Attitudes Of Ancient Greece And China History Essay

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Q. 1. Discuss the attitudes of ancient Greece and China toward the individual in society. Consider the different roles of people in each society. What kinds of additional documents would you need to assess the affects of these attitudes on society? Religion played a big part and important role in the lives of the individuals within the Greek society. According to Hamilton the Greeks had actually created their gods that represents the human image. These gods represented all human realities that they went through in daily basis in all facets of life. Every age group had a god that represented the issues that they were facing right from birth to death that shaped the minds and behaviors as they grow up and pass through all stages of life. For the Greeks, faith encompassed and directed all their thought patterns and lifestyles, art, education, moral values and public issues (Document 1).

Therefore, the way an individual behaved in the society was all tied up with faith. Individual's thoughts and behavior in the society was to be directed by the gods. The individual in the Greek society was challenged by the gods and the laws of the country to live a virtuous life. The laws of the country regulated the behavior of an individual to live according a crime life, while faith challenged an individual to live a moral lifestyle. Every body was obliged to abide and submit under the authority of the King. Therefore, every one in the society was to be governed by the rules of the land and divine authority in all facets of their relationships. White claims that morality was a paramount factor in the ancient Greece.

Morality and law often went hand by hand. And individual's character, thought patterns and lifestyle had to reflect by moral values. The early Greek philosophers emphasized the concept of virtue as every individual was obliged to live a virtuous life. However, this emphasis often produced conflict within an individual's thinking and behavior (White 69). Living a virtuous life was seen as the precursor for individual's well being and happiness (White 74). By and large, abiding by the ethical rules of the society was considered as being godly because the Greeks ethical values were derived from the gods. Therefore, each and every individual was obliged to live a godly by following the moral values and laws of the land. Furthermore, following the ancient ethics was not a matter of obligation, duty or rules, but it was equated with goodness and worth (White82).

Every individual was a member of a certain city or a citizen was therefore obliged to obey the laws of authority that city. The citizens were to behave and act according to the rules of the authority even if conflicts with their personal interests or individual beliefs. These conflicts often led to wars cities as evident in document 2 whereby Theseus organizes revolt against the inhabitants of Attica. He promised his supporters that he would give them greater freedom from the powers of the king and offer them a commonwealth city. In other words, they live a life that does not include too many rules and obligations (Dryden 12). The ancient Greeks argued that when individuals are not restricted by governments then the individuals would be able to enjoy more freedom and live an ordinary lifestyle with not interference (document 4). The kind of democracy practiced in Athens actually provided many individuals with lots of freedom, but only to act according to unwritten laws (Harris1).

Just as it was in ancient Greece, religion too played an important role in the formation and development of ancient China. Religion was practiced even among the Chinese even as early the time of the Shang Dynasty between 2256-2000 BC (Singer land 248). Every individual was obliged to worship these gods and especially that god called Ti as part of their lifestyle in the society. Those who did not worship these deities or indulged in wrong deeds were punished and those who did well were rewarded. In the ancient Chinese societies, there was clear line between the authority and subjects, individuals were to behave accordingly. The superiors exercised power over the inferiors and that how the society needs to run (document 5). The Chinese emphasized the need for family worship away of connecting the individuals with their ancestors.

One of the most famous Chinese personalities who have contributed to the Chinese ways of thinking is Confucius. He was born at time when there was a decline of Chou dynasty around 551BC, when moral values are eroded. Confucius discovered that people "around him in the society had the true Way because of its obsession with externalities" (Slingerland xxiii). Confucius believed that individual's moral qualities, good reputation and social honor can only come if they devote their lives to the Way of heaven (Singerland xxiii).

Both the rulers and the subjects are obliged to follow religious faith and observe moral values which exemplify their faith depending on one's religion Taoism, Confucius or Buddhism (document 7). These means that religious faith played an important in shaping individuals' lifestyle and social values ancient China. Priests played an important role of intermediating between human beings and the gods (singerland xxiii). He used his political position and philosophical thinking to revive the eroded moral values that were in decline at the time. This made him to have many followers as the Chinese sought to go back to following religion.

Q2. Cities were an important part of the expanding world trade in the period 600 to 1450. Discuss the major similarities and differences between Timbuktu and Baghdad involving their economic as well as non-economic characteristics.

Timbuktu is one of the oldest towns in Africa. It actually situated in Mali West Africa which is part of the Sahara Desert. It started as trading center founded by merchants from Djenne who descended here to exchange various goods back in the 11th Century. These merchants also erected permanent buildings and used the center as their meeting place and place of feeding their camels after a long desert journey (Spielvogel 254)

By 12 century this town was already inhabited and established as a major trading route of the famous tran-saharan trade. This town flourished with the expansion of Malian Empire and tran-saharan trade in 13th century which incorporated the exchange of slaves, salt, ivory and gold. Due to the thriving business in the area, various tribal groups contended for it until the 15th century when it was finally captured by the Tuaregs. It continued to expand further under the Tuaregs reaching the Songhai Empire (Spielvogel 256)

More importantly, Timbuktu was a major trading centre that connected the North Africa with the Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East. It also offered many traders freedom to trade their goods as they meet with different kinds of people. Unfortunately, its decline was brought by internal wars and conflicts. It was captured by the Moroccan rulers followed by other invasions from and finally the colonial occupation by the French killed it completely (Spielvogel 280)

Baghdad is also one of the oldest cities in the world. It is sandwiched between River Tigris and Euphrates in the present day Iraq. It was founded in 762 A.D Caliphate capital of the major Muslim group. Traditionally, it was chosen because of its fertile land due its geographical location situated along two important rivers in world history. Originally, Baghdad was not created as a commercial but as a dwelling place of Caliph Abu Jafar Al Mansur (Spielvogel 340). He used it an official centre for his administration and military post. However, with time, the city began to expand with the introduction of a mosque which attracted many settlers. With time, the economy of bahdad begun to grow as a major trading route joining other cities in the Middle East due to the demands of goods and services. Many traders also used these two important Rivers to transport their goods and services to different parts of Middle East (Spielvogel 2 90)


Both town towns started from a humble background as a centre setting place growing to a major trading route. They all become important centers for trades in their respective regions.

Both towns become centers for Islamic scholarships whereby various Muslim scholars came to study Islam. Timbuktu became a center for Islamic scholarship between the years 13th to 17th Century, following the introduction of Arabic language and Islamic religion in the 11th century.


Timbuktu relied much on the desert trade routes for its success and development, where as Bagdad relied on the waters ways for commercial trade.