Browse Primary Sources
Primary sources from world and global history, including images, objects, texts, and digitally-born materials – annotations by scholars contextualize sources.

Antony’s Meeting with Cleopatra from “Life of Antony”

Cleopatra’s claim to the Egyptian throne very much resided in her relationship and alliance with Caesar. Upon his death in the Senate, Cleopatra had lost her guarantor. Antony’s arrival in Egypt provided a second opportunity for her to secure her throne through a powerful alliance.

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Cleopatra’s Meeting with Caesar

Cassius Dio’s history of the meeting between Cleopatra and Julius Caesar uses powerful word-choice to develop a characterization of the female Egyptian ruler. After Pompey’s assassination, Cleopatra immediately develops a scheme to ally with Caesar. Dio uses words like “beauty,” “striking,” and “charming” to describe her and explains that she had the “power to subjugate” anyone.

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Advice to Bride and Groom (versus 14 and 18)

Plutarch’s Advice to a Bride and Groom reveals the author’s views that submissiveness is the proper behavior for a Roman patrician’s wife, which reflects the general gender norm of ancient Roman culture. The wife ought to mimic the husband’s mood at all times: to be happy when he is happy and serious when he is serious.

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Aristotle’s Metaphysics

Metaphysics, written around 350 BCE, is among Greek philosohper Aristotle's most notable works. The text includes an excerpt from part seven of the ten part work.

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Seneca the Younger, Moral Letters to Lucilius

Moral Letters to Lucilias was written by the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger around 65 CE. There are 124 letters in the collection. The text presented is an excerpt from letter 41 titled "On the God within Us."

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Sophocles, Oedipus the King

Oedipus the King, also known as Oedipus Rex, is an ancient greek play written by the Athenian philosopher, Sophocles, around 420 BCE. The text presented is an excerpted portion from the second half of the play.

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Homer’s The Iliad

Homer's The Iliad is an ancient greek poem written around the eighth century. The poem is set during the Trojan war and highlights the conflict between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles. The text provided is an excerpt from book three.

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Map of the Partition of Israel and Palestine

In 1947, Britain announced that it would terminate its mandate government in Palestine. As a result, a special committee formed by the United Nations was charged with partitioning the territory into separate, sovereign states. Although the plan called for Jewish and Arab states neatly divided by plotted lines, the reality, as these maps show, was much more contested.

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Map of the Union Pacific Railway

Map of the Union Pacific Railway

This 19th century map illustrating the many places one could travel on the Union Pacific Railway is the product of a multitude of choices made by the mapmaker. As a product for, and advertisement of, the Union Pacific Railroad, it obviously only depicts that one railway to the neglect of all of the others that were beginning to be built in the late 19th century.

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The Gall-Peters Projection

Unsatisfied by the distorted view of the world that dominated the Western mind in the form of the Mercator Projection, James Gall and, later, Arno Peters engineered a new map in the 19th and 20th centuries. Based on a mathematical formula that Gall first proposed in the 19th century, Peters projected an image of the world that attempted to capture the size of objects relative to each other.

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