World Civ I
Persia & Rome
The foundations of an ancient empire are shaped by many characteristics originating in a civilization’s social, philosophical, and theological values. Collectively these will bring about an empire that has aspects which will classify them in distinctive ways. The aspects that will be compared between Persia and Rome are the motives for expansion, methods of expansion, the administration, the impact on those conquered and the original empire, and the reasons for the decline of each empire. When combined, these aspects predispose the individual overall shape of ancient Rome and Persia. Both empires began with conquering larger rulers and creating vast empires which had never been seen before, but as they grew, their ideologies on diversification differed because of the characteristics of their empires. The Persians mainly decided to let those which they conquered remain culturally unaltered allowing for more acceptance and acknowledgement of their ruling entity. On the other hand, the Romans aggressively attempted to Romanize the conquered, creating unease and tension.
Ancient Persia started by taking over weakening rulers in their territories. The Persians were originally based in what is current day Iran as organized peoples under the control of early Mesopotamian rulers. The Medes were an early civilization that ruled the area where the Persians lived with a strong hand. During the sixth center B.C.E. the Babylonian and Assyrian empires weakened through small time wars and disagreements which allowed for an already restless new man to lead the first revolt. This man overthrew the ruling empire and became the new ruler; this man was known as Cyrus (Stearns, Herodotus and the Persian Empire, 40). Cyrus was a man of humble beginnings; he came from a mountain village and was known as “Cyrus the Sheppard” (Bentley and Ziegler, 161). Once the Persians overthrew their Mede rulers they mounted a massive expansionary campaign. In what was one of the fastest expansions in ancient times, Cyrus went from being King of the tribes to King of the empire in all of twenty years (Bentley and Ziegler, 161). The Persians relished and perfected an offensive approach to expansion. Cyrus instigated the wars that the Persians were part of in order to gain more power and wealth. The Persians method of expansion was war. Persia was effective in this strategy because they came out of nowhere fast. Before Cyrus there had not been a leader who had the guts to stand up to the Medes. Even though Harpagus was behind the entire plan, he saw that Cyrus has what it would take to overthrow the Mede ruler Astyges and successfully punish him for his harsh ruling (Stearns, Herodotus and the Persian Empire, 38-39). The Persians ruled only a small portion of land and were mainly tribesman before they removed the Medes from power. Within twenty years of overthrowing their conquerors, the Persians ruled from Egypt to Central Asia (Bentley and Ziegler and Ziegler, 161). Why this worked so well was because before anyone really realized what was happening, the Persians had already attacked and were moving on to the next victim. Loose alliances and slow communication also aided Cyrus in his venture of expansion as many smaller empires did not have the resources or man power to slow the Persian powerhouse. Upon conquering the Medes Cyrus established himself as King of the Persians (Bentley and Ziegler, 161). He established this ideology of rule for the rest of the empire, along with the idea of hereditary rule. There was a centralized power in the King and his capital, but in order to run all the regions of the empire easier, the King appointed governors which were called satraps. These governors ran day-to-day tax collection and dealt with the people within their domain making sure that everything ran smoothly in a cog and wheel fashion. In addition to the satraps the King appointed local...