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The Peloponnesian war II - Antická literatura a křesťanství – kořeny evropské vzdělanosti

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The Peloponnesian war II

415 - 404 BC

In 415 BC, in the expedition of Athenians in Syracuse, the Spartan general Gylippos with four ships came to the assistance of Syracuse. Though his force was small, he helped greatly Syracuse to win the war. He firstly captured the Athenian fort at Labdalum, that made him master of Epipolae and build fortifications. He then constructed a counter wall to intersect the Athenian lines at the north side. A little later he was reinforced by the arrival of thirty triremes. This small participation of Sparta in the war was of the outmost importance.

After the Athenian disaster in Syracuse, the war between Athens and  Sparta  became maritime. Lacedaemonians gave a better  attention on their naval power. A new office, that of Navarchia, was risen. The Navarchos (Admiral) was even superior to the Ephors. In the beginning though Sparta had not much success.

In August of 411 BC, the Peloponnesian fleet commanded by Mindaros lost the naval battle at Kynossema. The Athenian fleet though smaller in force, in the straits of Sestos and Abydos, gained a complete victory.

In 410 BC, Alkibiades managed to capture the whole Peloponnesian fleet at Kyzicos. Mindaros was killed and the second in command Spartan sent a letter to the Ephors in Laconic form:  "Ships gone; Mindaros dead; men starving; no idea what to do."

Spartans were so discouraged, that they sent the Ephor Endius to Athens for a peace agreement but the Athenians, who were influenced by the demagogue Kleophon, rejected the offer.

Spartans now appointed a new navarchos, the able man Lysander. When his turn of command expired, he was succeeded by Kallicratidas, who increased the number of ships of the Spartan fleet. There was a naval battle at the harbor of Mytelene with the Athenian fleet under Konon. The Athenians, who were outnumbered, lost the battle and thirty ships. Another forty ships were saved by bringing them ashore, near the walls of the town.

Kallicratidas then blockade the island. When the news arrived at Athens they sent a fleet of one hundred and ten triremes and they were reinforced with another forty later. The number of ships of Kallicratidas were one hundred and twenty. At the small island of Arginusae, the Athenian fleet met the Spartan and after a hard struggle defeated them (406 BC). The Lacedaemonians lost seventy seven ships and the rest were retreated at Chios and Phocaea. Kallicratidas was thrown overboard, when his ship was hit by another and perished. The Athenians lost only twenty five ships.

Though it was illegal for an admiral to have a second term, Lysander, with the title of Epistoleus (bearer of letters), took the command of the Spartan fleet. He immediately obtained large sums of money from Kyros, king of Persia, to rebuild the fleet and made siege on Lampsacus.

The Athenians, who came to help, arrived too late to save the city and took post at Aegospotamoi (Goat's river) close to the city of Lampsacus. Lysander who systematically avoided a naval battle, since his ships were outnumbered, he managed to capture the enemy fleet after treachery or negligence of the Athenians. All 4000 Athenian prisoners were put to death. This event substantially marked the end of Athens. 

Expedition in Asia

After the fall of Athens, Sparta became the undisputed leader of  Greece for 34 years. Her first move was to punish the Eleans, who along with Argos and Mantinea had taken the arms against them, during the war with Athens and also for the insults they had received when they excluded them from the games of Olympia. They demanded from Eleans to pay for the expenses of the war and resign their authority over the dependent townships in Trifylia. Eleans of course did not accept these demands and in 402 BC king Agis entered in their territory but unfavorable omens and an earthquake forced the Spartans to return home. 

In the following year they invaded Elean again. After ravaging and plundering the territory, they forced them to a humiliating peace.

At 400 BC, king Agis died and he was succeeded by Agesilaos, who led an army into Asia.

It was the first time, that a Greek army had entered Asia, from the times of Agamemnon.

In 396 BC, he arrived and took command of the city of Ephesos. When the satrap Tissaphernes ordered him to quit Asia, Agesilaos fooled him and instead of attacking Caria, as was expected, he moved towards Phrygia, the satrapy of Arnavazos and reached Daskylium, where he was repulsed by the Persian cavalry. He then returned to Ephesos, where he prepared a cavalry.

Shortly later he again fooled Tissaphernes, making known that he would march  toward Sardis. Tissaphernes who thought that this was another trick, dispersed his cavalry elsewhere and Agesilaos unopposed, he arrived at the river Pactolos, where a battle took place and the Persians were defeated.

