by Macabee Callard
I’ve heard so many people my age tell me that we should focus on the future and the past doesn’t matter. Well, before I start, let me make one thing straight: To me, history isn’t interesting because it is the past. The fact is, it has a unique appeal to it just by chance – there is another possible world where it could have been boring. It’s just that human biological and cultural evolution is so interesting it’s hard to ignore. So That is why I am interested in it, not because it is a summary of the past. I actually began interest in history with a video game, called Rome: Total War. The game is not completely informationally correct but got me into strategies, battle tactics and ancient economics and political figures. After that, (and I still play the game and highly recommend it), I started researching more and writing papers on ancient Rome and Greece. I started buying new history books and watching documentaries on battles like Cannae and Thermopylae. I’m still amazed at the amazing odds and daring feats of commanders like Hannibal and Scipio.
The thing that prompted all of this was mostly ancient warfare. I was interested in the very careful and deliberate tactics used by ancient commanders, like Hannibal at the battle of Cannae when Hannibal fought the romans. He came with 50,000 troops and the Romans with 86,000, but because of his encircling tactics they lost 85,000 and he lost 5000. Or at Thermopylae pass when the Greeks held the Persians off for three days, the Persians numbering 100,000 and the Greeks. In my view, back then people had to be more exact, clever and decisive. The fact that political situations were more fragile made it very clear that even a single lost battle would mean you might be forced to become protectorate or simply be conquered and sold into slavery. In addition to that, there were less and weaker alliances so political figures had to be careful with their actions lest they be overrun. I was amazed by all of this, but then I thought about something else – 300 B.C. wasn’t yesterday. So many other interesting things, from the Visigoths to Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror, to Timur and the Great wall of China. And it went backwards too. From H. Erectus to ardepithecus, evolving life on earth is a study that people still have much to learn about. History can also help with modern-day things, like material for artists or musicians.
I know the common stereotype of history is just dusty old volumes from the 1200’s, but there are new innovative and interactive games and books, graphic novels and movies. Of course, I find some history books very interesting. The important point is there are all sorts of ways to unravel the past.