Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age [TTC Video]

Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age [TTC Video]
Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age [TTC Video] by Jeremy McInerney
Course No 327 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.42GB

This series of lectures examines a crucial period in the history of the ancient world, the age ushered in by the extraordinary conquests of Alexander the Great. In all the annals of the ancient world, few stories are more gripping than that of the Hellenistic Age. Between the conquests of Alexander the Great and the rise of Rome, Greek culture became the heart of a world-historical civilization whose intellectual, spiritual, and artistic influence endures to this day.

Caesar's Shame

Julius Caesar lamented when he was in his early 30s that by his age Alexander had conquered the world, "and I have done nothing."

In just 10 years, this young prince from the small, hill kingdom of Macedon subdued the largest tract of the earth's surface ever conquered by one individual. His vast empire—encompassing all or part of 23 present-day countries—stretched from Mount Olympus and the Sahara Desert to the frontiers of India and Central Asia.

In the opening lectures, we explore the enigma of Alexander, son of a brilliant father, yet always at odds with the man whom he succeeded. We trace his early campaigns against the Persians and follow him to Egypt, where he was acclaimed as the son of god.

We look at his career after this and find in him a blend of greatness and madness as he strove to replace the Persian empire of the Achaemenid dynasty with a new, mixed ruling class of Macedonians and Persians.

Alexander's death in 323 BC ushered in a period of catastrophic change as ambitious warlords carved up Alexander's realm into their own separate empires. It is said that as the 33-year-old Alexander lay dying in Babylon in 323 B.C., he was asked who would inherit his empire. "The strongest," he answered.

Their struggle created three kingdoms, ruled by a small group of Macedonian nobles, that spanned from the eastern Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush:

  • Ptolemaic Egypt (323-31 B.C.), whose last ruler was Cleopatra
  • Seleucid Syria (323-64 B.C.), whose attack on the Temple in Jerusalem in 166 B.C. led to the Maccabean revolt
  • The Attalid Empire in Asia Minor (281-133 B.C.), which, while smaller than the other two, produced a cultural flourishing in its capital Pergamum that rivaled Alexandria in Egypt.

North Africa. In the Nile valley, the Ptolemies played the role of pharaohs and were treated by their subjects as gods. At the same time, however, their capital, Alexandria, was cut off from Egypt and run by Greek bureaucrats. Greek culture thrived here in the museum and library, and the Ptolemies were great patrons of the arts. The library itself boasted half a million books.

The Middle East. In the Seleucid empire, the rulers also built Greek cities, such as Antioch, but in older regions, including Mesopotamia, they too were ready to be worshipped as living gods. On the edges of the Hellenistic world, in places as far away as Afghanistan and Pakistan, Greek cities grew up around trading posts and military settlements. Here, philosophy and literature from old Greece went hand in hand with gymnasiums and theaters to plant Greek culture far from the Mediterranean. By military and cultural conquest, then, much of central Asia was incorporated into the Greek world.

Despite the geographic extent of this civilization, we see that the heartland remained the eastern Mediterranean. It was here, in such new cities as Alexandria and Pergamum and such old ones as Athens, that Greek culture developed its distinctive Hellenistic appearance.

Hellenistic Culture

Philosophy. Philosophy became more academic, as different schools of philosophy emerged. Stoicism, epicureanism, and skepticism all looked for ways to teach people to avoid the emotional upheavals of life in an age of anxiety.

Art and Architecture. At the same time, art rejoiced in exploring the very same turmoil of the age. Hellenistic sculptors looked at the old, the young, the ugly, and the tortured instead of merely fashioning images of the perfect athlete. Differing sharply from the Classical art that precedes it, Hellenistic art is gargantuan, often "excessive," and nakedly emotional. It explores aspects of human experience previously outside the concerns of the Greeks.

Literature. Novelists also played with themes of the reversal of fortune in the lives of their characters, because such tumult was part of the experiences of so many people. Piracy, brigandage, physical hardship, and the supreme power of great kings were all realities of the age and left their marks on ordinary people.

Religion and Magic. As we see, these conditions helped spawn a vital interest in magic, spells, and incantations and in religions that offered people the promise of redemption and salvation. The cults of Isis, Serapis, and Cybele all grew in popularity throughout the Hellenistic world. This was the climate of the world in which Christianity was born.

Captured Greece? Captured Rome?

Although the Hellenistic Age would result in some of the greatest accomplishments in Greek culture, especially in the poetry of Callimachus, Theocritus, and Apollonius, the political power of the age was overshadowed by the growth of Rome.

