1.What common features can you identify in the empires described in this chapter?
•All empires controlled large areas and populations.
•All empires were brought together by conquest and funded in part by extracting wealth from conquered peoples.
•All empires stimulated the exchange of ideas, cultures, and values among the peoples they conquered.
•All empires sought to foster an imperial identity that transcended more local identities and loyalties.
•All empires ultimately collapsed.
2.In what ways did these empires differ from one another? What accounts for those differences?
•Some empires sought to rule through local elites; other empires sought to rule with a more centralized power structure.
•Some empires were new; others drew on older traditions.
•Some empires lasted for considerably longer periods than others.
•Some empires assimilated conquered peoples more quickly and completely than others.
3.Are you more impressed with the “greatness” of empires or with their destructive and oppressive features? Why? This question can reasonably be answered either way:
•Empires were impressive because of the impact they had on regions that they conquered; their sheer size and the number of subjects over which they ruled; their military conquests; and their monumental architecture, often associated with the promotion of political authority.
•Their use of force in the creation of empires and their use of coercion to extract resources, particularly from conquered peoples, offer a strong argument that they were destructive and oppressive.
4.Do you think that the classical empires hold “lessons” for the present, or are contemporary circumstances sufficiently unique as to render the distant past irrelevant?
•This question can be answered successfully from several perspectives,
although in order to argue that the classical empires are irrelevant a student would have to address the arguments made in the Reflections section of the text.
•A student might focus on the cultural memory of empires being used in the modern world. The Reflections section offers examples of Mao Zedong, the modern Indian nonviolence movement, the British imperial education system, and Mussolini all using the examples of previous empires as models for their own societies.
•As prompted by the opening and closing sections of the chapter, a student might draw potential lessons for the United States today, especially from the model of Rome, whose conquests led to a political shift from a republican to an imperial political system.
•A student could also argue that basic problems of classical empires, such as overextension and the creation of a unified identity that redefines conquered peoples, are timeless issues still relevant today. Margin Review Questions
Q.How did Persian and Greek civilizations differ in their political organization and values?
•The Persians built an imperial political system that drew upon previous Mesopotamian polities, including the Babylonian and Assyrian empires. The Persian Empire was far larger than its predecessors, stretching from Egypt to India, and ruled over some 35 million subjects.
•The Persian system was centered on an elaborate cult of kingship in which the emperor was secluded in royal magnificence and was approachable only through an elaborate ritual.
•Persian emperors were considered absolute in their power and possessed a divine right to rule by the will of the Persian god Ahura Mazda.
•The Persian Empire was ruled through an effective administrative system that placed Persian governors, called satraps, in each of twenty-three provinces, while lower-level officials were drawn from local authorities.
This system was monitored by imperial spies.
•Persia’s rule of its many conquered peoples was strengthened by a policy of respect for the empire’s non-Persian cultural traditions.
•In contrast, Greek political organization was based on hundreds of independent city-states or small settlements of between 500 and 5,000 male citizens.
•The Greeks did not build an empire but did expand through the establishment of colonies around the Mediterranean and Black seas.
•The most distinctive feature of Greek political culture lay in the extent of popular participation in political life that occurred within the city-states. This participation was based on the unique ideas of “citizenship,” of free people running the affairs of state, and of equality for all citizens before the law. Political participation in Greek city-states was much wider than in Persia, but it varied considerably between city-states and over time. Early in Greek history, only the wealthy and wellborn had the rights of full citizenship, but middle- and lower-class men gradually obtained these rights in some city-states.
•Nowhere was participation universal. The widest participation occurred in Athens beginning in 594 b.c.e., when the reforming leader Solon took Athenian politics in a more democratic direction, breaking the hold of a small group of aristocratic families. Debt slavery was abolished, access to public office was opened to a wider group of men, and all citizens were allowed to take part in the Assembly. Later, all holders of public office were chosen by lot and were paid, so that even the poorest could serve. Athenian democracy was direct rather than representative. Even at its height, it was far from universal, with well over half the population, including women, slaves, and foreigners, excluded from participation.
2.Why did semidemocratic governments emerge in some of the Greek city-states?
•Growing numbers of men were able to afford the armor and weapons that would allow them to serve in the armies of the city-states.
•In many places, dictators known as tyrants emerged for a time, usually
with the support of the poorer classes, to challenge the prerogatives of the wealthy. One example is the Athenian leader Solon, who emerged in 594 b.c.e. During his rule, he broke the hold on power of a small group of aristocratic families in Athens. At the same time, he abolished debt slavery, increased access to public office to a wider group of men, and allowed all citizens to take part in the Assembly.
3.What were the consequences for both sides of the encounter between the Persians and the Greeks?
•While no doubt embarrassing, the failure of the Persian invasions of Greece had very little impact on the Persian Empire.
•Defeat of the Persian armies was a source of enormous pride for Greece. For the Greeks (especially the Athenians), it confirmed their view that Greek freedoms strengthened their will to fight, while Persia came to represent despotism. This view persisted into the twentieth century in European thinking in the notion of an East/West divide in which Europe (the West) represented freedom and Asia (the East) represented despotism.
•Greek victory radicalized Athenian democracy, because service by poorer Athenians as rowers in the navy placed them in a position to insist on full citizenship.
•The fifty years following the Greco-Persian Wars were the high point for participation in Athenian democracy.
•The fifty years following the defeat of the Persians also witnessed the Golden Age of Greek (and especially Athenian) culture, a period when monumental buildings like the Parthenon in Athens were built, Greek theater was born, and Socrates was beginning his career as a philosopher.
