As stated by Charles Darwin, “ It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” (Darwin) Throughout Western Civilization we see the rise and fall of countless rulers and empires, which is in large part due to the adaptability and advancement of societies’ political views, religions, and cultures. It is through these developments that crucial turning points are created, and thus history is impacted. This essay will discuss three major hinges seen in Western Civilization.
These three crucial moments include: the development of civilization, the rise of the Roman Empire, and the creation of Christianity.
The development of civilization was one of the many moments in Western Civilization that was crucial in history. It was during this period that mankind evolved their “patterns of life,” of which many of these patterns humans still partake in today. (Hunt, Martin, Rosenwein, and Smith 2) How then was the emergence of civilization so crucial in history? This answer can be found by looking at the establishments made in new founded Mesopotamian cities.
As stated by historians, it was around four thousand B.C when the birth and growth of civilization arose in Mesopotamia. It was before this point in time that people lived a nomadic way of life, however with the emergence of Mesopotamian cities, people and families started to settle into certain locations. Mesopotamia was known as a major hot spot for people to grow their communities due to its wide plains and two grand rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates.
It was also due to this geographical location that Mesopotamia had the climate and soil for agricultural success. It was during this time in Mesopotamia that the technology of farming crops was advanced. Mesopotamian farmers were able to create intricate canals to divert water inwards into the plains, thus fertilizing their land in a more efficient way. These canals also helped direct the flow of flood waters. As farming advancements continued, mass amounts of people flooded into Mesopotamia creating a need for political arrangements and a community hierarchy to keep the new founding societies in order. Thus, the first city-state was created. As stated in our class textbook, The Making of the West, a city-state was “an urban center exercising control over the surrounding countryside.” (Hunt, Martin, Rosenwein, and Smith 5) City-States can be seen in the modern world which include the Vatican City, Rome, and Singapore. These city-states would soon lead these communities into monarchies, empires, and democracies.
It is no shock that the rise of the Roman Empire is seen as a major turning point in history. In the beginning Rome was known as a small city located in Italy, however as the years went on, it grew into a massive “economic and military power.” (McGraw-Hill 259) This was done by the growth of an advanced and diverse Roman society. In order to achieve this type of society, Rome relied heavily on granted citizenships to outsiders and recognizing the importance of women in a community. In continuation, Rome also held high moral standards for its civilization and expected all Romans to uphold the traditions passed down from earlier generations. It is through these traditions and values along with “the empire’s long existence that allowed Rome to become an influential component of Western Civilization.” (Hunt, Martin, Rosenwein, and Smith 117) Although the Roman Empire is known for these countless developments in it’s society, some might argue that one of its most significant advancement was the emergence of Christianity.
The creation of Christianity is the last crucial hinge in Western Civilization. It was during this point in time that past religions were challenged, arguably for the better. Before the creation of Christianity, most societies believed in religions that encompassed many ‘gods’ to “control different aspects of life.” (Hunt, Martin, Rosenwein, and Smith 6) In other words, they believed in different ‘gods’ to control climate, fertility, or war. However with the emergence of Christianity with Jesus Christ at its center, these ideas were questioned by societies, and thus rulers were angered.
The birth of Chrisatinity did not come at the best of times. As stated by our class textbook, The Making of the West, “Christianity faced serious obstacles as a new religion.” (Hunt, Martin, Rosenwein, and Smith 160) This was in large part due to the constant persecution of Roman emperors. However, this persecution did not stop Christians from spreading their beliefs to those around. This persecution raises an important question, why were Roman emperors so against Christianity? Christianity was one of the first religions during this time that supported Monotheism, which is the belief in the existence of only one true god. Christians believed that their God was morally just, and thus expected followers to live a moral way of life. However living in this way did not guarantee them a spot in heaven, but the act of accepting God as their eternal savior did. Their God showed great love to each of his believers and eagerly wanted them to pursue a relationship with Him. It was for these beliefs that Christians were persecuted as it was very uncommon in Roman society to believe this, which then caused a division between Christianiaty and Roman belief. However, it was Christian beliefs that sparked a religious revolution in Rome to which Christianity would later become the official religion of Rome.
Throughout Western Civilization, many rulers and empires came into power to which many of these rulers and empires failed. It is through the rise and fall of these countless societies that mankind was able to evolve their political views, religions, and cultures. As these developments impacted Western Civilization societies, turning points for history and mankind were created. These turning points for mankind include: the development of civilization, the rise of the Roman Empire, and the creation of Christianity. These advancements would be the very reason as to why communities have grown and adapted into what they are now.