Most of the historic leadership were empires ruled by emperors. Such empires covered huge geographical territories and, more importantly, they controlled a number of different nations. They were characterized by empirical capital in the form of large and complex urban centers, domination over territories through political and economic control, and rich cultural influences. Ancient empires had also some comparable features, which made them differ in cultural practices, political influences, as well as economic characteristics. This paper compares and contrasts the leadership of Ashoka Maurya vs. Qin Shihuandi, Ashoka Maurya vs. Constantineas well as Qin Shihuandi vs. Constantine. In each case of the three rulers, there are comparable features and distinguishing features that make the empires similar or different from each other.
In looking at Ashoka Maurya, Qin Shihuandi, and Constantine, geographical aspects of the empires should be used in comparing and contrasting the way the three leaders controlled their territories.The three rulers,Ashoka Maurya, Qin Shihuandi, and Constantine were leaders of great territories in the ancient world. Ashoka Maurya ruled an empire known as the Maurya Empire, while Qin Shihuandi was a ruler from a Qin Dynasty in Imperial China and was referred to as the first emperor of the dynasty. Constantine was an emperor in the Roman Empire (Lecture Notes).The Maurya Empire was geographically extensive under powerful leadership and was founded in ancient India. Mauryan Dynasty ruled and controlled this empire throughout all its reigns. This empire stood from 321 BC to 185 BC. The empire had its capital as Pataliputra, which is the modern Patna and stretched from Magadha Kingdom. Chandragupta Mauryafounded the empire in 322 BC and named it after himself. Qin Dynasty was an empire dynasty, the first of a kind in the Imperial China as evident by the statement that, “…and forged the first Chinese empire…” (Sima Qian, Pg98, pagraph 2).The Roman Emperor spread his empirefrom parts of Europe to the Middle East and to some parts of Northern Africa. The three rulers played significant roles in restructuring the political systems of their territories.
Qin Shihuandi was the first empire in the Qin Dynasty. He ruled between 221BC and 210 BC (Sima Qian, Pg98, pagraph 2). He proclaimed that his descendants would follow his footsteps and reign for many generations. He contributed to the ending of the rivalry during the Warring State Period. He established the first feudal state characterized by centralized government, and multi-ethnicity, laws centered to the bureaucracy. The laws were cruel and led to execution of offenders. “Those who in conversation dare to quote the old songs and records would publicly be executed” (Sima Qian, Pg101, pagraph 1). The territory was divided into provinces and districts the first time in Chinese history. He also standardized the existed written scripts, currencies, weights, and measurements, while contributing to the system of counties and prefectures in Imperial China with his contributions, which madeone of the most famous rulers of the dynasty. He loved to study legist and established the concept that all people were equal before the law, a law that was cruel.He also had strong belief in wars and consideredwars as important part of ruling of his dynasty. He also established a way of uniting his people. The greatness of Qin Shihuandi could be associated with the establishment of the centralized bureaucracy in form of dynasty and the way he mobilized people in building the Great Wall of China, and other infrastructure. “He build built roads to facilitate communication and movement of armies…” (Chapter 8: The Unification of China 157, Paragraph 1). He established the capital of his territory as Xianyang, which is near Hao.
Ashoka Maura was an emperor who ruled from 269 BC to 232 BC. Ashoka “…inherited the throne and initially continued his family tradition of foreign aggression and domestic repression.” (Asoka, Rock and Pillar Edicts, Pg143, paragraph 1). Ashoka was considered one of the greatest emperors to the extent of being termed as Ashoka the Great. His government was the first of its kind in India due to its greatness. Ashoka brought in a unique civilization, despite being the third Indian ruler He ruled, mobilized wars like a destructive war against the Kalinga state, and conquered the state, breaking a record in which none of his ancestors had ever conquered the state. This great emperor adopted Buddhism because of the massive deaths in the Kalinga War (Chapter 9: State, Society, and the Quest for Salvation in India, Pg171, paragraph 3). Buddhism changed his character from being violent to becoming a great opponent of violence. He encourage his subject to convert into Buddhism (Chapter 9: State, Society, and the Quest for Salvation in India, Pg172, paragraph 1). Ashoka was the first emperor to go into monastery. This made religion spread to India. His Empire grew culturally and economically to a point of becoming the global center of culture and trade.
Constantine was the son of Constantius, and became the Roman Emperor in 324 BC and became Constantine the Great due to his deals. He ruled and controlled the Roman Empire and was the first Roman Emperor to be converted into Christianity. His Christianity traits made him known as Saint Constantine and he was more than just a Christian ruler, since he also played a vital role in the future of Christianity. Many differences came in from the reaction between Judaism and Christianity but the differences needed solution “…especially when Christian became the favored religion of the Roman State” (Multiple Voices IV, Pg214, Paragraph 3). Constantine 1 due to his commitment to Christianity contributed to all these changes. His power increased and he mobilized his army to a point of defeating other emperors, such as Maxentius and Licinius,during the civil wars. He resettled some abandoned parts in the previous centuries, which included parts of Dacia. He built a new residence and named it New Rome but people renamed the same residence as Constantinople in honor of the emperor. He is, therefore, thought to be the founder of the Byzantine Empire with Constantinople as the capital. One of his remarkable actions is the legalization of Christianity after becoming a Christian and becoming the first Council of the Church (Chapter 12: Cross-Cultural Exchange on the Silk Roads, Pg215, Paragrph 2). After he finally became Christian and legalized the religion, he incorporated Christians in his imperial government. He provided financial support to the religion such as funding Christian functions, building churches, and providing privileged positions for bishops. He contributed much to the current Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church.
