Compare and Contrast : Classical Greece and China

Essay by f3beautyHigh School, 10th grade June 2004

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The civilization of classical Greece and China has a lot to compare and contrast. Though formulated in different region and climate with different ancestors, they have some points in common; yet, there are also marked differences.

Both civilizations had developed empires. The Greek's political approach shares some similarities with the Confucianism of China. However, the both system differ in a sense that China built a strongly centralized bureaucratic system. China put emphasis on hierarchy and obedience. Bureaucracy and bureaucratic codes were also held up as high values. For Greeks, they placed more value on participation, including the idea of citizenship. The atmosphere was more decentralized.

Also, the characteristic of the dominating group differed between the two civilization. In China, it was bureaucrats who predominated, and in Greece, aristocrats.

Moreover, they mainly depended on an agricultural economy. Most of the population was rural.

Both civilization put emphasis on a clear social hierarchy.

The gap between the social class was quite wide, that in both civilizations, it was not easy to move between the social class. Yet, there were some cases, though rarely, people climbed up the ladder of social hierarchy. In China's bureaucratic system, exceptionally talented people on the basis of education was able to move up; in Greece, it was usually wealth that enabled one to climb up.

In addition different "cultural glue" existed to help keep the social hierarchy together. In Greece, the local authorities took care of the problems, and were to pull the different social groups together. They sometimes relied on military force and legal statements. In China, it was more than this. Chinese Confucianism, by defining how gentlemen and commoners should behave and urging general cultural values of obedience and self-restraint, helped to create a general agreement. This was more effective than...