July 28, 2014

Greek and Roman Civilization Greek Civilization

The history of the human race covers the entire period since man first appeared on earth. By about 4000 BC the accumulated knowledge and skills of the preceding thousands of years, combined with new discoveries of metals enabled man to live in urban societies. The emergence of this stage was a revolution in human history known as the metal age revolution. It led to the emergence of the first civilizations which are known as River Valley Civilizations. Such river valley civilizations were noted for the effective use of metal implements for Cultivation, weapons and domestic use.
The Bronze Age civilizations which flourished in different parts of the world between 5000 BC and 500 BC were
1.            The Indus Valley civilization or the Harappan culture (3250 to 2750 BC)
2.            The Tigris - Euphrates civilization of Mesopotamia, the modern Iraq (3500 BC to 1000 BC)
3.            The Nile Valley Civilization in Egypt (4000-500BC)
4.            The Hwang -Ho or the Yellow River civilization in China (3500-3000 BC)

Civilization of Europe:

Greek and Roman Civilization Greek Civilization
Greece is situated in the Balkan Peninsula on the south eastern part of Europe, Balkan Peninsula is separated from Asia Minor by Aegean Sea. The early Greeks came and settled in Greece in different groups as Achaeans, lonians and Dorians. They came from the Danube River Valley. Greece is a peninsula washed by the Adriatic, the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas. The main land of Greece is full of rugged mountains. Its crisscross ranges cut up the main land into hundreds of valleys.
One of the significant features of Greek civilization has been their city states. Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes etc. were the important city states in ancient Greece. Each of the city states
had its own government and rulers. Democratic Governments were set up. The city states often quarrelled among themselves. In the end there emerged, two powerful city states of Sparta and Athens. The Athenian democracy reached its zenith during the rule of Pericles. Ultimately the wars and conquests of Philip and Alexander of Macedonia put an end to the city states and Alexander built the first Greek Empire. As a result of this, trade developed between Europe and Asia. During the 2nd Century BC the Romans attacked the Greeks and Greece became a part of the Roman Empire.

Contributions of Ancient Greece to World culture

Ancient Greece has contributed a lot to enrich the culture of the world. In the field of language and literature the contribution of Greece is unparalleled. The Iliad and Odyssey are the great epics written by a blind poet Homer. Herodotus, Thucydides and Plutarch were famous historians and biographers of ancient Greece. The most famous Greek philosophers were Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Plato was a student of Socrates. He wrote the book “The Republic”. Aristotle was a philosopher and a scientist and he was also Alexander's teacher. Socrates is regarded as the father of Western philosophy. Herodotus is known as the ‘father of history’.
The Greeks considered science and philosophy as two sides of the same coin. Hippocrates is considered as the ‘father of western medicine’. Ptolemy a geographer and astronomer believed that the earth was the centre of the universe (geocentric theory). The Greek contribution to the science of Mathematics, especially to geometry was really great. Pythagoras was a great mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and philosopher.
The temples in ancient Greece especially that of Zeus in Alexandria are the best specimens of Greek art and architecture. The best example of Greek architecture is the temple dedicated to goddess Athena in Parthenon. Myron and Phidias were the famous sculptors of ancient Greece. The Greeks were pioneers in the field of sports and games too.
They used conduct olympiad festival once every four years since 776BC. This proved to be the forerunner of the Modern Olympic games. Achievements of Myron ancient Greeks in the spheres of philosophy, literature, science and sports are marvellous. It is the Greeks who gave the world the idea of freedom, namely freedom of thought, speech or writing.

