What were the distinctive characteristics of Roman culture?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The culture of ancient Rome can be described as covering a 1,000 year period, and developed from a small agricultural community defined by narrow ethnicity to a multilingual and multicultural empire covering an area now occupied by 13 modern nations. To generalize about such diverse chronological and geographical diversity is to dramatically oversimplify.

Rome is known for many significant engineering feats, such as building aqueducts and roads and monumental architecture, but the ancient Persian, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian empires also accomplished significant feats of engineering (and irrigation in the case of Egypt).

A complex written law code is considered an important feature of Roman culture, but written law codes date back to Mesopotamia, though it might be said that the Roman one was distinctive for its complexity. Roman administration was extremely efficient by ancient standards (but so was that of ancient Persia).

Perhaps rather than trying to suggest that Rome was unique, it would be better to state that it was one of several large ancient empires (including the Mesopotamian, Mycenaean, Egyptian, and Persian) that lasted for several centuries, had complex laws and administration, produced major cultural and intellectual works, impressive feats of engineering and monumental building, and was militarily strong.

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