Biographies and Essays by SOSZ Members

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Biographies and Essays by SOSZ Members

Unread postby Harimau » Sat Feb 01, 2003 5:18 am

This is where you can post your biographies if you dont want them lost within the deep recessess of the dark sosz forum. :twisted:

This post is also the index for such things.

Note: Discussions about certain characters can take place in other threads, dont clutter up this one. Just leave this is as a place of biographies or decriptions of events. Any posts like that i shall delete indiscriminately.


1. Biography of Agrippina The Younger By Harimau aka Dogbert
2. Geneological table of the Julio-Claudians By Harimau aka Dogbert
3. Glossary of Spartan Terms By Harimau aka Dogbert
4. Spartan Trade and Agriculture By Harimau aka Dogbert
5. Biography of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus By: Jessica Leigh
6. Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Arbuthnot Fisher, RN, 1st Baron Fisher of Kilverstone By: Moses D.C. Kong (Jiang Zhi)

Other Threads of Biographies
1. Biography of Oda Nobunaga By Akusunokimasa
2. Biography of Gaius Julius Caesar By Harimau aka Dogbert
3. A History of Pulius Cornelius Scipio By Schwarz Bruder
4. Genghis Khan and the Mongolians By Pang Shiyuan
5. Zu Chongzhi By zhaozilong158
6. Zhu Yuanzhang By Pang Shiyuan

Edited by Shi Jing Xu: I made it more accessible ^_^
Last edited by Harimau on Sun Feb 16, 2003 12:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
If I'm posting here, it means I'm procrastinating.
Shangshu Ling
Posts: 1640
Joined: Sat Jun 15, 2002 2:08 am
Location: Sydney

Unread postby Harimau » Wed Feb 05, 2003 10:18 am

Biography of Agrippina the Younger.
By Iwan Juwono or Zhou Shin Hao
Email: Nandezx@hotmail or

Author's Notes and Comments

I will update and add more information as time goes. This is just a very rough biography. Other sections will include some of these: Her Supporters, Her Enemies, Her breakaway from Nero, Her Political Maneuverings, Her life with Claudius, Her Life with Nero. There is more coming than that.

Agrippina the Younger is an interesting woman. In a patriarchal society, she managed to grab power from men and virtually take part in controlling an empire.

Her Birth and Descent.

Augustus during his reign had a daughter by the name of Julia, whom his first wife Scribonia bore. This Julia he married to Marcus Agrippa, his lieutenant. This marriage begets 9 children, of which only 5 survived. (1) These were Gaius and Lucius Caesar, Julia, Agrippa Postumus and Agrippina the Elder. After the death of Scribonia, Augustus married Livia, who had brought with her Tiberius and Nero Drusus from her previous marriage to Ti. Claudius Nero. This Nero Drusus married Antonia Minor, and begets the famous Germanicus. This Germanicus married Agrippina the Elder. From this marriage was Nero Caesar, Drusus Caesar, Gaius (the Emperor Caligula), Agrippina the Younger, Drusilla and Julia Livilla. She was born in modern day Cologne. After the death of Germanicus and the conflict between Agrippina the Elder and Tiberius, she and her siblings went to live with their aunt Domitia Lepida. She married Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus at the age of 13 and from him Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus was born. (The Emperor Nero)


Roman society is one of a Patriarchal society. Females can only garner power only through her influencing a male member of the family to be a front for her. Roman tradition hold women holding power in contempt, believing them to be inadequate to hold power over other men. Roman women could not hold public office, and often her husband or agent manages her estates. Roman women can only hold power indirectly, through either a cooperative or acquiescent husband. It is for this reason that Agrippina the Younger had three marriages and numerous affairs in order to consolidate her power in Rome.

Her first marriage was that to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, from a distinguished line of consuls and triumphant generals. By that marriage, she gave birth to Nero, who was her “Dynastic Weapon” (Leadbetter). Suetonius claims that Gnaeus said, “That any child born to himself and Agrippina was bound to have a detestable nature and become a public danger.” It is with this child, Nero, was she able to make her claim to power as the mother of the descendant of Augustus and Germanicus. Other people too believed the same way Agrippina did. Messalina was said to have sent assassins to kill Nero as a young boy but was driven away by a snakeskin. Suetonius describes Messalina’s attempt as follows: “ His mothers recall from banishment allowed him to enjoy once more the benefits of her powerful influence; and it transpired later that Claudius’ wife Messalina, realizing that Nero

Would become a rival to her son Britannicus, had sent assassins to strangle him during his siesta.” This can only prove the importance of Nero, who was begotten from her marriage to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus. The Ahenobarbus family has great prestige in Rome, and this allows Nero to be able to claim great descent from two distinguished family. With the death of Gnaeus, his wealth was transferred to Nero at Claudius’ accession, and this placed it under the control of Agrippina.
Her second marriage was to Passienus Crispus, a man of great wealth who is also of age. This marriage gained for her great influence and the fear of many prominent people. Bauman says: “ The reason for the whole enterprise was Messalina’s fear of Agrippina’s ambitions for Nero. Agrippina was a far greater threat than any that Messalina had faced so far, because of her marriage to Passienus Crispus, her great wealth and Nero’s popularity with the people.” With the death of Crispus, she and Nero inherited his vast wealth, from which when combined with the wealth left to them by Ahenobarbus, Agrippina was able to finance her political moves. Agrippina was able to become patron to people who would help her in her scheme to make her son Emperor, and gain power through him. She, however, benefited through his death more than she did when he was alive. He died under suspicious conditions, after two years of marriage, not through the way he dies, but the effects of it. In his will, his large estate was left entirely to Agrippina, which made some of the opponents of the Julio Claudians suspicious. One of these may be Cassius Dio, even though he wrote his History quite some time after her death and the end of Julio-Claudians. He claims: “ She was amassing untold wealth for him, Overlooking no possible source of income, not even the most humble or despised, but paying court to everyone who was in the least degree well to do and murder.” Even though it was noted that Dio and most of the other ancient historians are highly biased against Agrippina, there were some truths to his comment. Agrippina even commenced relations with Pallas, a Freedman, reputed to be the richest man in Rome, even with the traditional prejudice against ex-slaves as ‘inferior’ by the Romans.
Her third and most important marriage was that to the Emperor Claudius. After the death of his most recent wife, Messalina, he chose her as his next wife. Even though Tacitus, Dio and Suetonius attribute his choice of a bride due to a dispute among his freedman, most of the modern historians believed that he himself chose Agrippina. This is due to the fact that most historians did not believe the old story that Claudius was a doddering, slobbering idiot, but instead an intelligent man behind a misleading figure. Claudius would have had noted the ancestry of Agrippina; she was of the blood of Augustus and the daughter of Germanicus, both of them highly popular and regarded in the memory of the Romans. A Marriage with her would have had meant the joining of the Julian and Claudian family, which would solidify Claudius’ position as emperor even further. Salmon says: In marrying Agrippina, Claudius acted as the result of consultation and deliberation rather than that of passion… Inscriptions suggest that it was also her Augustan blood, not her domineering personality, that led him to the arrangements he now made for the succession.”
It was due to this marriage with Claudius that she was able to finally be able to enjoy the trappings of her career. Honors were heaped upon her and her son, Nero. Nero was adopted into the Claudian Family, married Claudius’ daughter Octavia and was placed in front of Claudius natural son, Britannicus in the Succession. It was at this time that her prestige began to ascend into prominence. She was allowed to sit in audiences with the emperor, and even Caratacus, the defeated British king, gave to her the same praise as Claudius. She had even enjoyed the privileges of Livia, mother of Tiberius. She flaunted her prestige and influence in the Fucine lake incident, as Tacitus notes: “ Claudius presided in a s splendid military cloak, with Agrippina in a mantle cloth of gold.”