•But the Greco-Persian Wars also led to an era of incipient empire. After the war, Athens tried to solidify its dominant position among the Greeks who had allied against Persia, and this led to intense resentment and finally to a bitter civil war known as the Peloponnesian War. Athens was defeated, while the Greeks exhausted themselves and magnified their distrust of one another. This infighting ultimately opened the way for Macedonia to conquer the Greek city-states.
4.What changes did Alexander’s conquests bring in their wake?
•Alexander’s conquests led to the widespread dissemination of Greek culture into Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India. The major avenue for this spread lay in the many cities established by the Greeks throughout the Hellenistic world.
5.How did Rome grow from a single city to the center of a huge empire?
•The values of the Roman republic, including rule of law, the rights of citizens, absence of pretension, upright moral behavior, and keeping one’s word—along with a political system that offered some protection to the lower classes—provided a basis for Rome’s empire-building enterprise.
•Victory in the Punic Wars with Carthage (264–146 b.c.e.) extended Roman control over the western Mediterranean and made Rome a naval power.
•As the empire grew, each addition of territory created new vulnerabilities that drove further conquests.
•Poor soldiers hoped for land, loot, or salaries.
•The well-to-do or well-connected gained great estates, earned promotion, and sometimes achieved public acclaim and high political office by participating in empire building.
•The wealth of long-established societies in the eastern Mediterranean spurred Roman conquests, as did the resources and food supplies of the less developed western Mediterranean.
•Rome’s central location in the Mediterranean basin made empire building easier.
•Rome’s army was a key to its success. It was drawn from the growing population of Italy and was renowned for being well trained, well fed, and well rewarded.
•As the empire grew, so did political support in Rome for its continued expansion. This ensured that the necessary manpower and resources were committed to empire building.
6.How and why did the making of the Chinese empire differ from that of the Roman Empire?
•Unlike the Roman Empire (which was new), the Chinese empire represented an effort to revive an imperial tradition that already existed under the Xia,
Shang, and Zhou dynasties. Because of the preexisting imperial tradition in China, the process of creating the empire was quicker, though it was no less reliant on military force and no less brutal than the centuries-long Roman effort.
•Unlike Rome’s transition from republic to empire, the creation of the Chinese empire had only brief and superficial domestic repercussions.
7.In comparing the Roman and Chinese empires, which do you find more striking—their similarities or their differences?
•The Roman and Chinese empires shared many common features, though they did also differ in important ways. In general, the Chinese empire was able to foster greater cultural homogeneity and more centralized political control than did its Roman counterpart.
•Both defined themselves in universal terms.
•Both invested heavily in public works designed to integrate their respective domains militarily and commercially.
•Both invoked supernatural sanctions to support their rule. Both absorbed foreign religious traditions, though the process unfolded somewhat differently. In the case of Rome, Christianity was born as a small sect of a small province in a remote corner of the empire.
•From there, it spread slowly for several centuries, mostly among the poor and lower classes, suffering from intermittent persecution. In the fourth century c.e., it obtained state support from the emperors and thereafter spread quite rapidly, becoming the dominant religious tradition throughout Europe in the centuries after the fall of Rome. In the case of China, Buddhism came from India, far beyond the Chinese world. It was introduced by Central Asian traders and received little support from Chinese rulers until the Sui dynasty emperor Wendi (589–618 c.e.). Even then it became only one of several religious strands in a complex Chinese mix.
•The Roman and Chinese empires also had a different relationship to the societies that they governed.
•The Romans ruled as a distinct minority within the empire. Over time, the
empire did assimilate conquered peoples by granting them Roman citizenship for service to the empire or in recognition of their adoption of Roman culture. In 212 c.e., Roman citizenship was bestowed on all free people of the empire. The Chinese empire, by contrast, grew out of a much larger cultural heartland that was already ethnically Chinese.
•Moreover, as the Chinese empire expanded to the south, it actively assimilated non-Chinese people.
•The Roman Empire assimilated more cultural traditions, with Roman and Greek culture freely mixing and other non-Roman cultural traditions—including the cult of the Persian god Mithra, the cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis, and the Judaism-derived religion of Christianity—spreading throughout the empire. In China, with the exception of Buddhism, Chinese culture was widely recognized as the model to which others should conform. It experienced little competition from an older, venerated, or foreign tradition.
•Language served the two empires in important but contrasting ways. Latin, an alphabetic language depicting sounds, gave rise to distinctive languages— Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian. Chinese did not, in part because Chinese written characters, which represented words or ideas more than sounds, were not easily transferable to other languages. But written Chinese could be understood by all literate people no matter which spoken dialect of the language they used. So Chinese, more than Latin, served as an instrument of elite assimilation.
•Politically, both empires established effective centralized control over vast regions and huge populations.
•But the Chinese, far more than the Romans, developed an elaborate bureaucracy to hold the empire together.
•The Chinese relied on a civil service system, complete with examinations and selection by merit; the Romans relied more on regional elites and the army to provide cohesion. The Romans, though, unlike the Chinese, developed an elaborate body of law applicable equally to all people of the realm.
8.How did the collapse of empire play out differently in the Roman world and in China?
•While the Han Empire came to an end in 220 c.e., only the western half of the Roman Empire collapsed, leaving the eastern half (subsequently known as the Byzantine Empire) to maintain the tradition of imperial Rome for another thousand years.
