Mediterranean Society under the Greek and Roman Empire

The Mediterranean society was controlled by two gargantuan influential cultures: the Romans and the Greeks in the Classical era. Despite the fact that the Greeks were unable to establish a federal government past the Alexander of Macedon Empire, they provided a vital connection between the black sea and Mediterranean via cultural interactions, commerce and colonization. Contrary to the Greeks, Romans built an extensive, sophisticated empire that included most of the northern Africa and Europe. Well organized business network and a strict governing structure encouraged the movement of goods, ideas and individuals throughout the empire.  Both the Romans and the Greeks strongly impacted later southwest Asia, European and Mediterranean cultures (Pearson Education, 1995).

Immediately the Romans started ruling Greece, they not only implemented most of its traditions, but also altered some sections of the Greek community so that it could be integrated in the extensive Roman Empire. The fundamental elements in the transition from Greek dominance to Roman dominance were in religion, forms of technological innovations, political structures and categories of intellectual advancements.

Some of the political aspects of the Roman Empire were inherited from Greeks. Roman Empire and Greek rule were characterized by various forms of political systems. Both seemed to embrace aristocratic governance in addition to some traces of elements of democracy. Politics were of great importance during Mediterranean classical civilization period and were characterized with Confucian values. The political ideology of the classical Mediterranean civilization encompassed duties and ethics of citizens, and natural skills like oratory. During the Greek dominance the primary form of governance was based on Athens’ City States, where democracy was discovered, and very small colonial empires were established. Nevertheless, another city state, Sparta, was governed by a martial aristocratic commission. The Roman Empire copied some of Greek’s government structures, in addition to establishment of its own policies. The Roman Republic started as an aristocratic council, only to start electing government official for the representation of the common citizens. After becoming an empire, Roman rulers granted autonomy to most states with the aim of ensuring that the enormous empire remained intact.

The Romans and Greeks shared similar religion. Greeks started a polytheistic creed that extended right through their civilization but failed to extent to other parts of the world. This religion was characterized by numerous goddesses and gods who controlled the life of human beings. These supernatural beings regulated both human emotions and natural forces. The religions of Romans were similar to that of the Greeks, but the assumed it to suit the empire’s own needs. For instance Romans utilized similar goddesses and gods to those utilized by Greeks, but assigned the gods and goddesses different names (Adler and Pouwels, 2008). There were no significant changes in religion between the Greek and Roman dominance in the Mediterranean region.

Intellectual and technological progression varied between Romans and Greeks due to the fundamental Roman or Greek world view. According to Adler and Pouwels (2008) Greeks were fundamentally theoretical thinkers whose major concern was natural order. There most of the Greek developments were majorly intellectual. Most of the developments or advancements were in the fields of mathematics and science. Unlike Greeks, Romans were chiefly interested in practical work. For example they were well established in engineering including establishment of aqueducts and nice roads.

Majority of Romans and Greeks practiced subsistence farming as well as commercial agriculture that played significant roles in the building of the empire. They were also characterized with widespread trade. During both the Roman and Greek civilization of the Mediterranean regions slavery was a significant social and economic institution. It is also worth noting that during the dominance of the Greeks and Romans the family was characterized as a rigid social structure, whereby men firmly dictated its activities; nevertheless, more often than not women took active roles in property ownership and business.

Despite the differences mentioned earlier under the Roman and Greek conquers there were marked similarities under these two civilizations. For instance Romans heavily borrowed many aspects from their Greek counterparts. Their technological, political structures, intellectual and religion gains played an important role in uniting the two forms of civilization. It is also worth noting that the Roman take over lead to changes in the language utilized. For instance individual in the Eastern half of the Empire remained basically Greek speakers, while those to the western were Latinized. It is also important to that western civilization borrowed most of its political structure and democratic forms of government from these two forms of civilization.

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