The Roman Empire was one of the largest in our history, their culture included drastically different traditions from each of the regions they governed over.
Their culture united all of its subordinates through collectivist ideologies with a purpose to better the empire, a unique blend of backgrounds created the Roman culture we identify today. This paper will discuss in greater detail the various aspects of Roman culture, such as art, religion, societal values, gender roles and norms; another area that will be explored will be the structure of Roman culture. Through the use of examples, this paper will display its point in ways applicable to actual Roman society. These analyses will be accompanied by a comparison between Roman culture and present day American culture, as it conceptually relates to the formation and structure of the ancient Roman state. In order to better understand the culture of the Roman Empire, its history shall first be explored in order to greater understand the formations of its societal conventions and culture. The Culture of the Roman Empire?Under the Roman Empire various lands were conquered and were absorbed into the ever-expanding empire. The vast history behind the empire depicts a complex and diverse culture that would transcend the obstacle of time and serve as a cultural icon. The Roman Empire, in terms of culture, was ethnically diverse due to extensive conquests.
Their society revolved around a collective mindset to work towards strengthening a group and was influenced largely by religious beliefs. Their culture greatly influenced modern art, and has left its traces in the culture of other countries, like the United States. By examining the values that shaped their society, their religious beliefs, gender roles and social norms, the task of acculturation will be facilitated, given the greater understanding of the culture.HISTORYRoman culture was heavily borrowed from the Hellenic Greeks. The similarities between the two cultures included overlaps in art, religion, architecture, and philosophy. In turn, the Romans heavily influenced the modern West including shaping the foundation for a degree of American cultural (The Ancient World.
) Linguistically, the de facto standard of the Roman Empire was Latin which to this day remains the primary lingua franca in western religion, the scientific community, historiography, and of course law. Roman culture was historically patriarchal with an emphasis on patriarchal domain over the family, property, and the wife (The Ancient World.) In divinity prior to the establishment of Christianity as the state religion in the 5th Century Roman Empire, was not tolerated.
Christians were heavily persecuted against due to their religious beliefs and their ideologies of monotheism (Joshua Mark 2009.) Once Christianity became the norm, the religious cultural tradition in the Roman Empire and Europe radically changed, with now the original polytheistic religious institutions and their followers being ruthlessly oppressed, and persecuted (Joshua Mark.) CULTURAL CONTEXTRepresented in the US The Roman Empire and the United States of America share almost as many similarities as they do differences. Although they differ many areas, such as social equality, gender roles, and slavery, certain traces of roman culture have transcended into current United States’ culture. Both cultures had an exceedingly important influence over their respective time period’s world order; the US is one of the strongest western powers of our world similarly to the social and military prowess of the Roman Empire at the time. The diversity of populations is also an aspect seen in both cultures. Although the Roman Empire had stringent social roles, their society composed of largely varying demographics, very much like the diverse demographics of the United States due to the heavy immigration inflow. The idea of democratically-elected officials in the US is strikingly similar to the notion the Romans had of being people who were chosen for some grander purpose (Murphey,2007).
Individualistic/CollectiveThe Roman Empire displayed more collective tendencies rather than individualistic practices. Through the heavy social influence revolving around “the Empire,” Roman social order depended on the elevation of the group and the neglect of the individual. The strong religious principles that underlined Roman life, had a greater pull towards collectivism as well. The idea was that what the individual desires should not be valued, all that mattered was the strict obedience to the will of the gods’. The most evident form of collectivism is through slavery. The practice of slavery was very common in the Roman Empire, so much so that slaves were seen a socioeconomic class within themselves. The culture and justification for the practice came from the notion that some individuals may have been born to be slaves, and that they should do their part for the greater benefit of the empire (Rowlands, 2006).
ArtisticAs one of the largest empires in human history, the Roman Empire covered and expanded into various parts of the world. This expansion resulted in a melting-pot of cultural diversity within the empire. When referring to the artistic contributions made by the Roman Empire, and Roman Art itself, some controversy has risen. The very concept of Roman Art is being challenged, due to its large resemblance to Hellenistic Art and non-definitive traits, given the large variance in art styles from different regions of the empire. Nonetheless, the Roman Empire has had some major contributions to modern art. The Roman sculptures were perfected versions of their Greek counterparts, Roman mosaics filled canvases with vibrant colors to demonstrate people and stories, and the same can be applied towards the Roman wall paintings (Cartwright, 2017).ValuesPatriotism and the defense of the society is a core value in Roman society. Roman society, like the Greeks, and the Americans developed a military tradition and a prideful attitude of defense as a component of their cultural values.
