Augustus as Pontifex Maximus. Source: durand-digitalgallery
According to early second century Roman historian Suetonius, Augustus, on his deathbed in 14 C.E., remarked, “Since well I’ve played my part, all clap your hands And from the stage dismiss me with applause.” Augustus’s final words were symbolic of his career and historical legacy. Under the Augustan political settlement the Princeps, the title of the Roman Emperors, only exceeded his peers in “auctoritas.” However, in reality, the Emperor was Dominus in all but name. This illusion maintained by the Emperors, was the rhetorical heart of the first phase of imperial history, the Principate. Augustus, while creating a despotic regime, had to portray himself as the ‘restorer of res publica.’ This is clear in the rhetoric used by Augustus himself. In the immediate transition between republican and despotic government, the Augustan regime made extensive use of rhetorical appeals to the Roman Republic, specifically the old senatorial order, in the form of Res Publica Restituta. However, Continue reading
University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)
Heraclius returns the True Cross to Jerusalem. Painting from 15th cen. Spain. Wiki
In the past few decades, there has been an increasing academic and popular focus on ethnic minorities, even turning minority studies into a viable academic field. In this new trend, however, minority studies are primarily focused on the present and recent past. This ignores the importance of historical minorities, especially ones that impacted states to such a degree as the Armenians impacted the Byzantine Empire. In addition to their own national history and culture, ethnic Armenians were also a highly important minority inside the Byzantine Empire. During the middle centuries of Byzantium, from 610 to 1071, the Armenian populace served as an important source of manpower, and individuals of Armenian descent rose to the highest dignities in the Byzantine Empire as generals, politicians, patriarchs, intellectuals, and even emperors. Some of the most famous and important Byzantines in history had Armenian blood, including Emperor Heraclius (r. 610-641), who saved Byzantium from the perilous Persian onslaught in the seventh century, and Photios (r. 858-867, 877-886), the most famous medieval Patriarch of Constantinople. Armenian immigrants and Byzantines of Armenian descent constituted one of the key factors behind the longevity of the Byzantine Empire, positively impacting Byzantium in the fields of demographics, the military, imperial rule, economics, intellectualism, and religion.
Armstrong State University (Savannah, Georgia)
Contemporary Japan is often advertised as one of the safest and crime free countries on earth. The number of inmates in Japanese prisons today is an uncomfortable subject for the Japanese. However, crime does exist in Japan, but is well organized and controlled by organized crime networks. The streets are safe in Japanese cities as a result of its organized crime, not in spite of it. In 2001, there were 84,000 registered crime family Continue reading
Presbyterian College (Clinton, South Carolina)
“History of the South: Southern Symbols,” one of the most popular history courses taught by Dr. Maggy Carmack at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, is a survey of the South’s history and culture, starting with early English settlement and progressing to the modern day. It attempts to interpret “Southern” symbols and how the South is imagined today versus the reality of the past. One of the major readings assigned for this class is Steven Deyle’s famous book, Carry Me Back: The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life (2005), which concludes by arguing that “only by acknowledging the centrality of the domestic slave trade to the early history of the United States can we truly understand the many complexities of antebellum American life.” Perhaps most students would agree with Deyle that the domestic slave trade was central to antebellum life, but the question how the domestic slave trade worked to shape white Southerners conceptions of themselves and their place in an evolving market society could always be understood differently. In the following paper, Allie Cobb takes a gendered approach to assessing the domestic slave trade, exploring the roles of gender and sexuality during the antebellum period based on her reading of Deyle’s work.
Taylor University (Upland, Indiana)
Kennedy meets in the Oval Office with the pilots who found the missile sites in Cuba. Picture from Wiki
The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 stands out as one of the most tension-fraught periods in American history. The action of the Soviet Union, deploying offensive weapons to the island nation of Cuba, shocked the United States and put the Kennedy administration to the test. As Graham Allison and Phillip Zelikow put it, “In retrospect, this crisis proved a major watershed moment in the Cold War. Having peered over the edge of the nuclear precipice, both nations edged backward toward détente. Never again was the risk of war between them as great as it was during the last two weeks of October 1962.” The United States decided to respond to the Soviet threat in Cuba with a blockade of the island, and ordered that the missiles be removed. This decision by the United States was the outcome of consequence analysis and the combining and compromising of available options.
San Jose State University (San Jose, California)
Portrait of Machiavelli, picture from Wiki
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469−1527) was an author of political thought and theory during the Renaissance whose ideas on corruption in government, as well as the benevolence of a republic, were widely recognized as an authority on what to do and what not to do in in the field of politics. Even though “Machiavellian” became the term used to describe his cynical analysis of deceptive politics, his greatest contribution to historical thought was coupling his ideas of politics to a subject that had never before been considered a political issue: war. Prior to Machiavelli, war was regarded as a means of gaining territory, resources, settling religious differences or achieving glory for oneself on the field of battle. Machiavelli discussed how his experiences had taught him that war, and military matters in general, had always been used politically. With his learned knowledge as a historian, Niccolò Machiavelli compiles within the chapters of The Art of War (1521), Discourses on Livy (1531) and The Prince (1532) that war is an extension of political values and goals, and that politics itself could be used in either a benevolent or maniacal fashion in either ending or starting a conflict.
Miscamble, Wilson D. The Most Controversial Decision: Truman, the Atomic Bombs, and the Defeat of Japan. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. ISBN-13: 978-0521735360
Takaki, Ronald. Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1995. ISBN 13: 9780316831222