Age of Empire
2/8 The story of the first empires which laid the foundations for the modern world.
(pictures taken from Episode Two - History of the World)
The Age of Empire takes off with the story of Sennacherib, the king of the Assyrians. After getting snubbed by the King of Judah, the Assyrians set off to exact retribution. He builds a giant siege ramp to assault his enemy's stronghold, slaughtering or exiling the inhabitants to live as slaves in the empire. Andrew refers to this as the beginnings of total war, but I wouldn't go so far. The level of brutality Sennacherib displayed is quite striking, unless you are comparing him to the future Scourge of God, Genghis.
Rich as Croesus. I knew a little bit about him from the writings of Greek and Roman historians, but it was interesting to see the parts describing his contributions to the Persian Empire.
The Persian king Cyrus certainly has skeletons in his closet, like his pal Sennacherib, but he does his best to portray himself as a just ruler. Freeing the Jews and sending them back to the holy land, and subsequently helping them rebuild their temple, led them to declare him a messiah. That's a mighty high honor.
Siddhartha (aka Buddha). Go read the Herman Hesse book, if you don't already know about this guys life. Here's a link to the novel, written in the mid 1800's.
(also available online for free - http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2500/2500-h/2500-h.htm)
Siddhartha and the Bodhi Tree.
The Battle of Marathon is epic, and this little segment does not do it justice. Without the ability to show the phalanx, or go into the battle tactics / conditions, one can only get a vague impression of what truly went on. The fact that the Persians had not unloaded their cavalry is one missed point, as well as the difference in armament and tactics between the two armies. The Greek advantages were there, if not obvious at the forefront.
Confucius is touched on, as is the founding of the Ch'in and beginnings of Chinese legalism. The Book Burning of 213 BC is particularly interesting to me at the moment, as I'm reading the Tao Te Ching which thankfully escaped the conflagration.
Alexander the Great marries a Persian bride, and then forces all of his generals and troops to do the same. I can't say I would have argued, but I'm sure my wife back home in Greece would've minded.