Constantine the Great Vs Ashoka the Great – Ancient Rulers Comparative Essay

Many cultures in the world have often been associated with remarkable leaders who guided the given communities through different important periods. Leaders are custodians of a community’s way of life, as well as the economic and political interests. Constantine the Great and Ashoka the Great were remarkable leaders who led their communities during periods that greatly defined their communities to this day.  Constantine was a Roman Emperor who lived between the year 272 and 337. He ruled the Roman Empire between the years 324 and 337. He is renowned for his steadfast leadership, his decisive thinking at crucial moments, as well as having transformed the Roman Empire into the greatest empire of its time. Ashoka lived between 304 BC and 232 BC. He belonged to the Maurya Dynasty and served as the emperor of India between 268 and 232 BC. He is famed for waging destructive wars against his enemies, and expanding the territory of the Indian subcontinent. A comparative study of the two leaders reveals that they had much in common, and contributed immensely to the growth and dominance of their territories.

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Constantine and Ashoka have a number of similarities that put them on the same pedestal. Firstly, the two leaders are responsible for leading two main religions to prominence in their territories. Constantine the Great advanced the course of Christianity in the Roman Empire. During his rule, Christianity was growing exponentially across the region and the surrounding territories. Constantine converted to Christianity due to the insurmountable influence the religion was gaining (Burckhardt, 2018). Although he converted due to the immense force of Christianity, his conversion played a significant part in pushing the course of Christianity even further. Many people that were doubtful of the religion followed his move. He also set up committees that served the purpose of harmonizing the religion and its teachings in the Roman Empire. His formation of the Nicene Creed elevated the status of Christianity in the region (Nelli, 2016). He also granted Bishops a special position in the society. Ashoka, on the other hand, promoted and accelerated the growth of Buddhism in India. His most important action in this regard was in converting to Buddhism. Ashoka created the Buddhist council, much like Constantine’s Nicene Creed, that helped the advance Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent. Another significant similarity is that the two leaders waged destructive wars against their enemies, and expanded their territories in the process. Constantine’s war against Licinius and Ashoka’s Kalinga war represents this similarity.

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The two leaders had significant differences that put their leadership styles and way of life apart. Firstly, religion played a significant part in the manner in which Constantine executive his leadership. He sought to use religion in a manner that would benefit him politically. His elevation of Christianity in the empire is widely interpreted as an attempt to appeal to the majority of the population who had already embraced the religion (Mititelu, 2018). In the process, this helped him to align himself with the population and made it easier for him to execute his agenda. His promotion of Christian leaders also helped him politically as people saw him as an actual champion of the belief system. Constantine used these leaders to advance his political causes in the empire. Ashoka, on the other hand, did not use Buddhism as a political tool. He valued the need to employ the law as the cornerstone of his politics. Another difference is the manner in which the two leaders ascended to power. Constantine rose through the ranks in the military and finally gained the status to take over as emperor. Ashoka rose to power as a compromise candidate after the crown prince, Susima, ran out of favor after being deemed too erratic.

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The two leaders exercised their rule in territories that were culturally rich and different from each other. The two cultures were very rich in art and developed many different forms of art-forms that significantly elevated their status. The two cultures had different forms of art, and especially in the development of portraits. The most dominant form of imperial art in the Roman Empire was portraiture. Most of these portraits captured the themes of youth, idealism, and realism. The art in the Indian Empire focused on buildings and the drawings displayed on their walls. These art-forms formed the basic means through which the culture identified itself. Another cultural difference is the fact that the literal theatre was very popular in the Roman Empire. Most of them were performed by all-male actors. In Indian culture, however, the most popular form of performing art was music. In conclusion, culture and leadership have a central interplay in society. Constantine used religion as a means to consolidate his power and political influence. Ashoka, on the other hand, used the law as a means to attain fairness and justice for everyone in society. These elements of leadership are rampant in the modern world with the existence of many theocracies such as Iran and Saudi Arabia that use religion as the main factor in politics. In many cultures, art continues to play a central role in careers as well as representing cultural elements.

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