Information icon.svg Nominations and campaigning for the RationalWiki 2020 Moderator Election are completed. Voting is live now, until 20:00 UTC, 1 December!

Conservapedia:World History Lecture Two

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Wigocp.svg This Conservapedia-related article is of largely historical interest and is no longer the focus of RationalWiki today.
Conservapedia (and religious fundamentalism to an extent) was a major focal point in the early history of RationalWiki, but long ago ceased coming up with new ways to appall and amuse.
Our energies are now spent debunking other, fresher examples of pseudoscientific claims, authoritarianism, and deceit.
For RationalWiki's less ancient content, try the cover story articles or a random article.

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14

World History

Second Lecture – Ancient History

Instructor, Andy Schlafly

Introduction[edit]

Last week we addressed the major early ancient cultures: Mesopotamia and Egypt. Things become more interesting this week as we begin to address the “classical” period of world history: 1000 B.C. to A.D. 500. During this period, five different regions of the world had civilizations that advanced the frontiers of knowledge, government and the arts. Most of them developed independently of each other, since there was very little communication across long distances in the ancient world. Apparently the non-Grecian world is not interesting. What an interesting way to start an entire Lecture - dismissing the entire human species beyond one society. But then, we shouldn't be surprised. Dismissing the world beyond one country is a hallmark of fundamentalist Christian Republican Americans. Well, without further ado, let's plunge headlong into Andy's version of Ancient Greece. This should be fun. Anti-theism, naturalist philosophy, progressivism, and the inability to walk down any street in Athens or Sparta without seeing some lustful boy-on-boy action. Andy must be in paradise. Let's begin.

The five “classical” civilizations were India, China, Greece, Rome and, to a lesser extent, the Americas (in what is now Mexico and South America). This week we learn about classical Greece. The failures are beginning already. Andy has listed six civilisations, not five. Never mind that societies outside of this list apparently never existed. Really, Andy? Really?

Language[edit]

The study of the development of language is a fascinating aspect of World history. Language is extremely important to the progress and survival of a society. Peoples who only had primitive languages were easily conquered by groups that had more powerful languages. Language expresses and communicates ideas: it is difficult, if not impossible, to think about and communicate powerful ideas without language to express them. This is a novel hypothesis. "Peoples who only had primitive languages were easily conquered by groups that had more powerful languages". Linguistic Determinism. It probably did exist, back in the eighteenth century. But not today. Anyway, by what criteria does Andy determine the "'power" of a language? Is this power in a Foucauldian sense? Define "power", and we'll go from there. If he means complexity, then his thesis really doesn't work. The native Inuit language, for example, has perhaps twenty times as many locational determinitives than English. They have single words for concepts such as "the thing under the thing which you can't see", and "the place beyond the place I was talking about earlier" (although contrary to popular belief, they don't have hundreds of words for "snow"). That's very efficient, compared to our long-winded and clumsy explanations. So why haven't the Eskimos conquered the Anglophonic world? According to Andy, they should have. Long ago. It is true that language is critical to understanding complex concepts. For example, the word "empire" (and its single-word equivalents in other European languages, like Reich or Rijk or Imperio), is mind-numbingly vague and fails to capture the manifold meanings of the Latin concept of "imperium". The point is, context is critical. To a Roman, the word meant different things depending on the context it was used in, and they could determine its meaning. We can't. So, what is to us an incredibly difficult word, is pretty easy for someone already immersed in that linguistic and cultural context. There is no hierarchy of linguistic complexity, with "powerful" ones at the top. All languages are complex if you don't speak them, and even if you learn them, it's still harder for you to interact in that language compared to a native speaker. So no, Andy, "powerful" languages don't enable political expansion and conquest. Because there is no such thing as a "more powerful" language.

The roots of all languages are in the basic aspects of life, such as the observation of tangible things like animals and food. But much more is needed to express ideas about what is not seen, such as religious concepts. Christianity could not develop and spread without a language capable of communicating its concepts. Had Christ come into this world in 2000 or 1000 B.C., would there have been a language powerful enough to express His ideas? Probably not. An example is the “Holy Spirit.” Few languages can express what is really meant by this. The Greek words “pneuma” (wind or breath) and “paraclete” (advocate or one who consoles) are what the Gospel of John uses, and those words capture the driving force of the Holy Spirit. The English word “spirit” is not even powerful enough to express what Jesus meant. Most languages in the world have smaller vocabularies than English, and have even greater difficulty capturing the essence of what we call the “Holy Spirit.” Oh, so Christianity couldn't develop and spread without a sufficiently complex language? Explain, then, why Christianity has penetrated every single culture on the planet (with the possible exception of the tiny handful of as-yet uncontacted peoples in the Amazon rainforest), each of which has a language wildly different from the original Aramaic, Ancient Greek, and Latin Vulgate in which Christianity was first spread? And in just the last lecture, Andy whined about the complexity of hieroglyphs - now he's saying that there were no complex languages! What annoys me about this is the linguistic arrogance, a hallmark of conservative fundamentalists. Andy seems to believe that a religion can only succeed if it is spread in modern English. Well here's some news for you, Mr Schlafly - Christianity had already cemented itself as the dominant religion across the Near East, North Africa, and Europe long, LONG before anything even vaguely resembling English emerged. And when it did, Old English was radically different to what we speak today. Try reading Beowulf in the original tongue - you might as well try reading it in Klingon. The Bible wasn't even translated into English until the sixteenth century, and even then was translated into an archaic style. Isn't that the reason for the Conservative Bible Project, because the language at the time failed to grasp the pissy propaganda that arouses Andy so much? And anyway, why would a god need to rely on so clumsy and inefficient a medium as spoken and written language? Language is riddled with ambiguities and vagueness. Wouldn't it be easier for god to communicate telepathically to each of us, instead of nudging a few isolated Iron-Age scribes into writing vague statements which have been translated so many times that they have lost what little connection they had with the original? And here's a final thought. Given Christianity's longevity and adaptability, it seems reasonable (sadly) that a thousand years from now, Christianity will still exist. Yet the languages of Earth a thousand years in the future will be very, VERY different from anything we speak now. Will Andy's smug, self-satisfied descendants look back from their hover-cars and shiny bubble-dome cities at the crude civilisations of the early twenty-first century and say "Oh, their language was primitive and couldn't properly express Christian concepts." Hmm? Think about that, Noam Twitsky.

Another example is the last utterance on the cross by Jesus, typically translated as “it is finished” (John 19:30 (King James Version)). But the actual Greek term was used in commerce at the time to mean “paid in full.” So a better translation would be “it is accomplished,” but even that does not fully capture the concept of redemption of the sin that was outstanding. Check your Bible to see how it translates John 19:30. Oh wonderful, so Jesus' final words on the cross were to recite the words of a supermarket receipt. Did Jesus have to pay the Roman government for the cross they used? Well, that would be in-keeping with good capitalist conservatism. "Ok Mr. Of Nazareth, we're going to nail you to a big piece of wood and leave you there to die. But the Emperor has decreed tax cuts and reined in all non-essential state spending - this vast, bloated military doesn't pay for itself, y'know - so I'm afraid you're going to have buy your own execution device." The Romans suddenly seem so much more fun!

Recall that the language of Mesopotamia was cuneiform, based on wedge-like characters. But in the 1000s B.C., and perhaps earlier, a marvelous new form of language developed among the traders on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, where Lebanon is today. The Phoenicians lived there and established towns such as Byblos, a religious center after which the Bible is named because the town exported papyrus. The Phoenicians had ports and sea-traders would pick up exports such as fine linen, cedar, pine wood, dyed cloth, wine, glass, salt, dried fish, and embroideries. The Phoenicians traded with the Hebrews, who used the cedars of Lebanon to build Solomon’s temple. Colonies of the Phoenicians included Tyre, Sidon and, along the coast of Northern Africa, Carthage. Carthage later became powerful enough to compete with Rome. The Assyrian empire, which was the world’s first real empire, invaded the Phoenicians in the 500s B.C., causing them to collapse. Now now, Andy. Careful with these geographic references. Remember, you can't mention places outside the USA without conveniently referencing the deployments of US military forces to give some vague idea of location. He's right that the Bible is named after Byblos. Byblos, for millennia a trading partner and close ally of Ancient Egypt, traded its high-quality wood (which was lacking in Egypt) for papyrus. In time, biblos came to mean the stuff you write on, and from there evolved into the Greek biblio, or book. Papyrus, meanwhile, went off on an evolutionary tangent into paper (after parchment died a death in medieval Europe). And, erm, Assyria was the first empire? That's not what he said in the last lecture, with his fawning references to Sargon of Akkad. At least TRY for consistency, Andy.

The new language developed by the Phoenicians to facilitate their trading was based on a new alphabet of 22 letters. All Western alphabets, such as English and French and Italian and Greek and Latin, are based on this Phoenician alphabet. This was one of the greatest advances in the history of mankind, perhaps as great as the invention of the wheel, because now language could begin to describe powerful concepts and abstract ideas. This laid the foundation for the accomplishments of Ancient Greece, which in turn laid the foundation for the teaching and spread of Christianity. Major misunderstanding of alphabetic evolution. The Phoenician writing system appears to have merged with native Greek letters, forming an early alphabet (from the Greek Alpha-Beta, the first two letters). Later, the Romans picked up on this as a means of first trading with, then conquering the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean. The resulting Latin alphabet is the basis of Western European languages (no, Latin is not a different alphabet to English and French), with the gradual addition over the centuries of new letters derived from Viking runes, such as "J", "K", and "U". And an alphabet doesn't count as an "invention". It's not as though somebody sits down, draws some arbitrary lines, and decrees that that is how people must write. It evolves, Andy. English, for example, had several letters in the Middle Ages which we no longer use, like Ȝ ('yogh') and Ʒ ('ezh'). And it's reasonable to assume that over the next few centuries, new letters will evolve - perhaps from the emoticons and creative punctuation which are so common in modern writing. I'm looking forward to finding out how the Phoenician alphabet was the foundation-stone for the spread of Christianity. Because of course, an all-powerful god can't do anything, until his minions have evolved one set of abstract symbols as opposed to another, equally practical, set of abstract symbols. Evidently god hates the Chinese, because their choice of abstract symbols wasn't good enough for spreading the word of the lord. Well, he always was a petty twit.