In the meantime, Tissaphernes was assassinated and Tithrastes took his place, who persuaded Agesilaos to quit his satrapy for the sum of thirty talents. Agesilaos then moved to the satrapy of Artavazos now, whose magnanimity he appreciated and left his territory also and entered the plains of Thebes, close to the gulf of Eleus.

In 394 BC, during his preparations for a big expedition in the interior of Asia Minor, he was recalled home, because Sparta felt threatened.

Agesilaos during his expedition in Asia had been appointed Navarchos (admiral). He was the first man in Sparta to acquire so much power. He immediately started to prepare a new fleet of 120 triremes and put to the command his brother in law Pisander. In the beginning of August of the same year, half of Sparta's fleet was captured or destroyed by the Athenian fleet under Konon, in the peninsula of Knidos in Caria. Pisander  who fought gallantry perished in the battle.

About the same time with the naval battle at Knidos there was another battle of Sparta against the joining forces of Thebes, Athens, Corinth and Argos fought in the territory of Corinth which Sparta won (battle of Corinth 394 BC).

Battle of Koronea

In August of 394 BC, king Agesilaos returned from the expedition in Asia and brought his army in the valley Koronea of Boeotia. From the other side Thebans, Athenians and their allies were ready for battle.

The two armies came silently close to each other. When they reached a distance of two hundred meters, the Thebans raised their usual paeans and started to run towards the Spartan army, who moved only when the Thebans came about one hundred meters close. Thebans quickly overpowered the opposite of them soldiers of Orchomenos, in the left wing, but Agesilaos, who had also success on the other side cut the Thebans from the rest of the army. Now Thebans were forced to attack the Spartans, in order to join with their allies. It was such the force of the impact of the two armies, that the spears broke. Pushing with shields each other, they only could use their daggers. Both armies fought desperately but Thebans made their way through braking the Spartan lines. King Agesilaos, though many times wounded was at the front ranks and fought with valor. The outcome of the battle though indecisive ended with victory of Sparta.

A few years later, the disgraceful peace of Antalkidas (387 BC) took place, in which Sparta was permitting the Persians to interfere in the affairs of Hellas. In the remark of someone, who said that Spartans were Medizing, Agesilaos replied "say rather that the Medes are Laconizing".

Occupation of Thebes

The city of Thebes, which had not taken any serious part in the Peloponnesian war, was prospering but as was usual with all the Greek cities, was torn inside from the fights of oligarchs and democrats.

That was the case, when Leontiades a prominent oligarch, asked for help from the near Thebes encamped Spartan army, under general Phoebidas (382 BC). Leontiades, in order to expel the democrats from Thebes, proposed to the general to take over Kadmeia, something which was accepted eagerly.

All these were happening during the celebration of Thesmophoria, when women alone were performing ceremonies to honor the founder of the city, Kadmos, and they were no males on the citadel. Phoebidas and his army entered Kadmeia, without any difficulties.

Ismenias, the leader of the democratic party was tried and executed. The oligarchs, with the help of the Spartan garrison, started confiscating and executing the democrats. Many of them found refuge at Athens. From there they started thinking how to free their city.

At first, they tried to get help especially from Athens, but soon they despaired and started designing various plots to liberate Thebes by themselves. Among the exiles they were many belonging to wealthy and noble families, such as Pelopidas, Damokleidas, Melon and others. They were in constant communication with other members which were still in Thebes, the most prominent of them being Phyllidas the secretary of the polemarch Archias and Charon.  

Upon arrival of Phyllidas in Athens for official business it was arranged to provide the opportunity for the exiles to struck. Charon would provide shelter in his home. Phyllidas arranged a banquet for Archias and Philippus and promised them beautiful women for company.

In December of 379 BC, Pelopidas, Melon and five companions left Athens and disguised as rustics and hunters, entered the city of Thebes at night fall and hid in Charon's house. Together with other conspirators from Thebes, they totaled 48 persons. A spy of Archias, reported to him that they were rumors that some of the exiles were in town. Archias called Charon to give some answers. Charon though worried, went quickly to him and from his questions understood that he had no facts but only suspicions. He promised to look upon the matter and left.

Soon after a messenger from Athens came with a letter in which the full conspiracy was revealed.  Archias, who by now was drunk, threw it aside, saying the famous words "Urgent business for tomorrow". Immediately after, the conspirators disguised as women entered the room and killed Archias and Philippus and everyone else who was there.

