The classical period in Greece began during the 5th and 4th centuries BC. The most common dates were the fall of the Athenian tyrant to that of the death of Alexander the Great. The Republican Rome was the phase belonging to the ancient Roman civilization and war characterized by a form of government that was republican. The Republicans began with monarchy overthrow and lasted for over 450 years. This essay paper is made to compare and contrast the society of classical Greece and that of the Republican Rome.
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Both classical Greece and Republican Rome societies experienced a lot of democracy and political equality. It is actually the democracy that was exercised in classical Greece that led to political transformation and the achievement of liberty and equality. This liberty was well explained by Aristotle as ruling and, in turn, being ruled and again living as one chooses. This democracy and political quality also exercised in the Republican Rome led to a remarkable development of the Roman city during the Republican era. So many immigrants came into the city from all the parts of Italy, leading to an increase in population to about half a million.
Although both classical Greece and Republican Rome exercised democracy in their political structures, it gradually led to some downfalls of the states (Flower,112). For instance, in Republican Rome, it caused gradual destruction of the Republican state. Slave revolts arose as well as the civil war that led to the fall of the empire and finally to the killing of leaser. The extreme exercise of democracy within the political structure also contributed to political shifts in classical Greece and as well to a decline in the political stability of the city-states.
Religion was also a common aspect among classical Greece and the republican Rome societies. In classical Greece, religion was comprised of a collection of rituals as well as beliefs. In their setting, the classical Greek societies believed that religion was the collection of practices that were local with the aim of honoring the local gods. To them, Religion was traditional, and innovation in worship was something that was out of the question.
Republican Rome followed the Roman polytheism religion. Its religion later absorbed many other religions resulting in complex and rich mythology. Just like the classical Greek religion, facilities in Republican Rome believed in the supreme sky god referred to as Jupiter. Due to constant mingling with the Greeks, some gods of the Republican Rome were adopted from the classical Greek religion.
However, the function of religion in Classical Greece was validation of the identity as well as the culture of the communities. Myths were used by groups for proclaiming the right to the occupied land and by the families invalidating their positions in the social order. Later on, Religion in Republican Rome was abandoned due to the introduction of Christianity. Christian missionaries widely traveled through the empire, highly winning converts and hence establishing communities of Christians.
The role of the military in both classical Greek and Republican Rome societies was pronounced. Through the military, the Classical Greeks invented the use of technology in warfare. This remains the base of the military superiority of western civilization. The Classical Greece military has been able to benefit from this technology. For instance, the first technological invention was used against the Persians. In addition, Alexander the Great introduced an army that moved very first.
They only achieved this through good use of the organization as well as planning. The Republican Rome fast acquired the military technology of the Greeks and developed the most organized as well as the best military system ever seen in the world. The death of thousands of soldiers in the two societies, however, brought a big blow to the security system of the states. For instance, around 400,000 Roman soldiers died in the Carthaginian war.
There was, however, a difference in the formation, organization, and duty discharging within the military in the two societies. The Roman legions, for example, formed the backbone of the military power in Republican Rome. It exhibited high levels of training, professionalism as well as training as opposed to classical Greece. There was also uniform implementation of military law, tactics, equipment, and organization in Republican Rome. All the procedures, including those of training as well as marching, were specifically laid out tasks allocated ant-man knew his responsibility within the army.
Both classical Greece and Republican Rome societies had so many similarities in their language. Latin was the language used in Republican Rome, and the Latin alphabet was quite influenced by that of Greek. The Latin language specifically contains many words that are of Greek origin. This attributed to the reason why most wealthy Romans did not commonly send their sons to Greeks in the name of studying. In spite of these similarities, the Greek language is spoken in Classical Greece has resulted in a new language known as Greeklish. This language involves Greek partially written and sometimes full Latin. It is common in cell phones and in communication services that are internet-based. The Greek language also has a variety of dialects such as pontic Greek, Griko language, and Cypkot Greek, unlike the Latin language.
Cultural development in the two societies was noticed to be on the rise as the years progressed. The cultural continuity of the Greek people has put them in the frontline as it pertains to patriotism to one’s nation in Europe. As far as literature was concerned, there were epic poems as well as early Greek lyric poetry written by Sappho and Pindar. The innovations made in later poetry also had a strong influence on the Republican Roman poets such as Virgil. Classical Greece also has a lot of contributions to theatre.
The ideas of dialogue and playwriting led to the invention of drama. (Newlands, 106) In addition, philosophy found its way into literature in the time of Plato, while Aristotle formulated the first criteria for criticizing literature. Latin literature was heavily influenced by Greek authors. Poetry, history comedies, and tragedy in Republican Rome were produced, all based on the ideas of the Greek authors. The culture of music in Republican Rome was also attributed to classical Greece due to the fact that Roman music was based largely on Greek music. However, music in Republican Rome was largely used in many settings, unlike in Classical Greece. For instance, music was used in ceremonies in wars, religious rituals, and sacrifices.
Moreover, in the broad sense of culture, the Roman youth, unlike classical Greece youth, had a variety of forms of play and exercise. These included wrestling, jumping, boxing, and racing, as well as fishing and hunting that were practiced by wealthy people. Various games played included handball, dice games, board games as well as gamble games. However, women did not participate in these activities.
