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A History of Western Civilization (Part I) From the beginnings until the Middle Ages
What is “Western Civilization”? The societies of Western and Central Europe and their close genealogical, linguistic, and philosophical colonial descendants. A history of Western Civ includes an examination of the cultures that took part in its formation.
Four themes for the course What should our proper daily conduct and attitude to life be? How is happiness and well-being achieved? Is there a reality higher than humans, and how should this affect the way people live? Why and how should people live together in a society? How is control gained and held by a ruling power? What is the best way to run a state? Are we all created equal? How are hierarchies legitimized? Does our individual philosophy or religion have a bearing on this question? What is the nature of history? Is the past useful for the present? How should history be written? What advances have been made in science and technology? For what reason are these advances made? How do these advances affect our society?
The Search for “Civilization” What’s a Civilization? A civilization is a culture that has attained a degree of complexity usually characterized by urban life. Characteristics usually include intensive agriculture, a significant division of labor, a system of recordkeeping, monumental architecture, and heavy population.
The Geography of Mesopotamia
SUMER: The First Civilization Advancements Leading to Civilization Creation of arable land Bronze New plow Transport Potter’s wheel Remains of temple in Uruk c. 3000 BCE
SUMER: The First Civilization Sumerian Writing c. 3100 -2800 = Protoliterate period • pictographic writing c. 2800 = Literate period begins • syllabic writing Key Terms cuneiform
Early Dynastic Period c. 2800 -2350 BCE Power and Politics Classes of Society Warfare Key Terms Gilgamesh
Akkadian Empire c. 2334 -2100 BCE Origins Sargon of Akkad (2334 -2279) Literature Key Terms Semites Akkadian Empire Sargon of Akkad Enheduanna Stela of Naram-Sin
Sargon of Akkad “I am Sargon, the great king, the king of Akkad. My mother was a high priestess, my father I did not know. The brothers of my father dwelled in the hills. My city is Azupiranu, which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. My mother the high priestess conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a reed basket, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river from where I could not get out. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Aqqi, the drawer of water, brought me up as he dipped his basket. Aqqi, the drawer of water, took me as his adopted son. Aqqi, the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener. While I was a gardener, Ishtar granted me her love, and for 55 years I exercised kingship. ” –The Birth Legend of Sargon.
Old Babylonian Empire c. 1894 -1595 BCE Origins Hammurabi (1792 -1750) Key Terms Amorites Babylon Old Babylonian Empire Hammurabi
Excerpts of Hammurabi’s Code If any one brings an accusation against a man, and the accused goes to the river and leaps into the river, if he sinks in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river proves that the accused is not guilty, and he escapes unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser. If any one brings an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put to death. If any one is committing a robbery and is caught, then he shall be put to death. If any one "points the finger" (slander) at a sister of a god or the wife of anyone, and cannot prove it, this man shall be taken before the judges and his brow shall be marked. If a man takes a woman to wife, but has no intercourse with her, this woman is no wife to him. If a man's wife is surprised with another man, both shall be tied and thrown into the water, but the husband may pardon his wife and the king his slaves. If a man brings a charge against one's wife, but she is not surprised with another man, she must take an oath and then may return to her house.
More excerpts… If the "finger is pointed" at a man's wife about another man, but she is not caught sleeping with the other man, she shall jump into the river for her husband. If a man wishes to separate from a woman who has borne him children, or from his wife who has borne him children: then he shall give that wife her dowry, and a part of the usufruct of field, garden, and property, so that she can rear her children. When she has brought up her children, a portion of all that is given to the children, equal as that of one son, shall be given to her. She may then marry the man of her heart. If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father's house, and let her go. If a man's wife, who lives in his house, wishes to leave it, plunges into debt, tries to ruin her house, neglects her husband, and is judicially convicted: if her husband offers her release, she may go on her way, and he gives her nothing as a gift of release. If her husband does not wish to release her, and if he take another wife, she shall remain as servant in her husband's house. If a woman quarrels with her husband, and says: "You are not congenial to me, " the reasons for her prejudice must be presented. If she is guiltless, and there is no fault on her part, but he leaves and neglects her, then no guilt attaches to this woman, she shall take her dowry and go back to her father's house.
…and a few more… If she is not innocent, but leaves her husband, and ruins her house, neglecting her husband, this woman shall be cast into the water. If a man takes a wife and this woman gives her husband a maid-servant, and she bears him children, but this man wishes to take another wife, this shall not be permitted to him; he shall not take a second wife. If a man takes a wife, and she bears him no children, and he intends to take another wife: if he takes this second wife, and brings her into the house, this second wife shall not be allowed equality with his wife. If a man puts out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. If a man knocks out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out. If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death. If a slave says to his master: "You are not my master, " if they convict him his master shall cut off his ear.
Mesopotamian Culture Religion Gods Images Sacrifices Priests Key Terms Marduk Ziggurat epic Enuma Elish Epic of Gilgamesh Old Babylonian Literature
The Enuma Elish
Excerpts from the Enuma Elish They strove in single combat, locked in battle. The lord spread out his net to enfold her, The Evil Wind, which followed behind, he let loose in her face. When Tiamat opened her mouth to consume him, He drove in the Evil Wind while as yet she had not shut her lips As the terrible winds filled her belly, Her body was distended and her mouth was wide open. He released the arrow, it tore her belly, It cut through her insides, splitting the heart. Having thus subdued her, he extinguished her life. He cast down her carcass to stand upon it. After he had slain Tiamat, the leader, Her band was shattered, her troupe broken up;
Then the lord paused to view her dead body, That he might divide the form and do artful works. He split her like a shellfish into two parts: Half of her he set up as a covering for heaven, Pulled down the bar and posted guards. He bade them to allow not her waters to escape. He constructed stations for the great gods, Fixing their astral likenesses as the stars of the Zodiac. He determined the year and into sections he divided it; He set up three constellations for each of the twelve months. After defining the days of the year by means of heavenly figures, He founded the station of the pole star [Nebiru] to determine their bounds, That none might err or go astray. …In her belly he established the zenith. The Moon he caused to shine, entrusting the night to him. He appointed him a creature of the night to signify the days, And marked off every month, without cease, by means of his crown. … Making the mist smoke, piling up. . . These he planned himself, took into his own hand. Putting her head into position he formed thereon the mountains, Opening the deep which was in flood, He caused to flow from her eyes the Euphrates and Tigris, Stopping her nostrils he left. . . , He formed from her breasts the lofty mountains, Therein he drilled springs for the wells to carry off the water.
The Epic of Gilgamesh What is an epic? A long narrative poem that embodies the values of a culture. An epic has three main elements: 1. A hero 2. A journey 3. A homecoming
Epic of Gilgamesh (cont’d) Questions for Discussion: What are the main points in the praise of Gilgamesh (Book I)? What is the problem in Uruk (Book I)? What is Gilgamesh’s reason for wanting to go fight the monster Humbaba (Book III)? Why does Gilgamesh resist Ishtar (Book VI)? Why does Enkidu curse the trapper and the prostitute (Book VII)? What does the god Shamash say in response? What advice does Shiduri the tavern-keeper give Gilgamesh (Book X)? In the story of Utnapishtim, what do the various actions of the deities allow us to infer about how the Mesopotamians viewed their gods and goddesses? (Book XI)? What does the last scene suggest about Gilgamesh's present attitude toward the meaning of life?
Epic of Gilgamesh (cont’d) Themes Meaning of life found in being fully human There is an unbridgeable gap between gods and humans Immortality found in what you leave behind Sexual knowledge leads to a moral transition from nature to civilization