Thursday, June 10, 2010


Question: Explain why some scholars have called the Ancient Egyptians a "death obsessed" culture. Do you agree?

Thesis: The Egyptians were completely obsessed with death because it is clear from their way of mummification; people would never spend that much time on a task if they weren't obsessed with the matter of it all.

Primary Sources:

1. "The mode of embalming, according to the most perfect process, is the following:- They take first a crooked piece of iron, and with it draw out the brain through the nostrils, thus getting rid of a portion, while the skull is cleared of the rest by rinsing with drugs; next they make a cut along the flank with a sharp Ethiopian stone, and take out the whole contents of the abdomen, which they then cleanse, washing it thoroughly with palm wine, and again frequently with an infusion of pounded aromatics. After this they fill the cavity with the purest bruised myrrh, with cassia, and every other sort of spicery except frankincense, and sew up the opening. Then the body is placed in natrum for seventy days, and covered entirely over. After the expiration of that space of time, which must not be exceeded, the body is washed, and wrapped round, from head to foot, with bandages of fine linen cloth, smeared over with gum, which is used generally by the Egyptians in the place of glue, and in this state it is given back to the relations, who enclose it in a wooden case which they have had made for the purpose, shaped into the figure of a man. Then fastening the case, they place it in a sepulchral chamber, upright against the wall. Such is the most costly way of embalming the dead."

Ancient History Sourcebook: Herodotus: Mummification, from The Histories." FORDHAM.EDU.

2. "Come," says Thoth, "why have you come?" "I have come and I press forward so that I may be announced." "What now is your condition?" "I am purified from evil things, I am protected from the evil deeds of those who live in their days: I am not among them." "Now I will announce you. But who is he whose heaven is fire, whose walls are cobras, and whose floor is a stream of water? Who is he, I say?" "He is Osiris.""Come forward, then, you will be announced to him.Your cakes will come from the Eye 21 of Ra, your beer from the Eye, your meals of the dead from the Eye.This has been decreed for the Osiris the overseer of the house of the overseer of the seal, Nu, triumphant."

Egyptian Book of the Dead, Chapter 125." Washington State University - Pullman, Washington.

3. "If persons wish to avoid expense, and choose the second process, the following is the method pursued:- Syringes are filled with oil made from the cedar-tree, which is then, without any incision or disembowelling, injected into the abdomen. The passage by which it might be likely to return is stopped, and the body laid in natrum the prescribed number of days. At the end of the time the cedar-oil is allowed to make its escape; and such is its power that it brings with it the whole stomach and intestines in a liquid state. The natrum meanwhile has dissolved the flesh, and so nothing is left of the dead body but the skin and the bones. It is returned in this condition to the relatives, without any further trouble being bestowed upon it."

Ancient History Sourcebook: Herodotus: Mummification, from The Histories." FORDHAM.EDU.

Explanation of Argument:

The process of mummifying the dead is a painstaking, long task and for the Egyptians to do it to every person, they had to be obsessed with death. In the first source, it shows how much time and effort was put into just one mummification. The second source comes from The Book of the Dead. Why would Egyptians take the time to create a book full of ideas and ceremonies that were a part of death if it wasn't an obsession? That's because Egyptians were obsessed with death. Egyptians even gave people the option to choose two other ways of embalming to keep the cost low. If its not obvious that the Egyptians were obsessed with death, then Julius Caesar never died.

Question: Who is a better model for modern historians: Herodotus or Thucydides? Why?

Thesis: Thucydides is a better model for modern historians because Herodotus has been plagued with accusations of being untrustworthy, untruthful, and he disappeared almost wholly after he turned forty years old, while Thucydides has been providing modern historians bundles of ethical and accurate facts.

Primary Sources:

1. "From this point of his career, when he had reached the age of forty, we lose sight of him almost wholly. He seems to have made but few journeys, one to Crotona, one to Metapontum, and one to Athens (about 430 B.C.) being all that his work indicates. No doubt he was employed mainly, as Pliny testifies, in retouching and elaborating his general history. He may also have composed at Thurii that special work on the history of Assyria to which he twice refers in his first book, and which is quoted by Aristotle. It has been supposed by many that he lived to a great age, and argued that, "the nevertobemistaken fundamental tone of his performance is the quiet talkativeness of a highly cultivated, tolerant, intelligent, old man" (Dahlmann)."

Ancient History Sourcebook: 11th Brittanica: Herodotus." FORDHAM.EDU.

2. "It has been questioned, both in ancient and in modern times, whether the history of Herodotus possesses the essential requisite of trustworthiness. Several ancient writers accuse him of intentional untruthfulness. Moderns generally acquit him of this charge; but his severer critics still urge that, from the inherent defects of his character, his credulity, his love of effect and his loose and inaccurate habits of thought, he was unfitted for the historian's office, and has produced a work of but small historical value."

