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Comparison between Persia, Greece, and Rome
Transcript of Comparison between Persia, Greece, and Rome
Classical Empires: Political and Cultural Comparisons
Comparison between Persia, Greece, and Rome
- The Persian empire was founded by 2 Indo-European migrating groups. They were called the Medes and the Persians. They had clans with leaders, and they also had taxes and tribute, which they paid to the Babylonians and the Assyrians.
- Cyrus, who used to be a shepherd, led a rebellion and conquered the Median people. He was a great military strategist and he sparked the beginning of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the Persian empire stretched all the way to India in the east, and Egypt in the west. He conquered Iran, the kingdom of Lydia, and Babylonia. He also conqured the Ionian Greeks. During King Cyrus's reign, there was a centralized administrative system. Cyrus was considered the father of human rights.
- Cyrus's son Cambyses conquered Egypt in 525 B.C.E.
- The greatest Achaemenid Empire, Darius I, extended the empire to the Indus River in northwestern India, Thrace, Macedonia, and the Black Sea/Aegean Sea. After Darius became emperor, he created a centralized administration. The capital, Persepolis, was the center of administration for the Persian empire. Darius divided the empire into 23 satrapies, which were different regions/realms that headed or governed by a satrap. The king usually selected the various satraps. Officials known as the "king's spies" kept watch on the various satrapies to make sure there were no uprisings, etc. There were also administrative posts that were just under the level of satrap. There posts were filled by local officials recruited by the Persian Achaemenid Empire. There were also governors called Tyrants, who watched over the Ionian Greeks. Darius standardized laws.
- The Persian empire had a ruler who was considered to be divine. The government of the Persian empire was a highly organized bureaucracy.
- The Persian empire also had a very strong and efficient army. In fact, the Persian king himself had an army that protected him. They were known as the "Immortals".
- In 500 BC.E. there was a devastating series of conflicts in which the Ionian Greeks rebelled against the Persian Empire. Darius reconquered the Greek city-states in 490 B.C.E but in that same year, the Greeks defeated the Persian at the Battle of Marathon. During Xerxes' reign (486-465 B.C.E), another group of Persian military was sent to Greece but their naval and land forces were all defeated.
At Greece's very start, or in the late third millennium BC, The Minoan society began on the island of Crete. About 2200 BC, the Mycenaean society migrated to the Greek peninsula. These were the very first groups in Greece and their fall led to the formation of city-states, or poleis. The polis is the reason that early Greece was decentralized. Because it was essentially a collection of smaller governments, some were structured differently. There were city-states ruled by an individual like a tyrant or monarch, ones with oligarchies, and ones with democracies. Some well known city states include Athens and Sparta. Athens created the concept of democracy while Sparta was a military oligarchy. Sparta's government was also totalitarian. Many city-states including Sparta focused primarily on military. Early in Greek history they were involved in a large conflict with the Persian empire in the Persian Wars. Famous battles fought include the battle of Marathon and the battle of Thermopylae. After the Persian Wars the rivalry between Athens and Sparta increased, and the Peloponnesian Wars were fought. After, in 338 BC, Phillip II of Macedonia united all of Greece's city-states for the first time ever by conquering it. His son, Alexander, took over in 336 BC. At the height of the empire, and under Alexander's reign, it extended West to Greece, East to India, and South to Egypt.
