The main benefit of the study of history is to dispel the illusion that people living now are significantly different from people who lived in earlier times.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.

History, especially ancient history, is the study of humankind’s development from past to present. Through the study of history, we learn who was in charge during each era and what events shaped the course of history. However, this line of reasoning assumes that today’s people are essentially the same as people from earlier times. This theory has some merit, but it fails to account for the differences in the past hundred years. While people, in general, are perhaps similar, certain classes of people today behave in radically different ways than their counterparts did in the past, whereas people in the past did not exhibit the same types of behavior.

The first problem is that no technical limitations forced people to conform to specific societal roles in the past. As a result, people did not worry about how they looked or acted, and as such, they did not have to conform to societal expectations. For example, in ancient Rome, both men and women participated in gladiatorial combat, which was considered a spectacle for the masses. The Romans valued strength and bravery, so men fought to show off their skills, and women fought to prove their worth as wives and mothers. However, no one gave much thought to whether such combat was appropriate behavior for a respectable person. In ancient Rome, men and women participated in this sport for amusement and relaxation.

Furthermore, women used cosmetics and jewelry to appear more attractive, and some women wore extreme hairstyles, such as barrettes, to occur even sexier. These women’s vanity was displayed in public, but there was no stigma attached to this vanity. In modern times, however, women are much more concerned with how they look, and many women spend thousands of dollars on cosmetics and other personal grooming products. The goal is to help women appear attractive to others, not show off or prove their sexiness.

History fails to account for the differences between people today and older generations because history is often written from a biased perspective. A sole author writes most history books, and this individual uses their own biases and prejudices when deciding which events to include and which events to exclude. As a result, the author deems essential might be severely downplayed, whereas the less significant events might be omitted entirely. For example, wars between nations or rebellions of specific groups of people are often overlooked from history books, and this bias is particularly prevalent in history books written for children. For example, suppose the author is from a nation with a robust patriotic affinity with the ruler of his country. In that case, significant wars might be omitted or minimized, whereas wars fought by other nations might be given more emphasis. Likewise, rebellions of specific groups might be ignored or minimized in favor of more sweeping events, such as rebellions that led to the fall of the Roman or Byzantine Empires. As a result, events that may be vital to understanding the nature of a particular period may be omitted, while other circumstances might be exaggerated.

The last reason history fails to account for the differences between people today and older generations is that history spans a very long period. Nearly everyone alive today is descended from people who lived during the Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Ages. As a result, most people today have at least some ancestors who lived during these periods. However, living during the Neolithic and Bronze Age is very different from the consequences of living in modern times. For example, people in the past had very little scientific knowledge, so disease, famine, and drought were much more frequent. On the other hand, people today have medical knowledge and technological advances that help them stave off famine and disease. In addition, people lived in small groups, whereas today, most people live in large, urban environments. Thus, most people experience a much greater degree of material comfort, which can profoundly affect the way people behave. For example, people lived in tiny houses and small apartments in ancient Rome, and most people did not have running water in their homes. As a result, people bathed in rivers and lakes, which left people vulnerable to disease. Today, most people live in large houses with running water, which dramatically reduces their chances of contracting a disease.

The conclusion to be drawn from this analysis is that history does not paint a complete picture of human nature. For example, people in the past did not adhere to the same standards of behavior as people today. Furthermore, historical accounts are written by a single author, and this individual might choose to emphasize certain events in their account of history while omitting others. Thus, historians’ conclusions about human nature might be incomplete.