Sep 1, 2020 in History

The Importance of Rome for the Development of Civilization

It is considered that such ancient cultures as Roman and Greek had a considerable influence on the development of modern civilization. The Roman Empire, as one of the largest civilizations in the ancient era, substantially contributed to the history of humanity as it changed the political, economic, and social aspects of those cities, which the Romans conquered and included to its empire. Individuals across the whole world had used their innovations and developments even after the collapse of the empire. The Roman civilization helped to shape the world that people know it today. The ancient Roman Empire created the law code that is similar to the one that many nations use at the present time. The Christian religion played an essential role in the ancient civilization and is still present in the western civilization. An analysis of Roman culture shows that Roma played a crucial role in the development of modern civilization as it shaped the features of modern government and law, languages that derived from Latin, education, philosophy, as well as architecture. The Roman Empire also contributed to the spread of Christianity and its doctrines. 

The most lasting contribution of Romans to the western civilization is the creation of the republican form of government and law. The United States of America, as well as other countries, designed their governments on the principles developed by the ancient Rome’s republicans. The Roman system was adopted in 510 BC when people replaced the king by elected officers. Rome’s representative democracy became the basis of the constitutions of a number of republics that appeared in the eighteenth century and even later. Hence, it extends from Russia to Argentina. The Roman republican principles are now a part of modern governments that allow their citizens to elect their leadership that in its turn is responsible for the country’s population. In ancient Rome, as in the United States today, the Senate gave their agreement to the adoption of policies while the Senate implemented them. The law is another aspect shaped by the Romans. With the expansion of the empire, Roman law, which was first formalized in the Twelve Tables, stated that its norms should be equal and fair for each resident whether he or she was wealthy or poor. The Romans also elected individuals who heard cases in a set formula, which gave rise to the emergence of new professions that still exist at the present time. These professions included those who spoke on behalf of clients and lawyers. Similarly to the modern civilization, Rome had an upper class with wealthy individuals and a lower class with people who did not have any registered property. As a result, the Roman form of government and law is the basis of the present structures of governing the nation.

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Another contribution is the Latin language from which the modern Romance languages developed. Roman education had a core curriculum, which the sons of the elite class learned. The curriculum partially accounted for the spread of Roman culture in the western civilization. Those boys, who were from seven to eleven years old, taught Latin. The language occupied a significant place in the history of the West as it was the tongue that spread over a wide territory while familiarity with it was regarded as the sign of a civilized individual. After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century AD, the speech of European people altered and “diversified into the various Romance vernaculars” while Latin turned into an international tongue. Many English words derived from the Latin language. For instance, the tribuni were the leaders of the tribes, who were responsible for protecting people. Despite the fact that structurally English belongs to Germanic languages, more than a half of its vocabulary English come from Latin. The Christian church also used the language for its purposes. Overall, the Latin language developed by the Romans was used for learning, Christianity, as well as diplomacy in the seventeenth century and even later. It served as a basis for the emergence of Romance languages. 

Roman literacy and learning also contributed to the improvement of education not just in Rome but in countries that existed in later medieval times. According to Watson, three sets of books had a substantial impact on the process of the development of civilization. They included Ars Minor and Maior and Institutiones Grammaticae by Aelius Donatus and De Compendiosa Doctrina by Nonius Marcellus, which provided the Middle Ages with the textbooks on grammar and liberal arts respectively. Another author known as Varro wrote encyclopedia titled Nine Books of Disciplines that described such educational disciplines as rhetoric, grammar, logic, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, music, architecture, as well as medicine. According to Watson, the books formed the basis for the medieval education that consisted of elementary trivium that taught grammar, rhetoric and dialectic and advanced quadrivium, in which children learned geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music. The Roman system formed the basis of educational systems that are used in modern times.

There were a vast number of Roman philosophers whose works had a significant influence on the development of science, mathematics, philosophy, literature, as well as art. They shaped these spheres into what one can see them in modern culture. Despite the fact that Greeks developed the main forms of literature, including comedy, tragedy, didactic pastoral, lyric, and oratory, it was a Roman writer, Cicero, who assimilated Greek culture. As the master of oration, he wrote On Duties and On the Nature of the Gods that expanded human knowledge of Greek ethical and religious thoughts. Cicero’s works were so significant that he was considered the second contributor to the intellectual content of the Western cultural traditions after Aristotle.

