Journal #5

On February 15th 2:39 pm, I began reading the Spirits in the Material World module. The first step seemed not to have much to read, but after clicking the specific links it took me a little over an hour to complete them all. This first step within the module told of the well known leader, Alexander the Great (also called Alexander III of Macedon). Alexander the Great was a Macedonian leader who came into power after his father’s (Phillip II) assassination. I also read that by the age of 30, Alexander had one of the largest empires of the ancient world, including all of Greece, Persia, Egypt and much of central Asia. Diving deeper into the life of Alexander the Great, I came across a very long passage mainly focused on a conversation between a young Alexander and his father Phillip II. During this time, Alexander was eager to be included in his father’s campaigns. After returning home from one of the campaigns, Phillip asked Alexander why he preferred Homer and Homer only, above the other poets. He responded by basically saying that every poet’s work is not fit for a king; that every poet has an audience and that Homer’s speaks directly to him. He also kind of stated that there is nothing wrong with other poets, it’s just that he favored Homer more I guess because he related to it? I’m not completely sure. He also goes on to say that although the other works may be popular, how could they benefit someone like you or me referring to the people that aspire to be “the master, over all to domineer.” Reading just that short amount of the passage, I had tied it in with the title of this step of the module ‘How to see the “greatness” of Alexander’. I can see how strong minded and wise Alexander seemed to be at this point in time, but playing devil’s advocate I think as someone who wants to be a leader, I think it would be extremely beneficial for one to read and take in the message of all poets to be well rounded and be able to rule from different perspectives.

The second step of the module also took me a little over an hour to complete. This step told of the many different iconographies of the ancient world. Summarizing the nine page read, it basically explained how the memory of Alexander the Great was preserved in stone, with statues, paintings and coins. It was said that there were many sculptures of Alexander, his head, fully body etc., but only one sculptor’s work was really particular to Alexander and that was the work of Lysippos of Sikyon. His work was in fact so important to Alexander that he decreed that no one else sculpt him.”His portraits of the king had became the official image that Alexander wanted his subjects to retain in their minds. It had been said that Lysippos’ work captured his true image, always showcasing the light and liquidity in his eyes, “preserving his manly and leonine quality.” Eventually the portraits of Alexander became more god related, to one god specifically; Zeus. They began to portray him not only as the son of Zeus, but his son who also yielded Zeus’ power; showcasing him holding thunder bolts, or with the eagle of Zeus on his left side with a shield on the right, or with him sitting on a throne. The portraits of him also began to blend with a bit of Herakles. Just as he was depicted as Zeus in some portraits and Zeus’ son in others, he was depicted as Herakles.

The third step of the module was completed in less than an hour and a half. Under the listening for leadership link was the question of how Augustus looks at different time marks as a leader within Ara Pacis (altar of peace). At the first three time marks (0:39, 1:44, 2:51) Augustus looks as if he is looking out and waving to his followers in the middle of a speech, like a positive leader. He seems to be wearing battle armor without a helmet as if he is ready to fight. In the time mark 3:09 he is wearing a hood of some sort, I am not exactly sure what this means. In the last time mark, Augustus is shown to have a disfigured face; as well as the two others next to him. After reading the essay I realized that it was because some of the pieces to the Ara Pacis were unable to be recovered so they pretty much had to make due with what they had; especially since some of the pieces of the altar were embedded under someone’s palace. (I think that’s what was said) The second listening for leadership asked how Alexander’s statues differed from Augustus’ and also what their similarities were. Obviously they were similar in stature, both being extremely important rulers of the ancient world. They both seemed to have visually accurate portraits. But the only difference between them were their depictions. Augustus’ portraits were in my opinion, more humble. They were of him and him only showing him as a human being; in contrast to Alexander’s portraits. Alexander’s portraits depicted him as a god of some sort, as I have previously stated. Showing his “god-like” qualities and capabilities was something that occurred very often when he was sculpted. Would this be because of how Alexander saw himself? Or was it how Alexander’s followers saw him? I think this shows Augustus to be a more humbled leader, not making himself above the people he ruled over, but this is just my own interpretation.

Although it was supposed to take about an hour and a half to complete, the fourth step of the module really did not take me that long. There was not much to read, but there was a short video of how Trajan’s column was built. Trajan was a Roman emperor that is known for having the Roman empire reach its largest extent. This step although it mentions Trajan, does not offer up much more information about him. It focuses mainly on the construction of his column. I believe this is why it did not take me long to complete this step, which is why I decided to take the time to reflect on the information given to me. Placed on the heart of Rome, Trajan’s Column was one of the only monuments to survive the fall of the roman empire. It is still not understood how exactly it was built. The short video in this step of the module shows a playful clay animation of how the column could have possible been built with a pulley system, large blocks of marble,and large groups of men and horses. Let’s also just say that they also must have needed a plethora of patience because it really must have taken some time to be built for it to last as long as it has. The architect was thought to be Apollodorus of Damascus, in honor or Trajan conquering the Dacians.

Step five of the module definitely took me about two hours to complete, and this one was the one I found most interesting. Actually being able to see the sculptures with an explanation was extremely enlightening for me. As I have said before Roman/Greek literature often confuses me and seeing the sculptures and trying to interpret them myself is a little confusing for me as well. Within this step of the module is a link to an overview, giving just a bit more information about Trajan’s column. What I found interesting is that it is almost completely preserved! The only few things missing from it is the statue of Trajan that stood atop the structure (which was replaced by a statue of Saint Peter), the color paint that coated the sculptures, and the metal attachments that were connected to the soldiers to give them more life. How has this monument been preserved all this time?

On February 9th, 2017, we spent and hour and twenty minutes in class discussing the types of leaders we have read about thus far. We discussed how Agamemnon was a military commander and a king, while Socrates was a sophist. We also discussed how Julius Caesar was a dictator and a console while Octavian Caesar (Augustus) was an emperor; even how although she was given her some of her power from Caesar, Cleopatra was a queen and how Tyrtius was a poet. The topic of impression management also came up during this class; how leader are aware of the impact that is left on an audience. It was also said that in some cases, it’s best to regard leaders as actors because who they are showing themselves to be, may not be who they really are. An interesting theory that stood out to me was how we usually don’t regard leaders as people, they have to be perfect, without getting the chance to make a mistake. For example, had a scandal surfaced about Obama stepping out on his marriage with Michelle, a lot of students said that their opinion of him may change; but would it take away from the fact that he was a great president to our country? The last class we had on Tuesday February 14th, I came in late to the conversation. I believe we were discussing questions of leadership that referred to President Wayne A. Frederick. I think I heard someone say that in his position President Frederick may have had the tendency to dehumanize some students or is capable of doing so, only because he would be looking at a bigger picture. For example, his excuse or justification for not immediately helping one student would be “you do not have actual problems, my problems are pertaining to the bigger picture, I have to keep the lights on here at Howard University” etc.. What also was discussed was the question of “what are the right odds for a leader to roll the dice on?” I found this topic very eye opening because students were voicing their opinions more than they usually do during class time, making for a compelling discussion. During these discussions I usually like to sit back and listen to what others have to say and processing this information on my own. I like that this course opens my eyes to many other current issues that are happening as well as the course’s main objective. It’s a great way to keep the attention of the students.

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