In both classical Greece and Republican Rome societies, slavery was common. Slavery in both societies made many people feel inferior and non-persons as far as their legal systems were concerned. However, this concept of slavery in both societies was different. For instance, in Republican Rome, the law slaves were recognized as a social class. They lived in this class almost hopeless for a better life, and they were exchanged like goods by the free men.
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Freedmen and women were called liberty, and they formed a separate class in the Republican Rome Society. In societies, the economy depends heavily on slavery. This was due to the labor shortage that was experienced throughout the two states and a constant need to meet the demands of the labor simply (Goldberg, 63-64). Philosophers like Aristotle justified the necessity for slavery to a society that seeks prosperity.
Slavery also helps in explaining why classical Greece was not mostly interested in technological innovations that could be applied to agriculture as well as manufacturing, unlike in Republican Rome. The Greeks used to make crucial advances in shipbuilding as well as navigation, which proved to be very important for their trading economy. But the technology that was designed in improving the food production of goods that were manufactured did not largely figure in this civilization. Abundant labor from the slaves probably contributed to the low concern for more efficient methods of production.
Both classical Greece and the Republican Rome societies had a way in which they were governed. The republican Rome had a government, and a constitution that was informal was used throughout Republican history. This constitution was flexible and constantly in change. The Republican Rome government was a system that was complex and had apparent redundancies that were based on tradition as custom, just as law (Lintott, 89).
Classical Greece consisted of classes such as the upper class, which was made up of the Aristocrats. However, there were many social divisions in Classical Greece society as opposed to the Republican Rome. These social divisions contributed to certain evils like homosexuality among the aristocracy as opposed to the other social groups who worked together and mingled freely. The divisions also led peasant farmers to share beliefs in the gods as well as goddesses on which the playwrights wrote. The religious celebrations that they made were also entirely separate from those that the upper class enjoyed.
Despite the many common things that were shared by the societies of Classical Greece and Republican Rome, there are also different causes of the fall of the societies or states. The fall of Republican Rome as a result of three Punic Wars. The first war was executed by Garius Mauritius, and it led to important changes as far as the Republic and its Army were concerned. However, Mauritius later instituted reforms that resulted in the reorganization of the structure of Roman legions through recruitment of the poor as well as the endless citizens into the army. The second war was a social war that occurred as a result of the law passed by Marcus Drusus that demanded full Roman citizenship to all Italians at the South of PO River.
This led to the death of Drusus through murder, and many Italians hence exploded into social war. The third war was executed by Sulla Consular, who was given the power to instruct the force that was sent to revenge against Mithridates. Classical Greece society experience different wars, namely: the Peloponnesian war and the Persian war. The Peloponnesian war was between Athens, Sparta, and its allies. The Persian war was dominated by Athens, and it eventually ushered in a whole century of dominance by Altheas in Greek affairs.
Economic development between the two societies was pronounced. However, Classical Greece remained to be the most advanced world’s economy and one of the potential preindustrial economies as compared to the Republican Rome. This could be well demonstrated by the daily wage of a Greek worker that was three times that of an Egyptian worker in the period of the Romans.
Education was also common in the two societies, although it had a different purpose in each of the societies. In classical Greece, the main purpose of education was not to get a job but to become a citizen who was reliable and effective. Girls received an education that could enable them to manage the household, and they did not receive education after childhood. In Republican Rome, however, education for the young was to provide socialization skills.
Though the different purposes of education in the two societies, sometimes the Roman students were taught in fashions that were similar to the Greek students. In addition, the Roman students who wanted to pursue higher education used to go to Greece to study philosophy.
Philosophical advancement was experienced by the societies of Republican Rome and Classical Greece. However, the philosophy of Classical Greece was quite different, and it entirely focused on the role played by reason as well as inquiry. It influenced modern philosophy and modern science in so many ways.
Though both societies experienced political stability at some point, in the development, this eventually weakened the Republican Rome society. Political instability, economic factors as well as economic and political strife were the chief causes of the end of the Republic. In its broad sense, political instability and violence inflicted tension in the Roman society, including the poor as well as the disenfranchised. Economic factors incorporated the expansion of the Roman Empire that led to the development of an economy which was money-based as opposed to the land ownership-based system which was initially there.
This contributed to a fast decline in morale of the Roman public as well as the weakening of the position of the nobles. Economic and political strife occurred as a result of the powerful clans trying to own all the wealth. This negatively affected the Roman economy. For Classical Greece, their political development remained stable, and their economic power stood out to be recognized worldwide.
The artistic development in the two societies of Classical Greece and Republican Rome can not be overlooked. The classical Greece style, for instance, was characterized by embraced freedom of movement that of expression, and it as well celebrated mankind as an entity that was independent (Shapiro,96). The formal aesthetic boundaries were expanded by the critics while at the same time expressed the human figure in a more natural manner.
The ideal authenticity was developed through the use of bronze and stone. Classical Greece artists believed that the beauty of any model depended on the harmony of the parts that constituted it. Artistic development in Republican Rome was also dominant, but it borrowed a lot from classical Greece.
Flower H. (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic. Cambridge 2004.
Goldberg S. M. Epic in Republican Rome. Oxford University Press, 1995.
Lintott A. Violence in Republican Rome. Oxford University Press, 1968.
Newlands E. Statius’ Silvae and the Poetics of Empire Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Shapiro H. A. Myth into Art: Poet and Painter in Classical Greece. Routledge, 1994.