1) What were the main similarities and differences between Greek and Roman political structures? Answer: Similarities: emphasis on aristocratic principles with some democratic elements, localism, and city-state units. Differences: Rome had more emphasis on unifying laws and more success in developing institutions for empire. (Students could be assigned some additional reading on this topic.)
2) What is the significance of the Hellenistic period in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean history? Answer: This period saw the spread of Greek cultural forms as well as mergers with other cultural elements in the Middle East and North Africa; important new cultural contacts extending to India were established.
3) Assign (through some further reading) an “intellectual biography” essay on one of the following: Socrates, Plato, Sophocles, Aristotle, Vergil, Cicero. Answer: Evaluation will assess students’ analysis of the chosen figure’s main contributions to political, philosophical and/or literary culture.
4) Compare the main features of the social structure of the classical civilizations in the Mediterranean, China, and India. Answer: Student essays should address which social group sat atop the social hierarchy (aristocrat versus bureaucrat versus priest), and groups at the bottom. They should also touch on degrees of mobility and intergroup contact while noting all three systems’ extensive social inequality and cultural justifications, and the strong positions of merchants in each society.
5) In which society-India, China, or the Mediterranean- would you have wanted to be a merchant in the classical period? Explain your choice. Answer: While there’s no right answer, this question is designed to encourage students to think about the merchant’s roles in India where they enjoyed cultural support via applicable features of dharma in the Mediterranean, which students can position as an intermediate case needing careful treatment, especially with regard to foreigners...
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