page contents

よい旅行を -Bon voyage

 Japan is made up of several periods just like many other countries. Each period has its own unique characteristics, rather than considering them as period, considering them as a phase of evolution would ease our understanding. We will be journeying through each of the periods to learn how each period has crafted the Japan today. よい旅行を( yoi ryokō o) - Bon voyage. Link:

http://prezi.com/-nvtrmixuzsp/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

 

References :

Yayoi period

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yayoi_period

http://www.yoshinogari.jp/en/contents2/categoryId_5.html

http://www.ancient.eu/Yayoi_Period/

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/yayo/hd_yayo.htm

http://www.jref.com/articles/kofun-period.208/

Kofun period

https://heritageofjapan.wordpress.com/following-the-trail-of-tumuli/rebellion-in-kyushu-and-the-rise-of-royal-estates/village-settlement-patterns-the-homestead-emerges/major-events-in-the-kofun-period/ http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/kofu/hd_kofu.htm http://www.jref.com/articles/kofun-period.208/ http://www.t-net.ne.jp/~keally/kofun.html

https://heritageofjapan.wordpress.com/following-the-trail-of-tumuli/rebellion-in-kyushu-and-the-rise-of-royal-estates/village-settlement-patterns-the-homestead-emerges/major-events-in-the-kofun-period/

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/kofu/hd_kofu.htm

https://heritageofjapan.wordpress.com/following-the-trail-of-tumuli/rebellion-in-kyushu-and-the-rise-of-royal-estates/village-settlement-patterns-the-homestead-emerges/major-events-in-the-kofun-period/

Asuka period

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asuka_period

Nara period

http://hubpages.com/education/History-of-Kimono-Part-2-Nara-and-Heian-Periods

Heian period

http://heianperiodjapan.blogspot.sg/2015/06/food-and-drink.html

Images

A Song: Brutus the (In)grate

album-art.jpg

Lyrics

Brutus the (In)grate

My fathers before me, their oath was the same
So hence I stand fast, ever true to my name.
Forgive my betrayal, I simply must do.
My Rome deserves not a dictator, but you
had risen to power
and soon you’ll devour
Rome in its entirety; I
speak with sobriety.
But I hadn’t known that your death be for naught
For when I had stabbed you, grim reaper had caught..

Chorus:
The knife I had wedged wounded not one but two.
It ripped through my soul, and your murder’s mine too.
My guilt is perpetuo, yet not for thy death
But for the big fiasco; thy senate’s regret.
I did what I had to save Roma from thee
For I know it would end in your tyranny.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you they say
You spared my life, here I am today
Your kindness and mercy will not be forgotten
Yet damn, JC, your motives were rotten
Veni vidi vici
Sorry, not sorry
Sorry, not sorry

(Repeat Chorus)

The knife I had wedged wounded not one but two
Well, Rome deserves not a dictator, but you.

(special thanks to Darishna for the back-up vocals, and to Rifah for playing the tambourine)

For centuries, the Ides of March has gripped the minds of generations of curious historians, writers, and artists, with many conspiring as to what had truly transpired on the blighted 15th of March, 44 BCE.  Shakespeare, in his famous play (and the Roman dictator perpetuo’s namesake) Julius Caesar, explores the complexity of Caesar and Brutus’ relationship, examining the intricacies of each persona, delving into their principles, motivations, and fears. While Shakespeare acknowledged the difficulty of Brutus’ predicament, attributing his action not merely to a flaw in his character but also to the influence that his fellow conspirators had upon him, Dante Alighieri was, on the other hand, not so forgiving. In his work,Inferno, Dante even went as far as deeming Brutus fit to be gnawed forevermore by Satan in his Hadean depiction of hell.

15th March 44 BC, The assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar (c.98 - 44 BC), Roman general and statesman. He was killed on the Ides of March (15th) by a group of senators including Gaius Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus as he entered the senate house in Rome. Original Artwor (Photo by Edward Gooch/Getty Images)
15th March 44 BC, The assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar (c.98 - 44 BC), Roman general and statesman. He was killed on the Ides of March (15th) by a group of senators including Gaius Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus as he entered the senate house in Rome. Original Artwor (Photo by Edward Gooch/Getty Images)

A close friend of the consul Julius Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus (ca. 85-42 B.C.) turned his back on the ruler in his firm aversion to dictatorship. It was also in an effort to continue the legacy of his name--the steadfast and unrelenting mission to destroy would-be tyrants. What is interesting, however, is that Brutus was in fact at odds with Caesar during Rome’s civil war. Yet in spite of his insurgence against the consul Brutus was nonetheless promoted to the esteemed position of praetor. The consul was said to have seen immense potential in Brutus, and was not about to pass up on the opportunity to polish a raw gem. Little did he know that he was but sharpening the very knife that is bound to take his life.

Following Caesar’s assassination was yet another episode of civil wars that involved the Republican forces of Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus fighting for ascendancy against Octavian and Mark Antony. Having defeated  by Octavian and Antony at a second fight at Philippi, Brutus took his own life. However, it is worth delving on the unsaid and suspected reason/s behind Brutus’ suicide. Did he kill himself because he had been defeated or could there be an overwhelming sense of remorse and shame by betraying Caesar. Additionally, there is also something amiss about Brutus reverting to his birth name.

Perhaps it is but more complex than a mere reason or two. It is likely however that Brutus had truly taken his duty to Rome to heart, choosing to kill his mentor than see his Republic under the rule of a tyrant. Moreover, this decision had most likely not been an easy one. The possibility of him having had ulterior motives of taking the throne for himself, guised under the pretense of tyrannicide and Rome’s “rescue” is of course not dismissed.

