Was the Hellenistic World Particularly One of Struggle?
HIST 101: Discussion-Section Questions
Week Five: February 17-February 21, 2020
1. From Plutarch’s “Life of Alexander,” what can we determine about Alexander the Great’s character: that is, what qualities might have made him a great leader, and what might have made him a terrible one?
2. The philosophy of Stoicism we see laid out in Epictetus’ “The Manual: Stoicism” is where we get our English word “stoic.” How would you summarize overall, and briefly, what, to Epictetus, makes people unhappy? What do you think about his recipe for happiness?
3. Did Epictetus think that a person’s success in life would come from his or her strength of will, determination, and ability to force things to go his or her own way?
4. How did Epictetus think that we should deal with other people?
5. How does this Stoic vision of humanity in the world strike you: as a vision of peace, or instead as one of struggle?
6. “The Jewish Encounter With Hellenism: The Maccabees’ Revolt” shows us a very specific problem that the Jews of Palestine had with their new Hellenistic rulers. What was that problem, and how did the Jews respond?
7. How would you compare the Hellenistic rulers’ and the Jews’ opinions about the blending of different cultures?
8. This reading has something in common with the Antigone reading: both involve people willing to die rather than obey an unjust or impious law. One of the most famous episodes from the story of the Maccabees is when Mattathias kills the Jew who offers “sacrifice upon the altar in Modein, according to the king’s command” (p.151). If you were one of the Jews living under this Hellenistic rule, would you be with Mattathias, or instead with the sacrificing Jew?