Dia Mehra – Class X
History has and will always take a big part in evolution and growth. We plan for and worry about the future. History, however, is the study of the past. It affects us every day, with today’s society shaped by historic periods of industrialisation, colonialism and so on. History spans all cultures, eras, seasons and environments and is an immovable factor that can be called upon for knowledge and insight into how the world got to the point it is at now and how it will continue to develop in the future.
So if I were to have a chance at gaining knowledge of how the world before truly worked by the eyes of those who experienced it, my first choice would be to dine with Tomyris- Queen of the Massagetae. Now a forgotten Queen, the legends of Tomyris held great importance in the ancient years. From earlier records, she was known to have become Queen by the death of her husband. As if handling a huge kingdom by herself was not enough, King Cyrus of Persia took interest in her kingdom and offered to marry her for it but she declined and accused him of trickery- so they fought each other instead. Using an unknown intoxicant, Cyrus tricked the section of Tomyris’ army led by her son, who was taken prisoner and committed suicide. Then the army of Tomyris ranged itself against the Persians, defeated it and killed King Cyrus.
Not only did she become Queen alone in the 530 B.C., she was also one of the only queens in history to ever win a war. What interests me is the fact that her kingdom remained united in such times. War can only be won if there is unity and support of people. She could not have won it if her own people detested her as the matriarch without a king. Such was the case in every other Queen’s story to have lost wars. Listening to her tales makes me question the importance of women in those times. Were they really considered the weaker race? If that was not the case, in the coming years, what changed?
My second choice would be Hippolyta, the Amazonian warrior. Several myths surround the ever popular tales of the Amazons. Most believe them to be nothing more than fictional stories. The Amazons were believed to have horse- centred lifestyles, ranging across vast distances from the Black Sea all the way to Mongolia. They lived in small tribes and were considered to be just as powerful and deadly as any other man warrior, if not more.
However, archaeological discoveries proved the Amazonians to be true. Archaeologists have found skeletons buried with bows and arrows, quivers, spares and horses. At first, they assumed that anyone buried with weapons must have been a male warrior. But with the advent of DNA testing and other scientific analysis, one third of all Scythian woman were found to be buried with deadly weapons. So burial of warriors with weapons is no longer seen as an indicator of a man.
I choose Hippolyta, queen of the man- killer warriors, to be one of the historical figures I would like to dine with because of the mystery that surrounds her story and her tribe. In the century that she was born, women were considered nothing more than servants. Not only did they lack power, they also had no say in decisions of their lives or any freedom. Given the chance, I would ask her what made her and her tribe detest men. People’s thoughts and beliefs are shaped from their surroundings. The very idea of a female being an independent warrior was considered a blasphemy, so where did this unique thought process come from? When did the few women who choose to become a part of these tribes start such a rebellion? How did the tribes become what they had when their power and strength famed throughout the world?
My third choice would be Adolf Hitler. Of course, I will take all the necessary precaution there is to protect myself in case he suddenly decides to kill me for not liking my appearance or origin. The question would naturally arise, ‘Out of all the people to choose, why him?’ Adolf Hitler is a perfect case of a man with good cause gone wrong. He committed several murders, was charged with violation of humanity and ultimately killed himself. However, he was not born as the monster he had become. In the beginning, Hitler, recognising his leadership skills and political knowledge, used his strengths to form a party strong enough to protect Germany. Germany had lost the war, and compensation was too high. As a result, it affected millions who found it hard to simply survive. The government’s inefficiency after causing hyperinflation was the icing on top for Hitler’s rise. Hitler’s party gave people hope. Not only did they economically stabilise the country little by little, they also grew their military strength. Germany was slowly fixing itself under Hitler’s rule. So what went wrong? When did he change into the tyrant he had later become? Why did his followers support him even after such deaths? Why did he indiscriminately kill without any mercy?
There are too many questions left unanswered, many mysteries to solve. Despite his shortcomings, Adolf Hitler’s impressive leadership skills are definitely something I would like to learn. Hippolyta inspires me. Her tales give me the confidence to reach to greater heights. Queen Tomyris’ presence itself would feel regal. I can only imagine the sheer power she holds. I want to be as headstrong as her. Her stories make me test myself, push myself to the limit. The people before us are what define us, but history will always leave behind one question: What defined them?