Yet, above all, it is important not to forget that Brutus was, too, a mere mortal with feelings, whose convictions and temporary intensities had perhaps taken the best of him.

Analysis/Interpretation of lyrics 

My fathers before me, their oath was the same

Ancestors were also involved in tyrannicides

So hence I stand fast, ever true to my name.

Changed his name back to Marcus Junius Brutus

Forgive my betrayal, I simply must do.

My Rome deserves not a dictator, but you

had risen to power

and soon you’ll devour

Rome in its entirety;

I speak with sobriety.

The enjambment reflects some sort of regret on Brutus' part because it can be read as "My Rome deserves not a dictator, but you had risen to power and soon you'll devour..." or "My Rome deserves not a dictator, but you." The latter echoes some regret..maybe Rome was better off with Caesar as ruler than without caesar.

But I hadn’t known that your death be for naught

For when I had stabbed you, grim reaper had caught..

The knife I had wedged wounded not one but two.

It ripped through my soul and your murder’s mine too.

Although Brutus was not sorry for killing Caesar (perhaps because he firmly believed that he had to; maybe because of jealousy, his actions fuelled by the spur of the moment) the decision still was not an easy one.

My guilt is perpetuo, yet not for thy deal.

But for the big fiasco; thy senate’s regret.

The fiasco is the failed "rescue" of Rome from Caesar. In the end, Cassius' people will battle with Brutus' and he will be defeated...Cassius in turn will be defeated by Octavian...and he will become the first emperor of Rome, called Augustus.

Reference

(2010) Brutus commits suicide. History.com. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/brutus-commits-suicide

Chilton, M. (2016, March 16). Julius Caesar's assassination: 10 facts about the Ides of March murder. The Telegraph. Retrieved fromhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/julius-caesars-assassination-10-facts-about-the-ides-of-march-mu/

Dante's Inferno - Circle 9 - Cantos 31-34.The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved from http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle9.html#lucifer

Death of Caesar. UNRV History Roman Empire. Retrieved fromhttp://www.unrv.com/fall-republic/death-of-caesar.php

Gaius Julius Caesar. The Ohio State University. Retrieved from https://ehistory.osu.edu/biographies/gaius-julius-caesar

Julius Caesar Biography. Biography. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/julius-caesar-9192504

Lendering, J. (2015, July 31). Junius Brutus Caepio, Marcus. Articles on ancient history. Retrieved from http://www.livius.org/articles/person/junius-brutus-caepio-marcus/

(2004) Marcus Junius Brutus. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved fromhttp://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Marcus_Junius_Brutus.aspx

Nguyen, M.L. (2006, September 30). Portrait Brutus Massimo. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portrait_Brutus_Massimo.jpg

(2004). The Assassination of Julius Caesar, 44 BC. EyeWitness to History. Retrieved from http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/caesar2.htm

(2009) The ides of March: Julius Caesar is murdered. History.com. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-ides-of-march-julius-caesar-is-murdered

The Life and Death of Julius Caesar. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Retrieved from http://shakespeare.mit.edu/julius_caesar/full.html

Vernon, J. (2004, March 12). Ides of March Marked Murder of Julius Caesar. National Geographic. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/03/0311_040311_idesmarch.html

William P. Thayer. (1913). The Life of Julius Caesar. Retrieved fromhttp://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Julius*.html

TOGA-ther, we will rule history!

When you think of togas, do these images come to mind?

Photograph of a toga dress by Kurt Wilberding

Photograph of a toga dress by Dora Pavel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, did you know that togas were originally outfits for males in the ancient Roman society?

giphy (5)

via GIPHY

Surprisingly, togas were donned by ancient Roman men. The different styles of togas differentiated Roman men of different social status. The color of the togas represented different classes within the society. Here's a pyramid describing the hierarchy.

Colors of the togas and their corresponding hierarchies - by Athena and Chantal

Tunics 

Comic drawing of a tunic by John Leech

Sketch of a tunic by C. F. Jewett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tunics were worn by slaves - menial laborers, gladiators and educators. Tunics were knee-length, a shorter version of togas. Hence, it allowed for ease of movement while carrying out manual labour and tasks.

Toga Pura

A statue of the toga pura by National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona CC 3.0

The Toga Pura was donned by average class, adult male citizens and was typically dyed white. This toga is of special importance to coming-of-age male citizens as it symbolizes a rite of passage for them.

Toga Praetexta 

A Roman in a toga praetexta by Nordisk familjebok

The Toga Praetexta commonly appeared in the form of a white toga with purple borders. These togas were worn by curule magistrates, as well as upper class men. 

Toga Pulla

The Toga Pulla is made with fabrics of dark colors to signify mourning. The darkened fabrics were typically of dark grey or brown colors.

Toga Candida

An illustration of the toga candida by John William.

Unlike the Toga Pura, which is worn by average class male citizens, the Toga Candida is chemically washed out, de-colored and sometimes enhanced using white chalks. Toga candidas were worn by candidates running for consul. 

Toga Trabea

A white toga with purple and red stripes at the borders is known as the Toga Trabea. It was donned by Romulus and other diplomats at formal events. 

Toga Picta

Generals who returned home victorious from battles had the privilege of putting on the Toga Picta. The Toga Picta was usually purple in color, symbolizing royalty, with elaborate gold embroidery. Emperors would also wear these Toga Pictas for important national events.

 

Do these togas look beautiful? Yes.

Seems easy enough to drape over and wear? Maybe.

Seems comfortable to get around in that outfit? Hmm... Not so sure...

The toga may not have been all that easy to wear.

