Chinese and European Civilizations Essay

Published: 2020-03-22 07:02:19
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The histories of the Chinese and European civilizations are not separate histories. These civilizations have greatly influenced the course of the development of the societies in the world since the ancient times and in the modern geo-political landscape. Understanding the complexities of these societies and how these have developed into advanced models of human civilizations would take us to the comparison of these two civilizations in the same time period in order to manifest that these societies are indeed dialectically related and effective in the synthesis of what we are now.

This paper would revisit history and try to look at these civilizations from both points of view such that European and Chinese civilizations would be interpreted and analyzed through a non-biased perspective based on cultural and racial prejudice. Hence, in a given time period we would compare these civilizations in terms of their economic, political and cultural terms. With this, we could be able to see the difference with how geographic contrasts affected the course of their history. Famous people and figures in history as well as their achievements in any field will be reviewed.

As a major component of societal evolutions, wars and other contradictions will also be compared with each society and assess how these turbulences affected the societies. In about the same time, military history has been revolutionized with the emergence of two important figures. This epoch in history is very important since warfare has always played a vital role in molding the course of changes in various societies. Alexander the Great and Sun Tzu were two extraordinary men who mad e extraordinary contributions to the art and science of warfare, subjugation and liberation.

As it was characteristic with the societies that they have had, imperial expansion was at the fore of interests. Hence, new frontiers were discovered and these discoveries came with bloody confrontations with the subdued peoples (Cartledge, 2004, p. 24). The Macedonian army has advanced throughout most of the east under the leadership of Alexander the Great, the greatest general of the Hellenistic period and heir to the glory of ancient Greek heroes Heracles and Perseus.

It was said that Alexander the Great employed the best military tactics in the battle field against all sorts of enemies: barbaric tribes, imperial armies, mercenaries and even dissent within his troops. These battles gained him enough experience to guide him throughout his campaign of eastern expansion. From the region of Macedonia in the present day Greece, Alexander the Great expanded their borders by first uniting the Greek city-states under his leadership and rallied them behind his cause of Hellenistic hegemony of the east.

The whole of Mediterranean was subjected to the superiority of his naval command and with this effective control of naval routes, Alexander maximized the potential of combining naval and land mobilizations to effectively use them against kingdoms hostile to the Macedon monarchy. On the other side of the Asian continent, another extraordinary general existed also immortalized by his deeds and contributions to the art and science of military strategy and warfare.

Out of his experiences from his service to the king of Wu, one of the warring states in the pre-dynastic China. His book, the Art of War, summed up all important principles in warfare that are not only applied in proper commanding troops but also in the field of diplomacy and foreign relations. Such advancement was seen as the first professional dealings with international relations hence indispensable to the Chinese imperial expansion.

With these guides to warfare, China has become one of the worlds most splendid empires enriched by the fusion of cultures of subdued peoples and this mixture diversified the rich oriental culture which was uniquely embedded with the daily lives of the Chinese people and distinctly drawn out from the numerous tribes and clans of the orient. Sun Tzus existence was clearly a gift to the ancient world and the indispensability of his work remains at present. The Greek civilization was advancing at this point in history.

The Greek city states have been united under King Philip of Macedon, Alexanders father, who was first named as the Hegemon of Hellenes. By assuring the obedience of Greek city states, King Philip of Macedon was able to retain his control over the quandaries of these troublesome states. After Philip died, Alexander was proclaimed as the heir to the throne not by the royal edict but by the armys support to the 20-year old general. This could have been attributed to his excellent command of the left wing of Macedon army during the battles against Theban rebels.

It was reported that Alexander annihilated the elite Theban hoplites which was regarded as invincible but Alexander proved otherwise (Lonsdale, 2004, p. 56). Trade was flourishing in all points of the Mediterranean and the eastern frontier of the world known to the Greeks was much enticing to the young commander. His expansionist strategies have drawn him nearer towards this dream. The defeat of the Achaemenid Persian Empire signaled the start of the Hellenistic age (Fuller, 1987, p. 13-14).

