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All ancient civilizations are synonymous with prominent personalities who went beyond their call of duty to achieve greatness. Leaders are the wheels that drove mighty civilizations and although they kept changing, their inputs had definite effects on their dynasties. On certain occasions, leaders made their names by rising up against great empires. Although these leaders were not part of any notable civilizations, they ended up with their names being attached to rival civilizations. Hannibal is an example of a great leader who never established any lasting empire although his actions against a great system earned him historical greatness.
On the other hand, Alexander the Great was part of a civilization but his actions ended up improving his empire’s general outlook. Although civilizations often flourish centuries or sometimes several millenniums apart, their leaderships can be eerily similar. The actions of leaders are relevant to the robustness of any civilization or empire.
Consequently, history is populated by leaders who did things that led to similar outcomes. This essay compares the actions of three main leaders all from different civilizations: Hammurabi from Mesopotamia, Hatshepsut from ancient Egypt, and Solon from Greece. The paper will show how the characteristics and actions of these three leaders had relatively similar outcomes. The visionary nature of these three leaders is shown to be responsible for the stability of their kingdoms and the fact that their legacies are part of modern systems
An Overview of the Leaders and their Contributions
Hammurabi is an ancient Babylonian ruler who ruled in the ancient Mesopotamian civilization between 1792 BCE until the time of his death in 1750 BCE. Hammurabi inherited kingship from his father whose poor health made it difficult for him to continue ruling. Historians recognize Hammurabi as the sixth ruler of the Amorite dynasty and arguably the best of the lot in terms of performance and reputation. Hammurabi is also credited with coming up with one of the first written set of rules famously known as the “Code of Hammurabi” (Van de Mieroop 24).
Hammurabi’s main claim to kingship was closely connected with his Amorite heritage. Hammurabi assumed power at an early age probably before he was fully ready for greatness. However, his entry into the royal court was smoother than expected owing to his prior experience with small administration duties. The ruler faced the threat of being conquered by the rulers in Southern Babylonia. The contributions of Hammurabi are mostly derived from the year naming system in ancient Babylon where the prominent actions of the king were used. Consequently, Hammurabi is revealed to be traditionally dutiful, a successful warrior, and a nation builder.
Hatshepsut was a female king in ancient Egypt who ruled in various capacities between 1473 to 1458 BCE. At first, Hatshepsut was a custodian of the crown that rightly belonged to an infant pharaoh. Eventually, the female pharaoh attained the status of a fully recognized pharaoh Hatshepsut was “the elder daughter of the 18th-dynasty king Thutmose I and his consort Ahmose, was married to her half brother Thutmose II, son of the lady Mutnofret” (Tyldesley 18). When Hatshepsut’s husband the pharaoh died, the throne consequently passed to the pharaoh’s son but he was too young to rule and the queen assumed power albeit in an acting capacity.
Hatshepsut continued to be a regent for the first eight years of her reign but she assumed a full pharaoh position after this period. Even though Hatshepsut was co-pharaoh to Thutmose III, she was notably the most active and dominant ruler. Historians have found it difficult to explain how Hatshepsut managed to assume the Egyptian throne because the position was bureaucratically guarded. Nevertheless, it was clear that Hatshepsut was in charge of the royal court. One of Hatshepsut’s notable contributions to the Egyptian civilization was the fact that she was able to cultivate peace within the empire. Her ability to trade with close and far-away entities is also evident.
Solon was an Athenian ruler from the ancient Greek civilization. Solon is included among the “Seven Wise Men of Greece” as a result of his pragmatic and pioneering leadership skills. Solon is renowned for ending the aristocratic system of ancient Greece and replacing it with a democratic system of governance. Solon also managed to introduce laws that were more humane for the citizens in the course of his governance. Solon’s law code was preserved in the form of oral tradition and some details of his life mimic legends.
The available historical details suggest that Solon was a successful military and political leader. Solon is also credited with alleviating the effects of debt within the general population. For instance, Solon “redeemed all the forfeited land and freed all the enslaved citizens, probably by fiat in a measure that is known popularly as the ‘shaking off of burdens’” (Owens 54). The ancient ruler also ensured political equality for all, a concept that was unheard of in the Greek civilization. Under solon’s rule, political privilege among citizens was not restricted to nobility and birthright.
