Week 5

Spirits in the Material World

02/09 Thursday


Today, we talked about the kinds of leaders we have talked about in class so far in the previous modules:

  • Agamemnon — the King of Argos, Commander of a Greek Army.
  • Marc Antony — a Triumvirate, confident but overshadowed with pride and dishonesty.
  • Cleopatra- One of the most powerful rulers, knows that Egypt is at a disadvantage, she uses seduction as way to run the country.
  • Socrates — Philosophical leader, used ethical ways to guide people
  • Spartans- Moral leadership, defining masculinity and sense of pride
  • Lycurgus — The laws he created were prescriptions to the people.

I think I relate to Socrates and Lycurgus. Lycurgus spent time thinking about what would make his people better, he read literature and did his research as to what makes people work and what makes them lazy. It’s inhumane but if there were right ways to make people exercise and eat just enough of what their body needs, make people equal to avoid inequality; I don’t need warriors, just peaceful people. I think it would be a peaceful healthy environment to be.

Reflecting on what kind of leader I want to be. I want to be a leader who can be firm on issues pertaining to my followers, at the same time, I want to be flexible. Times change, people change. What happened years ago, -the kind of people my followers were years ago could be different from who they are now. What is necessary at the time may no longer be necessary as time goes.

For instance, the Right to bear arms, was necessary because there was not enough police force to protect the people. Or if there was, it was not efficient to protect the citizens. However in our society today, I like to believe that theres too many people trying to protect their own people in many different standards. Based on race, religion, gender. There is hostility because people have to be defensive of what makes them a human being. I think that stemmed from a leader who allowed such things. There is a video on youtube that talks about how children tend to imitate what their parents do at home. The video showed a mother having hired a helper into her home to help with various house chores. However, she doesn’t treat her well, nor gives her any time off. The child then gets in trouble at school for imitating exactly what her mother did to their help.

It starts in the home, because the basis of a society is family. Our actions and beliefs stem from what we see and hear in our own home, which we carry out in to our community and schools. As Lycurgus formed the laws that would govern the Spartans, he created laws surround every aspect of their being, from the time they are born to the time they are old enough to be molded as warriors. But I digress, I think there’s a dilemma to be solved as a leader, do I want to be a dictator — command my people, my followers to live their lives according to what I say to maintain order, or do I want to be philosophical, -using ethics and philosophy to make people follow and hope that it will be in order. I think I would need more time to evaluate what kind of person I would be between the two aspects of leadership.

We picked up from last Tuesday’s discussion on how leaders create an impression of themselves, so as to keep their followers loyal. It’s knowing that they have an impact so they modify their behavior to get the impact the leader wants.

We also talked about how poets are a big influence in history, they vocalize and sing the values of the community. Thus, reinforcing cultural values. One of the poet Tyrtaios and one of his poems were a part of our discussion:

For ’tis a fair thing for a good man to fall and die fighting in the van for his native land, whereas to leave his city and his rich fields and go a-begging is of all things the most miserable, wandering with mother dear and aged father, with little children and wedded wife. For hateful shall such an one be among all those to whom he shall come in bondage to Want and loathsome Penury, and doth shame his lineage and belie his noble beauty, followed by all evil and dishonour. Now if so little thought be taken of a wanderer, and so little honour, respect, or pity, let us fight with a will for this land, and die for our children and never spare our lives.

We made variations from the first sentence of the poem “For ’tis a fair thing for a good man to fall and die fighting in the van for his native land” to reflect on a how we see life. For Spartans, their life’s success is dying with honor in battle. A mother would rather lose her son in battle than him getting caught in crime. I think many people see a good life as being able to relax and enjoy the day. it seems like a sad thing that we expect ourselves to work all our lives that the only moment to relax and enjoy is after a long day’s work. I hope to be able to be well of that the hardest task of my day is planning a trip to another country or managing my time to be in many different countries. But yet again, as I see it the way I think about life in terms of success, It’s being able to provide for my mother. To be able to support my family. She has been a continuous form of motivation to me, since we left The Philippines, she always supported her family back home. I know it was never easy for her but I applaud her regardless. I know that my success won’t be complete until I am able to provide for her.

02/12 Saturday


I decided to turn on the TV today, it felt awfully quiet for some reason, I was not comfortable with it. I watched Saturday Night Live and had a few laughs on the way the comedians mocked the current administration. I’m glad that Americans in general make use of their freedom of speech -some might abuse it but it is definitely being used regardless. In the light of current events, I guess there’s really no option but to laugh about it. Having lived in Thailand for ten years, I know that mocking any political figure can lead to serious issues with the law. It is even illegal to make any obscene comments about the royal family. Freedom of speech is a great thing to have.

Tonight, I started reading on the fifth module focusing the use of iconography, in Roman times it is used promote an elaborate vision of the leadership of an individual and of the people. This module focuses on three main pieces of material culture, first the image of Alexander the Great in Alexander Mosaic depicting the defeat of Darius III by Alexander the Great at the Battle of Issus. Then the emperor Augustus, and the Altar of Peace first-century CE Roman emperor, Trajan.

Hellenistic monarchs were the first to mint obverse portraits of living personages starting from:

  • Alexander the Great
  • Ptolemy I
  • Demetrius Poliorcetes
  • Antiochus I
  • Arsione II being the first portrait of Hellenistic Queen

The Hellens depict monarch with various divine attributes the bust of Alexander for instance is depicted with an elephant’s scalp (for Dionysus), ram’s horns for (Zeus Ammon) protruding from his ear with Zeus’ aegis of Zeus around the neck.

