The Hellenized Rome
The Roman Empire began as a small colony, in the city of Rome, and eventually, became one of the largest empires that the world has ever known before its ultimate demise. Because of the vast size of their territory, and the number of cultures they consumed throughout their existence, the Romans were heavily influenced by the Greeks and other Hellenistic civilizations. Two different groups of argue this point as Professors Mathews, Platt, and Noble argue this influence is reflected by Roman music, philosophy, literature, architecture, art, culture/government, and technology and science; and Professor Weber argues this is reflected in the areas of government/law, the influence and effects of conquests, culture, architecture and art, and philosophy. Both parties make compelling arguments as to why the Romans were heirs to Greek and Hellenistic civilization however, it is apparent that one argument is more thorough than the other.
According to Mathews, Platt, and Noble, Roman music was heavily influenced by Hellenistic cultures, most specifically, the Greeks. For a long period of time, Roman music perpetuated Greek forms and ideas. Some poets, like Horace, were encouraged to set their verses to music, thus continuing the Greek tradition of lyric poetry.i Romans borrowed a number of instruments from Hellenistic cultures including the Greek string instruments, the lyre and Kithara, and woodwinds, the single aulos (oboe), and the double aulos (tibia as named by the Romans).ii From the Etruscan people, the Romans adopted brass instruments that they similarly used in the military; from Hellenistic Alexandria, they inherited the hydraulic organ.iii As with this comprehensive examination of music, Mathew et al. continue their discourse of Hellenistic influence in philosophy.
Mathew et al. state that philosophy in the early and late Roman world was indebted to the conquered Hellenistic civilizations. In the early Roman Empire, Greek Skepticism appealed to many Romans after the Greek philosopher, Carneades had been brought to Rome in 155 BCE.iv Skepticism faded after Carneades’ death, but was revived in the later empire, and eventually, became a permanent influence of western thought. The authors detail that in the late empire, Greek Stoicism became popular, and influenced a number of people and emperors.v
Mathew et al. argue that Romans gained significantly from Hellenistic civilizations with respect to literature. This included the famed library of Alexandria, which contained more than 700,000 volumes of books.vi Much of early Roman literature was noteworthy for its strong Greek flavour; many early writers wrote in Greek because they found Latin inferior for high art. Romans used the Greek writing style for history, lyric and epic poetry, comedy, and tragedy before creating their own styles.vii Roman writers took plots from old Hellenistic tales and breathed new life into them (such as Plautus who borrowed from the...