There is a great comparison between the Roman art and the ancient Greek art in terms of the inspiration and the contribution to the history of creative art. The ancient art work from the Romans and the Greek is known as classical art. While the two depicted a high level of creativity and influence to the population at the time, it is their relationship and inspiration to the modern art that interests many scholars. The roman art borrows a lot from that of the Greeks and is sometimes seen as the replica of the works of great Greek artists such as Callimachus, Phidias, Polycleitus, Kresilas, Myron among many others. However, the roman art cannot be discredited as being imitative because it played a significant role of passing over the creativity of the Greek artists to the future generations due to the political and economic power of the Roman Empire. Despite the contribution of the two to modern history, questions about how the Greek art influenced the Romans are raised and a closer look at the monumental Roman developments portrays aspects of the Greek culture.
Although the Romans borrowed a lot from the Greek in terms of art and creativity, it cannot be concluded that their art completely lacked innovation and inspiration. However, it is important to note that they were mostly imitative and pragmatic as they were meant to serve the interests of the great Roman Empire. The Roman artists produced attractive pieces of arts that qualifies as monumental masterpieces. Some of their works are preserved to date and depicts great inspiration from the ancient regime but also takes people back to the times of the great Greek artists. Examples of ancient Roman art are preserved in important historical sites and monuments such as the Trajan's Column and the Ara Pacis Augustae. The main aim of the Roman art was to exemplify the culture and beliefs of the Roman people as well as depict the greatness of the Roman Empire but was not as expressive as the Greek art. In spite of this, its high standing was illustrated in the influence it had on other pieces of art that followed it during the crossover to modern age.
The Roman art has been dynamic based on the life that the society lived at the time. For instance, the Romans lived a parlous life that was dependent on chance before they formed the Great Empire that conquered Europe. During their developments as a community, they were ruled by Etruscan kings who influenced their art through the introduction of the Etruscan art in Rome. This formed the basis of the art but did not stick because the insecurity that was exhibited in the lives of the people at the time prevented them from concentrating fully on issues concerning art. The establishment of the republic of Rome however, led to the extinction of the Etruscan art and slowly people adopted the art of the Greeks. This was made possible through interaction of the Romans and the Greeks whose influence had spread to the mushrooming towns in Southern Italy. The reason that made the Romans attracted to the new pieces of art was the fascination and inspiration that the Greek had.
Some of the Roman arts are direct imitations of popular works made by Greek artists. For instance, the popular 175 CE bronze statue of a horse back rider that depicts Emperor Marcus Aurelius had its stance directly picked from the Greek work of Doryphorus that dates back to 440 BCE. In some cases, powerful individuals could order imitations of Greek arts and modify them a bit to suit their lives. This made the works of Greek artists popular and eventually became part of the Roman art. Another reason that influenced the incorporation of the Greek art to the works of the Romans is because the Romans works were inferior mainly because they were so indulged in war and power struggle to develop their culture which would have inspired their art.
It was until they won against Carthaginians and Hannibal in the first Punic war that they focused on serious development of culture and art which lead to the adoption of the superior Greek art. This development can be related to the superiority complex of the Romans. The fact that they had emerged victorious in the many wars they were involved in could not allow them accept that they were inferior to the Greeks in terms of art and cultural development. They therefore, opted to own everything that was Greeks of course with little modifications.
The Roman Empire was very powerful and ancient cities under its rule were well developed in terms of economic activities and issues of governance. The fact that life in these urban centers was superior to that of other areas made art an important part of life. The Roman artists started producing interesting pieces of art that became part of the great architecture that characterized the Roman cities. However, due to limited inspiration and the influence of the powerful regime, art in the region was basically functional. This limited the users who sought the services of the great Greek artists. The incorporation of the art from outside led to a revolution in the art scene with the Roman artists borrowing a lot from their counterparts.
Before the revolution of the Roman art, life was depicted by plain pieces of arts that were uninspired. Portraits and other works such as sculptures were realistic and very open or straight forward making them play just the role of mere decorations. On the other hand, the ancient Greek art were more natural and inspired by the daily lives of the people a fact that made them popular and significant in displaying the people’s culture. On realizing this through interaction, the Romans adopted the new style of art which saw artists adopt a more realistic approach in their work. The realization of the effects of propaganda on art to the society made the Roman artists start making artwork aimed at passing political messages.
The Romans are probably known for their contribution to history through their great architectural and engineering skills that saw the development of great infrastructures such as castles and villas. One of the great innovations by the Romans includes the exploitation of the curved arches in constructing round temples and castles. This is an invention that is credited to a Roman architect known as Vitruvius. However, despite many historians crediting the use of the curved arches to the Romans, the idea was known to the Greeks way before Vitruvius introduced it in Rome. Although it was not popular, it had been in use in many Greek towns. The romans changed the use of the round temples and curved arch with the introduction of multiple arches that produced popular infrastructures such as the Colosseum and the pantheon.
The improvement of this important Greek inventions enabled the Romans revolutionize the architectural scene in ancient times with more improved discoveries such as the vaulted ceiling popularly known as the dome. This enabled them construct monumental buildings that changed the face of history and inspired event he modern developments. They also developed the use of other less expensive building materials. The adoption of the use of the curved arch therefore, played an important role in the construction of the buildings that characterized the regions inhabited by the Romans in Europe and beyond. It also led to the discovery and use of other materials such as concrete and bricks that worked well with the dome. Ancient Roman architecture is also characterized by the use of sculptures and paintings influenced by the Greek artists.
The ancient Roman art have played an important role in shaping the history of the art industry in the world. It ensured there was smooth transition of ancient pieces of arts to the modern world and influenced future artists. However, it’s the link it has with the Greek art that makes it even more attractive. The roman artists borrowed a lot from their creative counterparts from Greece and revolutionized the art scene. Almost all the popular artistic works by the Romans can trace its roots to Greece where culture was more developed and inspired art making it more natural and expressive. The Greek art was used to pass social messages as well as political messages and therefore it was popular among the populations in the region. In spite of being inferior and borrowing a lot from the Greek art, the Roman artists played a significant role in passing their developments and the creativity of the Greeks to the modern world.
Giroire, Cecile & Roger, Daniel. Roman Art from the Louvre. Manchester: Hudson Hills, 2007. Print
Marconi, Clemente. The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Art and Architecture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Print
Porter, James. Classical Pasts: The Classical Traditions of Greece and Rome. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006. Print
Tuck, Steven. A History of Roman Art. New York: Wiley & Sons, 2015. Print