Tamika Wright Constantine vs. Ashoka World Civilization: Jackson State University Dr. Susan S Maneck When reviewing the histories of the religions of Christianity and Buddhism, you can not help but come across the names of Ashoka and Constantine the Great. Even though Ashoka and Constantine aided in the spread of their empires and respective religions they had different reasons for doing so. Constantine, the son of a Roman Army officer was trained as a solider early on in his life. While he was growing up the role of emperor changed hands many times.
Until and Roman general name Diocletian seized the throne During the leadership of Diocletian, he made a reform where he appointed Maximian, as a co emperor and two others co-rulers who became known as the Caesares. One of the Casesares was Constantius, Constantine the Great’s father, to a section of the empire that he divided into four territories. The rules of this new division of land came to be called the Tertiary. With this new older of power, the Roman Empire became stable again. Although many years had passed since Diocletian came to rein, he still had one problem that he had not dealt with.
He somewhat despised that Christian population of the empire because they would not worship that Roman Emperor as a divine figure. This was a major issue for Diocletian because the Christian population had been steadily growing and if they started to outnumber those who worshipped the emperor as a godly figure then that would put a damper on the Tertiary’s leadership. Also, the Christians would not declare their loyalty to the state through sacrifices, taxation or imperial service. To fix this dilemma, Diocletian proclaimed that any person that worshipped the Christian faith was an enemy of state.
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He ordered his subordinates to persecute bishops and priests trying to compel the Christians to become loyal to him. Many Christians stood their grounds, refusing to surrender regardless the ruthless acts of Diocletian and his subordinates. This battle went on until Diocletian died. Soon after the death of Diocletian, Constantius followed thereafter. Because he had become a skilled fighter, the soldiers under Constantius’s rule awarded Constantine the role of their new leader. Constantine lead them to many victories, one in particular, the battle of Milan Bridge.
After the battle of Milan Bridges, there was only one enemy left name Licinius. Because of Constantines’s victory against Maxenius at the Battle of Milan Bridge, Licinius decided to accept Constantine as authority and ended the long fought war. The only thing left for Constantine to deal with was the Christian population of his empire. My opinion is that he basically said you cannot beat them join them. According to an artivle I found, “In 313, Constantine releases an edict for Milan that shocked the Roman world, The Edict of Milan stipulated that henceforth, all religions, including Christianity, would be tolerated by Roman authorities. By doing this, Constantine put himself in a position where he was well liked by the majority of the population. True enough they would not worship him as a god but by accepting their beliefs it gave him another type of power. It was basically like the saying you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Constantine stopped the killing of Christians started by previous leadership, which made the Christian community grateful. This also put them in Constantine’s corner. So from then on, they mostly agreed with anything he wanted to do.
He built on the organization of the empire government by mimicking the chain of power in the Christian leadership. He also assigned some of the positions of leadership in the empire to bishops and priests of the Christian Religion because they already understood how to lead and how important a chain of command is to a thriving culture. By doing this would also increase his political control. He exempted the Bishops and many of the churches from imperial taxation. He also pushed the Christian community to come up with one centralized idea of what a Christian is and rules they should live by.
Now Ashoka on the other hand, unlike Constantine The Great, did not agree with war at all. He saw war as a waste of time and resources. “According to his own accounts, Ashoka conquered the Kalinga country in the eighth year of his reign. The sufferings that the war inflicted on the defeated people moved him to such remorse that he renounced armed conquests. It was at this time that he came in touch with Buddhism and adopted it. Under its influences and prompted by his own dynamic temperament, he resolved to live according to and preach the dharma. Ashoka used his power as ruler to spread the teachings of Buddhism by word of mouth. He also wrote some of them down. In my view or opinion, Ashoka was very sincere when it came to the acceptance and spread of the Buddhism religion. He did not necessarily want the power, but he used it in a way that bettered the people he was appointed to control. “Ashoka Repeatedly declared that he understood dharma to be the energetic practice, of the sociomoral virtues of honestly, truthfulness, compassion.
Mercifulness, benevolence, considerate behavior toward all, “little sin and many good deeds, “ nonextravagance, nonaxquistiveness, and noninjury to animals. : “ He spoke of no particular mode of religious creed or worship, nor of any philosophical doctrines, He spoke of Buddhism only to his coreligionists and not to others. : Like Constantine, Ashoka used the priests and highly appointed people to help him build the empire and the spread of the religion. They both also aiding in the building of hospitals and roads.
Ashoka was well liked and remembered because of his leadership and his many writings like the quote; “All men are my children. As for my own children I desire that they may be provided with all the welfare and happiness of the worlds and of the next, so do I desire for all men as well. ” In conclusive resolution, Ashoka and Constantine are very much similar in which they are very strong leaders who were typically well liked by the people they ruled, their empires thrived with the growth of the religion but in some ways they differ like I believe that Ashoka was more sincere in his belief in Buddhism.
Whereas, Constantine I think used the Christian religion to advance his position of power. By tolerating Christianity, he gained the trust of the majority of the population of his empire. So this made them, the people who practiced Christianity like him. There for in a way they still did what he wanted them to do without technically forcing them to do it. It like when you ask someone to do something rather than forcing them or demanding them they are more likely to do what you asked. 1
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