Caesar would leave the ranks of man to join the hallowed, but in an insignificant outer province of Rome another transcendence would chart a new direction for the West. The Empire no longer "glorious" and the city itself inhabited only by vagrants, the memory of this man-god blossomed into the uniting paradigm of Christian Europe.


Lecture Images

An easy to use list of all images used in the lecture