The toga was mainly made of wool whereas the tunic, worn as an inner layer, was made of linenDonning a toga was a tedious and a difficult process. Wool was heavy and the toga ranged from 12 ft to 20 ft in length. Can you imagine yourself wrapped in a thick layer of wool, carrying out daily activities in a weather like Singapore's?

giphy (6)

via GIPHY

That was very similar to what the Roman males were subjected to during summer. They had to wear their heavy, long togas and carry out their daily affairs. Here’s a video to help you visualize how a typical ancient roman toga was like. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sq2Hf7xxGQ] It is no doubt fascinating how ancient Roman men clothing has evolved into a popular fashion style for women in today’s world. As mentioned above, an average toga measured about 12ft to 20ft long. Once Romans progressed beyond marble floors to the common ground, the togas thus often came into contact with the dusty and dirty ground. They observed that the bottom portion of the toga became blackened and filthier quicker than that of the top portion. In a bid to come up with a solution, the toga was improvised into separate pieces of apparelThrough the years, togas were modified and adapted into modern clothing styles

What was once an attire that symbolized aristocracy eventually morphed to become an integral concept of women’s fashion in the 21st century.

 

Images used:

  1. Ancient Roman Toga (i)
  2. Ancient Roman Toga (ii)
  3.  Ancient Roman Toga (iii)
  4. Backdrop (Ancient Roman city of Gerasa)
  5. New York Street
  6. Flower fields  
  7. Modern Day Toga (i) 
  8. Modern Day Toga (ii) 
  9. Modern Day Toga (iii)
  10. Modern Day Toga (iv)

 

Background music: 

Roses Instrumental/Beat by King Loui

 

 

 

 

Baby, sleep! Or the Demon will come for you...

Walking up to her friend’s front door, Jennifer rang the doorbell. A few moments later, the door opened and her friend Lilith stood before her, looking quite frazzled and haggard. J: Hey Lilith!

L: Hey! You’re here! Come on in.

Entering her house, Jennifer could hear the cries of a baby from upstairs. Almost immediately, Lilith rushed up to sooth the wails of her child. Following her, Jennifer quietly walked towards Kayson’s nursery room but remained outside, watching Lilith as she rocked Kayson in her arms while singing a lullaby in a foreign tongue:

sehrum wãSib bit ekletim

lú tattasâm tãtamar núr èamèim

ammin tabakki ammin tuggag

ullikia ammin lã tabki

ili bitim tedki kusarikkum iggeltêm

mannum idkianni mannum ugallitanni

sehrum idkika sehrum ugallitka

kima Sãtu karãnim kima mãr sãbitim

limqutaãàum èittum

(Magic at the Cradle. Babylonians and Assyrian Lullabies. Pg 140)

Gradually, Kayson’s cries began to quieten down and soon after he was fast asleep. After tucking him in, Lilith and Jennifer quietly retreated downstairs to the living room. Flopping onto her couch, Lilith breathed a sigh of relief while Jennifer settled next to her. Curious about the lullaby, Jennifer turned to Lilith and asked.

J: Hey Lilith, I’m just wondering…what was that lullaby that you sang to Kayson?

L: Oh, well, my mother used to sing that to me, as my grandmother did to her. It’s a Babylonian lullaby. Although to be honest, I only use this lullaby because it always puts Kayson to sleep. I have no clue what the lyrics mean though. If I’m not wrong, it’s called “Little baby in the dark house”.

J: Hmmm, I’m curious…let’s Google it!

Using Lilith’s laptop, Jennifer started searching for information about the lullaby.

J: It says here that the lullaby was written around 2000 BC in cuneiform script, and the only written record of this lullaby is a small clay tablet which is now located in the British Museum. This lullaby is ancient! How does your family even know this lullaby?

L: (shrugs) I just learned it from my mother and my grandmother. Maybe we have Babylonian ancestry somewhere in the family tree hahaha. Hey, could you open up that link? It’s a translated version of the lullaby.

Jennifer opens the translation of the lullaby and reads it out loud:

Little Baby in the dark house

You have seen the sun rise

Why are you crying?

Why are you screaming?

You have disturbed the house god.

‘Who has disturbed me,’ says the house god?

‘It is the baby who has disturbed you.’

‘Who scared me,’ says the house god?

‘The baby has disturbed you, the baby has scared you, making noises like a drunkard who cannot sit still on his stool. He has disturbed your sleep.’

‘Call the baby now,’ says the house god.

(Click on hyperlink above for audio translation)

J: Woah, didn’t expect such a bizarre message. With lyrics like that, how did it put Kayson to sleep? I guess it helps that he probably doesn’t understand any of it but still…

L: Perhaps it’s the melody that puts them to sleep and not the words?

J: I guess? (reads some more) Hey this is interesting! It says here that in the past, lullabies in Mesopotamia were believed to be incantations or prayers to summon the moon god Nanna to protect the baby from the female demon Lamashtu. But for this particular lullaby, it seems to be more of a warning for the child...because if the demon mentioned were to wake up, the child’s a goner! And I thought lullabies were just to help babies to sleep...

 

L: Well, it seems like there are more to lullabies than what we have assumed to know? Maybe during that period, the lyrics of the lullabies were influenced by the religious beliefs of the people back then. I remember reading somewhere that since babies during this period generally had a short life span, crying was interpreted as a symptom of illness. As a result, perhaps the only protection mothers felt they could give their babies was through lullabies, which were viewed as “magical charms” to protect babies when they sleep. Could you check out that link? (reads for a moment) This also seems to suggest that sometimes the lyrics of the lullaby are directed towards the parents and not the baby? Like it’s a means for them to relieve “their own fears and anxieties”.

