Pre-New Year Vibes, But A Resolution-Free, Non-binding New Year Is The Way To Go

A Little History of The World, Google Pictures

‘A Little History of The World’ by Ernst H. Gombrich

Resolutions are only desperate attempts to revive our dreams, and to remind ourselves of our past failures.

I prefer celebrating successes of what have already occurred, rather than celebrate the unknown. But then again, a bit of wine and beer to start the new year may be a good way to deprive our mental sensibility of what will inevitably come our way.

In order to create that sense of accomplishment for 2009, I managed to squeeze in a bit of time to finish this book before the clock struck 12. This book (above) was recommended to me by my significant other. It was interesting to read history as if my grandpa was telling me a story. Gombrich revealed some unexpected truths that were not explicit in the blood and gore of wars and conflicts from the past so as to make history more exciting than those that we’ve learnt in class.

Here are 10 interesting facts that I’ve discovered for myself:

  1. The last witch, if there ever was one, was burnt in England in the year 1712.
  2. The Julian Calendar was named after Gaius Julius Caesar, who created the 12 months during 51BC.
  3. ‘Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!’ is the clarion call that came from the French Revolution during the 17th Century.
  4. The Rosetta Stone which contains the secret to the decoding of hieroglyps is currently located in the British Museum in London.
  5. Iraq had a more sophisticated name in the past: Mesopotamia.
  6. The 7-day week originated from the number of planets in the solar system (Mon = Moon; Sun = sun; Sat = Saturn). Only 5 planets were discovered then.
  7. Draconian‘ was termed after an Athenian noble Draco, who imposed harsh laws on his people.
  8. Spartan, meaning brave and undaunted, originated from the similarly named army of warriors from Greece who fought against the Persians during 490BC. Think ‘300’.
  9. Vandalism‘ was coined after the Vandals, a Germanic tribe which invaded and destroyed Sicily and other coastal towns.
  10. The Renaissance, a french word, or Rinascimento in Italian, refers to the rebirth of the spirit of antiquity – the culture and knowledge of the past – during 1500.

What I find contentious in this book is that the origin of the 3 key religious groups – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – as well as their divorce from one another, was not clearly explained. Gombrich stated below:

Islam’ refers to a submission to the will of God.

Fine. But then he moved on to describe that:

‘It is no sin to kill an unbeliever who refuses to recognise [the Prophet Muhammad] as the Prophet.’

So, who’s to verify the truthfulness of such a statement that appears in a historical ‘non-fiction’ book?

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