The Roman Civilization
The Apennine peninsula in the centre of the Mediterranean region had been the cradle of the Roman civilization. That peninsular territory is called “Italy” and the name Italy is of Greek origin. The river basins of “Po” and “Tiber” were the centres of civilizational activities. The Alps mountain ranges in the north prevent the cold polar winds from penetrating into Italy, thus provide a very pleasant climate to Italy. In fact the Roman civilization can be deemed as Italian Civilization.
In the beginning monarchical system prevailed in Italy. There were Assemblies and Senates to advise and assist the kings. In due course, kingships were given up and “republics” were established. Of these republics the Republic of Rome emerged as the most powerful one. It is believed that the city of Rome was founded in B.C. 753 by two brothers named Romulus and Rhemus. By 6th century B.C. it became a Republic. The “Senate” was the legislative wing of the Republic. In that senate the propertied and influential class known as the Patricians wielded much influence. The common people who had no property were called “Plebians”. After a protracted struggle, the plebians too gained representations in the senate. The administrative powers were in the hands of three elected consuls. The plebians later on secured recognition of their rights through codes of law. These codes engraved in slabs of woods were known as the “Laws of Twelve Tables”.
Rome in the process of its expansion, had to fight three wars with the state of Carthage in North Africa. These wars were called the Punic wars and were fought between 264 BC to 146 BC. The brave Carthagenian general Hannibal was finally defeated. All these wars made Rome a society of slaves and slave holders. The rich vied with one another to possess slaves and accumulate wealth which resulted in moral decay of the whole society. The
rule of the Consuls was followed by the rise of Julius Caesar, the most powerful general and popular leader and the foremost of the dictators of Rome. Though he introduced many reforms in the senate and improved the condition of the poor, the enemies of Caesar murdered him in a senate meeting in 44 BC. After his death, his nephew Octavious Caesar became the undisputed master of the Roman Empire. He was given the title of 'Augustus' meaning the “magnificent”. He ruled for forty one years. He completed the work which Caesar started. This period was known as "Golden Age of Rome"
Socio-Economic Condition
Agriculture was the chief occupation of the Romans. They grew barley, wheat, beans, grapes, figs etc. Along with agriculture, they domesticated animals, such as oxen, sheep, horses, asses and goats. Roman nobles employed large number of slaves for doing agricultural work and cattle rearing. The Romans had trade relations with India, Arabia, and China. Once Rome's territory is expanded there arose another class in society. This class consisted of slaves, who were engaged to work in estates. As time passed on, the slaves began to occupy high position in the state. Roman conquests and its affluence, made the rich squander their wealth in extravagance.
Contribution of the Roman civilization to the world
The most lasting contribution of the Romans was in the field of Law. The Roman Law developed in three main branches as (1) The civil Law, (2) The people's Law (3) The Natural Law. These Laws were codified by a later ruler, Justinian and that code is known as the “Corpus Juris Civils” or “Justinian code”. The Roman concept of “Pax Romagna” ensured rule of law through out the empire and it prohibited discriminations in Judicial procedures.
Religion played an important part in Roman government and life. They worshipped many gods; Janus, the double faced god, protected their home and family, Jupiter was the god of sky and Mars protected their armies. Venus was worshipped as the goddess of love. Prayers and sacrifices were offered by the priests on behalf of the Roman people. At first the emperors were hostile to Christianity and persecuted Christians. Christianity was popular among the slaves. Then in 313 AD Roman emperor Constantine made Christianity a state religion. In due course Rome became the seat of the Pope, the religious head of the Christians.
Roman art shows distinct Greek influence. They copied the Greek style in the construction of columns or pillars. One of the most famous temple
was that of the Pantheon. Pompey was a great architect. Their contributions to architecture are the arch and the dome. They developed mural paintings.
The Romans developed their own alphabet and their language was known as Latin. Rome produced some remarkable literary figures. Livy wrote History of Rome. Another famous historian was Tacitus. His “Annals and Histories” is a trustworthy work on Roman Government and society. Virgil wrote an epic in poetry. Cicero was a versatile genius. Seneca, Plautus and Terence were the most popular Roman dramatists who borrowed liberally from the Greeks. Cicero, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus were notable philosophers. ‘Meditations’ written by Marcus Aurelius is considered to be a masterpiece of stoic philosophy.
In the field of science, the Romans improved the medical science, Pliny, the Elder wrote a Natural History which contains scientific facts. Ptolemy a Greek and a great astronomer and geographer lived in the Roman empire. Galen was the greatest physician of his time. He studied the respiratory system and related diseases and wrote number of medical treatises.

The world is indebted to the Romans for their share in the march of human civilization. The Romans acted as agents to spread and preserve much of what the ancient Greeks had left behind as their legacy. The Latin language, the concept of Pax Romagna (emphasising on one world, one citizenship and one law) the military system, works of engineering and codified law are precious contributions of the Romans to the world civilization.

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