Hence, we conclude the lectures with a study of the growth of Roman power, its expansion into the eastern Mediterranean, and the inevitable clash of Greek and Roman civilizations. We see that Rome conquered, but Rome would be forever changed by the contact with Greek culture. In the words of the Roman poet Horace, "Captured Greece took captive her captor."

Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age [TTC Video]

America and the World: A Diplomatic History [TTC Video]

America and the World: A Diplomatic History [TTC Video]
America and the World: A Diplomatic History [TTC Video] by Mark A Stoler
Course No 8598 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.46GB

It was a transformation unprecedented in global history. In barely more than two centuries, the United States evolved from a sparsely settled handful of colonies whose very survival was in grave doubt into the most powerful nation the world has ever known-militarily, economically, technologically, culturally, politically, and even ideologically.

How could such an implausible metamorphosis have occurred? In a world where power and the willingness to wield it had always determined the fate of nations, what factors enabled our young nation to successfully navigate the corridors of diplomacy and foreign policy from the outset, ensuring not only survival but also eventual status as a superpower?

America and the World: A Diplomatic History addresses these and other penetrating questions. In 24 insightful lectures, award-winning Professor Mark A. Stoler of the University of Vermont-a scholar acknowledged for his expertise in U.S. diplomatic and military history-offers you a fresh view of America's shift from the periphery of international politics to its very center.

Enhance Your Understanding of the History Taking Place Right Now

Although the specifics naturally change as time advances, the basic elements that make up diplomacy's causal machinery are always in place. Throughout history, diplomacy has resolved international disputes and helped chart new directions for political, economic, and cultural growth.

Studying how American diplomacy works not only strengthens your understanding of why the nation's history turned out the way it did but also adds immeasurably to your interpretation of present-day events. Whether reading a newspaper, listening to a news broadcast, or evaluating the assertions of a political leader or candidate, you will find that the story told in America and the World enhances your perspectives on the history taking place right now.

As he guides you through America's ascendancy, Professor Stoler shows that causal machinery at work as he explores the key components of American diplomatic history:

  • The origins of American beliefs about our "mission" and proper place in the world
  • The expansion of the original United States across the North American continent through war and treaty
  • The acquisition of a formal overseas empire in the late 19th century and the subsequent addition of an informal empire
  • The achievement of victory in two world wars and participation in limited but bloody conflicts in Korea and Vietnam
  • The course of-and victory in-the 45-year cold war with the Soviet Union
  • The origins and evolution of famous or significant pronouncements and policies, including Washington's Farewell Address, the idea of "Manifest Destiny," the Monroe Doctrine, the Open Door policy, isolationism, the Marshall Plan, and the "containment" of Communism

Of course, policies and actions are decided by the people whose decisions unleash them, and these lectures bring into clear focus the leaders whose judgments shaped America's path

Learn How and Why Diplomatic History Happens

Presenting history's events as only a single part of a much broader whole, Professor Stoler adds the "how" and "why" to the "what" of American diplomatic history. You learn

  • how America's influence has been shaped and expanded by events and ideas;
  • how key personalities-whether America's own national leaders or those of other nations-have influenced American diplomacy and its practice in the international arena;
  • the key beliefs Americans have developed about international relations and their role on the world stage; and
  • how those beliefs have shaped America's actions through both war and peace.

It's an approach that enhances your grasp of not only the substance of events and their multiple causes but also the implications for the next potential sequence of events.

The course offers an excellent perspective on the many lines of causality that converged to create those historical moments and consequences, including the backgrounds and personalities of foreign policy decision makers, national beliefs, geopolitical strategies, and military situations.

Fresh Perspectives—Even on Familiar Names

Even when the names are familiar, the new perspectives and fascinating episodes offered by Professor Stoler deepen your insight into the careers of these diplomats:

  • John Quincy Adams: Considered by many historians to have been America's greatest secretary of state, Adams was responsible for an extraordinary series of major foreign policy successes—including primary authorship of what came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted the independence of the Western Hemisphere from further European colonization or interference.
  • John Jay: One of the three authors of the Federalist and the nation's first chief justice, Jay was also a major diplomatic figure. The treaty he negotiated with Great Britain in 1794 aroused so much controversy that Jay claimed he could have traveled the entire coastline by night, navigating by the light of the burning effigies of him.
  • James K. Polk: One of the least known of America's presidents, Polk was also one of the most important in the history of the country's expansion—and one of the most controversial.
  • Woodrow Wilson: Although tremendously respected across the political spectrum, Wilson failed to achieve his most important foreign policy goals.

