October 25, 2014

ANCIENTS BEHAVING BADLY

ANALYZING THE BEHAVIOR OF SOME OF HISTORY'S GREATEST MEN


An eight part documentary from Blink Films and Yap Productions, the series examines the lives of some of the most 'cruelest' men and women from the ancient world, focusing primarily on the acts of horror attributed to them by historians and other sources. The dominant personality trait of the subject under investigation is identified and he/she is then rated on a unique index. Lastly, the personality is also compared to a modern person who he/she resembles the most. Each part is about 44 minutes long and besides speaking to the experts, the gruesome acts that they are believed to have done are shown in form of anime, something that you would not find in most documentaries. The eight people on whose lives the series focuses on are Hannibal, Alexander the Great, Juluis Caesar, Cleopatra, Ghenghiz Khan, Attila the Hun, Caligula and Nero.

The best part about this documentary is that many of the events reported by ancient literary sources are analyzed using modern methods and certain myths are also laid to rest. Like in the case of Cleopatra where it is proved that the claim that Cleopatra instantly dissolved a pearl in vinegar and drank it while on a cruise with Anthony on the Nile was a big fat lie. Other revelations done using modern technology include the actual cause of Alexander's death or the poison that Cleopatra consumed to die as the Romans closed in on her and so on.

However, what I did not like was that modern value system is used as a yardstick to judge ancient warriors. I mean, Hannibal slaughtered thousands of men in his battles across Italy so that he could beat his arch rivals - the Romans. Of course, it is not right to kill people but that cannot label it as 'genocide' either. After all, didn't the Romans exactly do the same when they waged wars across the Mediterranean. Ditto with the likes of Alexander, Attila and Caesar. The times during which these men and women lived were drastically different. Terming their acts as a genocide would mean doing grave injustice to such important historic personalities.