Ancient Greece[edit]

Introduction[edit]

Greece was the most significant ancient civilization, and perhaps the greatest of all time. Intellectually, politically and militarily, ancient Greece had it all. Their achievements are even more remarkable without the benefit of Christianity, which came hundreds of years later. In many ways Greek culture laid the groundwork for Christianity to spread centuries later. Again with the personal subjectivity. Yes, Greece had an awful lot of accomplishments. But so did a lot of other contemporary civilizations. It is arguable that the reason we venerate Ancient Greece is not because of its intrinsic greatness, but because have spent the better part of a millennium adoring that group of societies as being something to which we Europeans (and by extension, their progeny) were meant to aspire. Basically, we admire Greece because we think we should admire it, not because it is actually worthy of admiration (even though it is). So, by what criteria does Andy consider Greece "the greatest [civilization] of all time"? Intellectually they were advanced, but no more so than the Aruvedics or the Indians or the Chinese. Politically, they have been misrepresented - Greek city-states were more oligarchies than democracies, and Greece was rife with social exclusion of women, slaves, and the vast majority of men. Militarily, they weren't that great. Ancient Greece was not an homogenuous civilisation, but was a patchwork of perpetually-squabbling city-states. Even in the face of the immense Persian invasion, the Greeks only formed a grudging alliance which very quickly fell apart. Imagine Dubya forming an alliance with Al-Qaeda to fight off the Martians. It would last just as long as was necessary to defeat the invaders, then they'd be right back at each other's throats. Exactly like Ancient Greece. Just because the Greeks shared a vaguely similar heritage doesn't mean they got on with each other, let alone happily co-operated as a single unit. Even Homer nods towards this in the Iliad, describing how the pan-Greek siege of Troy dragged on for ten years because the Greeks were constantly squabbling among themselves, and were so piss-poor at anything beyond a single afternoon's combat. The Greeks couldn't stand against the smaller Roman invasion forces, after all. Perhaps Andy is getting his information from the films Jason and the Argonauts and 300. He'd do well to open an actual book. Thucydides' "History of the Peloponnesian War" would be a good start.

There were two basic reasons for the Greek success: language and political structure. The Greeks developed a complete alphabet that facilitated the expression of powerful ideas. The Greeks also developed a democracy-based political structure that ensured self-government and freedom for its citizens, thereby enabling productive work to flourish. Oh for crying out loud, enough with the linguistic determinism! The Greek alphabet was no different to any other alphabet before or since - it was a collection of instrinsically abstract symbols which, through mutual agreement, represented spoken words. And nowhere in Greece did democracy, in its modern context, emerge. Read Plato's "Republic". The idea of giving the vote to everyone was considered ridiculous. From the point of view of Aristotle and Plato, the uneducated man on the street could not be expected to vote for the most reasonable politician - he would instead vote for whoever gave him the most baubles. Perhaps the USA could use a new Plato. Take a census of everyone who believes in Noah's Ark, and strike them from the voting register. That would make life for the whole world slightly easier.

In terms of timing, from 3000 to 1000 B.C. Greece was not as successful or influential as the other ancient cultures. The Dorians, who were tribes speaking the Doric dialect of Greek, settled Greece between 1100 and 1000 B.C. They had a military ruling class that oppressed the local people, and they retained this rule by an aristocracy in Sparta and Crete even after the Greeks established democracy in Athens. The simplest form of Greek architecture, consisting of a straight column without any artistic trim at the top, was created by the Dorians and is known as the Doric order. Hang on, didn't Andy just say that Greece was the highest civilization in human history? And that it was a pure democracy? Now, "chronologically", it's considered an undemocratic military dictatorship. Stick to your damned train of thought, Andy. Also, the Greeks didn't establish anything in Athens: the Athenians did. That's like saying that "In the nineteenth century, the Europeans established democracy", while ignoring the massive variations in geographical and historical terms. Don't assume that just because people inhabit the same vague landmass in the same vague era, that they all have the same ideas and ambitions. Like nineteenth-century Europeans, Iron Age Greeks spent far more time fighting each other than they did in co-operating. At least try to avoid the logical synecdoches, Andy.

The beginning of the ancient or classical Greece was around 750 B.C., and its peak was 500-336 B.C. when Greece consisted of many small city-states, each comprised a city and surrounding countryside. Why is ancient or classical Greece dated from about 750 B.C.? After all, the Greeks probably migrated southward into the Greek peninsula as early as about 1600 B.C. But from 1600 to 1100 B.C. was a period known as Mycenaean Greece, when progress was slow. Then from 1100 to 800 B.C. were the dark ages, from which little survived. The momentous event that heralded ancient or classical Greece was the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C. This played a unifying role for the culture, being held every four years for nearly 1000 years. I hate to break it to Andy, but the original Olympic Games are so shrouded in historical myth that we can't be sure they even existed at that particular point in time. Consider a contemporary example. Here in the United Kingdom, the Scots are very proud of their ancient Highland Games, which - apparently - stretch back to time immemorial. Even beyond Mel Gibson's drag-queen brave-hearted pathological Anglophobia. Yet in reality, the Highland Games were entirely non-existent until the late 1800s, when a few isolated, occasional get-togethers were picked up on by pompous Englishmen seeking "ancient Briton" customs, and subsequently institutionalised into an artifical idea. The original Olympic Games are pretty much the same - a few isolated, local contests of athleticism and military skills, which (much later) chroniclers cobbled together into big events. What we THINK happened is a world away from what actually happened. Most of the nationalist myths we have today, are simply Victorian inventions slapped together to give people a sense of artificial identity. Sorry, Andy.

Greece itself thrived for hundreds of years, until Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C. After that historians refer to the culture as Hellenistic Greece, because it extended far and wide, even to where Jesus would teach near Jerusalem. Ultimately the Roman empire conquered Greece in 146 B.C. The Olympic games declined and disappeared but were restarted in A.D. 1896 and occur every four years today. Hmm, the name "Hellenistic" refers not to the geographical reach of said civilization, but the name (hellene) the Greek word for Greeks (Greece being Hellas) who were named after Hellen son of Deucalion. The Greek city-states had cultural influence in Judea, but not political - the Seleucid Empire prevented their direct spread. Andy's assertion here is a bit like saying "the Chinese influence extends far and wide, even to Paris and Rio de Janeiro", simply because you can find Chinese people and Chinese food in said cities. The presence of cultural influence says nothing about its actual impact. It seems unlikely that the Judeans would have given any more thought to the Hellenes, than the Dutch give to the Vietnamese or the Zimbabweans give to the Russians. Just because there is contact, doesn't mean that one culture permeates significantly into another.

In about 800 B.C. the Greeks formed their alphabet by borrowing from the Phoenician alphabet and adding vowels to it. A written record then appears. Greece divided itself into many small self-governing communities as required by Greek geography. There every region is separated from its neighbors by water or mountain ranges. This alphabetical obsession is getting rather tiresome. But not as much as the endless crappy Environmental Determinism.

Magnificent Greek literature began almost as soon as the Phoenician alphabet became the standard. Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey in the 800s or 700s B.C., and they remain great works of literature to this day. They describe adventures arising from the mythical “Trojan War” caused by the Greek gods, which included the famous gift of a “Trojan horse” to fool the enemy. In our internet era, a “Trojan horse” is a program or download that looks helpful, but actually contains a harmful computer virus. Greek mythology remains a powerful influence to this day, as the names for gods have inspired many common terms today, such as “Achilles heel”, “Amazon”, “atlas” and “titans”. Some would say that modern sports heroes or media figures are appealing to the public in the same way as Greek mythological gods were nearly 3000 years ago. Why does Andy feel the need to explain the Trojan Horse by referring to computer viruses? He would have scored far better points had he actually told the story of the Trojan Horse, after giving a brief narrative of the epic story of the Trojan War. He could at least have mentioned the goddess Discord tossing a golden apple onto the gods' banquet table, Paris abducting Helen, Menelaus and Agammenon launching their ships, the epic combats between Achilles and Hektor and Ajax and Aenas, the timely interventions of the saucy Amazon women-warriors and the hypermasculine Ethiopian warriors (something fun for people of all persuasions, there), the prophecies of Cassandra and... sod it, why bother? After all, there's very little point in telling your hoomzckhoulersz a fireside story which doesn't involve the pro-lifers promoting the abolition of capital gains tax. Note the references to Amazons (Andy obviously likes those saucy mythical African women-warriors with their exciting sexual rituals), Achilles' Heel (points off for not saying it was caused when his mother dipped Achilles in the River Styx to make his skin invulnerable, barring the spot where she held her babry's heel), atlases (ooh, those dirty books with their non-Flat Earth heresies), and titans (Hooray for the Emperor of Man and his Collegia Titanica! Burn the Heretic! Smash the Traitor! Purge the Xeno!). Really, Andy. This is pretty piss-poor, even by your standards.

Poetry developed. Aesop’s Fables were written in the 600s B.C., containing popular insights repeated to this day. For example, the term “sour grapes” applies to someone who complains after he loses, based on Aesop’s fable about the fox unable to reach grapes. Aesop was smart enough to know that foxes are the only canines that like grapes. Andy evidently only knows one of Aesop's Fables. Also notice his delightful claim that "foxes are the only canines that like grapes". What the HELL is this? Most dogs like grapes. They tend to like any food that humans eat! Hasn't Andy ever owned, petted, or even seen a dog?

Aristocrats who owned land ruled the early Athenian government, and “archons” were elected officials who made the law. Tyrants rose to power in the 600s B.C. The tyrants were primarily rich upstarts who illegally took over the government by violent means and catered to the lower classes to maintain popularity. Athens was ruled by a series of tyrants leading to a reformer named Solon who allowed most “citizens” (males descended from citizens) to vote. Solon also prohibited debtors’ prison, something allowed even in the early United States. Draco was another “reformer” who wrote such strict laws that the negative term “draconian laws” is used to today to criticize overly rigid rules. Other tyrants included Pisistratus (transferred estates from the nobles to the peasants and started building projects to create jobs) and Cleistenes (created the democratic Council of 500 and promoted freedom of speech). Cleisthenes is also believed to have founded “ostracism”, a system by which any citizen believed to have too much power by other citizens could be voted into exile for ten years, or “ostracized”. This is delicious. Is Andy going to worship Dubya and Mitt Romney as "archons"? "rich upstarts who illegally took over the government by violent means and catered to the lower classes to maintain popularity"? Oh, and debtors' prisons were common features of European and American societies from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Yes, Andy, there is a world beyond the United States, and there were societies before you were born. Notice how Pisistratus, as a filthy lib'rul, is equated as being equally bad as Cleistenes' promotion of free speech. Is Andy against free speech? Wow, why doesn't that surprise us...