J.J. Pollit’s book Art in the Hellenistic Age, chapter on Royal Iconography talks about how visual arts were the vehicle for political propaganda. Through portrayal of policies and achievements, the most obvious way Greek art was used was the monuments at the Sacred way at Delphi. There were also votives commemorating military victories, Nike of Paionios at Olympia, Periclean buildings on the Athenian acropolis. Most of them portrayed impersonal monuments that emphasize the events and the cities involved, which consisted of symbolized images. The first work of Hellenistic Art that was recognized was the funeral carriage of Alexander the Great which was organized to carry his body back to Macedonia.

Alexander’s portraits were only modelled by Lysippos as he felt that only Lysippos is the only one who could portray his distinctive features and his physical appearance the best from the melting glance to the slight turn of the neck. It was also these features that many Hellenistic Kingdoms followed and became part of the standard royal iconography if they were to be considered as successors of Alexander.

The Ara Pacis (The Altar of Peace) located in Campus Martius (Field of Mars) along the Via Lata in Rome was dedicated on January 30, 9 BCE, in Augustus’ memoir Res Gestae Divi Augusti (Deeds of the Divine August), Augustus talks about the altar:

When I returned to Rome from Spain and Gaul, having successfully accomplished deeds in those provinces … the senate voted to consecrate the altar of August Peace in the Campus Martius … on which it ordered the magistrates and priests and Vestal virgins to offer annual sacrifices” (AUG. RG. 12)

It is said that The Ara Pacis is used to represent peace and fertility. Augustus advertised the fact that he has restored peace to the Romans. It amazes me how we can put so much meaning in to one structure from centuries ago. It makes me wonder how we put meanings into them or was it just an expectation that we would know what they meant by the depicted sculptures?

The placement of the Ara Pacis in the Campus Martius (Field of Mars) along the Via Lata (now the Via del Corso) situated it close to other key Augustan monuments, notably the Horologium Augusti (a giant sundial) and the Mausoleum of Augustus.

02/14 Tuesday


Today is valentine’s day, I don’t really have anything planned. Except tomorrow, I do plan to go to the store for some discounted chocolates. Dr. Sandridge brought a guitar to class, he talked about various forms of stress relief. He also went to a quick teaching session That one of the old ways of dealing with stress is singing, I think my way of dealing with stress is eating. Chocolate being on the top of the list. On a bad day, I can buy a box or two of chocolate and a book for a fix. It was a great start to a class.

Dr. Sandridge also talked about a couple of songs one being 99 red balloons by Nena, I never heard of the song but I thought it was interesting how the story ended from how the balloons triggered a warning and started war. Its fascinating how people use various creative ways to express themselves. I also enjoy the fact that Dr. Sandridge includes lots of interesting facts in class, I like sharing them with my mom who seems to enjoy them too. Regardless, I was convinced for a brief second that getting a guitar and learning to play it would be a good way to to spend time, but then I remembered the hours of torture and frustration I experienced learning how to play the piano and I changed my mind.

We talked about President Frederick Douglas’ meeting with Betsy Devos and frankly it is quite interesting how we put so much thoughts on one person’s action. Does a leader’s actions have a huge impact on us as followers-in this case as students? I agree that as President of Howard University he does in fact have quite an influence in how we as a student body would represent ourselves, however since we can’t fund ourselves is it not necessary to make the connections needed to maintain the school?

Dr. Sandridge mentioned that there are various ways advancement occurs, and leaders take different efforts,

  • Educational interests through values, eloquent voice.
  • Economic interest through connection with corporations etc.

I strongly believe that if we knew in detail what the president or any person in charge of a large population had to do to survive or maintain upkeep, we would all cringe and be glad that there’s someone there to deal with it. Anyhow, I don’t think anybody took notice or made a big deal over it. I do hope to hear about the actual reason of the meeting in the next few days.

In light of the current administration and secret meetings, in my class prior to Ideas in Antiquity, we had a discussion about Michael Flynn’s resignation. Not many people knew details about it but we talked about his actions in connection to Russia.

Some questions that were presented was:

  • Did he act by himself? If so did the president know about it?
  • If The President and his cabinet did know, why did it take so long for Flynn to resign?

There’s plenty of questions in my mind regarding the situation and I’m sure that many hidden shadows will come to light sooner or later but its good to mention how much involvement Trump had in his duty. Or how much we as citizens start to question the President and his administration over the actions of one person.

A classmate mentioned something about how ‘Betsy Devos’ has never really said anything racist but because she is with an office that’s racist, it includes her.

02/15 Wednesday

10:30am–02:00pmThe Statue of Peace was created to impose the idea that Alexander the Great was a peace maker, despite being a brutal king after taking over from Marc Antony and Cleopatra. The idea that after years of turmoil his reign finally brought peace.

The Column of Trajan


  • Roman emperor who lived from 53–117 CE/AD
  • He ruled from 98 CE until his death
  • He credited for conquering most of Europe that the Roman Empire reached its largest extent.
  • Instituted a comprehensive building program ‘Trojan’s Forum’ . “Forum= city center where courts and legislative activities takes place.”

Tonio Hölscher — stated that Roman art represented a language in picture that could be analyzed like texts because they contained a semantic system. This forum had a gigantic column that commemorated his two victories of the Dacians of the Dacia a region north of the Danube now called Eastern Europe. So in essence, the column can be read like a story as each side depicts the story of Trajan’s victories.

In summary, material culture was evident in the Roman Empire, it was an equivalent of political campaigns, media and social media. It still stands true today. It shows in how buildings are arranged, in how a room is set up, how people divide themselves and others in society.