This unit will commence with an extensive examination of the various individual categories which are collectively culture: mythology, science, philosophy, architecture, art, government, economics, and trade. Students will discover how people's lives were influenced by the conditions experienced within the city-states, in particular, Sparta and Athens. Particular consideration is given to warfare because of its impact upon the various aspects of culture found within these Greek societies. Therefore, warfare is the focal point from which our study of Greek culture proceeds. Increasingly important is the students' awareness of Greek warfare and its impact upon the individual. Students are challenged with the prospect of discovering why these wars were fought. Were they fought for worthy reasons? Did people achieve their goals through the act of fighting? What alternatives to warfare existed which might have further benefited society? What was the cost in terms of lives and property as a result of warfare?
Students also discover how people's thoughts and actions contributed to the unique conditions found within a particular society, and how these people expressed their life experiences as it was related to warfare. This is accomplished by an extensive study of art and artifacts, in particular, Red and Black Figure Amphorae. By interpreting artifacts, students will discover that the Greeks reflected their culture and society through artistic expressions of warfare.
Accompanying this portion of the unit is an examination of the influences Greek culture has had upon contemporary society, especially in the areas of science, math, architecture, medicine, philosophy, and government. For example, students will learn that our democratic form of government was very similar to the Greek system in Athens. A comparison and contrast can be made by an examination of both political processes. In Athens, all governmental policies and laws were made by the assembly, a body of all adult men who were also citizens. Participation in the governmental process was encouraged of all those eligible to attend. From this body, a council numbering five-hundred was elected for one year terms. The membership represented the ten tribes of Athens equally. The responsibility of the council was to prepare laws which would be voted upon by the assembly. The most powerful role in government was held by the ten generals. The generals were also elected for one year terms, but could be reelected for more than one term, similar to the executive branch of our government. The generals controlled the military within their particular tribes, similar to the governors of each state in our nation who control the national guard.2
Sparta, on the other hand, resembled an aristocracy which can be compared to the ante-bellum South. The citizens of Sparta were direct descendants of the original aristocracy who first established this polis. All others were either freemen or serfs. Laws were established for the benefit of the citizens, not for the freemen, and certainly not for serfs. Only citizens were trained for military service, although the serfs were called upon when needed to fill a military role.3 This was an option which did not exist for citizens of the old South. Examples such as the one presented above allow students to develop values for themselves as members of society. Questions can be raised which carry forward this aspect of the unit. One question could be, "How do you think serfs felt about their societal condition?" Another question might be, "What disadvantages existed for the aristocracies of both Sparta and the old South as a result of limitations and burdens placed upon an entire social class of people?"
The unit will conclude with students learning how to create replicas of ceramic jars for the purpose of expressing the cultural influences found within contemporary society, as they affect the students as individuals. Students will discover methods for creating pottery, and the procedures for creating painted scenes or figures on pottery by working collaboratively with a member of the school art staff. Students, having previously discovered the role individuals play in creating cultural influences and their methods of artistic expression, will then create painted ceramic jars which reflect their own cultural experiences and identities. The jars will be two-dimensional for ease of construction. The scenes painted on the jars will represent one or more facets of life which reflect importance for the individual student.