However, it was the death of Claudius that served her purpose the best at that time. Claudius had appointed Nero as heir proceeding Britannicus, and with this, she no longer needed Claudius, indeed, he became instead a deterrent for her son’s accession. Ancient Authors blame her using Locusta to poison the mushroom dish which Claudius he is fond of, but most modern authors disregard this and look instead for another method by which she murdered him. This is so because the first noted record of this story came from Pliny the Elder, and it was widely believed that he had a great hatred of Agrippina. Salmon says: “ The Story that she suborned a notorious poisoner named Locusta to doctor a dish of mushrooms, which proved fatal to the emperor, derives ultimately from the Elder Pliny, her arch-enemy, and has accordingly been regarded with suspicion.” Claudius’ death allowed Nero to approach the Guard and to be hailed as Emperor, from which Agrippina was able to gain some time of outright dominance in Roman Politics.

In a time of a Patriarchal Society, the advancement for a woman are limited to ‘bedroom influences’ and this Agrippina did well with her three marriages from which she was first able to beget a son which she could use as her ‘dynastic weapon’, the second wealth, and the third, a way unto which her son could ascend the throne without bloodshed.

The Lepidus Situation

At the tender age of 13, Agrippina the Younger was married by the command of Tiberius, the reigning Princeps to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus at 28 AD. The next year however, her mother, Agrippina the Elder and her brothers, Nero and Drusus, exiled and imprisoned respectively, the reason being that Tiberius, a Claudian, had hostility towards the family of Germanicus, and especially towards the Elder Agrippina and her political maneuvering at the year 29. In the year 37, Tiberius died and her brother, Gaius (otherwise known as Caligula) ascended the throne as Princeps with the approval of the Praetorian Guard and its prefect, Macro. It was in this year that the daughters of Germanicus and Agrippina were honored most. The three sisters of Gaius, Agrippina, Drusilla and Julia Livilla were made honorary Vestal Virgins and included in the annual oath of loyalty to the Princeps. In addition, during this year, Agrippina gave birth to a son, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus from her marriage to Gn. Domitius Ahenobarbus. Within the year of 38, Agrippina’s sister Drusilla died and that left Agrippina and Julia Livilla as the main women of the Julian family. In the year of 39, Agrippina was allegedly involved in a conspiracy with Aemilius Lepidus, Gaetulicus and Julia Livilla to overthrow Gaius. Gaius executed the two men and banished the sisters to the Pontian Islands, causing the future Nero to be placed in the care of his aunt, Domitia Lepida. Three months after this occurred, Ahenobarbus died. With the death of Gaius and accession of Claudius, Agrippina was recalled and was married the next year to Passienus Crispus, twice consul and a wealthy man.

Her Death

Agrippina the younger died on 59 AD, under the knives of Anicetus and his Lieutenants. Being the mother to the emperor, it would have taken extreme causes and deterioration in their mother to son relationship for Nero to order her death by the means of the Fleet Commander, Anicetus. This deterioration began in the year that Nero ascended the throne as Princeps in 54 Ad and Agrippina having her year of outright dominance.
The First signs of this deterioration came as soon as Nero Ascended the throne as Princeps. Barrett says: “The Breach began when acts of Claudius began to be attacked.” One of his first actions was to attack and alter the Acts of Claudius, especially those that encouraged corruption in the judicial system and also Claudius himself. Suetonius Comments: “ Nero annulled many of Claudius’ decrees and edicts, on the ground that he had been a doddering old idiot; and enclosed the place where he had been cremated with nothing better than a low rubble wall.” Now, Agrippina, being the late widow of Claudius, would “See this as an attack of Claudius’ legislation” (Barrett). Nero sought to reduce the power of personal influence, which Agrippina was quite offended by. Barrett says: She resented the sabotaging of the Acts of Claudius … She saw as necessary to uphold as they were the Claudian Legacy.”
Seneca and Burrus, respectively the Emperor’s tutor and Guard commander also played a significant role in the estrangement of Nero and Agrippina, which led to Nero committing Matricide. When Nero ascended the throne, he gave a speech in the Senate that was written by Seneca. Bauman: “The philosopher took the opportunity to launch an immediate, if indirect, attack of Agrippina”. A more significant event was that of the Armenian incident, which most historians agree upon as the beginning of the end of Agrippina’s influence on Nero and her waning power.
Acte, an imperial freedwoman too was critical in the breakdown of Agrippina and Nero. Nero fell in love with her, and Seneca and Burrus supported this relationship. Agrippina saw her as threat to her position and abused her as “her freedwoman rival”, which only made Nero love her more. In a conciliatory effort, Nero sent her a golden robe, which was owned by the previous Augusta. However, Agrippina, declared that it was only a portion to which was owed to her. (Tacitus) It was from this statement that sinister thoughts were derived from and forced Nero to act. Nero removed Pallas from his influential office, virtually removing any use of him by Agrippina. Nero, too, also poisoned Britannicus while in a banquet with Agrippina and Octavia. These events forced further drove Agrippina away from Nero and allowed openings for her enemies to strike at her.

Poppea Sabina was one of these enemies. Wife of M. Salvius Otho, she was a woman of exceptional beauty and wit. Under the mechanisms of her husband, she became lover to Nero and taunted him with insults to his manhood do to his inability to divorce Octavia and shake off his mother’s influence. Bauman says: “She taunted him with being a pupil under guardianship rather than a Princeps, claiming that Agrippina was afraid that as Nero’s wife she would disclose her mother-in-law’s oppression of the Senate and her arrogance and greed.” This was in 58 AD, and with her being driven out of the palace and stripped of her German guards and lictors; Nero could freely attempt to commit matricide. It was generally believed that this and Agrippina’s vigorous opposition to Nero marrying Poppea when she discovered of his plans that led Nero to decide to end her hold on him and the State.

To eliminate Agrippina, Nero enlisted the help of Anicetus, the fleet commander at Misenum and once a tutor of Nero. To give him the justification he needs to murder Agrippina, Nero had a sword placed near Agerinus, Agrippina’s messenger and proclaimed that he was sent to the kill him using the sword. It was from this justification that Anicetus and his two officers broken into Agrippina’s home and murdered her.

Agrippina’s death by Nero was the result of a combination of factors, which could be said, that led one from another. The way she had conducted herself in her year of absolute dominance in 54 Ad, could have said to be the year upon which her fate was sealed for death by matricide.