-Political History: Roman imperialism would begin in earnest after the conquest of Carthage in the Republican era. From the start of the first Punic war in 264BCE to the conclusion of the third Punic War in 146 BCE, Rome would utilize its military power to conquer numerous Mediterranean islands and eventually North Africa itself (where Carthage was located), even after several devastating defeats in the second Punic war to Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca. After consul Julius Caesar (the self-proclaimed Roman dictator-for-life) was assassinated, his grandnephew Octavian assumed the title of Augustus to become the first emperor of Rome (thus creating the Roman empire). The Roman empire would develop a strong enough political presence (through a strong military and established borders) to usher in the Pax Romana, a full two centuries of unprecedented prosperity and peace. Successive emperors would continue to expand and improve various aspects of the empire. Another golden age would begin when emperor Nerva began a tradition of adoption succession (instead of hereditary succession). However, when Marcus Aurelius broke this tradition, the golden age ended due to Commodus's ineptitude. Constant civil war in the third century CE (22 emperors took the throne during this time) would be exacerbated by German, Parthian, and Goth nomads. The Huns, a group of steppe nomads. would nearly sack Rome under Attila. Diocletian and Constantine would bring temporary stability when the former split the empire into eastern and western halves in 284 CE and the latter converted the Roman religion to Christianity from his capital of Constantinople in the east (originally Byzantine). However, Rome's various provinces fell to rebellions and invasions. Unable to maintain its own vastness, the empire was eventually destroyed in 476 CE by the German nomad prince Odovacer, self-proclaimed king of Italy.
-Religion: Roman religion was initially a polytheistic belief based on the original Greek gods. Roman religion was not based on the concept of divine grace, but on a mutual trust (fides) between god and man. By following a set of divine laws (the jus divinum) and respecting the gods carefully, the Romans believed that they would be able to live successfully. While the Roman gods were heavily based on Greek gods (changing names like Aphrodite and Ares to Venus and Mars respectively), the Roman gods were more disciplined and legalistic than their Greek counterparts. Roman religion had been influenced by the Etruscans (who introduced the ideas of animal sacrifices, divination of the future, and a religious calendar), the Egyptians (from which the Romans incorporated the cults of Isis and Serapis/Osiris) ,and many others. After the rise of the empire, Octavian decided to reform and revitalize the declining religion by renaming himself Augustus, a name which infers a connection to divine power. After his death, both he and Caesar would become deified, initiating a tradition of imperial deification which revived interest in the aging religion. However, monotheism gradually replaced Roman polytheism in the 3rd century CE. The Roman philosopher Plotinus invented the concept of Neoplatonism in which he proposed that a single force governed the universe. By 312 CE, influenced by Plotinus's philosophy and interested in Christianity's unique concept of universal charity, emperor Constantine of the eastern Roman empire converted to the religion himself ,and in 380 CE, Theodosius I declared it the official religion of the Roman empire . This would be Rome's religious doctrine until the fall of Rome in 476 CE and the eventual fall of the Byzantine empire much later.
-Government: During the empire, the government was structured as an absolute autocracy centered on the position of emperor. Known as the princeps (or "first citizen"), the emperor took the positions of imperium (absolute authority), consul (chief magistrate, AND pontifex maximus (high priest) as well as imperium proconsulare (governance of the provinces) and imperium proconsulare maius (superiority over all other magistrates). The Consilium Principis (imperial council) would convene biannually to provide the emperor advice ,and the Senate remained the dominant political institution within the government (at least nominally), but the emperor held all of the real power. The rest of the imperial bureaucracy was structured as thus: the Senate was the government's main governing council, issuing decrees, appointing urban magistrates, and occasionally naming the emperor. Senators also had the ability to veto, in which they shouted the word "veto" (I reject) to protest against rulings. The Senate consisted of two major parties: the patricians (the wealthy aristocracy) and the plebians (poor commoners). However, they had been stripped of real political power after the establishment of the empire, and the emperor appointed all senators. It remained mostly to preserve the glory of the republic. The many territories of the Roman empire were mostly governed by proconsuls, governors who were selected by the Senate and served for one year. In recently conquered or unstable regions, the emperor directly appointed their governors, while others were governed by prefects of the equestrian (lower aristocratic) class. Down from the provincial governors were the quaestors, magistrate senators who kept the treasury, supervised public affairs, and occasionally chosen as provincial governors. First-year officers had to serve on the Vigintiviri (board of twenty) until they could be promoted. Many positions had disappeared during the transition from the republic to the empire (including the consuls and aediles). The progression of political magistrates was known as the cursus honorum (course of offices). The equestrian class would come to dominate the imperial bureaucracy, using their positions of wealth and social influence to gain political positions. The Romans invented the concept of civil laws (which required codes of law AND codes of uniform punishment) to better regulate their empire.
