Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mitra and Varuna

Get the sense of wealth, order and justice from these hymns to Mitra-Varuna from the Vedas:

HYMN LXVIII. Mitra-Varuna.
1. SING forth unto your Varuna and Mitra with a song inspired.
They, Mighty Lords, are lofty Law
2 Full springs of fatness, Sovran Kings, Mitra. and Varuna, the Twain,
Gods glorified among the Gods.
3 So help ye us to riches, great terrestrial and celestial wealth:
Vast is your sway among the Gods.
4 Carefully tending Law with Law they have attained their vigorous might.
The two Gods wax devoid of guile.
5 With rainy skies and streaming floods, Lords of the strength that bringeth gifts,
A lofty seat have they attained.


A hymn to Mitra-Varuna

1You twain, O Mitra, Varuna, I honour, Lawstrengtheners, wise,
who drive away oppressors.
Ye who protect the truthful in his battles, deliver us, ye twain,
from grief and trouble. p. a138
2Ye the wise Gods who drive away oppressors, ye who protect
the truthful in his battles,
Who come, men's guards, to juice pressed forth by Babhru,.
deliver us, ye twain, from grief and trouble.
3Mitra and Varuna who help Agasti, Atri, and Angiras, and
Ye who help Kasyapa, who help Vasishtha, deliver us, ye twain,
from grief and trouble.
4Mitra and Varuna, who help Syāvāsva, Atri, and Purumilha,
and Vadhryasva,
Ye who help Vimada and Saptavadhri, deliver us, ye twain,
from grief and trouble.
5Ye, Varuna, Mitra, who give aid to Kutsa, Gavishthira,
Bharadvāja, Visvāmitra,
Who help Kakshivan and give aid to Kanva, deliver us, ye
twain, from grief and trouble.
6Ye, Mitra, Varuna, who help Trisoka, Medhātithi, and Usanā
son of Kavi,
Ye, Gotama's and Mudgala's protectors, deliver us, ye twain,
from grief and trouble.
7Whose straight-reined car that keeps the track of goodness assails
and ruins him who walks perversely
I, suppliant, praise with constant invocation Mitra and Varuna.
Save us from affliction.

India and Vedic Culture

A fragment of the Rig-Veda displaying Sanskit text.




Indra battles Vritra

Some images of Indra:

This brief essay on Indra relays his importance to early Indian culture. Note first how he battles and destroys Vritra, then note how he is later supplanted by both Shiva and stuff.
Indra essay

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reformation Documentaries

Reformation Images


Thomas More

Martin Luther

John Calvin


Council of Trent

Art of the Italian Renaissance Documentaries

Although with foreign-language subtitles, the brief clip below is actually the beginning of the Hollywood film "The Agony and the Ecstasy," a biopic of Michelangelo.

Black Death Documentary

Pay particular attention to Schama's description of the social, spiritual, and economic consequences of the Black Death.

Medieval Documentary

Although a little "sensational" in tone, view these brief clips with the notion of "decline" in mind. Also note the roles of Clovis, Monastaries, and St. Benedict.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Renaissance and Reformation Study Terms

The Renaissance—South and North
(Chapter Fourteen)
The Plague
Black Death & Its Consequences
Italy and the Renaissance--“Rebirth”
Humanism/Secularism/Classicism & Trade
The Medici/Lorenzo the Magnificent/Florence
Popes/Julius II/Rome
Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince
Art & “Frescoes”:
Leonardo da Vinci: “Mona Lisa,” The Last Supper
Raphael: The School of Athens
Michelangelo Buonarroti:
Painting: The Sistine Chapel
Sculpture: David
Architecture: St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican)
Northern Renaissance
(Johann Gutenberg/Printing, movable type/The Bible [and later] Protestantism)
Desiderius Erasmus: The Praise of Folly and the New Testament
Thomas More: Utopia

The Reformation—Protestant and Otherwise
England & the (earlier) Lollards
Pope Leo X/St. Peter’s Basilica/Indulgences
Martin Luther
Wittenberg/”Ninety-Five Theses”
Simple faith (Versus Good Works)

John Calvin
Human Depravity/Grace/Faith/Predestination
(France’s “Huguenots”/Scotland’s Presbyterianism)

Adult baptism

Catholic Counter-Reformation
The Council of Trent
Papal Authority
All Seven Sacraments (e.g., Confession)
Good Works and Faith

