Greek Vs. Roman Architecture Essay

3238 words - 13 pages

With its magnificence and architecture, the Roman Colosseum has impressed everybody for two millennia. The ancient Roman architecture encountered not only across the Empire but also in the Roman colonies at the time was seen as a real breakthrough. And so was the Greek architecture. But whereas Greeks turned architecture into an art, the Romans used it as a means to denote the greatness of the Empire and the emperors. Inspired by Greek architecture, the buildings in the ancient Roman Empire give a whole new perspective on the purpose of architecture - grandeur, majesty, and utility. The ancient Roman architecture was used to express the grandeur of the Empire by maximizing the utility at the same time.Obviously the purposes the architecture served in these two cultures differ; but more than that, the way the builders are praised in the case of the Greeks or forgotten in the case of the Romans shows how important is classical architecture in characterizing an empire, a civilization. There are almost no known names of the Roman architects of the important edifices that were built in Antiquity. And this is because they were simple employees meant to serve ruler, as opposed to the Greeks, who were valued as artists:The difference between Athens and Rome in this matter is (…): the democratic free-for-all which had characterized the embellishment of the Athenian acropolis was now focused on the supreme personality-cult of the Emperor.Jocelyn M.C. Toynbee sees the difference between the two civilizations the same way: the Roman Empire used "Greek art in the service of the Imperial idea."Even the most respected and reliable treaty on ancient Roman architecture, DeArchitectura (On Architecture) by the Roman architect and engineer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was dedicated to Augustus Caesar, the first Roman emperor. The first book actually starts with a prologue which is a dedication to the author's patron, Caesar:Whilst, O Cæsar, your god-like mind and genius were engaged in acquiring the dominion of the world, your enemies having been all subdued by your unconquerable valour; whilst the citizens were extolling your victories, and the conquered nations were awaiting your nod; whilst the Roman senate and people, freed from alarm, were enjoying the benefit of your opinions and counsel for their governance; I did not presume, at so unfit a period, to trouble you, thus engaged, with my writings on Architecture, lest I should have incurred your displeasure.To fully understand the Roman architecture we have to look at the elements it developed from - Greek and Etruscan elements were the starting point. "For the whole of the republican period, Roman architecture was a nearly exact copy of that of Greece." This is why Roman architecture should be observed not only in comparison with the Greek, but alongside with it, being influenced by it.The Greek architecture was highly inspired by humanity, nature, perfect shapes, perfect measurements, but all done in...

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