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The Rise and Fall of Ancient Greek Justice: Homer to the Sermon on the Mount

Robert Mayhew

Presented at: OCON 2005

Date: Jul 02, 2005

The traditional ancient Greek conception of justice is best captured by the idea of helping friends and harming enemies. This conception of justice is improved by later thinkers (like Aeschylus), reaches its climax in Aristotle's moral philosophy—and is utterly rejected by Jesus, who told the pagan world: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." This lecture surveys this history, covering (in addition to the above mentioned figures): the Sophists, Aristophanes, Euripides and Plato. Throughout, Dr. Mayhew will underscore the contemporary relevance of the clash between Greek justice and the Christian alternative.


Parts: 1

Handout: none


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