Summary: The Western Humanities, Seventh Edition





Summary: The Western Humanities, Seventh Edition

Chapter 1: Prehistory and Near Eastern Civilization

There has been rapid global growth and development in the past century. Although it seems as if all this development has taken place in the past century, the current civilization is based on a foundation that is more than five thousand years old. This foundation is frequently revisited when the people want to associate with their heritage. This heritage is made up of both culture and civilization. While culture is frequently passed on from one generation to another and is consistent, civilization is passed on through writing, changing as the changes are made.

Through research and reading through the books of civilization, the Paleolithic period is the earliest civilization period identified with the history of the Homo species. The hominids, the earliest of the homo species, learnt to make tools as well as to use them. They also came up with the rudimentary culture during this period. It is believed that designation of work started taking place in this period. The males hunted for animals and wild fruits while the females, and children did the gathering and the caring for the young.

The Homo sapiens evolved around 200,000 B.C. This species was more developed thus it came up with other tools and skills for survival. This species also developed a religion and other ways of living currently seen. In summary, the Pliocene and the Pleistocene periods were around 1,800,000 years ago. The recent period known as the Holocene period only began around 10,000 years ago. The hominids were around 5,000,000 and 2,000,000years ago. The Homo sapiens evolved in the lower and the middle Paleolithic period. The Holocene period consists of the Mesolithic, Neolithic and the age of metals. This latter period started around 3000 years ago.

As a means of surviving, agriculture was started in Mesopotamia. This word means “land between two rivers” as it is between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Settling in this area took place in the year 6000 B.C. the kingdoms of Sumeria, Akkadia and Babylon dwelled and prospered in this area of Mesopotamia for approximately 1500 years. It is significant to understand that these three kingdoms are known as the cradle of civilization. Writing started in Mesopotamia as it was done through inscribing wedge like shapes on clay tablets. The three kingdoms have a difference in religion even though they have the basic of the religions present today. For example, there was the belief in a supernatural force or being.

The Epic of Gilganesh is one of the most famous pieces of literature in the Mesopotamian period. This was a beginning for literature work. The laws were made as way of governing the way people lived. The Mesopotamian laws came before the Hebrew laws. The Sumerian styles served as a foundation for art and architecture. Mesopotamia later connected to Egypt, which is another place is rich in civilization history. From here, civilization has continually spread all over the world changing with place and age.

Chapter 3: Classical Greek Civilization: The Hellenic Age

The Hellenic Age lasted from 479 B.C.E to 323 B.C.E. This period lasted from the time the Greeks defeated the Persians to the Greek’s defeat of the Macedonians. This period of civilization had a few general characters. The main feature was competitiveness and rivalry. This characteristic brought an increase in urban lifestyle. The city started gaining dominance with political, societal and economical issues. The beliefs towards the Olympian deities, who are associated with the Greeks, started changing. People started incorporating the public worship into civic festivities. However, the expansive knowledge of civic rights brought dissatisfaction in the religious aspect of the human life.

Regard for a balanced life is another characteristic of this civilization. It was not about achieving the balanced life, but it was also about how to moderate the means of achieving this balanced life. In other words, the Greeks sort after achieving the two sides of life, which also included the human nature. These two sides of the human nature were symbolized by gods Apollo and Dionysus. The former is the moderation god while the latter is the excess god.

This Hellenic age is also characterized by four phases. They include the Delian League, the wars, the Peloponnesian War and the Macedonian victory, the Spartan and the Theban phases. Through these phases, civilization was in continuum. For example, the emergence of technology came into being through adapting from the people of the past and the present the enlargement of the ships had started taking place by 479 B.C.E. through this technology development and warring period, there was a thirty-year period of peace.

The artistic elements of the Greeks really developed during this age. “Tragedy” in theatre gained a lot of popularity during this period. Tragedy means “goat song” and it was a religious ceremony in prehistory. Different sculptors and other pieces of work were made in order to symbolize different things. For example, black sculptural portraits were made in order to symbolize the black person in Greece. Philosophy, Science and medicine were greatly developed during this age. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are some of the greatest philosophers of this age. Architecture was developed through the building of sanctuaries while the sculptures and the artwork on the walls were used to the history to other generations.

Chapter 4: Hellenistic Civilization and the Rise of Rome

The Hellenistic age lasted from the year 336 B.C.E and 31 B.C.E. The MacedonKingdom, which is greatly associated with war, is one of the main features of this age. This monarchy had to keep warring in order to prevent the Macedonian Army from turning against them. Under the leadership of King Philip, there was unity as the Macedonian families were brought under control. This is because he had eliminated the rival states. Through his successor, his son Alexander, the empire was able to defeat the Persian Empire. This is something that King Philip had always wanted as a way of revenge. Unfortunately, the kingdom split into more kingdoms through Alexander’s leadership. His generals brought this split as they fought amongst themselves.

The Hellenistic cultures were defined by the Greek-speaking people. Since this was like a continuum of the classical age, a continuity of the art, architecture and learning that had started in the classical age was evident. However, the women were recognized in this age than in the previous age. In literature, the playwrights and poets opted to bring forth deeds that are more thoughtful instead of dwelling on the Kings’ deeds. The philosophers concentrated on the peace of mind while the Scientists dwelt how the natural world had come into being. During this period, these Greek-speaking cities of this age interacted with many people from the west.

Rome came into being during this Hellenistic age. It grew from just being a city-state into being a very big empire. It was not only big but it also became very powerful. Rome became a republic by overthrowing kingship around 500 B.C.E. However, most power was in the hands of the few who were wealthy. It became fight between the patricians (wealthy) and the plebeians (poor) for about 200 years. After some time, the plebeians gained political and legal rights through fights and struggles. Rome slowly grew by defeating such states as Italy, the Carthage and the Celts. Rome did not want to be associated with the Hellenistic world but it later incorporated itself by taking part in the Macedonian Wars. In political and social maters, the wealthy families made up the political arena. There was an obvious difference between the wealthy and the poor and hierarchies constituted the ancient families.

The Roman revolution affected all aspects of Rome. Tiberius and Gracchus, who were brothers, started the attempt to do away with the inequalities present in the roman societies. Expansion of Rome was also part of the revolution. The Romans defeated the Italians in 90 B.C.E. The Triumvirate, which was an alliance between Pompey, a Roman general, Crassus and Caesar, is one of the major achievements of this period. Julius Caesar was also assassinated during this period. The geographical and cultural boundaries of the West were identified during this age.

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