Political and Economic Persian and Greek Comparison Essays
690 WordsJan 18th, 20113 Pages
Persia and Greece were beautiful and prosperous empires and where the most influential of their time. In this essay I will talk about the two main empires’ political structures and their economy and I will also state similarities and differences between the two empires. The two empires’ political structures might have varied greatly but their economies were very similar. Even though they had differences and had major battles they were still the ideal empires of their time. The Persians had a very good government. Before Persia became known as the largest empire in the world in its time period they were not unified. It wasn't until 522 B.C. that the Persian Empire became unified. Emperor Darius accomplished the real unification of this…show more content…
Therefore replacing barter with the exchange of money. Greece was a very high-class civilization, where the government was based on city-states. Perhaps their greatest invention of all was the form of government they came up with, which we still use today-democracy. However these Greek democracies are nothing like our democracy today. The probably most well known ruler of Greece was Alexander the Great. He was the leader of Macedonia, the city-state that took control over Greece, and he eventually gained control over Greece as a whole. Alexander the Great was probably the best leader of all time in Greece. He conquered new lands, but he was the first person to adopt the new land's customs, instead of forcing his customs on the new territory. This is why many of the civilizations he conquered actually were glad he took them over. He also encouraged his soldiers to marry the women from the new territories to show cultural involvement. The Greek economy was based off of agriculture. They were also colonized to somewhat like the states we have in America. Their main crops and trade products were grapes, olives, and wine. The Greek commerce and trade by sea is what made all of the Greek city-states as wealthy and important as they were. The Greeks were often called “The Masters of the Mediterranean” because of their skillful seafaring.
The Greek and Persian civilization had a lot of similarities and
Let's try for two of each. We'll start with differences.
1) The first obvious difference between ancient Greece and ancient Persia was sheer size. At its greatest extent, which would have been the Athenian Empire around 440 BCE, the ancient Greek-speaking world would have consisted of perhaps 4 million people, of whom about 2.5 million would have lived in Greece proper. The rest would have lived in Greek colonies or cultures that had adopted Greek language and institutions.
By comparison, the greatest extent of ancient Persia, about 60 years earlier in 500 BCE, the Persian Empire comprised 5,500,000 square kilometers and an estimated 35 million people (see reference.) To put that in modern terms, ancient Persia would be the modern world's 7th largest country, bigger than India, and its 40th most populous, comparable to modern Saudi Arabia. To put it another way, at that time, the world population was roughly 100 million. That is to say, one of every three people alive in the world in 500 BCE was a Persian.
2) Ancient Greece was politically diverse but culturally unified; ancient Persia was politically unified but culturally diverse. Ancient Greece consisted of "poleis," (singular: "polis") city-states with a wide variety of political systems and a constantly shifting structure of alliances and enmities. At the same time, each polis spoke the same language, had similar (though not identical) religious traditions, and shared cultural origins with the rest. The reason for that goes back to point 1, I think: even at its largest Greece was a comparatively small and close-knit culture.
By contrast, Persia was an absolute dictatorship: every part of the empire had the same head of state, the same core laws, and the same bureaucracy to administer them. But again, sheer size made the type of cultural unity exhibited by the Greeks impossible for the Persians. The Persian Empire was divided into satrapies. These were provinces administered by satraps, local governors answerable to the Persian emperor who enforced the law and, above all, collected taxes. From the satrap down, much of life under Persian rule was local. At the risk of excessive simplification, to a degree, if you paid your taxes and did not openly break Persian law, the satrap and his officials did not care much what else you did. That became a fundamental quality of Persian rule. There was certainly a core Persian culture, and many satrapies adopted it. But others, especially those far removed from the cultural center in modern Iran, retained local cultural, political, and social traditions.
Now for the similarities.
1) Both valued sea power. It is a bit hard for Greece to get anything done without sea power: it is a peninsula, stuck to another peninsula, surrounded by islands. In addition, mainland Greece, and particularly the Greek islands, are arid and rocky, making long-term agriculture hard and chancy. Historically, both sea trade and naval warfare have been vital to life in Greece.
The Persians understood the value of sea power too. The first great conflict between Greeks and Persians took place in 547 BCE, when the Persian Emperor Cyrus conquered the Greek colonies of Ionia off the west coast of modern Turkey. Cyrus's goal was to establish Ionia as a Persian stronghold on the Mediterranean. His successor, Cambyses, attacked Egypt to further establish Persian dominance of the sea, and Darius and Xerxes, the two following Persian emperors who fought Greece in the Greco-Persian Wars, were fighting largely for control of the Mediterranean.
2) Both have legacies that extend prominently into the modern world. To begin with, obviously, there are active, thriving Greek and Persian cultures today that trace their history and traditions back to ancient Greece and ancient Persia. Few other ancient cultures can make that claim. Both play crucial roles in the history of foreign cultures as well. The Persian Emperor Cyrus is a significant figure in the Hebrew Bible, and there is a Cyrus Street in modern Jerusalem. The marathon race and even Nike shoes take their names from a Greek story from their war with the Persians. That may be the most important similarity between these two unique societies: in all the vast scope of history, both have proven extraordinarily influential.