[embed]http://mydisneypassion-blog.tumblr.com/post/23902028815/thats-my-lullaby[/embed]

GIF Credit

J: That’s kind of weird...and dark. But I doubt all lullabies are this morbid? Although I’m starting to wonder if the lyrics make a difference anyways; because what may be more important for the sanity of the parent is putting the child to sleep, am I right?

L: I guess...but there’s no harm in looking for alternative lullabies.

J: (searches for a while) Well you’re in luck! There is an alternative Babylonian lullaby. An interpretation nonetheless but let’s check it out!

 

https://youtu.be/j6bx_srgARU

L: Hey, it sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? And the lyrics look alright. Maybe I should learn this instead and sing it to Kayson next time!

J: Yeap. Let’s try singing it!

For the rest of the afternoon, Lilith and Jennifer went on learning the lyrics and attempting to sing the lullaby.

-THE END-

Notes:

SURVIVAL 101: How to survive in a MAN-ifested Greece

Greek-Women.png

As many of you know, women had little or no rights in ancient civilization. Just take a look at all the emperors, kings or leaders we’ve learned about in our previous classes. Alexander the GreatQin Shi Huang. Gilgamesh. What do they have in common? That’s right, they’re all males! Throughout the evolution of ancient civilization, one thing that seems to have stuck is that women seemed to be considered the “inferior” gender or even looked upon as second-class human beings. The equality of women has been a hotly debated topic, even in today’s society, and we hope to contribute by showing awareness of how poorly women were treated, especially in the past. It is during the classical period in Greece that we begin our journey and for entertainment purposes, we have devised a survival guide for women living in those times.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbFRFqKsbQU]

Try imagining this in today's society...

It'll probably never happen!

Just to be clear, the ill-treatment of women did NOT happen in ALL of Greece. True, women were not seen as the equal of men but their treatment varies among certain Greek city-states or poleis. Although there are many other city-states such as Corinth and Thebes , many use the 2 more popular states as comparisons and we will be doing the same: the treatment of women in Athens vs Sparta.

CITIZENSHIP

If you were given birth and lived in a certain country for most parts of your life, you would definitely be considered a citizen in said country right? Well, that wasn’t the case for women in Athens. The foundation of being considered an Athenian is purely based on two things: firstly, one has to be given birth by parents who were born in Athens themselves and secondly, you had to be a male (page 9). Thus, women living in Athens throughout their entire lives aren’t even considered to be citizens of the state. Women were only valued for their use of being able to reproduce and to give birth to offspring that could contribute to the state’s military or political purposes (page 9). In contrast, Spartan women were given more responsibilities and were treated more of a citizen than their Athenian counterparts.

OWNING PROPERTY

Imagine you could not have a property under your name. The whole idea of having a roof over your head is basically dependent on either your spouse, father or brother IF you were a women. However, in this instance, Spartan women were lucky enough not to share the same fate as female Athenians. Not only could they own properties, but there are also reports that an estimated “40% of agricultural land” belonged to women (page 222). That’s a stark contrast to women in Athens who were neither allowed to own any sort of land, nor buy or sell any kind of property (page 9).

LEGAL RIGHTS AND INHERITANCE

Athenian women had very, very few legal rights. Firstly, there was even a law dictating the number of women allowed to attend a funeral (page 9). Astonishing isn’t it? To even limit the amount of women who wished to pay their respects to those who have passed away. Secondly, in the event that a women wanted a divorce, she has to seek out a male representative (has to be a relative) in order to initiate divorce (page 9-10). To make matters worse, not only do they have to return the dowries received upon marriage (page 10) but in the event that she has a child/children, custody would immediately be granted to the male parent (page 10). On the contrary, women in Sparta had significantly more legal rights. They do not have to suffer what we would deem as injustice in today’s society but they were also allowed more privileges. Spartan women could inherit an equal portion of their father’s properties (page 11) and this is something that is sorely denied to women in Athens. How could anyone be denied something that belonged to their family? This was the harsh reality that women in Athens faced.

FREEDOM

Clearly, this wasn't the case in ancient Greece

Clearly, this wasn't the case in ancient Greece

As you may have already guessed, women in Sparta were allowed much more freedom as opposed to their Athenian counterparts. Apart from visiting relatives or other wives, women in Athens basically lived in seclusion (page 8). On the other hand, Sparta women were allowed as much freedom as they pleased (page 224). However, not all Athenians were confined to their own homes. There were a few exceptions, who come in the form of “prostitutes, concubines and mistresses” (page 9), otherwise known as hetaera.

EDUCATION

Similar to freedom, women in Sparta were afforded the same amount of education as men (page 224) whereas Athenian women received little or no education (page 222). However, the hetaera received a much higher education than the rest of the women in Athens as they were “taught poetry and music” and could eventually join in on conversations such  as politics (page 9), something that was male dominated in ancient Athens.

POLITICS

Finally! Something that both Spartan and Athenian women have in common. Both sets of women had no public influence on political decisions. In Sparta, men did not allow women to speak publicly and they were isolated from men in this regard (page 11). This was harsher in Athens, where Athenian men felt that women “brought disorder, evil and were utterly useless and caused more confusion than the enemy” and thus, basically incapable of making correct political decisions (page 8).

This post may have portrayed Spartan women to have such carefree and easygoing lives and while that is true (as compared to Athenian women at least), we cannot forget that they were still treated as the lesser gender. Therefore, we came up with a guide essential for women survival in ancient Greece dubbed “Survival 101”.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7PXlZ1jd4s]

All jokes aside, women really were treated very harshly in the ancient times and although the issue of women equality has taken a massive leap forward in today’s society, it is important for us to keep it going and strive for total equality. Spreading awareness of the miserable lives women had to endure in the past is our way of contributing and we hoped that this post was an eye-opener for you readers!

