Yesterday I gave another lecture in my series on Greco-Roman Classics where I discussed this subject with the freshman classics students. For all the people in my dorm that keep asking “where did you give this lecture, big shot?”, these lectures are given to a study group and I’m doing it to get some extra experience before I apply to local high schools as a math teacher.
Greco-Roman culture is a mixture between Greek and Roman cultures which occurred after the Romans started to rule over mainland Greece as a Roman province. The Romans and Greeks met on the battlefield many times with the first encounter stretching as far back as 291 B.C.
As an aside, the students were a lot less distracted during this lecture and I didn’t have to drop that encyclopaedia at all this time. I think what made the difference is I had them install some shelving in the classroom before we started. They’re still kids, you know, and I guess they have to burn off some of that excess energy before they get started. That one guy that was looking at bicycles the other day started a long conversation on something called shop fitting and how it related to Roman architectural principles … it was somewhat interesting and slightly relevant, but I’m starting to wish he’d just make the move and be done with it. He’s way too excited not to be annoying.
Anyway, most nations during that period were set on expanding their empires, but the Romans were the most prolific. The Greeks and Macedonians allied against the Roman Empire and three wars followed. At first the alliance managed to repel the Roman advance. In the end the Romans got the upper hand. The victorious Roman commander established a protectorate of an independent Greece, but that lasted only until the uprising of 146 B.C. when the Romans invaded Greece and destroyed Corinth. Thereafter Greece was a Roman province.
Even before the conquest of Greece did Greek scholars and teachers influence Roman culture, but with Greece now part of the Roman Empire the Greek culture was welcomed. Greek and Latin became the two accepted languages of the Greco-Roman era with Greek being the language of learning and Latin being the language of running the empire. The Greeks were the philosophers and thinkers whereas the Romans provided the manpower to protect their territory.
Anything Greek became the next trendy thing. Roman elite brought back with them art and architectural designs after they visited Greece. The Greek way was quickly incorporated into the Roman style, but the Romans could go bigger and better with their advanced techniques. Except for art and architecture, Roman religion, literature and philosophy were also changed by Greek influence. The formalisation of Latin grammar occurred due to the Greek culture. They educated expensive Greek slaves who became sought after by Roman elite as teachers for their children.
Due to the decentralised administration of Roman provinces, the metropolitan Greek elite resurfaced and were allowed to take part in the Roman Senate. The Greek cultures were not so readily accepted by everyone as some stoic Roman resisted. Even though Rome conquered almost all the Mediterranean territories, Greek was still the main language of trade and learning. During the years 31 B.C. and 180 A.D. a period of peace exited between the Roman Empire and its central territories. It was described as a period of security and peace, which allowed economical and cultural progress. This led to advancements in various fields by some of the greatest scientists of ancient times.