Her Political Influence

Since the time of Augustus, the women of the Julio Claudian family were among the most prestigious, powerful and influential in the world of Roman Politics. From the examples of Livia and Agrippina the Elder, Agrippina the younger would have been fully aware of the paths open to her for to gain power and influence. Agrippina’s power and influence grew to such a point as that none equaled her achievements until the Fourth Century.
Her power and influence became notable even before her marriage with Gn. Domitius Ahenobarbus. Because of her noble lineage of Augustus and Germanicus, she was a person, which would have enormous sway with the army and Guard, both of which still hold the memory of Germanicus dear. This lineage Agrippina used numerous times, such as when she threatened to go the Guard’s camp, to plead as Germanicus’ daughter for the removal of Nero. Also, when Gaius Caligula, her brother was in power as Emperor, she and her sisters were given honors, which many Roman Citizens were beyond the point of propriety. They were installed as honorary Vestal Virgins, even though all three were married at that time, and Agrippina herself was pregnant with Nero. Also, Caligula forced a change in the annual vows of allegiance to the Emperor, which Suetonius recites as follows: “ I will not hold myself and my children than I hold Gaius and his sisters”. Another similar honor was the preamble given in proposals to the consuls by Senators, “ May this be good and propitious for Gaius Caesar and his sisters”. Another honor Bauman describes as follows: “ In 37 Caligula issued a sestertius portraying his image on the obverse and the three sisters on the reverse; Agrippina represents Securitas. Drusilla Concordia, and Livilla Fortuna.” As much as these honors were heaped upon Agrippina and her sisters, they did not bring any extra powers or influence to her. It only lent to her prestige. However, as Bauman notes, she did not have more power than her sister Drusilla at this time, “ Suetonius concludes that he did not love his other sisters as much, or accord them the same honors.”
During the reign of Messalina, she was most likely the second or third most powerful woman in Rome, if Domitia Lepida, aunt of Nero was taken into account. It was the fact that she had as her son Nero, who as a scion of the Julian and Claudian Family and potential heir that gave her the enormous power and influence among the Roman people, Equites and Senators. So feared was her potential influence and power that Messalina, the then Empress, sent assassins to kill Nero but failed. Bauman says: “ The reason for the whole enterprise was Messalina’s fear of Agrippina’s ambitions for Nero. Agrippina was a far greater threat than any that Messalina had faced so far, because of her marriage to Passienus Crispus, her great wealth and Nero’s popularity with the people.”
When she was married to Claudius, she showed power to the fullest of her abilities. She was able to bring back Seneca from exile using her influence with Claudius, and install him to be Nero’s tutor. Another example of her power would be removal of the two joint prefects of the Guard, Lusius Geta and Rufrius Crispinus and installed instead Afrianus Burrus, a distinguished soldier who would be in gratitude towards her. What made this important is that the post of
Prefect of the Guard is an extremely powerful one, with 10000 elite soldiers and assassins under the Prefects command. The fact that she was able to remove them quite easily and install someone she wished instead showed much of her power and influence. With this, her power and influence increased as the number and power of her clients increased dramatically. She was able to control the Guard through Burrus, and had a representative in the Senate through Seneca. Her power and influence were also illustrated during an event during Claudius’ reign. The capture and submission of the great British chieftain, Caratacus, who defied Roman armies in Britain for nine years, who was then presented to Claudius and the Senate. After showing honors to Claudius and the Roman people, he gave an equal honorific to Agrippina. The Carentum, a chariot usually reserved only for Vestal Virgins and Priestesses of State was also granted to her for parading around the city. It was around this time was the title Augusta given to her, this being significant as she was the only woman ever awarded the title at such a young age compared to the like of Livia. Another Show of power and influence by Agrippina was the renaming of her birthplace into Colonia Agrippinensis, from which veterans of the guard and centurions from the legions are given land. This had specified even more influence for her in the legions, giving the soldiers belief and thanks for her taking care of them after their careers in the army. Tacitus even acknowledges her power and influence: “ From this moment the country was transformed. Complete Obedience was accorded to a woman… This was a rigorous, almost masculine despotism. In Public Agrippina was austere and often arrogant. Her private life was chaste – unless power was to be gained. Her passion
To acquire money was unbounded. She wanted it as a stepping stone to supremacy.” It was this wealth, this prestige and authority as empress, was she able to exercise her power. Her power was almost the equal to that of Claudius, only lacking that of his title and auctoritas and imperium of the armies.
In the early years of Nero’s reign was she supreme in Roman politics, with none to rival her power, as Nero was then only seventeen and too young to start defying her. In that year, her face was on the obverse in the position of honor from which was Nero, which clearly showed her dominance. Also, the granting of lictors to her and the appointment of priestess of Claudius only enriched her influence. In this time, she was also given an additional escort of a magistrate and also allowed to listen to Senate meetings through a curtain. This was her time of her supreme power, never to reach this peak again.
After the peak, her relations with Nero and his two tutors deteriorated. Seneca and Burrus were unable to accept a woman having supreme control of the state, and led Nero away from her, in such incidents as the Armenian Incident. With Acte and Poppea Sabina as mistresses, the death of Britannicus, Agrippina’s situation became desperate. Her Praetorian and German Guards were dismissed, and she was expelled from the palace and the Domus. Enemies plagued her as her position weakened until at the urging of Poppea, Nero ordered her assassination by Anicetus, the Fleet Commander.
Agrippina’s power and influence, which spanned three emperors, (Gaius, Claudius and Nero) were the highest that any woman in the Julio-Claudian period ever achieved, even against those of Livia, the first Augusta. She achieved these powers and influences, by which, from modern standards, might be deemed cruel and unnecessary. However, at this time, it may be considered quite normal in the peak of Roman Politics for brutality and forwardness such as Agrippina’s to be undertaken. It is these qualities that made her such as excellent politician in a society where her gender impedes her from gaining power and influence through legitimate means.


(1) Mortality rate during those times were extremely high


· The Twelve Caesars Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus translated by Robert Graves. Penguin Classics 1957
· The Annals of Imperial Rome Tacitus translated by Michael Grant Penguin Classics 1956
· A History of the Roman World 30BC to AD 138 E.T. Salmon Routledge 1944
· Women and Politics in Ancient Rome Richard A. Bauman Routledge 1992
· From the Gracchi to Nero H.H Scullard Routledge 1959
· Tiberius to Antonines Garzetti
· The Roman Mother Susanne Dixon
· Sister to Gaius wife to Claudius Mother to Nero Anthony Barrett.
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Shangshu Ling
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Unread postby Harimau » Wed Feb 05, 2003 10:55 am

A Crude Geneology table of the Julio Claudians i made.


P.S If you want to discuss any points about her, make a thread about it and dont post in this thread. Lets keep this thread clean.
If I'm posting here, it means I'm procrastinating.
Shangshu Ling
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Joined: Sat Jun 15, 2002 2:08 am
Location: Sydney

A Glossary of Spartan Terms

Unread postby Harimau » Sun Feb 16, 2003 12:44 am

Agele- Term used for Troops in which Spartan boys are organized into.

Agoge- "Denots a mixture of upbrining and training, and is used of the Spartan system in Particular" (Plutarch)

Agora- Commonly referred as "Market-Place" but actually has a wider role as a centre for civil activities. (Much like the Roman Forum combined with a marketplace)

Dechas- A chamber in the prison where men are executed by throttling.

Eirens- those that have preceeded two years beyond the boys' class and is appointed by the Trainer in Chief. He commands the boys in the troops like they are serveants to train them to obey commands.

Ephebes- Term for those in their late teens.

Gerontes- literally "old men" . There are 28 of these elders, when combined with the two kings of Sparta, form the Gerousia.

Gerousia - a Council of 28 Elders and the two kings. They decide the criminal cases and were the ballast between democracy and Tyranny. They are the oligarchic element in Spartan Society.

Gymnopaediae- An annual festival in which all Spartiates take part.

Harmost- Spartan Military Governor.