It became a part of Roman identity to provide for the defense of one’s home and way of life as a core component of Roman value system. This military tradition and patriotic attitude became a part of what it meant to be Roman and heavily tied into religion as well, as the worship of Emperors and political figures became a way of developing a sense of patriotism to inspire Romans to rally around the flag and defend their society and fight for the causes of their leaders (Mark 2009.) Oppression of minorities and religious adherence to the policies of the leadership also became a value and a dark tendency of the Roman Empire. Roman society dictated and demanded obedience and oppression of those who were not obedient and eventually began rampant persecution of minorities that threatened the order.
Therefore, as Christianity demanded the divinity of Christ and rejected idolatry, the Roman Empire was deeply threatened and dedicated to oppressing a counter-identity as a means of preserving the culture that empowered their rule. In the same way that the freedom of speech is a value in American society, the dedication to order and repression was a value in Roman society (The World of Ancient Romans.) Education and the value of a well versed and quality mind was also a strong value of the Roman Empire. As children, Romans were educated in law, ideologies, and physical fitness.
Conformity to order, and discipline was a core component of the value of education as well. Educational ideology correlated into the ideology of gender roles, as men and women were taught different skills and prepared for different careers from an early age. In Roman society, the home was seen as an educational institution and an equal emphasis of physical fitness, and discipline was placed with an emphasis on the arts, and literature as well (Education in Ancient Rome.) Religion?Prior to the 5th Century the primary religion in the Roman Empire, was historic polytheism which included the reverence on Emperors and political icons and gods and demigods. The belief system of Roman Polytheism included the same Gods in Hellenic Greek traditions, and prayer to the deities on the basis of their specific areas on divinity and their ability to provide for the people of the Roman Empire. For example, the God Mars was the god of war and the god of agriculture.
Therefore, if Roman citizens requested for a positive harvest, or Roman soldiers prayed for victory in battle their prayers would be directed at Mars. However, the Roman cultural society was highly diverse and fragmentations in society began to form. Therefore, religion as a cultural concept developed into a political solution as well. Therefore, Emperor worship became a forefront of Roman beliefs. This new priority of utilizing religious cultural identity to establish political uniformity lead to a darker religiously based cultural concept, the persecution of religious minorities (Grant.
) As Christianity began to rise in Roman society, and Christianity began to emphasize the divinity and Jesus Christ, a man of Jewish origin, and emphasized monotheism and rejected the divinity of men, this posed as a political and cultural roadblock to the Roman political elite. Therefore, Rome during the polytheistic era began the oppression of minorities with religious beliefs that threatened the existing religious order (Grant.) SEX AND GENDER ROLESIn Roman society women and men were educated for different skills and disciplines from a young age (Ancient Rome.) Women and young girls were educated in sewing, and weaving usually from their mothers, while young boys were trained in discipline, the arts, and military tradition (Ancient Rome.) In Roman society, men were solely represented in the Senate, and all participants in politics in Roman society were exclusively men. In modern American society women are frequently held in political practice (Mark Cartwright.) However, a barrier between women practicing in politics to the same level of men still exists, even in America.
In ancient Rome, men also held specific careers based on gender. meter workers, soldiers, carpenters were exclusively men. Men were seen to lead the family and serve as head of the household (Mark Cartwright.) In modern America, there is no gender standard for the head of the household. Women are able to head households freely. ACCULTURATIONAcculturation into Roman society depends heavily on the ability to adhere to and accept patriotism, and the rule of emperor as a component of patriotism. You must be willing to blindly follow the rule of the leader, and participate in the defense of the society by whatever means necessary. For example, if you are a man who was gone into Roman times, you must be willing to serve in the Roman Emperor and depending on what era in Roman history you have gone back into you must be willing to adhere to the religious decrees of the majority at the time.
CONCLUSION?Roman Empire’s influence on our political culture, and the basis for our institutional cultural ideas upon which western society was built, the differences between Roman society and American society are likely what was prevented a fall of the United States. Roman society was wholly one of adherence to order, one of reverence to leadership, and functional based on oppression of groups and entities that posed a threat to order. Roman culture also had a heavy positive focus on education, the arts, and literature. However, Roman basis of these educational programs differed based on gender roles, and class which weakened Roman culture.