In questioning the ways that the Romans can be considered to have been heirs to Greek and Hellenistic civilization it becomes evident that there were various cultural influences that the Greek's idea of civilization provided to the Roman identity. In looking at the various aesthetic, cultural, and religious values that were derived from Greek culture, it is evident that there was a profound influence that occurred between the Greek and Roman's point of view. Furthermore, in comparing the answers to this question given by Professor Weber and by Professors Matthews, Platt, and Noble further insight into this relationship can be obtained. In looking at whose account can be seen to be the most persuasive and the most comprehensive it is evident that the account by Weber builds upon and improves the account that is presented by the other authors. In order to explain in detail how and why this judgment has been established, an understanding of the historic relationship between these cultures should be developed. There were various ways in which the Romans can considered to be heirs to Greek and Hellenic civilization. These factors can be better understood through an overview of the historic relationship between these two cultures.
The various artistic and architectural influences that Greek culture had on the Roman sense of aesthetic presents insight into the level of respect that the Romans had for the Greek's ideologies and social customs. This demonstrates a major consideration that should be given to the amount that the Greek's cultural and aesthetic values were transferred to Rome. There was a long standing sense of pride in displaying Greek art or architecture in Roman society so it seems natural that their own artistic styles would reflect those of Greece. This is due to the influence that Greek culture had on Rome. Furthermore, it is evident that this influence was not only due to the respect that Rome had for Greek art and aesthetic value, but rather, that they had a profound respect for their culture as a whole.
While there were always subtle influences of Greek culture evident in the art and architecture of Rome, it was not until the Augustinian period that there is a direct influence on the general population of Rome as a whole. This influence presents evidence in various artistic and architectural features of Roman culture. During the Augustan period of Rome there was a profound interchange of art and culture between Rome and Greece. It is evident that “the cultural interchange between Greek and Roman architecture reflected an interactive and creative process” (Huber, 2011, p. 205). This demonstrates the nature of the exchange between Roman and Greek values that occurred during this time and presents an indication of the level to which these influences had a profound effect on the aesthetic principles of both.
While historically it is evident that there was a respect for Greek culture in regards to the Roman elite, it was not until this period that the larger part of Rome and the public sphere began to take an interest in the art. Up until this point, it seems that the expression of Greek values was seen as a sign of being cultured. “Greek art had long been used in Rome as a means of glorifying the individual” (Huber, 2011, p. 204). The display of Greek style art or architecture was used to demonstrate status or wealth. However, during this period, there was a large influx of Greek artistic ideologies into Roman culture, which dramatically changed the aesthetic landscape of the nation. This connection to Greek culture is evident in not only the Roman art of the time but of the narratives that were being developed in order to create a more cohesive national identity for the growing Roman nation.
The influence that Greek culture had on Rome is evident in not only their art and architecture but their literature as well. The use of Greek literary traditions such as Homer's epic poems marks an important point at which the Roman identity was melded with the Greek historical conception that was presented by these narratives. It is therefore evident that Roman culture “was inspired not only by specific Athenian architectural features, but also by the visual narrative of victory” (Huber, 2011, p. 204). This demonstrates that there was a profound influence within not only the physical representations of roman society from the Greeks but also within their literary and historical traditions as well. This presents compelling insight into the relationship between Greek and Roman culture.
One of the major concepts to consider in this respect is the profound influence that Greek culture had on the development of Rome. Rome seems to have taken in the concepts and ideologies of Greek art and architecture, literature and history, and religious and traditional understandings. The level to which Greek culture influenced Rome is therefore an essential factor in understanding the level to which Roman culture presented Greek characteristics. “Ancient Rome absorbed all that was ancient Greece” (Vandiver, 2014, p. 65). The scope of Hellenistic society demonstrates an important cultural influence that lasted on through the generations. This influence is evident in not only Roman art and culture but also in the literature and social identifications with the historical knowledge that Greece presented as well. This adoption of Greek society is most clearly evident in Virgil's adaptation of Homer's epic narratives.
The Aeneid demonstrates an important source of evidence that demonstrates the profound influence that Greek historical and cultural identification had on Rome. The precepts of the Hellenistic sense of awareness are evident in the literary works by Virgil. “In all aspects of its culture, Rome adopted the ways of Hellas, and that adaptation is manifested in the epic tale The Aeneid” (Vandiver, 2014, p. 65). This tale presents the story of a surviving group of Trojans after the fall of Troy that is depicted in the Iliad. After going through various trials, that seem to reflect ideas from both of Homer's epic poems, the characters in the story eventually end up founding a city on the Italian peninsula. This city, according to legend, would be the city that Romulus and Remus develop into Rome. In this way, the Roman story is able to attach Roman historical heritage to the legends of Greece. This adoption of Greek literary mythology acted as a way to ground the Roman legacy in the classical world.
The importance of this story is in the relationship that it has with the Greek mythologies of the ancient world. By grounding the founding of Rome in relation to the classical stories of Homer, Virgil was able to make a connection between their world and the golden era that they considered to be shown in the literary depictions. The story therefore was created in a way that “grandly mythologized the founding of Rome” (Vandiver, 2014, p. 65). By doing so, Virgil was able to instill within the roman people a sense of national pride and create a common identity that could help to unify them under a shared history. By doing so, the development of Rome would come to be predicated on its relationship with the Greek identity and profoundly influenced by the way in which that identity was perceived to have been considered within the cultural values of Roman society. In this way, the social, political, and cultural influences that Greece had on Rome should also be considered in relation to the perceptions that are demonstrated in Virgil's epic tale..
