The reason for paying attention here is that the professor unifies the themes of the course in these Review topics. The theme for the first third of HIS 101 is chaos, chaos between truth and politics. Truth and politics are so intertwined in the beginning that it takes some time for them to separate out and be identifiable. That is what is happening in this part of the course. The course goal for this topic is to motivate students to study.
In Topic One, Administration, the student is urged to spend at least three hours reading, studying, and thinking about each topic. The guideline is to know the notes, meaning the first two pages of the lectures, and read the book, meaning the rest of the lectures and Chambers. At any time the student does not understand a relationship between the course goal and the material studied, the student should raise that issue for the professor to explain.
In Topic Two, Introduction, standard dates for the whole course are set out. 3000 B.C., the founding of cities and the beginning of formal history; 1200, the beginning of the Iron Age; and 331 B.C., the death of Alexander the Great are important. In the beginning truth and politics are well scrambled.
In Topic Three, Introduction, details about how the professor grades are set out. The professor takes an unusual position that it is more proper for students to ask questions of the professor than for the professor to ask questions of students. Topic Two shows how the professor combines his respect for student intelligence with the demands of academic rigor.
Topic Four, Mesopotamia, notes the great lawgiver, Hammurabi, 1750 B.C. and that the Ugarit Kingdom was at its greatest during the Fifteenth and Fourteenth Centuries B.C. Decline set in in the Twelfth Century B.C.
Topic Five, Egypt notes that J. F. Champollion only translated Egyptian hieroglyphics in 1822. The Jews are associated with the New Kingdom, 1570-1085 B.C. Politics dominates and is still undistinguished from truth.
Topic Six, Palestine, is about distinguishing truth from wisdom. The Axial Period from 800 to 200 B.C. is a time of breakthroughs when people begin to understand that nature can be controlled. Buddha lived about 563-483 B.C.
Topic Seven, Hellenic Culture is about the intellectual background to democracy. Pisistratus, who died in 527 B.C. appointed a committee which gave the Iliad and the Odyssey the form in which they are known today.
Topic Eight, The Polis, is about democracy, which, in turn, is about releasing the truth from dominance by an aristocracy. By 700 B.C. the Greek kings were relatively powerless. Solon was elected in 594 B.C.; Pericles died in 429 B.C.
Topic Nine, Hellenistic Unification, is about the politics of Alexander the Great overwhelming and spreading the truths of Aristotle. Alexander died in 331 B.C. Note Euclid for geometry, Eratosthenes for astronomy, and Hero for the steam engine.
Topic Ten, The Roman Republic, is about the systemization of political control, over everything, including truth. The mid-Third Century B.C. dates the domination of the whole of the Italian Peninsula by Rome.
Topic Eleven, The Roman Empire is about the basis of authority. In 313, Constantine joined state politics with church politics, ending persecutions and recognizing the church. In 325 Constantine insisted on the Council of Nicaea to unscramble what Christians believed. The Roman Empire deals with physical and moral authority as related to church and state.
Topic Twelve, Roman Withering, is about the collapse of authority not sustained by truth. Important dates are the Battle of Adrianople in 378 A.D. and the fall of Rome in 476.
Topic Thirteen, Christianity begins to insist that truth should determine politics, not politics truth. Important dates include the revolt of the Maccabees in 142 B.C. and development of the Christian calendar in 550 A.D.
By studying the Introduction, Administration, Pre-Greeks, Greeks, and Rome, the student has been motivated to study. The student has realized that his own sense of self is an intimate part of history. Self-enjoyment is crucially related to knowledge about how one came to be and to knowledge about how one can participate in developing one’s own to-be or identity within a context of truth versus politics.
H. Introduction (continued)
The course is divided into Antecedents, Politicization, and Conceptualization. A standard meaning for the Antecedents period is that Aristotle established the intellectual heritage of the West. The non-standard meaning of the professor is that Aristotle did not manage to distinguish the relationship between truth and politics; Aristotle had no church from which to distinguish a state. A standard meaning for the politicization period is nation formation. The non-standard meaning of the professor is that during this period the West learned that Church politics must bow to the truths state politics and that nationhood is only valid so long as it bows to truth and does not distort truth. The significance of the Conceptualization period comes from the formation of what it means to be modern, rather than ancient or medieval. The non-standard meaning of the professor is that what it means to be modern is to insist that truth should not only determine religious politics, but also state politics.
A more humanistic and standard view would treat the Greek period as a time in which Plato established the dictum that the elite should rule. The Politicization period loosened the state from the Church. The Conceptualization period loosened the rest of society from the Church.
I. Pre-Greeks (continued)
Scholars often use Ugarit manuscripts found in Topic Four to understand the Old Testament. Politics dominates and is undistinguished from truth.
J. Greeks (continued)
The final composition of Genesis-Kings was dated about the same time as when the Odyssey was given its final form, about 530 B.C.
K. Rome (continued)
750 B.C. is the traditional date for the founding of Rome. Some of the significant later Roman personages included Galen for medicine, Strabo for geography, and Viturvius and Frontinus for architecture and engineering.
At page 100 in the Comments, the professor develops the Celts throughout Chambers.
The Covenant between God and his people is the historical issue for Western civilization. The relationship between belief and destiny is crucial for understanding the development of present identities, both of groups and of individuals. For a theist, grace has a role which non-theists are entitled to know about.
Grace is that aspect of the human soul which God infuses with participation in his own life. This ability to contact the Creator, far from lending confusion to the understanding of reality, is essential for that understanding. The problem is discernment.
Historians like to say that the muse of history, Clio, inspires them. This is a proper way for any historian to accept the value of his own insights, without claiming divine righteousness. For a theist, when Clio is correct, grace is at work; when Clio is incorrect, greater discernment is necessary. The credit for anything perceived as good in this lecture belongs to Clio; any dumb-stuff belongs to your professor.
By studying the Introduction, Organizations, Covenant, Pre-Greeks, the Ancient Greeks, and The Ancient Romans, the student has been motivated to study. The student has realized that his own sense of self is an intimate part of his sense of history. Self-enjoyment is crucially related to knowledge about how the student came to be like he is and to knowledge about how the student can participate in developing his own to-be or identity.
As a practical matter, what does having the first two pages of this topic memorized mean? The professor has been trying to figure out a solid answer to that question for the past four years or so. His guess is that if memorizing just the names of the topics gets a B, memorizing this whole topic will get an A. Student feed-back did not dispute this assumption before the considerable 1999 revision. More feedback is needed.