Comparison of Roman Empire to Han Dynasty

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Classical China encompasses three major dynasties: the Zhou, the Qin, and the Han. When Shi Huangdi of the Qin Dynasty was killed in 210 B.C., angry peasants organized massive rebellions. One peasant leader defeated all his opponents and in 202 B.C., he formed the third dynasty of classical China: the Han. The Han Dynasty existed for more than 400 years, until 220 C.E.

The rise of Rome was the last phase of classical Mediterranean civilization, after Rome conquered Greece and the Hellenistic kingdoms in 100 B.C.E. The local monarchy that would someday become one of the world's most powerful empires began around 800 B.C.

Political institution was extremely important in classical China. Under the Han Dynasty, the power of the emperor and bureaucracy were emphasized. The organized structure of government allowed such a large territory to be effectively governed, even though it was the largest political system in the world at the time. The Han's political framework stressed male dominated families. Han rulers didn't support local warrior-landlords, believing that they were corrupt. Because bureaucracy was so important, civil service exams were first given, a tradition that would be incorporated into modern poli-tics. Not only did bureaucracy effectively govern, but it had a sort of checks and balance on the upper class. Chinese bureaucracy from the Han Dynasty existed well into the twentieth century.

The imperial government sponsored intellectual life, such as astronomy and mathematics. Han rulers promoted Confucianism, with the idea that they were in charge of their subjects' beliefs. The administration also took part in the economy. It organized production, standardized currency and measures, sponsored public works like canal sys-tems and irrigation, and tried to regulate agricultural supplies to control price increases.

The Roman republic allowed all citizens to meet in assemblies to elect magis-trates. The most important legislative body was the Senate, made up of aristocrats. Public service and participation, political ethics, uncorrupt government, and oratory were ex-tremely important. Roman leaders were very tolerant of local customs and religions and believed that well made laws could hold the lands together. Aristocratic leaders supported legal codes to protect private property as well as their poor subjects. It was a sort of check on the upper class. They believed that laws should evolve to keep up with the demands of the changing society. Imperial law codes also controlled property rights and trade. The law of the land was fair and equal for everyone, for the most part. The Roman govern-ment also supported public works like roads and harbors to facilitate transport and com-merce. It also supported an official religion, but tolerated others as long as they didn't interfere with loyalty to the state.

Unlike the Chinese, the Romans didn't emphasize as much on hierarchy, obedi-ence, or bureaucracy, but more on participation. However, some of the Romans' political writing did resemble Confucianism. Both governments also supported government funded public works.

Early Han rulers expanded Chinese territory, pushing into Korea, central Asia, and Indochina. This expansion led to contact with India and the Parthian Empire in the Middle East, which ultimately lead to trade and commerce. The Han Dynasty and classi-cal China as a whole was an agricultural society; therefore, there were wide gaps between the upper class and the common people, who were generally farmer-peasants. Slaves were used, but not much, because there were plenty of peasants to work. Trade mostly encompassed luxury items for the upper class, such as silks, jewelry, and furniture. Cop-per coins began to be used, which smoothed trade. However, trade and money wasn't very important in society because Confucianism disdained moneymaking lives. Therefore merchants were not highly regarded.

The Roman economy was characterized by agriculture,...
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