21. Ashoka (304-232 B.C.):
Ashoka expanded the Maurya Empire and ruled from Pakistan to Afghanistan and from Bangladesh to Andhra Pradesh. The emperor preferred Buddhism to the overtly class conscious Hinduism. After adopting Buddhism, he attempted to spread the faith across the empire and rejected violence. The new Ashoka ruled peacefully during a prosperous time for India.
22. Cleopatra (69-30 B.C.):
Cleopatra ruled jointly with her father before his death. Afterward, she reigned alongside her brother, but the two split over control of Egypt. Julius Caesar arbitrated in Cleopatra’s favor resulting in civil war. After defeating her brother, Cleopatra ruled alone. However, she reigned under Caesar’s good graces. After his assassination, the pharaoh aligned with Mark Antony. The pair planned to rule the world together, but found themselves challenged by Octavian. In the end, Octavian defeated the couple who committed suicide rather than be paraded through the streets of Rome as a prize.
23. Cicero (106-43 B.C.):
Cicero was Rome’s greatest orator and statesman. His acid tongue doomed many political enemies including Cataline. While serving as consul, Cataline led a revolt, which Cicero defeated. During the Caesarian Wars, the orator sided against Caesar and later Antony and Octavian. His tongue doomed him after a particularly vitriolic assault on Antony’s honor. The triumvir had Cicero murdered over Octavian’s protests.
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24. Mark Antony (83-30 B.C.):
Antony served as Julius Caesar’s chief lieutenant. He fought alongside Caesar in Gaul and later administered Rome while the Triumvir was in Egypt. After the assassination, Antony united with Octavian to defeat Brutus and the other assassins. Once Brutus was eliminated, the two turned on one another. Antony formed an ill-fated alliance with Cleopatra against Octavian. In the end, Antony committed honorable suicide following his defeat.
25. Liu Bang (256-195 B.C.):
Liu Bang, or Gaozu, was the first Han Dynasty emperor. He ruled from 202-195 B.C. Interestingly, he rose from peasant stock to become King of the Han. After defeating his enemies, he united China under his rule and established the Han Dynasty.
26. Scipio Africanus (235-183 B.C.):
Hannibal defeated Roman army after Roman army. The desperate, but determined, Romans turned to Scipio Africanus to save Rome from the Carthaginian general. Scipio decided to attack Carthage itself to draw Hannibal away from Rome. His plan worked and the Roman defeated the Carthaginian at Zama ending the Second Punic War. Scipio’s victory assured Rome’s ascension as a global power.
27. Hammurabi (r. 1792-1750 B.C.):
The sixth king of Babylon put forth a set of laws based on fairness. The Code of Hammurabi espoused “an eye for an eye” justice and provided some rights to women. The law was put in stone for all to see. This innovation undercut the power of the upper classes that could no longer make up law as it suited them.
28. Saint Peter (1-67 A.D.):
The apostle Peter became an early church leader that abandoned his life as a fisherman to follow Jesus. After the crucifixion, he worked as a missionary before moving to Rome. There he became the first pope. Nero executed Peter in the Great Persecution.
No ancient writer has had a greater impact than Homer. The epic poet recorded the west’s greatest mythical stories in The Odyssey and The Illiad. These works have exerted an enormous influence on the west. Additionally, they might have been based on actual events. In the late 19th century, archaeologists discovered Troy validating the stories.
30. Hannibal (247-182 B.C.):
Hannibal hated Rome and launched the Second Punic War. He invaded Italy proper through the alps and defeated legion after legion. In the early years of the invasion, Hannibal won dramatic victories at Trebia, Trasimene, and Cannae. His ranks swelled, but he could not defeat Rome itself. The republic refused to submit and the war dragged on until Scipio Africanus finally defeated Hannibal at Zama. Hannibal survived the battle and went into exile. The Romans hunted him for 20 years before catching up with him. Hannibal committed suicide rather than submit to Rome. His battlefield victories led to a reputation as one of history’s greatest generals.