AO Magazine - February 2020
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How do you keep a king humble when they rule one of the most powerful kingdoms of their era? Once a year, you strip them of their regalia, force them to their knees and slap them hard in the face. At least, that was the tradition in Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago. Times have certainly changed, though many would say our modern-day politicians could do with a good dose of Mesopotamian humbling!
Today, our leaders rarely maintain absolute, unquestioned power; prime ministers, presidents and even dictators are usually ‘moderated’ to some degree. This was not always the case in the ancient world – monarchs, pharaohs, warlords, conquerors and tyrants possessed immense power, whether for better or for worse. A strong ruler, like Roman Emperor Augustus, could advance a nation and bring it to the forefront of culture and technology. An unrestrained emperor, like Nero or Ivan the Terrible, could cause the downfall of some of the greatest empires and civilizations of their time.
In this issue, we shine a spotlight on some of the most famous and infamous rulers in history; we take an eye-opening look at outrageous emperors and mad monarchs; we examine rulers who were almost lost to history through the ‘punishment of non-existence’; and we question the long-accepted historical narrative – are Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, and the First Emperor of China really deserving of their ‘bad boy’ image?
From the strong and courageous to the brutal and ruthless, the world has been forever changed by powerful rulers throughout time.