To prevent any misunderstanding, I first would like to clarify that I am not a historian dealing with classical studies; my main disciplines are philosophy and law. However, following a seminar I gave dealing with several philosophical-legal aspects of Greek tragedy, and an article I wrote about the relationship between the concept of guilt in Oedipus Tyrannus and the principle of strict liability in modern criminal law, I have found myself in recent years becoming increasingly interested in the unique culture which emerged in Athens during the classical period, particularly in the 5th century BCE. In the course of that century, Athens was involved in many wars – against the Persians in the early decades, against Sparta (the Peloponnesian War) in the latter decades, and other “minor” wars. And yet despite these wars, during the 5th century BCE Athens was in a state of cultural-social-political ferment that left its mark on the whole history of western culture. In the course of that century, there was in Athens a burgeoning of independent-critical thought in the philosophical domain, nature and medicine were systematically studied, tragedies by the Athenians Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were written and performed, and the democratic regime took shape.
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