Phyllidas then sent Pelopidas, Kephisodorus and Damokleidas to Leontiades house. There was a hard fight in which Leontiades, a strong man, mortally wounded in the throat Kephisodorus. Pelopidas, after a long struggle in the narrow hall of his house, killed Leontiades. With the death of the two tyrants, the exiles from Athens returned.

Epameinondas with some of the young men broke open  the armorer's shops and called the citizens to fight for their freedom. After all these, the Spartan garrison of 1500 men, left Thebes for Sparta (378 BC). 

In 375 BC, near Tegyra, Pelopidas with the Theban Sacred Band defeated the Spartan army, though his troops were half in number. Being informed that the Spartan garrison in Orchomenos were visiting Lokris, he marched with the Sacred Band in order to give battle. He met them at Tegyra and thanks to his encouragement in a narrow pass he defeated them, killing both of the Lacedaemonian commanders. The rest of the Spartan army dispersed and fled. This was a heroic achievement by Pelopidas, taking in consideration the smaller number of his troops and the Spartan valor. It was this battle that gave confidence to Thebans to meet Spartans four years later in Leuctra.

In 372 BC, Antalkidas dispatched again in Persia asking them to intervene, when Thebes violated the peace by re-establishing the Boeotian confederation. Athens too was dissatisfied with Thebes, who recently had destroyed the city of Plataea. Negotiations for peace between Athens and Sparta started and in the congress which took place in 371 BC, in the city of Sparta, Thebes was invited too.

The Thebans, who wanted to take the oath for the treaty as head of the confederacy, refused to take it for their city alone and only the threat of war persuade them to consent. After that incident Sparta's first priority was to weaken Thebes, by breaking the Theban confederacy.

In the dissatisfied from the confederacy cities of Orchomenos and Thespiae, they installed a garrison.

To the city of Mantinea, who had helped Argos in the war with Sparta, they sent a messenger demanding to raze their walls. In their hesitation, Agesipolis did not wait and bringing an army he took Mantinea. Spartans demolished their fortification and reduced the city in the five villages, as it was in the past.

The battle of Leuctra

371 BC

In 371 BC, on the plain of Leuctra, Spartans were defeated again from the Theban Sacred Band, this time under the leadership of General Epameinondas, though the Theban forces were outnumbered by the Lacedaemonians, Epameinondas with a series of ingenious tactics and with the help of his supreme trained men of the Sacred Band defeated the invincible Spartan army. He arrayed the best men of his troops, fifty shields deep, opposite to the opponent right wing occupied by the Spartans, which were twelve shields deep, leaving his center and left wing weak and ordering them to stay momentarily out of action. The battle started with the engagement of Spartan and Theban cavalries, which ended quickly with the defeat of Spartans. Pelopidas leading the Sacred Band fell upon the Spartans with irresistible force but the Spartans fought bravely and at first were victorious. It was only when leading Spartans fell that the Spartan lines pushed and broke carrying away the rest of the army and driving them to the camp. King Kleombrotos of Sparta and many of his officers were killed. The rest of the army hardly had any serious fighting. From the 700 Spartans who took part in the battle, only 300 survived. The whole Hellas was in sock from the event, understanding that a new power had risen. At Argos, there was a revolution and the people put to death many of the upper class pro-spartan.

After the battle they sent heralds to Athens proclaiming their victory over the Spartans, but Athenians were not satisfied with the turn of events. Now they had a new superpower a few miles from Athens. They also sent a herald to Jason of Pherae in Thessaly. Jason upon hearing the news said he would come quickly in Thebes with triremes, but instead with great speed and passing through enemy territory he arrived in Boeotia. There the Theban leaders proposed him to attack the encamped Spartans and her allies. Jason and Epameinondas refused and managed to persuade them to let them go and thus saving Spartans from a bigger catastrophe. Spartans indeed soon left and at Aigosthena they met with Archidamos who was marching to help them. From there they returned home.