•Nomadic or semi-agricultural peoples occupying the frontier regions of both empires became growing threats that ultimately conquered portions of both empires. However, the nomads who successfully invaded and settled in north China assimilated culturally, while the nomads who invaded and settled in Western Europe developed their own ethnic identities, even as they drew on Roman law and adopted Roman Christianity. Thus, the collapse of the western portion of the Roman Empire produced greater cultural changes that ultimately provided the foundation for the hybrid Latin and Germanic civilization that would arise in Western Europe.
•The most significant difference between the collapse of the Roman world and the Chinese world is that, after 350 years, a Chinese imperial state was reassembled under the Sui (589–618 c.e.), Tang (618–907 c.e.), and Song (960–1279 c.e.) dynasties. In the western part of the Roman Empire, no large-scale, centralized, imperial authority, encompassing all of Western Europe, has ever been successfully reestablished for any length of time.
9.Why were centralized empires so much less prominent in India than in China?
•Indian empires failed to command the kind of loyalty or exercise the degree of influence that Chinese empires did.
•India’s unparalleled cultural diversity made a centralized empire less easy to construct than in more culturally united China.
•The frequency of invasions from Central Asia in comparison to China also made centralized empire less likely, because Indian states, which otherwise might have provided the nucleus for an all-India empire, were repeatedly smashed by invaders.
•In contrast to the situation in China, India’s social structure, embodied in a caste system linked to occupational groups, made for intensely local loyalties at the expense of wider identities that might have fostered empires.
Ch 5 Big Picture and Margin Questions
Big Picture Questions
1.“Religions are fundamentally alike.” Does the material in this chapter support or undermine this idea? This question can constructively be answered either way:
•In support of the thesis that religions are fundamentally alike, students could point to influences like that of Zoroastrianism on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam or the influence of Judaism on Christianity and Islam.
•Students could also note similarities across traditions, like those between Buddhism and Christianity highlighted in the chapter.
•To emphasize differences, students could point to differences even within cultural traditions, such as the beliefs that separate the Hindu and Buddhist faiths.
•Students could also point to important differences across cultural traditions, such as the difference between the conception of
God in the Jewish and Christian traditions,
Brahman in the Indian tradition, or the dao in
the Chinese tradition.
•Students could also note the difference between Greek and Confucian philosophy and the traditions that focus on the supernatural.
2.Is a secular outlook on the world an essentially modern phenomenon, or does it have precedents in the classical era?
•The philosophical systems of both China and Greece are central to any possible answers.
•In China, Legalism possessed several features of a modern secular political philosophy in its reliance on law and the enforcement of law to secure a stable society.
•The thrust of Confucian teaching was distinctly this-worldly and
practical. Confucianism was primarily concerned with human relationships, with effective government, and with social harmony.
•Greek thought, with its emphasis on argument and logic, relentless questioning of received wisdom, confidence in human reason, and enthusiasm for puzzling out the world without much reference to the gods, also provides a precedent for modern secular outlooks on the world.
3.“Religion is a double-edged sword, both supporting and undermining political authority and social elites.” How would you support both sides of this statement?
•In answering this question students must consider the issue of what is and what is not a religion. Legalist and Confucian ideas along with Greek rationalism should be placed to one side, although students could note that (like religions) philosophies can both support and threaten political authorities and social elites. Both Legalist and Confucian traditions are largely supportive of political authorities and social elites, while Greek rationalism, as seen in Socrates’ death, could threaten the political and social elites.
•In support of political and social authority, students could readily point to individual instances where new and popular religions were adopted by elites. Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism in Mauryan India provides one example, the support of the Achaemenid dynasty for Zoroastrianism another. Finally, the adoption of Christianity by Constantine and the ultimate reinforcement of patriarchy by the Christian church speak to the political and social support that a new religion could provide to established power structures.
•More generally, the tendency of several religions to focus the believer’s attention away from action in this world also served to support political authority and social elites. This was true of Daoism in China, Buddhism in India, and Christianity in the Roman Empire.
•However, if followed, the teachings of many religions put real constraints on political and social authorities. For instance, Ashoka’s adoption of
Buddhism limited the scope for his legitimate use of violence, while dictates about the treatment of the poor and the equality of all believers in the Christian faith brought into question the social norms of Roman society.
•Religious leaders could prove subversive to the current system, as the execution of Jesus by the Roman authorities indicates. Also, the teachings of a faith could potentially challenge established authorities.
•For instance, the strict monotheism practiced by early Christians effectively precluded the worship of Roman gods, which traditionally was seen as a sign of obedience and loyalty to the Roman Empire.
4.How would you define the appeal of the religious/cultural traditions discussed in this chapter? To what groups were they attractive, and why?
•Some religious/cultural traditions, including Legalism and Confucianism, found widespread appeal among the elite because they reinforced the established social structure that defined the elites.
•Other traditions, like Buddhism and Christianity, appealed to the lower strata of society because they offered universal salvation to all believers regardless of class or gender.
•Traditions such as Judaism appealed to all strata of one ethnic group because they defined a special relationship between that group and a powerful divine entity.
•However, each cultural and religious tradition explored in this chapter appealed to its adherents because it brought guidance for living along with meaning and order to life. Margin Review Questions
1.What different answers to the problem of disorder arose in classical China?
•Three major schools of thought that emerged from the Warring States period.
•Legalism was a hardheaded practical philosophy based on a rather pessimistic view of human nature that assumed that people were stupid and shortsighted.
•Supporters of Legalism argued that only the state could act in the long-term interests of society as a whole. They advocated a system of clearly defined laws and rules, strictly enforced through rewards and punishments, as the best means of securing desirable behavior from subjects.
