History is Not Boring discussion

In which ancient civilization would you-knowing what you know about it- have liked to have lived and died? And why?

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message 1: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa I assume we get to be rich and not peasants?
I'd hate to spend my golden ticket to the past and get stuck as a peasant...well, anywhere. Their lot is pretty much the same everywhere.
I think that's the way to judge the society. If you chose one to visit, would you be happy there on the lowest rung. Hey, we'd all be fairly pleased bathing in asses milk and eating bread and honey...but I for one don't fancy being chased round a pasture by an auroch as my owner hurled abuse and laughed.

message 2: by Marian (new)

Marian (gramma) | 98 comments Classical Athens would be nice if I got to hang out with the philosophers. And they didn't have any wars going on.

Boreal Elizabeth | 145 comments Greece
or Oceania

i'm basing all three of these choices on one trip i made to the met in nyc

i viewed a lot of statuary and those three civilizations resonated with me more than the others

the chaldean consisted of small very elegant figurines in the most beautiful semi-transparent stone i've ever seen

perhaps it was excellent lighting but they glowed and exuded warmth-most were female figures that were no more than 4 or 5 inches

the greek exhibit was classical beauty and form and again above the rest
intelligence seemed to radiate from the faces
the roman exhibit was adjacent and you could see a marked difference-the forms were just as well crafted, however the thicker larger facial features and the more straight forward cruder depiction seemed marked-they also seemed "colder"

finally the oceanic exhibit was juxtaposed with african continent artifacts

the geometric lines and stylized depictions of humans, landscape and animals was stunning
the "energy lines" in the works made a huge impact on me and gave me a sense of this people's relation to their world and their honoring that relationship

beauty would be the theme and in my opinion a society organized with this virtue preeminent would be a good one to live in

message 4: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Would be interesting to be around in early 16th century Venice. The Serene Republic. Obviously I'd be hugely wealthy.
Alternate: Byzantine silk merchant circa 1000, before all that unpleasantness with those scruffy Franks and Normans.

message 5: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Sorry Isabella, missed the "why" part of the thread.
Because, in both cases, my senses would be overwhelmed. Sights, sounds, colours, textures. New spices, exposure to exotic cultures, great oportunities for travel and exploration.
And at those times both Empires were fairly stable.

message 6: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
Ancient Egypt would be very interesting.

Though I also hear the call of the Tudor period.

message 7: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments So many possiblities.
I think I would also pick ancient Rome sometime during its height, perhaps the 2nd century AD.
I would love to just walk from one side of the city to the other and take it all in.
It would probably be overwhelming to my senses with all the cruelty and grandeur.

It would be interesting to witness the growth of that upstart religion from the East where they worship a dead man on a crucifix.

message 8: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) | 35 comments While Rome is my first love, I have to weigh in here with Tang Dynasty China before the An Lushan rebellion.

A vibrant, expanding society, open to all sorts of influences and probably one of the best run paternalistic despotisms in human history.

Plus, it's the home of one of my favorite fictional detectives -- Judge Dee.

(Of course, if the East were excluded here, I'd go with Rome in an instant. Either under one of the "Good" emperors or under Aurelianus (270-275), one of the many emperors of the Crisis of the Third Century but (for reasons probably best not plumbed) one of my favorite emperors.)

Or -- the Angevin Empire under Henry II.

Or -- well, the list could go on for quite a while, really.

message 9: by Shirley (new)

Shirley (discipleshirley) | 113 comments During the period of the Judges in the Bible, they listened to women then, would be nice to have another wife around to cook and clean while I wear the robes............lol

message 10: by Arminius (new)

Arminius I would pick the time directly before the American Revolution. There was a rich, literate, free market economy and to watch how England slowly infuriated the populace.

Or the roaring 1920’s. It was a wild time when the economy was cooking. Celebrity legends were becoming popular. Stocks were big, boxing was huge and baseball was right behind.

message 11: by Arminius (new)

Arminius Sorry, I did not hit the ancient part.
So, I will go with Rome and witness the great engineering and the supreme leadership of Caesar.

message 12: by Stef (new)

Stef (buch_ratte) | 12 comments I would choose to live in China during the Ming Dynasty. And if I can choose the person to be as well: Admiral Zheng He. Then I would finally find out whether he travelled around the world and discovered America or not.