With the battle of Leuctra, the Hegemony of Greece passed from Sparta to Thebes, but for the short time of ten years. It did no good and as that of Sparta it hurt Greece greatly. Thebes had no experienced and knowledgeable men, nor her economy could withstand this. It failed as Sparta did, to unite the Greek cities and stop the blood bath of Greece. There was turmoil all over Peloponnese. The inhabitants of Mantinea in Arcadia, which had been broken in several villages, took back their capital and build new walls. In Tegea of Arcadia, the people formed an Arcadian federation. In two years time a powerful confederation was born that was including except the old alliances, Phokis, Locris, Aitolia and Euboea. After the battle of Leuctra, Thebes made again peace with Athens and wanted to destroy Orchomenos for being in alliance with the Spartans. The city was saved thanks to the great efforts of Epameinondas, but not for long. A few years later when Epameinondas was at an expedition in Byzantium, the city was razed, its male citizens were killed and the rest were sold in slavery. That, it was another big blunder by the Thebans.

Thebes invades Laconia

In Arcadia, an ally of Thebes, king Agesilaos of Sparta was ravaging its territories. In reply to this, Thebes sent an army under Epameinondas. When Agesilaos heard the news, he evacuated Arcadia and returned to Sparta, to protect her.

Upon Epameinondas arrival in Arcadia, he joined forces with members of the confederation from Arcadia, Argos and Elis. The total number of the army force was amounted to about fifty thousand men. The confederation pressed strongly Epameinondas, to invade Laconia, explaining to him that there was a general discontent and by this time many Perioikoi had revolted.

He was finally persuaded and in the autumn of 370 BC, invaded Laconia from four different routes, marching towards Sparta.

Only the Arcadians encountered serious resistance, by the Spartan Ischolaos at Ium, in the district Skiritis. Ischolaos and his divisions fell to the last man. 

Finally, they all met at Sellasia, which they destroyed and burned and from there, they marched towards Sparta, which was saved from king Agesilaos, who had taken a series of defenses to protect the unwalled city.

Epameinondas who understood the danger of an attack towards the city in human loss, abandoned any further attempts to conquer the city. From there, burning and plundering villages, he marched towards the port and arsenal of Sparta, Gythium, which he attempted to conquer for three days, without success.

Epameinondas then returned to Arcadia and under his supervision a new city was built at the banks of the river Helisson, as the capital of the Arcadian confederation and it was named Megalopolis (the big city). In Megalopolis, a synod of deputies from all the towns of the confederation, was to meet periodically, to manage their affairs.

After this Epameinondas entered Messenia, in order to liberate her from the Spartans. In the mean time defection among the Perioikoi and Helots had already started. Epameinondas re founded Messene and in the hills of mount Ithome built excellent fortifications stretched for four miles, which are still preserved today. All of these had a devastating effect in the economy of Sparta, which lost half of its territory for ever and had no more the people to provide for its military.

In the meantime, Sparta had asked help from Athens. Iphicrates with an Athenian army of twenty thousand men, marched to Arcadia. Epameinondas hearing the news evacuated Laconia quickly and headed to Arcadia. The two armies, though close, did not engage in full battle. Iphicrates, who decided that his mission had been accomplished, returned to Athens.

Epameinondas too, returned to Thebes and he was put to a trial, because he extended the time of his expedition and also for being pacific and inactive. He defended himself successfully, increasing even more his popularity.  

The accomplishments of his expedition were great. He weakened and humiliated Sparta and at the same time he increased the reputation of his army.

Because it was essential to communicate with her allies, in the spring of 369 BC, Epameinondas again tried to invade Peloponnese, but this time Athenians, Spartans and their allies were occupying the line of mount Onean and Kenchreae, in order to prevent him to enter Peloponnese. Epameinondas arrived and tried without success to make them fight in battle, even though his army was smaller. He encamped and a few hours before day break surprised them, by attacking and defeating the Spartan and Pellenian line. He was thus enabled to enter Peloponnese and join with his allies Arcadians, Elians and Argians. Sikyon deserted Sparta, after a vote taken by its people and admitted an harmost and a Theban garrison into its Acropolis. The same did Pellene. After the army ravaged the territories of Epidauros and Phleious, he tried by surprise to take the town of Corinth, but they defeated by the Athenian general Gavrias, who resisted with great skill. After this unsuccessful attempt, the Theban army returned home.

During the year of 368 BC, Epameinondas did not undertake any expedition into Peloponnese, instead Pelopidas with an army Theban force entered Thessaly, to protect Larissa from king Alexander of Macedonia. Pelopidas forced him to solicit peace, taking among the fifty hostages the future king of Macedonia, the son of Amyntas, Philip, who stayed for some years at the city of Thebes.

In 366 BC, Thebes enlarged the confederation by including cities of the Corinthian gulf and Achaia, but lost them again, when demanded that their oligarchic government ought to be deposed. That was a great mistake, showing the luck of experienced men.