•Confucianism argued that social harmony could only be restored through the moral example of superiors. Confucius emphasized that, because human society (both within the family and in public life) consisted primarily of unequal relationships, social harmony relied on the superior party in these relationships behaving with sincerity, benevolence, and genuine concern for others. Only then would the inferior party be motivated to respond with deference and obedience.
•Daoism provided a third alternative, arguing that disorder stemmed from human actions and that order could return to life if people withdrew from the world of political and social activism and instead aligned themselves with dao, the way of nature. In practice, this meant simplicity in living, small self-sufficient communities, limited government, and the abandonment of education and active efforts at self-improvement.
2.Why has Confucianism been defined as a “humanistic philosophy” rather than a supernatural religion?
•The thrust of Confucian teaching was distinctly this-worldly and practical, concerned with human relationships, effective government, and social harmony.
•Confucianism is based on the cultivation of ren—translated as human-heartedness, benevolence, goodness, nobility of heart. Ren is not achieved through divine intervention but rather is nurtured within the person through personal reflection, education, and a willingness to strive continuously to perfect one’s moral character.
•Ritual and ceremonies nurture ren, not because of contact with the supernatural but because they convey rules of appropriate behavior in the many and varying circumstances of life.
3.How did the Daoist outlook differ from that of Confucianism?
•Daoists found Confucian emphasis on education and the earnest striving for moral improvement and good government artificial and useless. Instead, Daoists urged withdrawal into the world of nature and encouraged behavior that was spontaneous, individualistic, and natural.
•Daoists turned the spotlight onto the immense realm of nature and its mysterious unfolding patterns, while Confucians focused on the world of human relationships.
4.In what ways did the religious traditions of South Asia change over the centuries?
•It is difficult to generalize about religious tradition in South Asia because of the variety of religious patterns in the region. However, there was a general evolution away from a religion based on external sacrifice and ritual to one of philosophical speculation, and finally to one of devotional worship and detached action in the world.
5.In what ways did Buddhism reflect Hindu traditions, and in what ways did it challenge them?
•Buddhism reflected Hindu traditions in the idea that ordinary life is an illusion, in the concepts of karma and rebirth, the goal of overcoming the incessant demands of the ego, the practice of meditation, and the hope for final release from the cycle of rebirth.
•Buddhism challenged Hindu traditions through its rejection of the religious authority of the Brahmins, the lack of interest in abstract speculation about the creation of the world or the existence of gods, and its rejection of the inequalities of a Hindu-based caste system through its belief that neither caste position nor gender was a barrier to enlightenment.
6.What is the difference between the Theravada and Mahayana expressions of Buddhism?
•The Theravada expression was championed by monks and nuns who withdrew from society to devote themselves fully to the quest for nirvana. It portrayed the Buddha as an immensely wise teacher and model, but certainly not divine. It was more psychological than religious, a set of practices
rather than a set of beliefs. And the gods, while never completely denied, played little role in assisting believers in their search for enlightenment.
•The Mahayana expression proclaimed that help was available to reach enlightenment. Within this expression, bodhisattvas, spiritually developed people who postponed their own entry into nirvana in order to assist those who were still suffering, could help the believer. The Buddha himself could also help. The Buddha became something of a god, and both earlier and future Buddhas were available to offer their help on the path to enlightenment. The Mahayana expression developed elaborate descriptions of these supernatural beings, together with various levels of heavens and hells that ultimately transformed Buddhism into a popular religion of salvation. As part of this development, religious merit leading to salvation might now be earned by acts of piety and devotion, and merit might be transferred to others.
Q.What new emphases characterized Hinduism as it responded to the challenge of Buddhism?
•Hinduism emphasized more clearly that action in the world and the detached performance of caste duties might provide a path to salvation.
•Another emphasis was on devotion to one or another of India’s many gods and goddesses. One manifestation of this emphasis was the bhakti movement, which involved intense adoration of and identification with a particular deity through songs, prayers, and rituals associated with the many cults that emerged throughout India. The most popular deities were Vishnu and Shiva.
Q.What aspects of Zoroastrianism and Judaism subsequently found a place in Christianity and Islam?
•Zoroastrian concepts of the conflict between God and an evil counterpart, the notion of a last judgment and resurrected bodies, a belief in the final defeat of evil, the arrival of a savior, and the remaking of the world at the end of time all influenced Judaism. Some of these teachings, especially the concepts of heaven and hell and of a coming savior, also became prominent in Christianity and Islam through this influence on Judaism.
•From Judaism, both Christianity and Islam drew a distinctive conception of the divine as singular, transcendent, personal, separate from nature, engaged in history, and demanding social justice and moral righteousness above sacrifices and rituals.
Q.What was distinctive about the Jewish religious tradition?
•Unlike other Mesopotamian peoples, the Jewish people through time came to believe in a single god, whom they called Yahweh.
•The Jews came to understand their relationship with Yahweh as a contract or covenant. In return for their sole devotion and obedience, Yahweh would consider the Jews his chosen people.
•Unlike other gods in Mesopotamia, Yahweh was increasingly seen as a lofty, transcendent deity of utter holiness and purity, set far above the world of nature, which he had created.
•Unlike the impersonal conceptions of ultimate reality found in Daoism and Hinduism, Yahweh was encountered as a divine person with whom people could actively communicate. He was also a god who acted within the historical process.
•Yahweh was also distinctive in that he was transformed from a god of war into a god of social justice and compassion for the poor and marginalized.
Q.What are the distinctive features of the Greek intellectual tradition?
•Emphasis on argument and logic
•Relentless questioning of received wisdom
•Confidence in human reason
•Enthusiasm for puzzling out the world without much reference to the gods
Q.How would you compare the lives and teachings of Jesus and the Buddha? In what different ways did the two religions evolve after the deaths of their founders?
