World History Homework Two Answers - Student 8

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Answer 4 out of 6 questions below:

1. When did the Greek empire exist, and what events mark its beginning and its end?

There was no Greek "empire". As a word and political idea derived from the Latin imperium and the geopolitical hegemony of Rome, the concept of empire is both linguistically and geopolitically alien to Greece. There were indeed some larger-scale hegemonia in Ancient Greece, most notably the Delian League (c.477-404 BC) which some scholars, for convenience, refer to as the "Athenian Empire". However it is noteworthy that (1) the use of the word "empire" here is purely for convenience as more people are familiar with "empire" than "hegemonia" or the Delian League, and (2) the League was centred around Athens and the eastern Peloponnese, not the whole of Greece. It is therefore fair to say that there was a Greek civilisation, but never a Greek empire.

2. What is your favorite Aesop's Fable, and why? Explain.

Washing the Aethiop White. In the fable, a white Greek purchases an Aethiop (sub-Saharan African) slave from a previous Greek owner. The new owner assumes that the Aethiop has been so badly neglected by his previous owner that he is filthy, and proceeds to wash his slave. However, no amount of bathing will turn the Aethiop white.

There are various interpretations of this fable. A rather grim one is caveat emptor - let the buyer beware of what he is purchasing. Perhaps equally grim is the fable's implicit condemnation of white Europeans for having no knowledge of sub-Saharan Africans. But the most likely interpretation is that human nature cannot be changed even when the intention is honourable; thus "washing the Aethiop white" is an eternal and futile quest. The Greek wishes to genuinely help the Aethiop by cleaning him, but cannot change his nature. The fable remains as powerful today as when it was first written - it is possible to educate the unbeliever in the Truth, and it is possible to explain the ideal political system to the closed-minded fool; but no matter how hard we might try, we cannot change a person's nature.

3. Pick one of the Greek philosophers and compare and contrast him with another Greek philosopher.

Epicurus (c.341–270 BC) taught that the purpose of life was to attain true happiness, defind by three states of existence: (1) ataraxia, the peace and freedom granted by lack of fear; (3) aponia, the absence of physical or emotional pain; and (3) living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. Epicurus also taught that both body and soul are finite, that there is no afterlife as the gods don't care about humans, and that the universe is eternal without beginning or end. It is perhaps notable that in the mid-nineteenth century, Karl Marx wrote his PhD thesis on Epicureanism, and that historically, an Epicurean leaning has often characterised literati and intelligentsia.

Zeno of Citium (c.334-262 BC) was famous for both logic and physics in addition to philosophy. His Stoic philosophy became more widely accepted in both Greece and, later, Rome; as it relied upon simpler tenets. Like the work of Epicurus, Zeno's teachings were based upon natural philosophy. Based upon his premise that the universe is perpetually changing and utterly uncaring as to the fate of humanity, Zeno taught that individuals should develop strong self-control to avoid becoming distracted by petty, everyday affairs (including emotion), thus enabling them to adapt to an ever-changing universe and attain a closer connection to a universe which itself is uninterested in the petty affairs of mankind.

4. Explain how the expansion and influence of the Greek culture became useful to the growth of Christianity. Mention the role played by Alexander the Great.

The cultural and commercial spread of Greeks from the fifth century BC onwards, into the eastern Mediterranean, Levant, and Egypt, caused Greek influence to become established across the region. This was cemented by the geopolitical expansion of Macedon, and its culture, under Alexander the Great and his subsequent legacy of establishing Greek-style states after his death (the Seleucids and the Ptolemies being notable example). However this was not the first time that a particular culture had gained widespread recognition in the region. Ancient Greek became a lingua franca which did indeed facilitate the eventual spread of Christian ideology, but it also facilitated the spread of distinctly non-Christian and even anti-Christian philosophies such as those of the pagan philosophers. It was not even the first lingua franca - long before the Greeks were known in the Levant, Akkadian cuneiform was the diplomatic and commercial lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean, as evidence by the Armana Letters of thirteenth-century Egypt and Hatti. The argument also discredits the power of God, as it implies that God had to wait for a particular combination of human language, geopolitics, commerce, culture, and activity to form before he could send Jesus to Earth. Surely an omnipotent, omniscient God is not bound by human affairs? Christianity would have spread regardless of Greek culture, as is evidence by the spread of Christianity into pre-colonial Africa and Asia from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries. Ideas spread regardless of politics on the ground.

