Todays society in which we live in has based itself on the past achievements and failures of previous civilizations which rose and fell with the hands of time. Every one of those civilizations made certain contributions to history as well as developing human intellectuality in order to enhance its chances of becoming the supreme ruler of our planets resources. If we look back in history right now we can say that every single mishap, disaster, breakthrough, war, or even a conversation has led to the advancement of our modern day society.
There are many civilizations that have made major contributions to the structure of our modern society. From Babylons Hammurabi and his laws, to the extremely scientifical Egyptians, and the brilliant warlike Persians. Yet they all seem not as significant as the two most remembered ancient civilizations being the Greeks and the Romans. Both of these conquered large areas in order to enhance their trade routes and in the process conquering most of the known world. Ideas had been brought forward during the times of these two which are quite similarly very much incorporated into the way in which we live our everyday lives in our modern era.
Since Rome was the biggest empire ever in history, lasting for the longest time, it has always been claimed to be the greatest contributor to humanities civil advancements. Rome has been credited for being the worlds first free-market empire. It also was the first empire to practice diplomacy through offering countries its “Pax Romana” (protection as long as the country pays taxes to Rome). (Internet1)
Romes generals and rulers were amongst histories most successful both in its imperial time as well its republican era. Amongst Romes biggest and most astonishing aspects was the incredibly high standard of living in which it maintained. Hot water piping, beautiful architecture and excellent highways were amongst its many wonders. Architectural wonders such as the circus Maximus are still available to be seen today. The Romans were also great literalists, who ruled supreme in the art of rhetoric. Great poets, philosophers and political analysts such as Cicero added their weight to the importance of the Roman era.
Yet all most of the above contributions have had a base before Rome and all Rome did was improve on Hellenised ideas. (Kagan)
Hellenisation was the spread of Greek ideas incorporated into the daily lives of people under either the rule of the Greeks or influenced by them. Even though Greece was ruling supreme at least five hundred years before Rome had even an identity, their philosophy, military strategies, politics as well as literature is still very much incorporated into practically every advanced civilization since their time; ours very much included.
The classical age of Greece was a period of unparalleled achievement. It carried forward the tradition of rational, secular speculation in natural philosophy and science, but turned its attention more to human questions in medicine and ethical and political philosophy. While the rest of the world continued to be characterized by monarchial, hierarchical, command societies, in Athens democracy was carried as far as it would go before modern times. Democracy disappeared with the end of Greek autonomy in the late fourth century B.C. When it returned in the modern world more than two millennia later, it was broader but shallower. (Internet2)
It was in this democratic system that the greatest artistic, literary and philosophical achievements took place. A naturalistic form of art took place evolved that placed human beings as they might ideally look like. This approach in art was passed down to the Romans and disappeared to emerge strongly in the renaissance era. (Ozment)
The conquests of Alexander and the Hellenistic civilization that came with them greatly affected the previously conquered societies and their neighbors. The Seleucid successors of Alexander ruled some parts of the Old Persian Empire for almost two centuries after his death, and Hellenistic culture continued to influence the urban upper classes for some time. (Kagan)
All these developments have led to the development of the next great empire, Rome. The hoplite Phalanx, the Greeks fighting strategy was adopted and later improved by the Romans, to form the most invincible army of their time. These developments diverge sharply from the experience of previous cultures and of contemporary ones in the rest of the world. To a degree they sprang from the unique political experience of the Greek, which avoided Monarchies and great-extended land empires but was based on independent city-states. That unique experience came to an end with the Macedonian conquest, which made the Greeks subject to or part of some great national state or empire and brought an end to the classical period. (Ozment)
The Hellenistic Influence reached even further under another group of Greeks who broke away from the Seleucids to form the indo-Greeks people of Bachtria. BY the second century B.C, they controlled, they controlled parts of northern India. The legacy of Hellenism in the east is reflected in art as far away as China. In the west, of course, the legacy was more complete and influential; powerfully shaping the nature of the Roman culture that would ultimately dominate the entire Mediterranean and more, making important contacts beyond it. (Internet2)
In republican Rome, to be considered an educated individual the person would have to be able to speak Greek, or at least have a servant well versed in Greek philosophy. Young Roman nobles studied Greek Rhetoric, literature and sometimes philosophy. These studies had effect even on education and the Latin language. In the third century B.C a Greek slave, Livius Androncius, translated the Odyssey into Latin, which became an incredible success. (Williams)
Roman religion was very much influenced by the Greeks. The Romans identified their own Gods with the Greek equivalents and incorporated, Greek mythology into their own, until they formed their own. (Kagan)
All the above points have been made to show the incredible amount of cultural and societal influence the Greeks had over the Romans, and if we hypothesize that Rome made the greatest contribution to our modern era, and then the Greeks would be contributors to Rome. It is true Rome made incredible changes and developments to Greek ideas, Philosophies, politics, warfare, art and other contributions, but Greek civilization formed the foundation for Rome. Rome was built solid rock of Greek contributions, for we can say that without the Greeks the Roman civilization would never form. (Williams)
We can conclude that the significance of the Greek era was the most important civilization of our time. Through them we incorporated knowledge and rationality into our society. Without the Greeks the west would never have gone through the renaissance, reformation and the scientific revolution and they would still be concentrating on living our lives on salvation in the next lives. Through Greek civilization we have managed to learn after so many years to concentrate on our selves and human development. Humanism was the creation of both Roman and Greek civilizations, and if it wasnt for that very word (humanism) we would still be living within medieval standards.
1) Internet1, WWW. Pstprst/hist/rme/33/edu.html.com, M. Lazridis, 18/7/00
2) Internet2, WWW. Ucla/humansocial/histrme/1.edu.html.com, UCLA free education, 18/7/00
3) S. Ozment, D. Kagan, W. Graham, A. Craig, The Heritage Of world Civilization 3rd edition, pages, 87-141, Macmillan college Publishing Company, New York, 1994
4) N. Williams, P. Fisher, Past into Present 3, pages 114-151, Collins College History, 1995
5) D. Kagan, Greek science after Aristotle (1977)