Ancient History Sourcebook: 11th Brittanica: Herodotus." FORDHAM.EDU.

3. "Thucydides stands alone among the men of his own days, and has no superior of any age, in the width of mental grasp which could seize the general significance of particular events. The political education of mankind began in Greece, and in the time of Thucydides their political life was still young. Thucydides knew only the smaU citycommonwealth on the one hand, and on the other the vast barbaric kingdom; and yet, as has been well said of him "there is hardly a problem in the science of government which the statesman will not find, if not solved, at any rate handled, in the pages of this universal master."

Ancient History Sourcebook: 11th Brittanica: Thucydides." FORDHAM.EDU.

Explanation of Argument:

Herodotus did barely anything to prove he possessed correct and truthful facts. Thucydides has been venerated since his time, while Herodotus has almost fallen into oblivion. In the first and second sources, Herodotus is being accused of so many things that make him look terrible. The the third source, Thucydides is being called a master for his works.

Question: Considering all of the conflict of the first century BCE, was Rome better off as an 'empire' than as a republic?

Thesis: Rome was better off as an republic because they already had a specific Roman government system and a Constitution in order; why change what is working and what has been working, no matter what the circumstances?

Primary Sources:

1. "the magistrates should see to it that the republic received no hurt from the mischievous designs of M. Manlius." There upon the consular tribunes and the tribunes of the plebs -- for these latter recognised that the end of liberty would also be the end of their power, and had, therefore, placed themselves under the authority of the senate -- all consulted together as to what were the necessary steps to take.

"Livy." Internet Archive: Wayback Machine.

2. "When any alliance is concluded, any war ended, or treaty made; to them the conditions are referred, and by them either annulled or ratified. And thus again, from a view of all these circumstances, it might with reason be imagined, that the people had engrossed the largest portion of the government, and that the state was plainly a democracy."

"Ancient History Sourcebook: Polybius : Rome at the End of the Punic Wars [History, Book 6]."

3. "Such are the parts of the administration, which are distinctly assigned to each of the three forms of government, that are united in the commonwealth of Rome. It now remains to be considered, in what manner each several form is enabled to counteract the others, or to cooperate with them."

"Ancient History Sourcebook: Polybius : Rome at the End of the Punic Wars [History, Book 6]."

Explanation of Argument:

Rome was a better off as a republic because relieved no hurt from the designs of men who tried to change this city. The second source explains, whenever a war, battle, or argument any new form of government seemed to be vetoed and ratified. The people of Rome stayed true to their democracy form of government. Their republic was plainly a democracy because it included like largest portion of the state; its people.

Question: Were the Vikings "barbarians"?

Thesis: The Vikings were barbarians because they conquered every place they could without resist, and without mercy for the souls they slaughtered.

Primary Sources:

1. "The invaders went into winter quarters in the city of Amiens and devastated all the land to the Seine and on both sides of the Oise, and no man opposed them; and they burned with fire the monasteries and churches of Christ . . . ."

Viking Raids in France and the Siege or Paris." De Re Militari: The Society for Medieval Military History.

2. "The burning of Tours The Danish pirates, making their way into the country eastward from the city of Nantes, arrived without opposition, November eighth, before Tours. This they burned, together with the church of St. Martin and the neighboring places. But that incursion had been foreseen with certainty and the body of St. Martin had been removed to Cormery, a monastery of that church, and from there to the city of Orleans. The pirates went on to the chateau of Blois[9] and burned it, proposing then to proceed to Orleans and destroy that city in the same fashion."

Sam Houston State University - Texas - Carnegie Doctoral Research Univ.

3. "We have abundant means; we have no lack of troops; God be praised, that wherever we touched land, men have joined our ranks. Sverri has now scattered his forces here and there, and has now but few men left with him, and they are enclosed here before us, in the fiord, like sheep in a pen. May God grant such an end to this encounter that we may have peace and freedom from our enemies hereafter, whether we remain alive or die."

"The Battle of Norafiord." De Re Militari: The Society for Medieval Military History.

Explanation of Argument:

The Vikings were barbarians because they merciless beings. They pressed on to conquer even this obstacles in their way. The obstacles were no match for the stacked Vikings. The first source how brutal the vikings were by the way no one opposed them because the people were scared. The third source hints at how the Vikings were stacked with men, who are manly and tough, and weren't concerned if they lived or if they died.

Question: What was the significance of the Black Death and the 100 Years' War to the development of Europe as we know it today?

Thesis: The Black Death and The 100 Year's War changed Europe forever by altering normal life and sending Europeans down a path where they had to find their own way to make peace and ultimately save humankind.

Primary Sources:

1. "...being thoroughly terrified by the things which were happening, and supposing that they would die immediately, did, as was natural, learn respectability for a season by sheer necessity. Therefore as soon as they were rid of the disease and were saved, and already supposed that they were in security, since the curse had moved on to other peoples, then they turned sharply about and reverted once more to their baseness of hearts and now, more than before, they make a display of the inconsistency of their conduct, altogether surpassing themselves in villainy and in lawlessness of every sort."

