ancient greek colonies

anonymous asked:

why compared to other europeans/americans do Italians know so much about roman-greek classics, mythology or art and philosophy in high school? are those mandatory subject to study bc I've heard you have different types of high school in Italy that sound like dystopian schools

lmao nope, classics are no obligation nor mandatory subject to study AT ALL in italy - history of philosophy is, but only for certain high schools. this made me laugh a lot (and with a lot of bitterness involved too) because i’m afraid it’s become quite the contrary here: classics and art studies in high school are slowly but inexorably disappearing.

basically, italian high schools follow the philosophy of what we call “indirizzo” which in english i would translate with something like “direction”. different high schools types have different studies “directions”, which usually should meet the student personal inclinations - even tho there are obligatory subjects that are the same for each one, like math for example. ln other words, certain high schools are more focused on arts, others on the scientific subjects, others on music and so on and you can pick the one you like the most.

it sounds great the way i’ve just described it, i know, but the ugly truth is that only certain types of high schools are really “valid” (the most difficult ones, to be more specific) and the other types, which really sound amazing like the “liceo artistico” (arts high school) or the “liceo di scienze umane” (human sciences high school) have really become just the gathering centre of every dumbass who has no intention to study anything at all, ever. the consequence is, they are now considered really low-standard, stupid-people high schools, with not even valid teachers. of course there are exceptions, but this is becoming the general reality.

the only two high schools types that are still highly considered in italy are the “liceo scientifico” (scientific high school) and the “liceo classico” (classics lyceum), of which the “liceo classico” is considered the highest-standart, genius-people school in italy - because it’s the most difficult. everything is focused on the classics, especially ancient greek grammar and translation.

now, i went to the liceo classico myself, the very same one umberto eco attended, which has always had a really terrific reputation, like a really A+ school which demanded blood from its students. and i have to say while i went there it was still pretty much like that, even if rich people’s kids were the priority and had better grades even tho they were totally idiots, but that’s the liceo classico as it’s always been. the power of money and all that. it’s a rich people kind of school too.

but now everything is changing, the result of all this selection and demanding behavior is that no one is attending the liceo classico as an high school type anymore. nowadays a really tough school with tough rules and ancient kind of behaviors is endured really poorly by the new generations, which have generally really zero love or interest for the classics. for example, even six years ago i was the only one in my class who went to the liceo classico because actually loved the classics - all my classmates were put there by force by their families, because that was the “best school” you can be going to. but my generations was like, “ok i have to endure this pain but i’ll try”, now the new liceo classico’s kids are like “no way, fuck this shit”. and the number of registrations have drastically dropped and all the standards and all the selections and all the A+ teaching dropped with them. my high school now is unrecognizable. they don’t even translate greek anymore. they study badly half of the things i used to study. and everyone here believes in ten years the liceo classico as a type of high school will eventually disappear.

it’s really sad.

especially because, to answer your first question, i think the reason italian people “compared to other europeans/americans” know so much about greek/roman classics it’s because we actually are the greeks’ and romans’ heirs, just as much as modern greeks are. it’s in our culture, in our blood, classics are not just merely subjects to us, they are our roots. don’t forget italy wasn’t only the homeland of the roman empire, but just as much as the ancient greeks’ colonies, the Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, the Great Greece. we have ancient greek ruins here, temples, myths, stories, even words - even our language is a classics result. and then, consider too that rome itself inherited everything, morally and culturally and philosophically descended if you want, from the ancient greek world. so we are so fucking deeply connected to the classics that to completely explain to you how much i should probably write you several encyclopedias and still it wouldn’t be enough. my father used to tell me greek myths as bedtime stories, ok? the classics are a matter of cultural inheritance for italian people, in my opinion. that’s why i totally can’t get the way the liceo classico was and still is handled here. it will disappear. and it really sounds like desecration to me.


This is an excerpt from my post: KIEVAN RUS: PART 2 – DYING LIGHT IN A DARK AGE.

After defeating and subjugating the Volga Bulgars (Turkish Muslims) in 985 CE, the Bulgars sent envoys to Vladimir (986 CE) which told him: “Though you are a wise and prudent prince, you have no religion. Adopt our faith, and revere Mahomet” (Primary Chronicle). Out of curiosity he inquired about their religion. Although the Muslim envoys expressed that the prophet “Mahomet will give each man 70 fair women” (P.C.), the need for circumcision and abstinence from pork and wine was too much of a penalty in his eyes: “Drinking is the joy of the Russes. We cannot exist without that pleasure” (P.C.).

