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BillBalent

AncientHistory:PortfolioReflection
6/26/2016
ALookBackinTimetoDifferentLaw&Ethics
ThroughoutthissummersemesterinAncientHistory134,wehavelearnedofmanygreat
civilizations.Atthebeginningofmanasnomadsroamedtheearth,governmentceasedtoexist,
aspeopledidnotsettleinplacesforextendedperiodsoftime.Withtheevolutionofman,came
thetechnologyandknowledgetobeginfarmingtheland.Theuseofagricultureasameansof
foodgavepeopletheabilitytosettleinanarea,whichgaverisetocivilizations.Aspopulations
startedtogrow,theimportanceoflawsandethicsbecameanintegralpartofeverycivilization.
Throughouthistorywehaveencounteredseveralgreatleadersandgovernmentsthatheldcontrol
ofpopulationsforhundredsofyears.Asastudentofancienthistoryitisimportanttostudythese
lawsandethicsofancientcivilizationstohelpbetterthesocietythatIliveintoday.Most
importantly,itispertinenttopassthisinformationdowntofuturesocietiesbecausehistorywill
repeatitself.InthisportfolioreflectionIwilltakeadeeperlookintodifferentcivilizationsfrom
thepastandhowthegovernmentplayedakeyroleinthefoundationoffuturegenerationsor
civilizations.WebeginourjourneyinAncientGreecewereweseemultipledifferent
governmentsacrossthedifferentcitystates,consistingofdemocracies,monarchies,and
tyrannicalrulers.FromAncientGreecewewilltakeanindepthlookintotheRomanRepublic
andhowmuchoftheirgovernmentmirroredthedemocraciesthatwasapartofAthenianhistory.
AstheRepublicbegantofall,weseetheriseoftheemperorsinImperialRome.Muchlikethe

emperorAugustusinImperialRome,theemperorsofImperialChinausedtheMandateof
Heaventoshowtheirrighttobetheonetrueemperoroftheland.
AncientGreececonsistedofnumerouscitystatesthatactedindependently,never
unifyingthelanduntilthegreatkingsofMacedoniatookcontrol.ThroughoutAncientGreece
thegovernmentvariedfrommonarchiesandtyrants,todemocracy,whichmanyhistorians
believe,isthegreatestcontributionthattheGreeksintroducedtohistory.Littleisknownofthe
governmentintheGreekcitystatesasmanyoftherecordswerenotkeptordestroyedoverthe
pastcouplethousandyears,butthisisnotthecaseforAthens,astheirdominanceasacitystate
hascarriedthroughthecenturies.QuotedfromPericlesin431BCE,Athensconstitutionis
calledademocracybecauseitrespectstheinterestsnotoftheminoritybutofthewholepeople.
Whenitisaquestionofsettlingprivatedisputes,everyoneisequalbeforethelaw;whenitisa
questionofputtingonepersonbeforeanotherinpositionsofpublicresponsibility,whatcountsis
notmembershipofaparticularclass,buttheactualabilitywhichthemanpossesses
(http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Government/).ManycitystatesfollowedAthensintodemocracy
suchasArgos,Syracuse,Rhodes,andErythurai.WhatmadetheAtheniangovernmentsogreatis
that,intheory,everymalecitizenage18yearsorovercouldspeakandvoteintheassembly.
Thisdidntmeanthatallthevoiceswereheardthough,ascertainindividuals,usuallythe
wealthyandbestspeakersdominatedtheassembliesthatwereheldatleastonceamonth.In
Sparta,wesawamuchdifferentstyleofgovernmentinasomewhatmonarchyasthereweretwo
kingsthatruledtheland.Noonemanwouldholdallofthepower,asonemanwouldmarchthe
armyintobattleandtheotherwouldkeepcontrolbackinthehomeland.(1)

JustliketheAthenians,theRomanRepublichadglimmersofdemocracy,asassemblies
suchasthesenateactedasanadvisoryboard.Thesenateconsistedofabout300membersthat
werenominatedbytheirbirthrightorbytheirachievedrank.Thesenatewouldbegroupsof
peoplewhowouldnotvoteindividually,butratherthemajorityvoicewasrepresentedbya
singlevote.InthisfashionofvotingbytheSenate,stateofficialswereelectedtopower.Tobe
nominatedtotheSenate,theconsulswouldelectthemembers,andlaterbythecensors.This
formofdemocracyhelpedholdthoseincontrolincheck,iftheleaderwasgettingoutofcontrol;
thesenatewouldhelpgroundhim.AlthoughitseemsasiftheSenateheldmuchpowerinthe
RomanRepublic,theydidnothavethepowerasalegislativebodythatwouldpasslaws.The
mostimportantroleoftheRomanSenatewastoadheretoforeignpolicyandbeinchargeofthe
financingofthestateandempire.FromthislooselycalleddemocracyoftheRomanRepublic,
theRomanEmpirewouldtransitionintoonepersonleadingtheentireempireastheemperor.(2)
AstheshiftinpowershooktheRomanEmpire,thehistoryofRomewouldchangeas
individualstookcontroloverbloodyconflicts.NolongerwasthereaRepublicthathadthe
remainsofdemocracy,astheEmperorsbegantocontrolallaspectsofthegovernment.As
Augustustookcontrolafteracivilwar,heutilizedreligiontoprotecthisposition,while
furtheringhispoliticalagendainthemeantime.AsAugustusgainedcontroloverRome,he
begantouseatacticusedthroughouthistorywithaligninghimselfasagodamongstmen.
AugustuswantedthepeopleofRometoseehimastheirsupremeleader,bytheuseofHalleys
comet.Atthebeginningofhisreign,HalleyscometpassedoverRome,andAugustusclaimed
thatitwashisfathersspirit,JuliusCaesar,enteringheaven.ThiswasimplyingthatAugustus
wasthesonofagod,makinghisspiritualpresenceknown.Thisuseofreligionasameansof

