Pillars Of Eternity: Comparing The Ashoka Pillars Of India To The Column Of Trajan By The Romans (Complete W/Works Cited And Endnotes)

2827 words - 11 pages

Throughout history cultures of have come and gone; they establish, create, and define themselves in their contributions to the ancient world. While many of these archaic cultures have perished we know much about them through their art, which manages to stand the test of time. Those civilizations not civilized enough to develop their arts leave but mere footprints upon the Earth while those cultures that invest centuries into preserving their history and beliefs through art gain much esteemed recognition in the millennia to follow. Two of these creative giants, the Indians and the Romans, besides leaving a historical legacy, have also left us with a keen insight into the ancient world. Two surviving elements of the Indians and the Romans are the Pillars of Ashoka and the Column of Trajan, respectively. These two pieces, besides not being too dissimilar, are standing testimonies to the preservation of historical culture's ideals and heroes.Since ancient times, the Indians had been using the pillar shape as flag poles, raising their kingdom's symbol high in the air making it clearly visible. 1 When the Indians felt they should ensure that places of importance were to be remembered and marked, naturally, they adapted this time-tested and notable pillar-shape to serve their interests. Around 700 BCE the continent of India was starting to become more populated as cities sprouted and kingdoms were formed. For much of the continent's history, dynastic kingdoms came and went as the dynamics of power shifted. The first of these dynastic kingdoms was the Maurya Dynasty that lasted from 323 BCE until its decline in 184 BCE. 2 Initially started by the Alexander the Great's bloody thrust deep into the heart of India, which offset the balance of power between the different warrior tribes. One young warrior, Chandragupta Maurya, realized his opportunity to gain power and quicklyswept across the Ganges river basin with a vast army, conquering most of India from 322 BCE to 298 BCE. With the Maurya Empire now greatly expanded Chandragupta needed a new form of rule, different from the smaller form used to govern the individual states. Seeing the benefits of Alexander the Great's Hellenistic ruling system of the Caesar, Chandragupta Maurya setup a similar dominant pattern of rule controlled from the center by a ruler. 3 Eventually Chandragupta Maurya had a son, Ashoka Maurya who took over the kingdom from his father after a bloody fratricidal struggle. Ashoka followed in his father's footsteps and conquered the rest of India, glorifying the bloodiest of battles. After one such battle in Eastern India, the Battle of Kalinga, the harsh warrior-conqueror Ashoka was overcome with an immense sickness due to the killing and suffering he had caused. Ashoka then looked to the teachings of Buddhism for spiritual release and based his new system of rule upon its elemental ideas. 4 At a time where any further expansion would have resulted in collapse, Ashoka had converted his...

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