This week, we will be studying the ancient Persian, Greek and Hellenistic, and Roman civilizations. For the weekly discussion question, we are going to do something different. Instead of one question, I have posted two, one on Greece and one on Rome. You should select one and make an original posting to one question only—not both of them. I am hopeful that about half of the class will select the question on Greece and the other half the question on Rome.
GREECE: As you should know, Western Civilization owes much to Greek civilization–democratic government, an alphabet, great literature (poems, essays, plays), philosophies (ways of thinking about the meaning of life), math and geometry, and scientific achievements (for example, around 500 BC, the Greek Eratosthenes calculated a far more accurate circumference of the earth than Columbus did in the 1490s–Eratosthenes was about 200 miles short, Columbus about 19,000!!!). What do you see as the most important factor that led the ancient Greeks to develop such a great civilization?
ROME: In 1200 BC, Rome was but a village on the Tiber River in what is now central Italy. Over the next six hundred years, Rome would grow into a great city-state and come to dominate Italy. During the following 400 years, Rome would come to dominate most of the Mediterranean region from Spain and Britain eastward to Palestine, from North Africa northward into present-day France, Germany, and the Balkans. What do you believe was the most important factor that resulted in Rome dominating the “known world” of its time?