John W. wrote:
Polyfloisbos wrote:Koiné is way more influential to our culture than Classical ....
I was interested to read this, and I wonder if you'd care to expand.
If you have the New Testament in mind, the influence of that surely isn't primarily linguistic; as regards language, I'd have thought that the contribution (in fields such as history, philosophy and science) of Classical Greek was markedly greater, and over a much wider range of disciplines. But I may be wrong!
I basically meant koiné literature and its world. I'll explain:
To me, later Antiquity states the bases of all modern culture (much more than medieval times). Of course this is a simplified vision, but we have to consider that Classical era is much more distant, culturally speaking. In Classical era there are still traces of orality, not only in literature, but also in science (as M. Eliade and modern studies on hippocratic corpus have demonstrated), in the vision of the past (Herodotus sources are mostly oral; the first to use modern techniques of research is, of course, Thucydides), in practices such as magic or marriage, etc. But Hellenistic times are an almost total written culture such as ours (note how this cannot be applied to medieval times, with poems such as Beowulf
, the mester de juglaría
, etc.). In Classical era the notion of the ego isn't developed (this is a reminiscence of Homeric times, where the gods were supposed to treat men like puppets), but Hellenistic literature and philosophy focuses on the ego (stoicism, epicureism, the epigrams of Callimachus and so), much more like we do. It's also a much more international, interconnected world, where the greek glory is gone but not its prestige. It's also the era of the growing of our dominant religion (but also Buddhism), with lots of theological and philosophical disputes and schools based on the Classics (isn't this what we do nowadays?). It's also the time of the formation of what would ultimately be modern greek; the art, the natural sciences and philology were perfectionated to unimaginable levels (in Plato, a φιλόλογος is merely a chatterbox, but it's Eratosthenes who fills it with our modern sense); it's also the time of the change from scrolls to codex (with the following change of mentality), from a Classical plain view of the Earth and a limited knowledge of geography to the notions of the globe and the silk road; it's the time where lots of cultures begin to use scripture (such as the inscriptions of Maurya Aśoka or those of Kaniśka), where cavalry was widely used, where libraries were founded, where kingdoms and dinasties returned... I know that Hellenistic times start with Alexander, but I think that is a much more powerful metaphor to start them with the Battle of Cynoscephalae (197 BC), where the old, Classical greek phalanx was destroyed by the modern, and much more versatile, Roman legion. I think it's kind of pretty to see how the times they are a-changing
, don't you?