So much of history has been written by conquerors, emperors, and kings, that we should find it quite difficult to settle on just a few. Whether it was through conquest, creativity, leadership, or pure luck, some people stood out throughout the ages as being highly influential not only in their time but by leaving their footprint on how the course of history would be shaped over time.
While we may not all agree that these people are worthy of the high praise they receive, we can all agree that they hold a privileged position in the annals of history and that we would all do well to remember their exploits. So without further ado, here are the 20 most inspirational people who ever lived and who for better or worst, shaped the way our world looks like today.
We all know how much of an influence the ancient Egyptians had on the world and who better to praise than one of the leading scientists at the time? By most historical accounts, Imhotep was a highly intelligent polymath that excelled in fields like engineering, architecture, and in setting up one of the few educational centers in the ancient world.
He is credited with designing the Pyramid of Djoser which is one of the very first pyramids the Egyptians built. He also left a mark on the general architectural understanding of many contemporary builders, shaping in many ways the form that many Egyptian structures will take long after his death.
The famous founding father of what is today the United States of America is seen as one of the most influential figures in history and rightfully so. He made a name for himself not only by meeting the military aspirations of the newly created American state at the time through his many victories on the battlefield against the British Crown, but he is also responsible for being the one who replaced the Articles of Confederation in the American Constitution, a change that stands at the very base of the current US Code, which is the consolidation and codification of the general and permanent laws of the United States.
We have all seen Disney movies at some point or another, or at least some of the many cartoons produced by the Disney studios. The man who created it all, Walter Elias “Walt” Disney, is the one who started the world-renowned company in 1920 with his brother Roy. Over time, Walt introduced many techniques in the way cartoons are produced even to this day, being seen by many as one of the grandfathers of animated cartoons. Not only that but he also holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, with no less than 22 Oscars from a total of 59 nominations.
Seen as a controversial figure by many people throughout the Western world, Che Guevara is without a doubt, one of the most influential men in recent history. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, you cannot deny that Che Guevara has had a tremendous impact on the world. The famous revolutionary is seen as an inspiration to millions of people throughout the world, particularly in South America.
He is considered one of the leaders of the socialist revolution that spread on the continent during the middle of last century, a time of trouble when many South American countries were still struggling to find their political identity.
The famous neurologist is perhaps best known as the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology via means of dialogue between a psychoanalyst and a troubled patient. His theories, although some being incorrect, have lead to the development of modern psychoanalysis, a science dedicated to understanding the human psychic in depth so as to help them overcome a multitude of pre-existing or developed conditions through means of psychotherapeutic practices. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that not all psychiatrists consider his theories to be valid, he is perhaps the most quotable figure in the field.
According to historical records, Hippocrates of Jos is the person who established medicine as a profession. This famous ancient Greek physician is considered by most to be the grandfather of Western medicine as a science and for good reasons. During his life, he established the famous Hippocratic School of Medicine, which laid the foundation of all medical sciences today. Furthermore, every single doctor, nurse, or healthcare practitioner has to take the Hippocratic Oath before being able to practice, a set of guidelines written by none other than Hippocrates himself thousands of years ago.
Who hasn’t heard of Darwinism or the theory of Evolution for that matter? The man who first came up with the theory, Charles Darwin, is seen as one of the most influential scientists in history when it comes to evolutionary studies. As a matter of fact, his work helped found evolutionary studies as a science. Because of his conviction that human beings have evolved rather than being created by a providential creator, Darwin wasn’t particularly popular with the Christians at the time, a secular, agnostic view that makes him quite a controversial figure to this day.
Speaking of secular characters, Galileo Galilei definitely deserves a mention among such illustrious characters. Considered by many to be the father of modern science, this famous scientists/astronomer popularized the belief that our planet revolves around a seemingly stationary sun which is also at the center of our solar system.
At the time, however, the Catholic church held the opinion that the Earth stands at the center of the Universe, which needless to say, made Galileo very unpopular with the Christians. It wasn’t until long after his death that his views were accepted as widely true and verifiable, which is why so many scientific instruments nowadays are named in his honor.
Many people consider Archimedes to be one of the smartest people who have ever lived and understandably so. This famous Greek mathematician and inventor has made contributions to the field of mathematics as a science that have pretty much revolutionized the way human beings look at the world around them.
Not only that but his contributions to the field of geometry have influenced other brilliant minds throughout the ages, with people like Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton crediting Archimedes’ work as the foundation of their own accomplishments.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is perhaps the greatest composer in history. The great composer started writing music when he was just six years old, showcasing the type of musical brilliance that would lead him to become one of the greatest composers who ever lived. In fact, the MIT considers Mozart to be the most influential composer in history, with his work standing at the core of many music genres.