Helots- " Helots were, in short local inhabitants of Laconia and Messenia owned by the Spartan State and placed in total subjection to work for its citizens- an arrangement by no means unique in the Greek World" - Plutarch'

Hebontes- Young adults aged 20 to 29.

Hippagrate- Three men chosen by the ephors who then select 100 men each to form the Three Hundred.

Hippeis- The Three Hundred, who are a crack army unit among the Spartans.

Homoioi- The Term full citizens, or Spartiates, use to refer to themselves.

Hoplite- Heavily termed infantry

Kaddished- To be rejected into entry to a mess. Entry into a mess and full Spartiate citzenship
required election into a mess. It had to be unanimous that the then members of the mess approve of the candicate. They each throw a bread called a Kaddichos into a bowl, squashed for approval, whole for rejection. If even one person rejects, the new member is not allowed entry.

Kothon- Laconian drinking cup

Krypteia- Spartan youths under the command of the ephors who command them to seek out in the country side any helots that might fight back or lead rebellions. They are sent out with daggers and basic rations. To justify this, Ephors would declare war on the helots as they come into office.

Lesche- Where newborn babies are brough to be judged by elders whether it is fit to be raised. If it is found unfit, it is then left to die on the foot of the Mount Taygetus, called Apothetae.

Melleirens- Term for the oldest boys in each troop. Literally "Prospective Eirens"

Medimnus- 74 litres, a standard of measurement by the Spartans.

Oulami- Cavalry

Oulamus- A body of fifty cavalrymen in a square formation.

Paides- boys aged 8 to 18.

Paidiskoi- Youths aged 18 to 19.

Paidonomus- A Trainer in chief which means "Boy-Herdsmen". They are men with outstanding quality and appoints Eirens for each Troop.

Phalanx- Battle formation for Heavy Infantry

Phiditia- the Spartan mess. Usually around 10-15 and is the prequisite for full Spartan citizenship. Each member donates around a medimnus of barley meal, eight Choes of wine, five Minas of cheese, five and a half minas of figs and a small amount of money.

Polemarchs- senior army officers, immediately subordinate to the king, and they mess with him on campaigns.

Prodikoi- A term used by the Spartans for the guardians of kings without fathers.

Phylai- "tribes". A term of organization used by the Spartans

Rhetras- The term that Lycurgus used to describe his laws, "because they were divine oracles" (Plutarch)

Skytale- A Spartan device for sending secret messages. "The test was written on a long strip of leather wound around a staff, which the sender then retained. The recepient had a duplicate staff, and by correctly winding the strip around it it could read the message" (Plutarch)

Tresantes- Men who showed cowardice in battle or surrendered to the enemy. "They were liable to a wide range of social and legal disabilities: most serious among the latter was the partial loss of their citizen status" (Plutarch)
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Unread postby Harimau » Sun Feb 16, 2003 12:45 am

Copyright Iwan Juwono.
Please ask if you want this on your site.
Please do not plagiarise this essay, i have put a lot of work into it.

The basis of every civilization has always been agriculture and on a lesser basis, but still significant, trade. Great civilizations always started in the areas where food and agriculture was in abundance. This was no different with Sparta. Even though the Spartiates themselves do not engage in trade or agriculture, they still understood the importance of agriculture and trade to the survival to the Spartan State. It was to this end that the classes of the Perioikoi and helots were created to serve the needs of trade and Agriculture.

Once the establishment of Spartiates only bearing arms, the “Commercial and economic role of the perioeci must have become a very important one.” Literally means ‘the dwellers round about’, they are communities of free people granted freedom in Laconia and Messenia by the Spartans for exchange for military service. At times, they would even be trained as hoplites to serve as an army. However, they were the merchants, craftsmen and the professionals at Lacedemonia. They held a monopoly on these professions due to the fact that Spartiates are not allowed to engage in these trades, and the helots didn’t have the required freedom to achieve these professions. Unlike the Spartiates, they were allowed to gather wealth by gold and silver, and these provided much of the wealth of the Spartan state.

A problem that was presented though to the perioeci was the fact that the Spartan state issued currency in the form of iron bars. Plutarch: “The iron money... could not be exported elsewhere in Greece, and was considered a joke there, not an object of value.” The Spartan Iron currency was also doused with vinegar at the time of melting, which renders it useless to be melted down as weapons or other uses. This obviously presented problems for trade, due to the heavy and incumbersome nature of iron bars. It worked well to restrict the hoarding of wealth of Spartiates and the reduction of crime, but it proved to be an impediment to the Perioeci. It was to this end that trading in Sparta had to be done in other Greek Currencies. (E.g. Drachmas or talents of gold). Unlike Spartiates, The Perioeci were allowed to hoard gold and silver, and not live an austere life like the Spartans. It was due to this that most of the wealth in the Spartan state belonged to the Perioeci. The Perioeci were not citizens, but nor were they slaves. The had most of the rights of the Spartiates, with the exception of political rights. Ehrenburg says “for some time export trade flourished, as can be seen by the Laconian vases found in east and west; by that trade, no less than the making of the vases, was probably largely in the hands of the perioeci. Many of their towns were busy harbors.” Trade before the shift towards a militaristic state used to be allowed for Spartiates. Evidence of Spartan vases and craftsmanship found by archeological digs proved this.

Agriculture in Sparta was the field of the Helots. Helots “Were, in short, local inhabitants of Laconia and Messenia owned by the Spartan state and placed in total subjection to work for its citizens- an arrangement by no means unique in the Greek World.” A supposed reform by Lycurgus was the redistribution of land to each invidual Spartiate that would be enough to provide “ A Rent of Medimni of barley for a man, and 12 for his wife, along with proportionate quantities of fresh produce” It was these helots that farmed these lots of lands for the Spartiates. These helots were state-owned and controlled, but enjoyed more freedom than other slaves in other Greek city-states. These Greek city-states often commented and criticized Sparta for her institutional slavery of the helots. However, these helots in fact enjoyed more rights than their slaves. They could marry when and whom they wished, raise as many children as they wished, and did not get their full produce taken away from them. The Spartans only took away a half of their produce from them each harvest, leaving the other half for the helots to do as they please. It was in this way that some helots became quite wealth, and was able to purchase their way of out slavery and become one of the Perioeci or move to another city-state. Helots were not chatteled to the land, but were assigned by the state to the invidual Spartiates. These helots were extremely important, as “It was their labor which permitted the Spartiate class to devote itself exclusively to non-productive pursuits.” These helots may also be called up for military service, by which as a reward, they would be freed. Helots that are freed in this way are called neodamodeis.

