When used as an adjective, the word Greco-Roman refers to regions culturally or even historically influenced by language, cultural practices, government and religious practices of the ancient Greeks and then the Romans. Grant (1995) further defines this region as the Mediterranean world (p.67).
The region was subject to cultural integration, as those from the other cultural settings had to live together under one government. The paper discusses the nature of the cultural influence between the Romans and the Greek revealing the commonalities and discrepancies existing between the two. It also highlights how they influenced the western culture.
The Greeks and Romans had accepted the use of the Greek language as the language of the intellectual culture. Latin was also the tongue for public management. In either the times of the Greek rule or the Roman rule, there was a universal acceptance of the languages by the people (Sanders, et al., 2006, p.29).
However, it is worth noting that these languages were mostly evident in the cosmopolitans while the people in the rural areas spoke their own mother tongues, which they regarded as vernacular. Men spoke and wrote in either Greek or Latin regardless of their ethnicities.
The Greeks influenced the majority of the cultural practices in the region ranging from the education system to the religious belief in many gods, cults and the building of temples. In this respect, the Romans gained from the Greek influence in sectors such as Banking, political administration, literature, philosophy and art (Bentley et al, 2008, p.24). Upon adopting these cultural values and beliefs, the wall that existed between the Romans and the Greek dissolved according to the extent of the influence.
The two cultures also portrayed similarities in the cultural activities such as sports and festivals that they conducted (Bentley et al, 2008, p.36). Fighting in the coliseums was a substantial sport that the two cultures appreciated. People from both cultures fought either voluntarily or involuntarily in search of glory and honor. The practice of slavery was justifiable according to the values of the two cultures (Thornton, 2002, p.45).
However, there were noticeable differences between the Greek and the Romans in terms of their philosophies. The Greeks were more considerate of morals, as opposed to the Romans who were promiscuous (Sanders et al., 2006, p.47). In most cases, self-satisfaction and the greed for power and glory acted as the driving force of the Romans, as opposed to the Greeks who observed moral standings.
Both the Greeks and the Romans influenced the western culture tremendously when it came to social stratification and the observation of the status quo. According to Grant (1995), people considered the Greek language a significant factor in assessing a person’s social standing in the society (p.36).
The western culture borrowed this in that for a person to qualify as educated, he/she had to master Greek and learn Greek philosophy. Another influence, which is majorly from the Romans, was the form of government adopted in the Western culture (Grant, 1995, p.56). Certain families considered having the breeding for leadership passed it from generation to generation. Monarchs and noble families had the duty of governing state entities.
The two cultures influenced each other for the purposes of co-existence. This is despite the fact that the Romans had conquered the Greeks. The Greeks considered the Roman cultural values as a step in civilization, which explains why there were few cases of resistance.
Some Romans, however, were suspicious of the Greek influence to the Roman culture. Among them was Cato the Elder who prophesied the demise of the Roman Empire through blindly adopting the Greek culture. Cato even did not trust the Greek actors in Rome whom he though had a mission of poisoning the brains of the Romans (Grant, 1995, p.64).
Bentley, J., Ziegler, H., & Streets, H. (2008). Traditions and encounters: A brief global history. New York: McGraw Hill.
Grant, M. (1995). Greek and Roman historians: information and misinformation. London: Rutledge.
Sanders, T., Nelson, S., Morillo, S., & Ellenberger, N. (2006). Encounters in world history: Sources and themes from the global post volume one. New York: McGraw Hill.
Thornton, B. (2002). Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization. London: Encounter Books.