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Middle Ages Study Terms

The Middle Ages and the Christianization of Europe
(Chapter 9 pgs. 262-287)
Gregory the Great (r. 590-604)
Temporal & Spiritual Authority
Boniface and the Germanic Tribes
Centers of Learning
Scriptorium & Manuscripts
Frankish Kingdom
Orthodox Christianity (versus Arianism)
Carolingian Kingdom
Charles Martel & the Battle of Tours
Coronation @ Rome/Holy Roman Emperor
Ninth-Century Invasions:
Vikings (Norsemen/Normans)
Nobility/”Lords of the Manor”
Manors (Roman villas), Manorialism
Decentralization/Self Sufficiency/Isolation/Lack of Liquid Capital—Barter Services & Protection
Mounted (Mercenary) Knights
Personal loyalty at all levels of society/Chivalry
Serfs & “unfree” labor
First Crusade
Urban II
Antioch and the “Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem”
Fourth Crusade
Venetians & Constantinople
Consequences of the Crusades:
Weakened Byzantium
New trade routes (Money)
Medieval towns
Symbols of power and piety plus Economic engines—Pilgrims and holy relics
Romanesque vs. Gothic Architecture
Romanesque: Barrel Vaults, Rounded Arches, Thick Walls
Gothic: Ribbed Vaults, Pointed Arches, Flying Buttresses, Stained Glass.
St. Denis, Notre Dame de Paris, Chartres

Study Terms for Islam

Origins and Expansion of Islam
Chapter 6 (pgs. 181-192) & Chapter 7 (pgs. 209-218)
Polytheism & Monotheism
The Ka’ba
Pilgrimage Sites
Caravan Routes & Trade
The “Seal” of the Prophets
Yathrib (or Medina)
Jerusalem and the Temple Mount
Abu Bakr
The first Caliph
The Caliphate

Abraham & Old/New Testament Prophets
Free Will
Paradise & Hell


“The Five Pillars” (Duties):
Profession of faith (Islam/Muslim)
Prayer five times per day
Alms giving
Fasting during Ramadan
Pilgrimage (Hajj)

Abbasid Rule (Baghdad)
Non-Arab power base
Majority (approx. 85%)
Non-relative of the Prophet as Caliph

Islam: Empire of Faith Documentary

View these two well-balanced links on the origins and spread of Islam.

Ethiopia and the Kingdom of Axum

Although mildly commercial and "sensationalist", view these two links to get a sense Ethiopia's religious and imperial past.

Study Terms for Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa(Chapter 8 pgs.238-261)

The Bantu dispersion
“Stateless society”

Kingdom of Aksum (Axum)
Emperor Ezana (Constantine)
“Monophysite” Christianity
Coptic Church
Emperor Zar’a Ya’kob (Essay p. 246)
Aksum architecture
Emperor Lalibela
Ark of the Covenant

Empires of the Western Sudan:
Kingdom of Ghana
Kingdom of Mali
Mansa Musa
Kingdom of Songhai

The Swahili Coastal trade
City states vs. empires

The Great Zimbabwe

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Alexander the Great and Hellenistic Culture

View these video samples from top to bottom. They are from a much larger series hosted by Michael Woods (who we have seen before). If you are interested the other parts are viewable online.

As your textbook notes, Hellenistic culture grew out of the earlier Hellenic Age. While the former retained many characterisitcs of "classical" Greece, it also went beyond it. Note the exaggerated emotion and drama of the famous "Laocoon and His Sons" sculpture below.

Mystery cults at least partially "filled in" for the loss of civic participation and activism that ended under Philip, Alexander, and the successor kingdoms. Below are images of Serapis, a sort of "combination" god that blended Greek and Egyptian aspects. The new Greek rulers of Egypt wanted a deity that might bring the ruling elite and masses closer together--or at least make the latter more controllable.

Click on the video (above) and try not to freak out over the soundtrack. Just get the broad theme of Zeno's (below) philosophy. The video below--though amateur--is a good explication and explanation of Stoicism.

Ancient Greece

Watch Acropolis and the Parthenon of Athens, Greece in Intrepid Berkeley Explorer Clips  |  View More Free Videos Online at

One of the interesting and fruitful ways to examine ancient Sparta and Athens is in terms of the
status of women
in the two cultures. There is some irony in the fact that the freer, more democratic Athens was much more restrictive than the militaristic Spartans in terms of the status of women.