Agriculture and Trade were the basis of any great civilization or nation in history. Nations at times could emerge in order to control the flow of trade and distribution of agricultural products to the proletariat. In Sparta, the system is no different. The system that evolved was made in order to produce the ultimate fighting force, and the institution of the helots and the perioeci to fulfill the purposes of agriculture and trade.
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Unread postby Shi Jing Xu » Wed Feb 19, 2003 3:05 am

Biography of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus
By: Jessica Leigh (Shi Jing Xu)

This is not complete, but almost there. The bibliography is not complete as well. This is also my first time writing a biography, so I'm proud ^_^

Life Before His Rise
During this time in Rome the Third Punic War had just ended, leaving Rome virtual control of the Mediterranean Sea. Along with this, Rome had obtained Spain, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, and North Africa from the Phoenicians of Carthage. With these islands under control, Rome obtained slaves of war, treasure, and grain. These three things are referred to as ‘The Paradox of Empire or Expansion’. To continue on with Tiberius’ life, this term must be defined. By saying ‘Paradox’, I mean “A statement contrary to received opinion.” This is what it was. The grain, slaves, and treasure were paradoxical in that it led to the Empire. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. The grain that was imported from the islands was ‘paradoxical’ because it put many out of the job. Rome was built on, literally, the backs of farmers. If one would look back at the early history of Rome, that is what they were: farmers. So, the farmers produced the grain to sell to the rest of the citizens. Well, the grain imported from the islands was no doubt cheaper because it was in abundance in the islands; this put farmers out of the job. Who wants to buy grain from a farmer who sells it for a fixed price when you can get it cheaper from the islands? So, the land of the farmers was taken away and they were forced to move to the city. The land now belonged to who? But of course, the patricians and Senate. What an awful ordeal that was. Rome was already pretty heavily populated, so with the farmers moving in to get a job, more space was needed. Well, the good ‘ole Senate created insulae, or ‘islands’, which can be equated to that of modern day ‘projects’ or ‘ghettos’. This just worsened the problem if you can imagine.
The farmers now had housing, but what about a job? Well, the slaves that came from the islands didn’t help the matter at all (ah! Another paradox). The slaves, numerous as they were, took up many of the jobs that could have been offered to the farmers. What a predicament they were in. This also meant a decline in soldiers. As their laws stated at the time, no one could enter the army without owning property.

Ascending and Descent of Tiberius
Tiberius and his brother Gaius Gracchus were the sons of Tiberius Gracchus. The elder Tiberius had been a censor and twice consul in the Roman Senate; very well known within the Republic. Their mother was from the famous patrician family of Scipios. Their family was plebian and had assimilated into the oligarchy of the Roman society during the Punic Wars. This is where Tiberius first gained his own fame.
Tiberius was an officer in the Roman army during the Third Punic War. According to, “as an officer in the Third Punic was he is said to have been the first man over the wall at Carthage”. After the war, he headed back to Rome to pursue his life in politics.
Tiberius was elected to the tribunate of the plebes in 133 B.C., giving him the power to convoke the plebian assembly and block any measure proposed by the Senate. Also, the tribune was to be regarded as sacrosanct; meaning basically that no one could harm them. Well, the Senate didn’t keep this end of the bargain up for very long as we shall see.
Tiberius’ main reform was the redistribution of the land back to the farmers. The Senate had unfairly taken the land all for themselves, when originally, it should have been redistributed among the peasants and lower-class citizens of Rome. He proposed the reform in the use of the public farming and grazing lands, the concilium plebis. What a good idea! This allowed the farmers to regain land and Rome to regain its’ soldiers. This obviously astonished the Senate because no one was taking their land away! The Senate bribed another tribune, Octavius, to veto Tiberius’ measures. The bill had already been overwhelmingly popular with the assembly and other tribunes, so Tiberius convinced the tribunes that Octavius was not supportive of the people. The tribunes disposed of Octavius and the reform was made into a law; a clear test of the Senate’s authority.
Tensions rose even higher, and the Senate had to do something. As sacrosanct as Tiberius might be, he was putting the Senate’s power in danger. As his year of tribune came to an end, Tiberius was going to run again in hopes to really get his law moving. A riot led by Scipio Nasica (his cousin) broke out at Tiberius’ election rally and murdered him as well as three hundred of his followers. This marked, as we say, ‘the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic’. ‘Why?’ you might ask. Well, if you look at the situation logically, this was the first time the Roman Senate had resorted to violence in order to get it’s way; it had murdered it’s own people to regain it’s authority. Though this was the first time, it was certainly not the last.

Sources and Bibliography
- The Roman Empire
- Warry, John. Warfare in the Classical World
Texas: Hackberry Press, 2001
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Unread postby Jiang Zhi » Thu Feb 20, 2003 4:01 pm

Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Arbuthnot Fisher, RN, 1st Baron Fisher of Kilverstone
by Moses D.C. Kong (Jiang Zhi)


A massive hulk of steel slowly slithered its way into the water. A time of change has arrived; this new ship would revolutionize naval warfare forever. Its name was the HMS Dreadnought, named after a ship-of-the-line at the Battle of Trafalgar. With cannons that fired steel shells instead of iron balls, armoured hull made out of steel instead of wood, and engines powered by steam instead of relying on sail power, this ship makes the navies of the other countries obsolete.
The man behind this show of Britain’s naval supremacy was a clever and an “outstanding innovator” known to his seamen and the fleet as “Jacky” or John Arbuthnot Fisher. Joining the navy at the young age of 13, he rose through the ranks to eventually becoming First Sea Lord in 1904. Between the times, he had completely revolutionized the Victorian Royal Navy from Nelson’s ship-of-the-lines to modern ironclad warships and later, after Queen Victoria’s death, he laid the foundations to the first battleship – the HMS Dreadnought. This biography of one of Britain’s most renowned admiral, often referred to as the “greatest Royal Navy Admiral since Nelson”, will illustrate his life, his career and his impact on Victorian England.

Son of retired army Captain William Fisher, Jacky was born on January 25, 1840 in Ceylon (Sri-Lanka). In a family of eleven children, whom four died in infancy, he grew up in his father’s coffee plantation just when the Ceylonese coffee boom collapsed. When Jacky was six years old, Captain Fisher passed away leaving behind young Jacky the memory of “a handsome, brave and soldierly figure of the frontiers.” That was the time when his mother took her children back to live in England. “Penniless and forlorn”, Jacky Fisher joined the navy aboard his first ship, Nelson’s old flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, the HMS Victory. His first experience in action happened in the 25th of June 1859 in a failed attack on the Taku forts in China that became the Royal Navy’s only major defeat in the nineteenth century. From 1859 to 1860, he served in the Crimean War. Shortly afterwards, he took part in the capture of Canton, China.
In 1872, due to his reputation as a gunnery and torpedo expert, he was selected to the prestigious HMS Excellent, the Royal Navy’s gunnery school to “give torpedo instructions aboard the HMS Vernon.” In the age of 33, he was promoted to captain and commanded a large variety of ships including the HMS Inflexible, the largest, the heaviest and most powerful modern ironclad battleship ever put into service at the time. Prime Minister Gladstone had once remarked about the ship, “I really wonder the human mind can bear such a responsibility.”
During the 1890s, in the increasing threat of the new “torpedo boats”, freshly promoted Rear Admiral Fisher invented the “torpedo boat destroyer” to counter the menace and protect the Victorian navy. He also devised a plan that a “flotilla defense”, made up of torpedo boats, small surface ships and submarines can protect the narrow seas around the British island.
In 1892, when he became Third Sea Lord, he showed his impatience by walking around the Admiralty building with a card around his neck stating, “I have no work to do!” From 1899 to 1902, during the time when he was Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, he improved the fleet’s reliability and also encouraged his junior officers to think more tactically. His determination in modernizing the fleet and drastically transforming it into an effective and efficient fighting force paid off when he was promoted to First Sea Lord in 1904. In an arms race with the German High Seas Fleet, Fisher scrapped many old and unreliable ships replacing them with large armoured cruisers, battlecruisers as well as unveiling the new revolutionary HMS Dreadnought in 1906. By then, the Victorian period had ended and the sailing ships of the old Victorian navy have transformed itself into the large steel giants of a modern Royal Navy.

