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"Roman" Culture?
#1
Salve!

Having seen the odd episode of Terry Jones Barbarians on Dicovery Civilization, I've started to ponder on Roman civilization. After all, the Romans, whilst undoubtedly intelligent and good engineers(the aquaducts anyone?), they seem to have taken most of their culture from the various civilizations they encountered. After all, how many famous Roman mathematicians are there? Compared to the Greeks for example? And then we have the religion. Maybe it's a hyperbole, but didn't the Romans "borrow" the Greek dieties and adds some Roman flavour?

Discuss!
"There are some who call me... Tim..."

Sic vis pacem, para bellum

Exitus acta probat

Nemo saltat sobrius

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

Fortes Fortuna Aduvat

"The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one! Good odds for any Greek!"
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#2
But the overlap between various city states, kingdoms, empires, etc, surely doesn't make the Romans the only group to do so? Rome wasn't the only people to worship the likes of Mars on the Italian peninsula, and their history of worshiping him doesn't make it any younger than the Greeks, surely? Even before Rome became an entity the peoples that made up the brigands must have worshiped him prior to then, but he just had a different name to that which the Greeks called him.

One thing is for sure, and that's by the time Pyrrhus encountered Rome they certainly had very much their own 'identity', which Pyrrhus seems to have found completely alien. Perhaps inventions and material products are a red herring, and the real way to view them is in their culture's attitudes and view of themselves, which certainly does seem to have developed into something quite unique once they had rid themselves of kings and began to be major players in the Mediterranean.

If you stumble across something useful then why not just use it?
TARBICvS/Jim Bowers
A A A DESEDO DESEDO!
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#3
I know of very few cultures anywhere that sprang into existence sui generis with no influences from outside. It's only possible when a culture develops in total isolation and there have been few of those. The Greeks adapted their alphabet from the Phoenicians and their philosophies were heavily influenced by Asia. Their preclassical sculpture has a definitely Egyptian look. They absorbed all these influences and turned them into the culture we call Greek. In this, the Romans were just doing what lmost all cultures do.
Pecunia non olet
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#4
I need to clarify. Yes, outside influence is almost impossible to avoid, but how much of Roman civilization was really Roman? Yes, they did flavour everything with a distinct Roman feel, but still.
"There are some who call me... Tim..."

Sic vis pacem, para bellum

Exitus acta probat

Nemo saltat sobrius

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

Fortes Fortuna Aduvat

"The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one! Good odds for any Greek!"
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#5
Architecture as well. Although it is said the arch and dome were Roman, I have been told that they adopted the arch and dome from The Etruscans.
Patrick Costello
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#6
Quote:how much of Roman civilization was really Roman?

Spiritually, the metaphysical mission.
Practically, the method.
And both together...

Valete,
TITVS/Daniele Sabatini

... Tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum
desinet ac toto surget Gens Aurea mundo,
casta faue Lucina; tuus iam regnat Apollo ...


Vergilius, Bucolicae, ecloga IV, 4-10
[Image: PRIMANI_ban2.gif]
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#7
I think much of the confusion here comes from the way Archaeologists and Historians like to classify material culture. Just exactly what is "Roman" material culture and if identified within the archaeological record, then does that automatically mean that this is a "Roman" settlement/person etc.

There is huge debate about "Romanisation", a mysterious process whereby previously "non-Romans" become "Romans" because the material culture excavated indicates that this is the case (see Millett's work on this for Roman Britain for example).

During the writing of my Master's thesis I concentrated upon how public space in settlements changed from pre-Roman to Roman periods. Being "Roman" is more a state of mind for the people that used those public spaces (towns, cities etc.), and the architecture that defines those public spaces emphasizes political, social, and religious ideologies. For an example of this note how Augustus (Octavian) set about creating, or re-establishing the "Roman" identity and values after a long period of political and social instability - religion (new deities, including Julius Caesar and himself in the provinces), culture (Virgil's Aeneid for example), and architecture. I would recommend the work by Paul Zanker (in particular his work on power and images in the age of Augustus) as a good place to start.

Sorry if I seem like I am preaching here but this really is a very important topic I feel.
Sulla Felix

AKA Barry Coomber
Moderator

COH I BATAVORVM MCRPF
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#8
I think much of the confusion here comes from the way Archaeologists and Historians like to classify material culture. Just exactly what is "Roman" material culture and if identified within the archaeological record, then does that automatically mean that this is a "Roman" settlement/person etc.

There is huge debate about "Romanisation", a mysterious process whereby previously "non-Romans" become "Romans" because the material culture excavated indicates that this is the case (see Millett's work on this for Roman Britain for example).

During the writing of my Master's thesis I concentrated upon how public space in settlements changed from pre-Roman to Roman periods. Being "Roman" is more a state of mind for the people that used those public spaces (towns, cities etc.), and the architecture that defines those public spaces emphasizes political, social, and religious ideologies. For an example of this note how Augustus (Octavian) set about creating, or re-establishing the "Roman" identity and values after a long period of political and social instability - religion (new deities, including Julius Caesar and himself in the provinces), culture (Virgil's Aeneid for example), and architecture. I would recommend the work by Paul Zanker (in particular his work on power and images in the age of Augustus) as a good place to start.

Sorry if I seem like I am preaching here but this really is a very important topic I feel.
Sulla Felix

AKA Barry Coomber
Moderator

COH I BATAVORVM MCRPF
Reply


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