GREEK & ROMAN HUMANITIES

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Final Project

Mission and value statement

“To support and contribute to a good cause.”

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I thought about what I should do for the final project for about a week, and the first thing that came to my mind was blood donation. I thought it would be more meaningful to do something that I have never done before, and at the same time, I can contribute to those who are in need.

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Philosophy

Overview of Pre-Socratic philosophy

Pre-Socratic is the term made for the early philosophers who lived and died before the time of Socrates. Many of them were examining questions that we would consider scientific rather than philosophical; however, they had little in common except the time they lived. There are various beliefs presented by the pre-Socratic philosophers.

Thales of Miletus (c. 585 B.C.E)

The earliest philosophical idea is the theory of materialism. The theory holds that the only thing that exists in the world is matter. Thales, one of the materialists, believed that the world is made up of solely water. He was also one of the naturalists who developed the theory that only natural laws and forces operate in the world. Based on this idea, he proposed a theory that was revolutionary during his time. The theory was that the world had developed naturally rather than as a result of divine creation. By proposing this theory, he created a breakaway from the traditional values of Homeric society.

The dualists developed the philosophical idea called dualism. Dualism is the belief that claims that there existed the separation between the world we live and the ideal world. Parmenides, one of the dualists, claimed that the senses we feel in the world we live in is just a delusion, and there is a true reality that can be comprehended by reasoning and is all-perfect. The atheism is another philosophical idea that was developed before the time of Socrates. It is described as the rejection of belief in the existence of gods. Generally, atheists tend to be skeptical of unearthly claims, and they question the existence of gods. The problem of evil, the question of how to explain evil if there is the all-powerful god, is one of the claims made by atheists.

Correlating the elements of philosophy to the current event

Bank failures over the last three years are one factor that caused the recent financial crisis. We all know that the bank failures were caused by the government making the loan policies too lenient. This inability of the government to foresee the future caused too many unqualified people loaning money to buy homes that otherwise they could not afford. Ultimately, both the government and the home buyers did not think critically enough before they made their decisions.

In order to think more deeply about the matter, we should think from the root by asking questions to ourselves. In the case of financial crisis we would ask ourselves these questions: Why are we humans so wasteful? Do humans born naturally wasteful? Or is wastefulness a behavior that humans develop as they grow? First, let’s take a close look at the first question: Do humans born naturally wasteful? No one knows for sure whether we humans born naturally with wastefulness or not, thus for this kind of matter, it is wise for us to put more emphasis on to the next question: Is wastefulness a behavior that humans develop as they grow? In the course of thinking about this question, we can study the human conditions or what humans tend to do and make some assumptions. We live in the world with full of advertisements, and today’s advertisements mainly feature exterior beauty of the products rather than their uses. We humans tend to get easily tempted by the flashy visual imageries in the advertisements. By studying this human condition, we can assume that our wasteful behavior comes from our surroundings and affect on our behavior rather than naturally.

We all know that spending more than producing just doesn’t make sense, but we still live with our wasteful spending behaviors, and also we rarely realize that we are being wasteful. We have to admit that we do lack awareness towards our wastefulness. This lack of awareness comes from our inability to think critically which means that we don’t ask enough questions to ourselves before we act. Constantly asking questions to ourselves would help us in making wiser decisions, because doing so would make us time to think critically and clearly about the matter, thus we are more likely to make better choices than we would when we act under the unconsciousness.


What if the Persians had won the Persian War?

Overview of the second Persian invasion of Greece

The Battle of Thermopylae was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by Sparta, and the Persian Empire of king Xerxes, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. The battle took place at the pass of Thermopylae. King Xerxes had brought his huge army and navy in order to conquer Greece. According to the ancient source, millions of Persian army arrived at the pass of Thermopylae in late August or early September of 480 BC; however, approximately 7,000 Greek men marched to the pass of Thermopylae. Despite of the fact that the Greeks were vastly outnumbered, they managed to block and hold Persian army from passing the pass of Thermopylae for seven days until the real-guard was totaled in one of history’s most famous last stand. During the two days of the battle, aware that his force was being destroyed, King Leonidas of Sparta dismissed the vast majority of Greek army, and 300 Spartans and few hundreds of army from other Greek city-states remained to guard the rear path.

Persians continued to win the battles against Greeks. They have won the battles of Thermopylae and Artemisium, and have conquered Greek city-state of Boeotia, Thessaly, and Attica; however, Greek navy attacked and decisively defeated the Persian army at the Battle of Salamis in late 480 BC and was able to prevent Persians from conquering an another Greek city-state; Peloponnesus. King Xerxes then retreated with most of his army back to Asia fearing to be trapped in Europe. King Xerxes left Mardonius to complete the unfinished conquest of Greece; however, in the following year, Greeks defeat the Persian army at the Battle of Plataea, ending the Persian invasion.

What if version of history

What if the Persians had won the Greco-Persian War and achieved their goal to conquer Greece? What if Spartans decided not to come to the pass of Thermopylae? What if Greek city-states did not put their differences aside and coordinate? How would the world look like now?

Ancient Greeks had developed the basics of western cultures. Their works of philosophy, government, literature, art, and architecture are the ancestors of modern western culture.  If the Persian army had won the war against the Greek army, it is highly likely the Persian army would have marched onto the city-states and Athens would have been destroyed and burnt down. As a result, Greek’s enormous works of philosophy, government, literature, art, and architecture would be completely effaced from Greek history and they would not have been able to pass down to next generations. We may not have heard of the greatness of Julius Caesar and the great Roman Empire. Alexander the Great would not have been able to defeat the heirs to king Xerxes and reintroduce a Hellenistic culture up to the borders of Middle East. Instead of learning about the greatness of Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great in our history class, we would be learning about the greatness of king Xerxes. Our founding fathers have built the United States based on the ideology of democracy and the rights of citizenship that the ancient Greeks have created and practiced long times ago. We can assume that with the absence of ancient Greek’s invention of democracy and freedom, the United States we now live in would not had been created. By closely observing the conditions of current Middle East countries, we can assume that we would be living in undeveloped world following the principles of anti-modernity. Freedom or a sense of being free would not exist, thus we would be living under the oppression and also there would be excessive sex discrimination exists. Spread of religion throughout the world would be in very different shape from now. Christianity may not have existed as we know it. Because of the absence of Roman Empire, it is highly likely that there would not be a creation of Roman Catholicism. Instead, it is highly likely that a religion based on the Persian belief structure would have been spread throughout the Europe. Even in the case of existence of other religion, we would be restricted to believe in only one god. Many famous architectural designs and arts that have been developed from ancient Greece to Roman Empire and then passed down to present would not have exist, instead, there would be Persian architectural designs and arts remaining in the present.

Some people may think it is crazy to connect the result of Persian war to the creation of the United States and some people may think it is silly to even think of what if version of the history. After writing this essay, I feel that we still have to credit and honor Greek city-states for standing up to the millions of Persian army to fight for their freedom and for what they believed in.