The Impact

As a charismatic leader, a cunning strategist and a loyal subject to Queen Victoria, Admiral Jacky Fisher became the next legendary naval hero after Admiral Horatio Nelson. His reforms and ideas had revolutionized the art of naval warfare. He had kept Britain’s navy at the top – the best navy in the world.
Even though Fisher was a soldier, Fisher had a reputation with social Victorian life. Admiral Jacky Fisher was very popular with the ladies of the middle and upper class. He married the pretty daughter of an Anglican clergyman who had connections in the baronetage. Her name was Katherine Josephine Delves-Broughton whom he called her Kitty. She seemed like the “perfect naval wife” , ready to travel to new places, able to socially adapt to new surroundings and promised Jacky that she would “allow nothing to stand between Jack Fisher and the fulfillment of his ambitions, and she kept her promise.” Though he is a terrific husband, he also has entertained the “grandest of guests – an English queen, a Russian empress, a princess.”
He was popular with many upper class ladies. In one case, the prime minister’s daughter Violet Asquith recalled that they danced on his deck “for a very long time before breakfast…and as he never reverses I [Violet Asquith] reel giddily in his arms and lurch against his heart of oak.” Therefore, his enemies knew him as a womanizer. However, it wasn’t only women he danced with, he also pulled his officers to dance on the deck. In one case, he whirled one of the officers so dizzily that they both tripped and fell in a heap on the deck – everyone, including the admiral, were filled with laughter. Yet, despite flirting with the many upper class women, he was still very loyal to his wife, writing to Kitty constantly until the day she died.
Fisher’s greatest tribute to Victorian England was his role in modernizing its navy. In brief, here is a list of accomplishments Fisher did during the reform of the Royal Navy:
“The equipment of the Royal Navy was entirely modernized, and its ships were redistributed. The system of officer entry was reformed, and something was done to break down the preposterous social barriers between engineers and the rest. Lower-deck conditions were improved. Naval shipbuilding was greatly speeded. A new system of naval reserves was devised. Destroyers and submarines were introduced. Turbines and oil-burning engines were adopted, and oil supplies from Persia were ensured. The battle cruiser was invented, and a revolutionary new class of battleship was introduced, instantly changing the nature and the balance of all the world’s battle fleets.”
During Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, a hundred seventy-three warships lined up in Portsmouth for the Spithead review showing the rest of the world the might and power of the Royal Navy. In the Gibraltar jamboree, in a stunning display of fire and flames, over two thousand rockets flared from the British ships carved an archway over the royal yacht of Germany’s emperor. Fisher had transformed the Royal Navy into a method of showing off the power, the prosperity and the might of her empire. It was a symbol for Britons to be proud of – and they were.


Admiral of the Fleet John Arbuthnot Fisher was an astonishing figure of the late Victorian period. He had watched as the Royal Navy moved out of the “age of sail” to the “age of ironclads”. Then, he transformed the navy to the steel giants we know today as “battleships”. With the increased effectiveness of the Royal Navy, Fisher had shown the other countries that England’s power was unmatched – even by determined Germans. In causing such a drastic change in Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s fleet, there is one quote by the famous Admiral Lord Nelson that truly fits Fisher: “England expects that every man will do his DUTY.” Beyond doubt, Admiral Jacky Fisher has fulfilled his duty; he certainly has a “Heart of Oak”.

NOTE: This was actually for a school paper. Do NOT plagurize my work.
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Unread postby Harimau » Sun Jun 15, 2003 10:24 am

A short history of the Silk Road from its creation, until the time of Julio Claudians and with a Roman-centric perspective:

The Silk Road was a trade route, which had spanned from the Roman Empire crossing the Middle East, Central Asia and India to the Han Empire of China. It brought silk, spices, technologies and languages from both ends of the road. The Silk Road commenced from the city of Xi’an in Han China, passes through Central China and diverged at Dunhuang in the Uygur Autonomous region. From here it divides into a northern and southern route, The Northern Route crossing Lake Lop Nur, Kashgar, and Khorasm, The south Caucasus, and into Georgia. The Southern Route went through the North Indian cities of Khoton and Jarkend to pass through Northern Persia and Babylon to the Mediterranean ports of Antioch and Tyre. From Georgia and the Mediterranean ports, they passed into the Mediterranean world and eventually into the Roman World through either overland through Greece and Pannonia, or through the Mediterranean Ocean straight into Rome or major trading cities. The Silk Road officially began with the exchange of embassies and inaugurated official bilateral trade along the caravan route that lay between Parthia and China. This silk then went on to Rome and to current day Europe.

Unfortunately for Rome, all the roads of the Silk Road passed through a long-time enemy in the Parthian Empire. It was through Parthia that the link between Rome and China was first forged, by the intervention of Mithridates of Parthia with Sulla and Wu Ti. The Silk trade great quickly, but was interrupted by the short bursts of hostility between Rome and Parthia, such as the invasion of Parthia by the Triumvirate Crassus that eventuated in his defeat. It was not until the Principate of Augustus that peace between Rome and Parthia began, and allowed the silk trade to prosper. When the Roman standards that were lost by Crassus in the Battle of Carrhae were returned by Parthia to Tiberius in 20 AD, relations between Parthia and Rome began to normalize. This was so under the peaceful foreign policy of Augustus, which had allowed the Roman world to recover for the damage caused by sixty years of intercine and foreign wars.

From that point on, Rome had an uninterrupted access to the Silk Road, and to the silks and spices that it offered. As the historian Pliny had stated: "At the smallest reckoning 100 million sesterces [of gold=16,660 English pounds] is the sum which every year India, the silk-growing country of northern China, and the Arabian peninsula take from our Empire. Such is the cost to us of our exquisites and our women." It was also said that silk was worth its own weight in gold in the first few years that it became available, becoming a major luxury good among the wealthy. Moreover, because of the richness of the trade route, many wars were to be bought between Empires such as Rome, Byzantium, Parthia and Persia for control of this major source of wealth and income.
Last edited by Harimau on Fri Mar 05, 2004 5:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread postby Kong Wen » Thu Sep 25, 2003 2:48 pm

Barbarian Ideas versus Ideas of Barbarism:
The Law and Religion of the Mongols and their Encounters with Europe

Previously published in Timepieces, UNB's annual student journal of history, in April 2003. Reposted.

The people of Europe knew just enough about the hordes of Mongol “barbarians” to be afraid of them. The Mongol armies came out of the unknown East with equally unknown purposes. In the beginning, they were seen by the European Christians and by the Pope as potential allies in their perpetual wars against Islam. When the Mongols attacked the heretics, they were doing the work of God; however, when the Golden Hordes began threatening Christian territory, they were closely associated with the Devil. The realities of the inner workings and motivations of the Mongol armies could not be understood by the Christians or the Muslims, because both groups saw conflict and war through the centuries-old lens of religious rivalry. The Mongols, simply put, fought for territory and power without using religion or spirituality to excuse their actions. The resulting view held by the Europeans was that the Mongols were lawless barbarian tribes, but this was not the case. The Mongols had a sort of monotheistic religion (several ideas were worshipped or revered, but there was only one god) and a well-defined set of laws, and were also tolerant of other religions at the same time. Ironically, it was the continuous contact with and tolerance for other religious ideologies that led to the ultimate fall of the massive empire of the Khans into disunity and internal strife.

