Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Greeks' View on Barbarity

When studying the Hellenistic Period, I thought it was really interesting how the Greeks defined and depicted barbarity. The Dying Gaul was meant to focus on individualism, emphasizing the body, especially when it came to the strong muscle. In Fleming, it mentions how the rough musculature and powerful body was meant to be a statement on how the Gauls were barbarians. I think it's interesting that powerful and strong muscle was the definition of barbarity in this time period when today it would probably be quite the opposite. Since the Greeks were so focused on the idealized and balanced body of the Hellenic period, they decided by depicting the opposite type of image of the body this would make the Gauls barbarians. The Greeks depicted the Gauls differently in order to distinguish others from themselves. The idea of them portraying the Gauls as having the opposite type of look, rough and muscular rather than balanced and idealized, is interesting to me. It shows how racist the Greeks were during this time period, for by portraying others as different than how they were, this defined other people as barbarians.

4 comments:

Isabel Celata said...

The Greeks also depicted the Gauls as very powerful and muscular because it ended up making the Greeks seem powerful. Due to the way they were depicted in sculpture and other art, everyone thought that the Gauls were super cool and strong. When the Greeks defeated them everyone was like "Woah dudes, we just defeated the super powerful Gauls. That must mean we're like super duper powerful."

Breuna Westry said...

I view strength as barbaric but it has also helped societies grow and advance. If it weren't for the strength of hands and the human body, modern marvels would not have been built. Though there is also the factor of the brain. The brain is what gives the ideas that the hand will eventually act out. So I believe to be truly barbarian you only use one of these essential items. To be advanced and above everyone else, you must combine the two.

Joe D said...

I agree that today, "barbarian" takes on an entirely different meaning than it did a couple hundred years ago. Before the invention of modern media and weapons, one might have defined "barbarian" to be a hulking brute of some sort.
Today, however, the celerity with which media travels (much like Rumor in the Aeneid) can make anyone a "barbarian." For instance, when I first heard about the ISIS beheading videos, the very first word I thought of was "barbaric." So, after thinking, "barbarian" calls to my mind someone who is depraved in morals or ethics. ISIS militants - scrawny men in black robes with little knives - have pitilessly (and gruesomely) murdered several defenseless journalists. Thus, strength is no longer a requirement for a barbarian.

Joe D said...

Changing gears: the word "barbarian" originated in ancient Greece when they heard a foreign language being spoken. It sounded like "barbarbarbarbarbar" to them. Also, we talked a bit about racism and Greece in class. They used racism and claimed cultural superiority as a means of self preservation due to the conflict between both city states and foreigners in/surrounding Greece.