Athens, Home of Rhetoric. Where the Power of the Spoken Word first began

I’ve just returned from a few days in Athens, visiting with my daughter. She became a big fan of greek myths and legends from her reading of the Percy Jackson series of books.

As we walked around the Acropolis area, the Parthenon and the ancient Agora of Athens, I reflected upon the elements of civilisation that we still owe to the Ancient Athenians. So much of our politics, our sense of right and wrong, our organising principles of social life come from this small city state that had its peak 2,500 years ago, between 480BC and 320BC.

This video comes from the Acropolis and from the Agora of Ancient Athens.

So much history in this place. Many later cultures copied rather than innovated from the Greek culture. Rome copied the culture, but improved on the military and civil organisation.

Another Greek Video, from Delphi

Earlier in the week we did a day trip up to the ruins of Delphi. Check out the video I made when visiting the location of the ancient Oracle of Delphi.

2 responses to “Athens, Home of Rhetoric. Where the Power of the Spoken Word first began”

  1. Javier Irastorza Avatar
    Javier Irastorza

    In the video you discuss how spoken word got you powerful based on the value of your ideas, rather than military power, money, family, connections. Good one.

    Just a bitter note: in that same place Socrates got convicted (accused by other powerful and well connected ones) to death for using his words and spreading powerful ideas. I recommend “Apology” by Plato.

    1. Absolutely. Plato was outraged that Socrates was put to death by “populism” and emotional reaction rather than rational contemplation. We can see today that “truth” can often lose to emotion (Trump, Brexit, European Populism).

      The power of ideas – you can have powerful “bad” ideas… (like killing Socrates). likewise there have been benevolent military dictators and benevolent wealthy oligarchs.

      Democracy – or at least a well functioning, long lasting democracy depends on an educated citizen. Political correctness and idealism has allowed us to pretend that bad things don’t happen. Bad things do happen.

      Aristotle saw that credibility (Ethos) was the most important element in persuasion, but emotion (Pathos) will have most power to move the audience to strong action.

      I saw some data that TED talks the time dedicated to storytelling is 65% of total minutes of all TED talks. Reason is a great path to find the truth, but story and metaphor are the tools that actually influence people to change and take action.

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