An Engaging, Informative Instructor

Professor Stoler has devoted more than 30 years to the study of U.S. diplomatic and military history. A prolific author of books on American foreign policy and the recipient of numerous teaching awards from the University of Vermont, Professor Stoler imbues these lectures with an enlightening depth and breadth.

Professor Stoler's expertise makes America and the World an engaging look at a unique facet of American history. Weaving together events and personalities, he shows you how and why America gained its current station.

Whether exploring events as diverse as the impressment of American seamen by the British in the early 19th century, the development and execution of the Marshall Plan, or the Cuban Missile Crisis, America and the World presents watershed moments in history through the perspective of foreign policy and diplomacy.

The result is an entertaining course that will not only deepen your outlook on American history but will also prove that not all history is made on the battlefield.

America and the World: A Diplomatic History [TTC Video]

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation [TTC Video]

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation [TTC Video]
Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation [TTC Video] by Phillip Cary
Course No 6633 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.46GB

He was only one man—a humble monk and Bible professor—yet he sparked a religious rebellion that changed the course of history. Who was Martin Luther? What made his theology so explosive in 16th-century Europe? Was it really his intention to start Protestantism, and with it a new church?

How did this late-medieval man launch the Protestant Reformation and help create the modern world as we know it?

And how should we think of him: hero or heretic, rebel or tormented soul?

Martin Luther is so interesting to study, Professor Phillip Cary believes, because he is so controversial. In fact, Luther may be more interesting to study today because the controversy surrounding him is more complicated—less black-and-white—than when he was alive.

Many Catholics today find things in Luther to respect and admire, while many Protestants reject aspects of his legacy as misguided, embarrassing, or even evil.

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation will help you reach your own conclusions. This course explores Luther's theology, the circumstances surrounding his conclusion that the papacy was "antichrist," and major issues and events in the Reformation as it unfolded in Luther's life after he posted his famous 95 Theses on the door of the church of Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517.

Professor Cary presents Luther as a multifaceted human being, a man with extraordinary virtues and profound flaws. You will meet an inspiring religious thinker who presented the Christian Gospel as a message of comfort, joy, and freedom; as great good news for sinners and God's loving promise of salvation. And you will encounter a leader whose unswerving certainty about his doctrines led him to launch vicious attacks against those with whom he disagreed most infamously and malevolently—the Jews.

What makes this course so involving for students is that it is not intended to leave you with a neutral impression of Luther. Professor Cary wants you to use his lectures—supplemented by your own research and reading—to make your own judgments about Luther, the man and his teachings.

In addition, he encourages you to ponder some larger implications of Luther and the Reformation. How should we view argument and disagreement? Are they opportunities to prove we are right or ways to find the truth? Can we find ways to disagree that could improve relations between religions—between Catholics and Protestants, and between Christians, Jews, and Muslims—and strengthen the quest for faith in a post-modern world?

Luther's Compelling Theology: "Believe It, and You Have It"

This is an opportunity to take an in-depth look at the origin of the controversies associated with Luther: his distinctive doctrine about the power of the Christian Gospel. Throughout these lectures, Professor Cary carefully traces the often subtle and challenging thinking behind Luther's central theological doctrine of justification by faith alone.

You will see how Luther modified the traditional Catholic notion, derived from St. Augustine, of the relationship between God and man. In this Augustinian paradigm, the spiritual life was a journey in which believers drew near to God through a lifetime of expressing love and doing good works.

Luther felt at the bottom of his heart that his love and good works were never good enough. Schooled by medieval practices of penance and confession that arose long after Augustine, Luther could not escape the thought that he was a sinner who must eventually face the judgment of God, all the while incapable of meriting God's love and approval.

In the face of that terrifying thought, Luther believed the only possible comfort was the Gospel of Christ, which is not about what we do but about what Christ does. The Gospel, Luther taught, is God's promise of salvation in Christ (and as Luther insisted, "God doesn't lie"). Instead of works of love meriting God's approval, all that is required to be justified in God's sight is to believe this promise. As Luther often put it, "Glaubst du, so hast du": Believe it, and you have it.

You will see how this simple concept—to be justified simply by believing God's promise—exploded like a bombshell in late-medieval Europe. It offered certainty of salvation to ordinary people whose consciences tormented them with the thought of horrific punishment after death. It freed German Christians from financial exploitation by a Roman church that sold Masses, indulgences, and other means of warding off punishment in the next life, and used the profits to fight wars, build ostentatious churches, and keep mistresses.

In addition to this pivotal notion of justification by faith alone, Professor Cary surveys Luther's whole theology as it is expressed in such works as On the Freedom of a Christian, Treatise on Good Works, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and The Bondage of the Will.

