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Herodotus: Many Customs of the Persians

In the document given, Ancient History Sourcebook; Herodotus, it tells of the many customs of the Persians around 430 B. C. E. The author of this document is a man named William Stearns Davis. The review given was written by Joshua J. Mark. In it, it speaks of similarities and imitations from other nations that gave way to the many customs that the Persians adopted and modified. The author of the primary source is, William Stearns Davis (April 30, 1877-February 15, 1930), was a college professor and accredited writer.

Both his parents were well educated and accomplished people. He was born in the presidential mansion at Amherst College where his mother’s father presided over. He was taught mostly in the home but attended Harvard in 1897. It was there at Harvard where Davis became intrigued with history and maps of the world. His writings were meant to “humanize history”. His first of which was, A Friend of Caesar. William received his Ph. D. and began his teaching career in 1904 at Radcliffe College.

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After Radcliffe he taught at Beloit College, Oberlin College, and then the University of Minnesota. Many students accredited him as being an excellent teacher and putting things in a way that students could not only understand them but enjoy them. After his teaching career ended and he married and retired, be died of pneumonia after an operation on February 15, 1930. Joshua J Mark, the author who wrote the document about the primary source is a free-lance writer and has been for over 20 years. He has lived in Greece, Germany and now upstate New York.

Mark has advanced degrees in English and Philosophy and is now a part-time teacher at Marist College. On September 14, 2011, Joshua was the featured author on a blog on the website debrincase. com. The original document was written in two volumes and was produced in 1913 and published by Norwood Press in Norwood, Massachusetts. It was William’s third Non-fiction piece of writing. Davis wrote on his authors preface that the reason for writing the book was “to give a taste of notable literary flavor” and “was intentionally made for history major students.

What I found interesting about the article was that Persians thought the use of temples and alters as folly. They still gave their sacrifices and yet gave the sacrifices in the dirt of mountains instead of a sacred clean alter. Another thing that I found interesting was that the Persians celebrated their birthdays more lavishly than any holiday. They filled their stomachs with meats and desserts and wine. Then to vomit was almost a disgrace to them. What caught my interest was that the Persians would only make decisions upon affairs when they were drunk.

Even if an idea was brainstormed while sober, they would get drunk and then further the conversation until a decision had been made. The subject of children especially grabbed my attention. The fact that a man’s child, if less than five, could not be seen or in the presence of their father was a startling fact. To an extent I could see where that would be important but I also could see where the lines would become blurry. The author of the Article, Joshua J Mark, was mostly fair to the subjects in his writing. There are a few glimpses of bias that come through.

For example, in the second sentence of the second paragraph, the author states “ This, I think, comes from their not believing the gods have the same nature with men, as the Greeks imagine. ” This thought was on cognitive factors rather than evidence. One of the writing styles used in the article is imagery. A clear example of the use of imagery is in the fifth paragraph. When the author describes the types of food by writing “…an ox, horse, a camel and an ass to be baked whole and so served up to them:” This shows imagery writing because it makes the reader imagine the animals and how they were cooked and ate.

I think this excerpt was written to give more understanding about the Persians to early students. I say this because this excerpt isn’t written out in a very methodical manner and it is not using large words. The author, I assume, wanted to give a look into history and its people to the non-scholarly of people. Many people, especially young, do not appreciate the true history and meaning behind the world of yesterday that so greatly influenced the world of today. I think the author did a wonderful job and making the source of this article more understood.

In conclusion, I think this article is important to how we understand and can learn from our past. The people from the past have made the world what it is today and understanding this can make our future even brighter. The Persians adopted and adapted their customs and it’s clear that we still continue to do that today. Though our present may differ in many ways from our past, I am confident to say that we do many things that our ancestors did, even thousands of years ago.


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