Han China was one of the longest dynasties in Chinese history, however, the Imperial Roman empire lasted even longer. Han China and Imperial Rome share many similarities as well as many differences. Although Han China and Imperial Rome had many similarities (patriarchy, expansion), the differences (recruitment, system of who is in authority) in methods of political control outweigh the similarities because of they had little interaction with each other.
The first similarity between Han China and Imperial Rome is found when comparing their patriarchal societies. Both in Han China and Imperial Rome they were extremely patriarchal. In each society the man of the house could arrange marriages for their children, decided whether or not to keep the offspring born to their wives, and decided how to punish wives if they commit a wrongdoing. In Han China, for example they tried to strengthen patriarchal authority by emphasizing importance of filial piety and women’s subordination to men. Imperial Rome was also patriarchal, for example, because husbands would have multiple children with their wives in hope of birthing a strong, healthy son to carry on the family name and legacy. The main job given to women in Rome was to birth sons. The women had no say in the number of children they had or in keeping the children they gave birth to. If the women couldn’t fulfill this expectation of having sons, the husband would divorce the woman, have children with another woman, or simply kill his wife and find another one.
The next similarity between Han China and Imperial Rome is the expansion of both their governments. Both societies sought to expand the borders of their empires through imperial expansion. They perceived threats to security led to wars and conquests, which increased the length of borders and led to more perceived threats. In vein of the Qin dynasty before the second empire, the primary goal of the Han dynasty was to unite all of China. To accomplish this, Han China invaded and brought the territories of Korea, Vietnam, and parts of modern Kyrgyzstan into Chinese society. Likewise, Imperial Rome conquered all of the Mediterranean basin and oversaw affairs from Anatolia and Palestine in the east to Spain and Morocco in the west. Both societies also had vast armies to control their new territories.
Han China and Imperial Rome differed, firstly, in their forms of recruitment. In Han China, they needed educated officials to take positions in the society. To accomplish this, they created a university and civil service exams. The university they established was based on Confucianism for its curriculum and was used to prepare men for government service. The men also had to take civil service exams, which people rarely passed, to become a government official. The recruitment for Imperial Rome was simpler. A typical recruit for the Roman army would appear at an interview with a letter of introduction, often written by the family patron. Next, they had to have a medical examination. The examination consisted of checking for a minimum height which was demanded and making sure the soldiers had all their fingers, toes, and limbs. After this was over, the men were given advanced pay and would be posted to a unit.
Han China and Imperial Rome are different, secondly, because of who is in control of their government. Han China’s political system was known for a centralized unit, that was ruled by an emperor through the Mandate of Heaven. Rome, however, had a centralized, interwoven structure that was ruled by a Roman monarch, who controlled their complex structure. Furthermore, Han China was divided into administrative districts that were governed by officials, selected by the emperor. Though in contrast, Imperial Rome created a monarchy, disguised as a republic, so that the emperor could have complete control, but the citizens would feel like they were contributing to the government.
Han China and Imperial Rome were two very influential societies in history. They shared many similarities as well as many differences with each other. Han China and Imperial Rome had several differences, like recruitment and their systems of who is in authority, but they also had many similarities, such as being patriarchal and expansion, however their differences outweigh their similarities because they had little interaction with each other so they didn’t share ideas or concepts.