By the 500s B.C. (6th century), Hellas had become a culture larger than the geographical area of Greece. The basic political unit was the city, which in Greek is called the “polis” (PAH-lus). The plural of “polis”, to express many cities, is “poleis” (PAH-lace). Each polis was made up of a city surrounded by a countryside. From that root we obtained our word “politics”. Over 200 Greek city-states arose in the Greek landscape and geography, which has many hills and valleys well-suited to separate city-states. The unsuitability of the Greek terrain for farming encouraged more trade. Oh for Christ's sake Andy, drop the geographical determinism. We geographers abandoned it a hundred years ago. You'd do well to follow the lead of the (geographic) Best of the Public.

Several important cities arose: Athens, Corinth, Sparta and Thebes. Athens and Corinth were powerful economically, controlling maritime and mercantile trade. Athens and Sparta were powerful militarily, and were rivals of each other for a long time. For a man who can barely go five minutes without whining about capitalism, Andy gives trade a remarkably brief mention. Odd.

The large cities dominated the areas around them. Sparta, for example, exercised influence over the other cities of the Peloponnese. It was also allied with Corinth and Thebes. Athens instituted a semi-constitutional system of government run by aristocrats, most notably Pisistratus and his sons.

Ultimately the Pisistratids lost power, and the world’s first democracy was established instead in 500 B.C. The powerful body became an assembly open to all (male) citizens.

The city-states were remarkable because they adopted a form of democracy that inspired our Constitution: citizens elected representatives who would then make decisions for everyone. But there was only a legislature in Athens, rather than the separation of powers that is unique to our Constitution. Also, not all Greek males in Athens were citizens. The city-state of Athens had 225,000 residents at its peak, but only 30% of the males were citizens. Males born to families with large incomes became citizens. Still, Athens is considered to have invented “democracy”, and its residents felt an allegiance to the state because of this.
Again, we are obliged to remind Andy that there was a human world before 1776. The seperation of powers far, far precedes the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia. Here in Britain we instituted it in 1688 following the "Glorious Revolution", and the Roman Republic had an intricate system of checks and balances to prevent any one branch from accumulating too much power (until the desperation of civil war in Italy forced the Senate to grant Julius Caesar extraordinary powers). Note his rather starry-eyed, half-arsed opinion, lurking behind a cheap facade, that only upper-class males should vote. How terribly Republican.

Athens also had a direct democracy: every citizen (Athenian adult males) could propose laws and participate in their consideration and approval. Nobles served as judges to interpret the law, but there was a right to appeal and citizens served as jurors for trials in court. Err, no it didn't. The concept of universal suffrage - every adult voting - is a distinctly twentieth-century idea. In Ancient Athens, only a small cadre of wealthy free males could vote.

Democratic Athens’ main rival was the city-state of Sparta, which was not a democracy. Instead, Sparta was a military culture based on high military discipline. Parents were forced to let their male children leave the house at age seven and receive training at a strict military camp—if the boys were lucky enough to make it to the age of seven, that is. The Spartans had a cruel practice by which all male babies were examined by community leaders immediately after birth. If the child appeared weak or deformed in any way, he was taken into a remote area and left to die from exposure or wild animals. The Spartans did want any member of their military to be anything less than 100% fit. It sounds like Andy wants this practice instituted in the modern world. Well, it might at least thin out the ranks of the redneck red-votin' legions. In the USA. Here in Europe, the only wild animals we have to worry about are hitch-hikers and bunny rabbits. We really shouldn't have exterminated all of our wild animals - if nothing else, because Europeans, like Americans, have our own clusters of right-wing twits who we'd love to feed to the boars. And really, why is Andy so preoccupied here by fitness? We'll ignore the possibility that he harbours a secret lust for oiled-up young men, and instead simply focus on the reality of rich, white, upper-class-wannabe, middle-aged, Republican American males. Inevitably, they are all chronically out-of-shape. Not exactly the people you'd see on the athletics track, in the swimming pool, or on the bodybuilding stage. If Andy and his ilk are so preoccupied with physical abilities (a la the late nineteenth-century British public-school concept of "Muscular Christianity" in which mind, body, and soul were all honed to a high degree), perhaps he should get off his fat, flabby arse, and go lift some dumbells. Go on, Andy. It'll give us a right laugh!

There were rigid social class structures in Sparta. The aristocrats, called the “spartiates,” were people descended from the Dorian invaders of the second century. The second class of citizens, called “perioeci”, consisted of landowners, artisans, and traders. They were primarily relatives of the natives who had lived in the region before the Dorians conquered it. The third class was comprised of conquered people who were basically serfs and were known as “helots”, and lastly there were slaves in Sparta—usually prisoners of war. The last two classes did not enjoy the rights of citizens. At times it was even legal for citizens to kill the non-citizens (the helots) to reduce population! Oh please, no more shoehorned-in references to population control. The Spartans, as Andy (remarkably) gets right, had a highly militaristic society. Young Spartan males had a rather unpleasant sequence of Rites of Passage, at various points including starvation, rape, and brutal whippings. Yet the ultimate Rite of becoming a warrior was to kill a slave, a Helot. Yet it had to be done so covertly that the killer could not be caught. Strange, no? The wannabe-warrior was expected to kill a slave in order to become a warrior, but if he was caught by the Spartan authorities, he would die a rather uncomfortable death. So no, Andy, it had nothing to do with population control or whatever other crude abortion-related analogies you want to try and crowbar in. It was ceremonial, and thus entirely different.

The helots did the farming and were 4/5ths of the overall population. The Spartans were not the brightest people in the world: they forbade the use of gold and silver for money, and instead used heavy iron bars as money. For most Greek city-states, trade consisted of making olive oil and wine and exchanging it with surrounding regions to obtain timber and grain in return. So? What's wrong with using iron as currency? In the Bronze Age, iron was more valuable than gold because it was so difficult to smelt (Pharaoh Tutankhamun, for example, was buried with a ceremonial iron pillow inscribed with prayers more holy than any gold object in his tomb). Like many civilisations up to and including the twenty-first century, the Spartans forbade the everyday use of gold and silver as currency because they wanted to stockpile precious metals with which to pay mercenaries in the (likely) event that all of Sparta's enemies, who really didn't like Sparta, would gang up together and invade. And who uses gold and silver as currency nowadays? Paper money was introduced in Europe in the 1600s, and in China centuries before that, precisely because gold and silver are too heavy and too crime-attracting to carry around. And it's hard to give someone change from a gold bar. Also notice Andy's logical fail - he criticises macho, militaristic, conservative Sparta for not using precious metals as currency, and then in the next breath he casually concedes that no Greeks used gold and silver. Idiot. And what happened to the "people were smarter in the Ancient World" hypothesis? Surely those proud Spartans, with their bloated military machine, stratified class system, macho men and cringing, subservient women, were the stuff of Conservapedian wet dreams? Dimwit.

Persia and the Persian Wars (500-479 B.C.)[edit]

Nothing unites two rivals as well as a common enemy. In the 400s B.C. Athens and Sparta had a common enemy: the Persian empire, located where Iran is today. How true! Nothing unites Agnostics, Atheists, Possibilianists, Buddhists, and ordinary Hindus, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, etc etc etc, than being faced with the slavering hordes of homophobic, racist, sexist, fundamentalist-literalist Bible-bashers who would be deemed dangerous savages even in the eleventh century.

In 530 B.C., the Persian empire formed under a powerful ruler named Cyrus, who established the Achaemenid dynasty. He conquered the Medes and established trade routes to India and the Mediterranean. In 525 B.C., Cyrus’s son Cambyses expanded the empire further to Egypt and parts of Arabia. He established loyal governors in distant lands known as “satraps”, who were carefully watched by the King’s Eyes and Ears to prevent any rebellions. The distant lands sent taxes and soldiers to the king; in return the king protected them and allowed local customs and traditions to continue (most other empires harshly suppressed local customs). The Persian empire founded their own religion called Zoroastrainaism, which described life as a struggle between good and evil in the expectation that good would ultimately prevail. Its sacred text was called “Avesta”. Notice the capitalisation of "the King's Eyes and Ears". He makes them sound anthropomorphic. No wonder Cyrus and Cambyses were so damned succesful, when their sensory organs had minds of their own. And ooh, is Andy praising Zoroastrianism? Sounds a bit heretical. Where's the Spanish Inquisition when you need them?

The greatest Persian ruler was Darius I, who was in power for nearly 40 years (521-486 B.C.). He expanded his empire to the coast of North Africa and Macedonia, and established a capital at Persepolis. He introduced a currency (coins) for trade, imposed a common calendar, and built the 1,600 mile Royal Road across the Middle East. Mail was carried by couriers on the Royal Road, and it was a Greek historian (not the U.S. Postal Service) who described the couriers like this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stop these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

What? What the hell? "[N]ot the U.S. Postal Service"? If this is an attempt at sniping at the American postal service (which, like all postal systems since the days of the Pharaohs, is doing the best it can with limited resources and immense pressure), it's pretty poor. If it's an attempt at a joke, it's piss-poor. If it's a genuine attempt to construct a historical analogy, it's... well, if there was a suitably scathing word in English, I would deploy it now.

On the note of postal services, take five minutes and do a little research on the "Vindolanda tablets". In 1973 at Vindolanda, an excavated Roman fortress on Hadrian's Wall, archaeologists found copies of letters sent between Roman soldiers at the fortress, their friends in nearby forts, and even their families all the way in Italy. One letter is from an officer's wife, inviting her friends to her birthday party. One is a laundry list for the local commandant, complaining that the linen hasn't been washed properly. And one is a genuinely heart-touching letter from a mother all the way away in a tenement block in Rome, writing to her son who is serving the Emperor far away in the godforsaken wilderness of Britannia, saying she thinks about him each day and that she has enclosed some woollen underpants to keep him warm when on night duty. Tiny glimpses of how truly lovely the human spirit is. Go on, look it up. In the face of this Conservapedian torrent of angry right-wing bullshit, the Vindolanda Tablets rekindle your faith in humanity; knowing that so long ago, ordinary people were just like us.

Except the Fundies.

