ComparingGreek and Roman Societies
ComparingGreek and Roman Societies
Thereare a number of differences between the Greek and Roman societies.One of the differences is political in nature. The Greek politicalscene was marred with lots of conflict and fighting between differentGreek cities1.At times, there were civil upheavals among the citizens and in manyoccasions, the Greek invaded other empires. A classic example is thatof Alexander the Great. Together with his army, he conquered manylands. However, the Empire only lasted four years after his death.When there was no war, between cities or empires, there was stillunrest between the royals. All these instances created a veryunstable political environment in Ancient Greece2.
Onthe other hand, the Roman the political scene was a little moretranquil. Although there was some fighting between cities andempires, the Romans managed to conquer their neighbors and assimilatethem into their institutions. The Caesars continued to rule Rome 520years after Julius Caesar’s death3.He had left behind a stable empire with able leadership. Even afterupheavals such as the secession of the Plebs, Hannibal and the socialwars, the empire managed to maintain its name. Rome also had a fewrevolutionary leaders such as Augustus, Sulla and Marius4.Romans were more ruthless in their rule. They fed Christians to thelions and crucified many others.
Anothermajor difference was the social perspective of the two societies. Inancient Greece, the society was divided into five social classes.These are, Freedmen, Metics, slaves, citizens and women. Women fellbehind the slaves in the social ranking5.They never held any positions of influence and were not considered tobe important.
Onthe other hand, the Roman society was divided into four socialclasses, namely: Freedmen, Slaves, Patricians, and Plebeians. TheRomans offered citizenship to some elements of their conqueredterritories6.However, the rest served the empire as slaves. Unlike the AncientGreece, women in the Roman Empire were treated better. They held theposition of citizens if they were not born out of slavery. However,they did not hold political office or take part in voting.
Architectureis another perspective of comparing the two societies. The Greeksincorporated three different architectural styles- Ionic, Corinthian,and Doric. The use of statuesque to honor human figures was verycommon in Ancient Greece. They used plaster, wood, marble and metalto create their designs7.On the other hand, the Romans inherited a large part of theirarchitecture from the Greeks. Their common styles of architecturewere mainly Grecian with an incorporation of arches and aqueducts.While Greeks expressed their prowess in statuesque figures, theRomans focused more on actual building designs and techniques8.They used the same material as the Greeks. In addition, they inventedconcrete.
Despitethe differences, the societies formed the basis of Westerncivilization. Through their conquest of foreign territories, theywere able to spread their architecture. We still use concrete in ourstructures. We still use the theories proposed by some of thescholars from these empires. For instance, Aristotle still featuresin many philosophy books. Just like in the Ancient empires, MostWestern civilizations gained their power and wealth throughconquering foreign lands and acquiring slaves. The British conqueredtheir neighbors and made them pay taxes. They also facilitated slavetrade. Western civilizations also adopted the ancient system ofgovernance and the art of war. Early western civilizations werealways at war with each other. The winner gained allegiance from thelooser.
M.I. Finley, Brent D. Shaw, Richard P. Saller. Economyand society in ancient Greece.New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.
GleasonMaud, Papalas Anthony. MakingMen: Sophists and Self-Presentation in Ancient Rome.Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1965.
1 M. I. Finley, Brent D. Shaw, Richard P. Saller. Economy and society in ancient Greece. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000
3 Gleason Maud, Papalas Anthony. Making Men: Sophists and Self-Presentation in Ancient Rome.Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965
5 M. I. Finley, Brent D. Shaw, Richard P. Saller. Economy and society in ancient Greece. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.
6 Gleason Maud, Papalas Anthony. Making Men: Sophists and Self-Presentation in Ancient Rome.Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965.
7 Ibid 5
8 Ibid 6