Cyrus the Great
- The earliest Persian religions were mainly cults that celebrated the elements of nature. During ceremonies, priests used a hallucinogenic agents called Haoma. (Synthesis: Similar to the what the Hindu Priests used: Soma). Priests also conducted numerous sacrifices.
- During the classical era, Zoroastrianism became very popular in Iran and the Persian Empire. It was said to have reflected the cosmopolitan society of the empire and it was known for influencing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
- Zarathustra (founder of Zoroastrianism) experienced some visions and saw that he was the prophet of the supreme god, Ahura Mazda. Most of his teachings were orally transmitted between people by magi, who were also known as priests. During the Seleucid dynasty, his texts were written down, and the Sasanids made these written texts into the holy religious doctrine known as the Avesta.
- Zarathustra made hymns to the gods. They were called the Gathas.
- Thought to be 2 main gods, good (Ahura Mazda) and evil (Angra Mainyu), though Zoroastrianism was considered to be monotheistic. The world was a blessing of Ahura Mazda.
- High ranking Persians became associated with Zoroastrianism in the 6th Century B.C.E.
- Zoroastrianism also developed a concept of heaven and hell. Good people were rewarded and bad people were punished.
-Many Persians recognized the same gods as their Aryan counterparts.
- There were Jewish people living in the Achaemenid empire.
- Cyrus tolerated all types of religions. Starting from Darius onwards, the Achaemenid kings worshipped Ahura Mazda and were said to be divine. King Darius made his workers build stone inscriptions that talked about his greatest achievements, but he didn't oppress other religions. There was a lot of tolerance. Temples were also built.
- There were numerous roads that connected Persia with the rest of the world. An example is the Persian Royal Road.
- The Persian Royal Road spanned from the Aegean Port of Epheus to Sardis in Anatolia, and it also connected with Mesopotamia along the Tigris River, Susa in Iran, and Pasargadae and Persepolis in Persia.
- The Imperial Government of Persia set up a courier (mail) service that was situated on the Persian Royal Road. On this road, there were about 111 postal stations and there were also inns that travelers could rest in during their travels.
- Qanats (underground canals, similar to the Roman aquaducts) helped with water irrigation.
- Standardized coins
- Philosophy, literature, science
-Architecture: The capital was a monument. The palace had vast halls and massive columns.
There were reception halls, a treasury, etc.
- Persia had advisors, ministers, diplomats, scribes, accountants, translators
-bowls, jewelry, porticoes, gold rhytons (drinking horns)
Women: Women had few political rights in imperial Rome. Historically, women over the age of 15 who were descended from one of the original tribes of Rome were considered citizens. However, they were unable to vote or hold political offices. While a few upper-class women could influence their politically powerful husbands, they themselves could not take any direct power, thus limiting the role of women in the Roman political structure.
Entertainment: Roman theater (actually invented by non-Romans in the Italian region of Campania during the Republican period) was a popular form of entertainment during the empirical period. Plays included comedies and tragedies by the famous writer Plautus and others. Most plays required actors to put on masks, and the topics ranged from mythological stories to the extraordinary adventures of normal Roman citizens and slaves. The Romans also created amphitheaters starting in 50 BCE when Scribonius Curio created the first amphitheater to stage his father's funeral games. In 80 AD, Vespasian completed construction on the Amphiteatrum Flavium (the Colosseum) built as an improvement on the Circus Maximus, a racing ground for chariot races. The Colosseum would host venationes (beast-hunts), gladiatorial combat, and mock sea battles (naumachiae). The gladiators themselves were celebrated entertainers who fought each other and wild beasts in the Colosseum. A few were volunteers who wanted increased social and economic standing, but most were condemned slaves.
