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He is significant because Zoroastrianism is the central Persian religion, which began to introduce the afterlife concept. Hammurabi’s Code. Hammurabi’s Code was a collection of laws that regulated daily lives in Mesopotamia. It was significant because it was the most complete of all law codes and focused on the known doctrine of “an eye for an eye” and personal responsibility. Cuneiform. The cuneiform was the writing system for the Sumerians on clay tablets with a reed stylus. It was significant because it was an early way of recording history and many tablets have been found today that are beneficial to historians. Polis. The polis was basically a town in Greek life. It is important because all of daily life revolved around the polis and all of its members had common beliefs and common loyalty to the polis. Peloponnesian War. The Peloponnesian War was the war between the two Greek citystates of Sparta and Athens. It was significant because it marked the downfall of Athens and was a demonstration of how two opposing powers could not reside together. Arete. Arete was essentially Greek excellence that as Homer said, could be won by struggle or a contest. Arete was significant because it was a basic Greek value and an important characteristic for any hero to possess. Constantine. Constantine was the first Christian Roman Emperor. He was significant because he allowed Christianity, which had been a persecuted religion prior to his rule. Legion. A Roman legion was a major unit of the army. It was significant because it was the central defense force for all of Rome, and without them Rome would have been weaker militarily and unable to conquer the areas it did. Consul. A consul was the executive official of the Roman Republic who led the armies. The two consuls were significant because their position is very similar to the modern day president, and it exhibits the fact that the Romans liked to divide the power. Caesar. Julius Caesar was part of the First Triumvirate and later became the first dictator of Rome. He was significant because he brought many changes to Rome, such as the solar calendar and he made advances in public works. He also weakened the power of the senate before he was assassinated by many of those senators.
Jeremy Keeshin September 22, 2004
Part II – Essays 1. Ancient Greece and Rome were two distinct societies that left their mark in a legion of facets of life. They had a colossal impact on modern culture as it exists today. Their contributions to the fields of architecture and literature are innumerable. Many of the precedents they had set in government remain in the present day. Even the basic religious concepts that originated with the Greeks and Romans remain in operation at this moment. The Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations have left many legacies regarding their general ethos, many of which affect western civilization of today. In regards to their governmental practices, the Greeks and Romans are very singular. Athens is truly the first great democracy of the world. Although many types of government circulate Greece, once democracy falls into place the people become attached to it. In the age of Pericles, Athens advances its democracy by allowing the lower class to participate in the assembly, but this was financially impossible. The Athenians had positive goals for government, but lacked realistic ways to achieve them. The Romans, however, complemented the Greeks with their practical ways of governing. They structured their government as problems arose and were very focused on balancing the power, as they had had past experiences with a monarchy. The Roman democracy edged out the Greek one as the plebeians had their own assembly to have a say in. Overall, it is clear that the models that were set in ancient Greece and Rome remain today. As the Greeks and Romans left legacies in government, they also left them in philosophy and religion. There were many great Greek philosophers starting with Socrates and leading down the line with Plato and Aristotle. Socrates was well known for his question and answer method of teaching. Plato set out his ideal state, with philosophers as the highest class, then warriors, then the producers. Aristotle is known for a broad range of topics, and especially analyzing existing governments. Right along with the philosophy, there were many important things about the religion. The Greeks had a polytheistic religion that was centered on rituals and festivals. The Romans also were mostly polytheistic, and are very accepting of outside religions. They only were against outside religions when they posed a threat to the government. Judaism is present at this time in Rome, which leads into Jesus as a threat to the establishment. Christianity rises as a major religion and becomes tolerated under Constantine and then official under Theodosius. Religion however, may not have been as innovative as the accomplishments in art, architecture and literature. Greek portraits were of the famous, but Roman were of those who had enough money to but them. Greek sculpture was idealistic, but Roman was realistic. Both had columns and rectangular buildings, but it was only the Romans who used curvilinear shapes and concrete on a large scale. Both Greek and Roman used epic poems as a form of writing. The two most distinguished poets were Homer of Greece who was famous for the Iliad, and Virgil of Rome who was known for the Aeneid. It is clear that both the Greeks and Romans had aspects of their civilization that are reflected in today’s culture. Many ideas of the Greek and Roman democracy are