Solon was a key figure in the development of Athenian democracy while the origins of the Spartan "way of life" are traced to the figure of
Lycurgus as the "lawgiver." There are some neat links on this site; click on Solon, Lycurgus, Pericles, Delian League, and others for more information on some of our more important study terms.

The intellectual discipline of Philosophy has been linked to Ancient Greece as one of its most important contributions to Western Civilizations. Its three more influential practitioners were
Socrates Plato Aristotle
The link provides a well organized essay on the three. Also click on to earlier lecture links (#7, #6, etc.) for more information about the Persian Wars, Athenian democracy, and other topics we have been examining in lecture

Ancient Greece Study Terms

Ancient Greece: History, Religion & Culture
(Chapter 4)

Geography: Isolation vs. Communication & A Shared Culture

Mycenaean Age
Homer and the “Cult of the (Aristocratic) Individual”
Illiad/Achilles/Trojan War/Arete & Hubris

Dark Age

Hellenic Age
Polis/Hoplite Phalanx (Army) and Trireme (Navy)
Rise in importance of the “common man”
Monarchy/Oligarchy & Democracy
“Haves vs. Have-Nots”
Cleisthenes’ Reforms
Peloponnesus/Helots/”State Slavery”/Messenia/
Militaristic Oligarchy/Dual Kingship
Communal Property/Social Equality/ Agoge/“messes”

The Persian Wars
1st-Darius I--Marathon/490BC
2nd-Xerxes--Thermopylae/Spartans & Leonidas/Salamis
Herodotus—The Histories

Inter-war Period
Delian League (Delos)
Pericles (Acropolis/Parthenon)

Peloponnesian War
Thucydides—The Peloponnesian War

Philip of Macedon
Alexander the Great

Greek Culture: Philosophy, Religion & Architecture

Zeus (nature-thunderbolts)/Apollo/Hera/Poseidon
Civic Patriotism/Athena in Athens/Cosmos & Chaos
Afterlife (Hades)
Mystery Cults/Dionysus-Serapis-Mithra (rebirth)

Confidence: “Man is the measure of all things.”
Natural Law/Empiricism/Hippocrates/”Scientific Medicine”
The “Socratic Method”/Questioning-“Know Thyself”
Ethics, Morality and Truth
Republic/Workers, Warriors, and Philosophers
Laws/Mixed Government
Natural Philosophy
Politics/Mixed Government/Farming Middle Class/Defense of Slavery

History Writing/Herodotus & Thucydides

Greek Drama
Religion and Civic Festival
Sophocles/Antigone/Hubris & Fate

Greek Architecture
The Acropolis:
Balance/ Harmony/Arête
The Parthenon (Pheidias)
Athena Nike
The Propylaea

Alexander and Hellenistic Culture

Alexander the Great
Successor kingdoms
Diffusion of (Hellenistic) Greek Culture
Trade & slavery
Subjects vs. Citizens
Hellenistic Religious Culture & Philosophy:
Mystery Cults (e.g., Mithra, Serapis)
Stoicism/Zeno/ “Brotherhood of Man”
Noble Acts/Idealism/Virtue as Its Own Reward
Roman Ruling Class & America’s “Founding Fathers”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Spartans by Bettany Hughes

Ancient China Study Terms--Chapter Two

Ancient China & the “Three Schools”
(Chapter 2)

Huang Ho (Yellow) River
Yangtze River

Shang Dynasty
Ancestor Worship

Zhou Dynasty
“The Mandate of Heaven”
(Cosmos and Chaos)

The Three Schools:
Confucianism (Document pg. 49)
Confucius/Kong Fuzi
The Analects
Family/Patriarchy/Yin and Yang/Family & State

Daoism (Taoism)
Lao Dai Daodejing (or the Laozi)
Confucius: Rational standard of ethics
Lao Dai: The way of nature, the order of the cosmos
Legalism (Document pg. 51)
The Era of Warring States
Han Fei Zi
Innate corruption of human nature

Qin (Ch’in) Dynasty
Shi Huangdi—“First Emperor”
Great Wall
Tomb at Xi’an

Ban Zhao
Lessons for Women
Respect for men, subordination, but also education for women


Below is a brief but informative essay on the context and development of the Legalist School:

Qin Dynasty

Here's a link about the Qin Dynasty, Shi Wang Ti, the capital at Xian, and the Qin Dynasty.
Qin Dynasty