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BOMBASTIC BRILLIANT BYZANTINE BOYAGE

BOMBASTIC BRILLIANT BYZANTINE BOYAGE

Author’s Notes: The story recounts the interactions between a girl living on Mars in 2075 and the sassy AI developed by her grandmother. Danielle Gryce, the girl, had made a drunken promise that she would experience the Byzantine Empire simulation designed by her grandmother. Virginia, an old-school artificial intelligence who exists only as a voice, had locked up some of Danielle’s programs to coerce her into abiding by her promise. Through this adventure, Danielle will learn about how Byzantine art and architecture served as vessels through which religion and political messages were expressed. She will also realize how relatable an ancient civilization can be to Martian society.

Word on the Word

Word on the Word

Have you ever wondered how the alphabet came about? Before literacy, how did people document their communication occurrences? We’re sure this is completely relatable to those who speak a second language where learning it for conversational terms is easier to execute than it is to read and write a whole new set of alphabets and characters. (Yes, we’re referring to all you Mandarin speakers out there!)

Writing had to begin somewhere. Think of the things we wouldn’t be able to do without it right now - even this simple blog post wouldn’t have been possible. Communication in this sense was a 2-dimensional instantaneous exchange where any form of written work was done in pictorial form. And the Sumerians weren't having any of it! At last, the first form of conventional writing was invented - the cuneiform!  

Exploring the Ancient Egypt Pyramids

Exploring the Ancient Egypt Pyramids

Built during a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilizations in the world, The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest monument on the list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only surviving wonders. In fact, the Egyptian pyramids are considered one of the most magnificent man-made structures in history, however, there were no cameras around thousands of years ago to document how the pyramids were built.

Early Islamic Art

Early Islamic Art

For today's post, we'll be going back to c. 7th Century CE (601 - 700 CE) to uncover some bits of history of Islamic art, as you might have guessed from the title above. Now, this type of art has a lot of categories, and one way that historians have come to classify Islamic art is by grouping them according to the dynasties that reigned during the period of time when the works of art were produced. This included two main dynasties: the Umayyad Dynasty and the 'Abbasid Dynasty. First of all, it is important to note that these dynasties were a result of conquered lands that already had an existing culture and therefore, art.

To kill, or Not To Kill?

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. Today seems just a good day as any to talk about Julius Caesar’s death, or assasination, as you will soon come to know, if you didn't already. Trust us, we know how history can sometimes can a little heavy for our pretty little heads, so we decided to switch things up a little today. So let’s begin shall we?

First, we'll delve a little into some background stuff that will clearly explain why Caesar was assassinated. Julius Caesar's death was so notable that William Shakespeare decided to immortalise it. The power struggle that was rampant of the time, and pretty much the cause for all this, is not something that is foreign or ancient to us. In fact, through analysis and deeper thinking, it is noticeable how power struggles are just as rampant in today's society as well, although not as dramatic. The hunger for power is what led Caesar to be assassinated at that time. Despite the persuasive allure of his charm, he was assassinated due to the arrogance and greed that came with his need for power. His power had led him to have illogical methods of dealing with Rome and he declared himself Dictator for life. It was his friends and his enemies who realised that in order for Rome to flourish as a country, Caesar needed to be stopped. Due to his self-declaration of his power, it was impossible to overthrow him. As such, an extreme measure of assassination was derived. 

Next, let me introduce the characters. We have Caesar, of course, ever astute and noble, as some might say. (He’s the guy everyone wants to kill tho….) During his time, Julius Ceasar was hailed as a hero.  He boasted of killing almost two million people in fifty battles, and seeing that as an accomplishment, hailed himslef as dictator for life, otherwise known as Dictator Perpetuo, for those of you who know the ancient roman language (but who does, really). While he was Dictator Perpetuo, he transformed himslef from being basically a military genius, to being a leader who was able to lead the Republic. He made a lot of reforms that were particularly amazing to the commoners, like providing jobs through public work projects, and even building a library.

Unbeknownst to him though, although he was loved by many of the commoners, he was hated by his enemies and even some of his friends as they paniced at the thought of him really being Dictator for life. His enemies and some of his friends saw that they would no longer have a say about the ongoings of rome as they felt caesar was a tyrant, and that rome would fall under his ruling.