Even though Mozart died in his 30s, he still managed to compose more than 600 works in his lifetime, symphonies and compositions that continue to influence music as an art form to this very day.
Throughout the Roman Empire’s long history, no one man held so much power and influence as Julius Caesar, one of the greatest historical figures. Julius Caesar wasn’t just a tremendous general and military strategist but a fairly charismatic politician as well. It is widely accepted that Julius Caesar set up the government structure that would be used to govern the Roman Empire for centuries after his death.
In his time, Julius Caesar was greatly admired not only for his military success or for his charisma, but also for being a champion of the lower classes despite being a man of aristocratic origins.
Many consider Aristotle to be the greatest philosophers of all time along with Plato and Socrates. Together, these great Greek philosophers defined ‘logic’ as a science, completely changing the way human beings looked at things, which is why people like Aristotle are seen with favorable eyes by virtually any group of people on the face of the planet.
In fact, early Muslim writings refer to Aristotle as ‘The First Teacher’ a distinction he more or less holds to this day as researchers at MIT consider him to be the most influential person in history.
Alexander the Great
A lot is known about Alexander the Great, the young man who set up to conquer most of the known world during his lifetime. According to many historians, Alexander is one of the greatest military minds of all times, winning almost every battle, war, or military campaign he took part in. His conquests were so decisive and widespread that he laid out the foundation of what is nowadays known as the Hellenistic period, an era of great cultural and scientific progress throughout the ancient world.
To some extent, Saint Paul is credited with writing most of the New Testament and for spreading the Christian religion throughout the ancient world. Paul of Tarsus, who was a Jew by birth, used his Jewish and Roman citizenship to travel easily throughout the territories of the Roman Empire, spreading Christianity wherever he went.
You see, Paul wasn’t just a missionary but a scholar as well, which vastly helped with his credibility everywhere he would travel, boosting the ranks of Christianity preaching of love and Christ.
Many of you would have heard about the theory of relativity by now, as it is one of the most revolutionary scientific theories ever formulated. The man who came up with it, Albert Einstein, was a German-born theoretical physicist who is credited not only with developing the theory of relativity, which is one of the two pillars of modern physics but also for its influence on the philosophy of science as a whole.
During his life, he published no less than 300 scientific papers along with 150 non-scientific works, all widely acclaimed as visionary and groundbreaking.
Seen as not only one of the influential Chinese people in history, Confucius is also widely viewed as one of the greatest thinkers of all time. His work on the ideology of accountability, devotion, and personal development has inspired millions of people throughout history, including other philosophers and thinkers who used his writings as a foundation for developing their own theories about the world around them. During his life, Confucius was a teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher, yet gaining most of his fame long after his death.
Leonardo da Vinci
Few people can match Leonardo da Vinci’s genius, the famous polymath who is often associated with the Renaissance movement itself. His contributions to painted art, sculpting, architecture, anatomy, mathematics and engineering have revolutionized the way most people in his time looked at things.
Not only that but he is also seen as one of the most talented painters of all time, creating masterpieces like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Another interesting fact about his life is that he pretty much mastered all the sciences he studied, which is why many people see him as perhaps the smartest person who ever lived.
Just like Leonardo, Isaac Newton was a polymath who excelled at everything he set his mind to. The great physicist formulated the three laws of motion which stand at the core of most modern inventions, including airplanes, cars, and space vehicles.
Furthermore, Newton is credited with inventing the reflecting microscope and a handful of other equally useful instruments. Perhaps his most famous trait, however, is his fine understanding of the principles of gravity, a brilliance that has been unmatched to this day.
There are more than a billion Muslims in the world today and they all praise Muhammad as a true messenger of God. This inspirational character is seen as a constant source of inspiration for hundreds of millions of people around the world.
During his lifetime, he was an active reformist, philanthropist, humanitarian, and even a military leader at some point. Seen as an almost divine figure even by non-religious people, nobody can deny that the prophet Muhammad is one of the most inspirational people who ever lived.
Christianity is the most widespread religion on planet Earth, a popularity owed to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who many people consider to have been the son of God. Regardless of what your religious affiliation may be, you simply cannot deny that Jesus Christ, as a historical figure, has had more influence on the world than literally any other figure in history.
Whether you truly believe that he indeed rose from the dead three days after his death becomes irrelevant when you consider the massive following Jesus has throughout the world today.