•Their backgrounds were very different. Jesus was a rural or small-town worker from a distinctly lower-class family, while Gautama was born into a ruling family and was surrounded by luxury.
•Both became spiritual seekers, mystics in their own traditions, who claimed to have personally experienced another level of reality. Those powerful religious experiences provided the motivation for their life’s work
and the personal authenticity that attracted their growing band of followers.
•Both were “wisdom teachers,” challenging the conventional values of their time, urging the renunciation of wealth, and emphasizing the supreme importance of love or compassion as the basis for a moral life.
•Both called for the personal transformation of their followers.
•Jesus inherited from his Jewish tradition an intense devotion to a single personal deity with whom he was on intimate terms. According to the New Testament, the miracles Jesus performed reflected the power of God available to him as a result of that relationship.
•The Buddha’s original message largely ignored the supernatural, involved no miracles, and taught a path of intense self-effort aimed at ethical living and “mindfulness” as a means of ending suffering.
•Jesus’ teachings had a sharper social and more political edge than those of the Buddha.
•Jesus’ public life was very brief, probably less than three years compared to over forty years for the Buddha.
•Neither Jesus nor the Buddha probably planned to found new religions.
•Both the Buddha’s and Jesus’ messages emerged soon after their deaths as separate religions proclaimed to much wider and more inclusive audiences.
•Both the Buddha and Jesus were transformed from teachers into gods by their followers.
•The Christian faith was ultimately promoted as the single legal faith in the Roman Empire. Buddhism, while supported by some rulers, was never promoted to the exclusion of other faiths in India.
•Both Buddhist and Christian followers clashed over interpretation of their respective founder’s teachings.
•However, Buddhist disagreements generally lacked the clear-cut distinctions defined by “right” and “wrong” that Christian disagreements developed.
Q.In what ways was Christianity transformed in the five centuries following
the death of Jesus?
•Jesus became divine in the eyes of his followers.
•Christianity developed from a small Jewish sect into a world religion that included non-Jews.
•It spread throughout the Roman Empire, first largely among the “lower stratum” of people in the towns and cities, but as it gained in popularity, Roman rulers sought to use its popularity as a glue to hold together a very diverse population in a weakening imperial state.
•In the fourth century, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and all polytheistic religions were banned.
•Christianity adopted elements of religious practice in the Roman world as it spread and converted the population.
•It developed a hierarchical organization, with patriarchs, bishops, and priests.
•It ultimately developed a patriarchal, male-dominated clergy.
•It sought unity in matters of doctrine and practice, but ultimately permanent divisions formed. Chapter 6 Big Picture and Margin Answers:
Big Picture Questions
1.What is the difference between class and caste?
•Both systems are used to define social hierarchy.
•The caste system defined social groups more rigidly and with less opportunity for social mobility than in many class-based systems.
•The caste system defined the social order in terms of religious ideas about the creation of the universe more explicitly and more closely than many class-based systems.
2.Why was slavery so much more prominent in Greco-Roman civilization than in India or China?
•There were far more slaves in the Greco-Roman world.
•Slaves played a critical role in the economy of the Greco-Roman civilization.
•Slaves participated in a more diverse array of occupations in the Roman Empire than they did in other classical civilizations—from among the highest and most prestigious positions to the lowest and most degraded ones.
3.What philosophical, religious, or cultural ideas served to legitimate the class and gender inequalities of classical civilizations?
•Every classical system drew on ideas to legitimate class and gender inequalities.
•In China, Confucian philosophy was used to justify both the class system and patriarchy, although peasants successfully used Daoism when rebelling against established authorities.
•Religious beliefs underpinned the caste system in India—the varnas (the four classes of society) were described as being formed from the body of the god Purusha; one’s current place in the caste system was explained through the concepts of karma and rebirth; and one’s future lives were determined in part by dharma or the fulfillment of one’s caste duties.
•Greek rationalism underpinned key ideas about class and gender in the Mediterranean world. Aristotle developed the notion that some people were “slaves by nature” and should be enslaved for their own good and for that of the larger society. This idea helped to justify large-scale slave ownership in classical Athens, where perhaps one-third of the population were slaves, and continued to justify slave ownership in ancient Rome. Greek philosophers, including Aristotle, also provided a set of ideas that justified the exclusion of women from public life and their general subordination to men. According to Aristotle, women were infertile men who were inadequate because they could not generate sperm (which contained the “form” or “soul” of a new human being). From this understanding of women came further ideas, such as that women, like children or domesticated animals, were influenced unduly by instinct and passion and lacked the rationality to take part in public life.
4.“Social inequality was both accepted and resisted in classical civilizations.” What evidence might support this statement?
•Support for this statement can be found in the successful maintenance of social structures based on inequality in every classical civilization. Thus one could point to the reality of a slave-based society in the classical Mediterranean world, the caste system in India, or the class system in China.
•Support for this statement can also be found in the philosophical and religious systems of classical civilizations, including Greek rationalism, the Hindu faith, and Confucian philosophy.
•While resistance in the form of small-scale
theft, sabotage, or other acts of defiance have left no historical trace, more dramatic and widespread forms of resistance to social inequality in the form of Spartacus’s slave revolt in the Roman Empire or the Yellow Turban peasant rebellion in China show that, when given the chance, those at the bottom end of the social structure could and did oppose the social order.
5.What changes in the patterns of social life of the classical era can you identify? What accounts for these changes?