Tim (Mole) The Gunslinger (Mole) | 30 comments Maybe the Middle ages europe or Ancient Rome or China during the Ming also! really its so hard to choose because they all have signifigance any time in history would be awesome to have taken part in!

But at the moment Im happy to taken part in and lived during the 08 election this is huge its probably going to be one of the defining moments of the 21st century this ranks up with the moon landing or the unfortunate tragedy of 9/11 this is most certainly major history!

message 14: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 145 comments absolutely
so the inauguration in D.C.
who's going

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Probably, somewhere during the Tokugawa ruling.

message 16: by James (new)

James I'd love to go to this inauguration, but doubt we'll be able to - we're already planning a trip to California to visit family there in December.

message 17: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia This might come off badly but take it that way. I love the Indian culture and I know, because of my ancestry I would have been in the upper levels of the hierarchy. So I would love to live in India to experience what my ancestors experienced, but not to be oppressed like so many. Who knows I might have been the female Gandhi, if that happened.

message 18: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 145 comments i'll show my ignorance,
what is the tokugawa ruling mirela?

message 19: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Jeacoma (jacatro) | 1 comments Well, I think Ancient Rome, for many reasons- not least that women had almost equal rights to men.
Citizens lived according to class, and of course lower-class women had less rights, but there was at least education for women.

"MANY things that among the Greeks are considered improper and unfitting," wrote Cornelius Nepos in the preface to his "Lives," "are permitted by our customs. Is there by chance a Roman who is ashamed to take his wife to a dinner away from home? Does it happen that the mistress of the house in any family does not enter the anterooms frequented by strangers and show herself among them? Not so in Greece: there the woman accepts invitations only among families to which she is related, and she remains withdrawn in that inner part of the house which is called the gynaeceum, where only the nearest relatives are admitted."

message 20: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) | 35 comments As long as we can avoid being part of the 95%-98% of humanity that toiled in the fields to support the 5% or so who lived at the top, I would have to opt for Tang China before the An Lushan Rebellion, particularly under the second emperor, Tai Zong (626-649), or Xuan Zong (712-756). It also might be interesting to live under the only Ruling Empress in Chinese history, Wu (684-705), but she was somewhat bloodthirsty and living around her court might be too "interesting" for comfort.

In my opinion, Tang China represented the Chinese at their best in art, literature, culture and openness to new ideas.

And to Autumnal Elizabeth, in case Mirela doesn't get back to her, the Tokugawa ruled Japan from about 1600 to 1868, when the Meiji emperor deposed the last Shogun. If you want an entertaining, if historically somewhat free-wheeling (i.e., inaccurate), tale of the period you might want to check out James Clavell's Shogun (or the miniseries if you don't have time for the 1000+ page novel :-)

And to the fans of Rome and its attitudes toward women...um...well, they were better than the Greeks, I suppose, but you were still a second-class citizen under the guardianship of male relatives or a husband. What little freedom a woman had depended upon her social class, and even then was quite restricted. Honestly, I can't imagine wanting to live in any era other than our modern one if you were a woman (and it's tough enough here).

message 21: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments I agree with Terence about women living in other eras.

I saw a British series on PBS a few years ago. Families were expected to live as their ancestors did at that time.

There was a 1900 house (middle Class)
There was a 1910 house (Ruling Class)
There was a 1940's house (middle class during the war)

In each case the women (except the "lady of the house" in 1910) were expected to do the majority of the household work, while the men had it easy in comparison.
I was especially shocked at the shear volumn of labor intensive work needed for doing laundry and food preperation.

message 22: by Kev (new)

Kev | 5 comments So many good ones....
I think it would be fascinating to live in Bukhara during the golden age of the Samanids. Bukhara is such an amazing place: a crossroad between east and west, inlfluenced by so many world cultures, but also a refuge for non-mainstream ideas. I've just started to become more interested in Central Asia. If anybody has any good reads about that area, books that give you feel for what it was like to live in that place and time, I'd love to learn about them.

