When studying the facets of Western Civilization, a few recurring questions must be analyzed. Will those in power abuse it? Unfortunately, yes. Does freedom spawn intellectual, technological and social progress? For the most part, yes. Was Martin Luther, in historical terms, a “bad ass?” Carter Lindberg states in his book The European Reformations, “An initial move to control the complicated and multifaceted reality of the Reformation is to define the terms used for it and the era it covers.” In order to secure Luther in the annuals of history as a “bad ass”, one must not only clarify the characteristics of that title, but also view his accomplishments in a 21st Century frame of reference. First, it should be determined which historical figures might fall into the category of being labeled a “bad ass.” At this point, the common characteristics of a historical “bad ass” will become evident. Second, after determining these characteristics, they then must be applied to Luther and the result will be forthcoming.
Possible historical “bad asses” (chronologically): Hammurabi, Socrates, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Marc Antony, Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, Augustus Casear, Muhammad, William the Conqueror, Genghis Kahn, Leonardo da Vinci, Magellan, Louis XIV, Thomas Jefferson, Vaclav Havel, Roberto Baggio and Bill Clinton. Just looking at this shortlist, it’s noticeable that most of these men were in a position of power. Except for Socrates, Jesus, Leonardo, Magellan and Baggio, these individuals were in a position of direct political or military authority and in some cases both. Let’s take a more detailed look at Alexander, Hannibal, Jesus, Muhammad and Magellan.
Alexander the Great- Son of King Phillip of Macedonia. He was tutored by Aristotle and despite his classical education became one of the greatest military geniuses ever. At the time of this death, Alexander commanded an empire that stretched from the Mediterranean basin to Persia. Glenn Blackburn, author of Western Civilization: A Concise History Vol. 1, gives this description of Alexander. “Some historians believe that he was simply a great military leader who knew well how to fight and conquer.Others see Alexander as what he claimed to be, an apostle of Greek culture who used Greek language and institutions to unify a cosmopolitan empire” (p.82). Alexander’s greatness was even acknowledged in the motion picture Die Hard. The films antagonist, Hans Gruber remarks, “And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept.