The German philosopher Karl Jaspers famously spoke of an “axial age” spanning roughly between 800 B.C. and 200 B.C. during which most of the great extant spiritual and intellectual traditions in many diverse parts of the Eurasian land mass began to take clear form.
In China, Confucius spread his doctrine of moral education and social harmony, while the Tao Te Ching spoke of communion with the deep principles of nature.
In India, Hindu mystics set down their profound insights in The Upanishads, and Prince Siddartha Goutama renounced worldly life to become the Buddha preaching a doctrine of compassion and deliverance from suffering existence.
In Ancient Israel, religion developed toward an ethical monotheism as prophets like Isaiah and Micah thundered against injustice, cruelty to the weak, and idolatry as offenses against the one true God.
It was also during this period that the European classical tradition emerged. Homer and other poets penned their great epochs and the Greek Drama emerged in the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. It was in this time also that the Greek City-State gave birth to democracy.
Then it was that philosophy began in ancient Ionia, and reached its climax as the great philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle forged a new ideal of life around reason, virtue, and the care of the soul. It was also during this period that the early foundations of the Roman republic were laid.
Is there any relationship among these events in disparate places? Specifically are there any connections or parallels between the classical tradition and other intellectual or spiritual developments of this time? And how do these events and thoughts from this distant time continue to shape us today?