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The Greeks & the Romans: Purpose & Suffering

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Exploring the purpose of life and suffering as related to ancient cultures through early Greek and Roman times.

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Solution Summary

The solution is an extensive discussion of the Graeco-Roman period wherein life's Purpose and the notion of suffering in relation to their significance in worldviews and cultural practices is discussed. Listed in this solution is the Via Romana - the 'way of life' or important values and ideals held essential to all Romans, especially citizens and soldiers. The philosophy of the Greeks (i.e. Socrates) and the way of life of some Greek Nations (i.e. Sparta) is also discussed to explore the notion of life's purpose and the meaning and relevance of suffering. References are listed following the APA format. References are both from the Web and in print. A word version of the solution is attached for easy printing.

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Dear Student,
Hello and thank you for using Brainmass. The solution below should get you started. Since you did not indicate a specific philosopher or specific ideas within said cultures with regards to purpose of life and suffering, the solution below is based on relatable sources. Should you feel the need to expand on the ideas provided, I advise using the listed references. Good luck!

OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

Ancient Greece: The Purpose of Life and Suffering

Ancient Greek philosophers pioneered the use of reason, logic and critical thinking as a way of judging or ascertaining truth. We trace the earliest scholastic, academic and political institutions with a modern notion to this period from the establishment of the political system we now refer to as democracy and citizenship to academies and the earliest sciences (mathematics, geometry, social studies, medicine, etc.). It's easy enough to assume that the Classical Greeks followed a particular perspective in life to achieve what they did and we can find this in the manner by which they organized society and the perspectives of their philosophers which have survived to this day. History judges the Greeks as the beginning of civilization - the flourishing of what we now label as scientific inquiries, their predisposition to observe & to question rather than accept things as they are. Socrates' predecessors asked -

1.How did the world come about?
2.How is it that I am able to think & make sense of what is before me?
3.What makes up life, the Cosmos that we know?
4.Is it possible to describe nature by numbers?
5.Are the Gods a reality or a creation of the imagination?
6.What is the purpose of life?

For Plato, the purpose of life is to conduct it so that all moral thought & actions, all virtues and struggles will allow one to achieve happiness via a state of excellence and perfection, the ultimate way of life. Material wealth has little bearing on perfection - it is a balance of virtues, morality & intellectual curiosity in the way man lives his life. While his philosophies drew heavily from his teacher, Socrates, his ethics centre around the idea of 'perfect happiness', achieving excellence by intellectual struggle, the need to be free of the mundane box of reality and think beyond 'the cave' to see life not as a struggle but a chance at achieving a practice of ethics that is the reward in itself as explained in his work 'The Republic'. The practice of such morality must be apparent in the way one works, the way one celebrate his life and examines it, to make what is ok better. His student, Aristotle, summed this up, saying, "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." For Plato, those who remain without a sense of awareness are the ones who suffer as explained in his Allegory of the Cave. A man who gets out of the cave can seek for perfection and change via the use of thought, the use of reason. Those who remain in the cave continue to suffer - suffering here is life without purpose, ...

Solution provided by:
  • MPhil/PhD (IP), Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • MA, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • Certificate, Geva Ulpan (via Universita Tel Aviv)
  • BA, University of the Philippines
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