From this unhappiness, a conspiracy was born. There were four conpsirators, Gaius Trebonius, Demecius Brutus, Cassius and Marcus Brutus. They werent the only four who killed Caesar, but the four of them were the main people who created the plot to kill him. The “ringleaders”, if i may. The four of them had their own slefish reasons for wanting to kill Caesar.

What we have done is we have reenacted the scene of their plotting and assiasination of Caesar over text. We have decided to do it in a more modern way, and we have therefore chosen to reenact this scene over text messages between the four ringleaders.

This is where Gaius Trebonius and Demecius Brutus talk to each other and come up with the plot to kill Caesar and decide to ask the other two to join them.

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So Demecius Brutus goes on to text Cassius and asks them to collaborate, and Cassius asks Marcus Brutus and reports back to the other Brutus. From there, the four of them are collaborating and coming up with a plot.

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Right before the planned assasination, Ceasar was met with some omens. For one, he was being warned about his eminent death, but he ignore it.

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Well obviously, the ringleaders were not able to text and talk about it during the assasination but this is what they discussed after,

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This is where the conversation (scene) ends.

From this, we can see that the assasination was planned way in advance, and honestly in our opinion, without much plan for an actual attack. We can infer this as we see that all the men who attacked Caesar just attacked him as much as they could, and caused him to be stabbed 23 times. A few of the men themselves got injured, which is akin to fighting in war, where they just attack whatever comes along their way.

The next time you hear someone talk about Julius Caesar's death, turn to them and confidently say "You too, child." (and then run away becuase they would probably attack you).

Thank you and we hope you enjoyed our post!

Man up, boys.

Considering femininity is all the rage nowadays, and feminism is in the spotlight, let’s a take a look on the masculine side of things, shall we? The definition of masculinity greatly differs from the past and present times. In modern society, masculinity is seen as a set of traits that both men and women can possess. But what about masculinity in the past? Masculinity was often highly correlated with the male gender, and that the more masculine you were portrayed to be in the past, you were empowered with a higher social status in the society.

We traced back the roots of masculinity to the Roman Empire(no surprise), as they were after all, one of the most influential empires ever.

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In the Roman Empire, masculinity was seen as one of the foundational virtues that they strongly adhered to, and this particular trait was known as “Virtus.” Masculinity was seen as a form of power in the Roman Empire and when in comparison with our current times, could be seen on an equal standing with how important wealth is to most people. Virtus was an idea first introduced by Plato, and later further refined by Cicero into four other specific traits that made up what was considered to be masculinity. The four traits are courage, frugality, integrity and self-discipline respectively. It was these four traits that served as the fine line drawn between men who possessed power and uncouth men who simply displayed acts of violence.

The Romans believed that Virtus was what they had against their enemies, and that because they possessed this trait it instilled a belief of invulnerability in their empire.

Cicero stated, “Virtus is the creed that Romans strongly adhered to; all else are superficial and ever changing. Virtus was what kept the Romans true to their beliefs and morals, with this particular trait they conquered several empires and commanded great respect with this value.”

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Even in Ancient Greece, masculinity was often associated with manhood and highly referenced to courage. In both the Roman and Greek empire, masculinity in battle was seen as a primary concern. Courage came after masculinity, for how leaders exerted their power and strength was crucial in winning battles against their enemies.

Since women were excluded from battles in both empires, masculinity was never seen to be associated with the gender, and it has been rarely recorded in historical data.

The Roman Empire viewed Virtus, or masculinity as an outstanding value, and that they attributed this trait to most of their winning battles, and even when they lost, they traced it back to the incapability of the leaders that led them in battle, reasoning it out to be the “lack of virtus.”

In a nutshell, masculinity was highly revered in the roman empire, similar to certain existing beliefs in modern society. However, in current society, feminism is taking stand of its own and is regarded as almost as important as masculinity (or we hope so). Food for thought.

What are your views? Agree or disagree?

Thank you!

Why Astrology then? Why not Astrology now?

Hey fellow 111ers! Welcome to your personal astrology reading site that is totally free for all blog readers -- nope just kidding! We are here to tell you more about the relevance of astrology in various civilizations. If you are one of those shaking your heads right now about how astrology is a bunch of bull… … then we will be here to demonstrate how various cultures actually took this bunch of bull seriously.

