There are many startling similarities between ancient Chinese history and that of ancient Rome. These similarities have led archaeologists to wonder if one nation learned from the other, or if it was a case of parallel evolution.
The Roman Empire and the Chinese Empire faced threats from so-called barbarians who attempted to invade the nation’s boundaries. For the Romans, the barbarians included the Huns. For the Chinese, the barbarians included the Xiongnu. Interestingly, it is thought that these two groups may have in fact belonged to the same ethnic group. Both the Romans and the Chinese conquered the barbarian groups that were near their nation’s borders and forced them to fight in their imperial army’s. In both instances, the barbarian groups eventually grew to become powerful nations that held the power. The difference is that the barbarians that the Romans faced eventually destroyed the Empire, whereas the Chinese absorbed their barbarian enemies.
Both the Chinese and the Romans absorbed the religions of the nations around them. This was especially the case when they were faced with civil strife and disorder. For the Romans, adapting to Christianity eventually led to the downfall of the Empire. Many think that this was because the divinity of the Emperor was challenged and instead focus was put on a non-earthly God. On the other hand, after China absorbed Confucianism and Daoism, the nation was stabilized, and they were able to successfully pass through times of cultural and political unrest.
Both the Roman Empire and the Chinese Empire viewed the Emperor as divine. It was a challenge for both the Chinese and Romans to select the individual who would rule after the city member died. In Rome, a man’s military prowess was usually what was considered. Their goal was to choose the best general for the job. The Chinese on the other hand looked for a man who would be able to maintain control over the imperial family.
The Chinese and the Romans, women were subordinate to men. Both societies had well-established hierarchies where men took the lead. They viewed marriage as a way of confirming alliances with foreign powers. Both empires were concerned that excessive concern with sexual relationships could lead to the downfall of their society, and so they enacted strict codes of morality.
Both the Chinese and the Roman Empire have had lasting impacts on society. Without their sense of adventure, inventiveness, and feeling of divine right, the modern world as is known today would not exist.