The next envoys to speak with him were Catholic Germans (Holy Roman Empire) sent by the Pope, the Pope’s message was that “Your country is like our country, but your faith is not as ours. For our faith is the light. We worship God, who has made heaven and earth, the stars, the moon, and every creature, while your gods are only wood” (P.C.). Inquiring about them Vladimir was told that they practiced “Fasting according to one’s strength. But whatever one eats or drinks is all to the glory of God, as our teacher Paul has said” (P.C.). Vladimir dismissed them stating that “Then Vladimir answered, “Depart hence; our fathers accepted no such principle” (P.C.).

The third to arrive were envoys from the Jewish Khazar Khaganate (Turkish steppe nomads) who replied that they required circumcision, observing the Sabbath, and abstinence from pork and hare. When Vladimir asked them about where their holy city of Jerusalem was they responded that “God was angry at our forefathers and scattered us among the gentiles (“non-Jews”, “heathens”, “pagans”) on account of our sins. Our land was then given to Christians” (P.C.) Vladimir responded that “How can you hope to teach others while you yourselves are cast out and scattered abroad by the hand of God? If God loved you and your faith, you would not be thus dispersed in foreign lands. Do you expect us to accept that fate also?” (P.C.).

^ Ivan Eggink’s painting represents Vladimir listening to the Orthodox priests, while the papal envoy stands aside in discontent.

The fourth and final sent was a Byzantine Greek scholar on behalf of Orthodox Christianity then arrived and spoke harshly about each religion. The Greek scholar then went on artfully preaching and lecturing to Vladimir about the bible, their faith, life after death and judgement day. The Greek scholar told the prince that “If you desire to take your place upon the right with the just, then accept baptism” (P.C.). The Greek scholar won him over but Vladimir wanted to continue learning about these faith before deciding so he gave the scholar many gifts then dismissed him.

The next year (987 CE) Vladimir sent ten “good and wise men” to investigate these religions further within their own domains since no man speaks negatively of their own faith when trying to convert another into it. They were not impressed until they went off towards Tsargrad (Constantinople) which left them in awe. Before Vladimir, his retainers and the elders, the envoys spoke:

Then we went to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty” – Primary Chronicle.

Vladimir’s boyars added that:

If the Greek faith were evil, it would not have been adopted by your grandmother Olga, who was wiser than all other men.” – Primary Chronicle.

Some see this simply as a tale intended to explain their religious origins while elevating Orthodox Christianity and insulting the other religions. In retrospect the decision to convert to any religion had a very strategically impact. As trade with the Muslim world had declined, the nearest Jewish realm (Khazars) had greatly weakened and the Catholic world seemed a distant thought which paled in comparison to the aid that the Orthodox Byzantines could provide them. 

The Orthodox Byzantines were the main trade partner that the Rus relied upon; they were rich, boasted powerful armies and by aligning oneself with the Byzantines the Rus would be on better terms with the Turkish steppe nomads. Another advantage granted was that Vladimir would have greater power and authority than he had previously as he would then be seen as a semi-holy figure given the right to rule by the heavens, no longer would he be referred to as Kniaz (“prince”) but Veliki Kniaz (“great prince”) instead. Truly, the Byzantines were the greatest choice available to the Rus at the time so the choice to convert to Orthodox Christianity was simple.

However, the Byzantine Empire was in dire straits as they were plagued by enemies and conflicts both foreign and domestic. Vladimir captured the rebel Byzantine city of Korsun (ancient Greek colony of Chersonesus) in the lower Crimean Peninsula and told the Byzantines that he would return it in exchange for the Byzantine Emperor Basil II’s sister’s hand in marriage (Anna Porphyrogenita). There are accounts that state Vladimir also aided the Byzantine Emperor against his enemies by, in the winter of 989 CE, sending a fleet of six-thousand Rusians to help Byzantine Emperor Basil II against rebels, usurpers and pretenders.

^ ‘The Baptism of Vladimir’ by Viktor Vasnetsov.

Upon his return to Kiev, Vladimir began his attempt to destroy and stamp out paganism in Kievan Rus. He ordered all pagan shrines, alters and idols destroyed with the latter being dragged towards and discarded into nearby rivers. He then went on to the city of Korsun with priests and his Byzantine princess, there a multitude of peoples greeted them and went into the waters where they were baptized. Pagan centers of worship were dismantled and replaced with Christian ones. Vladimir also “took the children of the best families, and sent them for instruction in book-learning” (P.C.).

In 989 CE, Vladimir ordered the building of a grand basilica (Desyatinnaya; Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Tithe) dedicated to the Virgin Mary within the capital city of Kiev, this church constructed by Greek artisans (completed in 996 CE) and was served by Khersonian priests. Vladimir’s grandmother Olga’s remains were reburied within this church as well as his own and that of his Byzantine princess Anna after their death. Vladimir even had the poor and beggars visit his palace to receive food, drink and valuable skins. The weak and sick that were unable to visit didn’t miss out as Vladimir had wagons taken throughout the city which were loaded with bread, meat, fish, fruits, mead and kvass.

