Greek and Roman Civilizations essay
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Roman and Greek civilization did not take place in opposition to each other but complimentary to one another. When the Rome started to dominate the Mediterranean Sea after they were defeated in the Zama battle in 202B.C, Greece had already experienced a full decline in its politics because of its continuous Poleis fights in the Greek state towns. This resulted to Greece being unable to come up with united reign form and was easily conquered in the periods after II centaury B.C by the Romans. Although the civilization between the two great cultures shared similarities in areas such as literature and art, the differences between them were prominent and many. The main contrasting aspects are evident in their engineering processes and political systems. The cultures of Roman and Greek were totally different in the ancient times but the two had great influences on American and European civilization. Between the two with regards to a particular time in history, Rome can be said to have been more advanced in its civilization that Greece (Boatwright and Gargola 2004, 36)
Greece was originally under an oligarchy leadership and was guided by the rule that the people selected to lead were chosen considering their wealth and not birth. However, after some time, the Greek government changed and became democratic. It was often ruled by a single leader who was chosen by the people. Rome on its side was a republic having its officials elected with the citizens and were not given many opportunities compared to their counter parts in Athens when it came to participating in state matters.
While the Greece set up government branches to represent citizens, Rome government branches were implemented to represent the different society components. The Romans had a governing Senate which was mostly consisting of rich aristocrats and the political power completely remained in a single emperor hands. Rome had authorities meant to supervise the ongoing public works projects, conduct census, administer justice and supervise recreating activities. Rome as well as Greece were what can be termed as polytheistic societies as they both appointed life priests in charge of whole state’s religion.
After their ancient methods of governance, the Romans unlike the Greeks did not make any progress in their democracy field especially after the beginning of the Caesar Augustus dynasty and the Roman Republic fall. Their imperial regimes ended up being more similar to the Near East’s Hellenistic tyrannies where the king or the emperor had absolute power and was adored like a god. The once great empire grew too fragile and week and later dissolved itself in 323 B.C. The building of the empire had not been made with the patience, organization, the energy and the laws used by their counterparts to build their own.
The architecture in these two regions marked another difference in civilization. The Romans architecture was more advanced compared to that of the Greeks. The Romans made use of concrete and placed more emphasis on valuated ceilings, arches and domes while the Greece emphasized on symmetry and balance. Greek temples were aimed to impress by designing aesthetically pleasing views, while the Romans architecture’s aim was to impress by the use of a vast amount of space. The Greece came second to Romans in terms of progresses in engineering.
In both sectors of hydraulic and civil engineering, Rome was way ahead of Greece. Rome had constructed an amazing network of durable city streets and paved highways with everything having concrete pavement and walls. They had come up with a storage and water supply system together with a waste disposal scheme. Its systems made use of aqueducts when local water supplies went low. Furthermore, the Romans had food storage, preparations and distribution centres to add on their water supply system that was dependable. Rome’s civilization as seen above placed it above all empires at that time.
The cultures of both Rome and Greece were great at builders. This is evident even in the modern times as tourists visit excavated towns like Pergamum and Ephesus. The construction interests and styles of the two cultures also varied. The Greek stood out as being more artistic with their buildings being long lasting and well constructed. The interest of the Greeks was in columns, temples and decorative facades. They were practically fine but more focus was placed on pleasing form and beauty. The Romans had their focus directed less in arts and more in engineering. They had solid public forums, urban planning and bragged of having the best roads ever witnessed at that time.
The Roman statuary unlike those witnessed in Greece tended to celebrate civic heroes more than add the gods and goddesses gracefulness to their architecture. One outstanding similarity between the two is that in both cultures, their respective governments used to levy stiff taxes on its citizens to pay for all the roads and buildings. However, the Roman Empire local governments had the powers to levy taxes on their own which was not the case in the Greek city states empires.
When it came to arts, both cultures flourished, but in different ways. Both the Romans and Greek liked poetry, especially the epic poems on heroes, wars, and gods. However, the Greek epic was out of old oral traditions that had been passed down from generation to generation. The Roman epic was made on the spot by writers at that time. The eating and cooking habits in the two cultures were similar. In both cultures, people ate well: fresh vegetables, lots of fish, fruits and healthy meals while at the same time holding long discussions and taking excellent wines. They both loved theater, but the Greeks preferred high tragedy, which included fall of great women and men on grand scale, and bawdy comedy full of spice. The Romans on their side preferred satire, a more intellectual comedy form that made fun of current public figures and problems (Grant 1991, 61).
The Greeks and Romans religions were similar; most of gods in Greek were identified with the ones in Rome and the variation only came in their naming. The Greek Juno, was identified as Hera by the Romans while Venus was identified with Aphrodite. In some cases, the Greek gods were seen to add to the Roman ones in relation to agriculture and nature. Religious ceremonies in these two cultures were similar. The Romans were more concrete and les speculative and were good in organization unlike the Greek. The Romans however, adopted several Greek ideas and rules in sculpture, literature, painting, sciences, architecture and philosophy but later developing them to the highest levels possible. This led to their architecture being regarded as absolute model of harmony and functional perfection.
The Romans had both bad and good manners, while the Greeks remained totally opposite. The Romans never managed to get over the bloody political divisions in their towns and were not able to unite after the divisions. This led to the rapid decline of their world only few decades after its top of IV centaury B.C. The influence of Roman and Greek culture continued even in the Renaissance and in the Middle Age. The exchange of culture resulted in a unique culture core to all Europe elites. An intellectual or an English scholar could communicate with a Byzantine or an Italian by simply speaking Greek or Latin, Charles (Freeman 2004, 67).
The civilization between Greek and Roman took place in the centuries between I and V A. D of the Roman Empire. The two sides had the same civilization medal in the whole of Europe yet they were never united. The Romans diffused Greek and Roman civilization in all most of the provinces of the empire in that every rich family, Romanized or Roman, could not survive without having a Greek education preceptor to their teens and children. Most Romans had to move to Greece to study. What become of the Byzantine Empire in the V century after the fall of the Western Roman Empire was greatly affected by the foreign culture and had its official language be Greek.
The Roman and Greek cultures revolutionized in many ways the art of civilization. They came up with new ideals and went ahead to implement them as they interacted with people from different societies. They both had similar conquest, paths of creation, and destruction. It was because the two cultures shared similar beliefs that they shared similar fates. Future societies should look at the civilization patterns of the two cultures, analyze the mistakes they made in the past and then build from them. However, if not careful, future mistakes may as well be built from past societies.
The rise of the Roman and the Greek empires contributed vastly throughout Europe. The two empires came up with new ideas that that would transform the rest of Europe and the world at large. The changes in art, government policies, philosophy and art influenced European culture, inducing other and future cultures to model their policies and ideas after the Romans and the Greeks. Due to the proximity of the two empires, their neighbors borrowed codified law and many aspects from each other. The legal codes were influenced by the regional and continental contact, penal and criminal practices were as well codified in these regions.