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  • Print publication year: 1992
  • Online publication date: March 2008

8h - Athens as a Cultural Centre

from 8 - Greek culture, religion and society in the fifth century b.c.


The contributions to fifth-century Athenian culture by non-Athenian poets and prose writers were immeasurably greater than the surviving remains indicate. Anaxagoras, Diogenes and probably also Democritus brought the fruits of rational explorations of the physical universe, and the sophists had accompanied their teaching of rhetoric by far-reaching rational analyses and criticisms of the structure of human society and the problems besetting it. All layers of Athenian society will have been beneficiaries of the stimulus which the influx of foreigners brought to the economic life of the city. But their impact on its cultural life will have been most immediately felt by the upper classes. The doctrines of the Ionian physicists as popularized by the rationalism of the sophists were thought to be doing precisely that and were regarded by many as a threat to the established Greek religion.
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