In 364 BC, after insistence of Epameinondas, a large number of war ships were constructed and sailing them towards Hellispond. Epameinondas succeeded to win over Byzantium. Financial difficulties as well as luck of experience in maritime, put an end in the ambitions of Thebes.

The battle of Mantinea

362 BC

In 363 BC, in a surprising move Arcadians seized Olympia and stole their treasury. War broke with Elis but with the intervention of Thebes, Olympia was returned and peace followed. During the negotiations the Theban representative tried to arrest certain anti-Thebans. That had as result Mantinea and the rest of northern Arcadians, except Tegea, to turn over to Sparta. Athens which was monitoring the situation joined together with Elis. Thebes had no option but to send quickly Epameinondas with a big army against Mantinea. At Tegea about ten miles distance from Mantinea, he joined army with them but in unexpected move instead of Mantinea he marched towards Sparta. Unlike the first time this move would have taken by surprise Agesilaos who by this time was marching in a circular root to support Mantinea. But a Kretan spy in the Theban camp, trained in long distance running, informed Agesilaos who turned back. When Epameinondas reached Sparta and found out what had happened he moved quickly towards Mantinea before her allies arrival. It was probably really this his object and not of course to attack Sparta ,but not everything went according to his plan. By this time the Athenian army had just arrived. Now Epameinondas had no option but to engage himself in a pitched battle. 

The two armies met before Mantinea in 362 BC. The Theban army, comprising from Thebans and Boeotians moved forward. The rest of the army was left behind in echelon formation with the exception of troops that kept a high ground in order to prevent out flagging from the right. As the army moved, Epameinondas turned quickly leftwards and near the slopes of the mountain and then he gave order to the soldiers to leave the arms down and rest. The Spartans and Mantineans thinking that Epameinondas had no intention to fight a battle, they broke lines.

Epameinondas, who was awaiting for this, ordered a quick attack. The massive Theban body fell upon Spartans and Mantineans with irresistible force breaking their lines and bringing confusion and chaos to the rest of the army.

The battle had been almost won when Epameinondas fell pierced by a spear in the breast. They lied him on a hill, waiting for the final outcome of the battle. Though the battle was won by Thebans, on Epameinondas order they made peace, when he learned that all his favorite generals had been perished in the battle.

The end of Sparta

After the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC) Phillip of Macedon marched through the Peloponnese, welcomed by all the cities but when he reached Sparta they refused him to enter. Phillip did not try to take by force the city and left.  Sparta was the only Greek city that did not take part in the League of Corinth, which was formed in 337 BC, under Macedonian control.

In 331 BC, king Agis, the grandson of Agesilaos, raised a revolt against Macedonia, but he was defeated and killed.

In the end of the 4th century BC, Sparta build a wall for the first time in her history, which was enclosing its four central villages and Acropolis.

When in 280 BC, the Celts invaded from the north overrunning Macedon, king Areus of Sparta, who had tried to unite the cities of Peloponnese, led an army into central Greece. During his reign the first coins of Sparta was issued, three hundred years later from the rest of Greece.

In 272 BC, king Pyrros of Epeiros could easily have taken the city after defeating the Spartans. Sparta became a dependency of Macedon, regained independence under the tyrants Machanidas (207 BC) and Nabis (195 - 192 BC).

In 265 BC again, having formed an alliance with Athens, Achaea and Elis and some Arcadian cities, gave battle against Macedon but lost it and in his retreat was killed (Chremonidean war).

The son of Areus, Akrotatos, in 260 BC leading the Spartan army against Megalopolitans, he was defeated and himself killed.

In 244 BC, Agis IV came to the throne and starting a series of changes. He proposed all debts to be cancelled, and to redistribute all land, in parts of 4500 citizens and 15000 Perioikoi. He also insisted on strict Lykurgian training in the citizens for the remained 700 equals (omioi) and 2000 hypomeiones and selected perioikoi. He found in his proposals strong resistance and Agis was put in trial and executed in 241 BC.

The next king of Sparta Kleomenes III, began to reign in 236 BC. He married the widow of king Agis and also tried to impose his ideas. In 227 BC, in a revolt he killed four ephors and exiled eighty of his opponents. That it was the first time the ephorate was abolished in Sparta. He then redistributed the land into 4000 lots and perioikoi as well as hypomeiones occupied them. He also started to enforce the Lykurgos training and habits, under the guidance of his friend philosopher Sphairos. All these changes brought results and Kleomenes had many military successes. Argos and most of Argolid and eastern Arcadia was conquered.

