Case Study: How Did the Ancient World Influence Our Own?

Author: | Posted in Uncategorized No comments

How did the ancient world influence our own?

“If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development”  -Aristotle


Civilization is like a block of clay that had been molded and shaped from a simple, characterless slab of material to a beautiful masterpiece. When looking at a masterpiece, it is common to wonder how and why it is so intricate. A masterpiece begins with simple brush strokes that eventually form something beautiful. Modern civilization takes its roots from all aspects of life in the Ancient world including the development of government, writing systems, and education. The best way to understand how the institutions of today came about is by looking at prime examples from antiquity and correlating them to their counterparts in the modern world.

The Democracies of today can be attested to the ingenuity of the Greeks.  Athenian democracy had two distinctive features that are emulated in today’s practice of democracy. The first was the selection of ordinary citizens posted in government offices and courts. These citizens were chosen by the use of lots—lottery—and then given government positions in which they represented the people and their best interest. The second was the assembly of all citizens. All citizens were entitled to speak and vote in the Assembly, which was the group of people who made the laws of the city-state. The term “citizens” only included males born from a father who was a citizen; this excluded slaves, women, and foreigners. The Roman Republic also practiced a model of democracy; only a minority of Romans were actually citizens who could vote

partake in the Senate.  Today, America uses the foundations of democracy that Ancient Greece and Rome lay down by setting up a more complex form of democracy that works for our country and our people.

Written language has evolved from cuneiform script in the Sumerian civilization (34th century BC) to more complex forms that we see today such as English, Spanish, German, and Chinese. To understand why we see variations of written language today, it is necessary to understand for what purposes cuneiform was invented. Cuneiform evolved from an accounting system that was put in place thousands of years before. The creativity of the Sumerians led them to produce a system of symbols, that when transcribed onto clay tablets, would tell a story. Eventually other empires adopted cuneiform and modified it to their own needs such as the Akkadians and Sumerians. Throughout the evolution of history, other known civilizations have adopted written languages from older civilizations. An example of this is how the Greek alphabet derives from Phoenician script. This trend of building off other civilizations’ writing systems has prevailed throughout evolution of society. The language you and I speak today (English) derives from England from about the year 600.

The education of modern society didn’t just spring up out of the ground. The foundations of education can be most closely attested to the Ancient Greeks. At first, education was restricted to the wealthy that could afford to pay for it but later on, during the Hellenistic period, public schools became more popular. Arithmetic, music, dancing, and sports were the primary subjects that were taught. The richest of students could afford to get an advanced education from famous teachers such as Aristotle at the Lyceum. This form of education sounds very similar to what modern day learning institutions are: a place to gain a greater education if one pays a lot of money. Without Greece taking an interest in education, we may very well not be where we are today because young minds would not be molded and free thought would be limited.

Antiquity can be praised for forming many of the ideas and institutions that we are so very grateful to have today. Without the ingenuity of the Ancients, we would be stuck in a time of despair. The development of government, writing systems, and education accurately show how the Romans, Greeks, and civilizations of Mesopotamia improved the quality of life step by step and ultimately turned something simple into a masterpiece.

Second Essay

The mistreatment of the Christian Roman martyrs who fought for the Roman Empire and the atheist soldiers who fought in Iraq are closely related in regard to the reasons for mistreatment. Although the situation is similar, there are major differences in the scope and effects of the events that unfold after the mistreatment occurred.

When looking at the situation of the Christians that served in the Roman army and the atheists of the American military, it is important to analyze the similarities. To start off, both of these soldiers were fighting for the nations in which they lived in. In any military, there is ethnic and religious diversity and tolerance does not always occur. Unfortunately for these two groups, they were the minority and a target for the larger group to pick on. If they had kept quiet, or conformed to the larger group (Maximianus of the Roman army and the soldiers who practiced religion in the American military) they would have not been hassled.  Both of the groups felt strongly about their beliefs and when confronted about them they stood on their positions. The Christian soldiers, known as the Thebaei, refused to slay other Christians on command and the atheist soldiers would not change their beliefs after being harassed by fellow soldiers. This refusal to change beliefs for both parties led to consequences. They both were not equal soldiers in the militaries in which they served.

