What are some of the key similarities and differences between the Roman Empire and the Greek civilization?

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Key Similarities:

  1. The Roman and Greek civilizations shared many of the same attitudes, ideas, and symbols in philosophy, mythology, and religion. In simple terms, the Romans regarded the Greeks as the creators of civilization, but they saw the Greeks as being too passionate and egotistic to manage and maintain themselves...

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Key Similarities:

  1. The Roman and Greek civilizations shared many of the same attitudes, ideas, and symbols in philosophy, mythology, and religion. In simple terms, the Romans regarded the Greeks as the creators of civilization, but they saw the Greeks as being too passionate and egotistic to manage and maintain themselves as a strong, unified political and military force. The Romans are often, in overly-summarized terms, said to have "copied" things from the Greeks, such as elements of architecture, government, and religion. But it might be better to say that the Romans saw themselves as taking over and continuing the work of the Greeks, but under their own terms, which sometimes involved a partial reshaping, as in the Romans' renaming of the Greek gods.
  2. Relative to their respective opponents, such as the Persians or Gauls, the Greeks and Romans had a more violent and decisive approach to war. The purpose was to win, not to obtain wealth. This was partly driven by the fact that many soldiers, particularly the elite, had to supply their own equipment. Loot was always important, but by sending forth well-supplied armies, the Greeks and Romans ensured that they weren't fielding desperate, under-equipped troops. In contrast, the armies of the "barbarians" were often conscripted or coerced with the condition that they were free to keep what they looted. This attitude sometimes led to problems with morale and troop cohesion, which problems the Greeks and Romans didn't experience.

Key Differences:

  1. The Romans organized their political and military systems quite differently from the Greeks. The Greeks were an assortment of independent city-states. Each city was seen as a part of the Greek cultural whole, but each city—and its surrounding region—was an independent political domain. Each Greek city had different laws and different ways of maintaining its military forces (Athens, for example, was known more for ships than for ground troops), whereas the Romans standardized their political and military forces and centralized their government in Rome. Thus the Roman system resembles the contemporary United States, with its centralized government; by contrast, the Greek political landscape would resemble a United States without a central government.
  2. While the Greeks created colonial cities in many parts of the ancient Mediterranean world, they rarely aspired to conquering those lands, replacing their native peoples, and establishing an empire. This is in direct contrast to the Roman practice of conquering foreign regions and then incorporating those conquests into the Roman Empire.
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