The original national religion of the Mongols was strikingly similar to Christianity and Islam in its nature. Their official doctrine stated that there “is only one God, creator of Heaven and Earth, who alone gives life and death, riches and poverty as pleases Him—and who has over everything an absolute power.”1 The important theological factors were all present—the monotheism and the omnipotent God in the role of the creator. Marco Polo, in his tale of his voyages to the East, writes that the Mongols “believe in a deity whose nature is sublime and heavenly… [to whom they] offer up prayers.”2 Their god, called Tengri, was the symbolic idea of an eternal heaven (hence Marco Polo’s “sublime and heavenly” nature).3 The Mongols also believed that their god played an active part in the lives of mortals—Genghis Khan proclaimed that “Heaven has ordered me to rule over all men… the protection and the help of the Eternal Heaven has enabled me to destroy my enemies and attain this high dignity.”4 Genghis Khan clearly saw himself as a god-ordained conqueror, much in the same way that the Europeans saw their kings and the Pope as divinely appointed holders of power.

Public worship and congregational services played no part in their faith, which led many outsiders and travellers to believe that the Mongols had no religion at all. Despite this, the Mongols did have rituals and personal spiritual acts of worship associated with various natural phenomena which represented higher powers. For example, Mongols would take off their hats and sling their belts over their shoulders when at the top of sacred mountains, believing that they were closer to Tengri and should show their submission. They also believed that springs and rivers were sacred, and were not permitted to foul the waters by cleaning their bodies, clothing, or tools in them. They were not permitted to touch knives to fire, which was a sacred object of worship because of its association with the sun (another object of worship, which the Mongols would honour with gestures and utterances).5 The Mongols also burned incense in censers and offered libations of drink.6 Most of these rituals stemmed from shamanistic traditions, influenced heavily by ancient Chinese animism.7

The experience of the Mongols with Christianity was an ever-changing one. At first, in the midst of one of their later crusades against the Turks, the Christians thought that the new power from the East could be a potential ally. They associated the Mongol invaders with Prester John, a mythological Christian figure with vast armies and even vaster riches.8 Later, it became obvious that the Mongols were not fighting on behalf of Christianity; the fact was betrayed by their vicious attacks on the Christian kingdoms of Georgia and Russia and subsequent threats against Hungary. The threat they posed to Western Europe was such that Pope Innocent IV, in 1245, sent envoys to the Khan in an effort to persuade him to convert to Christianity.9 The Great Khan replied by indicating that the rule of the world had been entrusted to Genghis Khan by the will of God, and questioned by what authority the Pope believed he spoke in the name of God.10 The Khan agreed to send ambassadors to Europe, but the Pope’s envoys were dubious of the trustworthiness of the Mongol ministers.

The reluctance of the European powers to accept Mongol ambassadors among their ranks was ironic considering the Khans’ views of the Christians and members of other foreign faiths. King Louis of France was informed by letter that there were many Christians living among the Mongols. In Persia, several of the Mongol Il-Khans had Christian wives, and many Christian Armenians served in their administration. And in Palestine, remnants of the Crusading groups that had been left behind fought alongside the Mongols in their wars with the Muslims.11 The Mongols even formed a political alliance with the Christian King Hethun I of Cilicia in Anatolia, an alliance of which the king made frequent use in his attempts to protect his country from his Islamic neighbours.12 (Perhaps the Pope would have thought the King aptly named, in light of his friendly liaisons with the “infidel” Mongol hordes.) It is also known that Genghis Khan had several persons of the Islamic faith among the officers of his court and working within his government, despite the differences in belief between the Mongols and the Muslims.13 Genghis Khan’s dominions were havens of religious toleration—the emperor was wise enough to recognise talent in officers regardless of their religion, and would introduce them to his service without paying heed to the nature of their beliefs.14

The level of toleration for the members of religions other than the national religion of the Mongols was unheard of among the Christians and Muslims of the day. Even though the Mongols had their own religion, they allowed full freedom of religious practise to everyone in their realm, so long as the latter professed ultimate loyalty to the Khan. The empire of the Khan was home to members of Nestorian, Buddhist, Islamic, and even Taoist (living in conquered areas of China) ideologies. The multitude of interacting religious sects gave rise to some degree of doubt concerning whether or not Tengri was indeed the only god, highest among the supernatural powers.15 The Mongols began to make provisions for the existence of other gods, and deemed it wise to not interfere in the religious rites and duties of other systems of belief. Their decision to not hinder religious practise led to a greater degree of tolerance and even a measure of integration of the various religions into the Mongol faith.16

Toleration of other religions was not simply an official Mongol tradition, but it was in keeping with the magnanimous nature of their leadership. Kublai Khan was legendary, even in Europe, for his integrity, his great wisdom, and his commanding eloquence; he was also renowned for his valour and courage.17 Marco Polo writes that the Khan honoured the special and sacred holidays of each major religion without discrimination. He also respected the rituals and traditions that each religion required of its followers.18 In one instance, when the Christian faith came under attack by a member of another group, Kublai Khan came to its defence even though he was not a believer himself. When asked about his refraining from conversion to Christianity, he explained that, while he accepted the possibility of the existence and power of the Christian God, he also acknowledged the practical demonstrations of power performed by members of the other religions. The Mongol empire’s policy of religious tolerance and the existence of an impartial ruler combined to create an atmosphere of loyalty and obedience (which explains the ready service of Christians and Muslims in the Mongol court). John of Plano Carpini, a Franciscan monk who visited Mongolia in 1246, was extremely impressed by the level of discipline among the Mongol people. He remarked that the Mongols “showed more submission and obedience than the clergy in Europe.”19 He also noted that disputes, disagreements, and differences were always settled amicably.20 Marco Polo also gives a brief account of the “perfect obedience” of the Mongols.21

It is perhaps because of this universal tolerance of religious diversity that the immense Mongol empire began to come apart at the seams. The empire covered so much territory that different religions began to become predominant in different sections of Mongolia. Some Mongols began to tend towards Nestorianism. The Mongols of the “eastern provinces… adopted the manners of the Saracens.”22 Islam provided a civilising influence to the Golden Horde, and the Mongols and Muslims shared a passion for the arts and sciences. It was not long before the capital of the Mongol empire became a leading centre for Muslim civilisation, thought, and architecture.23 The Il-Khans of Persia were also fast becoming Muslim in their customs, and full religious conversion was not far off.24 It was undoubtedly the close proximity of Islamic nations on the borders and influential Muslims in the inner administration that facilitated the integration of Islam into Mongol culture. An additional rift appeared when the Mongols under Kublai Khan began to gradually convert to Buddhism.25 After Kublai Khan’s death, several wars, religious and political in nature, began to occur between Mongol territories and within the greater empire. Because of the inner conflict and the massive territory over which the empire was spread, it began to gradually dissolve into smaller, separate kingdoms.26

When the Mongols first arrived in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe, they were virtually unknown to the followers of Islam and their Christian enemies. Similarly, the Mongols were largely ignorant of Christian and Muslim traditions. As time went on, and as territory was conquered, the Mongol horde began to incorporate Christians and Muslims into its empire. Not only did Christians and Muslims begin to occupy positions as ministers within the Mongol government and officers within the court, but outsiders began to make marked attempts and influencing the Khan’s world view. The Pope made attempts to convert the Mongols to Christianity, and Muslims on all borders were making conversion attempts of their own. Each side felt the need to win over this new force as an ally against its opponent. But the Mongols fought for themselves alone. As the Christians, Muslims, and followers of other religions were allowed to act and operate freely within the Mongol empire, their religions began to grow in influence until the Mongols either doubted the validity of their own system of beliefs or made attempts to reconcile all faiths. These attempts naturally lent themselves to territorial predispositions towards given religions, and those faiths (whether Christianity, Islam, or one of the many others), began to predominate in their areas of greatest influence. The balance tipped, and religion became a dividing element within the Mongol empire. Because the Mongols had opened their gates to Christianity and Islam—rival religions—they had also opened their gates to the conflicts between those religions. The irreconcilability of the faiths was more powerful than the unity of the empire, and divisions began to appear within the course of a few generations. The conflict between foreign, non-Mongol religions proved the ultimate downfall of the greatest empire on the planet.