 

The Life Journey Of Julius Caesar

Background-1.jpg

Hi all!! :) We have created an instagram account to illustrate the life and time of Julius Caesar. Do head over to our account to have a look at our work through the link below or @Julius_Caesar_UGC111  

https://www.instagram.com/julius_Caesar_UGC111/

 

References

Websites:

Bio., Julius Caesar Biography, (n.d.).[http://www.biography.com/people/julius-caesar-9192504]

Dictionary.com, How the Month of July Got Its Name, July 1 2014. [http://blog.dictionary.com/july/]

Encyclopedia of World Biography, Julius Caesar Biography, (n.d.). [http://www.notablebiographies.com/Br-Ca/Caesar-Julius.html]

The Telegraph, The Ides of March: The assassination of Julius Caesar and how it changed the world, March 15 2016.[http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/12193529/The-Ides-of-March-The-assassination-of-Julius-Caesar-and-how-it-changed-the-world.html]

History, Julius Caesar, (n.d.). [http://www.history.co.uk/biographies/julius-caesar]

Infoplease, History of the Roman (Julian) Calendar, (n.d.).[http://www.infoplease.com/calendar/roman.html]

Video:

Lecture 1 of Julius Caesar’s Early Life, August 25 2013.[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xfc8GRJ1vEY&nohtml5=False ]

Images:

Caesar Salad, Geoff Peters from Vancouver, BC, Canada [CC. BY 2.0

Business Calendar & Schedule, Photosteve101 [CC. BY 2.0

Roman Coin, [CC BY-SA 3.0

Map of the Roman Republic in 40 BC after the recent conquests of Julius Caesar, Tataryn77 [Public Domain] 

The Death of Caesar, Walters Art Museum [Public Domain]

Julius Caesar, accepting the surrender of Vercingetorix, Lionel Royer [Public Domain]

Cartoon: "The Fall of Caesar", Published by Thomas Maclean [Public Domain]

Statue of Julius Caesar, Hilverd Reker [CC BY 2.0]

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek - Emperor Augustus, Michiel2005 [CC BY-NC 2.0]

 

 

 

Slavery - Then and Now

Hello everyone! One of the questions we often ask ourselves is whether or not we really are better off than people of the past. Most of us are able to reach the conclusion that we are better off. After all, we have technology, human rights and many other concepts that citizens of the ancient world did not. However, is this necessarily true? Check out our blog to find out!

www.why-are-we-still-fighting.tumblr.com

References

Post: Ancient Greece

Figure 1: Slaves working in a mine of Laurium. Done by: Huesca (2009) Image taken from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mines_1.jpg

Post: Ancient Rome

Figure 1: Relief from the Arch of Titus in Rome depicting a menorah and other objects looted from the Temple of Jerusalem carried in a Roman triumph Done by: Rita Bay (2012) Image taken from: http://ritabay.com/2012/02/07/todays-post-jewish-slaves-the-roman-economy/

Post: Early Islam Arabia

Video: The Message – Bilal Uploaded by: tornistan Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq2w8Bz_epY

Figure 1: Turkish image of BilalIslam’s first Muezzin, surrounded by Sahaba, but Muhammad is not present Done by: Irishpunktom (2006) Image taken from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bilal.jpg

The Betrayal of Julius Caesar

Screen-Shot-2016-04-04-at-7.12.19-pm.png
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgyAPrv30eg&w=560&h=315]<p style="text-align: center"><b>Marcus Junius Brutus: The Hero or The Villain</b></p><p style="text-align: center"><b>Marcus Junius Brutus </b></p>

Marcus Junius Brutus a tragic hero or a vicious backstabber? The question of Marcus Brutus’s true character has confused many from the beginning of time. From Shakespeare to modern day historians, no one is truly able to explain the reasons behind Brutus’s betrayal of the great Roman General Julius Caesar. Whilst some like us argue that Brutus’s intentions were just and heroic others claim that his betrayal makes him an evil conniving villain who killed his close friend and ally Caesar under the influence of Patriotism and fake honor. A great piece of work which depicts both the good and the bad of the story is written by none other than Shakespeare himself, in the format of a play named Julius Caesar. On one hand where the story focuses on portraying Marcus Brutus as the villain, it also, on the other, portrays him as the tragic hero that he was, fighting to free his beloved Rome from the clutches of Caesar. To understand the debate in the fullest of its context let’s first begin with the key reasons as to why Marcus Brutus, is perceived to be an antagonist. Marble head from a statue, probably of Julius Caesar, about AD50 from Rome at the British Museum
 Julius Caesar- Taken by William Warby (CC) The death of Julius Caesar as depicted by Vincenzo Cammuccini, 1804-5 CE. (National Art Gallery, Moderna, Italy) The death of Julius Caesar as depicted by Vincenzo Cammuccini, 1804-5 CE. (National Art Gallery, Moderna, Italy) The "Tusculum portrait", one of two surviving busts of Julius Caesar made during his lifetime. The "Tusculum portrait", one of two surviving busts of Julius Caesar made during his lifetime.