•The classical era brought no dramatic changes in the social structures of societies. Rather, it brought further strengthening of cultural traditions and institutions that reinforced social inequality and patriarchy.
•Strong states like China or Rome served to strengthen social inequality and patriarchy.
•Also underpinning these changes were the development of classical belief systems, including the caste system in India, Confucian and Legalist philosophies in China, and Greek rationalism in the Mediterranean region.
6.“Cultural and social patterns of civilizations seem to endure longer than the political framework of states and empires.” Based on Chapters 4, 5, and 6, would you agree with this statement?
•Chapters 4, 5, and 6 offer much evidence to support this statement.
•Chapter 4 traces the rise and collapse of classical Eurasian empires, none of which survived beyond 550 c.e.
•Meanwhile, Chapter 5 explores the creation of a number of cultural traditions that continue to have relevance and attract followings even today, including Confucian and Daoist ideas from China; Buddhist and Hindu traditions from India; and Zoroastrian, Jewish, Greek rational, and Christian traditions from the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean.
•Chapter 6 explores several features of classical social hierarchies that
persisted long after the collapse of the classical empires. Key here are the social hierarchy of China, which persisted into the twentieth century, and the caste system of India, which continues to influence Indian society today. Slavery also continued to be a major social phenomenon in many regions into the late nineteenth century. Finally, some elements of patriarchies that evolved during the classical era remain influential today. Margin Review Questions
Q.How would you describe the social hierarchy of classical China?
•At the top of the social hierarchy in China were the emperor’s officials, who represented the cultural and social elite.
•Officials were in large part drawn from wealthy landowning families. Despite the efforts of Chinese emperors, landowners remained a central feature of Chinese society, especially since many members of this group also served the emperor as his officials.
•Peasants made up the largest part of the Chinese population. By the first century b.c.e., population growth, taxation, and indebtedness had resulted in many peasants becoming tenant farmers rather than farmers who owned their own land. There was significant differentiation between peasant families; some worked or owned enough land to feed themselves and perhaps sell something at the local market, while others could barely survive.
•The elite in Chinese society possessed a largely negative view of merchants, who were viewed as unproductive people who made a shameful profit by selling the work of others. The authorities made periodic efforts to rein in merchant activity, but despite active discrimination, merchants frequently became quite wealthy, and some tried to achieve respectable elite status by purchasing landed estates and educating their sons to become civil servants.
Q.What class conflicts disrupted Chinese society?
•One conflict was between the emperor and wealthy landowners; the emperor worked to limit the accumulation of estates by large landowners, who could potentially threaten his power.
•Another class conflict in Chinese society had elite officials and landowners on one side and peasants on the other. Landowners often extracted high rents of up to two-thirds of the harvest from the peasants who worked the land. Meanwhile, the state required payment of taxes and about a month’s labor each year. Particularly after a series of bad harvests, peasants frequently abandoned their land, forming bandit gangs or rising up against their social superiors, as was the case with the Yellow Turban Rebellion, which reached its peak in the 180s c.e.
•A final conflict had landowners and officials on one side and merchants on the other. Merchants did not enjoy a favorable reputation in the eyes of China’s cultural elite. They were widely viewed as unproductive and as making a shameful profit from selling the work of others. Merchants were also seen as a social threat, as their ill-gained wealth impoverished others, deprived the state of needed revenues, and fostered resentments. The authorities made periodic efforts to rein in merchant activity, but despite active discrimination, merchants frequently became quite wealthy, and some tried to achieve respectable elite status by purchasing landed estates and educating their sons to become civil servants.
Q.What set of ideas underlies India’s caste-based society?
•India’s caste-based society grew out of the interaction of culturally diverse peoples and the development of economic and social differences between them.
•By 500 b.c.e., there was a clear belief that society was organized into four great classes (varnas), with one’s position in this system determined by birth.
•Three classes were pure Aryans: the Brahmins (priests); the Ksatriyas (warriors and rulers); and the Vaisyas (peasants).
•The final class was not of Aryan heritage and was known as the Sudras; they were native peoples who served in very subordinate positions.
•According to varna theory, the four segments were formed from the body of the god Purusha and were immutable.
•In reality, there was considerable social change in ancient India. For instance, the Vaisya varna developed into a merchant class, while the Sudra
varna became the peasants. A new group known as the untouchables emerged below the Sudras; they undertook the most polluting and unclean tasks.
•As the varna system took shape, another system of occupationally based groups known as jatis emerged and blended with the varna system. The jatis became the primary cell of social life in India beyond the family or household. Each jati was associated with one of the great classes or with the untouchables. Within a particular village or region, the jatis were ranked in a hierarchy. Each jati was associated with a particular set of duties, rules, and obligations that defined its members’ position in the wider society.
Q.What is the difference between varna and jati as expressions of classical India’s caste system?
•The varna system was older. It provided broad categories in a social hierarchy that explained social inequality.
•The jatis were occupationally based groups that split the varnas and the untouchables into thousands of smaller social groupings based on occupation. Jatis became the primary cells of social life in India beyond the family or household. Each jati was associated with one of the great classes or with the untouchables. Marriage and eating together were permitted only within one’s own jati, and each jati was associated with its own particular set of duties, rules, and obligations, which defined its members’ unique and separate place in the larger society.
Q.How did India’s caste system differ from China’s class system?
•India’s caste system gave priority to religious status and ritual purity, while China elevated political officials to the highest of elite positions.
•The caste system divided Indian society into a vast number of distinctive social groups compared to the broader categories of Chinese society.