1 Harold Lamb, Genghis Khan: The Emperor of All Men, (Philadelphia: The Blakistan Company, 1944), 201.
2 Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo, (New York: Orion Press, 1958), 86.
3 Leo de Hartog, Genghis Khan: Conqueror of the World, (London: I.B. Tauris & Co., 1989), 7.
4 de Hartog, 35.
5 de Hartog, 7.
6 Polo, 86-87.
7 de Hartog, 7.
8 de Hartog, 186.
9 de Hartog, 187.
10 de Hartog, 189.
11 Lamb, 223.
12 de Hartog, 192.
13 Jacob Abbott, Genghis Khan, (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1902), 224.
14 Abbott, 224.
15 de Hartog, 8.
16 de Hartog, 8.
17 Polo, 80.
18 Polo, 116.
19 de Hartog, 37.
20 de Hartog, 37.
21 Polo, 87.
22 Polo, 90.
23 Michael Prawdin, The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy, Vol. 2, Trans. Eden and Cedar Paul, (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1961), 390-391.
24 Lamb, 193.
25 Lamb, 193.
26 Lamb, 193.
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Athenian Sea Power during the Persian and Pelopennesian Wars

Unread postby Harimau » Fri Nov 21, 2003 9:09 pm

Athenian Sea Power.

The strong Athenian Nay had contributed to a large proportion in the Greek Victory over the Persians in the Persian Wars. However, the strong navy that it had possessed during the Persian Wars was only developed in the recent years before the commencement of the wars. Initially, the Athenian Naval power was barely enough in numbers and quality to be able to fight against its rival, the island state of Aegina. It was through a series of events that the Athenian Naval power was developed into the strength it was during this period. After the period of the Persian Wars, the Athenian Sea Power continued to grow and was by the means by which she eventually dominated in the Greek World, and became an Empire.

The original Athenian navy was made up of largely bulky, and cumbersome ships mostly used to transport troops, with very few fighting triremes as fighting ships. Moreover, they had before lacked a strong naval base, with their ships being stored on an open flat beach, the Phaleron that is overlooked by the Acropolis of Athens. Athens was at this time a mercantile power in comparison to the more land locked states such as Sparta or Thebes, and they depended very much on trade. It was not until the accession of Themistocles into the leading position of Athens that the movement for a stronger navy gained momentum.

Themistocles was the leader of popular faction, gaining victory over the faction of Aristides, who Plutarch describes as “The most just and noble man in Athens.” Following this ‘accession’, the Athenian mines fortunately discovered a rich vein of silver, bringing four thousand talents of silver into the state’s fiscus. While tradition and popular opinion had opted that the money be distributed among its citizens, Themistocles was able to persuade them to instead spend the money on upgrading the fleet, giving the reason that the sea power of Aegina must be counteracted. Eventually, 200 triremes were built, giving the Athenian navy supremacy in numbers in the region. The use of this now strong navy was to be seen in the Persian Wars, and in the many conquests that took place under the leadership of Themistocles, Aristides, Xanthippus, Cimon and Pericles to name a few. They were the means by which Athens was able to acquire control over the Delian League and turned it into her own empire by which she ruled with an iron fist.

After the victory over Persia in the battles of Salamis, Platea and Mycale, which the latter two relied heavily on the Athenian sea power, Athens formed an group of alliances named as the Delian League. It was essentially an alliance with Athens as the de-facto leader and protector of the other city-states. It was her sea power and prowess in battle against Persia, which won for her this great position of power, and prestige from which she may then bid for the empire of her ambitions. The Delian served several purposes to the benefit of Athens.

Firstly, it allowed for Athens to have allies in its war against Persia. This alliance gave Athens the manpower needed to wage a successful campaign under Cimon in Persian territory. Cimon, son of Miltiades, was the principal commander in the campaigns against the Persian Empire. He took the now dominant Athenian navy, along with their allies, to campaign against Persian and capturing the Thracian Seaboard, the Chersonese, the Greek Cities of Asia Minor, and also various island states in the Aegean, most notably Chios, Lesbos, Samos and Thasos. These areas were then either incorporated into the League as liberated cities, or are instead planted with Athenian cleruchies or settlements. This further added to the personal power and prestige of Athens, with the battle of Eurymirdon being the zenith of the prestige. The battle by the Eurymirdon saw Cimon rout the naval and military elements of the Persian Empire, bringing forth an unspoken truce not formalized until the peace of Callias.

With the threat of the Persian Empire diminished through the strength and prowess of Athens and her allies, the Aegean seas was virtually cleared of any foreign threat. However, it was still under threat from piracy, which was also eliminated due to the intervention of Athens. This opening up of the Aegean had wide effecting commercial and political effects. It firstly gave the Athenians mercantile access to Asia Minor, and also the rich farms of the Black Sea. Commerce boomed for Athens, bringing in wealth from trade, and also supplies from trade. Moreover, Athens was able to essentially demand tribute from her allies, with the sheer threat of using her navy against them. Athens was then enrichened, with income coming in from booty in battle, from commerce, and also from tribute of the allies. All this was made possible by the Athenian Sea Power.

The trade made possible by the Athenian Sea power had brought in the large amounts of money, which allowed Athens to long last complete the fortifications of the Piraeus, the city and also the “Long Walls.” These fortifications made it practically impossible for the inexperienced Greek forces to take the city with siege craft unless a naval blockade was enforced, as the Piraeus would be able to receive supplies from the rich farming countries of the Chersonese or the Black Sea region. A further consequence of the Athenian naval power was the ability for Pericles to propose his radical democracy, of having every serving citizen being paid for public service. This was only possible through the incomes from trade, tribute and booty, which was all only possible through the sheer strength and supremacy of Athenian Sea Power.

The Sea power of Athens was not only used against Persia, or against pirates, but also to set examples for city-states that attempt to escape her supremacy. The example of Thasos and Carristus being forcibly compelled to join the League through brute force shows the extent of the power of the Athenian navy. A further show of power of the Athenian navy would be in its ability to send out far ranging expeditions, such as those to Crete and to Egypt to combat against Persian forces. The Athenian Sea power was such that her allies or eventually, her dominions, did not revolt after examples had been set to the peoples of Thasos and Euboea.

Athenian Sea Power was essentially what made Athens great: It brought her military glory, riches, and prestige that were known previously in the Greek World only to Sparta and her Alliance. It allowed her to forge her own Empire, and consolidate it against enemies such as Persia and Sparta, and bring glory to the name of Athens as a powerful state.


Will edit in later.
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Shangshu Ling
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