In the spring of 331 Alexander could at last leave the Mediterranean to strike into the heart of the Persian Empire, for by his occupation of all Mediterranean harbors the Persian command of the sea had inevitably collapsed, without having any significant maritime battle. He returned to Phoenicia, nominated a Macedonian satrap for Syria, and prepared to advance into Mesopotamia, toward Babylon. Early in July 331 Alexander was at Thapsacus on the river Euphrates, and then he advanced across northern Mesopotamia toward the Tigris.

Darius sent his general Mazaeus, who marched up the Tigris to oppose him (p. 14). This excerpt in one historical account of Alexanders exploits clearly recounted the warfare that was incessantly characterized the period even after Alexanders death. Meanwhile, China is also drenched with bloodshed and chaos. This era was known as the warring states period. Chinese tribes and kingdoms are on the dawn of organizing into effective territorial powers and the kingdoms which have formed into several states are fighting for supremacy.

Hence, years of bloodshed cursed China to its dark age, a time with no unity seen in the horizon (Bradford, 200, p. 27). In Sun Tzus time, seven nations were constantly battling against each other. These states are the Zhao state, Qi State, Qin State, Chu State, Han State, Wei State and Yan State that were competing for the control of all China. This period was much influential to Sun Tzu and other military strategists to develop their theories in warfare. The Art of War is a concrete example how this era in Chinese history affected the conduct of warfare in the future.

This was a time when the warlords of China began conquering smaller states. In the 3rd century BC, the seven states remained to be the most powerful of all the states and kingdoms in China. What was most decisive in this period was the proliferation of iron working. Through this new metal, the societies have advanced more sophisticated economic technologies for agriculture and other purposes. Also, warfare has found new material for its weapons. Chariots, spears and swords are now made out of harder metal thus, new weapons to slaughter.

Chinese historiography suggests that this period defined Chinese culture since the conditions that were present were inevitably conducive for the fusion of different cultures. The wars of several states also led to the sense of a unified China under one banner. After the first dynasty collapsed, families took over and divided the kingdom into several administrative states but the differences between these rulers paved the way for chaos and disorder to envelop China.

The age of warring states did not end until a strong ruler has taken under his fold all belligerent forces which could disturb the continuity of his reign (Ebrey, 2006, p. 75). Greece and China have undeniably faced tumultuous events in an approximately same time period. One could also think that if Alexander the Great would have been able to cross the Himalayas and reach China thereby initiating another expansionist expedition to the Orient, the history of the ancient world would never be the same. The Greek cultures spread started during Alexander the Greats expeditions.

This was called the Hellenistic period. Greek way of living brought by the Macedonian and Greek army blended with the inhabitants of subdued kingdoms and from that point new cultures were formed with Greek as the stock. Some of the soldiers married with the population under Alexanders orders. This marriage spelled cultural fusion and gave birth to Greco-Asian cultures in the Middle East and Central Asia. The formal way of life of the Greeks blended with the semi-nomadic and desert dwellers resulting to a new transfusion of rich culture.

In China, the turbulent times halted the advances of culture. Since much of the people were preoccupied with warfare and survival culture did not reach its bloom until a new dynasty was established, although the royal courts still maintained its cultural corps, the focus was bent on the defense and military strategies. However, cultural blending also happened in this age when subdued tribes and families were made into slaves and concubines or wives of soldiers and courtesans.

Some of the cultures were totally driven to extinction as invading armies decimated whole populations. In sum, this time in the history of European and Chinese civilizations were characterized by warfare. This warfare brought about drastic changes in the society and affected the culture of entities involved. Well known military figures emerged in the era hence we could attest that this was a period of military campaigns. Philosophers also emerged and historians were left with much to write but in the end the certainties of warfare as a catalyst of societal evolution remain.

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