Compare and contrast the political organization AND
relative state strength in TWO of the following societies, between 500 BCE and 500 CE:
Classical Rome and India displayed several key similarities and differences between 500 BCE and 500 CE. Both heavily utilized trade to
achieve state strength and stability, but went about it in distinctly different fashions. Both had separate political systems, and were changed
by discontent classes.
Classical Rome and India used trade for political stability. Rome controlled the Mediterranean during the pax romana and flourished due to
the increased wealth flowing in from its vast empire, while India traded via silk roads and by sea with Europe and Asia. To achieve stable
trade, both overcame obstacles, such as Rome’s triumph over enemy nations and pirates, and India’s navigation of the tricky monsoon
However, Rome increased its wealth and strength through conquest, while India had to rely on other states. This difference stems from
India’s geographic isolation, due to the Himalayas, and Rome’s central location in the Mediterranean. Rome simply had access to more
people and more wealth, culminating in military might and precision that became legendary. Roman politicians were able to establish a
conquest-driven empire that was more stable because of its power. India, being cut off, could only strive to draw in the wealth of more
Lastly, we see Rome and India’s differences in fundamental political structure. Rome, being more stable, established a single kingdom,
which became a republic, then an empire, evolving as the world around it changed. Rome’s wealth and stability meant that it was its own
greatest obstacle. When one system became obsolete, it inevitably evolved to the next step, resulting in a nation which began with a strong
central leader, became a republic, and then returned to a strong centralized leader. India however, had two nations: the Maurya and the
Gupta, because it could not sustain a strong empire like Rome. The Maurya represent political centralization, and the Gupta shows the
opposite. India was not politically advanced enough for the return to centralization that Rome had.
Both Rome and India also had challenges to their political structure due to wealth. In both, too big a gap evolved between rich and poor.
Merchants were discontent with their position in the 4 Varnas in India, while plebeians were underrepresented in Rome. the society had to
change because of this. The Romans managed to quell rebellion through military means, and the Indians through religion (Buddhism). But
both had to evolve their politics and society to survive.
In conclusion, Classical Rome and India had numerous differences and similarities regarding political strength. They relied on trade for
political stability, but achieved it through different means, and had distinct political structures that evolved to accommodate changes in