Japanese Militarists
external image 12.jpgAfter World War I, Japan's economic prosperity and stable government was disturbed as a result of the Great Depression . In addition, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 that occurred further weakened Japan's economic situation. This crisis resulted in the rise of the militarists. Much of Japan's population, not knowing what other choice they had, turned to the military for help, which presented the military with an opportunity to come to power. By around 1930, the militarists rose to power and small groups of militarists established a dictatorship, since in Japan, there did not exist one single ruler. Under this rule, Japan strived to follow in the footsteps of Western nations. Therefore, they forced China to sign unfair economical and political treaties. Japan's involvement with China did not end there. In 1931, when Japan's influence over Manchuria was threatened, Japanese armed forces were sent to the region, until it was declared an independent state controlled by the Japanese army. As a result, Japan left the League of Nations in an effort to avoid the criticism for their actions with China.
external image Japanese-high-school-stud-001.jpg During this time period, Japanese militarists had complete dominance over the government. The government arrested anyone who went against them, heavily enforced censorship, and imposed a secret police. This government focused on strengthening Japan, and therefore, gaining an empire oversea to provide raw materials to the country. The Japanese government in the 1930s, under the control of the militarists, possessed many characteristics of a totalitarian state.

Christopher Columbus

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Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to discover a route to India. After a total of four trips, however, Columbus was only able to reach the Caribbean and South America. However, his expeditions lead to great discovery of American continents and opened many doors for further exploration.

Columbus sailed with the support of King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain . He proposed that he could chart a faster trading route to Asia by sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean. Up until that point, the only known way to get to Asia was by land or sailing all the way around Africa, which were both extremely time consuming. Columbus was interested in bringing back riches to Europe, converting the people of these lands to Christianity, and winning glory for both himself and his country. In the year 1492, Columbus sailed his first trip, Columbus reached the Caribbean Islands and proceeded to name one of the islands San Salvador. They were greeted by natives with great kindness, but Columbus captured most of the men and then sold them into slavery. Because Columbus believed they landed in Asia, he called this land the Indies, and named the native inhabitants Indians. After two more expeditions, Columbus and his men had been to the islands of Hispaniola, Cuba, and Dominica, in addition to Trinidad and Venezuela. On his return home from his third voyage, Columbus was arrested for mistreating the native subjects of these lands, but was shortly released and given one more chance to another expedition. During this final trip, Columbus was able to reach Mexico, Honduras, Panama, and Jamaica.

Columbus is considered the discoverer of the Americas and is renowned on the United States national holiday, Columbus Day. While Columbus did not reach Asia or become as rich as he had hoped, he led the way for other explorers to the New World.

Titian - Bacchus and Ariadne

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Titian’s painting, Bacchus and Ariadne, is considered one of the greatest works of art created during the Renaissance period. It was commissioned by the Duke of Ferrara for his private collection and became part of a series of three paintings. Titian returns to a classical Greek myth for his subject matter, the story of the meeting of Bacchus , the god of wine, and Ariadne, daughter of King Minos. The tale tells of Bacchus coming upon Ariadne who is heartbroken over the recent desertion of her lover, Theseus. Titian alludes to this moment by painting Theseus’ ships in the background, sailing off into the distance. He uses the main characters of Bacchus and Ariadne to divide the canvas diagonally into two triangles. Bacchus occupies the left-hand side of the painting and is seen leaping towards Ariadne. Ariadne occupies the right-hand side of the painting, depicted by the artist as being both frightened and in a state of awe. The triangular design is further enhanced by the use of color in which Ariadne’s side is painted in a cool blue tone, while Bacchus’ side is painted in warmer tones of browns and greens. However, the composition is unified through the shared stare between Bacchus and Ariadne. The entire scene is one of great drama and energy exhibited through the intense movement of the characters.

The painting Bacchus and Ariadne is a perfect example of how important the aspect of humanism became in the paintings of the Renaissance. Humanism is a human-based approach to learning rather than one based on religion. In this painting we see Titian’s devotion to the classicism of the Greek and Roman cultures, a time when humans and gods coexisted. The human form is celebrated and very much a central theme in this painting, unlike the religious paintings of the Middle Ages. There is also an element of realism in the appearance of more anatomically correct bodies in comparison to the past period. In addition, one can observe a range of individual human emotions exhibited by both Ariadne, a human, and Bacchus, a god. Ariadne’s face shows that she is distraught by the abandonment of her lover, Theseus, and now fearful of Bacchus. Bacchus’ face shows adoration and love for Ariadne. By throwing her crown into the heavens, he offers her an opportunity to elevate herself, and even achieve immortality, a very humanistic concept. While Bacchus and Ariadne are exhibiting different emotions, they are also clearly connected as their eyes are locked. The humanistic element of realism is also present in the form of domesticated animals. We see cheetahs pulling a chariot, as well as a dog wearing a collar. Titian continues to present a realistic perspective by providing a landscape that includes all aspects of the human environment, the earth, the sky, and the sea, with their appropriate colors. The elevation of the human perspective is why the painting Bacchus and Ariadne is one of the most humanistic works of art from the Renaissance period.