The Evil Betrayer

The main reason put forth as a justification of Marcus Brutus’s actions, is his belief that Caesar had become power hungry, overambitious and egoistic . Coming from a lineage of powerful republicans, such as Lucius Junius Brutus, who founded the Roman Republic, Marcus Brutus too was driven by the need to protect his “people” and his beloved “Rome” from the clutches of Caesar. (“Omnium primum avidum novae libertatis populum, ne postmodum flecti precibus aut donis regiis posset, iure iurando adegit neminem Romae passuros regnare”- Oath taken by Lucius Brutus and his followers that no king will ever rule Rome again) However, Caesar’s fate as a monarch was one that was unclear. Starting from the bottom, Caesar, in his lifetime had done nothing else, but serve his people. He concurred and expanded the Roman Empire to lengths unimaginable at that time. He was the hero, saviour, and the greatest leader Rome had ever seen. If he had fought hard and made Rome the great nation it was, then why was it that his own friend and ally betrayed him? Was his motivation truly just patriotism and honour or was something else corrupting his mind? As it can be seen in many sources, the simple answer to this question is Gaius Cassius- the man who planted the seed of suspicion in Brutus’s mind and convinced him to become a part of the conspiracy against Caesar. Gaius was one of the many conspirators who were motivated by jealousy and envy of Caesar’s growing success, he convinced Brutus, that Caesar was planning on converting the Roman republic back into a monarchy under his rule, and fearing the fate in stored for Rome, Brutus quickly agreed to help.  As can be understood by this, Marcus Brutus, himself was not one who desired power or envied Caesar, However since his actions were more based on assumptions rather than evidence,  it is clear as to why he is more commonly seen as a traitor by many. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OjMuuk0W5Q&w=560&h=315]

The Tragic Hero

Despite his brutal act towards his dear friend, some would still argue that Brutus was a noble hero who did what was right for Rome. It was not only Brutus who thought that Caesar had to be stopped but the entire Senate as well. The Senate was anxious to see Rome revert back to the monarchy that was once ruled in Rome. When he “was named dictator for life in February 44 BCE”, they “believed that they no longer had a voice” and felt that Rome was going to be governed by a “tyrant”.  In the interest of protecting the governance in Rome, they had resorted to such drastic measures. Nevertheless, how else could they have stopped Caesar who was already growing in power? He was successfully conquering Rome’s neighbouring states and those in the Senate did not dare do anything to stand up against him. Hence, they had to do it the only way it could have possibly been done.

There was evidence of Brutus being apprehensive about killing Caesar. Even at the last moment while the attack was being carried out, Brutus displayed signs of resignation to do what they had set out to do, and was last to attack. He “waits until the end, and without emotion, does what he feels is necessary to protect the State”. Him having to do it without any emotion tells us that he actually had thought it through and being emotionally detached about the attack on his friend was his way of dealing with it. This means that he does actually feel for Caesar and what he was going to do to him, but having the best of intentions for the people of Rome, he sacrifices the friendship. It is in this selfless act of his that his altruistic character is seen.

When one reads about Brutus, one would agree that Brutus had undoubtedly loved Rome. In one of Shakespeare’s famous plays ‘Caesar’, Brutus says “not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. / Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all freemen?” From this quote, we infer that Brutus had loved both Rome and Caesar, but he had chosen Rome over his friend. It shows much of his humanity to sacrifice a really good friendship he had had with Caesar for the good of the people of Rome. It is universally understood that it is harder to stand up to your friends than to your own enemy. His love for Rome had motivated him to challenge his friend with the support gained by the Senate who had felt that it was in their best interest as well to impede on Caesar’s ruling. In addition, to spare a thought for the people of Rome over his own self-interest shows a nobility that people of that time had lacked in. People of position in that era had only been interested in their own power, not thinking twice about the way it was done. Brutus, on the other hand, disregarded his own self-interest, having attained a high position since he is a friend of Caesar, and chose to act in the interest of the people of Rome. The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martii) is the name of 15 March (to-day!) in the Roman calendar, probably referring to the day of the full moon. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months. The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars (God of War) and a military parade was usually held.
In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death in the Theatre of Pompey led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and 60 other conspirators.
On his way to the Theatre of Pompey (where he would be assassinated), Caesar saw a seer who had foretold that harm would come to him not later than the Ides of March. Caesar joked, "Well, the Ides of March have come", to which the seer replied "Ay, they have come, but they are not gone." This meeting is famously dramatized in William Skakespeare's play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned to "beware the Ides of March".
'Et tu, Brute?' is a Latin phrase often used poetically to represent Caesar's last words to his friend Marcus Brutus at the moment of his murder by stabbing. It can be variously translated as 'Even you, Brutus?','"And you, Brutus?', 'You too, Brutus?', 'Thou too, Brutus?' or 'And thou, Brutus?'. Immortalized by Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (1599), the quotation is widely used in Western culture to signify the utmost betrayal.
Beware the Ides of March!- By Paul Bommer (CC) Woodcut illustration (leaf [m]8v, f. cviij) of Porcia Catonis counseling Marcus Junius Brutus, Julius Caesar's death at the hands of Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, and Porcia's suicide, hand-colored in red, green, yellow and black, from an incunable German translation by Heinrich Steinhöwel of Giovanni Boccaccio's De mulieribus claris, printed by Johannes Zainer at Ulm ca. 1474 (cf. ISTC ib00720000). One of 76 woodcut illustrations (1 on leaf [e]8v dated 1473), each 80 x 110 mm., depicting scenes from the life of the women chronicled (for a full list of subjects, cf. W.L. Schreiber, Handbuch der Holz- und Metallschnitte des XV. Jahrhunderts (Nendeln: Kraus Reprints, 1969), no. 3506). "Pour la première moitie le nom se trouve inscrit à côte de la tête de chaque femme, pour le reste il es ajouté entre les deux réglettes. Il n'y en a que trois, qui n'ont qu'un seul trait carré."--Schreiber.
Established form: Zainer, Johannes, ‡d d. 1541?.
Established form: Brutus, Marcus Junius, ǂd 85?-42 B.C.
Established form: Caesar, Julius.
Established form: Cassius Longinus, Gaius, ǂd fl. 54-42 B.C.
Woodcut illustration of Porcia Catonis counseling Marcus Junius Brutus, Julius Caesar's death at the hands of Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, and Porcia's suicide- By POP (CC) Peter Paul Rubens
Flemish (1577-1640)
Marcus Brutus, 1638
Engraving
11 1/2 x 7 7/8”
00.224
Gift of Mrs. Joseph D. Patton
Marcus Brutus- By Haggerty Museum (CC)

The Evil Betrayer

Julius Caesar was seen by most to be a good man. Even after his ascension he maintained a relatively modest profile. It can be argued that only his conspirators thought of his persona as that of a front to gain popularity from the people. They saw Caesar as a threat and doubted his actions no matter how much it benefited the people of Rome.