Is Astrology even worth discussing?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, astrology is defined as “the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world.”

The sky at night, Sala Calderón de la Barca - ceiling painting by Fernando Gallego (ca. 1480) including the signs of the Zodiac, a number of constellations and the four winds By Pat Reynolds CC BY-NC 2.0

From this, the fact that astrology has stuck around long enough to be included in a dictionary tells us that it must have been a big deal in history! Despite its apparent irrelevance in the modern world, astrology still exists and there are even books written about it. Furthermore, multiple ancient civilisations chose to feature astrology in their respective cultures to guide them in their daily lives. Since this is something that many civilisations (that have no connections with one another) practice, don’t you think that this is an interesting phenomenon worth finding out more about?

Chinese zodiac at Kushida Shrine By OZinOH CC BY-NC 2.0

Kircher's Zodiac By zeevveez CC BY 2.0

If I asked you to name the different types of astrology you are familiar with, I bet Western and Eastern astrology will be two of the common ones you will come up with. For one, you may be a hardworking Taurus in Western astrology, whereas you would be an intelligent Snake in Eastern astrology. Yes, people do identify themselves with the traits of their horoscope sign in their respective cultures. But did you know there are actually over 30 types of astrological systems that existed back then (R. Caff, 2015)? Some obscure examples of these systems include Mayan astrology, Celtic astrology, and Burmese astrology. They show that although we live under the same stars, we all perceive the world differently.

Astrological Systems and their Calendars

Many astrological systems gave rise to their respective calendars. Such examples include the Mayan astrology, which uses 20 Day Signs such as Crocodile, Wind and House, and 13 Galactic numbers to denote a 260-day year. Each society uses astrology to study the seasons and their environment, which in turn affects their roles in society.

Astrology - A fundamental tool of society

Some of the roles astrology played include: agricultural purposes for farmers, divination for priests, and rituals to take for kings. Often, astrology helped people predict the optimal time for the best course of action, and to avoid paths of misfortune. The purpose of astrology is similar to religion since it guides people on how to lead their lives and shape personal identity.

Astrology can also be seen in divination, whereby tablets containing inscribed liver models were seen as a message presented from higher beings (i.e. Gods) to the kings (Koch-Westenholz & Ulla, 1995). Gods often presented themselves in celestial images they were associated with. Depending on the signs presented, kings used them as a guide to how they should rule their nation.

Astrology can also be used to predict future professions of a person based on their birthdates and birth times (p.19). A Virgo for example, is said to have good logic and reasoning, and therefore inclined to take up professions of accountancy (G. Benedict, 2011).

Since astrology played such an important role in the past, why did it eventually fall out of favour with the people? This is because as the millennia progressed, science gradually replaced the usefulness of astrology. Since astrology was associated with superstition, people gradually moved away from it in favour of astronomy, which was more scientifically credible. Astronomy then evolved as a theoretical science.

Astrology’s role today

The role of astrology is not as outdated as you thought! Astrology actually sparked the development of other schools of thoughts. For instance, it became the backbone for psychology and philosophy (“Introduction to Astrology”, p.84). As for astrology itself, it gradually moved away from academia and towards entertainment. Therefore, it did not cease entirely in importance. We are pretty sure that many of you out there enjoy reading your horoscopes for fun, even if you believe in them or not!

Today's horoscope By Aristocrat CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

What you have just read was a brief summary of astrology in the past and present. The origins of astrology date all the way back to 3000 BC, where it was used in calendrical systems in order to forecast changes between seasons (Koch-Westenholz, 1995) and harnessed as a tool to understand messages from higher beings. Astrology led to the birth of astronomy, and was also used in other areas of study up to the 17th century (Kassell and Ralley, 2010). By the end of the century however, advances in astronomy were beginning to erode the foundations of astrology, eventually eliminating it from the academic world. Now in the 20th century, astrology is making a comeback through communication channels such as newspapers, and is gaining popular standing among people through these influences (Campion, 2009).

Therefore, you should not belittle astrology! It ought to be respected for its rich history in bringing vibrancy into the identities of people’s lives in the past. We can perhaps appreciate how everyone back then formed their own interpretations of their fates, living day and night under the same starry skies and within the same cosmos… Hopefully, this has shed some light about the diverse world of astrology!

 

*Click here to get your very own astrology reading done!