“About 3,000 years ago, the lives of humans were unimaginably different from ours. What we know about the way they lived we know from the rarely found texts, art, and artifacts.”
About 3,000 years ago, the lives of humans were unimaginably different from ours. What we know about the way they lived we know from the rarely found texts, art, and artifacts. Of course, the events in their everyday lives were often much like ours. It’s the details that we do not know of. However, there is one other thing that puts together the image of their lives in our heads. That final puzzle piece is called stories, or as we refer to them, myths. Combining these puzzle pieces allows us to create a vision in our minds of what life may have been like back then.
The word “myth” comes from the word “mythos”, which in Greek means fable, legend, story, or poetic tale. Today, we look at ancient myths as beautiful stories about majestic things of the past. We view them simply as legends, not as something that was most definitely true. The same goes for more realistic and proven tales of ancient rulers and events. Take, for example, the story of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile. Much of what we know about her, we know through artifacts that we have found. By putting the story of each of those artifacts together, we were able to create an approximate idea of what her life was like. However, we do not know any of this for sure. What we do know is that there was a woman named Cleopatra who ruled Egypt for some time. We know these due to the series of artifacts such as stelas, sculptures, and texts that have been found. We do not know the details of her life, though. We look at her story as myth, or something that may, or may not have happened.
This is how we view what was happening 3,000 years ago. Now fast forward 3,000 years from now. Of course, we will all be long gone, and our descendants will be walking the Earth. The technology will be more advanced than we could ever imagine. How will our descendants look at our way of life and our stories? Well, most likely the way we look at the life of ancient Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese. They will look at the major events of our time as tales or legends. Of course, the technology on Earth has advanced by so much in the last 3 millennia, so the “artifacts” from our time will be easier to study and will be more detailed. However, we must also consider the fact that the overall amount of information will be so huge that it will not be accessible for an average person. In order to see and study this information, you will have to be a specialized professional. Also, over time, we have used different materials and methods in order to store information. In the ancient times, it was stone, papyrus, clay, and other naturals materials. Today, we use hard drives to transfer information. In many ways, the materials used then were much more reliable, and as we see, we are still left with myths and not facts. Now imagine how information from today will survive. We can delete anything one click of a button.
Today, in school, we study historical events such as World War II, the American Revolution, and the Renaissance. However, the average person today does not study any ancient history until high school. The middle schools that do teach ancient history often have very weak courses on the subject. “Every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone.” This is a fact from dosomething.org, a site that provides statistics on different topics. This fact simply proves that about 1.2 million Americans every year do not learn ancient history. Now, you may ask, “Why is learning ancient history so important, especially if we’re not even sure it’s true?” Well, the incredible thing is that everything that is happening or has happened or will happen in our time, has most likely already happened in the ancient world.
Take, for instance, Donald Trump. There have been other instances when a populist autocrat led a democratic nation to tyranny. The article “Meet the Trump of Ancient Rome, a Populist Demagogue Who Helped Bring Down the Republic” by Huffington Post states “Nothing was sacred to Clodius. The more audacious his behavior, the more the public loved him for it.” Publius Clodius Pulcher was a rich nobleman in Rome. He was known for his presumptuous actions, which included disrespect to women. Deciding that he wanted to change the way the Romans viewed him, he became very involved in politics, and he managed to quickly rise to the top. Just like with election of Trump, the Roman citizens split into two groups. One was Clodius’s followers, and the other was those who believed that the Roman Empire was in terrible hands. This is just one example of a situation where the ancient world can teach the modern world. Even after Clodius was killed, the populist forces continued to control the state. His work eventually led to the ultimate fall of the Roman Republic. Although the republic fell, the human civilization lived, and here we are today.
In conclusion, myths add to the puzzle of the ancient world and allow us to put together theories from the other things we know. They allow us to learn from the past and use the experiences and thoughts of others to the benefit of us and the people around us. Everything that happens in our lives today has already occurred in somebody else’s life, whether it was two days ago, or two centuries ago. Also, if we put in the effort to save and treasure our stories and artifacts, we may be able to give our great-great-great-great -great grandchildren a chance to know more about our lives than we do about the lives of our great-great-great-great-great grandparents. The ancient world was a beautiful place of art, politics, love, people, and to us, mystery. In our minds, the mystery of what really happened will always be a missing piece in the puzzle, unless we take the chance to use what we learned and create that final puzzle piece ourselves.