5. Pick two of the important ancient empires other than the Greek empire, and briefly describe them.

The Kushite civilisation, based at the city of Meroe, was one of the longest-lived societies of the ancient world. Records from the Egyptian Old Kingdom testify to an organised society in the area, which controlled the trade routes between Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa. A matrilineal society headed by the Kandake, or queen, Kush maintained its control of the Upper Nile in spite of an almost-perpetual struggle with the various dynasties of Egypt, who desired direct control of the trade routes. While Egypt was gradually able to conquer, annex, and Egyptianise Nubia, the Kushites maintained their independence from Egypt (and the later Nubian Dynasty). When the Romans conquered Egypt, the Kushites established strong trade links with the Roman state, providing perfumes, ivory, spices, and slaves to Rome in exchange for Mediterranean goods (notably iron). Subsequent Roman attempts to conquer Kush in the first and fourth centuries were unsuccessful, and Kush ultimately outlived its Roman rivals until the Arabic conquest of Egypt in the seventh century. The subsequent shift towards trading on the Red Sea rather than the land route through Kush and Nubia bypassed Kush, depriving the Kushites of trade income. The civilisation appears to have fragmented and dissolved in the late seventh century.

The Nok culture of West Africa emerged around the turn of the first millennium BC. Little is known about the Nok apart from their sculpture and metallurgy, first discovered by archaeologists in the 1920s, and which attest to a highly-advanced society employing sophisticated mining and manufacturing techniques, in addition to a rich religious culture which presumably commissioned the many spiritual sculptures. The geographical spread of these artifacts attests to either a commercial and cultural hegemony in much of West Africa, or an outright military control of the region. As so little is known about the Nok besides their sculptures (which imply a stratified, hierarchical society with far-flung commercial contacts), archaeologists are still unsure why the Nok culture disappears from the archaeological record around 500 BC. As no indications of military violence or ecological change have been discovered, it appears that the culture merged with the Yoruba and Oyo, quickly becoming assimilated into these more powerful societies.

6. Write 150 words on any aspect of the lecture, or describe 3 important terms from the lecture (such as adding them to the study guide above).

It is surprising that the Lecture contains so little material on the Celts, a civilisation whose existence has been known of since the Roman period, and about which archaeologists and historians have uncovered a wealth of material. It is also surprising that the Lecture refers to the Celts as a collection of tribes, rather than a civilisation. By what criteria do we judge one society to be "civilised", and another "tribal"? Iron Age Northwestern Europe was inhabited by a number of fixed, organised, hierarchical societies which practised agriculture, organised religions, architecture, had access to professional military forces, were governed by semi-elected and/or ancestral chieftains, and had long-distance commercial links with the Mediterranean. Additionally, these societies shared cultural links through art and language, and had far more in common with each other than with the emerging societies of central Italy, Carthage, or the eastern Mediterranean. Perhaps this counts more as a "civilisation" than a mere collection of "tribes".

Honors Questions (answer any 2 in addition to the above questions)

7. Write an essay of 200 words on any aspect of one or more ancient languages, such as their development or origins (or add 5 terms with descriptions to the study guide).

Linear A is a written language from the Minoan period of Bronze-Age Crete. While its symbols share some similarities with the deciphered Linear B, Linear A remains a mystery to linguists, historians, and cryptographers. Many of the symbols correspond to letters and glyphs in the ancient Phoenician, Minoan, Hittite, and Urrudian alphabets, but do not appear to have the same meaning. Furthermore, only a few artefacts have been discovered which bear writing in Linear A script, and the sequence of glpyhs and letters on artefacts is not always the same. This confounds efforts to find a mathematical pattern which would help establish a basic grammar. However, some theories have been proposed. Vladimir Georgiev proposed that Linear A is simply an archaic dialect of Ancient Greek, and its writers had not understood that some of their letters were from other alphabets. Gareth Owens proposes that Linear A is a derivative of Luwian, a language written using the Hittite alphabet, while Jan Best suggests that it is in fact a combination of Phoenician letters and glyphs from an as-yet undiscovered native script. None of these theories fully explain Linear A; testament to the complexity of any language and the arbitrary nature of all forms of writing. Letters and glyphs have no intrinsic meaning, only meaning which people collectively impose upon them, and our own languages today are no exception to this rule.

10. Discuss any aspect of the lecture.

The Lecture claims that Jesus did not have a defence lawyer at his trial because the Romans lacked the concept of judicial defence. However, the famous orator Marcus Tullius (Nicknamed "Cicero"; 106-43 BC) made his early career defending Sextus Roscius, Aulus Cluentius, Lucius Murena, Aulus Archias, Marcus Rufus, and famously Titus Milo, among others. As these defences took place in trials at the Senate itself, and as Cicero (as the survivng texts demonstrate) was obliged to follow complex protocols and anticipate his opponents' speeches, there is very significant evidence that the Romans indeed embraced the concept of defence lawyers. The reason Jesus did not have one are disputable. Judea was an insignificant province at the time and Jesus was, in the eyes of Pontius Pilate (but not Caiphas and Annas) an insignificant man. It is also unlikely that Jesus had the financial resources to hire a defence lawyer, and most importantly, it was God's plan that Jesus be found guilty and executed to save us from our sins. Had Jesus been assigned a defence lawyer, and won his case, then God's plan for salvation would not have happened!