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Highlights of Ancient Greek History: 530 BCE to 518 BCE

By Yona Williams    10/24/10

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In 530 BCE, Pythagoras, who is best known for his skills in mathematics and philosophy, started to enact changes in Greece. He establishes the city of Croton along with his followers at this time. In this article, you will also meet Pindar and encounter changes in Greek drama.

Born on the island of Samos, it is believed that Pythagoras started to lead an interesting life at a very young age. Many believe that he traveled the world when he was a youth – spending time in places like Egypt, where he sought after information and wished to broaden his education. Thanks to a teacher named Themistoclea, Pythagoras was introduced to ethics. Around 530 BC, Pythagoras made the move to Croton, which was a Greek colony situated in southern Italy. It was there he chose to establish a religious sect. When Pythagoras and his followers settled in the city, the growing community was based on philosophy, literature, and political action.  

His followers adapted to the religious rites and practices that he created, as well as spent time studying his philosophical theories. The society that he was responsible for was also active in the politics of Croton. However, their participation would eventually cause issues. For instance, Pythagorean meeting-places were burned to the ground. Pythagoras himself was forced to flee the Croton. He ended up in Metapontum, where he is believed to have spent his last days.

Pythagoras was very influential in religion and philosophy during the late 6th century BC. He was also a man who wore many different hats, including scientist and mystic. Hwoever, one of the most talked-about of his accomplishments was the Pythagorean theorem, which was named after him.

~ 525 BCE: Greek drama experiences growth with the Dionysian festivals.

The Dionysian festivals allowed Greek drama to flourish. An important figure during this time was Aeschylus, whose plays were significant. Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work was lucky enough to survive. While Thespis is often associated with the tragedy, Aeschylus too was given credit for his role in the tragedy. Aristotle noted that it was he who expanded the number of characters in plays so that conflict could arise between them all. Early Greek plays saw characters only interacting with the chorus.

Although Aeschylus is believed to have written 70 to 90 plays – only seven have survived to date. The Persian invasion of Greece took place during Aeschylus' lifetime, which had an affect on at least one of his works. Valuable information regarding Greek history can be found in his play The Persians.

518 BCE: Pindar is born.

Pindar made a living as a Greek lyric poet who was especially inspired by athletic victory. Out of all the lyric poets of notability, his works are considered the best preserved. Depending on who you spoke to, Pindar was thought of as one of the greatest of lyric poets. Pindar was the first Greek poet to create works that reflected on the nature of poetry and paid attention to the role of the poet. An example of his work is founding the Victory Odes.

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