Star-crossed lovers, fathers killing sons and a warrior bride shackling her newlywed husband to the bed, all play a role in the legendary folklore of Persia’s most famous fabled family; that of Rostam and his ancestors and descendants.
Journey to the West is a classic Chinese novel written by Wu Cheng’en in the 16th century. It depicts the adventures of a Buddhist monk and his three disciples. Although Journey to the West may be considered a pleasant introduction to the calm and gentle Buddhist philosophy behind this story is in fact a real journey by a Buddhist monk ten centuries earlier.
You may not know it, but the original Hamlet was actually a Danish Prince who had his father killed by his uncle. Over 600 years later, Shakespeare’s play about this prince is still a favorite among theater-goers. But how much do you actually know about the story behind this iconic tragedy?
Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji is one of the most celebrated novels in Japanese history. The story follows the life of Hikaru Genji, a child of nobility born into ancient Japan’s Heian Period. It was written by a woman known only as Murasaki Shikibu, who lived during this tumultuous time and recorded the customs and details of court life.
Some babies shake rattles and others shake up kingdoms. We hear many stories of the unhappy lives and ends of child rulers. Most recently, in 1908, Puyi became the last emperor of China at only two years old. As the crowning ceremony began, the frightened little emperor had to be carried to the throne by his father as he cried, kicked, and clawed – desperately trying to escape. But he had no choice. A child though he was, he had to rule an empire.
We would often see her images and, perhaps just as often, forget her name. In paintings, she is a beautiful tragic figure, looking up helplessly towards a Roman soldier standing over her. However, in 16th century Europe, there was no other ancient name that fuels an artist’s imagination like “Lucretia”.
Chinese mythology and cosmology rest on the concept that the universe is shaped and maintained by two fundamental forces called yin and yang. They are opposites yet complementary forces that interact to form a dynamic system where the whole is greater than the assembled parts.
In “Civilization of China” (1911), Herbert Giles wrote that “for pleasure pure and simple, independent of gains and losses, the theater occupies the warmest place in every Chinaman’s heart”. The fact that the Chinese theater is also known by the name guo cui (“quintessence of the nation”) solidifies its prestige as the most important form of entertainment in China where it has been for centuries.
The people of ancient Rome knew of a tragic hero Drusus (Drusus the Elder), the younger brother of Tiberius who died in a campaign. But there was another, younger and lesser known, Drusus in Tiberius’ family. He was Nero Claudius Drusus (Drusus the Younger, nicknamed Castor), the only son of Tiberius. The elder Drusus may have been a hero, but Castor seemed to be mostly overlooked first by his own family, as well as future historians.
Although the subject of strong women in history is always fascinating, it is a widely recognized but often forgotten fact that the greatness of a queen could not have occurred without the positive support of the male population, just as the king’s power could be maintained only because women also supported them. No power would survive for long against the apathy or opposition of half of the population. Therefore, although sons, brothers and grandsons were the only ones with an officially recognized right to inherit power, the ancient East also knew many female leaders who were successful rulers of kingdoms. In fact, Islamic history is riddled with crises that threatened to destroy a number of dynasties had it not been for the intervention of women.
Despite the numerous charges against him by ancient writers, there are also evidence that Nero enjoyed some level of popular support. A poem dated about two centuries after Nero’s death proclaims Nero a man “equal to the gods,”
At the end of the eighteenth century, the British began reforming their prisons. Prisons previously provided next to nothing to their occupants, according to U. R. Q. Henriques’ 1972 article “The Rise and Decline of the Separate System of Prison Discipline.” Families were forced to bring in food and blankets, and guards were bribed on a regular basis. People were worried that once prisons started providing necessities, the poor would commit crimes just to get free stuff. Such luxuries necessitated labor—ideally, painful and pointless labour.