To open this year's Thursday Forum series, Assistant Professor of History Angela Ziskowski will present a historical, archaeological and art historical introduction to the Greco-Persian wars and their aftermath.
Greece went to war with the Persian empire in 490 BCE and many believe this event fundamentally changed the course of Western Civilization. The small, divided city-states of Greece succeeded in holding back the forces of the massive Persian empire and by 479 BCE, the war was over and Greece was the victor. The aftermath of this event had far-reaching repercussions on the cultural identity of Greece.
On the positive side, the fifth century BCE is a period in which democracy blossomed and art and architecture reached new heights. However, there was a dark side to this cultural prosperity. The city-state of Athens turned into an oppressive imperial power over the rest of Greece while also demonizing the people and cultures from further east.
If you were not Greek, you were the "other." For better or worse, "Classical" Greek culture was defined in the period after the Persian Wars. Its lasting impact on western society remains profound, if muddled.