We can also compare Brutus to likes of Marc Antony. To show the distinct contrast between their loyalties towards Caesar. Though both of them were regarded as friends by Caesar, Mark Antony showed loyalty by rejecting and disagreeing with the conspirators choice after they had killed Caesar. In his speech at Caesar’s funeral, he expressed how Caesar was a great man of Rome and reminded the people of the great things that he had done for his people. His speech differed from Brutus’s greatly as while one can be seen to be done in remembrance of a great man, honouring his life, while the other hinted a desire for power, trying to justify murder. Antony also helped to bring Caesar’s murderers to justice by using sarcasm in his speech to highlight the conspirators involved in the murder. Hence Antony’s behavior and exemplary speech can be used to further portray the depths of Brutus's treachery. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgPymD-NBQU&w=560&h=315]

Conclusion

In conclusion, perhaps what Brutus did could have been considered as the patriotic thing to do. However, it should not justify the fact that what he did was morally wrong. He committed murder and betrayed Caesar, a man who played an important role in building him up as a person and a figure that had only ever showed him care.The best quote that summarises this debate would be: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings." quoted from the play julius caesar. In which Cassius tells Brutus that if all men are equal, and should not have to bow to another. It also means that we are responsible for our own destinies through our actions and decisions. This powerful line can be seen as the determining factor as to what Brutus had to do and what he did, as to stop Caesar from becoming the monarch of Rome.

Chandragupta II (The Great?)

The Gupta empire was founded by Chandragupta I (r.320-335CE). He laid the foundations for what would eventually develop into a huge empire. He was succeeded by his son Samudragupta (r.335-380CE) who was known as a ruler who made many great conquests. He annexed the kingdoms belonging to the powerful Naga rulers of north India to gain supremacy and was also successful in getting many kingdoms from the south and eastern India to accept his suzerainty. Samudragupta’s son, Chandragupta II(r.380-413/415CE) succeeded him and went on to expand the Gupta Empire. Chandragupta II, like his father, was known for his military conquests. He ruled during what was labelled “the golden age of India”. Again, like his father, he was known for his religious tolerance as well as being a patron of the arts. Chandragupta II greatly encouraged the flourishing of the arts, science and literature and made many significant conquests. His reign as the ruler was also a period of stabilization, peace and prosperity. He is often hailed as “the Great” and the best ruler of ancient India because it was under his reign that the Gupta Empire reached its peak.

Some may argue that he was not all that "great" since it was his grandfather and father who laid the foundations for him and he did not have to face the hardship of building up an empire. However, I think Chandragupta II played a significant role in expanding and helping Gupta Empire reach its zenith. His skills in diplomacy, military conquests and encouragement of the arts, ensured his long reign of peace and prosperity.

Flourishing of Culture

Chandragupta II ruled during a time where there was a lot of development in culture. He supported works on medicine, mathematics, science and arts. Art was said to have reached new levels with evidence of both Hindu and Buddhist art. The Ajanta Caves , for instance, are filled with paintings which illustrate the life of Buddha. Scholarly achievements, developments in sculptures and architecture were also prominent during Chandragupta II’s rule.

Examples of significant developments in mathematics and astronomy during that time include that of Aryabhatta who created the concept of zero and explained how the earth is round and rotated on its axis, around the sun.

It was also during Chandragupta II’s rule that there was the emergence of classical art. He gave great support to the arts and even paid artists for their work, which was said to be rare in ancient civilizations. As an accommodating ruler whose reign was a period of peace and prosperity, the people were able to work and portray their excellence in various aspects of culture without much worry.

Conquests

Chandragupta II was hailed as a military genius and he continued his father’s conquests and expansion plans. One of his most significant military achievements was the victory over the Sakas of western India. He gained the title Sakari which means the destroyer of the Sakas. With this victory, he expanded the Gupta Empire to the Arabian Sea. His successful conquest of sea ports of western India such as Broach, Cambay and Sopara enabled him to trade with other Empires in the outside world. It helped provide a new form of means for the people and helped to flourish trade and commerce, especially with the European empires.

He was also diplomatic and managed to secure power through matrimonial alliances. Before he started his military conquests towards the West, he married his daughter to the Vakataka prince Rudrasena II. This was politically significant because the Vakatakas occupied a strategic position in the Deccan and this matrimonial alliance worked in his favour as he started his military conquest in the West against the Sakas. He had also married a Naga princess of central India, proving his skill in diplomacy and preparations for his military conquests. His skills diplomacy and military-wise helped him forge a sense of unity among the people and his consolidation of power and position established his position as a powerful and successful ruler.

Fa Hein

Fa Heinwas a famous Chinese pilgrim who visited India during Chandragupta II’s reign and recorded his observation of life at that time. Fa Hein’s observations gave insight as to why Chandragupta II was known to be one of the greatest rulers of the Gupta empire. During his stay and travels, he records his observations which reflect the economic, social and religious condition, as well as the way of life in the Gupta Empire. He portrayed the Gupta empire was well governed and confirmed that the people were pretty much given freedom and did not have severe restrictions, which back up the people’s ability to excel in their cultural works. He also observed that there was not much corruption and bribery and the way of life was framed upon the principles of non-violence. People were also described as pretty well off and virtuous and significantly, there was a free hospital available.