message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Autumnal Elizabeth, I apologize for being late. As Terence says, it is the Edo period, when Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa lineage. Is a period of Japan history that fascinates me. It's a period of art and science fluorishing. Apart of the political turbulences, it is a period of romanticism as well as of social, intellectual and economic development. And the last shogunate was a Tokugawa's. The famous "Tale of Genji" is considered relevant. I still try to find it.

message 24: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 145 comments thanks terence and mirela
sounds like i'll have to read about the era
you've peaked my interest

message 25: by Coyle (new)

Coyle | 15 comments Hmm... great question! I would choose either Alexander's "I'm going to outdo Achilles and Hercules put together" period, or the end of Rome. Ever since I was introduced to ancient history by the movie Gladiator (not the most accurate, I know, but it did the trick), I've had a morbid interest in how something as long-lasting and powerful as the Roman Empire could collapse. I think it would be fascinating to be able to watch Stilicho and Aetius trying to hold everything together, only to be thwarted by the very people they're trying to defend...

message 26: by Terence (last edited Nov 13, 2008 06:16PM) (new)

Terence (spocksbro) | 35 comments Coyle,

For the morbidly curious about the death throes of the empire, I'd recommend Peter Heath's The Fall of the Roman Empire and James O'Donnell's The Ruin of the Roman Empire (for starters, anyway, the bibliographies are well worth mining).

message 27: by Erfman (new)

Erfman | 1 comments I'm thinking ancient Athens right after Alexander the Great has finished his conquests. Still, I'd need modern medicine, a couple crates of modern science books, and an AK-47 to feel at ease in that era.

message 28: by Coyle (new)

Coyle | 15 comments Terence,

O'Donnell's book was okay, but after Gibbon it's all pretty tame :)
I haven't gotten around to Heather's yet, but it's definitely on the list...

message 29: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) | 35 comments Isabella (& Max),

I watched 1900 House with the Ex when it first came out and was appalled at how much work went into maintaining a household. Sheesh - I can barely keep up w/ my cleaning chores and I have all the modern conveniences :-)

Forgive me for seeing the glass half full, perhaps, but you're just not selling me on the "happy" status of women before modern times (and then only in some parts of the planet as you rightly point out). In Rome, perhaps, if you were lucky enough to have your spouse kick the bucket, a wife could acquire a measure of control over her property (and, thus, herself) but before then you were under the tutelage of dad or husband. And under the empire (particularly the Christian), a woman's status deteriorated terribly. I'm not saying there haven't been powerful women down through history - obviously, there have - but they're the exceptions, not the rule. And they often had to fight fiercely against the status quo: Hatshepsut of Egypt, whose stepson did his best to erase any memory of her; Empress Wu of China; Irene of Constantinople, whose gender so offended Charles the Great that he had to assume the mantle of Roman emperor; and even Elizabeth I had to contend (at least in the first part of her reign) w/ fractious nobles unhappy with the unnaturalness of a ruling female monarch.

And (as if I weren't gloomy enough :-) the lot of the overwhelming majority of urbanites was terrible. Ancient and medieval cities were dank, dark and dangerous warrens. Even the ones with advanced sewage systems were not the healthiest of environments.

I still think all of these places would be interesting to visit - but to live there? Probably not.

And, though Pope Joan is a nice Medieval legend, Donna Cross wrote a good novel around it: Pope Joan.

message 30: by Terence (new)

Terence (spocksbro) | 35 comments Sorry to be such a wet blanket :-)

The romantic in me would dearly LOVE to see the best side of things but the cold-hearted, empiricist bast'id always says, "yeah, but...."

message 31: by Boreal Elizabeth (new)

Boreal Elizabeth | 145 comments bast'id ;)

message 32: by James (new)

James It's kind of like the Society of Creative Anachronism, to which I belonged when I was sturdy enough to engage in that kind of broadsword-and-armor fighting - it can be a lot of fun, but nobody chooses to make their persona that of a peasant. Everyone is among the nobility. It's educational, but far from realistic.

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