In this task, you will write an analysis of one work (suggested length of 3–6 paragraphs total). Choose one work from one time period.
SELECTION: Classical Period: Literature/Philosophy: 1. Sappho, "Charaxos and Larichos," ca. 7th century B.C.E. (poem).
Once you have selected one of the accepted works from the list provided in the “Task Works” found in the web links section, you will research the work, the life of the author/artist, and the period. You will then be ready to create your analysis. This process of analysis will require you to discuss the events or innovations that define the historical period when the work was created, analyze a theme or stylistic characteristic of the period that is reflected in the work, and finally analyze the work’s or author’s/artist’s/composer’s contribution to the humanities.
A. Analyze the accepted work selected from the “Task Works” found in the web links section by doing the following:
1. Describe the historical events or innovations that characterize the period in which the work was created (suggested length of 1–2 paragraphs).
2. Analyze how this work reflects a theme or stylistic characteristic from its period (suggested length of 1–2 paragraphs).
3. Analyze the work’s or author’s/artist’s/composer’s contributions to the humanities (suggested length of 1–2 paragraphs).
A1. Historical Events and/or Innovations (1–2 paragraphs)
[Insert your paragraph here] The submission provides an accurate description of the historical events or innovations that define the selected period.
A2. Work Analysis (1–2 paragraphs)
[Insert your paragraph here] The submission provides an analysis that accurately describes how the work explores a particular theme or stylistic characteristic from its period.
A3. Contribution to Humanities (1–2 paragraphs)
[Insert your paragraph here] The submission provides an accurate analysis of the work’s or author’s/artist’s/composer’s contributions to the humanities.
References (Part B)
Last Name, First initials. (Year). Website title. Retrieved from URL
Last Name, First initials. (Year). Book title. City Name, ST: Publisher.
MindEdge, Inc. (2019). Introduction to Humanities. Waltham, MA: MindEdge, Inc.
2.20 Summary of Key Module Concepts: The Classical Period
Western Civilization traces its origins to classical Greece and Rome, a period that lasted approximately from 500 BCE to 500 CE. Both civilizations broke new ground in various fields, such as art, literature, science, medicine, government, law, architecture, engineering, history and philosophy.
Between 480 BCE and 323 BCE, classical Greece made numerous advancements that would form the basis of Western Civilization. Some examples are the creation of the first democracy, the beginnings of Western philosophy, physical science, and drama and theater.
The ancient Romans, building upon the Greek foundation, added their cultural contributions such as the works of Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Cicero. The Romans also developed new forms of architecture and infrastructure, creating miles of roads, aqueducts, and arches. They also pioneered new methods of governance and legal systems that would later be a model. Finally, due to their presence throughout Europe, the existence of today's Romance languages (French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish) can all trace their roots back to Roman Latin.
Classical Greece and Rome influenced virtually every following era of Western Civilization, including the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and contemporary culture.
The major themes that emerged from the Classical Period included balance, truth/reason, democracy/republic, polytheism, and humanism.
· Classical artists and philosophers were concerned with harmony and balance* in their works.
· The great thinkers of the time—including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle—engaged in pursuit of truth* through logic and reason*.
· During the Classical Period, new forms of government known as democracy* and republic* were created that put the power of decision making into the hands of the people.
· The majority of ancient Greeks and Romans were polytheistic* , believing in multiple gods who represented different facets of life.
· At the core of almost every endeavor was humanism*—simply a focus on humans.
Ancient Greece and Rome were incredibly revolutionary in their new forms of government, art, architecture, and design.
· In ancient Greece, the first democracy* was founded in the city-state of Athens. This democracy consisted of the Assembly of all citizens, the Council of tribal representatives, and popular courts.
· Ancient Greece and Rome are responsible for many innovations that changed history, such as the ideas that underlie the modern scientific method, a focus on balance and the body in art, significant advancements in geometry, and advancements in civil engineering.
· In the Classical Period, there were many different religions throughout the world. The most prevalent were polytheistic ideas, seen especially in Greek and Roman civilizations.
· In Greece and Rome, polytheism* , a belief in multiple gods, was the most common. In Greece, the primary gods included Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon. In Rome, religion and government were more deeply intertwined, wherein emperors became part of the pantheon of the deities.
· Early Greek philosophers*, around 585 BCE, started to make inquiries about physical nature that did not rely on their culture's mythologies* for support. These philosophies dealt with ideas of existence, mathematics, change, and atoms.
· Socrates was the first well-known philosopher to widely use the Socratic Method* , where questions and ideas were shared to solve problems in an open discussion. One of his students was Plato, whose student Aristotle was also an important philosopher. Together, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle greatly pushed philosophy and thinking forward.
· Classical poets addressed themes of heroism, reason, love, and fate.
· Two of the most celebrated works of classical Greek epic poetry are Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey, which use exalted language and celebrate the cultural values of the heroic age.
· Around the 6th century BCE, Greek epic* poetry gave way to Greek lyric poetry*, which explored everyday objects using more intimate language.
· Classical Roman poetry follows much of the form and content of Greek poetry while exalting the Roman Empire.
· The Greek poet Sappho explored human emotions, such as love and desire, in her poem "A Lament for Adonis."
· The development of classical theater structure laid the foundations for theater as we know it today.
· Classical theater addressed period themes such as humanism*, truth*, balance*, and the essence of life.