Persian King Cyrus conquered the Ionian Greek city-states on the western shore of Asia Minor in 546 B.C., but in 499 B.C. Athens encouraged support for a revolution against the Persian empire, coming to the aid of the Ionian city-states when they revolted against their Persian masters. Other Greek city-states also helped the Ionian city-states. Furious, Darius suppressed the revolution and to punish Athens, in 490 B.C. he brought his army to the plains of Marathon, just north of Athens and prepared to invade the rich city-state. Outnumbered ten to one by the Persians, the Athenians sent an athlete named Philippides to run 150 miles to Sparta in an attempt to enlist the aid of the Spartans. Ironically, the Spartans—with their military-obsessed society—refused to come, being in the middle of a festival! However, Athens proved strong enough to defeat the mighty Persians on her own and won a staggering victory on the plains of Marathon. To this day, runners participate in the “marathon” in imitation of the remarkable athlete Philippides. Ouch. So close. Andy is right that the Spartans refused to come, because they were in the middle of a sacred festival. But contemporary Athenian chroniclers suspected (probably correctly) that the Spartans were simply waiting for the Athenians and Persians to slug it out between them to the death, thus allowing the Spartans to march in and effortlessly crush whichever bruised, bloodied side was still alive. He is, however, wrong in falling into the popular-history trap that the modern marathon comes from an Athenian soldier related to the Battle of Marathon (other versions have Philippides running not to the Spartans for help, but to Athens to warn them to man the fortifications, or to tell the Athenian high council that the Persians were in retreat). The modern 26-mile marathon dates all the way back to... 1921.

Xerxes, who had succeeded Darius, tried again in 480 B.C. to defeat Greece. This time he had a massive army of 200,000 Persians and a strong navy. He marched the army to a narrow pass in the mountains at Thermopylae. But he was met by 300 Spartans, the best soldiers in the world, and they gave their lives to delay the Persians at the pass. Ultimately the Persians broke through the mountains using an alternate route given to them by a Greek traitor and conquered and ransacked (“sacked”) Athens. But Athens was able to strike back and defeat the Persian navy at Salamis in 479 B.C., and went on to conquer the Persian army the same year at the Battle of Plataea. Athens had won and became the dominant city-state.

That's right Andy, get your historical information from Hollywood films based on Marvel Comics. And don't even bother mentioning King Leonidas of Sparta, nor the VAST army of the Athens-led "Delian League", which did almost all of the fighting. Also, don't bother mentioning that Xerxes' army contained huge numbers of Babylonian, Ugaritan, and Egyptian conscripts who had nil interest in fighting for Persia, and rapidly deserted or actually switched sides during the fighting.

Why not go the whole hog and tell us that the historical Spartans were all ripped creatine-pumped bodybuilders dressed in leather shorts, snarling against badly-pixellated CGI backgrounds while covertly dodging the boom-mikes and exposure-lens movie cameras? Hmm? Well, history would at least be more fun that way.

The Athenian triumph in the Persian Wars (with the help of Sparta) in 466 B.C. and subsequent peace beginning in 450 B.C. catapulted Athens to a great power. It controlled the sea and commerce. Pericles (495–429 B.C.) rose to political prominence and rebuilt the Parthenon and other monuments in Athens. The city encouraged the creation of wealth, and it became the intellectual center of the world. Many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world lived there. The Golden Age of Athens was the period when Pericles held power, also known as the Age of Pericles. Pericles expanded democracy in Athens by granting the right to hold government offices to all citizens and providing salaries for public service in government and on juries. Umm, earlier we were told that Alexandria was the intellectual centre of the world. Athens was a very close second - an Oxford to Cambridge, or a Yale to Harvard - but was not top dog. Even Andy himself acknowledged this in his last lecture. But then, he's a moron, so consistency is a bit much to ask for.

During this period, Athens decided to take advantage of the anti-Persia sentiment that existed throughout Greece, and formed the “Delian League” (477 B.C.). The alliance consisted of Athens and various other Greek city-states and Aegean towns. Athens quickly assumed a leadership position and began to control the various allies by imposing taxes and using the League’s budget to fund Athenian projects. During the Pericles Age, Athens began to aggressively expand and used bribes, trickery and often force to gain the cooperation of its allies. This sparked internal strife amongst the Greek city-states and much animosity towards what had become an Athenian empire. Oh, a shout out to the Delian League at last. But of course, it has to be entwined with a weird pastiche of right-wing ideology. Andy seems to think that taxes were bad (yet how else would the League pay for its military machine, Your Most Conservative Majesty?), and that using force to gain influence was to be frowned upon (*cough*Dick Cheney*cough*).

The Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.)[edit]

Military success breeds abuse of power and jealousy, which leads to war. The rivals Athens and Sparta began fighting each other in a lengthy series of battles known as the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.). In 431 B.C. a war erupted between Athens and Sparta and its allies. Athens controlled the sea but Sparta had a strong army, and the irresistible force had met the immovable object. The Spartan military is famous for its tremendous discipline to this day; boys were trained to be great soldiers beginning at age seven and serving the army from ages 20 to 60. After 27 years of fighting between Athens and Sparta, the Athenian leader Nicias negotiated the Peace of Nicias (421 B.C.). Instead of giving in to the temptation to make a snarky comment about the West's military arrogance and abuse of power, we shall just remind Andy that he can find much better snippets from Sun Tzu's Art of War than his own clumsy constructions. Also, given Andy's constant veneration of the military, we ought to ask whether he has actually performed military service. I, for one, have served in my nation's armed forces, and I don't admire militarism. This man worships militarism, yet from what we can gather, he has spent the War on Terror sitting at a computer keyboard, firing cluster-bombs of shitty pseudo-logic at his own troops. Hmm. Should Conservapedians label Andy a traitor, or just a plain coward...?

But the peace lasted only a few years. Fighting resumed, and Sparta defeated the combined armies of Athens and her allies at Mantinea. In 415 a radical new leader of Athens, Alcibiades, convinced the Athenian Assembly to invade Syracuse, a Peloponnesian ally in Sicily. It was a total disaster. The end was near for Athens, which was weakened further by a plague that killed much of her population. Sparta then had a fleet to challenge Athens on the seas, and benefited from an extraordinary military leader named Lysander. He seized Hellespont to cut off Athens’ grain imports and threaten Athens with starvation. Athens sent all it had let to confront him, but failed at Aegospotami in 405 B.C. Andy's writing style is getting steadily worse. It reads as though a child in primary school wrote this lecture - short, staccato sentences which barely tie in with one another. If this is the standard of the teacher, we can only imagine what the standards of his students are.

Faced with bankruptcy, Athens gave up nearly everything just to attain peace. Athens lost her city walls and all of her possessions overseas. She also lost democracy as Sparta’s anti-democratic party took control. Sparta had won the Peloponnesian War. Oh great, twisting history to bitch about the Democratic Party. Sparta didn't have anything resembling a democracy, Andy, much less organised political parties. The modern notion of partisan politics is an entirely nineteenth-century European invention. True, politicians in Parliaments and Senates have rarely agreed, but it was only in the 1800s that men crystallised into "parties". So no, Andy, you're wrong. Again.

Democracy rose up again in a few years and in 395 B.C. Sparta removed Lysander from office. In 387 Sparta lost the favor of public opinion by surrendering Greek cities (Ionia and Cyprus) to the enemy Persia, even though Greece had been beating Persia for a hundred years. When Sparta then tried to weaken its former ally Thebes, a battle broke out between them and Athens joined with Thebes to defeat Sparta. "Democracy rose up". What does this even mean? Andy doesn't bother to introduce this Theban newcomer, and we have no idea where it is. Points off there.

Greek Knowledge[edit]

Ancient Greece advanced knowledge tremendously. The Greeks founded an Academy, considered to be the first university ever founded in the world. In a sense, homeschoolers today are emulating the Academy in starting their own educational system, developing logical skills and knowledge through informal classes and debates.

Ooh goody, an entire section in which Andy can shoot himself in the logical foot! And already, he's crowbarring in his beloved conservative litanies. The Academy in Athens was in NO WAY similar to a homeschool. Neither was it a university. Universities - with their degrees, syllabuses, and academic hierarchies - are a product of the European Middle Ages. The Academy was a vague learned society whereby Athens' literati could meet up and hobnob on issues of the day.

From what we can gather, Andy's idea of homeschooling is to indoctrinate socially isolated and psychologically unstable children in right-wing rhetoric and bald-faced lies, and occasionally corral a few of them together in a church basement to be harangued on how gays and atheists are infecting the Solar System with their science textbooks and tight t-shirts. A great way to raise the next generation of deadbeats, psychopaths, and people who blow up Federal buildings because "The Voices" told them to. If Plato and Sophocles could see Andy's homeschools, they would piss themselves laughing.

Socrates (469-399 B.C.) was the first great teacher at the Academy. He advocated the improvement of one’s soul, concentrating on ethics. He was constantly urging students to doubt and question things, and his “Socratic method” set the standard used in American law schools today, whereby the professor asks a series of questions of the students and they are expected to provide correct answers. He ultimately fell out of favor with the Athenian state for refusing to bow to its will, for questioning the actions of leaders during the Peloponnesian War, and because several of his students were implicated in bad deeds. He was charged with impiety and corruption of the youth and executed by being compelled to drink poison hemlock, thereby becoming the greatest pagan martyr in the history of the world. He left no writings. The Socratic Dialogue, Andy, is a technique through which CRITICAL thinking is developed. Asking students loaded questions and then verbally bludgeoning them if they dare to tread away from the path of fundamentalist conservative rhetoric, is NOT the Socratic method. And what's with the awkwardly-inserted reference to the state demanding obedience? The reasons for Socrates' trial are vague (after all, it was two and a half thousand years ago), but we do at least know that Socrates had been defending the political principles of militaristic Sparta - thereby tacitly criticisng "democratic" Athens when the two were at war. His trial and subsequent order to commit suicide were indeed politically motivated and biased, but not for the reasons Andy claims. Oh, and he did leave writings. It's just that they were lost when the Christians burned down the Library of Alexandria. Nice work. Perhaps if Mr Schlafly spent more time reading books and less time with his head up his own arse in a vain quest for "conservative martyrs", he wouldn't have made so crass a blunder.

His greatest student was Plato (428-347 B.C.). Born as a nobleman, he was fascinated with the power of reason and developed a philosophy based on reason rather than experience. He felt the essence of the world was abstract universals or “forms” or “ideas”, such as justice and truth and the Good. Plato was particularly interested in physics and mathematics. His writing style was in the form of dialogs. Early Christians made use of Plato’s work. Go on, Andy. Tell us how early Christians made use of Plato's work. Go on! What Mr Schlafly means is that in the 'thirteenth century, some two thousand years after Plato's death, some of his writings were rediscovered by Europeans in Arabic libraries, and medieval theologians merged ancient philosophy with Christian teachings. Early Christians - although of a more decent breed than today's right-wing morons - were not exactly tolerant when it came to pagan teachings, and burned non-Christian texts on sight.

