Homework: The Decline and Fall of Empires

Tonight for your homework, you need to carefully read and annotate the article “The Decline and Fall of Empires.”  Once you’ve finished reading the article, please respond to the following discussion points:

  • Of the nine suggested causes of imperial decline, which do you think would have the most immediate consequences?  Which of the nine causes would have more gradual consequences?  Can you provide any historical examples– different from those already included in the article– which illustrate these points?  
  • What do you think of the author’s suggestion that “otherworldly or escapist religions” can be a cause of imperial collapse?  Why might this be?  Do you agree with this assessment?

In order to earn a maximum grade of 95% on this assignment, you may leave ONE thoughtful comment addressing the above points on this post.  In order to earn 100%, you should leave your original comment AND reply to a comment left by a classmate.

If you are experiencing difficulties leaving a comment, please try the following:

  1. If you can’t see the “Leave a Comment” option, scroll alllllllllllll the way to the bottom of the page and see if you can see a white box.  Sometimes, if you’ve clicked on the blog post itself, you have to scroll to the end of the page to reply.
  2. Use a computer, not your phone.
  3. Check your browser!  WordPress works best on Chrome (Mozilla’s okay, too), but Internet Explorer is not a great idea.  Always try to use the most recent version of your browser– this may mean that you need to update your browser.
  4. Clear your Internet history and cookies.  Try leaving a comment again once you’ve done this.
  5. If you still can’t leave a reply, email your comment to me instead.
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Homework: The Judgments of Hammurabi

Tonight, you’re going to work on your first analysis of a primary source document for this class– an excerpt from the judgments of Hammurabi, a Babylonian king from the 18th century BCE.  After carefully reading through the text provided for you in class (Judgments of Hammurabi), please respond to the prompt at the bottom of this entry in the form of a comment on this blog post.  You’ll find the “Leave a Comment” link right under the title of this entry, next to the date.  Your comment should be thoughtful and refer to at least two specific examples in the text.

In order to encourage you to use this blog as a venue for discussion, here’s how grading for this assignment will work: a response which appropriately answers the discussion question will receive a maximum grade of 95%.  To earn that final 5% of the grade, you must respond (thoughtfully!) to one of the comments left by your classmates.

A few reminders about appropriate online interactions: as this is an academic assignment, I expect your responses to reflect all standard grammatical and mechanical practices.  Remember that tone is sometimes difficult to discern in online communication, so be sure that you express yourself clearly.  If you’re uncomfortable using your full name to post a comment, please just post using your first name and last initial– I’ll know who you are.

Comments are moderated on this blog, which means that I have to approve your first comment before you’ll see it appear.  It’s a quick process– I just have to hit something on my phone, honestly– but if you wait to post your comment until late tonight, I might not moderate it until tomorrow morning.

Here’s your discussion prompt:

Consider Hammurabi’s judgments.  Do you think they would have been effective as a law code?  Who were the judgments meant to protect or benefit?  What sort of social distinctions can we see in Hammurabi’s law code?  Did any of the laws or their implications surprise you?  If so, why?

Remember to include at least two specific examples from the text in your response!