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The Ancient View of Blacks - Essay Example

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The Ancient View of Blacks

"The Greeks and the first European accounts of the physical characteristics of certain African peoples, frequently used a color-term - Aithiops, Aethiops, Ethiopian- literally a burnt-faced person - as a designation for the blackest and most wooly-haired people known to them. But it is not generally known that Ethiopian carried no stigma of inferiority" (Bowser 1995 pg 3).
If the way that dark skinned people were depicted in the artwork and writings of those times is 'no stigma of inferiority' then it would be reasonable to assume that these people were treated as equals, and dissimilar to the disdain with which some dark-skinned individuals, and their communities are treated in today's modern world.
That slavery was a common practice during the Greek and Roman eras is readily accepted as fact by most experts. Evidence that slavery was common and accepted can be found in writings from many philosophers of that era including Aristotle. "Aristotle's doctrine of natural slavery was a refined version of such reputable, practical wisdom on slavery through it we are gaining access to something approaching the standard view of the supposedly rational Greek slave-holder on the nature and justification of slavery." (Cartledge 1993 pg 122).
Because Aristotle was justifying the ancient Greek's use of slavery, we can assume that slavery was important enough to them that they felt they had to justify it. In modern terms, or scenarios, when mentioning slavery an immediate thought comes to mind concerning the Black race, probably because the last time there was prevalent slavery it was due to that race being enslaved. That was not necessarily true in ancient Greek and Rome, especially with the Greeks, because (some believe) that would mean that they were enslaving themselves or their relatives.
Bernal says, "Plutarch admitted Greece's deep cultural debts to Egypt, he took it as axiomatic, for instance, that Greek religion came from Egypt." (Bernal 2001 pg 3). If, as Plutarch admitted, Greek religion came from Egypt, would that not mean that Egyptians also came and settled what was to become Greece It would seem likely, and if that held true, and again we refer back to Bernal and his assertion that Egyptians were from the Black race, that would mean that the Greeks were descendants of Negroid descedants.
At the very least experts believe that the Egyptians intermixed with the Kushites (who were black). "The history of Kushite-Egyptian contacts was in large part the story of Egypt's efforts to exploit the human and natural resources of Kush, and of Kush's response to the commercial and imperial ambitions of its northern neighbors" (Snowden 1983 pg 21).
Snowden states that Pepynakht (a noble from Elephantine) reported that he had been commissioned to pacify the countries to the south (Kush) and that he did so. An inscription from Pepynakht's tomb informs us that "he had slain many leaders, and that he had returned with many.were Negroid is not known, but Negroeswere among captives taken in the southern campaigns of Pepy I and II." (Snowden 1983 pg ...Show more


Bernal argues for cultural mixes, against notions of the purity of the Greek. But his mixing is of elements which have to be culturally tagged and isolated. Diffusionism requires 'peoples' possessing culture which influences and is influenced by culture belonging to others, it assumes the categories (of race and culture) which Bernal seems to wish to deny" (Shanks 1992 pg 56)…
Author : lemuelbeahan
The Ancient View of Blacks essay example
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