Plato’s greatest work was his book the Republic, which forms the foundation for the American republican system of government. The people typically do not vote directly on issues, but elect representatives who then cast hopefully more informed votes on legislation. In the ideal state of government imagined by Plato, philosophers ruled the country. Why can't Andy italicise book titles? Or at least put them in inverted commas? The Republic did NOT form the foundation for the United States government. Evidently Andy hasn't actually read the book because if he had, he would know that in it, Plato ultimately praises a society ruled by a philosopher-king. Well, I've never seen Obama wearing a crown, and the Republicans would be lucky to field someone who can use a Speak-and-Spell, never mind a philosopher. So no, Andy. Yet again, this is hopelessly wrong.

Plato’s finest student was Aristotle, perhaps the greatest philosopher of all time. He lived from 384-322 B.C., and wrote a treatise that is taught in the finest university philosophy departments to this day. Aristotle came to the Academy when he was 17 and remained there until the death of Plato twenty years later. Aristotle’s approach was the opposite of Plato: Aristotle thought experience was the key to knowledge, and embarked on the massive task of observing and compiling as much information as possible. In contrast to Plato’s interest in physics and math, Aristotle was fascinated by biology and classified over 500 animal species. He ultimately founded his own school, the Lyceum, and equipped it with specimens, libraries, maps and other accouterments found in modern universities. Aristotle defended the usefulness of slavery.

Again, subjectivity masquerading as objective "truth". By what criteria do we judge "the greatest philosopher of all time"? Anyway, shouldn't Andy be praising Lawd Jeezuz, or at least Ronald Reagan, as the "Greatest (whatever) of all Time"?

Philosophers can't be quantified into some sort of hierarchy, because philosophy is a very broad area covering a bewildering array of fields. We'd all like to be at a dinner party with Aristotle, Plato, Foucault, Sartre, Confucius, Descartes, Chomsky, Francis Bacon, and whoever else you want (largely because the highbrow philosophy would quickly degenerate into a much more fun drinking contest. If you've ever met a professional philosopher, you'll know that they can consume their own bodyweight in hooch and still be relatively sober) - because each philosopher has an insight which others lack, and each learns from the others. They aren't arranged into hierarchies, but exist in a vague equilibrium. No one philosopher can formulate a philosophy applicable to all peoples, in all places, at all times. Naming a greatest philosopher for a short timeframe, or a restricted area of specialism, is hard enough; naming one for all time is pointless. And on a final note, following his brown-nosing to Aristotle, Andy's final sentence "Aristotle defended the usefulness of slavery" is frankly chilling. Considering that Christians (and other religions, to be fair) have selectively misinterpreted snippets of their holy texts to justify slavery, torture, and genocide, it really would not be surprising if Andy were to come out on Conservapedia with a proclamation that non-whites should be enslaved, that women should be reduced to chatteldom, and that those of us living outside the USA should expect Uncle Sam's armies to start rolling in in the name of American Empire. We all knew this man was a pillock; but I didn't realise he was downright evil.

Another disciple of Socrates, Antisthenes, founded Cynicism, a philosophy which, not surprisingly, focuses on the negative aspects of life. The cynics believed the cares and pleasures of the natural world were negligible, and rejected materialism. Only the pursuit of virtue could bring happiness. They believed no divine force existed, and that only through extreme self-discipline could virtue and simplicity be attained and happiness found. Diogenes was the most famous Cynic. Wow, this is confused. He starts with a scathing criticism of Cynicism, then in the same breath defends its good ol'-fashioned conservative crapness. This man really needs to read up on a thing called "consistency".

Ancient Greece produced two great historians, Herodotus (hi-rah-duh-tus) (484-425 B.C.) and Thucydides (thew-ci-dah-deez) (d. 401 B.C.), who emphasized the importance of history. Herodotus’ History described the Persian Wars. Because he was the first to collect historical materials systematically, check their accuracy and present them in a logical manner with a vivid narrative, Herodutus is considered the “Father of History.” Thucydides wrote The History of the Peloponnesian War, which was the first full work of historical analysis. Thucydides blamed Athens’ loss on its failed expedition to Sicily, which wasted resources and hurt morale. He declared Athens’ loss to be deserved because of this mistake. A third historian was Xenephon (427-355 B.C.), a disciple of Socrates. Although incomparable to Thucydides and Herodotus, Xenephon was the primary historian of the last days of Greece’s freedom and picked up from where Thucydides left off (411 B.C.) in his detailed account, Hellenica. Oh please. Herodotus was a tourist, and while we refer to him as the Father of History, he was a chronicler. And not a very good one, at that. His writings on Egypt, for example, were believed to be gospel truth until Victorian Egyptologists and archaeologists deciphered hieroglyphs and actually examined artifacts, and realised that Herodotus was talking crap (which may not have been his fault - maybe he was naive, or maybe the people telling him lies genuinely believed they were true). Also, Andy gets the pronounciation of his name wrong. Thucydides was better, but like Herodotus he was writing long after the events he described. But when all is said and done, these men were genuinely trying to expand human knowledge, and like all of us they had to work within the confines of their own time. Andy could at least "open his mind" and consider the realities of their circumstances.

The father of medicine was Hippocrates (460–377 B.C.). He issued the “Hippocratic Oath” that has been required of medical students around the world as a condition of graduation. It originally stated in part: “I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.” People who profit from abortion today refuse to obey the Oath. There's little point in getting irritated at this shoehorned ideology. Instead, we shall just politely remind Andy that the Hippocratic Oath was originally made in the name of Apollo and Aesclepius. So in fairness, no doctor since the Hellenic Era has fulfilled the original formulation of the Oath.

Archimedes (285 to 212 B.C.) lived in the Greek city-state of Syracuse and is considered to this day to have been one of the very best mathematicians of all time. He discovered “pi”, the ratio between the circumference of a circle to its diameter. He discovered the relationship between the surface and volume of a sphere and its circumscribing cylinder. He discovered “Archimedes’ principle” allegedly when he was sitting in a bathtub one day, recognizing that volume of a body can be measured by seeing how much the water rises when the body is submerged. He supposedly ran into town naked from his bathtub declaring “eureka!”, meaning “I have found it!” Archimedes also invented military devices useful for keeping the Roman soldiers out, although eventually they conquered his city-state and senselessly killed him. The “Archimedes screw” is a very clever way to use a large screw surrounded by a pipe to remove water from the bottom of a boat or basement. It would be beautiful if those urban legends about the Alabama state legislature redefining pi to "3" to fit in with Biblical precepts, were true. Unfortunately they're not. But anyway, Andy is teetering dangerously close to heresy here. After all, 1 Kings 7:23 makes it quite clear that pi is 3. End of. Andy should probably go flagellate himself for this heresy of admiring pagan Archimedes. And, erm, he didn't invent the Archimedes Screw to drain basements. Oh, by the way, it's pretty much certain that Archimedes didn't discover pi. The Aruyevic Indians were aware of it long before, and even before them, the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus suggests that the Ancient Egyptians were aware of pi to a few digits. Get your facts right, Andy.

Other mathematicians from the Greek empire are just as famous. Euclid (325–265 B.C.) lived in Hellenistic Alexandria, Egypt, and invented geometry. Pythagoras (582–507 B.C.) lived much earlier than Archimedes and Euclid, and was a philosopher, mathematician and teacher. He is often credited with proving the Pythagorean Theorem for calculating the length of a hypotenuse in a right triangle, but actually the Mesopotamians had it first. The Greek astronomer Aristarchus (310-230 B.C.) understood and taught that the earth revolved around the sun. Greek poetry and drama was tremendous too. "Greek empire"? Andy has just been chirruping on about how Greece was divided into pereptually-warring city-states. Now all of a sudden, they're a unified empire! Greek poetry and drama were apparently tremendous, but not tremendous enough to actually be discussed. Andy has probably never even heard of Sophocles. Imbecile.

Ancient Greece also produced a great orator and statesman, Demosthenes (384-322 B.C.). As a young man, Demosthenes had very weak lungs and could not speak loudly or clearly. However, he did not let this defeat him; to improve his voice, Demosthenes would go to the ocean, fill his mouth with pebbles, and practice speaking loudly enough for his voice to be heard over the waves! He went on to give powerful political speeches-- known as the “Phillipics” - against Philip II of Macedon, once causing the crowd to shout, “Let us take up arms and march!” But in 338 B.C. Philip of Macedon completely conquered the Greeks at the battle of Chaeronea. Demosthenes’ life later ended in failure when an Athenian revolt against Macedon was unsuccessful. Ah yes, apocyphal anecdotes. Wonderful. The cornerstone of scholarly research.

The Greeks had great philosophical influence. Two main schools of philosophical thought from the Hellenistic Period were very influential: the Stoics and the Epicureans. Please, Andy. You're just awful at tackling philosophy. Why are you digging yourself even deeper into the pit of scholarly shame? Alright, alright, we'll carry on if that's what you want...

The Epicureans were founded by Epicurus (341-270 B.C.) in the late fourth century B.C. and did not believe in any divine power. They did not believe in human ability to know and understand absolute truth, instead teaching that only the senses could be trusted. They sought pleasure and inner peace, and their teachings later led to justification for excess and indulgence in whatever pleasures one desired. Andy makes the Epicureans sound like a bunch of hedonistic frat-house tarts. In truth, Epicureanism did indeed teach that pleasure was the highest form of existence, but that true pleasure could only be attained by modest living and an awareness of one's own limits. Why even bother, Andy, if you're going to get things this wrong?

In contrast, the Stoics — founded by Zeno (333-264 B.C.) in the early third century B.C. — sought to find a sense of divine justice. They de-emphasized emotion and feelings, teaching that both plain and pleasure should be disregarded. Instead, cool-headed reason and logic should be used at all times and self-indulgence denied. Andy now makes the Stoics sound like the Vulcans. Everyone do the Mr Spock salute! Stoicism is rather simpler than Epicureanism, thus partly explaining its popularity in Greece and, later, Rome. Essentially, the philosophy states that people should develop strong self-control which allows them to adapt to the circumstances of life in which they find themselves. By this, Zeno argued, people will attain a harmony with the ever-changing universe and leave them unfettered by frivolous earthly things in order to appreciate their ethereal link with the universe. It's remarkably similar to Jesus' own teaching that his followers should sell all their possessions and follow him - y'know, that teaching which today's pseudoChristian Fundafascists never follow - so Andy really should have been able to give a better account than this.