The Achaean league under Aratos of Sikyon, with the promise of giving him back Corinth, allied with king Antigonos of Macedon and recovered Argos and several Arcadian cities. In his turn Kleomenes captured and destroyed Megalopolis (223 BC).

In 222 BC, at Sellacia, between Sparta and Tegea, a battle took place. The Spartan army was numbering 10,000 and that of Antigonos and his allies 30,000. At this long and horrid battle, Spartans fought bravely. The whole Spartan army fell, except 200 men. King Kleomenes fled to Egypt.

The following years, a series of revolts started at Sparta, king's ephors were killed or exiled.

In 206 BC, the tyrant  Nabis, a descendant of Demaratos, who had fled in Persia in 490 BC, took the throne. An able but ruthless man, he confiscated the properties of the wealthy and gave them to the poor. By setting free slaves, he managed to acquire an army of 10,000 men and he also extended his social reforms to Argos. It was  Nabis who foreseeing the incoming dangers fortified  Sparta for the first time in her history.

When the Roman commander Flamininus invaded Laconia and laid siege to Sparta, after a few days of fighting a non honorable truce was accepted by Sparta, in which was loosing all the Perioikic cities on the coasts and her fleet.

Later with the pretence of helping Sparta, the Aitolians sent a thousand soldiers to kill   Nabis and secure Sparta. They managed to kill him but they all were massacred from the Spartans. After Nabis assassination, Sparta was forced by Philopoemen to become a member of the Achaean league. Her walls were razed and the laws of Lykurgos repealed.

Under the Romans in the 2nd century AD, Laconia as a province of Achaea was allowed to revert to a Lykurgian regime.

In 396 AD, the city was destroyed by Alaric.

In the 9th century AD, the Slavs invaded and the population was forced to migrate to Mani.

The Byzantines refound a town and named her Lacedaemonia but her importance had been lost by 1248 AD and disappeared from history totally, by 1834 AD.

Today the city of modern Sparta occupies the very same territory of the ancient city.


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My se neptáme, jak početný je nepřitel, ale kde ho najdeme ....


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Vznik vědy ve starém Řecku: Proč?


Zatímco třeba zemědělství, písmo, výroba kovů či státní uspořádání se na světě objevily několikrát nezávisle na sobě, ke vzniku vědy (a filozofie) pravděpodobně došlo pouze jedinkrát, a to právě ve starém Řecku v 7.-6. stol. př. n. l. - šlo tedy o unikátní historickou událost. Novověká věda pak po středověké přestávce už pouze navazuje na tu antickou, rozvíjí její některé formy a jiné naopak nechá uvadnout.




Historikové vědy (či filozofové dějin) mohou samozřejmě uvažovat o tom, zda věda vznikla nějak nutně, nebo zda se celý svět mohl ubírat ve svém vývoji úplně jiným směrem. My si otázku trochu zjednodušíme a budeme se ptát, jaké podmínky byly ve starém Řecku odlišné od zbytku světa. Co vlastně způsobilo, že antika byla tak neobyčejně plodným obdobím, a to nejenom ve vědě?

Obvykle jsou uváděny následující možnosti:

- Politické zřízení. Řecké městské státy dávaly svým osobně svobodným občanům mnohem lepší možnosti ke zkoumání světa než velké orientální despotické říše. Řada lidí dosáhla v antické době relativního blahobytu a mohla se věnovat teoretickým otázkám.

- Klima. Středomořská příroda na jednu stranu nedává nic úplně bez práce (což může vést k jakési intelektuální lenosti), na druhé straně není vůči svým obyvatelům zdaleka tak nepřátelská jako třeba polární oblasti. Snad proto mohli staří Řekové dojít k názoru, že příroda, respektive celý svět, stojí za zkoumání a že se takové systematické zkoumání také vyplatí. Zatímco třeba Indové se ve stejné době s hrůzou snažili vymanit z neustálého řetězce převtělování kamsi do nirvány, Platón v závěru svého dialogu Timaios (spolu s homérskými básněmi jeden z nejvlivnějším antických spisů) přímo překypuje kosmickým optimismem: "...stal se tento jediný a jednorozený vesmír největším, nejlepším i nejkrásnějším a nejdokonalejším." Takový svět určitě stojí za to, abychom se mu věnovali a neutíkali od něj. A mimochodem - právě ztráta tohoto kosmického optimismu v těžkých podmínkách na konci římské říše pak mohla být jednou z příčin, proč antická věda dočasně zanikla.