· Sophocles and Aristophanes were two notable playwrights. Sophocles wrote the Theban Plays, and Aristophanes commonly explored gender in society.
· Oedipus Rex discusses a person's need to know the truth, using foreshadowing and irony.
· Lysistrata discusses gender relations and the woman's role in society using comedy and double entendre.
Classical Art and Architecture
· Ancient Greek art* and architecture served to promote religion, present beauty, and glorify Athenian society. Ancient Roman art* and architecture focused on themes of power, military victory, and heroism.
· In sculpture, the Greeks invented contrapposto, a life-like stance in which the figure's weight rests on one leg. The resulting dip of a shoulder balances the rise of a hip to create a dynamic pose.
· In architecture, the Greeks focused on balance and symmetry. Greek temples featured columns, topped with a capital*, which supported the entablature*, a decorative area that featured painted or carved friezes*. The triangular shaped roof ends contained more sculptures called pediments*. Perhaps the most notable Ancient Greek structure is the Parthenon, which features Doric order columns. The Parthenon once housed a large statue of Athena covered in gold.
· Roman architects and engineers further developed the use of columns and arches and also pioneered the use of concrete. The Pantheon* in Rome showcases the use of concrete faced with brick.
Music in the Classical Period
· Music in the Classical Period typically consisted of simple four note successions played as a perfect fourth, drawing similarities to the Middle Eastern tradition of music.
· The ancient Greeks and Romans played a variety of instruments, including the lyre*, a stringed instrument similar to a harp.
· The Greeks used music in everyday life and were interested in the relationship between music and mathematics.
Cultural Exchange and Diversity in the Classical Period
· Classical works modeled a relationship of cultural exchange and diversity.
· Greece and Rome's proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, known as "the incubator of western civilization," facilitated cultural exchange among the ancient civilizations in southern Europe, western Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
· The Greeks borrowed the proportions of the three-dimensional sculptures of the ancient Egyptians in developing the life-like male, human figure known as the kouros.
· The Greeks borrowed the alphabet of the Phoenicians and imitated Egyptian mythological creatures and artistic motifs in their artwork.
· The Silk Road* provided access to Asia and brought the valuable Chinese good of silk to the Romans. In return, the Romans sent their glass to the east.
· The Silk Road also opened the door for Eastern religions—such as Buddhism, Manichaeism, and Daoism—to spread to Europe. Christianity also spread quickly along the same trade route.
Classical Influences on Contemporary Life
· The Classical Period's influences can be seen in the United States today in the political system, in architecture, and in the arts.
· The American political system is a representative democracy* in which people have the right to vote. This system has influences from the Classical Period, including the ancient Greek idea of democracy and the classical Roman concept of the republic*.
· In the United States, many monuments and national buildings echo architectural styles that were developed in the Classical Period. Greek and Roman design elements, such as seen in the Greek Parthenon and Roman Pantheon, are present in the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court buildings.
· Contemporary theater and film works are often inspired by classical Greek comedies and tragedies. For example, the American film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a modern retelling of The Odyssey.
C100 Humanities Task Guide
Getting Started: Read the Task instructions and rubric, accessed in your Course of Study.
1. For this task, select one work of art, literature, or music from any period listed in the C100 Task
2. You may download this Word Doc template for the task and write your Task on it.
Pro Tip!: Write approximately 1 – 2 paragraphs for each rubric part. You can use headings to organize your task, as modeled in the template linked above. See this Task Sample for further guidance.
Task Instruction Writing Advice
A1. Describe the historical events or innovations of the period in which the work was written.
Write a paragraph describing what was happening in the world during this period in history. Start with the date range and then discuss things like: the major historical events; significant issues and social movements; innovations and important discoveries. (You do not need to discuss your chosen work in this part of the task).
Use the MindEdge Module for your chosen period (the Introduction, Timeline, and Contexts pages) to write a solid overview of the history and innovations of the period. Cite your sources using in-text citation.
A2. Analyze how this work reflects a theme or stylistic characteristic from its period.
Identify one major theme or one stylistic characteristic from the period and explain how it is developed or expressed in the work. Be specific and support your ideas with examples from the work.
Read the MindEdge Module for the period of the work, especially the Major Themes page (2.05, 3.05, etc.) and the pages on Literature, Art, or Music to select the major theme or stylistic characteristic you will discuss.
A3. Analyze the work’s or author’s/artist’s/composer’s contribution to the humanities.
Explain how this work or its creator has contributed value to the humanities. Some ideas for this part:
● How did the work or its creator influence subsequent literature, art, or music?
● Did the creator innovate in a way that has had a lasting impact on society or the arts?
● What is the continued importance of the work or creator today? If applicable, cite your sources using in-text citation. Pro Tip!: Include the phrase “contribution to the Humanities” in your response.
B. For every Source you use, include an in-text citation and a reference list that includes this information: • Author • Date
• Title • Location of material (website)
How to Cite MindEdge: Reference list entry: MindEdge, Inc. (2019). Introduction to Humanities. Waltham, MA: MindEdge, Inc.
In-text citation: (MindEdge, 2019).
For further detail, see the Task Resources section of MindEdge (pages A.01 – A.02) for instructions on how to create in-text citations and references.
If you would like feedback before you submit, please email your work to your Course Instructor.
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