There are various social, political, and cultural influences that can be seen in Virgil's epic poem The Anneid. These influences demonstrate a profound connection between Homer's epic poems and the events that transpire within Virgil's literary work. This demonstrates a strong connection between Greek culture and its influence on Roman society. This influence can be seen in the fact that The Aeneid clearly demonstrates a desire to present a historic connection between Greece and Rome. “The connection to Homer's Troy is evident in the very essence of The Aeneid” (Vandiver, 2014, p. 65). For this reason, understanding how the cultural influences of Greece were perceived by Roman society can provide important insights into the relationship that they had with one another.
It is therefore evident that there was a profound need to base their cultural ideologies on those of Greek awareness in Rome. This demonstrates evidence of their desire to root their historic relationship with Greek in the classical world. It is, furthermore, difficult to present evidence to suggest this as the two cultures are already similar in many respects. “The Romans acknowledged the fact that their history was influenced by the culture of Greece and that there must be a correlation between their two empires” (Vandiver, 2014, p. 66). The Roman identity was influenced by Greek artistic, architectural, and literary traditions. This is important to consider in regards to the development of the Roman identity. There were further influences that Greek had on Rome, including their metaphysical, philosophical, and religious views regarding the creation and ordering of the cosmos.
There are numerous connections between Greek and Rome that demonstrate a profound amount of religious influence. This is evident in the fact that there are correlations for every Greek god in the Roman pantheon. “Every Greek god could be found in Rome” (Vandiver, 2014, p. 67). This demonstrates a profound connection between these cultures. The influence that Greek culture had on the Roman ideologies regarding theology and religion are evident in the correlations that their religious mythologies have with one another. This goes beyond the simple correlation between names and identities. The essence of these creators was often very similar across the two cultures. This seems to demonstrate that there was a connection between the way that they perceived reality.
This connection is evident in the way that their gods were viewed within these mythologies. While in many religious beliefs the creators are held to be perfect, almighty, and somehow beyond the reach of human reality, in the mythologies of Greek and Rome the figures reflect various fallible human qualities. “Both cultures, Greek and Roman, incorporated the idea that the gods were susceptible to making mistakes, much like humans” (Vandiver, 2014, p. 67). This demonstrates their common conception of the fallibility of the divine. This shared perspective demonstrates an important source of evidence for the influence of Greek culture on Roman religious ideologies. These ideologies were established in relation to the way that the Greeks viewed reality and the cosmos and demonstrate that there was a profound influence on Rome's divine hierarchy that was directly related to that of the Greek's.
The various arguments that are presented in the textbook further demonstrate that there are important implications that can be conceived when studying the relationship between Greek and Roman culture. These implications are based in the influence that Greek culture had on the development of the Roman understanding of culture, society, and the cosmos. In this regard, it is important to consider the differences that the author's arguments had between one another in the text. While all of the authors seem to agree that there was a profound influence that is evident in Roman culture that was passed down from Greece, the level to which this influence is seen to have established the basic principles of society is fundamentally different among these various perspectives. In understanding the relationship between Greek and Roman society, these viewpoints are evidence of an attempt at developing a more thorough understanding of the implications of the Greek influence on Rome.
The major difference between these arguments can be seen in considering the basis for Weber's beliefs. The argument presented by Weber demonstrates a more thorough insight into the relationship between ancient Greek and Roman culture. This insight seems to indicate that there was a deeper relationship between these cultures than was considered by the other authors. For this reason, it is important to demonstrate the challenge that Weber's argument presents to the analysis of Roman culture. While there may be an obvious influence, the level to which the Roman culture adapted to the Greek ideologies should be further considered through careful analysis of the Roman cultural practices.
This idea can be understood in comparing the viewpoints that each of these authors is coming from. Matthews, Platt, and Noble, who are students of the Western Humanities, present insight into the features of Roman culture that seem to be similar to that of Greece, the arguments made by Weber demonstrate a more in depth analysis of the features that were inherited by the Romans from the Greeks. This inheritance is evident in the cultural features of Rome that were previously discussed. In viewing these features, it is evident that there was a profound influence, demonstrating the strength of Weber's argument. For this reason, the major challenge going forward is developing an idea of how far these implications go in considering the historical accuracy of the Roman cultural agenda. Weber's perspective, therefore, seems to be both more informed and more balanced than the other authors.
These arguments demonstrate the depth to which Greek culture influenced Rome. This demonstrates a focus on the developments that occurred in Roman culture and society to to their interactions with Greece. The artistic and architectural, social and literary, and religious ideologies that were passed from Greece to Rome present a major source of evidence that suggests a connection between the two cultures. In developing a better understanding of these connections, insight from Matthews, Platt, and Noble can help to provide important evidence to suggest the legitimacy of these ideas. Furthermore, the implications that were discussed by Weber further corroborate this evidence and suggest that, in fact, there is a large amount of influence that can be gleamed from the similarities between Greek and Roman culture in regards to these aspects of society.
Huber, M. (2011). Rome Becoming Athens, Athens Becoming Rome: Building Cultural Reciprocity in the Augustan Period. Chrestomathy: Annual Review of Undergraduate Research, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs, College of CharlestonVolume 10 (2011): 204-219.
Vandiver, T. (2014). Revelations of Rome in Virgil's Aeneid. Academics. 61-69.