- Náboženství. Roberto Callaso ve své knize Svatba Kadma s Harmonií popisuje, že řecká kultura vznikla v souvislosti se zaujetím distance (odstupu) ke světu. Předobrazem zde byl bůh Apollón, zabíjející na dálku svými šípy, nebo Oidipus, který Sfingu (zosobnění chaosu) zničil distanční mocí slova tak, že uhádl její hádanku. Oidipa bychom tak nemuseli chápat pouze jako nešťastníka, po němž Sigmund Freud pojmenoval svůj oblíbený komplex, ale klidně i jako jednoho z patronů vědy. Rovněž tak Athéna byla bohyní, k níž lze v jiných náboženských systémech najít jen málo paralel - zosobněnou Diovou myšlenkou.


Za vším je číslo


Distance je při vzniku řecké vědy doprovázena dalšími procesy, kterými je především logizace a matematizace světa. Svět představoval pro starověké Řeky logicky uspořádaný celek (uspořádanou částí světa byl kosmos, jeho protikladem chaos; slovo "kosmos" dalo přitom základ i kosmetice). Když Hésiodos psal svůj rodokmen bohů (Theogonia), sám mezi různými tradicemi vybíral vždy tu, která mu přišla nejlogičtější. Opravoval, škrtal, přeskládával a sám se rozhodl, že Spánek by měl být synem Noci. Bohové byli tedy pro Hésioda podřízeni nejen neúprosnému Osudu, ale i nějakému nutně existujícímu logickému systému.

Antičtí Řekové podobně jako moderní fyzikové za viditelnou hmotnou skutečností tušili abstraktní matematickou strukturu. Záliba v geometrii se opět někdy klade do souvislosti se středomořským klimatem, v němž je vše jasně vidět, samotný vzduch je téměř dokonale průzračný a prozářený jasem. Podobně jasné, zřejmé a názorné budou pak logické postupy prvních vědců a filozofů.

Už na tomto místě čtenáře zřejmě napadá, že řecká záliba v distanci a matematice není typická jen pro vědu, ale i pro antické umění. Matematika se přímo rozvíjela v souvislosti s hudbou (u Pythágora hledání vztahu mezi délkou struny a zvukem, úvahy o kosmické harmonii, hudbě sfér apod.). Matematické proporce jsou pak tím, co dodnes obdivujeme na řecké architektuře a sochařství. Řekové tak jako první vytvořili jakousi klidnou estetiku, jejíž účinek nespočívá v extázi či vášních, ale v neosobní harmonii. Opět ocitujme z Timaia: "[bůh] vykroužil svět v podobě koule, která má všude od středu ke krajům stejné vzdálenosti; tak mu dal tvar ze všech nejdokonalejší a nejjednotnější, uznávaje, že pravidelné je tisíckrát krásnější než nepravidelné." Platón zde dále dovozuje, že svět vznikl skládáním rovnoramenných trojúhelníků (v jaké jiné báji o stvoření světa lze najít něco podobného?). V jiném Platónově dialogu, Ústavě, je pak na základě analýzy poměrů mezi délkami různých úseček dokonce navrženo ideální politické uspořádání.


Na okraj: Politika


Neměli bychom si však představovat, že staré Řecko bylo obdobím neomezené myšlenkové svobody.

Nové myšlenky neměly vždy na růžích ustláno. Nejznámější špičkou ledovce je případ Sokratův, nicméně obvinění z bezbožnosti bylo i v demokratických Athénách mnohem častější. Problémy měli iónští myslitelé i Aristoteles. Do vyhnanství musel odejít také sofista Protágoras, a to pouze na základě velmi opatrného výroku "O bozích nemohu vědět, že jsou, ani že nejsou, neboť mnohé brání, abychom to věděli, a to jak nejasnost věci, tak krátkost života lidského."

Na druhé straně je ale třeba dodat, že obvinění z bezbožnosti se často používala pouze jako záminka k postihu lidí, kteří se angažovali v politickém životě. Protágorovo obvinění tak ve skutečnosti mířilo spíše proti jeho příteli, státníku Periklovi, v případě Aristotela byly trnem v oku zase jeho promakedonské sympatie.


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