•The caste system defined social groups far more rigidly and with even less opportunity for social mobility than did China’s class system. Q.How did the inequalities of slavery differ from those of caste?
•Slaves possessed the status of outsiders, whereas each jati possessed a
recognized position in the social hierarchy.
•Slaves were owned and sold, unlike members of the caste system.
•Slaves worked without pay, unlike members of the caste system.
•Slaves lacked any rights or independent personal identity, unlike individuals in the caste system.
•In some traditions, slaves could transform
their status by being freed by their master or
by purchasing their freedom. Also in some
traditions, children of slaves were considered
free at birth. These traditions offered more opportunities for social mobility than did the caste system.
Q.How did Greco-Roman slavery differ from that of other classical civilizations?
•Greco-Roman society depended more on slaves than did other classical civilizations.
•There were far more slaves in the Greco-Roman world than in other classical civilizations.
•Slaves participated in a greater number and range of occupations than in other classical civilizations, from the highest and most prestigious positions to the lowest and most degraded. Slaves were excluded only from military service.
Q.In what ways did the expression of Chinese patriarchy change over time, and why did it change?
•Long-established patterns of thinking in terms of pairs of opposites were now described in gendered and unequal terms, with the superior symbol of yang (associated with heaven, rulers, strength, rationality, and light) viewed as masculine and yin (associated with the earth, subjects, weakness, emotion, and darkness) viewed as feminine.
•Thinkers emphasized the distinction between the public and political roles of men and the private domain of women.
•The idea of the “three obediences” was also emphasized; it described a woman’s subordination first to her father, then to her husband, and finally to her son. •The Chinese woman writer Ban Zhao recorded how women were
taught from birth that they were inferior and subordinated to men and should be passive and subservient in their relations with men.
•Emerging Confucian ideology played an important role in the evolving ideas about patriarchy in Chinese society.
Q.How did the patriarchies of Athens and Sparta differ from each other?
•Athens placed increasing limitations on women between 700 and 400 b.c.e.
•Athens completely excluded women from public life.
•Athens required that women be represented by a guardian in legal matters, and women were not even referred to by name in court proceedings.
•Athens restricted women to the home, where they lived separately from men.
•In Athens, marriage customarily saw a woman in her mid-teens marry a man ten to fifteen years her senior.
•In Athens, land passed through male heirs.
•Spartan women possessed more freedom.
•Sparta’s fear of helot rebellion meant that great value was placed on male warriors.
•In this context, the central task for women in Spartan society was reproduction—specifically, the bearing of strong healthy sons.
•To secure strong sons, women were encouraged to strengthen their bodies, and they even participated in public sporting events.
•Spartan women were not secluded or segregated like their Athenian counterparts.
•Spartan women married men about their own age, putting the new couple on a more equal basis.
•Men were often engaged in or preparing for war, so women in Sparta had more authority in the household.
•However, as in Athens, women in Sparta lacked any formal public role.
Ch 7 Big Picture and Margin Answers
Big Picture Questions
1.“The histories of Africa and the Americas during the classical era largely resemble those of Eurasia.” Do you agree with this statement? Explain why or why not.
•There is evidence to support both a yes or no answer to this question.
•In support of the statement, students could point to the emergence of powerful states, especially in Axum and Teotihuacán, which sought to create empires.
•Students could also point to the parallels between the Maya civilization and classical Greece.
•Students could cite the spread of the Chavín cult as being in some ways a parallel development to the emergence of widespread religious traditions in Eurasia.
•However, the Ancestral Pueblo and mound-building societies of North America and regional civilizations such as the Moche of South America more closely resemble the Neolithic villages and First Civilizations of Eurasia than they do their classical counterparts.
2.“The particular cultures and societies of Africa and of the Americas discussed in this chapter developed largely in isolation from one another.” What evidence would support this statement, and what might challenge it?
•Evidence in support of this statement includes the complete physical separation and lack of contact between the African and American cultures and societies discussed in this chapter;
•The geographic and cultural separation between Meroë and Axum on the one hand and the Niger Valley civilization on the other also provides support.
•So too does the significant physical distances that separated Andean, North American, and Mesoamerican civilizations, along with the lack of sustained contact between these three regions.
•Evidence to challenge this statement includes the extensive interaction between the Maya and Teotihuacán civilizations; the conquest of Meroë by Axum; and the encounters between Bantu-speaking peoples and gathering and hunting groups, including the Batwa, as the Bantu-speaking peoples migrated into Africa south of the equator.
•The Chavín religious cult, which provided for the first time and for several centuries a measure of economic and cultural integration to much of the Peruvian Andes, also challenges the statement.
•Additional challenging evidence is the critical arrival of maize from Mesoamerica into the Ancestral Pueblo and mound-building societies.
3.What generated change in the histories of Africa and the Americas during the classical era?
•In Africa, driving forces of change included the migration of the Bantu peoples into Africa south of the equator, the emergence of Niger Valley urban centers, and the rise and fall of both Axum and Meroë.
•Contact with the trade networks of Eurasia also generated change in Africa. Through contact along these networks, Christianity arrived in northeastern Africa, including Axum. Axum derived its written script from South Arabia. The Bantu-speaking peoples adopted new crops, including coconuts, sugarcane, and especially bananas, which Indonesian sailors and immigrants brought to East Africa early in the first millennium c.e.
•In the Americas, the emergence of the Maya and Teotihuacán civilizations pushed Mesoamerican civilization toward new levels of complexity.
•The Chavín religious cult provided for the first time and for several centuries a measure of economic and cultural integration to much of the Peruvian Andes.
