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Ancient Greek Virtrues and Modern Film

The purpose of this research is to examine the depiction of ancient Greek virtues and ideals in modern films. The plan of the research will be to set forth the cultural context in which the resonance of ancient Greek virtues with modern artistic narrative forms assumes importance, and then to discuss ways in which different aspects of the Golden Age ethos, especially relative to the Greek myths, theogony, and religious attitudes, can be discerned in contemporary films.

The relevance of ancient Greece to contemporary Western culture--especially popular culture such as films--may seem tenuous at best. The polytheistic paganism of ancient Greece, the fact that Greek civilization was so soundly eclipsed by Great Rome, the difficult and dense poetic and discursive philosophical texts, and the archaeological evidence of the primitive features of daily experience in the ancient world establishes less a linkage than a disconnect between that world and today's technology-driven environment of convenience. Yet of course Greece does retain its fascination for modern sensibility because it was the seat of the culture of the West that survives today. And it is a fascination with the familiar. Protagoras, who lived in the fifth century BC, is credited with the declaration that man is the measure of all things (976). For him, the declaration was an exercise in ontology and the legitimation of human reason; the whole of his statement reads thus: Man is the measure of all things, of being things that they exist, and of nonentities that they do not exist (Protagoras 976). That is a sentiment that many a contemporary secular humanist would undoubtedly find completely reasonable.

Rationality, indeed, was a hallmark of ancient Greek virtue, and in some measure that idea as a positive social and cultural value has persisted in Western thought since the ancient period--multiple and persistent periods of Western irrationality notwithstanding to the cont...

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