Innovations: During the period of Pax Romana (peace in Rome), two centuries of uninterrupted peace and prosperity, many Roman thinkers and inventors made astonishing discoveries. Ptolemy, an Egyptian-Roman astrologer, would be the first to create the geocentric model of the universe which would impact the doctrine of the Christian church and the thoughts of many great scientists for over a millennium. The Romans created a unique sewage system (among one of the world's first flushing toilets) which would diffuse across many other cultures, helping to improve urban sanitation in classical times. Glassblowing techniques were used to create unique windows, mirrors, glass lamps, and other glassware to decorate Roman cities and distinguish their empire even further. The Julian calendar would become the standard for over a millenium, influencing the religious and secular activities of many cultures which relied on exact dates for holidays and agricultural work. Concrete roads and buildings would provide durability to Roman structures which would not only preserve many buildings two thousand years later but also influence the architectural style of many urban centers across the world.
Arts and Language: Roman literature was heavily influenced by the Greeks initially. The Romans transitioned from epics on early military history to comedies, tragedies, and poetry. Virgil's Aeneid, an epic on the journeys of the Trojan prince Aeneas, is one of the most celebrated classical works. Juvenal and Persius were the first to write Roman satires, and Cicero's rhetorical dissertations continue to provide insight into classical era philosophy. Roman portraits evolved to include a mixture of realism and idealism, and relief sculptures popped up all over the empire, often depicting Roman victories. The Latin language had and still has a huge impact on global culture. Latin was Rome's official language, and due to its expansive territory, many languages today (grouped into the Romance languages, which include Spanish and Italian) are based on the classical tongue. The pope and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church continue to use Latin. Likewise, scientists and lawyers worldwide use Latin to standardize terminology for eased communication.
Alexander the Great
Greek Religion: The Greek's were polytheistic and each city-state worshiped certain gods. For example, The city-state Athens worshiped the goddess Athena. In the religion, all of the gods were under one supreme god, Zeus. The people only had to believe in the gods and sacrifice food to them. Although, events were held like the festival of Dionysus and the Olympics to honor them. There was no religious text because most stories were passed down orally. The basis of the whole religion were these stories, or myths.
Greek Language and Thought: The Greek language adopted the Phoenician alphabet and added symbols for vowels. This alphabet allowed the language to be written out and for ideas to be transmitted. The Greeks were also famous for their philosophy. The first big philosopher was Socrates (470-399 BC) who studied human beings and actions. Socrates' student, Plato (430-347 BC) was also a famous philosopher. He mostly agreed with Socrates' views. Plato's disciple Aristotle (384-347 BC) was also influenced by Socrates.
Greek Art: The Greeks were a very artistic people. One popular art form was plays. They would often write and perform plays for entertainment and competition at the festival of Dionysus. They would also put paintings on the sides of clay vase used to store things. Some of these paintings would depict everyday actions and people or the gods, monsters, or other characters from Greek mythology. During the Greek empire, buildings were made and decorated, some for the gods. Some examples include acropolises. Many sculptures of deities and people were made as well.
-Ruled by a central bureaucracy and absolute monarch (king/emperor)
-Split into eastern and western halves at one point
-Emperors were directly deified (thought of as actual gods on earth).
-Imperial authority was connected to some form of divine power
-Bureaucratic institutions from the Republic remained (Senate) but were extremely limited
-Athens and Rome had few women's rights
-Athens and Rome had Republican institutions (at least nominally)
- Codified laws and decrees
-Limited combat with the Persian and Greek empires
-No longer exists (destroyed at some point)
- Severely weakened and destroyed by nomadic invaders
- Eastern Roman empire (the Byzantine empire) survived longer than the Western Roman empire
-Lower aristocracy known as the equites dominated the lower ranks of imperial democracies (Vigintiviri, quaestors, etc.)
-At one point, emperors were chosen by adoption, not through claims of heredity.