Some historians have even speculated that Jesus spoke Greek and that the Apostles may have originally written the Gospels in that language. The traditional view is that Jesus and the Apostles spoke in Aramaic, the colloquial language of that region and time. Many of Jesus’ sayings are quoted directly in Aramaic, including Talitha cum, which means, “Little girl, get up!” (Mark 5:41). Also, Abba (“Father”; Mark 14:36; Gal.4:6; Rom.8:15); Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”; Mark 15:34); Cephas (“Peter”; John 1:42); Mammon (“Wealth”; Matt.6:24, RSV); Raca (“Fool”; Matt.5:22, RSV). Linguists can even pinpoint Jesus’ dialect to be western Aramaic associated with Galilee, rather than the Aramaic dialect spoken in Jerusalem. What, in the name of Greek buggery, has this got to do with anything?? Andy is meant to be discussing Ancient Greek philosophy, and has now gone off on some random and irrelevant tangent about Jesus' language. Who cares??

But the powerful Greek language would have been useful to Jesus in teaching. Greek was in common use by Jewish people in Palestine, thanks in part to the conquest by Alexander the Great. Greek was even widely used in Jewish ossuaries to bury the dead. Commerce would have often occurred in Greek, and Jesus had been in business as a carpenter. He surely knew the language. Several of the key terms, such as Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees as “hypocrites”, is derived directly from Greek without any comparable term in Aramaic or Hebrew. Several of the Apostles have Greek names (e.g., Andrew and Philip). There has been no discovered book in the New Testament written in Aramaic or Hebrew that predates the Greek versions. For an interesting presentation of this Greek view, see: http://www.triumphpro.com/did_jesus_and_the_apostles_speak_greek.htm Does it really matter what language Jesus spoke? We can be reasonably sure that as an uneducated Judean he spoke a mixture of Aramaic and perhaps a smattering of general-purpose phrases in Greek and Low Latin, in order to deal with the local Roman military and government authorities (by the way, having Greek names like "Phillip" and "Andrew" doesn't mean that they spoke Greek - I have one Latin name and one Welsh name, but I speak neither of those languages). Yet if Andy and his acolytes are right, Jesus was the son of god (and also god, thereby making him both his own father and his own son), and surely an omniscient god can speak in whatever language the individual listener best understands. Notwithstanding, of course, the clumsy inefficiency of spoken language. It all seems so... contrived.

Slavery existed widely in Greece, using both Greeks and non-Greeks (Russians and also African slaves bought from Egypt). Criminals and people who could not pay their debts were enslaved. The harshest treatment of slaves was of criminals put to work in the Athenian silver mines. Oh dear. Another chilling pro-slavery implication. And this one has actual identities (though Andy should refer to "Sarmatians" rather than "Russians". Bravo for yet another crippling error.

The Hellenistic Age[edit]

The term “Hellenistic” means anything related to Greek history, culture or art after the life of a man named “Alexander the Great,” who lived from 356 to 323 B.C. and virtually conquered the world of his day. Alexander was not himself Greek, as he came from Macedonia (the region north of Athens, Corinth and Sparta). But he spread the Greek culture far and wide with his military conquests. The geographic location of historical Macedon is still debated. Indeed, in July 2011 the authorities in the city of Skopje, capital of Macedonia (the country) have just put up an enormous statue of Alexander - much to the chagrin of neighbouring Greece, whose closest province to Macedonia, is also called "Macedonia". We can be fairly sure Alexander came from this vague area, but trying to be more precise is both pointless and liable to annoy people. Two traits at which Andy excels.

The kingdom of Macedon was formed in the 7th century and became Greek in culture and language by the 5th century, even though the Greeks considered Macedonians to be barbarians. Philip II of Macedon organized most of the cities into the League of Corinth, and promised to invade the dreaded enemy of Persia to liberate Greek cities there. "It became Greek...even though the Greeks considered (them) to be barbarians". What? If they became Greek, they'd be indistinguishable from Greeks. It's pretty basic logic, Andy.

In ancient Greece the common military formation was the “phalanx”, which is Greek for “finger”, composed of a rectangular formation consisting of heavily armed infantry carrying spears and shields. Philip II was able to raise a well-trained phalanx in Macedonia at lower cost than the Greek city-states, and crushed them. But he was assassinated in 336 B.C., leaving his throne in the hands of his 20-year-old son, Alexander. The phalanx was a battlefield tactic, not a system of military logistics. Bear in mind that the armies of Greek city-states were not professional full-time soldiers, but simply the city's free men off fighting for the day, possibly backed up by some slave arrow-fodder. Points off for repeatedly mis-spelling Phillip's name. At least Andy is consistent in his failures.

Alexander the Great[edit]

Long before his death, Philip II had arranged for Aristotle to tutor his son Alexander, and the wisdom Aristotle conferred made Alexander the greatest military leader of all time. Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), as he is known, came closer to conquering the entire world than anyone else before or since. He mapped out his battles with logical precision and never lost a single one. He went to sleep at night with Aristotle’s marked-up copy of the Iliad, the great work of Greek literature, under his pillow. He treated his conquered peoples better than Aristotle would have, because Aristotle advised Alexander to treat them like animals. Alexander personally traveled over 22,000 miles with his troops and often knew the foreign terrain better than his enemies, even though they lived there. He defeated the most feared empires the world had known and expanded the Greek empire from Persia to Egypt to India, before dying from swamp fever (perhaps malaria) at the tender young age of 33. The world would never be the same again. Someone please explain how sleeping with a work of fiction under your pillow makes you the greatest military leader of all time. Perhaps Andy's future revelations will be that Napoleon slept atop a copy of Aesop's Fables, or that Rommel went to bed each night with his tatty copy of Little Red Riding Hood. The Iliad may have inspired Alexander to go out and fight, but it certainly isn't a "How-To" guide on conquering the world. Alexander's death is also debated; it is possible his death was brought on by alcoholic fever. And also, no mention of the fact that Alexander liked the boys? We expect Hollywood to skim over his glaringly obvious homosexuality, but I must say, I expected more from such a serious, unbiased work as Conservapedia. Oh, right...

In a mere four years (334-331 B.C.), Alexander conquered the greatest empire in the history of the world so far: the Persian empire led by Persian king Darius III. The Persian armies were far superior to Alexander’s army, but Alexander was a brilliant, ferocious and unrelenting military leader. King Darius III even offered half of the Persian empire and his daughter’s hand in marriage to Alexander in exchange for peace. Alexander refused and proceeded to completely destroy the Persian army--capturing every one of its empire’s vast treasures. Darius was then assassinated by one of his own guards, and Alexander became ruler of Persia. Alexander did not stop there. It is highly debatable whether Alexander was a brilliant general. He had a lot of troops, and many of his enemies were already weakened from fighting each other. All he had to do, in many cases, was walk in and push over the bloodied victors of some local war. Note Andy's cutesy use of "hand in marriage". Aww. Sweet.

There are many fascinating stories told about Alexander the Great. Many consider him to have been the finest military mind ever. Illustrating his approach, legend tells the story of how Alexander confronted a huge “Gordian knot,” and was told that whoever could unravel the knot would rule the world. Alexander supposedly drew his sword and sliced the Gordian knot in two, and proceeded on his way. "There are many fascinating stories, but I only know one. And even then, I've got it half-arsed."

He would surround himself with a staff of secretaries, philosophers and scientists, yet would also engage in drunken brawls to the point where he accidentally killed a friend who had once saved his life. Alexander enjoyed battle himself, and would often be wounded leading his soldiers. In one conflict, Alexander even employed underwater divers to defeat the enemy. Alexander never lost a single battle, and seemed to have unlimited energy, motivation, and determination. His work ethic was an inspiration to the world. His vast influence but premature death at 33 has led historians to compare him to Jesus Christ, though obviously they were very different from each other. Alexander lacked any disciples to carry on after his death. And here we go with the conservative rewriting of history. Alexander's "Work Ethic" seems to have been to slaughter and conquer everyone he came across. Not really an ethic we should aspire to, and that's without even mentioning that the concept of "work ethic" is a vague piece of office-speak which has little real meaning today, let alone in Hellenistic Greece. And which historians have compared Alexander to Jesus?? On what basis? They were about as far removed from one another as two individuals can possibly be, and they weren't even the same age at death. Of course Alexander didn't have "disciples", moron. He was a military leader, not a Messiah. He did have hangers-on, though. As Andy himself acknowledges, Alexander surrounded himself with a lot of muscular soldiers and pretty-boys, with whom he would engage in "drunken brawls" (if that's what you want to call it). Trust Andy to bowdlerise Alexander's sex life. Is he implying that Jesus did the same? Well, like Alexander, Jesus did surround himself with a lot of bachelors. Hmm...

Alexander the Great led the Greek empire to the corners of the world as known at that time. His death of a fever in his capital city of Babylon in 323 B.C. marked the end of his empire, but the beginning of the great Hellenistic influence. Seeds of Greek knowledge had been planted all around the world and were beginning to spring up everywhere. For centuries these seeds grew and influenced cultures from Persia to Egypt to Rome. No mention of the fact that Alexander's fever was brought on by one too many skins of wine. The god-awful horticultural analogy really doesn't work, Andy.

Alexander’s empire was too vast to survive his death, and his generals murdered the remaining members of his family. Athens and Sparta again became independent city-states until the Roman empire conquered them. However, what mattered was that the many thousands of Greeks who traveled with Alexander during his conquests brought their knowledge and culture to all corners of the ancient world except China. The great city of Alexandria, Egypt, shows its tribute to him by its name. Greek-speaking kingdoms had been established in Egypt, Syria and Iran, and the language became popular among the educated for trade in Palestine. The post-Alexander era is known as the Hellenistic Age (232-146 B.C.) Oh, so the Greeks permeated the entire ancient world, sans China? Right. So where's the Greek influence in Russia? Ethiopia? Spain? Thule? These places were known to Greeks at the time, Andy.

Taught in Greek, Christianity spread like wildfire throughout the Hellenistic world in the first century A.D. The Greek language, culture, and advances in knowledge had prepared the people well for Christianity to take root. Andy has quite a knack for bad similies. "Wildfire" isn't a very flattering metaphor for his beloved religion. ALthough it's quite accurate, as Christians did burn a lot of things they didn't agree with. Libraries, books, people... That's not even counting the fact that Christianity was heavily suppressed by the Romans, and didn't really take off until the second century AD. Try harder, young Master Schlafly.

Greek Contributions[edit]

What can we thank Greece for today? For starters, the Greeks began the Olympics. Yes, until the Christians banned the Olympics during the late Roman Empire as a "pagan custom". They didn't start up again until 1896. And of course, all the participants in the original Olympic Games competed in the nude. That could make the modern games a bit more fun. Especially the Winter Olympics.

