Greek Influence on the Roman Empire Essay
“Do you agree with the following: Rome conquered the Greek empire and its civilization, but Greek culture conquered Rome?”This paper will argue that this statement is true.Furthermore, the Romans were willing co-conspirators, replacing the relatively primitive (and displaced) Etruscan and Latin cultures with the far more nuanced and rich Greek culture. One can regard the Romans as having taken the best of Greek culture and made it their own.Greeks provided architecture, systems of government, the religion of Rome (with Roman names replacing Greek names; Zeux=Jupter, etc.). This does not mean that the Romans admired the Greeks in all things.Rather, as the Spartans judged Athenians to be ‘civilized,’ so did the Romans regard the Greeks as civilized, and therefore’decadent.’Indeed, even those Greek natives who became Roman citizens were suspected by Roman leaders: When Demosthenes consulted Hadrian about his foundation, the emperor congratulated him and his city not for his service to the Empire, but for the “honorable ambition”… (Braund) This implies that Hadrian, like most Romans, respected the learning and culture, but found “ambition” a unique Roman trait, not found in many Greeks.
The Greeks supplied the Romans with culture in many ways.The Athenian idea of democracy is often cited as a precursor to our current democracy.In fact, that was not the case.Athenian citizens were free, but their slaves were not.Athenian women, as did Roman women, had the right to buy and hold property, even as they joined their husband’s household.The Roman law, therefore, took over many of the customs of Greek law, including their patrician idea of democracy for non-slaves.
Romans took the Greek arts completely, from sculpture to architecture and painting.Roman houses are based on the Romans’ superior knowledge of building and engineering, but particularly in the eastern portions of the Empire, the Greek influence was strong…