["Bread and Circuses" is a metaphor for handouts and petty amusements that politicians use to gain popular support, instead of gaining it through sound public policy. The phrase is invoked not only to criticize politicians, but also to criticize their populations for giving up their civic duty.]
Considering the Evidence: Political Authority in Classical Civilizations
- Making comparisons: How would you describe the range of political thinking and practice expressed in these documents? What, if any,common elements do these writings share? Another approach to such a comparison is to take the ideas of one writer and ask how they might be viewed by several of the others. For example, how might Pericles,Aristides, and Han Fei have responded to Ashoka?
- Considering variation within civilizations: You will notice that none of these civilizations practiced a single philosophy of government.Athens was governed very differently from Sparta, the practices of the Roman Empire differed substantially from those of the Republic,Legalism and Confucianism represented alternative approaches to Chinese political life, and Ashoka’s ideas broke sharply with prevailing practice of Indian rulers. How can you account for these internal differences? How might you imagine an internal dialogue between each of these writers and their likely domestic critics?
- Comparing ancient and modern politics: What enduring issues of political life do these documents raise? What elements of political thinking and practice during the classical era differ most sharply from those of the modern world of the last century or two? What are the points of similarity?
- Distinguishing “power” and “authority”: Some scholars have made a distinction between “power,” the ability of rulers to coerce their subjects into some required behavior, and “authority,” the ability of those rulers to persuade their subjects to obey voluntarily by convincing them that it is proper, right, or natural to do so. What appeals to “power” and “authority” can you find in these documents? How does the balance between them differ among these documents?
- Noticing point of view: From what position and with what motivation did these writers compose their documents? How did this affect what they had to say?
Using the Evidence: Qin Shihuangdi and China’s Eternal Empire
- Describing Shihuangdi: Based on these visual sources and what you have learned about Shihuangdi’s tomb complex, how would you characterize him as a ruler and as a man? In what ways did his reign reflect the views of Han Fei in Document 4.3?
- Evaluating Shihuangdi: What aspects of Shihuangdi’s reign might have provoked praise or criticism both during his life and later?
- Making comparisons: In what ways were Shihuangdi’s reign and his funerary arrangements unique, and in what respects did they fit into a larger pattern of other early rulers? Consider him in relationship to Egyptian pharaohs, Persian rulers, Alexander the Great, Augustus, or Ashoka.
We will be doing document analysis today.
1. Do Now - Grab a copy of Strayer and read through the documents at the end of Chapter 4. Scan them and get an idea about what each is about. We will divide the class into groups to cover reading and analyzing the documents together. (10 Min)
2. Groups will be divided by the list that follows, students will read through the document and discuss. Use the questions in the text. Write notes and be prepared to present to the class at the end of the period. Choose 2 students to represent your group:
1. In Praise of Democracy - Pericles Funeral Oration, Document 4.13. We will go through each group, students should page through the book and take notes during each presentation.
2. In Praise of the Roman Empire - Aristides The Roman Oration, Document 4.2
3. Governing a Chinese Empire - The Writings of Master Han Fei, Document 4.3
4. Governing an Indian Empire - Ashoka The Rock Edicts, Document 4.4
5. An Eighteenth-Century Representation of Qin Shihuangdi - , Visual Sources 4.1 - 4.5
REMINDER: TEST IS FRIDAY. Mr. Duez will be here for Tutoring on Tuesday/Thursday after school.