Friends, in the Introductory portion we have seen how Herodotus
gave birth to the subject of 'History'. Now I conclude this true story
by quoting a poem by the English poet Edgar O' Shaughnessy, which
is very appropriate for my Story! Please take your time to read, there is no hurry! Thanks, -Raj Nandy.
HISTORIANS AFTER HERODOTUS
Herodotus became the trail blazer with his narration
Inspiring several Greek and Roman chroniclers as
we subsequently get to see!
There was Thucydides, Livy, Sallust, Xenophon, and
Not forgetting chroniclers like Julius Caesar, Tacitus,
and the oft quoted Plutarch!
The Roman scholar Cicero had called Herodotus the
‘Father of History’;
But later the Greek historian Plutarch criticized him
for his many hearsay inaccuracies!
Even though Herodotus had cautioned his readers in
his Historical narrations, -
About those hearsay accounts and doubtful portions!
Greek historian Thucydides, who was a junior and a
contemporary of Herodotus,
For his accurate historical rendering of ‘The
Peloponnesian War’ between Athens and Sparta, -
Was praised by later scholars very much!
CYCLIC AND LINEAR PATTERNS OF HISTORY:
Herodotus believed in Nemesis and a repetitive
pattern of History.
While Thucydides with his strict investigation drew
a line between myth and reality!
Thucydides viewed history as a political struggle
based on the nature of man;
And felt that since human nature does not change
The past events would reoccur once again !
The Greeks believed in this cyclic notion of History,
Also developed a prose style to narrate their stories!
Unlike the Greeks, Roman History did not begin in an
oral Homeric tradition,
But they had a ready-made Greek model for their
Roman historiography began after the Second Punic
War against Hannibal of Carthage,
When Quintus Flavius Pictor wrote Rome’s History
in Greek, instead of Latin! (around 200BC)
Cato the Elder, was the first to write in Latin Rome’s
While the Roman Livy born in Padua in 59 BC, was
praised for introducing a ‘milky richness’ of style
for narrating these true stories !
From Julius Caesar’s accounts we learn about the
Gallic Wars and events of those ancient days;
But he Romans had used History for propaganda
and self-praise !
Also to make the conquered world to look up to them
with wonder and admiration;
For the Romans were creating History with their
conquests in a steady progression!
CYCLIC VIEW OF TIME AND HISTORY
Perhaps the cyclic view of Time has influenced the
cyclic concept of History to a great extent,
Since this cyclic view was held by many of those
Ancient doctrine of 'eternal return' like the seasons
of Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring, existed
in old Egypt, and the Hindu religion;
Also with the Greek Pythagoreans and Stoic
As well as in the Mayans and the Aztec Civilizations!
In the East, cyclic theory of History as succession of
dynastic rule developed in China,
While the Vedic Hindus developed their theory of
Cycles of Yugas! (epoch or era)
Writing of Indian History had commenced with
the Colonial British initially,
Who had criticized India for its lack of a sense of
History and Historiography!
The ancient Hindus were more concerned with
religious philosophy, and the essence of existence,
Rather than getting absorbed with historical details!
The Hindus divide cosmic time into cyclic eras of
Satya, Tretra, Dwapara, and Kali Yugas;
With each era covering many thousands of our
These Yugas or Cyclic segments of time is said to
repeat itself in a cyclic motion, -
Which had perhaps mystified their early views
of a clear Historical perception.
However, later Indian historians have corrected
the earlier British interpretations, -
By dividing Indian History into Ancient, Medieval
and Modern Periods,
Replacing the earlier Hindu, Muslim, and British
Periods as Colonial segregation!
And also by correcting the British Aryan Invasion
Theory as Aryan Migration;
Based on more accurate historical research and
CHRISTIAN AND LATER VIEWS OF HISTORY:
St. Augustine during the 4th century AD, systematized
the Christian view of History, -
As a struggle between the City of God and the City
of Man, where the City of God gains victory, -
Establishing peace and prosperity!
The Christian view is therefore Linear with a
positive beginning and an end;
A providential view from the Creation of Adam
till the Day of Last Judgment!
THE RENAISSANCE: (14TH - 17TH CENTURIES):
During this period the theological view gradually
begun to fade, giving rise to the Cyclic concept of
As illustrated by the decline and fall of the mighty
Roman Empire, immortalized by Edward Gibbons
in his narrated story!
This cyclic view was also maintained by Oswald
Spengler, Nikolai Danilevsky, and Paul Kennedy,
during the 19th and the 20th Centuries.
AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT : THE 18TH CENTURY
This period advocated the use of reason to obtain
objective truth, when human beings made all the
difference freed from superstition and bigotry;
Which led to favoring a Linear and a progressive
view of History.
Voltaire symbolizing the spirit of this age had
supported human wit and education, -
Since only enlightened people could give History
a positive direction !
For Karl Marx Feudalism was followed by Capitalism,
and Capitalism by Communism.
History of existing Society as the History of Class
Struggle - was Karl Marx’s new concept!
For social material forces drove History, and this
‘historical materialism’ as a revolutionary view, -
many later Scholars did accept!
SOME MODERN CONCEPTS ABOUT HISTORY
Now I share the views of three of our renowned
Historians; the German Oswald Spengler, the
British Arnold Toynbee, and the American
To provide you with three different concepts
Oswald Spengler (1880-1936):
Spengler’s reputation rests on his work titled
‘Decline of the West’, considered as a major
contribution to social theory;
Where he rejects the ‘Linear’ view in favor of
definite, observable, and unrelated cycles of
Rejecting the Eurocentric view of History and its
Linear division into ‘Ancient-Medieval-Modern’
Spengler recognizes eight ‘high cultures’ which
evolve as organism, following the cycles of
growth, development, and decline;
And his views astonished the Western mind!
These high cultures were the Babylonian,
Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican ( Mayan&
Aztec), Classical (Greece& Rome), Arabian,
and Western or Euro-American!
Cultures have a life span of about a thousand
So the Western Civilization too shall decline one
day, - Spengler did teach!
Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975):
Toynbee’s 12 volumes on ‘A Study of History’
covers a wider spectrum of 23 Civilizations,
Where he rejects Spengler’s cynical theory of
growth and decline of Western Nations!
“Civilization is a movement and not a condition,
a voyage not a harbor”, Arnold said;
Like human beings Civilizations were free to chart
their own course with the capacity to ‘consciously’
choose its destiny, he had felt!
Arnold moves on to formulate his Theory of
‘Challenge and Response’, since by responding to
such challenges Civilizations could move on !
These challenges could be social or environmental
he had said;
The Greeks responded to their growing population
by taking to the seas and maritime trade,
And also prospered as their overseas colonies had
begun to spread!
Toynbee’s Civilization start to decay when they lose
their moral fiber,
He perhaps over emphasized the religious and
cultural aspects, ignoring those economic factors!
But his views were certainly more popular than
the cynical Spengler!
Carroll Quigley (1910-1977):
Quigley’s scientific trained mind could not accept
either of the above views,
So he created a synthesis of Spengler and Toynbee,
while paying History its dues!
Quigley laid down seven stages for the evolution
Commencing with Mixture, Gestation, Expansion,
Conflict, Universal Empire, Decay, and Invasion!
His Civilizations are neither groups nor individuals,
But each is a system which share some common
In Quigley’s model each system come into being
adapted to their environment;
But since environment always changes, Quigley
states with some relish, -
Systems which cannot adapt themselves, must
WE ARE ALL LIVING PARTICIPANTS IN THE
LONG UNFOLDING HUMAN STORY!
“Know Thy Self” said Socrates, and the Delphic
Oracle had pronounced that he was wisest of
To know ourselves truly we must know about
For this evolutionary process shall continue as
long as the Human species last!
Today we remain as a living monument to the
We continue to make History as long as humans
on this planet shall last!
Our planet earth is around 4.5 billion years old;
While the first ****-erectus emerged around
two million years hence - we are told!
By walking ***** the two hands became free to
With flexible fingers and the rotating thumb;
Which was crucial for shaping the destiny of
the Human species on earth!
Our Civilization proper dates back to about
five thousand BC,
Thus an emerging pattern we can easily see!
With the development of human consciousness
we have learned to delve inwards, -
To discovered within a vast macro world!
Now, I would love to conclude this narration by
quoting from the English poet Arthur William
Edgar O’Shaughnessy’s book ‘Music and
Do try to follow the philosophical content relevant
to the Cyclic History of Mankind!
“We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-brakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
With wonderful deathless ditties,
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory.
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And there with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And overthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For Each Age Is a Dream That’s Dying,
Or One That Is Coming To Birth.”
Thanks my readers and poet friends,
Sincerely hope you will now appreciate
History better, and love its contents!
**ALL COPYRIGHTS ARE WITH THE AUTHOR
RAJ NANDY OF NEW DELHI
Friends, those who have read part one will find the concluding portion in this narration of mine, which I tried my best to simplify! Mentioned the two basic views of History, the Linear & the Cyclic views in my narrated Story! Hope you liked the poem quoted at the end by me ! Thanks, -Raj