Robert W. Strayer
Ways of the World: A Brief Global
History with Sources
Second Edition
Chapter 3
State and Empire in Eurasia/North Africa
(500 B.C.E.–500 C.E.)
Copyright © 2013 by Bedford/St. Martin’s
I. Empires and Civilizations in Collision:
The Persians and the Greeks
A. The Persian Empire
1. King of Kings: Cyrus & Darius
a. Absolute authority over subjects/ centralized state
b. Lavish lifestyles
2. Multiculturalism
a. System of satraps to rule large area
b. Respected diverse cultures and religions of people in
conquered areas
3. Infrastructure
a. Royal road
b. Equal taxation
c. Bureaucracy
I. Empires and Civilizations in Collision:
The Persians and the Greeks
B. The Greeks
1. Hellenes
a. Common identity, language, religion, rituals
b. 776 BCE began Olympic Games as celebration
2. City-states
a. Rivalry among various city-states
1. Sparta vs. Athens
- Militaristic vs. Democracy
3. Expansion by migration
a. Came in waves around Mediterranean and Black Sea
b. Spread Greek culture, language, architecture
4. Citizens and hoplites
a. New political ideas – individual as a participant of the
larger
state AKA - CITIZEN
b. Hoplites – men who could afford armor served in military:
led to challenge of elites for rights
I. Empires and Civilizations in Collision:
The Persians and the Greeks
C. Collision: The Greco-Persian Wars
1. Ionia
a. Greek city-states under Persian rule revolted with help
from Athens
b. Persia MAD – sought revenge on Greece
2. Athens: Victorious, democratic, and imperial
a. 2 major battles with Persia – WON!
b. Resulted in offers of citizenship to lower classes to
show the success of their political system
3. The Peloponnesian War, 431–404 B.C.E.
a. Athens vs. Sparta: civil war
b. Athens lost, Greece vulnerable for Macedonian
invasion
I. Empires and Civilizations in Collision:
The Persians and the Greeks
D. Collision: Alexander and the Hellenistic Era
1. Philip II and Alexander
a. Father/son duo of Macedonia
b. Alexander invaded Persian empire and won,
expanded
kingdom as far out as Afghanistan and India
2. Spread of Greek culture
3. Alexandria and Bactria
a. Hellenization of kingdom – fusion of Greek and
eastern
cultures, seen in architecture, law making, art, and
language
Alexander the Great
II. Comparing Empires:
Roman and Chinese
A. Rome: From City-State to Empire
1. An upstart republic
a. Weak and poor – originally
b. Through warfare, conquered and incorporated
neighboring territories
c. Patricians: wealthy citizens
d. Plebeians: poorer classes
2. An expansionist warrior society
a. Army enjoyed special privileged status
b. Brought defeated people into Rome as slaves
c. Used expansion for defensive purposes of the
large empire
II. Comparing Empires:
Roman and Chinese
A. Rome: From City-State to Empire
3. Changing gender norms
a. Males as head of household: pater familias
b. Elite women had less restricted life
with
4. Civil war and death of the republic
a. Expansion led to gaps in wealth
b. More slaves
c. Farmers could not compete, became more
impoverished or joined army
d. Civil war led to various emperors, which ruled
absolute power while trying to preserve the symbols of
the republic – Senate, citizenship, voting, taxation
II. Comparing Empires:
Roman and Chinese
B. China: From Warring States to Empire
1. Qin Shihuangdi’s brutal quest for order
a. Not creating new (ROME), but returning to the past
b. Belief that one state would establish order
c. State of Qin established
1. Strong bureaucracy and army
2. First Emperor
d. Legalist rule: Enforced the authority of the state\
e. Standardized: weights, measures, cart axels, money,
language, writing
f. Built a large portion of the GREAT WALL
The Evolution of Chinese
Writing
Pictographs
Semantic-Phonetics
The Great Wall with Towers
Start
here
Emperor is
defeated !!
Rebel bands find
strong leader who
unites them.
Attack the emperor.
Poor lose
respect for govt.
They join rebels
& attack landlords.
A new
dynasty
comes to power.
The emperor
reforms the govt.
& makes it more
efficient.
The
Dynastic
Cycle
Droughts,
floods,
famines occur.
Lives of common
people improved;
taxes reduced;
farming encouraged.
Problems begin
(extensive wars,
invasions, etc.)
Taxes increase;
men forced to
work for army.
Farming neglected.
Govt. increases
spending;
corruption.
II. Comparing Empires:
Roman and Chinese
B. China: From Warring States to Empire
2. The moralistic and moderate Han
a. Qin dynasty was short due to harsh tactics
b. Han established and used Qin infrastructure
c. Adopted Confucian morals and ideology
d. Longer lasting and expanded territory greatly
II. Comparing Empires:
Roman and Chinese
C. Consolidating the Roman and Chinese Empires
1. Supernatural sanctions
a. Rome: Emperors were revered as gods
b. Mandate of Heaven
2. Absorbing foreign religion
a. Rome: Christianity, Persian, Egyptian faiths accepted
b. China: Buddhism from India
c. Faiths in both empires spread through transportation
systems
3. Paths to assimilation
a. Rome: minority in multiethnic empire, granted
citizenship to all free peoples in empire
b. China: Large area that was already ethnically
Chinese, easy
to assimilate conquered peoples
II. Comparing Empires:
Roman and Chinese
C. Consolidating the Roman and Chinese Empires
4. The use of language
a. Rome: Latin spread and lead to develop of other
languages
b. China: Character based and pronunciation differs, but
reading the characters was the same throughout empire
5. Bureaucracy versus aristocracy
a. Rome: Relied on aristocracy and military to rule and
create laws – wanted good laws
b. China: Bureaucracy based on political and
philosophical principles emphasizing morality of the governing classes
–
wanted good men
II. Comparing Empires:
Roman and Chinese
D. The Collapse of Empires
1. Over-extension
a. The got too big, unable to control outlying areas
2. Rivalries amongst elites
3. Pressures from nomadic people
a. Rome: Pressure from Germanic peoples and Huns
b. China: Pressure from people of the steppes to the
North
4. Revival?
a. Both empires sought to recreate, only successful in
China with new dynasties arising (Sui, Tang, Song)
III. Intermittent Empire:
The Case of India
1. The Aryan Controversy
2. Political fragmentation and cultural diversity, but a distinctive
religious tradition
a. Many small states/kingdoms
b. Hinduism
3. Mauryan Empire (326-184 B.C.E.)
a. First empire
4. Ashoka (r. 268-232 B.C.E.)
a. Most famous ruler
b. Converted to Buddhism, moralistic ruler
c. Commissioned many pillars and rock edicts
Asoka’s
Empire
III. Intermittent Empire:
The Case of India
5. Gupta Empire (320-550 C.E.)
a. Flourishing of art, architecture, literature, commerce, and
science
6. Great civilizational achievements without a central state
a. Without a significant empire, developed long-distance trade
network, spiritual movements, work in math and astronomy
Gupta Empire:
CE
320 CE – 647
500 healing
plants identified
1000 diseases
classified
Printed
medicinal guides
Plastic
Surgery
Gupta
Achievements
Kalidasa
Literature
Medicine
Inoculations
Gupta
India
C-sections
performed
Decimal
System
Mathematics
Concept
of Zero
PI = 3.1416
Solar
Calendar
Astronomy
The earth
is round
Extensive Trade:
4c
spices
gold & ivory
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