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Most Overrated

A place to debate issues or to rant about what's on your mind. In addition to discussions about historical fiction, books, the publishing industry, and history, discussions about current political, social, and religious issues and other topics are allowed, so those who are easily offended by certain topics may want to avoid such threads. Members are expected to keep the discussions friendly and polite and to avoid personal attacks on other members. The moderators reserve the right to shut down a thread without warning if they believe it necessary.
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Justin Swanton
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Post by Justin Swanton » Fri February 10th, 2012, 12:18 am

[quote=""Ash""]Hinduism did; Buddha rejected that, if I recall correctly. They both believe in reincarnation however; that bothers some, but it makes sense to me. (wait, are you quoting from something from that list?)
[/quote]

No, it was just off the cuff. My knowledge of Hinduism and Bhuddism is very schematic.

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Post by Ash » Fri February 10th, 2012, 1:01 am

If your knowledge is limited, why would you say " I do not like the philosophical worldview of Hinduism/Bhuddism. It created the caste system". How can you dislike something that you know little to nothing about?

Rowan, this is probably one of the tamest discussions on this folder I've seen in a while. I think it has been civil; but most people seem bothered by the terms that are not defined, hence the discussion So don't worry. Its all good.

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Post by rebecca » Fri February 10th, 2012, 2:03 am

I've read the thread and I don't see any bickering here...Just a discussion, isn't that what we're supposed to do?

Bec :)

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Post by Justin Swanton » Tue February 14th, 2012, 11:33 am

[quote=""Ash""]If your knowledge is limited, why would you say " I do not like the philosophical worldview of Hinduism/Bhuddism. It created the caste system". How can you dislike something that you know little to nothing about?[/quote]

I meant the doctrine that ties reincarnation to ultimate absorption into Brahma. There is no heaven in the Bhuddist system, merely assimilation by an entity about which one can predicate nothing, and in which one completely loses one's own identity and individuality, one's self. The material world is not seen as good, and one's goal in life is to distance oneself from all involvement in it, withdrawing into a contemplation of Brahma, the great unknowable. One is reincarnated again and again until one finally gets it right - and then disappears.

This is more Bhuddism than Hinduism. The latter has a lot of old-fashioned polytheism in it, though I'm not sure to what extend the Hindu gods are separate individuals in their own right, or just manifestations/incarnations of Brahma.

That's my (limited) understanding. Point taken though - I should know more about it, especially as, where I live, half the people I work with are Hindus.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue February 14th, 2012, 6:39 pm

To get back to the original comment on Wilberforce thinking the Hinduism of his day was barbaric, where is the stigma in that? Hindus TODAY think that the practices of the nineteenth century were barbaric, as I'm sure these 13 idiots would too, if they were pressed to the wall. For that matter, Wilberforce (and many others) also thought the practices of much of the European church was barbaric -- their turning a blind eye to slavery and abuse of children and animals, for example.

However, from an absolute standard of human rights, 1800's Hinduism was considerably worse that 1800's Christianity in almost all its forms. Burning of widows as a regular practice, for instance (Europe was almost finished with burning at the stake for any reason, if I recall). And the situation of the Dalit (the untouchables) was horrific, far worse than Western slavery. That has now been outlawed in India, but it is still prevalent in most of the country, where Dalit can be killed without any legal repercussion from sheer prejudice and hatred. Slavery also is a major problem to this day for Dalit and non-Hindu families in the brickyards and brothels of most of southeast Asia.

Somebody should buy these Ivory-tower judges a tour of the seamier places in the world. They would get an education.

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Post by Rowan » Tue February 14th, 2012, 7:42 pm

[quote=""Ludmilla""]I don't think it has caused more harm than good. People always get a little heated over lists like these and as long as it's civil that's okay.

I think you have to take these lists in the spirit they are intended, and since we're missing the context that goes with it, it's rather like overhearing part of a conversation you weren't invited to. Yet you see these lists being copied and sent to friends all over the internet, and oftentimes they start out as discussion among friends, colleagues, etc., that get turned into something more formalized through socialization than was ever intended. I merely look at them as watercooler discussions. Fun to debate, but don't take them as definitive.[/quote]

I will search for the issue of the magazine that has the list in it and type out everything that's there so everyone understands. I rather got the impression that thirteen historians were approached for this list and asked, "If you could name one person in all of history who you think is overrated, who would it be?" As far as what is meant by overrated, I don't recall there being a clear definition so it might be up to each individual as to how they define the word.

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Post by Brenna » Wed February 15th, 2012, 5:58 pm

I have the issue and would be happy to scan it and post it for everyone. I'd probably be breaking some laws or something having to do with copyright, but I picked up the BBC History magazine in Barnes and Noble this weekend.
Brenna

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Rowan
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Post by Rowan » Wed February 15th, 2012, 6:11 pm

I'm working on the list right now, Brenna.

