Classical Athens and Ancient Rome

In Greece, buildings like the Parthenon in Athens, Temple of Athena Nike and others were often rectangular shaped. In 447 BCE, Athens began rebuilding the Acropolis temples burned by Persian attackers. The first structure to begin building was the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the city’s patron deity, Athena (Bishop, Adventures, 7th edition, 56). Greek Temples were distinguished by their decoration of the vertical column and the horizontal beam called the entablature. In the beautiful styles of Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian columns.

Greek architects would much rather have precise rationalism versus the aesthetic eye appeal. Greek buildings were only used for Religious sacred reasons or celebrations.

During the reign of Augustus Caesar, his successors started to build elaborate new complexes. Augustus was the first Roman ruler to place statues and busts of his own image in public squares and buildings (Bishop, Adventures, 7th edition, 80). The Romans invented the barrel vault which could bear tremendous weight and often used as support in buildings foundation (Bishop, Adventures, 7th edition, 87).

The Roman empire created the Pont du Gard and copied the Etruscans invention of the arch, whereas the Greek architecture was without arches. Romans created spacious interiors with beautiful marble and emphasized the usefulness of their buildings. One of the most famous buildings built to this day is The Colosseum in Rome. Thousands of gladiators met their deaths on the Colosseum floor. Greek culture did not condemn fighting to the death whereas Romans used this for entertainment. Roman buildings were used daily and had served many purposes, unlike the Athenians who only used their buildings for worship.

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There were many differences for women and the household between Athens and Rome. Women in Athens whether they be slaves, wives or prostitutes were not allowed in public affairs. Their duties were only to the household, taking care of slaves and domestic labor. These women wouldn’t even sleep in the same room as their husbands. Greece had women called hetaera’s that would entertain the men, these women were educated and skilled in music and theater (Bishop, Adventures, 7th edition, 56). Whereas the Romans thought more highly of their women. These women had the opportunity to become a Roman citizen. Married women had freedom but still suffered confined roles. A Roman woman could accompany their husbands to public events. These women also supervised the household like women in Athens but also could inherit property. Roman women could divorce their husbands through a simple public declaration (Bishop, Adventures, 7th edition, 90).

Year 509 BCE, the Romans establish a republic (government chosen to represent the people at large). The Etruscans had left early Romans with a distaste for kings, the republican would save them from monarchy (Bishop, Adventures, 7th edition, 77). The Romans were first ruled by Patricians, upper-class conservatives but eventually opposing class of poor commoners called Plebeians gained political power and constitutional recognition of their rights. In Athens, Greece, prior to Rome, these people lived in the Golden Age. A period after 404 BCE, the Greeks lived a period of prosperity and accomplishments. Plato, the Greek Philosopher, thought it best for happy citizens to live in a polis. Only men could live in the polis, women were not allowed, scholars believe the population was around 250,000. The people in Athens, Greece lived by a vigorous Democracy. Which means they were “ruled by the people”. Both the Romans and Greeks wanted better for their communities but ruled differently with a Republican party and Democratic party.

The Roman Empire was built from Ancient Greece, many attributes of the Roman Empire are adopted from the customs of Athens, Greece. There are many similarities like art and theater, and the way the philosophers thought. But there were still some distinct differences in the way of life. The way the Romans treated their women better than the Greeks. The Romans learning from their Greek ancestors and enhancing their architecture with the beautiful use of arches and domes. And lastly, the Romans learning their own way of government based off of what they learned from the Greeks and Italian Etruscans.

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