This mostly considers the ‘stage’ for early Greek philosophers up until our good friend Thales, who was generally considered the first in our main canon of Greek philosophers- he was definitely alive around 585BC, since he predicted an eclipse then.

  • Mesapotamia/Egypt etc has already existed
    • Writing was invented in Egypt around 4000BC and seperately in Babylonia not much later (pictograms and ideograms)
    • These thrived because of the Nile etc which made agriculture easy and productive
    • Divine king with despotic powers, owned all the land.
    • Supreme god to whom the king had a special relationship
    • Military and priestly aristocracy in a polytheistic society.
    • Egyptions:
      • Preoccupied with death
      • Souls of the dead descend into the underworld where they are judged, and that the soulw ould ultimately return to the body (this ancient society spread to syria and palestine.)
    • Babylonia:
      • Loved war, ruling race were Sumerians whose origin is unknown. Invented cuneiform writing.
      • Semites took over from them
      • Feudal cities developed into an empire.
      • God of Babylon became the main god among which other gods of other cities were subordinate
      • Religion concerned with prosperity in this world rather than happiness in the next. Magic, divination, astrology were well developed.
      • Division of the day into 24 hours, circle into 360 degrees, cycle of eclipses
    • Religions were fertility cults; earth was female and the sun male. Bull regarded as embodiment of male fertility.
    • Ishtar: earth-goddess was supreme among female divinities.
      • The Great Mother, greeks renamed her Artemis; Christianity transformed her into the virgin mary
      • the gods became associated with the state and thus with morality. lawgivers received their codes from a cod, so a breach of the law became impiety.
    • Oldest legal code was that of Hammurabi, king of Babylon in 2100BC, delivered to him by god Marduk
    • Mostly agricultural while surrounding was pastoral. development of maritime commerce.
    • weapons obstained by trade or piracy (commerce gen more profitable)
    • crete forefront in trading in 2600,1400bc, artistically advanced ‘minoan’ culture; cheerfulness and decadent luxury.
      • worshipped mistress of animals.
      • culture spread to greece in 1600bc, then survived until about 900BC as the mainland civilisation Mycenean
        • unsure about their ethnicity.
        • Ionians, acheans, dorians came to greence (ionians adopted crete culture but following destroyed the previous) though the classical religion of greece was probably a blend of the myceanaean religion and crete religion
    • Naval power was the important bringer of success in greek
    • slave commerce and industry; surrounding barbarians
    • development from monarchy to aristocracy, then to an alternation of tyranny and democracy; kings were not absolute - advised by a council of elders
      • could not transgress custom with unpunity
    • tyranny; rule of a man whose claim to power was not hereditary, e.g. medici acquired power through being rich, silver and gold mines.
    • Homeric poeams probably took about 200 years from 750 to 550 bc and was probably a few people. Athenian youth learnt Homer by heart as part of their education. It became a point of view of the civilised aristocracy, ignoring superstitions as plebian. POssible a rationaliser of ancient myths, holding up an ideal of enlightenment.
      • homeric gods are completely human, apart from being immoirtal and possessed of superhuman powers
      • they weren’t morally all that great.
      • not very religious towards the gods.
      • they were conquerors, not creators. who were mostly just dicks to each other and only feared god, lived off mortals.
      • A lot of ‘fate’.
      • gods of conquering aristocracy rather than fertility.
      • however beliefs pervaded the ones Homer dismissed
    • goat a symbol of fertility instead of bull
    • start of the werewolf cults around this time superstitions about the wolf zeus and a cave witgh no shadow that killed everyone within a year
    • Pan was a god who was the ‘feeder’ or ‘shepherd’ or ‘all-god’ after it was adopted by Athens
  • Bacchus created in crete, originally a fertility god but attributed to alcohol when they discovered, this and later wine. Became popular in Athens because it was the passion to the ‘foresight’ and ‘prudence’ of organised society where people were looking for something more primitive (As happens when a society grows quickly); savage escape from regular life; ‘enthusiasm’
    • reford by orpheus as a religion in which one becomes pure and then god (part of the olympian canon)
      • orphism 600BC believed that we were bound to an endless wheel of life and death, and only through an ascetic life of renunciation and ascetism could it be escaped for one to become ‘one’ with god
    • reformed again by pythagoras and then influenced most religious philosophers
    • also gave rise to respect for violent emotion, greek tragedy
  • primitive religion at this point was largely tribal rather than personal,