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Rowan
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Post by Rowan » Wed February 15th, 2012, 6:31 pm

Been typing on this all morning between bits of work. I'm posting the first 4 before I go to lunch. Will continue later. I put in parentheses the historian who selected each historical figure to appear in the list.

First page: Are these the most overrated people in history?

We asked a panel of expert historians who they consider to be the most overvalued personalities from the past. Turn the page to discover their choices. Some of them well may surprise you...


Spartacus - From Private Eye's Dave Spart and the numerous Spartak soccer teams, through movies to Khachaturian's opera ballet Spartacus, the slave who in 73 BC masterminded a break-out from a gladiatorial school in Capua has justifiably been celebrated hero of the oppressed.

Like Hannibal, a superb general and leader of men, defeating Roman army after army, Spartacus guided his raggle-taggle collection of slaves to the very borders of Gaul to disperse into freedom. But no. They turned back into Italy. Fatal error:

Spartacus, a Thracian, had served in the Roman army. He should have known that Romans never gave up. The worse they were beaten, the harder they always came back - as Hannibal also, too late, had found out. In 71 BC Spartacus's army was trapped and annihilated, the survivors crucified along the Appian Way. All that for nothing. (selected by Peter Jones)


Matilda - Matilda was the daughter of Henry I and the mother of Henry II of England, who many claim to have been the first queen regnant of England. She wasn't. Though named to succeed her father, she failed to overcome obstacles to female succession in the 12th century and so never became a reigning queen. Her cousin Stephen won the throne instead.

Matilda did secure the accession of her son, Henry, and did show how much could, and could not, be achieved by a female heir to the throne in the 12th century. Lady of the English, yes, but not Queen of England. (selected by Anna Whitelock)

Edward IV - Long praised for his reassertion of order after Henry VI's chaotic rule and - unsurprisingly - for his success in restoring royal finances, Edward IV actually achieved very little. His reign provides a classic case of the triumph of style over substance.

It is true that his court was magnificent, and he cut a fine figure as a ruler. Moreover, he knew how to build, as his magnificent remodeling of St George's Chapel, Windsor, shows. But think of his legacy. Abroad, when he had the chance to emulate the successes in France of his predecessor Edward III, he backed off, choosing instead to take a pension from the French king. At home, by his ill-judged marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, he divided the nobility, sowing seeds for his brothers usurpation and ultimately for the overthrow of the house of York.

Edward IV's failings were those of Charles II two centuries later: laziness, superficiality and self-indulgence. Like him, he was simply a merry monarch determined never to go on his travels again. (selected by Nigel Saul)

Henry V - Thanks to Shakespeare, Henry V enjoys a greater aura of heroism than any other British monarch. The reality, almost by definition, is a good deal less dramatic. Henry V was as disastrous a king as any who has sat on the throne of England. His decision to busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels, and renew a war that had appeared ended, was sordid and opportunistic. Agincourt itself, a victory won by a combination of French incompetence and English technological prowess, was a triumph snatched from the jaws of the disaster into which Henry had almost led his army. His subsequent campaigns brought wolves to the outskirts of Paris, and blowback to England.

For a century and a half after his death, the mirage of winning a second Agincourt continued to tantalise a succession of English kings - with unfailingly disastrous consequences. England, and France as well, could have done without the touch of Harry. (selected by Tom Holland)

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Post by Rowan » Wed February 15th, 2012, 7:32 pm

I wanted to come back and post this next one by itself because I wanted to point out something I find amusing. Although I have listed the historian who chose each historical figure, I omitted the extra information that has accompanied each historian: the title of their latest book. I find it amusing that the historian who put Matilda on the list has written a book about Mary Queen of Scots and the historian who put Mary on the list has written a book about Matilda. Clearly it wasn't a group discussion about who should be on the list. :D :D :D

Mary Queen of Scots - Mary, Queen of Scots is commonly viewed as one of the most tragic heroines in history. Ousted queen, ill-treated wife and long-term prisoner of Elizabeth I, she has been hailed as a Catholic martyr.

Poor Mary? Rubbish! She was a pampered princess, whose privileged upbringing at the French court gave her no idea of what was needed to rule effectively. Contrast this with her great rival, Elizabeth, who was raised in the school of hard knocks, which included having her mother executed and enduring numerous brushes with the Tower herself. Litter wonder that Elizabeth ruled with the head, not the heart.

By contrast, statecraft always took second place for Mary. An appalling judge of character, she married the preening Lord Darnley and the complained when he turned out to be a bad lot. She promptly married the chief suspect in his murder, Lord Bothwell. By then, most of the Scots were fed up with her, so they kicked her out and she threw herself on the mercy of her cousin Elizabeth. Bad move. Elizabeth wasted no time in placing her rival under house arrest. Mary languished in prison until she was silly enough to involve herself in a conspiracy to overthrow the English queen. She had effectively signed her own death warrant. (selected by Tracy Borman)

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