Western Civilization Final Exam Essay

Remember, your exams you will be asked to write a clear, legible essay, using complete sentences and paragraphs.  You should plan your essay in advance.  You should use specific details in your essay, such as proper names, dates, terminology, and primary sources.  Don't forget to study the map glossary.

FOCUSED ESSAY. You should take approximately 10-15 minutes to write one of these:

  1. How did the First Scientific Revolution overthrow conceptions about how the world works?
  2. What improvements did Enlightenment thinkers propose for human society?
  3. How did absolutism gain ascendancy in Early Modern Europe? 
  4. How did democratic forms of government spread in the West before 1800? 
  5. How did the revolutionaries in France execute political changes through the Napoleonic Empire and then fail?
  6. How did competing political ideologies offer alternatives in the 19th Century?
  7. How did inventions and capitalism produce the Industrial Revolution and how did Socialists address its problems? 
  8. How did naturalistic science generate new and unsettling knowledge in the 19th Century? 
  9. How did the Europeans come to dominate Africa and Asia? 
  10. How did the United States of America become a world power?
  11. How did various nationalisms change the political structures of the West and help push Western Civilization toward war?

BROAD ESSAY. You should take approximately 30 minutes to write one of these:

  1. Discuss how modern science has changed Western Society's view of the world. You might consider the following questions:  How did astronomy first destroy the medieval view of the universe, and what replaced it in the 17th century? What 19th century advances, especially in physics and biology, in turn brought further change, and how do these affect our view of ourselves and the world?
  2. Discuss the political changes in Western states since 1648. You might consider the following questions:  What were the two competing forms of government before the French Revolution and how did they work in various states? How did the French Revolution change political action? What conflicts, reforms and expansions of political power took place in Europe in the 19th century, and the rest of the world?
  3. Discuss the many changes taking place in Western Society during the Early Modern period (1648-1815). You might consider the following questions:  What were the competing political systems? How did the economy and social status change as a result of the commercial revolution? What new cultural developments provided new ways to look at life? What new developments in science made people question their position in the world? How were these ideas applied to people in the Enlightenment? What did the French Revolution do to change things?
  4. Discuss the changes taking place in Western Society during the Nineteenth Century (1815-1914). You might consider the following questions:  What were the competing political ideologies, and what changed in the relations both between European states after 1815 and then Europe and the rest of the world? How did the economy and social status change as a result of industrial revolutions? What new cultural developments provided new ways to look at life? What new developments in science made people question their position in the world?

COMPREHENSIVE ESSAY.  You should take approximately 20-25 minutes to write one of these:

1st Comprehensive Question:
Examine how ideas and beliefs have transformed the history of the West.  How did intellectual revolutions, like the great philosophers of ancient Greece, the founding of medieval universities, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the rise of social sciences and new sciences in the 19th Century support the role of reason?  How did the religions of the ancient world become replaced by Christianity, and then how did Christianity sustain and direct Western peoples through the Middle Ages, the Reformation and through the challenges of modernity up to 1914?   

2nd Comprehensive Question:
Examine the role of materialistic revolutions in the history of the West.  You might consider the following questions:  How did the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution, Commercial Revolution, Scientific Revolution, Scientific Agricultural Revolution, and Industrial Revolutions change material culture?  How did political revolutions, whether successful or failed, in city-states and empires of the ancient world, with towns and peasants in Medieval Europe, or in modern England, America, France, and throughout Europe in 1830 and 1848 offer alternative ways of governance?

3rd Comprehensive Question:
Examine the role of warfare and empire in the History of the West.  You might consider the following questions:  How did the achievements of the Greeks and Romans depend on successful warfare, conquest, and imperial rule?  How was the Middle Ages shaped around military conflict and what innovations ended its unique political and economic structures?  How did Western states in modern times conduct war for political, nationalistic and imperial goals to change the course of World history?

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The following is a final exam that I gave to my Early Western Civilization students back in 2007. How would you have performed on it?
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Final Exam – Early Western Philosophy

Match the following emperors with the events at right that occurred during their reign.

____ NeroA.     Destruction of Jerusalem
____ DiocletianB.      Edict of Milan
____ TitusC.      1st to spend time fighting barbarian invaders
____ TiberiusD.     Burning of Rome
____ Octavian (aka. Augustus Caesar)E.      Birth of Christ
____ Marcus AureliusF.      Death of Christ
____ ConstantineG.     “The Great Persecution” of Christians


Match the following places and entities with the best description or event  from the second column.