•The spread of maize into North America made it possible for the Ancestral Pueblo society to take shape and allowed Cahokia to achieve a higher degree of sophistication than did the mound-building societies that preceded it. Margin Review Questions
Q.How did the history of Meroë and Axum reflect interaction with neighboring civilizations?
•Both Meroë and Axum traded extensively with neighboring civilizations. Meroë’s wealth and military power were in part derived from this trade. The formation of a substantial state in Axum was at least in part stimulated by Axum’s participation in Red Sea and Indian Ocean commerce and the taxes that flowed from this commerce.
•Both Meroë and Axum developed their own distinct writing scripts. A Meroitic script eventually took the place of Egyptian-style writing, while
Axum’s script, Geez, was derived from South Arabian models.
•Axum adopted Christianity from the Roman world in the fourth century c.e., primarily through Egyptian influence, and the region once controlled by Meroë also adopted Christianity in the 340s c.e. following Meroë’s decline.
Q.How does the experience of the Niger Valley challenge conventional notions of “civilization”?
•The Niger River region witnessed the creation of large cities with the apparent absence of a corresponding state structure. These cities were not like the city-states of ancient Mesopotamia, nor were they encompassed within some larger imperial system.
•Instead, they resemble most closely the early cities of the Indus Valley civilization, where complex urban centers also apparently operated without the coercive authority of a centralized state.
Q.In what ways did the arrival of Bantu-speaking peoples stimulate cross-cultural interaction?
•The Bantu-speaking peoples brought agriculture to regions of Africa south of the equator, enabling larger numbers of people to live in a smaller area than was possible before their arrival.
•They brought parasitic and infectious diseases, to which the gathering and hunting peoples had little immunity.
•They also brought iron.
•Many Bantu languages of southern Africa retain to this day distinctive “clicks” in their local dialects that they adopted from the now vanished gathering and hunting peoples that preceded them in the region.
•Bantu-speaking peoples participated in networks of exchange with forest-dwelling Batwa (Pygmy) peoples. The Batwa adopted Bantu languages, while maintaining a nonagricultural lifestyle and a separate identity. The Bantu farmers regarded their Batwa neighbors as first-comers to the region and therefore closest to the ancestral and territorial spirits that determined the fertility of the land and the people. As forest-dwelling
Bantu peoples grew in numbers and created chiefdoms, those chiefs appropriated the Batwa title of “owners of the land” for themselves, claimed Batwa ancestry, and portrayed the Batwa as the original “civilizers” of the earth.
•Bantu farmers in East Africa increasingly adopted grains as well as domesticated sheep and cattle from the already-established people of the region.
•They also acquired a variety of food crops from Southeast Asia, including coconuts, sugarcane, and especially bananas, which were brought to East Africa by Indonesian sailors and immigrants early in the first millennium c.e.
Q.With what Eurasian civilizations might the Maya be compared?
•Because of its fragmented political structure, classical Maya civilization more closely resembled the competing city-states of Mesopotamia or classical Greece than the imperial structures of Rome, Persia, or China.
Q.In what ways did Teotihuacán shape the history of Mesoamerica?
•Its military conquests brought many regions into its political orbit and made Teotihuacán a presence in the Maya civilization.
•Teotihuacán was at the center of a large trade network.
•The architectural and artistic styles of the city were imitated across Mesoamerica.
Q.What kind of influence did Chavín exert in the Andes region?
•Chavín-style architecture, sculpture, pottery, religious images, and painted textiles were widely imitated in the region.
•Chavín became a pilgrimage site and perhaps a training center for initiates from distant corners of the region.
•At locations three weeks or more away by llama caravan, temples were remodeled to resemble that of Chavín, although in many cases with locally inspired variations.
•The Chavín religious cult provided for the first time and for several centuries a measure of economic and cultural integration to much of the Peruvian Andes.
Q.What features of Moche life characterize it as a civilization?
•The Moche civilization dominated a 250-mile stretch of Peru’s northern coast, incorporated thirteen river valleys, and flourished for seven hundred years beginning in 100 c.e.
•The Moche economy was rooted in a complex irrigation system that required constant maintenance.
•Politically, the civilization was governed by warrior-priests, who sometimes lived atop huge pyramids, the largest of which was constructed out of 143 million sun-dried bricks.
•The wealth of the warrior-priest elite and the remarkable artistic skills of Moche craftspeople are reflected in the elaborate burials accorded the rulers. The Moche craftspeople are renowned for their metalworking, pottery, weaving, and painting.
Q.In what ways were the histories of the Ancestral Pueblo and the Mound Builders similar to each other, and how did they differ?
•The Ancestral Pueblo and Mound Builders were similar in a number of ways.
•Their settlements were linked into trading networks, and they also participated in long-distance exchange.
•Both groups created structures to track the heavens.
•Both ultimately adopted maize from Mesoamerica.
•They also differed in a number of ways.
•The Mound Builders participated in an independent Agricultural Revolution and continued to supplement their diets by gathering and hunting until maize arrived from Mesoamerica after 800 c.e. The Ancestral Pueblo peoples acquired maize from Mesoamerica much earlier and settled into a more fulltime agricultural culture earlier in their development.
•The Mound Builders created larger monumental architecture both in their burial mounds and in their geometrical earthworks than did Ancestral Pueblo peoples, although the Ancestral Pueblo people did create kivas as ceremonial centers and networks of roads that may have had religious significance.
•The largest mound-building settlements, like Cahokia, were far larger urban centers than those of the Ancestral Pueblo.
•In comparison to the mound-building cultures, the Ancestral Pueblo society started later and did not last as long.