The Common Trait among the Three Leaders
Hammurabi, Solon, and Hatshepsut all become leaders in civilizations that had flourished for various years. The Babylonian empire was in the process of becoming a world-force when Hammurabi came to power. Similarly, Hatshepsut was one personality in a long line of pharaohs. Solon was also not ruling a newly established Athens but he was only expected to continue with the work of former rulers. The main trait among the three leaders is their visionary nature where they are able to come up with new solutions to pre-existing problems (Black 8). The visionary nature of these three leaders is also responsible for the fact that their legacies are part of modern systems.
Hammurabi became a king in the midst of other kings within Mesopotamia. Consequently, he was expected to protect the interests of his people through normal means such as military campaigns. However, Hammurabi sought to formalize various functionalities of his administration through written rules. The visionary nature of the ruler led to various benefits for Babylonian citizens.
Most notably, Babylon became the most holy city in Mesopotamia a status that was directly attributed to Hammurabi’s vision. Overall, the Hammurabi Code reduced internal strife within his kingdom thereby allowing it to grow exponentially. The visionary nature of the Hammurabi Code has ensured that this system has found its way into modern times. For example, most United States’ government buildings bear a representation of ‘Hammurabi the lawmaker’. Hammurabi is also grouped among the most prominent twenty-three lawmakers in the history of the world according to law scholars.
The contributions that Solon made to his administration were unprecedented in the context of ancient Greece. For instance, over the short-term Solon’s efforts failed because they were too visionary for their time. Nevertheless, history scholars are in agreement that Solon’s rules form the basis for Athenian democracy and the modern democratic systems. Solon was expected to solve the problems of the Athenians through formally accepted methods. Most of these methods involved pleasing most of the demographics that dominated the society at the time.
For example, Solon ignored a constitution that supported inequality and insisted aristocracy was no longer viable. Just like Hammurabi, “Solon’s laws were inscribed on large wooden slabs or cylinders” and displayed for everyone to see (Marcus 67). Nevertheless, Solon’s laws were more of amendments than a complete constitution like Hammurabi’s Code. The visionary reforms of Solon have found their way into the modern society in the form of Greek democracy. For the last few centuries, democracy has been an item of contention first in Europe, America, and then in the rest of the world. Currently, nations around the world are working hard to accommodate the spirit of Solon’s visionary democratic systems.
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For a long period of time, Hatshepsut remained as one of Egypt’s best-kept pharaoh secret. After her death, Hatshepsut was succeeded by her stepson who embarked on a campaign to erase traces of the female pharaoh (Smith 380). The queen’s successor destroyed or vandalized most of Hatshepsut’s statues and images. Furthermore, the surviving Hatshepsut statues often depicted her as a man. Initially, Hatshepsut was expected to relegate the throne to her stepson. However, the ruler found the importance of her input by holding the position of a pharaoh. Her position as one of the premier female leaders who managed to drive their kingdoms forward without being sidetracked by their gender has found its way into modern policies and leadership culture.
All these leaders were tasked with maintain the status quo in their respective areas of jurisdiction. However, all the three characters found revolutionary solutions to the problems of the day and by doing so, they managed to influence the nature of life in the 21st century (Black 3). These leaders of the ancient world also managed to provide unconventional solutions to the problems of the day.
Black, Antony. “Ancient and Non-Western International Thought.” History of European Ideas 41.1 (2015): 2-12. Print.
Marcus, Joyce. Mesoamerican Writing Systems: Propaganda, Myth, and History In Four Ancient Civilizations, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992. Print.
Owens, Ron. Solon of Athens: Poet, Philosopher, Soldier, and Statesman, Sussex: Sussex Academic Press, 2010. Print.
Smith, Anthony D. “The Problem of National Identity: Ancient, Medieval and Modern?.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 17.3 (2004): 375-399. Print.
Tyldesley, Joyce. Hatchepsut: the Female Pharaoh, London: Penguin UK, 1998. Print.
Van de Mieroop, Marc. King Hammurabi of Babylon: A Biography, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Print.