Comparing Empires: Roman and Chinese
Consolidating the Roman and Chinese Empires 1. both empires defined themselves in universal terms 2. both invested heavily in public works 3. both claimed supernatural sanctions a. deceased Roman emperors as gods (imperial cult) i. persecution of Christians for nonparticipation in cult b. Chinese emperor as Son of Heaven i. rule by Mandate of Heaven ii. dependent on just rule iii. heavy ritual duties to maintain relationship between earth and heaven iv. moral government spelled out by writings of Confucius and his followers The Han Dynasty was heir to the Qin state that had unified China in 221 BCE. The first ruler of the Qin established the title of “emperor.” The power of a Chinese emperor was
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At the bottom of society were convicts, beggars and slaves, who formed a small part of the population. For wealthy families, life was good; they displayed their wealth in lavish meals, and lived in large homes in which women lived in the inner quarters. Poorer farmers and tenant laborers worked on their fields. Women in poorer families did not have such luxury and often worked in the fields with their husbands or acted as entertainers. Silk clothes were abundant and worn by all classes. Music and entertainment were separated from rituals, with the exception of funeral rites which were taken very seriously. Han society was influenced by the effects of Confucianism and legalism. The legalist thought believed at least in theory that everyone was equal under the emperor. Therefore, punishments for the same crimes were the same in writing, though this was not always carried out. Social mobility was also relatively great, especially in the military. Some Han generals such as Wei Qin and Hui Zhu Bing began their lives as servants' sons. The influence of the nobility was also weaker as the new merchant class asserted its presence and wealth energetically; the Han abolished hereditary positions. In theory, everyone could become an official.
role of language differed in the two empires a. Latin (alphabetic language) gave rise to Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian b. Chinese characters (represented words or ideas) could not be transferred