Jeremy Keeshin September 22, 2004 shown in the United States democracy. Many of the philosophies are still pondered in the same way as Socrates and Aristotle. Many of the same religions exist, and on a greater scale. Many of the buildings today exhibit features from Roman and Greek architecture, like the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial. The Roman and Greek civilizations were celebrated for their many achievement and it is shown in the present as much as ever. 2. The way civilization is considered today is based on the first sophisticated society, which was in Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was the first society to have a complete social system. It had cities and government and religion and culture which are all constants that are looked for today. Many building blocks emerged from Mesopotamia that are still significant in today’s world. Mesopotamia started in the Fertile Crescent, which is the area from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf that had rich soil and arable land. The first people to inhabit it were the Sumerians. The Sumerians displayed all the features of an advancing civilization. They had the cities Eridu, Ur, and Uruk. These cities even had a government, which was a theocracy. The whole governmental structure was supposedly divine, as the kings had obtained their rule from the gods. This theocratic government controlled the economy, which meant it controlled the farming industry. Because of the government setup, there were three classes, the nobles, the commoners, and the slaves. This social hierarchy is also present in today’s societies. In the Sumerian area, city-states develop and fight for control, and during this time, the Akkadians take over and have the first empire. When the Akkadian Empire falls Hammurabi takes over and implements his code, which is the first complete system of law. The Mesopotamian civilization left more than just a government; it left other signs of intelligence. The Sumerians conceived writing by creating the cuneiform. The writing by the Scribes was a very important part of the Sumerian society. This was the first known people to record their history, which is a very significant invention. The most famous piece of literature left by the Mesopotamians was The Epic of Gilagamesh, which is similar to the recognized story of Noah. The Sumerians are responsible for even more inventions. They invented the calendar and the wheel, which are two vital objects in the present day. They also began to use metals to create tools, which was a big step in technology. It is also known that the Sumerians were able to irrigate well, because controlling the water flow was a necessity in that society. The Sumerians also reached new heights in math, astronomy and geometry, and remnants of their systems are evident today. There is also some known about their architecture with regards to the ziggurat, the Sumerian temple. The core of western civilization really begins with Mesopotamia. At the simplest level, our culture today has countless similarities to the civilization in ancient Mesopotamia. Both have a form of government, a type of economy and some way of remembering and advancing their culture. Because of this the Mesopotamian society is fundamental to the history of civilization.
Jeremy Keeshin September 22, 2004 Part III – Document Based Questions The Roman Empire reached greatness, and at that time the consensus, as stated by Claudian, was that “there will never be an end to the power of Rome.” It can be argued that he is correct, and it can be disputed otherwise. It is certain, however, that the Roman Empire endured some sort of change. This change has been put under a myriad of names, most familiarly, a “decline” and a “fall.” I believe that in order to classify this change in the Roman Empire, you must label it a “transformation” because the series of events that it underwent only morphed the empire and did nothing to lessen its influence. This is certainly an odd perspective to take, but there is definitely support for my argument. The best way to look at the Roman Empire is in an analogy. It can be said that the Roman Empire is like energy, it is never lost; it just changes form. The form that it is in today is mostly a form of retrospection. The way the Roman Empire is viewed today is from a historian’s point of view in contemplation. It exists in texts and minds, and is still as influential today as it was at its peak. The way to analyze the Roman Empire is to analyze its transformation from a great empire to a story of the past. It is widely accepted that the change is due to a number of variables. It is due to the fact that Christianity came in and weakened the Roman Military. It is due to the fact that the pressure of foreigners abated the sense of nationalism. It is due to the fact that Rome was stranded at its present political and technological status. It is due to the fact that disease decreased the population. Most historians will argue that it is mostly because of one of these factors, but I would have to say that it is an amalgamation of all of them. It can be argued that the reason the Roman Empire is not in material existence is because that is what was bound to happen. According to the cyclical theories of Polybius and Machiavelli, civilizations appear and disappear in succession, and that is just what happens. It can be said that it is the natural order of things to exist and then perish. However this is not a definite reason for the transformation of the empire. A more definite statement is that the renovation of the empire is due to a series of events. Since Rome was a very accepting empire it allowed a mass of foreigners in. The foreigners at first did not pose a threat, but as they brought new ideas they became threatening. The idea of Christianity was brought in and as people became more attached to that, they became less attached to the values of the military. At the time that the military is decreasing, the plague is evident and Rome’s technology is at a standstill. These factors as a whole make the empire more susceptible to barbarians. Eventually, barbarians take over the West, but the East, which is the larger section, is left for another thousand years. It can be concluded that at the supposed “fall” of the Roman Empire in 476, the empire did not “fall,” as not even half of the empire was absent. A much more supported fall would be a thousand years later, when the bulk of it was gone. But even then the pizzazz and legacy of the Roman Empire was not lost. The many ideas and accomplishments that circulated the society live on in the present day and will probably subsist to the end of the knowledge of humankind.