"Medieval Sourcebook: Procopius: The Plague, 542 A.D. History of the Wars, II.xxii-xxxiii."

2. "There was not so hard a heart within the city of Limoges, an if he had anv remembrance of God, but that wept piteously for the great mischief that they saw before their even: for more than three thousand men, women and children were slain and beheaded that day, God have mercy on their souls, for I trow they were martyrs."

Medieval Sourcebook: Jean Froissart: On The Hundred Years War (1337-1453).

3. "The power and authority to govern and to control the public affairs of the said kingdom shall, during our lifetime, be vested in our son, King Henry, with the advice of the nobles and wise men who are obedient to us, and who have consideration for the advancement and honor of the said kingdom...."

Medieval Sourcebook: Hundred Years War: Treaty of Troyes, 1420 and Conditions in France in 1422.

Explanation of Argument:

The Black Death and The 100 Year's War was changing Europe, which shaped it into what we know it as today. The first source explains that people died from the disease, but those who didn't lived a life of villainy and lawlessness. Today, the plague is gone because over the years, Europeans conjured up a way to stop the disease from spreading. In the second source, about the 100 Year's War, it tells of city streets that were filled with innocent people who had been slain. The leaders of these battles had felt remorse for their people and needed to find a way to stop the make to make peace. Just like the plague, this war was destroying mankind. They finally created a treaty that left France under appropriate rule that kept Europeans happy for the time being.

Question: How does Henry VIII maintain power while breaking away from the Catholic Church?

Thesis: Henry VIII maintained power by becoming the ruler of his own religion, the Church of England, and keeping his people united.

Primary Sources:

1. "I exhort you, and set forth God's word truly, both by true preaching and giving a good example, or else, I, whom God has appointed his vicar and high minister here, will see these divisions extinct, and these enormities corrected, according to my true duty, or else I am an unprofitable servant and an untrue officer'."

Primary Sources: Henry VIII's Speech before Parliament, 1545.

2. "The effect of the treason was denying the king to be Supreme Head of the Church of England, according to a statute, The Act of Supremacy, made in the last session of Parliament".

"Primary Sources."

3. "Henry, king not through usurpation but through the holy ordination of God, to Hildebrand, at present not pope but false monk.....I Henry, king by the grace of God, do say unto thee, together with all our bishops: Descend, descend, to be damned throughout the ages."

Medieval Sourcebook: Henry IV: Letter to Gregory VII, Jan 24 1076.

Explanation of Argument:

King Henry VIII maintains his power by giving his people the choice to be solely under his rule as a king and pope. Obviously, King Henry gave his people no choice. If you opposed, you were exiled or worse, executed. King Henry was king, he possessed all the power. Thomas Moore made the mistake by denying Henry the Head of Supremacy. His final words went something along the lines of, "The King's loyal servant, but God's first." King Henry VIII maintains power because he holds a position of authority over England. His subjects are scared of him and will not speak out because their lives are at stake. At least his people are all united as one, powerful force.


Question: Describe the significance of the Battle of Tours.

Thesis: The Battle of Tours is significant because the Franks defeated the Muslims which, for a short amount of time, stopped the spread of Islam.

Primary Sources:

1. "The Europeans, uncertain and fearful, lest they were merely hidden in order to come back [to fall upon them] by ambushments, sent scouting parties everywhere, but to their great amazement found nothing. Then without troubling to pursue the fugitives, they contented themselves with sharing the spoils and returned right gladly to their own country."

"Medieval Sourcebook: Arabs, Franks, and the Battle of Tours, 732

2. "And while Abderrahman strove to check their tumult, and to lead them back to battle, the warriors of the Franks came around him, and he was pierced through with many spears, so that he died. Then all the host fled before the enemy, and many died in the flight."

Medieval Sourcebook: Anon Arab Chronicler: The Battle of Poitiers, 732

3. "Then was he [Charles] first called "Martel," for as a hammer of iron, of steel, and of every other metal, even so he dashed: and smote in the battle all his enemies. And what was the greatest marvel of all, he only lost in that battle 1500 men. The tents and harness [of the enemy] were taken; and whatever else they possessed became a prey to him and his followers. Eudes, Duke of Aquitaine, being now reconciled with Prince Charles Martel, later slew as many of the Saracens as he could find who had escaped from the battle."

Medieval Sourcebook: Arabs, Franks, and the Battle of Tours, 732

Explanation of Argument:

The Battle of Tours is significant because it paused the spread of Islam for awhile. Charles Martel was victorious in one battle and barely lost any men. The second source describes what he did after he was victorious very well. Even though the Europeans were fearful, they still fought with hopes of conquering the Muslims. The Battle of Tours was a major turning point in history, because it slowed the spread of Islam.

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