The three rulers have significant similarities and contrasts. Most of the differences in each case of comparison come from their political systems and religion. Considering Ashoka Maurya and Qin Shihuandi, the two rulers were great emperors (Lecture Notes). Both Ashoka and Qin Shihuandi were considered the greatest rulers in the reigns of their empires. Ashoka made significant changes in his empire, such as expanding the empire by conquering a state that had hardly been conquered before. He liked wars as much as Qin Shihuandi, who believed that war, was an important aspect of his leadership. They both made significant changes in their governments and thus became great rulers in history. The rulers contrast in their politics and religion. Ashoka had royal politics with forbidden sacrifices and was against any form of compulsory labor. He forbade other destructive activities like hunting for pleasure and burning forests. He was more focused on economic development than Qin Shihuandi, who was had imposed the Imperial Rule (Chapter 9: State, Society, and the Quest for Salvation in India, Pg156 Paragraph 1). Qin Shihuandi was violent, unlike Ashoka, and wanted to expand his empire through war making it unconquerable. All people were equal before him and were not guided by any religion as seen by his introduction of death penalty (Sima Qian, Pg101, pagraph 1). His laws were cruel and he completely prohibited Confucianism, some books, and some social practices. “If anyone who is not a court scholar dares to keep the ancient songs, historical, records or writings of the hundred schools, those should be confiscated and burned…”(Sima Qian, Pg100, pagraph 6) Ashoka was Buddhist, but never made it national religion.
In the case of Ashoka vs. Constantine, the two rulers were great emperors. They were both religious and did not advocate cruelty in law. They were guided by their religion in their actions. Both Ashoka and Constantine engaged in wars and conquered other territories to expand their empires. The two rulers valued the existence of other nations and ruled for a better living of people in their empires. They were both royal rulers, although their politics were a bit different. Ashoka was a Buddhist and never incorporated his religion in political issues (Lecture notes). He “…expresed his intentions to serve as a fair, just, and humane ruler,” as indicated in Chapter 9, “State, Society, and the Quest for Salvation in India,”(pg172, paragraph 1). The politics of Constantine were very religious and he incorporated Christianity to his government. The two religions had similarities in controlling the way they served their people, since both religions teach on transcending the world. Ashoka’s violence ended after converting to Buddhism and he became an opponent of violence. He his war against Kalinga led to at last 100,000 deaths and 150,000 displacements (Chapter 9, State, Society, and the Quest for Salvation in India, pg171, paragraph 3).
The case of Qin Shihuangdi and Constantine is not unique,since they were both rulers of great empires. They were “the first” in their corresponding empires, with Constantine being the first emperor to become Christian and Qin Shihuangdi the first emperor in the Qin Dynasty (Lecture Notes). They both contributed much to changing their empires. Both Constantine and Qin Shihuangdi contributed to the expansion of their empires and had the power to mobilize their armies and people. These two rulers had different politics and religions thought. The politics of Constantine were religious and his actions and decision-making were guided by religion and religious beliefs as evident by this clause; “…Christianity became the favored religion of the Roman State” (Multiple Voices IV, Pg214, Paragraph 3). These political actions were mainly based on Christianity while the politics of Qin Shihuangdi were based on the rule of law. Religion never existed in the sight of Qin Shihuangdi. All the three leaders were great and contributed to the world history. The differenceswere in their cultures, beliefs, and geographical regions among other factors.
Asoka, Rock and Pillar Edicts. “Chapter 5: The Softerning Effect of Dharma .” The Ancient World. n.d. 143-146.
Chapter 12: Cross-Cultural Exchange on the Silk Roads. “Cross-Cultural Exchange on the Silk Roads.” Part 2: The Formation of Classical Societies, 500 B.C.E. to 500 C.E.
Chapter 8: The Unification of China. “The Unification of China.” Part 2: The Formation of Classical Societies, 500 B.C.E. to 500 C.E.
Chapter 9: State, Society, and the Quest for Salvation in India. “State, Society, and the Quest for Salvation in India.” Part 2: The Formation of Classical Societies, 500 B.C.E. to 500 C.E.
Multiple Voices IV. “One Christianity or Many Christianities?” Nicaea, One Christianity or Many Christianities?” The Creed of. n.d. 213 – 221.
Sima Qian. “Records of the Grand Historian.” n.d. 98-101.
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