History of Culture in Ancient Rome

History of Culture in Ancient Rome

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The history of culture in ancient Rome was remarkably consistent throughout the 1,200-year history of the Roman Republic and Empire, and throughout the empire’s expanse from Britain to the Euphrates. In fact, Rome was the largest city of its time, with a population of several million. But most Romans lived in the countryside in rural settlements which at least had a forum, temples, and the same sorts of buildings that were found in Rome. Absentee landlords lived in the cities and left their estates, and their legions of slaves, in the care of overseers and farm managers. Homes in Rome ranged from tenement hovels to opulent country estates. The word “palace” come from the elegant Palatine Hill district and its sumptuous imperial residences. But most people lived packed into apartment blocks that were prone to sudden collapse and fire.

The great public baths served as the epicenter of Rome’s social life. Similarly, Trajan’s Forum and the Pantheon became centers for official and political business (usually one and the same). The Colosseum drew packed audiences with brutish combat and racing spectacles, where gladiators disemboweled each other and lions tore Christians and other innocents apart to gratify Rome’s taste for cruelty. While there were several theaters and gymnasia, entertainment was usually more lowbrow; countless taverns and brothels soothed the savage breast of Rome’s overwhelmingly poor and desperate populace.

Upper-crust Romans acquired a taste for Greek culture during the Republic, and this spurred widespread denunciation of its degenerate and effeminate influence. Greek culture was imparted by Greek household slaves who taught the young of affluent and powerful families, and Greek chefs, decorators, secretaries, doctors, and hairdressers all made their way to Rome to practice their trades. Greek sculpture graced landscape gardening on the Palatine, and was imitated widely by Greek slave sculptors.

Against this human landscape, one of history’s most influential civilizations took shape, leaving behind a cultural legacy that wields influence even today. At its height, the Roman Empire had developed the most extensive government and social structure in Western civilization. Its influence on Western civilization was profound in law and governance, the two traits that best defined the Roman character.

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Architecture: Arcuate RevolutionBuilding MaterialsTemples: Examples | Drama: ActingFarceMime | Language | Learning: Curriculum : Childhood EducationPrimary SchoolSecondary SchoolHigher Education | LibrariesLiteracyRomeEmpire | Schools | Scholarship: Empire | Literature: EmpireHistoriographyLesser LightsPoetryProse | Music: InstrumentsMusicians | Painting | Philosophy: CynicismEpicureanismEmpireGreek Culture in Rome | ManichaeismNeo-PlatonismSecond SophisticSkepticismLater Development | Prime Movers: Cassius DioCato the Elder: BackgroundWritingsLegacy | Catullus | Cicero: BackgroundBeliefsWritings | Dio Chrysostom | Ennius | Epictetus | Eusebius | Horace | Julius Caesar | Juvenal | Lactantius | Livy | Lucan | Lucretius: Writings | Martial | Ovid | Panaetius of Rhodes | Petronius | Philo | Plautus | Pliny the Elder | Plotinus | Plutarch | Posidonius | Rufus | Sallust | Seneca the Younger: BeliefsWritings | Statius | Strabo | Tacitus | Terence | Tibullus | Varro | Virgil: Writings | Rhetoric | Sculpture: Empire | Science and Technology: Empire | Medicine: DiseasePhysiciansSurgeryTreatments | Union of Greek and Roman Culture | Decline

Culture: Architecture

Architecture: Arcuate Revolution

Architecture: Building Materials

Architecture: Temples

Temples: Examples

Culture: Drama

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Drama: Acting

Drama: Farce

Drama: Mime

Culture: Language

Culture: Learning

Learning: Curriculum

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Learning: Childhood Education

Learning: Primary School

Learning: Secondary School

Learning: Higher Education

Learning: Libraries

Learning: Literacy

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Learning: Rome

Learning: Empire

Learning: Schools

Learning: Scholarship

Scholarship: Empire

Culture: Literature

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Literature: Empire

Literature: Historiography

Literature: Lesser Lights

Literature: Poetry

Literature: Prose

Culture: Music

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Music: Instruments

Music: Musicians

Culture: Painting

Culture: Philosophy

Philosophy: Cynicism

Philosophy: Epicureanism

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Philosophy: Empire

Philosophy: Greek Culture in Rome

Philosophy: Manichaeism

Philosophy: Neo-Platonism

Philosophy: Second Sophistic

Philosophy: Skepticism

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Philosophy: Later Development

Prime Movers: Cassius Dio

Prime Movers: Cato the Elder

Cato the Elder: Background

Cato the Elder: Writings

Cato the Elder: Legacy

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Prime Movers: Catullus

Prime Movers: Cicero

Cicero: Background

Cicero: Beliefs

Cicero: Writings

Prime Movers: Dio Chrysostom

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Prime Movers: Ennius

Prime Movers: Epictetus

Prime Movers: Eusebius

Prime Movers: Horace

Prime Movers: Julius Caesar

Prime Movers: Juvenal

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Prime Movers: Lactantius

Prime Movers: Livy

Prime Movers: Lucan

Prime Movers: Lucretius

Lucretius: Writings

Prime Movers: Martial

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Prime Movers: Ovid

Prime Movers: Panaetius of Rhodes

Prime Movers: Petronius

Prime Movers: Philo

Prime Movers: Plautus

Prime Movers: Pliny the Elder

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Prime Movers: Plotinus

Prime Movers: Plutarch

Prime Movers: Posidonius

Prime Movers: Rufus

Prime Movers: Sallust

Prime Movers: Seneca the Younger

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Seneca the Younger: Beliefs

Seneca the Younger: Writings

Prime Movers: Statius

Prime Movers: Strabo

Prime Movers: Tacitus

Prime Movers: Terence

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Prime Movers: Tibullus

Prime Movers: Varro

Prime Movers: Virgil

Virgil: Writings

Culture: Rhetoric

Culture: Sculpture

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Sculpture: Empire

Culture: Science and Technology

Science and Technology: Empire

Science and Technology: Medicine

Medicine: Disease

Medicine: Physicians

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Medicine: Surgery

Medicine: Treatments

Union of Greek and Roman Culture


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