Ancient Civilizations Reference Library Vol 2 Biographies by Judson Knight; Lawrence W Baker; Stacy A McConnell

By Judson Knight; Lawrence W Baker; Stacy A McConnell

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He even oversaw the planting of trees to provide travelers with a shady place to rest. A mission that failed The sad fact, nonetheless, is that Asoka’s mission failed. Though he had obviously moved past all greed, pettiness, and striving for power, not everyone had. , officials in his court—perhaps taking advantage of the fact that Asoka was consumed with humanitarian concerns—managed to gain influence over his grandson Samprati (sahm-PRAH-tee), whom Asoka had picked as his successor. It appears that Samprati forced his grandfather into virtual exile within the palace and that in his latter days Asoka lived on a meager ration of food.

A good and just king It is clear, however, that Asoka was not interested merely in “saving souls” (to use terminology drawn from Western religion), but also in making his people’s lives better. According to one of his inscriptions, “There is no better work than promoting the welfare of the whole world. ” Such a term, however, suggests the image of religious thought-police telling people how to govern their lives; Asoka’s “morality inspectors,” by contrast, were charged with distributing gifts to the poor and making sure that people treated each other with kindness.

Akhenaton was born the son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy (TEE). His mother, unlike most Egyptian queens, was a commoner—that is, someone not of royal blood. She exerted considerable influence over her husband; thus it was perhaps fitting that Akhenaton’s own wife would become one of the most visible Egyptian queens [see sidebar]. At the time of his birth, Akhenaton’s parents did not expect him to become king. He had an older brother, Thutmose (TUHTmohz). But his brother died at a young age; therefore, Akhenaton became pharaoh when he was eighteen years old.

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