You will follow Luther from his disturbing early view of justification through self-hatred; to his mature breakthrough in thinking of the Gospel as a sacramental promise; to his later and, once more, disturbing notion of unfree will and predestination, in which a "hidden" God (deus absconditus) chooses, in advance, which souls to save and which to damn.

Throughout, Professor Cary underscores the thought-provoking nature of Luther's theology by emphasizing not only its details, but its larger implications:

  • Why is so much of Luther's thinking based on the writings of one man: St. Augustine?
  • What strengths did Catholicism and Protestantism lose by their separation?
  • Why is the Bible—and certainty about what it means—so important to Luther and Protestantism, and how does that relate to Christian fundamentalism?
  • And, given recent ecumenical thinking, does Luther's theology still offer reasons why Catholicism and Protestantism should remain separate?

Medieval Background, Modern Consequences

This course will enable you to understand Luther in context—to grasp the medieval background and modern consequences of his life and thought. These include:

  • Circumstances surrounding Luther's break with the church: his 95 Theses, his trial at the Diet of Worms, and the Edict of Worms, which declared him not only a heretic but a criminal. You will explore a variety of issues that are often misunderstood. What was Luther's purpose in posting his theses? Was he already a rebel against the Catholic Church, protesting against it? Or was that label thrust upon him by his papal opponents?
  • Controversies within the Reformation: Professor Cary examines Luther's disagreements—on topics such as baptism, the Eucharist, and predestination—with other Reformationleaders: Andreas von Karlstadt, Huldreich Zwingli, and John Calvin. These comparisons will help you appreciate Luther's distinctive location in the Reformation movement, standing between the more conservative Catholic Church and the more radical forms of Protestantism.
  • The Lutheran impact on church and state: For his own protection, Luther aligned himself with local German princes against the authority of the pope. In addition, his "two kingdoms" theology assigned greater authority to the state in protecting the religious life of society. But states that protected rival forms of religion, Catholic and Protestant, were inevitably drawn into bloody religious warfare. The modern principle of separation between church and state emerged as a way for Europeans to stop killing one another in the name of Christ.

Good, Bad, or Somewhere in Between?

This course portrays Luther in a way that is simultaneously critical and sympathetic. Luther offers both wonderful good news and vicious attacks on his opponents. Professor Cary is interested in exploring the connections between these two sides of Luther.

You will learn about Luther the exceptional writer, who did for German what Dante did for Italian by making the deepest concepts of religion accessible to unlearned people in their own language. To translate the Bible, he listened to how ordinary Germans spoke, learning from butchers, for example, the names of animal parts used in biblical passages about animal sacrifice.

In addition, ordinary Christians identified with Luther's affirmation of the spiritual value of marriage and family life. He saw his own wife and children as gifts of God, even in hard times and bereavement; picking up his crying child, he could say, "These are the joys of marriage, of which the pope is not worthy."

On the other hand, Luther's commitment to the certainty of his own beliefs led him to the borders of wickedness and beyond. During the Great Peasant War of 1525, he used his theology to assure German nobility that they could destroy the rebels in good conscience. He refused to retract his views even after the repression led to the killing of women and children.

Luther was given to accusing anyone who disagreed with him, from other Protestant leaders to the pope, of speaking for the devil. He attacked their opinions in harsh and filthy language that his friend Philip Melanchton described as the "rabies theologorum," or the "rabid fury of the theologians."

Luther's fury was at its worst against the Jews, toward whom he was more violent than any other major Christian theologian. Offended that Jews did not recognize the Old Testament as bearing witness to Christ, he came to see them as liars and blasphemers. He called for Jewish synagogues to be burned and property to be confiscated (fortunately, the German authorities ignored him) and rationalized his views by projecting his own hatred onto his victims.

"Indeed, if the Jews had the power to do to us what we are able to do to them," Luther wrote, "not one of us would live for an hour." Imagine how unsafe Jews must have felt hearing that!

What should we make of all this? That's a central question for Professor Cary, for this course, and for you.

What Do Luther and the Reformation Mean to You Today?

In the last lecture, Professor Cary offers his own assessment of the effects of Luther and the Reformation on the modern and now post-modern world. How have they changed the relationship between religion and public institutions? How have they influenced the value we place on tradition? Can religion offer the certainty that Luther sought? Should it even try? And what can we learn from both the "good" and the "bad" Luther that can help religions argue with one another reasonably, without violence and bloodshed?

Then it's your turn. Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation asks you to evaluate its conclusions and reach conclusions of your own. How do you think Luther fits into the story of Western civilization, and was he in fact good, bad, or a complex combination of both?

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation [TTC Video]

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