____ RomeA.     Located in North Africa
____ JerusalemB.      Cradle of Western philosophy
____ MesopotamiaC.      Cradle of Western civilization
____ Miletus/IoniaD.     Destroyed in 70 A.D.
____ CarthageE.      Aristotle’s school
____ Hadrian’s WallF.      Located in Britain
____ BosphorusG.     City of seven hills
____ LyceumH.     Plato’s school.
____ AcademyI.       Strait connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.


Match the stories, statements, literary works, and cultural constructions below with the best correlate in the second  column.

____ Romulus & RemusA.     Plato
____ Agrarian LawB.      Aristotle
____ “Veni, vidi, vici”C.      Designed to provide plebians with land.
____ The AeneidD.     Oracle at Delphi
____ “You can never step in the same river twice.”E.      Written by Julius Caesar in a letter to the Senate.
____ “Man is the measure of all things.”F.      Protagorus
____ No living man is wiser than SocratesG.     Babylonian creation epic
____ Nicomachean EthicsH.     Founding of Rome
____ Enuma ElisI.       Early collection of laws from ancient Babylon
____ Hammurabi CodeJ.       Heraclitus
____ TheaetetusK.      Publius Virgilius Maro (Virgil)

Fill in the blank.

“All western philosophy is a __________ to Plato.” (Alfred North Whitehead)

Match the people below with the best correlate from the second column.

____ Lucius Quinctius CincinnatusA.     Teacher of Alexander the Great
____ HannibalB.      Roman general/dictator to whom George Washington is often compared.
____ SpartacusC.      Julius Caesar’s chief rival for power in Rome.
____ PompeyD.     Argued against the possibility of motion.
____ XerxesE.      Carthaginian general in 2nd Punic War.
____ ThalesF.      Leader in the Gladiatorial War
____ ZenoG.     King of Persia
____ AristotleH.     Early western philosopher who predicted an eclipse.


From Student Presentations:  Select any ten of the following and in one sentence share with me a general description of each person selected.  (Nitocris, the Amazons, Helen & Paris, Leonidas, Lycurgus, Plutarch, Solon, Pericles, Themistocles, Parmenides, Zeno, Cimon, Nicias, Alcibiades, Agesilaus, Antisthenes, Diogenes, Democritus, Alexander, Cato the Elder, Aemilius Paullus, Tiberius & Gaius Grachus, Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Antony, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, the Cynics, the Skeptics, Philo, Plotinus).












Short Answers

Name one conspirator in the death of Julius Caesar.

What school of early western philosophy is noteworthy for its interest in numbers?

What did Francis Schaeffer say was the main reason the Romans could not tolerate Christianity?

What is henotheism?

What is an oligarchy?

What is a polis?

What role did a Tribune play in Roman society?



____  Select the correct order for the following births.

  1. Birth of Christ 2. Birth of Socrates    3.  Birth of Julius Caesar   4.  Birth of Daniel the prophet
  2. 1, 2, 3, 4
  3. 4, 3, 2, 1
  4. 3, 2, 4, 1
  5. 4, 2, 3, 1

____  Select the correct order for the following philosophers, earliest to latest.

  1. Thales 2. Socrates    3.  Plotinus   4.  Augustine
  2. 1, 2, 3, 4
  3. 1, 2, 4, 3
  4. 1, 3, 2, 4
  5. 1, 4, 2, 3


____  Select the correct order for the time in which the following kingdoms/empires were prominent.   1. Egyptian     2.  Babylonian      3.  Roman     4. Greek    5.  Medes & Persians

  1. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  2. 5, 1, 2, 3, 4
  3. 1, 5, 2, 4, 3
  4. 1, 2, 5, 4, 3

True/False (circle the correct answer)

True / FalseThe sophists were more concerned about what is objectively true, than with what is useful or expedient .
True / FalseSocrates’ book “Escape From Reason” played an important role in leading Augustine to Christianity.
True / FalseWhen condemned to death, Socrates was given the chance to propose an alternative penalty and he suggested the he receive free meals in the Pryntaneum.
True / FalseAristotle did not believe that politics was an appropriate subject for philosophy and that Plato was wrong to have inquired into the nature and practice of politics.


Essay Questions:

On separate sheets of paper, give comprehensive well-ordered treatments to the following topics.

  1. Either, (a) based upon our discussions in class, define history and explain its importance for those holding a Christian worldview, or (b) explore some Biblical texts which have been intertwined with our study of Early Western Civilization.


  1. (a) Julius Caesar’s rise to power, or (b) Daniel’s visions and the flow of human history.


  1. Compare and contrast Plato and Aristotle, their ideas, and their influence.




Grading for this exam:

Essay questions  – 10 points each

Short answer & chronology – 2 points each

All other questions – 1 point each


Filed Under: Blog, Education, Front Page, History, Philosophy, PoliticsTagged With: Early Western Civilization, Greece, Israel, Philosophy, Roman Empire

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