World History Homework Four Answers - Student Sixteen

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Charles Thoreaux

1. Who is your favorite Roman emperor, and why?

Marcus Aurelius. His philosophical writings built upon Catonian stoicism, and the Meditations remains one of the finest and most influential pieces of Roman philosophy which we have.

"Catonian stoicism"??? You'll need to provide a citation for your claim about that. The argument that Aurelius produced one of the "most influential pieces of Roman philosophy" doesn't impress, because there wasn't any Roman philosophy of great significance. Romans built great roads, not great philosophers or mathematicians.

2. Describe what the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire were, including approximate dates.

The Roman Republic began 510 BC with the assassination of the Tarquin king by Brutus, and consisted of a complex system of assemblies, tribunes, a senate, and consuls. It was effectively replaced by the Empire in 44 BC with Julius Caesar's appointment as dictator in perpetuity. The Empire saw a long line of emperors with an ineffectual senate until its collapse in 476 AD.

The Tarquin king was expelled, not assassinated by Brutus.[1] (Minus 1)

3. Compare and contrast the Roman Empire in the West with the Byzantine Empire.

Byzantium was inherently more stable, lasting a millenium longer than the Western Empire, and had access to greater wealth and trade and cultural links with the orient. The Roman Empire was unstable, seeing waves of Gothic and Gallic invasions, whilst assassination and plotting led to quick successions of Emperors.

"millennium", not "millenium". Please. OK otherwise but a bit more depth in analysis is needed. (Minus 1)

4. Comment on the significance of the Roman language, Latin.

Due to the military might of the Roman Empire, Latin was established as a prototype lingua franca, used across Europe and into the Middle East. It formed the basis of the romantic languages, countless of its words in specific fields were later adapted for English use (especially in medicine, music, and philosophy), and it was adopted as the language of the Catholic Church, though in a weakened form.

You miss the point about the inherent advantages of Latin. I sense a liberal denial here. Not all languages are created equal, despite what the liberals claim. (Minus 2)

5. Explain what Pax Romana was.

The Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, was an extended period of relative peace on the Mediterranean in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. It corresponded with the height of Roman military might and political hegemony, and saw great strides in trade and infrastructure development.

Started before the 1st century, and need better specificity on your dates. (Minus 2)

6. Current events question: What about the decline of the Roman empire reminds you of the United States today?

Most striking is the concept of destiny. Ancient Roman thought was permeated with the idea that they were destined to subjugate foreign lands, justifying their conquest and dominion. This same ideology has been ever-present in American thinking, as seen in Manifest Destiny and more recent theories of American Exceptionalism. In the Roman case, the hegemony gradually fell apart, and much the same is occurring in American foreign affairs, as its power shrinks relative to China, India, and the European Union.

Trying to link this to the obscure notion of "American Exceptionalism" is more than a stretch. Perhaps you can accuse someone of being a conspiracy theoriest??? Wikipedia would give you extra credit for that, but that doesn't fly here. (Minus 2).

7. Challenging question (choose "a" or "b"): (a) all of world history so far in this course can be attributed either to God paving the way for Jesus, or the devil creating obstacles for Him. Discuss.

This sort of a priori argumentation for providence, raised since the days Josephus and revived by Knox, is weak, and a blind alley. In true Marxist/Hegelian fashion, it selects its evidence to match the teleology, and thus neither proves nor disproves providence in history. The ways of God are far too profound and complex to be dissected by man, and bringing in some concept of God and the devil fighting via historical and civilizational means reduces theology to a silly stage-show while putting God on par with the superhuman deities of the Greek Pantheon. If the devil exists, and is not merely a metaphorical construct for sin and temptation, there is no cause to suggest that he would possess any sizable quantity of power, relative to the omnipotence of God, nor to treat him as a comprehensible antagonist of the Miltonian or Faustian sort.

A closed-minded answer, but I don't deduct points for opinion.

H1. Do you agree that the Romans really lacked any understanding of an objective truth, as reflected by Pilate's response to Jesus at His trial? Please discuss.

This assertion is utter nonsense. Notions of objective, perfect, and universal truth were well established in pre-Socratic philosophy, discussed in detail in Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Metaphysics, and the works of Xeno, all of which were adopted into the Roman Philosophical tradition and reflected in the philosophical writing of Seneca, Cicero and Aurelius, and the poetry of Virgil. Citing an account of a single Roman asking a rhetorical question, thoughts unknown, is an unconscionably weak piece of evidence to suggest that the entirety of a civilization did not comprehend something so simple, when they had been writing about it for centuries.

You can't cite Greeks to claim Romans understood and accepted the notion of "truth". (Minus 2).

H2. Which was more influential, the Roman law or the Roman legions?

Roman Law (though, without legions, it would have never spread) has had the longest impact. The Roman legal code formed the bulk of law on the continent for centuries, especially once revived by legal humanist scholars. It was only replaced in the 17th-19th centuries with more modern forms of civil code.

Excellent, though note that the common law is still in force in 49 out of 50 states.

H4. Julius Caesar: a hero or a villain?

Neither. Caesar was yet another in a long line of populares seeking to accomplish his goals in a complex political arena. Like Marius before him, he sought to strike down Patrician domination, and like Sulla, used military might and dictatorial powers to accomplish his goals. His death brought the Republic to its knees, by creating such discord and an enormous power vacuum.

90/100. You show enormous potential, but unable so far to realize it. No prizes are given for falling short of one's potential.--Andy Schlafly 16:08, 3 March 2009 (EST)