How The Other 99 Percent Lived In The Ancient World

Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

Print
    
The Beggars of Burgos by Gustave Dore (1875) (Public Domain)

How The Other 99 Percent Lived In The Ancient World

The Victorian essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle wrote, “No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men.” Carlyle died half a century before women in England, Scotland and Wales received the vote, in 1928 to be precise, or he might have modified that statement. He also died a generation before the outbreak of the First World War, which was directly caused by the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Sarajevo, June 1914. The assassin was a Bosnian Serb named Gavilo Princip – a nonentity, if ever there was one.

But apart from such oversights, as one might charitably call them, Carlyle’s so-called Great Man Theory of History, which still holds sway in certain quarters today, ignores the fact that humans’ lives have been largely shaped by the doggedness and persistence of ordinary people, who have bequeathed to successive generations, including the most recent, a quality of life that is far superior to the one they themselves enjoyed or rather, in many cases, endured. It is that 99 percent of human beings – those on the other side of history – that include the enslaved, the infirm, the disabled, the homeless, the elderly, refugees, prisoners of war, women and especially widows and prostitutes, children, primarily orphans, and all manner of social rejects, including those identified as illegitimate and the deformed, who made a difference.

Belisarius Begging for Alms by Jacques-Louis David (1780) (Public Domain)

Belisarius Begging for Alms by Jacques-Louis David (1780) (Public Domain)


Become a member to read more OR login here

Ancient Origins Quotations