Thursday, April 28, 2005

Camille Paglia: The World's Top (Not Best) Political Events of Western History


1. Pharaoh Amenophis IV renames himself Ikhnaten, breaks with the powerful priesthood, and founds the new city of Akhetaten (modern Amarna), to which he moves with queen Nefertiti (c. 1344 B.C.).

2. Handsome, charismatic Alcibiades goads Athens into the disastrous Sicilian expedition against a Spartan colony in Syracuse, an imperialistic adventure that will bring Athenian power to an end (415 B.C.).

3. Mark Antony and Cleopatra foolishly choose to fight Octavian by sea at the battle of Actium (off Greece), which destroys their ambitions (31 B.C.). They commit suicide the following year, and Octavian (becoming Augustus Caesar) founds the Roman empire.

4. A Roman army led by the emperor Vespasian's son (and future emperor) Titus destroys Herod's Temple in Jerusalem and begins the Jewish diaspora (70 A.D.).

5. Building on the acts of Constantine, the emperor Theodosius ends paganism and makes Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire (392 A.D.).

6. The conquistador Hernando Cortez arrives at Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) and is welcomed by Montezuma, the Aztec emperor (1519). Within two years, the Aztec empire and its capital will be destroyed.

7. Goaded by the Puritan Oliver Cromwell, English parliamentarians reject the divine right of kings and execute Charles I, an act that sends shock waves through Europe and that will help inspire the age of revolutions more than a century later (1649).

8. While the Civil War still rages, Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery in the Confederacy (1863).

9. The Treaty of Sevres following World War One dissolves the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire and creates British mandates in Iraq and Palestine (1920).

10. Al Quaeda's coordinated attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, bringing the twin towers down in 90 minutes, begins the Age of Terrorism, paralleling the waves of sporadic attacks by Huns and Vandals on the late Roman empire (2001).

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