powerwouldappearinotherpartsoftheworld,mostnotablyinImperialChinathroughthe
MandateofHeaven.(3)
Movingtothefareast,theemperorsofChinaalsoutilizedthegodsaspartoftheir
governmentastheMandateofHeavenwasusedtoexpressonesrighttobetheabsoluterulerof
theland.ThefourprinciplestotheMandateofHeaveninclude:1.Heavengrantstheemperorthe
righttorule,2.Sincethereisonlyoneheaven,therecanonlybeoneemperoratanygiventime,
3.Theemperorsvirtuedetermineshisrighttorule,and,4.Noonedynastyhasapermanent
righttorule.Theshiftfromdemocracytoanabsoluterulershowsthedifferentgovernment
throughouttheancientworld.TheMandateofHeavenwassimilartotheEuropeanDivineRight
ofKingsinthefactthattheheavenschosewhowastorules,excepttheDivineRightofKings
choseabloodlinethatwastoruletheland,notjustoneemperor.TheMandateofHeavencould
chooseanypersontobetheemperor,andmanygreatdynastieslosttheirMandateofHeaven
aftersocialcollapses.ItissaidthatanemperorlosthisMandateofHeavenwhensomenatural
disastersoccurredsuchasdrought,famine,floodsandearthquakes.Emperorsalsolosttheirright
iftherewasaninvasionofforeigntroopsorevenapeasantuprising.(4)
Thepurposetolearninghistoryissothathistorydoesnotrepeatitself.Takingalook
backattheancientworldandthegovernmentsthatexisted,itisimportantformetodayto
understandwhysomecivilizationsthrivedformanyyearsandwhathelpedwiththeircollapse.
Frommystudiesthroughoutthesemester,itwasapparentthattherulersthatruledina
benevolentmannerfurtheredbothtechnologyandcultures,astheywereabletoextendtheir
landsandacceptnewcomers.ThisismostevidentintheexamplesthatIchosetodiscussinthe
AtheniansandtheHanDynastyofImperialChina.Bothcivilizationswereabletothrive,Athens

becauseoftheirdemocraticgovernment,andImperialChinaundertheHanDynastybecauseof
theirbenevolentemperor.Throughtheseperiodsoftime,itwasclearthattraditionsandcultures
werepassedalongbordersthroughtrade.Goingforwardasanindividual,itisimportantthatI
takemypartinthedemocraticgovernmentwehaveintheUnitedStatesbytakingpartinlocal
andnationalelections.Byvoicingmyopinionabouttheancientworld,Icantryandsteerfuture
generationsintherightdirectionasyougetmorewithhoneythanyoudowithvinegar.
Sources
(1) Cartwright,Mark.AncientHistoryEncyclopedia.
http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Government/.March17,2013.Web.

Inlearningmodule5,welearnedmuchoftheAncientGreekcivilization.Thissource
providedbywww.ancient.euaboutthedifferentGreekcitystatesandgovernments
giveanindepthlookintowhatmadeAncientGreekagreatcivilization.Through
nontraditionalmonarchies,oligarchies,anddemocracy,theGreekcitystateswere
abletorulethemselves,astheyneverwereunifieduntilKingPhilipIIofMacedonia
unifiedthelands.

(2) Kamm,Antony.TheRomans:AnIntroduction.http://www.the
romans.co.uk/assemblies.htm.Web.
Duringlearningmodule8,earlyRomeandtheRomanRepublicwerethediscussion
underdebate.FollowingthegroundworkoftheAthenians,theRomanRepublicwas
abletoconstructsomewhatofademocracyastheyhadaSenatethatwouldbean
advisoryboardtowhomwasincharge.Throughtheseindividualsinvolvedin
politics,themajorityvoiceofthepeoplecouldbeheard.
(3) NA.DetroitPublicTelevision.DevillierDoneganEnterprises.
http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/augustus_religion.html.2006.Web.
Followinglearningmodule8intolearningmodule9,ImperialRomewasinthehot
seataswetookadeeperlookintowhatmadetheEmpireofRomesogreat.AsRome
wasunderpowerstrugglesandtookaturnfromdemocracyintoonemanrulingthe
empire,differenttacticswereusedtoassertauthorityoverthepeople.Mostnotably,
Augustususedthethoughtthathewasthesonofagodtoadvancehispolitical
agendaandkeepcontrolofRome.
(4) Szczepanski,Kallie.WhatIstheMandateofHeaven?AboutEducation.
http://asianhistory.about.com/od/ancientchina/f/WhatIsTheMandateOfHeaven.htm.
January14,2015.Web.

ThefinalcivilizationthatIchosetoreflectonwasImperialChinafromlearning
module12.Muchlikeitscounterpartinthewest,ImperialChinahadonemanwho
ruledtheentireland.Theemperorwasselectedbywhatwasthoughttobethe
MandateofHeaven.MirroringthesamepoliticsthatAugustususedinRome,the
peoplethoughtthattheHeavenschosewhowastobetheiremperor.Atanygiven
time,anemperorcouldlosehisMandateofHeaven.Thisrightcouldbebestowedon
anyman,andduringperiodsbetweenthethreegreatdynasties,manycivilwarswere
usedtoplacesomeoneinpower.