After viewing the documents, it is clear that Classical Athens and Han China are very different politically. Athens focused on the rights of the individual whereas Han China preferred dominance that used an imperialist approach. However, the reason for this difference in political beliefs can be based on the difference of population. It is easier to be a democracy with a smaller population than a larger one. That said it is also easier to rule many people with a select elite. Another difference is that their social aspects are opposites.
Athenians believed that everyone should obey the laws of society and turn in those who break them. Han china thought that it is better to obey the rules but should always prefer family over government. Despite many differences, both Classical Athens and Han China thought there should be class distinctions between poor and the wealthy, few and many, free people and slaves. In document 4, Pericles describes the Athenian form of democracy and a few of their laws. Pericles showed the importance for all men who are able to participate in government and politics.
Document 6 shows a conversation between two Chinese philosophers named Wan Chang and Mencius about how an emperor of Han China was “appointed” to office. Mencius indicated that the emperor himself was not appointed by peasants, but by “Heaven”. Documents 2 and 3 show the population differences and document 1 compared the size of Attica and Han China. Because Athens had a smaller population and a smaller province, a “true” democracy was easier to uphold. Fewer votes meant less of a challenge to keep count.
Because Han China had a larger population and a greater size a land, no one could truly voice their own personal opinion. Instead the emperor appointed smaller classes of rulers to govern specific areas. In document 9, a Greek philosopher names Socrates explains to one of his friends that citizens must obey and enforce the laws created by their government; if one does not obey those laws, then one cannot call himself a true citizen. Document 10 reveals the thoughts of one Chinese philosopher named Confucius about a citizen’s part in government.
Confucius believed that as long as an individual is a friendly and supportive then he is taking part of government. Confucius also believed that people should support their family, whether they broke the law or not. Documents 2 and 3 show two excerpts from philosophers in both Classical Athens and Han China that agreed on class distinctions. In document 2, the Athenian philosopher Aristotle believed that those born into a higher status should not learn the trades of the lower classes.
Aristotle believed that in learning those crafts, there would have been no difference between slave and master. In document 3, the Chinese philosopher Mencius told about the two distinctions of brains and brawn. Mencius believed that brains should rule and the brawn should work for the brains. Mencius believed that those who rule should be supported in full by those ruled. Both Han China and Classical Athens had a good political system. The major difference in government is that Athens was ruled by the citizens whereas China was ruled by the emperor and the appointed elites.
Han china believed family should support and protect each other, whether from the law or other problems. Athens believed the law should be upheld less chaos arises. Despite these differences, both China and Athens believed there should be class distinctions between slaves and elite due to the differences in labor. If a document derived from the slaves or the common people’s opinion, then an accurate view of government from the majority population can be made.