History—World and Civilization
Chapter 8- Greek Adventure
One unique characteristic of Greek civilization was the division among the people; they were divided into small groups known as polis which were headed by different political individuals. The population also had different sources of livelihood compared to the previous societies such as India and Mesopotamia; because of geographical location, the people could not do farming, and instead opted for shipping and trade.
The key factor that hindered one ruling in Greek was the geographical location of the area; with valleys, islands and hills that separated the communities, it was impossible to come up with one government. Another key factor was the difference in characteristics if the poleis; Athens and Sparta, for instance, had contradicting lives. While the Athens was a place for education, art and scientific activities, Sparta was a militaristic, authoritarian place that prevented the growth of art; this difference could definitely hinder union of the communities.
Unlike other societies in the ancient times, the Greek were known to be polytheists; they served anthropomorphic gods i.e. those molded in human image. Their religious beliefs were also humanistic; they placed humans second to gods and thus did not give too much respect to the goods as seen in other societies. Similarly to Mesopotamia or Indians, the Greek also had priests; however, theirs were not given the power to act as intermediary between gods and man, but were given loose leadership roles. They also believed in good and evil, similar to that of Chinese Confucianism.
The Greek had defeated the Persians in the first and second wars because they fought as a united society. In the First War (490 BCE), the Athens helped the Iona who were facing Persians and this resulted to victory. In the Second Persian War, the Athens and other Greek Poleis came together and formed an army that defeated the Persians.
Alexander wanted conquered different empires including Persia and Egypt. He believed in imperialism form of government in which power is extended in different nations by use of his military force. The ruler wanted to accomplish what his father, Phillip had started; they wanted to combine all the Empires in Greece.
The Greek society considered women as inferior because of the fact that they were seen as sexual objects whose roles were to serve their husbands, bear children, and take care of their homes. This was the reason why men felt insecure when their wives left their houses, and thus preferred they stayed at home. Slaves, on the other hand, were enslaved majorly because of debts; the prejudice may be as a result of their low social status I the society.
Those who had full citizenship, especially men, got opportunity to explore life; they had more rights in the society regarding ownership and work position. Women and slaves who were never given full citizenship had limited opportunities and could not have a say in regards to their rights.
The changes in culture and science among the Greeks could be seen through the behaviors of the people. Through the philosophers like Plato and Aristocratic, most of them could differentiate between right and wrong and were controlled by their conscience. Science enabled the people to live in luxurious homes with different forms of entertainment, thanks to the scientists’ invention of musical instruments and poetry.
The achievement is science and culture in Greek was far better compared to other societies. There were scientists such as Philo including physicists, biologists, and astronomy. Through the science empiricists were able to come up with medicine to heal humans. Compared to other societies like Mesopotamia, science and technology managed to help the people come up with simple tools as silver hoes for digging, carts for working, and water pumps for irrigation.
During the Hellenistic era, science and culture grew due to the developments made by both the scientists and philosophers. Schools were built by Aristotle and his successors, and this influenced the people cultures including belief in medicine. Invention of water pumps for instance, made the people to begin large scale farming.
Chapter 10—Rome from City-State to Empire
The Romans were also humanistic like the Greeks. They did not believe in extra forces to control humans, thus rejected Christianity. Stoicism was common, and stoics like Marcus Aurelius believed that man had control over his actions, and this was guided with conscience.
The Romans imitated the Greek civilization in many ways. First, they adopted the art culture, and artists like Cicero, Cato, Terence, Julius Caesar, Lucretius, and Polybius are still remembered to date through their good work of art. The Greek also had gender biasness, women were seen inferior to men. They also had slaves and treated them with little freedom as Romans.
Amidst the imitation of the Greek culture, Romans also had a special innovation that contributed to civilization; they made the first laws that are still significant. Romans ad 2 sets of laws; those for the citizens and another for aliens. The law code used was referred to as ius gentum.
Chapter 11—The Roman Empire and the Rise of Christianity in the West, 31 BCE -600 CE
The Romans referred to their neighbors as “Germans” simply because they had a unique culture of war; they fought among themselves and always tried to conquer other empires. Their descendants had similar culture; thy tried to colonize African countries, China, and the Pacific. Other European countries like Poland, Portugal, and Italy are not like their ancestors; they have not engaged in colonization.
The Roman Empire became divided into West and East; during the rain of Constantine in 330s, the Empire decided to govern the East, abandoning and giving his subordinate the mandate to rule the West. This made the West to crumble due to vandalism and inflation. It did NOT fall as interpreted, but was taken over by a German Chieftain who pushed away Constantinople’s deputy thus crowing himself the king of Italy. The West, therefore become Italy.
Germans did not know any language: they learnt Latin from the Romans. The Germans also had unique beliefs especially Christianity; they believed in the existence of God whom they considered the most mighty. They also had one ruler who was elected to lead the people.
Charlemagne and his descendants were referred to as the “Holy Roman Emperors” because of their acceptance to Christianity. The first ruler of Franks kingdom, Clovis, embraced Christianity and Charlemagne followed his footsteps, having an alliance with the pope of the Roman Catholic. The Kingdom fought against the neighbors that were anti-Christ, and Pope Leo III named him the Emperor.
Chapter 12—Classical India
As Theravada Buddhism spread through the South and Southern Asia, there was great experience in the thriving of Buddhist architecture and sculptures. The people made temples for worships and living quarters and also goddesses, and holy shrines. They used both stone and bronze to make the artistic works; this promoted trade.
With Fa Xain visiting the shrines and studying Buddhism, he came up with an interpretation of the religion in his original language; this later served as a common need for the people, especially Buddhists.
Regions joined by the Silk Road include: Central Asia, Korea, Japan, Persia, China, India, and Java. As people traded using the Silk Road their shared different social and cultural beliefs including religion; Buddhism, for instance, spread through the countries. Art, science, and technology were also shared among the societies.
The doctrine of Hinduism is that different sects including Bhakti, Upanishads, and Mahabharata should be tolerant to one another and that there are different paths of heaven. This open-ended form of worship has created a common religious belief among the people, and thus they exist in harmony.
The Muslims, led by Mahmud al-Ghazni, invaded India with an intention of promoting Islamic religion and eliminating Buddhism. This resulted to a tag of war in which thousands of Indians lost their lives. The war atmosphere definitely affected the commercial activities that had initially thrived in India.
Chapter 13—Imperial China in its Golden Age
The Qin Dynasty failed after only 11 years because of the flaws of the ruler Shih Huang-di. He became an arrogant dictator who tortured and subjected the citizens to harsh treatments. He burnt the books that promoted Confucianism, put heavy tax duty on the peasants; this caused unrest and thus the successors did not last long.
Shih Huang-di was considered the first emperor because of the advancement he had made. He managed to bring the China under one leadership and improved the economy through development of proper roads and breakage of the wall hindering the North and South. He even partnered with other countries including Vietnam for development purposes.
Like other societies like Romans and Indians, the Chinese also engaged in trade using the Silk Road. The country also experienced assimilation in terms of religion; Buddhism was highly spread in the nation.
Adler, Philip J, and Randall L. Pouwels. World Civilizations: To 1700. , 2012. Print.