The primary document for this work is an excerpt from the book The Peloponnesian Wars written by Thucydides. The excerpt opens a new door for us to examine the historical developments about the ancient generation. It is therefore an important document acting as a window into the past. It helps the reader examine the facts of the war and the major facts about that period of time. The first thing noted from the chapter is the development of art by the Athenians and Peloponnesians during the time of the war. Although the chapter does not directly mention about art during the time of the war, there are several practices that inform the reader of its development during the same time. These two groups were able to device new mechanisms of entertaining themselves and also making sure they were better than their enemies (Thucydides, 2007). When it comes to art, they practiced it in their architectural designs, costumes, swords, and even on their necklaces. Music performances and other celebrations during the time were also full of art to entertain the people. It should be noted that art meant a lot to both the Athenians and Peloponnesians as we can see from this excerpt.
Also, politics is another important thing noted from this excerpt. Politics is not a concept or ideology that was developed recently. As early as 400 AD, the concept had been applied both in administrative processes and governance systems. Kings had superior powers and determined all decisions made at the time. One of the main duties of the political system was to have a central point of governance and also give orders and directions regarding what was supposed to be done. Leadership was practiced with the help of the armies. The armies also safeguarded the empire from attack by foreign emperors. It was also the duty of the rulers to lead the armies during war. As well, the excerpt does not give direct information about the political systems or foundations of the two empires (Thucydides, 2007). We should realize that modern political ideologies have borrowed a lot from these traditional systems of governance and control of power. This book is therefore a primary document informing the reader about the politics and governance systems of the ancient times as told in the story of the war.
The other important thing from this excerpt is the nature and function of law as applied during the time. Law is very dynamic and serves the purpose of treating everyone fairly. During the ancient time, law was not confined into a legal document as it is the case in our present time. In this chapter we learn some facts about ancient law such as the role of armies and what was expected from them as well as from the public. Kings had the power to authorize certain events or attacks depending on the strength of their empires and how well they were prepared. It is also notable that there was no firm legal foundation governing people's relations, or how empires related with each other. The kind of law presented here is, however, the beginning of modern law applied in many countries and societies today (Thucydides, 2007). As we note from the document, wars were common and were used to settle scores and prove superiority over the other societies. Another important issue noted in the book is the role and mentorship of gods and ancestors. Sometimes the people had to follow specific paths and fates already determined by the gods.
Majority of all ancient groups lived in accordance with certain customs or manners used to define their culture. These customs are known as mores and usually serve as ethical or moral guidelines for acceptable conduct and behavior in the society. Such behaviors are not always religious. This chapter gives a wide analysis of social mores displayed by the two groups. For instance, women had their duties of taking care of their husbands and taking care of the children. The women had their gender roles such as household chores and were also responsible for the children (Thucydides, 2007). However, some women appear to have had massive spiritual powers and interventions from the gods. On the other hand, men safeguarded the emperor. Training was mandatory and at times some young men had already fought big battles at even the age of seventeen.
The emperors had the duty of overseeing religious activities and making sure such practices were conducted professionally and in accordance with their culture. It was also the role of men to offers sacrifices and not women. Women and children were all required to behave in a given manner as well as men. Women had to honor their husbands and accomplish all tasks for them (Thucydides, 2007). Men fought the enemy whenever they were attacked. They would also travel long distances in search for materials and even food for the empire. These social mores defined the roles of different individuals and their overall conduct in the society. Guidelines were also given to control people's behavior and conduct. It was mandatory to stick into such guidelines, otherwise punishment was inevitable.
The chapter also presents several economic activities that defined the societies. Trade and farming was practiced to produce food and get new materials for their kingdom. This was necessary because it supported live and also helped acquire weapons and fighting skills from other groups of people. It can be noted that most of the modern economic practices and activities have borrowed much from the ancient practices. Technology was also a favorite idea as seen in the chapter (Thucydides, 2007). New technology was always used in fighting and making sure every battle was easily won. The use of metal to make swords and armors indicates the level of the people's technology. This excerpt therefore informs the reader about the quality of life during the time and about the nature of art, politics, technology, social mores and law during the time.