But we thank Ancient Greece for far more than that. Our system of laws and government is largely based on the Greek example, and in particular the concept of democratic participation in government. Trial by jury is from Greece, as is the concept of a defense attorney (Roman law lacked a defense attorney - note how Jesus did not have an attorney at His trial). Greece established democracy for the first time in history. Our language, too, is due to the Greek adoption of an alphabet. The Greeks invented the study of history, so this course is indebted to the Greeks! It's curious why Andy is ragging on the Romans already, when he is meant to be discussing the Greeks. For his information, the Romans had a sophisticated legal system and did have defence counsels for the accused. Cicero, for example, the foremost critic of the Roman Republic slipping into a despotic, pseduo-monarchist military dictatorship under Julius Caesar, made his name as a young lawyer by both accusing and defending high-profile Romans in major court cases of his day. Indeed, one of the reasons for the late Republic's unpopularity among the masses was that the legal system had become so cumbersome and expensive that a single dictator above the law, seemed rather reasonable in comparison. Jesus didn't have a defence lawyer because, let's face it, he was an insignificant man in some poor, flyblown province a thousand miles from Rome. And, erm, isn't the point of the "Jesus Trial" story that Annas and Caiphas and the rest of the Sanhedrin prosecuted Jesus and only finally turned him over to the Roman authorities on some trumped-up charge of minor civil disobedience, thus allowing them to sidestep blame for actually executing him? If Andy actually READ Matthew 27 and John 18 (or more particularly, John 18:31 and Luke 23:6-7), he would see that when the High Priests brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate, Pilate's response was along the lines of "I've got a whole bloody province to run, which is constantly in rebellion and never pays its taxes and I hate this bloody shithole and the Emperor is constantly breathing down my neck, and you come here bothering me with this petty shit? Go deal with this crap yourselves and let me get back to work!" Open your Bible, Andy. The real one. Not your heretical rewrite. Oh by the way, good luck explaining that to your god when you finally shuffle off the mortal coil. From what I can gather, The Man Upstairs doesn't have a very high opinion of people who meddle with his books...

Historians also credit ancient Greece for its tremendous achievements in the fields of science, philosophy and art. The concept of truth began to acquire meaning in ancient Greece, as did freedom and knowledge. The concept of moderation illustrated by the “Golden Mean” (whereby the whole is to the larger part as the larger part is to the smaller part, and the design of ancient Greek buildings like the Parthenon using the Golden Mean in its dimensions were influential. The Parthenon (built in 438 B.C. to honor the goddess Athena) is impressive. It embodies the Golden Mean, which also occurs in many living creatures and has fascinated mathematicians ever since; for those interested in math, the Fibonacci sequence is a manifestation of the golden mean. A full-sized replica of the Parthenon sits in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ah yes. Nashville, Tennessee. That Mecca of Ancient Greek culture...

Careful, Andy. Remember that the Parthenon (a complex of temples, not a single edifice) was built to deify non-Christian gods. Shouldn't Andy be foaming at the mouth, screaming for us to tear down this abomination unto the Lord and replace it with a prefab megachurch (Fundamentalist, of course, not devious evil lib'rul Greek Orthodox)? He's treading a very dangerous line here by promoting a pagan temple. Again, where's the Spanish Inquisition when you need them?

The Greek and Hebrew approaches to knowledge were very different. The Greeks emphasized spatial relationships, benefiting from the discovery of geometry by Euclid. The Hebrews rarely discuss spatial aspects of history in the Old Testament, and instead focus on their relationship with Yahweh that has no spatial elements. In addition, the Hebrews were inspired by one God, while the Hellenistic Greeks worshipped many gods and permitted many religions including Cynicism, Epicureanism and Stoicism. What the hell does this mean? I'm a geographer, and I earn my daily crust by wrestling with spatial relationships. I've come across some frankly bizarre concepts, yet this one has to take the top place. Is Andy trying to tell us that Yahweh (and according to Exodus 34:14, god's name is "Jealous". How many names does he need?) is non-spatial? Or is he tacitly admitting that the ancient Hebrews had limited mathematical knowledge? And here goes Andy again with his inability to stick to categorisation. Remember how earlier, he described Cynicism, Epicureanism and Stoicism as philosophies? Now all of a sudden, they're religions. Pick ONE, Andy, and stick with it.

Many historians credit the Greeks for “humanism”, by which they mean the Greek emphasis on reason, ethics and rational thinking rather than religion. But the Greeks did not choose to reject religion the way that modern humanists do. Instead, the Greeks advanced knowledge without exposure to Christianity. Tsk tsk, Andy. Of course the Greeks rejected religion. They didn't accept Christ as their personal saviour, hence they were filthy kitten-eating abortionists, and will burn for all eternity in the fires of Hell. Along with everyone else. Especially people who rewrite the Bible. Remember?

Greek plays remain famous to this day. There were two types: the tragedy and the comedy. In a Greek tragedy, the main character has a flaw (such as arrogance) that causes him to fail. Playwrights of tragedies included Euripides (“Medea”) and Sophocles (“Antigone” and “Oedipus Rex”). The comedies consisted of humor and satire, and the leading playwright was Aristophanes (“Lysistrata”). Oh, Andy has heard of Sophocles. He evidently hasn't read any of these plays, though, as he can't tell us even a single thing about them.

Not everything in Ancient Greece was great. It was polytheistic, worshipping many gods like Zeus and Hercules. The Greek gods were superhuman, but not divine. The Greek gods cared little about ethics or morality, and were the least influential aspect of the Greek culture. At most, this tradition of polytheism inspired some colorful literature and art. At its worst, it inspired silly rituals. For example, ceremonies known as “oracles” in which priests tried to predict the future by looking at the internal body parts of animal sacrifices—a process called “divination”. The Greeks are not known for being very practical, but they did invent some useful devices. They are credited with inventing soap, the shower, central heating, the alarm clock (built by Plato to signal to his students that it is time to enter the Academy), the odometer, floating bridges, the lever, the anchor, bricks, the catapult and even chewing gum. Herakles ("Hercules" is the Roman version) was considered a mythical semi-divine man, not a god. The definition of a god is that it is divine. So Andy's comment that "the Greek gods were superhuman, but not divine" is a logical disaster. If they're not divine, they're not gods. And really, Andy could have thought of some other Greek gods. His claim that the Greek gods were not influential made me burst out laughing. Has this man even opened a history book?? Another chuckle comes from his dismissal of "silly rituals". I hope Andy realises that in centuries to come, smug people like him will look scoffingly back at twenty-first century Christians with their hymns and wine and biscuits, and ridicule them as "silly rituals". Ritual is a part of any religion, and when you take a look at a few beyond the narrow little view of the world that fundamentalists have, you realise that one ritual is no more stupid than another. By the way, the technical term for predicting the future through animal entrails is called "haruspicy" or "hepatoscopy". And the shopping-list of inventions he gives us fails to mention that these devices were one-offs built to show off the creativity of the builder, and were not produced as actual practical goods to be marketed. The concepts of levers, showers, floating bridges, anchors, bricks, and catapults all far predate the Greeks. The alarm clock was NOT a public clock (the Academy was a concept, like a learned society, and not an actual building which people trudged into at 8am every day). And as for chewing gum, if the Greeks did invent it I imagine it must have been made from some rather unpleasant part of an animal - in which case, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. Neither would most Greeks, probably.

Other Ancient Peoples[edit]

Oh this is fun. Andy's grudging acknowlegement of the non-white, non-European world, consisting of a few reluctant thumbnail sketches tacked on at the end. How fair and unbiased!

The Hittites[edit]

The Hittites were a northern Indo-European people who called themselves “Aryans” (like the Persians)—a term meaning “noble people”. No they didn't. "Aryan" is a Sanskrit (Ancient Indian) word, referring to the upper classes. The Hittites (or, more correctly, "Hatti") never used this term. Even the Nazis knew this. Why doesn't Andy?

In 1650 B.C., they were able to gain control of most of Mesopotamia largely because of their advanced warfare, including horse-drawn chariots. Under their rule, life in the Babylonian empire did not flourish artistically or culturally as it did under others’ rule. What?! The Hittites didn't conquer Mesopotamia! The Hatti civilisation emerged quite suddenly in what is now central Turkey, in the early second millennium BC. They expanded quickly, but they were never able to control Anatolia nor consolidate their conquests in Asia Minor and the Levant. This expansion brought the Hittites into several conflicts with Ancient Egypt, but their power rapidly lessened following the reign of Mursili II for reasons which are as-yet not entirely clear. We at least know this happened, because of surviving diplomatic correspondence between the Emperors and the Pharaohs - letters go from threats and ultimata, to grudging negotiations, to a peace treaty between Ramses II and Mursili I, and finally end with increasingly desperate pleas from the Emperor for military assistance from Egypt. The letters then suddenly cut off at a point roughly contemporaneous with the abandonment of the capital city. Andy is correct in asserting that the Hittite capital city - Hattusa - was not discovered until the 1890s, but is predictably wrong in saying that there was no archaeological evidence of the Hatti prior to this. They were a big civilisation, for pity's sake. They did leave things other than their capital city. Instead of fighting a losing battle to demonise Biblical critics, Andy should either open a book or, failing that, at least pull his head out of his own arse.

In the Old Testament, the Hittites are mentioned more than 50 times, and are described as having descended from Noah’s great-grandson Heth (descended from Ham). Because no trace of this ancient civilization could be found for a long time, skeptics claimed it proved that the Bible was an unreliable source. However, astounding archeological discoveries in the 19th and 20th centuries proved that the Hittites existed and the finds did much to further the credibility of the Bible as a historical record. Why is Andy referencing the Bible again? He might as well reference the Da Vinci Code, or L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics. They're on about the same level of historical (in)accuracy. Note that Andy doesn't bother to tell us what these "astounding archaeological discoveries" actually were.

Assyria[edit]

Assyria was a very ancient kingdom in northern Mesopotamia. Today that would be in northern Iraq. No mention of troops, Andy?

It was dependent on Babylonia for a while, but rose to become an independent state in the 14th century B.C. Beginning with the 12th century it declined, only to reemerge as a kingdom again in the 8th century B.C. Under a sequence of powerful Assyrian kings of Tiglath-pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib and Esarhaddon, Assyria controlled most of the Middle East from Egypt to the Persian Gulf. Andy throws us a bone by mentioning some kings, but loses points for not mentioning that the men named here were separated by generations, rather than appearing in a nice neat chronological sequence.