These desecrations of pagan sites and pressure to convert did not sit well with the Rusians which is apparent by the numerous riots that arose. One of the greatest arose from Novgorod, the second most important Rusian city, but these riots were quickly quelled, pagan places of worship were destroyed and the city was forced to convert to Orthodox Christianity. 

In the year 6497 [989] Vladimir was baptized, and all Russian land [as well]. And [they] appointed a metropolitan [to serve] in Kiev, and an archbishop – in Novgorod”. 

And the archbishop Joachim the Korsunian came over to Novgorod, and destroyed the altars, chopped down the idol of Perun, and ordered it to be dragged into Volhov, tying [it] with ropes, dragging [it] on dirt, beating [it] with sticks, and [Joachim the Korsunian] ordered everyone not to accept it [the idol] anywhere [i.e. not to pull it ashore]”. – Novgorod First Chronicle.

^ ‘The Baptism of Kievans’ by Klavdiy Lebedev.

If there are any errors please privately inbox me so I can update it. As always, if you’d like to read or learn about any specific historical subjects just let me know what they are and I will take note of them.

See Also:

  • KIEVAN RUS: PART 1 – NORTHERN ENIGMA OF THE MIDDLE AGES: In this post I will be covering the early portion of the medieval realm known as Kievan Rus (pronounced ‘Roos’); a multiethnic and cultural realm incorporating the Norse, Slavs, Turks, Balts and Finno-Ugrians. A realm centered around the many rivers that were riddled throughout its domains and led them to the riches of the Byzantine Empire, Silverland (Islamic Middle East) and the Baltic Sea. The culture, battle tactics and armaments of the ancient Slavs are addressed as well as the Druzhina (personal bodyguards and standing army). Also mentioned are some of the conflicts the Rus had with one another, the Greeks (Byzantine Empire), Bulgarians and Turkish steppe nomads. 
  • KIEVAN RUS: PART 2 – DYING LIGHT IN A DARK AGE: In this post I will cover some of the civil wars, wars of succession and familicide that plagued Kievan Rus; their peak under leaders like Vladimir the Great (who unified the Rus and made Orthodox Christianity their official religion) and Yaroslav the Wise (while Europe was in a dark age, he made Kievan Rus a beacon of knowledge, literacy, trade and faith); Kievan Rus’ shattering into various feuding states, their clash against the Mongols and their rarely spoken of religion. The Chernye Klobuki (Turkish mercenaries) and the Varangian Guard (Norse, Slavic, Germanic, etc.) are also noted; the latter were warriors employed by the Byzantine Empire to act as the Emperor’s trusted personal guard and on occasion they acted as pirate hunters, policemen, jailers, prison guards, torturers and interrogators.

Ancient Worlds - BBC Two 

Episode 5 “The Republic of Virtue”

Selinunte (the ancient Selinus of the Greeks), on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy, was a notable Greek city. 

Ancient Selinus was founded by Doric Greek colonists from Sicily’s Megara Hyblea between 650 and 630 BC and it was destroyed in 409 BC. It was one of the most progressive Greek cities in Sicily, second in importance only to Syracuse, and famous throughout Magna Graecia.

In 409 most of Sicily’s other Greek cities were in decline after years of fighting, with their armies weak and disorganized. Among these were Agrigento (Akragas) and Syracuse, Selinunte’s allies. This opened an opportunity for Carthage, who controlled parts of western Sicily and had a great interest in the island. The Carthaginians sent over a vast army and after a nine-day siege Selinunte was taken and most of the defenders put to the sword while the majority of the remaining citizens were taken into slavery. Although the city was repopulated somewhat by the Carthiginians, it never achieved its former beauty, power or prestige. Before the close of the first Punic War with Rome in 250 BC, the Carthaginians removed all the inhabitants of Selinunte to Lilybaeum and destroyed the city. It seems certain that it was never rebuilt.

The Greek archaeological site of Selinunte contains several temples centered on an acropolis.


Archaeological site of Selinunte, province of Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Ancient Greek Dog Rhyton, c. 340-325 BC

Molded into the shape of a Laconian dog, the rhyton comes from the ancient Greek colony of Apulia, in what is now southern Italy. The vessel was designed with a wide mouth at one end, with the other pierced with a small hole.

It is believed that the cup would have been used to scoop wine from a larger carrier, blocking the hole with a thumb, before releasing again to let the fluid drain out. The stunning item bears the trademark style of ancient Greece, painted in black over terracotta.