Fa Hein also recorded that he was able to pursue his work and travel without much unfortunate events or obstacles, which greatly benefited him. Fa Hein’s observations of India during Chandragupta II’s reign thus backs up the belief that it was an era of peace and prosperity where arts and other aspects of culture were able to flourish and reach new heights.

Conclusion

Although it was his father and grandfather who laid the foundations for this great empire, Chandragupta II played an important role in completing the plans, further developing the empire and ruling it successfully during its peak. If not for him, the Gupta empire would not have expanded greatly. His successors, for instance, failed to maintain his success and the Gupta empire declined after his rule. Chandragupta II’s successful reign should not be downplayed just because he took over an empire which already had strong foundations. His skills in diplomacy, military conquests and role in cultural developments helped him have a long reign and rule India’s golden age with peace, prosperity and good living conditions for the people.

Kamasutra - There's More Than Meets The Eye

CAUTION! *This post contains an explicit image*.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

When you hear the word "Kamasutra"

TYPICAL REACTION:

giphyy

BUT IS THAT WHAT THE KAMASUTRA IS TRULY ABOUT?

giphy 2

Have you ever wondered what the Kamasutra literally stands for? Kama stands for desire or pleasure, and sutra refers to rule or aphorism in Sanskrit literatureKama was considered one of the four ultimate human goals “along with dharma (law, duty, and morality), artha (meaning here power and wealth), and mokṣa (spiritual liberation)”The Kamasutra was originally written in Sanskrit by Vatsyayana around the 3rd Century CE in North IndiaIt is frequently perceived as “the paradigmatic textbook for sex” or guidelines of sex for the masses. However, this is not a completely accurate way of putting it and we will elaborate more on this as we continue.

The various translations of the book shifted the focus of the Kamasutra to mainly sexual intercourse or sexual positions. The Kamasutra was not just a book about sexual positions - it advocated the importance of active involvement from both sexes in order to achieve a healthy functioning relationship (both mental and physical aspects). In this post, we will discuss the commonly perceived notion of this book and explore other sides to this topic.

Western interpretations The Kamasutra has been translated multiple times over the years and this has contributed to some deeply-rooted misunderstandings. It is widely known as a sex manual, or a book that only teaches sex techniques and sexual positions to people - a view held by many Westerners. However, let's not kid ourselves, most of us are guilty of it too ;)

To many Indians, the Kamasutra is taboo, something that they should not be seen carrying around, reading or conversing about. This may be due to misconceptions that people have of the Kamasutra, which could be largely attributed to the notable English translation done by Richard Burton. Wendy Doniger, an American Indologist, argues that in addition to his translations, Burton added in his own words as well as his own interpretations of the original text. In doing so, Burton altered the true intentions and meaning of the book thus rendering part of his translation to be inaccurate. This possibly led to misinterpretations of the original version (written in Sankrit) by people who read his translated copy. More specifically, he was inaccurate in some of his translations with regards to the sexual aspects mentioned in the Kamasutra. For example, Burton placed more focus on the male's attainment of sexual pleasure rather than the females. 

Doniger stated that ''It was Burton who gave numbers to some sexual acts, when there were no numbers to begin with. He over-emphasised the mechanical in a very non-sexy, superficial way." Burton's understanding and translation of the text could be influenced by the setting he was in - the Victorian Era, where people embraced and were open about their sexual desires (in other words, they had lustful thoughts and were simply horny). 

 Out of the Kamasutra's seven books,'' says Doniger, ''only two chapters in one book are about physical sex. That's three pages out of 200. SAY WHATTTTT!?

So what else is the Kamasutra about?

GENDER Contrary to other ancient texts, the Kamasutra did not only focus on the pleasures of men, but also to that of women. It taught men ways to please women (not just sexually). Instead of sticking to the missionary position, where women were usually the “passive receivers”, the book proposed several other positions where both the male and female put in equal effort in the lovemaking process for the pleasure of both parties. On numerous occasions, the Kamasutra even showed a certain bias towards women. Additionally, men were also advised to listen to women. The idea of gender roles in the Kamasutra was and is still a much debated topic. We would not delve into it as there are varying claims made by different sources.

BEAUTY AND FITNESS The Kamasutra even emphasized the importance of beauty and fitness for women, which is contrary to popular conceptions that it is solely about the physical act of sex. It was mentioned how a portion of the Kamasutra was dedicated to the maintaining of one’s physical appearance (hair, skin, body etc). Moreover, those women in the past (during Vatsyayana’s times) took special care of their outward presence and spent most of their time engaging in “beauty and fitness regimens”.

RELATIONSHIPS The Kamasutra also served mainly as a guide for couples to cultivate a psychologically and emotionally strong relationship with each other - not merely about the physical act of sex. The display of small physical affection was said to hold a vital role in a couple’s daily life regardless of whether it led to sexual intercourse. It was a way of displaying your feelings towards the other party and it was mentioned that this method could be beneficial for any couple’s relationship.

Our verdict The Kamasutra still remains a highly debatable topic with many still having preconceived notions about it. However, it is undeniable that we could gain some insights from the book other than pure sexual intercourse and positions. Through this post, we would like to encourage people to view this topic in a different light. It is also important to keep in mind the context that the authors and readers are situated in, as this would affect how the Kamasutra is translated and interpreted respectively. Therefore, we have to keep in mind our own biases, as we are not reading the original Sanskrit version of the Kamasutra (that is, if we ever have the opportunity to read it).