While the situations of the Thebaei and American atheist soldiers are similar in the way their differences in religion, both affected how they were treated in the military. There is a major difference in the two situations regarding the scope of punishment and how matters were handled. The Thaebaei received punishment by death from Maximianus. On two occasions, he ordered that every tenth man in the Thebaei legion be slaughtered to heed warning for the remaining soldiers to follow orders. The Thebaei could not prevent the imminent slaughtering and had to accept the fact. This is due to how governments were structured in Ancient Rome—a soldier cannot argue against a commander. The atheists were more fortunate because when discrimination occurred on their end, they had the right to sue the military and the people responsible. If they didn’t like being harassed, they could simply leave the army to avoid it. They had options while the Thaebaei had only the option to either persecute their fellow Christians or be slaughtered.  The Thabaei show this when they said: “We well prefer to die rather than to live, and choose to perish as innocents rather than to live as criminals” (Lives of Roman Soldiers).

The situations of the Thebaei and the atheists demonstrate how the military can be unfair for minorities. When the two parties tried to speak up against the bigger group they were harassed and had consequences for their actions. Fortunately for the atheists, they live in a time where they can speak up against discrimination and file lawsuits while the Thebaei could only accept death in a time where one person (Maximianus) had supreme power and this is the main difference.

Roman Senate:

The Roman Senate had three major responsibilities, which was to be the focal point of executive power in the republic, it served as the council to the King of Rome, and was a legislative entity with the people of Rome. The senate has the important responsibility of electing a new king. The senate created new laws, that were difficult for the king to ignore. Also the senate had the important job of allocating money for projects and other expenses throughout the empire.

Pax Augusta

 The Pax Augusta (Augustan peace) refers to the 30-year span of peace in the Roman emperor due to the leadership of emperor Augustus. This term is also known as the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) due to the fact that civil war was eliminated because of the effectiveness of the Roman law systems enacted. There were no major invasions or murders in the Empire due to legions that protected the boarders.


 Suetonius was a very important aristocratic Roman historian who documented many aspects of Roman civilization including politics, art, and literature. His most significant literature that has survived was the De Vita Caesarum; the twelve emporors are documented in this work. (Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian) He was also a friend to Pliny the Younger. (A famous magistrate in Rome)

Adoptive Emperors

The adoptive emperors, also known as the five good emperors, reigned from 96-180 AD. The names of these emperor’s are Nerva (AD 96-98), Trajan (98-117), Hadrian (117-138), Antoninus Pius (138-161) and Marcus Aurelius. (161-180) They are called the adoptive emporors because their predecessors adopted them to be the next emperor in the chain. They are associated with prosperity and fair rule.

Paul of Tarsus/Saint Paul

Saint Paul was an apostle who assisted with the rise of Christianity. He describes the one and only almighty beings who accepts forgiveness and loves humanity that he created. Paul delivers his first sermon at Pisidian Antioch and is beheaded in Rome around the year 60 A.D. He wrote thirteen epistles in the New Testament.


This term refers to the four linked regions instituted by Roman emperor Diocletian

in 293 during the recovery of the Roman empire. The four tetrarchic capitals were Nicomedia, Sirmium, Mediolanum, and Augusta Treverorum and each region had a different emperor. The tetrarchy is remembered for it’s military achievement because an emperor was always nearby to command when a battle was imminent.

Tolerance Edict of Milan

The Edict of Milan was a letter signed by the emperors Constantine I and Licinius that made religious toleration possible in the Roman Empire in 313 AD. This was issued to restore public order because the Christians were revolting in response to the intolerance, their property being stolen, and meeting places disbanded.

Constitutio Antoniniana/Edict of Antoninus

This was a law enacted by Emperor Caracalla in 212 that proclaimed that all free men in the Roman Empire were to be given full Roman Citizenship and free women were to be given rights of Roman women. This would give a bigger pool to choose soldiers for the many legions Rome had as well as increase tax revenue. Cassius Dio, a Roman historian confirms the edict.