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History Of Western Civilization

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The History of Western Civilization has proven to be one of the most imperative demonstrations of leadership, power, women, morality and immorality discussed in the many primary sources read throughout this semester. However, in this particular piece, we will look into depth and analyze how “Power” played such an important role in the ancient world. To help accurately discuss the textual analysis, quotes will be used from the text, Sources for the History of Western Civilization, edited by Michael Burger. The quotes extracted from the sources will be utilized as evidence help better explain how power was both acquired and lost, as well as comparing how the ideals of the philosophers and realities of the every-day varied. Our efforts will also attempt to construe the most important sources of power that had developed of that time.

As an illustration, a concise look into the source, The Deeds of the Divine Augustus, will give us first glance at the magnitude of power that Roman monarchs such as Augustus held between 31 BC and AD 14. According to the prologue, Augustus’ power had begun soon after an important encounter where he had triumphed to victory over Marc Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BC during the battle of Actium. Its significance was proven to be strong because it had led to the fall of the Roman Republic and allowed the establishment of the Roman Empire. The Roman would soon become an important figure for performing such a feat and be awarded to hold a seat in the consul and gain dominant power.

“I have triumphed twice in the ovation, and three times in the Curule triumph, and I have been saluted as imperator 21 times. After that, when the Senate decreed many more triumphs for me, I declined them,” Said Augustus. Among the power which he had already had, the government still had showered him with even more titles. This could have been a sign that they too were intimidated of what could come of the Roman. “I did not accept the dictatorship, which was offered to me by the people and the Senate.” To one, power would seem to come as an endless supply to Roman Augustus. The Deeds of the Divine Augustus, have clearly shown that Augustus’ power did not only come from countless victories showing his military strength, but also his political influence that had assembled to something even greater.

Our second example of power is demonstrated in none other than Plutarch’s, Life of Alexander the Great. According to Plutarch, the Greek writer and Historian, Alexander had descended from Hercules by the Gods. His destiny sat before him, as his own father had been King of Macedon from 359-336 BC. Soon after Alexander’s fathers death, Plutarch had described that he had become very angry. It was thought to believe that channeling the inner Lion within him, had driven him in becoming one of the most successful military commanding officer in ancient history. Plutarch suggests that his military strength was the crucial in the many battles where he had reigned undefeated.

For instance, as depicted in the battle between Alexander and King Taxiles, Alexander showed no mercy. The historian quotes King Taxile, “To what purpose, should we make war upon one another if the plan of your coming into these parts is not to rob us of our water or necessary food, which are the only things that wise men indispensably obliged to fight for?” Here we can clearly see that Plutarch is attempting to illustrate that what Alexander wanted wasn’t anything of material assets. The pleasure of annihilation and the glory that would follow is all that he would yearn for. According to the Macedonians, Alexander had been looked upon as one of the Gods, similarly just as when he had gone to Olympus where the Gods themselves deemed him invincible. His power could not be held back, it had become untamable.

In addition to not only the thoughts of Macedonians, Plutarch also exhibits the thoughts of ten Indian philosophers who had become prisoners to Alexander on his voyage to sea after his battle between the Kings of the Gardaritans and the Praesians. It was said that he had asked each of the prisoners a question, and based on the integrity of each ones answer, would determine whether or not they would be put to death. It is to believe that Plutarch lists the prisoner’s questions



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