The Assyrians were known for their cruelty and military skills, and more than a few references in the Bible lament their treatment of the Hebrews. The Old Testament mentions “Assyria” 119 times, including this typical verse: “The Lord was with him; wherever he went, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him.” (2 Kings 18:7 (NRS)) A "typical verse"? Typical of what? Asininity? It's rich of Andy to bitch about Assyrian cruelties, considering the unpleasant things which the Lawd's Believers get up to in the Old Testament.

Ultimately, a Chaldean-Median coalition destroyed the Assyrians in 612-609 B.C. Go on, Andy. Tell us how. Tell us who. Tell us why. What, don't you know?


The Chaldeans (also spelled as “Chaldaeans”)[edit]

The Chaldeans seized the Assyrian capital, Ninevah (from the story of Jonah), in 612 B.C., and destroyed it. They soon conquered all of Mesopotamia, as well as Judea and Syria. Although the Chaldeans only remained in power for fifty years, they were responsible for founding what is known as the “Neo-Babylonian empire”. Elaborate and beautiful palaces and buildings were constructed by the Chaldeans. The famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon were made during Chaldean rule. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are not mentioned once in actual Babylonian records, and indeed only appear in the Histories of Herodotus, from whence the ancient and medieval equivalents of trash-magazine papparazzi replicated the tale without bothering to check. Andy really ought to know this.

The Chaldeans’ short reign is chronicled in the Biblical story of Daniel. As a teenager, Daniel was captured by the Chaldean army during its first attack on Jerusalem. While Daniel served under Nebuchadnezzar, one of only a few Chaldean kings, he interpreted dreams, witnessed the miraculous survival of Shadrach, Meschach and Aben-nego in the fiery furnace, and accurately predicted Nebuchadnezzar’s downfall. Under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, Daniel witnessed the writing on the wall, which he interpreted as a sign of Belshazzar’s imminent downfall. The very next day, the Persians invaded, killed Belshazzar, and took over the Babylonian empire. And here we go with the Bible again. Evidently Andy doesn't actually own any history books, and doesn't have a library card. Probably because going to a library will make him cry upon seeing the work of real historians. Couldn't he at least have spent five minutes on Wikipedia, rather than turning straight to the Book of Daniel?

Persia[edit]

Persia was the “Land of the Aryans,” and in 1935 the name Persia was changed simply to Iran. To this day oriental rugs from Iran are called “Persian rugs.” They are considered the best in the world and were banned as imports for a long time after Iranian students took Americans hostage in 1980. Again with the shoehorned-in references to the Aryans. Obergruppenfuhrer Schlafly could at least TRY to conceal his latent lust for the National Socialists. The rest of this segment is perhaps his most bizarre yet. There's nothing like writing the history of Ancient Persia by mentioning a twentieth-century name change, carpets (is Andy saying he owns an Iranian rug? Don't think Dubya would be happy about that), and the Iranian hostage crisis - all in the opening paragraph. Well, at least he didn't wander off into writing a fawning love letter to Ronald Reagan.

The Aryans were nomadic people who migrated into India through the Kyber Pass around 1500 B.C. The language in ancient Persia was Avestan and in Northern India it was Sanskrit. All major European and Indian languages are considered related to it. Hebrew and Arabic are not. It's ironic that a snippet about language is written in such a childish, staccato, crude style...

After Darwin’s theory of evolution became popular in England and Germany, racists began to emerge who claimed that Aryans were superior. The worst of these were Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who insisted that Aryans were responsible for all of human progress, and that Jewish people were inferior because they did not descend from the Aryans (Hebrew did not descend from the Aryan language). Oh Christ, a combined reference to Hitler and Darwin in the same breath. And we're not even up to the Roman Empire yet! That's impressive, Andy! Note the irony of Andy criticising claims of racial superiority, considering that his "lectures" thus far have been nothing more than hammering home his insistence that Anglophonic protestant Christianity is superior to every other form of social organisation. We'll look forward to seeing this crap cropping up again in his lecture on the nineteenth century. Although there is little doubt that it will apeear again long, long before that.

Persia’s glory days were from 550 to 331 B.C. It is during this time period that Persia is seen often in the Old Testament. When the Persians took over Babylon, Daniel served under Cyrus and Darius (who threw him into the lion’s den). The Persians are also seen in the Bible in the story of Esther, when King Xerxes I held what might be called a “Miss Persia” beauty contest. Esther, a beautiful Jewish girl, won the contest and would go on to save her people because of her remarkable courage. A "Miss Persia beauty contest"? Really, Andy? Really?

The Persians controlled a vast amount of territory, including most of the Middle East, Turkey and a portion of Northern Africa--primarily under Cyrus the Great. Accordingly, the Persian empire was one of the first great empires of the world. They were unstoppable and greatly feared until Alexander the Great conquered them and far more. Andy appears to have already forgotten his fawning praise of Sargon of Akkad, the first empire-builder...

After Alexander the Great died, Parthians (based in modern-day Iran) tried unsuccessfully to reestablish the Persian empire. But their past greatness was not achieved again. They could not withstand the Roman army, which conquered it in A.D. 226.

Afterwards, a Persian noble named Ardashir seized power by killing the Parthian king, and established the Sassanid empire along with the official state religion of Zoroastrianism, a polytheistic religion that had a creator (Ahuramazda) and a sun-god (Mithra). This religion was essentially limited to Persians. It made no attempt to convert others and it tolerated other religions in the region like Judaism. Its greatest king was Shapure II (A.D. 309-379), who beat back the weakening Romans and also extended Persian power towards China. This empire remained in control of Persia until Muslims took control of the region in A.D. 651. Ooh. Andy manages to slag off multiple religions in one go, and simultaneously (and strangely) defends Zoroastrianism. Jesus won't be happy about that, Andy. Neither will Mithras, Baal, and Ahuramazda. Going for a hat-trick by pissing off every god, Mr Schlafly? Your afterlife is going to be fun...

The Celts[edit]

The Celts were the first ethnic group to become widespread in Europe. Using tribes rather than stable civilizations, the Celts began in central Europe and migrated west beginning in about 500 B.C. to the British Isles (especially Ireland) and also northwest France and portions of Spain. Their religion consisted of worshipping gods and goddesses, and their priests were called “druids”. They had no written language but often told myths and folktales. The Boston Celtics basketball team is named after the Celts. "Tribe" is a very controversial term in modern scholarship; a word which is more a hangover of imperialist Victorian anthrolopogy than a legitimate concept. It does have some uses; so long as a definition is given. What's Andy's conceptual definition here? And why the reference to a bloody basketball team?? This has to be his most piss-poor thumbnail sketch yet. it doesn't even have the comedy value of mentioning carpets.

Central and South America[edit]

In Central America (including present-day Mexico), Mesoamerica (“middle America”) developed a civilization known as the Olmec (“mother civilization”) beginning in about 1200 B.C., subsequent to more primitive societies in what is called the Archaic period (2000 B.C.). By then maize (corn) was a plentiful crop, and it was grown along the fertile rivers. Massive stone-hewn sculptures of warriors with helmets can be found in the tropical forests off the Gulf of Mexico in eastern Mexico, San Lorenzo and La Venta. The civilization lasted until 100 B.C., and used a numerical system having base 20 and a 365-day calendar that included 260 days of religious ritual. Religious ceremonies were prominent in this culture. Wow. Linguistics, agriculture, statuary, forestry, mathematics, and numerology - all crammed into a crappy little paragraph. Even for Andy, that's a dense read. ANd about a interesting and useful as watching paint dry.

In South America, Peru was home to agriculture-based civilizations on the altiplano (highlands) of the Andes mountains, and also in coastal valleys. They had irrigation systems and built roads and bridges. They used the llama (a relative of the camel) as a beast of burden and created pottery and textiles using cotton. They lived in stone and adobe structures built perhaps between 3000 and 2000 B.C., and constructed large ceremonial centers beginning in 900 B.C., the most famous of which is called “Chavin de Huantar.” Wahey! Andy has just referenced evolution!! Camels and llamas are related? What, does he mean they were roommates on the Ark or does he wish to imply a genetic connection? If Andy can give an explanation of how the llamas got all the way from Mount Ararat to Peru, all in just a few hundred years, without being hunted to extinction or just deciding to settle in China, we'd love to hear it.

In general, the Americas did not develop civilizations as advanced as ancient Europe and Asia. Hunting and gathering were easier in the Americas, and there was less reason to settle down into an agricultural society that could generate a surplus and enable workers to spend time on other tasks, such as building cities. The Americas did not have use of the wheel, the plow, glass, iron, steel or horses until brought over by European explorers. Andy's latent racism crops up. Apparently the Mesoamericans were all a bunch of primitive bastards, until the white men showed up. And shot them all. Andy was quite prepared to vomit forth his shitty, half-baked drivel on why civilisation emerged in the Middle East, yet he can't be arsed to do the same thing for the Mesoamericans. Why? Doesn't he like non-white people..?

Africa[edit]

Historians emphasize three peoples in Africa. The Bantu people spread their language through Africa by migrating to the east and south. They benefited from the iron-smelting technology. The Kush existed in North Africa and imitated the Egyptians. They also had iron smelting and traded for iron, especially at their capital city of Meroe. Finally, the Nok existed in West Africa and created terra cotta sculpture. They also had iron-smelting technology.

Apparently not! Just look at this shit. The shortest bit, tacked on right at the end. You can almost feel the bile rising in his throat as he writes about Africa. I'll resist the temptation to call Andrew Schlafly a racist bastard, and just go for reminding him that Africa is a BIG continent with a LOT of cultures and a LOT of history; which less than three lines of text are impossible to encapsulate. Considering that our species evolved in Africa, and that Africa is subsequently the longest-inhabited continent in human history (not to mention the bewildering diversity of cultures which existed and continue to exist on the gargantuan landmass), you'd think that Andy would show some respect by giving dear old Mother Africa a bit more mention than this. But no. If you're not white, Andy apparently doesn't care about you. Oh well, at least we're lucky in that we won't have to talk to him when we all get tossed down into Hell by that petty jackass of a deity. Unless, of course, some other god rules the universe. My money's on Ra. As gods go, he's much more fun.

Well there we go. That was apparently Andy's attempt to explain the Greeks and the non-white world c.30,000 BC to the rise of Rome. The latter consisting of fewer words than you'd find on an average pizzeria takeaway menu. We can only hope that these trite little "Lectures" get better over time. But then, we might as well hope for the sky to start raining Skittles and gin. Open your mind and Godspeed, Andy!!