- Women could not vote nor hold political office.
-Controlled North Africa and large parts of Western Europe
-Controlled parts of Southwest Asia, Europe, and Africa at one point
-Large, disciplined, centralized army
-The part of the bureaucracy that was considered a meritocracy was known as the cursus honorum.
-Never conquered by Alexander the Great
-Position of king/emperor was hereditary at one point
- centralized administrative system.
- The capital, Persepolis, was the center of administration for the Persian empire.
-Administrative posts that were just under the level of satrap that were filled by local officials recruited by the Empire.
-Governors called Tyrants, who watched over the Ionian Greeks.
-Conquered by Alexander of Macedon
-Invented the concept of a veto
Conflicts between Ionian Greeks and Persians. Ex. Battle of Thermopylae and Marathon
-Split empire into administrative regions.
-Regional governors were selected by the Senate (usually).
-Regional governors were at least occasionally appointed by the king/emperor.
- Made up of multiple smaller city-states
- Biggest under Alexander of Macedonia
-Had many different types of government
- In Hellenistic Age during rule of Alexander and his successors
-Polytheistic religion was based on Greek gods.
-Monotheistic at one point
-Constructed amphitheaters for entertainment
-Held beast hunts, mock naval battles, and gladiatorial combat in the Colosseum
Athens and Rome had slavery
Persia and Sparta had more women's rights
-Official religion was Christianity from 380 CE onward.
Empire extended into the common era
- Latin is no longer the official language of any existing countries (except Vatican City)
-Official language was Latin.
Zoroastrianism was main religion
-Religion was polytheistic at
-Latin evolved to form the Romance languages and is still used by the Roman Catholic Church
Qanats for water irrigation
-Latin is used for internationally recognized scientific and legal terms.
-Language is still used for some form of standard, international terminology.
-Two centuries of undisturbed peace and prosperity was known as the Pax Romana.
-Entertainment included theater
-Roman theater required actors to wear masks.
-Its architecture was the first to introduce domes and arches
-Ptolemy, a Roman-Egyptian, officially introduced the geocentric model of the universe.
-First to use concrete for construction of roads and buildings (like the Appian Way).
-Famous writers included Virgil, Cicero, and Juvenal + Persius.
personification of conflict between good (Ahura Mazda) and evil (Angra Mainyu)
-Religion was influenced by the Etruscans (in terms of divination, rituals, and sacrifice)
-Literature included comedies and tragedies
-Developed empirical sciences to explain the world around them.
-Gladiators were mostly slaves and a few volunteers.
- Sewage systems and the world's first flushing toilet helped to improve urban sanitation.
-Aqueducts transported water long distances
-Glassblowing techniques created the first mirrors
- Had Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and many other philosophers
- Alphabet came from the Phoenicians
-Each city-state worshiped different gods
-Wrote about big battles and events in poems and epics
- Invented the gods later used by the Romans
- Supreme deity is Zeus
- Started the Olympics to honor the gods
-Made plays for religious and entertainment purposes
Hallucinogenic agent called Homa
zoroastrianism claimed to have relflected the cosmopolitan empire
Zoroastrianism influenced Judaism, Christianity, Islam
supreme god- Ahura Mazda
holy religious doctrine known as The Avesta
Zarathustra claimed to be a prophet for god
Hymns to the gods called Gathas
Kings had divine power
Highly tolerant- Especially Cyrus the Great
concept of heaven and hell. Good people were rewarded and bad people were punished.
High ranking Persians became associated with Zoroastrianism in the 6th Century B.C.E.
Persian Royal Road
Athens and Persia both focused on
philosophy and science
One major religion
Standardized coins, philosophy, literature, science
Architecture: The capital was a monument. The palace had vast halls and massive columns.
There were reception halls, a treasury, etc.
Persia had advisors, ministers, diplomats, scribes, accountants, translators, bowls, jewelry, porticoes, gold rhytons (drinking horns)
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