"The Origins of Greek Thought" by Jean-Pierre Vernant

1487 Words Mar 27th, 2006 6 Pages
Jean-Pierre Vernant's book, "The Origins of Greek Thought," is a critical reassessment of a dominant historical trope for Western antiquity: that Greek philosophy amazingly materialized out of thin air after the Dorian Invasion. As an alternative to this popular idea, Vernant rationalizes the revolution of Greek thought as it pertains to the development of the polis (city), the development of philosophy, along with the idea that logic was developed by accompanying death of the monarchy and the birth of democracy. This paper will focus on the relationship between the emergence of the polis, the origin of rational thought (logic) and its connection to the Greeks. Vernant posits that the development and expansion of the polis is diametrically …show more content…
According to Vernant, this palace structure directly resembled the monarchies of the East. The king controlled every aspect of life for its inhabitants. This kind of sovereignty provided the platform for an absolute monarchy. However, this would all change after the invasion of the Dorians, the disappearance of the king and the advent of the polis around 750 BCE.

The Disappearance of the King

When ancient kings were overthrown, which happened often enough, they were simply replaced by other kings. All of the Greek cities all had traditional kings. But in Greece, the institution of kingship lost its traction. At Athens, the office of archon or ("ruler" or "regent") pushed aside the authority of the king (who eventually became another elected archon). So it is clear that the fall of Mycenae concluded with the overthrow of the king, left a political void in the government, set the stage for philosophy to materialize, and broke tradition by failing to installing a new king. Finally, the Dorian invasion gave birth to the archon, broke monarch tradition, helped forth philosophy, and gave birth to a new kind of new kind of city (polis).

With the monarchy of the king abolished, traces of authority that had been organized by the king were no longer present either and the Greek society slipped into The Dark Age and this left a void in the government. This was a transitional period for the Greeks and
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