World History MG
January 10th, 2011
A Lesson In Oppression
In the short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, the author Ursula Le Guin tries to convince the readers that a civilization can only be successful if it oppresses a weaker or smaller group of people. In many cases like the Roman and Mongol Empires, she is correct in thinking this, but in the case of the Aztecs, her thesis doesn't really apply.
In a way, the Aztecs started out as being the weaker or smaller group of people being mistreated. They were a nomadic people struggling to survive as they wandered around the Mexican Valley and were even enslaved by another tribe once before they finally settled down, so they started out as the oppressed, not the oppressers. (Minnesota State University EMuseum) When they first reached Tenochtitlan, they caught their own food, grew their own crops, and did everything they needed to survive without using the hard labor of slaves like the Romans did, which proves they didn’t need to rely on slaves to do all their hard work. Even though they did start to use slavery, the Aztec slaves were only either criminals, or people who willingly sold themselves into slavery so they weren’t really being mistreated and they could buy their freedom or marry into it if they wanted to (The Awesome Aztecs For Kids). It’s easy to see that Ursula Le Guin’s Thesis does not apply to the Aztecs because they didn’t rely on oppression to rise to power, they did it themselves.
Ursula Le Guin's thesis fits the Roman Empire perfectly. The group that the Roman's oppressed were the people at the bottom of their social class; the slaves. The Romans relied on slavery heavily from jobs as small as serving meals, to jobs as important as building buildings (History On The Net). The Romans could not have become as powerful or stayed in power for as long as they did without the use of slavery. Slaves in the Roman Empire did work on farms which supplied all the food. They also repaired aqueducts which supplied all the water. The slaves also built roads for transportation and buildings and made things like leather, silver goods, and pots and pans which were used as trade items (History On The Net). Slaves did the most tiresome undesirable jobs and were often treated badly (History Learning Site). They were often injured and sometimes killed while working (History On The Net). Slaves were responsible for most of the food, furniture, entertainment, clothing, pottery, and many other things the Romans held valuable and needed to survive . This goes to prove that the Romans could not have become what they had if they had not oppressed those who were unfortunate enough to become