The Roman architectures were the ones who began to produce those elements, which were used throughout the world history and are still applied in modern architecture. The main contribution in the field of architecture was the invention of concrete, discovered nearly the end of the third century. The Romans found that a mixture of lime, water, and sand might be used for the creation of a durable substance. The substance began to be used as a building material and element that bonded masonry. The invention of concrete meant that people could build such public buildings as theaters and baths in the center of the city, as well as transport sand in small and manageable loads. It also meant that more complex buildings could be erected than previously. Concrete allowed forming shapes when it was wet, which meant that people did not have to carve as stone. As a result, the erection of facilities required less-skilled workforce, which in its turn, made the process of building much cheaper than previously. The use of concrete in architecture is still present in modern times. Thus, the invention of this building material by Romans shaped the architecture in what it is today.

The other important field created by Romans is Christianity. According to Watson, it was ancient Rome through which the Christian religion spread across the whole Western world. Roman Empire was the birthplace of the Christian religion. The New Testament describes Judaea as the homeland of the new faith. In the Roman Empire, the religious and secular lives intertwined. Every town had its own god that protected people while almost each building had statues of the gods with small shrines and altars. The governor of the empire was interested in its religious life and searched for an alternative religion for his empire. Instead of mystery offered by pagan religions, the most significant element of Christianity was a revelation. Christianity proposed a general truth that was rather available and applicable to all aspects of life. As a result, Rome initiated Christianity that served as a new system of belief. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, especially between the fourth and sixth centuries, European ecclesiastic elite adopted some civil, legal, and political functions of Rome, including Christianity. As a result, the European change from the era of antiquity to the medieval era contributed to the spread of Christianity. The religion brought the changes of ideas and traditions, which helped to shape the world as people know it at the present time.

Along with the adoption of the Christian religion in general, the Western civilizations have also assimilate its minor features, including the creation of such positions as bishops. According to the New Testament, apostles got the spirit from Jesus. The fact explains why Peter spoke in tongues while Paul had visions. In their turn, apostles passed their new spirit to the Christian leaders in Roman churches, the presbyters, who differed from congregations as they sat at tables while other people stood. The situation gave rise to the emergence of bishops, which made the priesthood be a separate class. The term bishop means a person who overseers. In the first churches, congregations consisted of seven presbyters, out of which one bishop was the chief above the rest. Later, bishops were present in all large Mediterranean towns, including Antioch, Alexandria, Rome Ephesus, as well as Carthage. These individuals, usually known as the patriarch, occasionally gathered in councils with the aim of settling matters of doctrine. In modern civilization, churches also elect bishops who govern the whole religious unit, including people in it. As a result, the emergence of bishops in the Roman Empire gave rise to their emergence in the western civilizations. 

Another important religious element developed by Romans was monasticism, which was the idea that full spirituality could be fully “achieved by renouncing the world and all its temptations”. The emergence of monk communities spread from the Roman Empire to other nations and is still present in the modern era. In Rome, both men and women, who worshiped the Christian religion, could follow a life of hermits, who built two-roomed cells and weaved rugs. In the fourth century, the first community of monks was established near the Nile. Each person who belonged to the community had his own hut. Monks devoted their lives to two purposes, mainly to learn the New Testament by heart and start an occupation that was assigned to him. In the west, the establishment of monasteries began at the beginning of the fourth century. The most influential community was the one formed by Benedict of Nursia, whose way of life had a substantial impact on the intellectual life of Europe. His rules for monks were used in the early Middle Ages and are still partially applied at the present time. The emergence of monasticism in the Roman Empire spread to other nation after its collapse. Hence, each country that belongs to the western civilization has a link with the communities of monks who similarly to the Roman monks devote their lives to the Christian religion.

The development of liturgy and scriptures is another contribution made by the Roman Empire. The first scriptures were “A Book of Testimonies” and “The Sayings of Jesus,” which included excerpts from the Old Testament. However, the literary tradition began to develop after Paul started writing letters to those congregations, which he had established. The religious letters about the life of Christ from four gospels was used as the basis for worships. The practice helped to keep all features that pertained to Christianity in perspective and determine any heresies. There were three heresies, which influenced the decision of the church to shape its doctrine. The first one belonged to Valentinus, who claimed that Jesus was not a real person but a phantom, the second heresies was written by Marcion, who stated that Jesus was not Jewish but a son of higher god than Yahweh, while the third one belonged to Montanus, who spoke against the structure of the Christian church. To restrict the occurrence of possible wayward beliefs, the Christian church formed the canon of New Testament works, as well as the key elements of worshiping practice. As a result, by the year 200, the Christian religion developed its religious book used for worshiping Christ and his merciful actions. The emergence of the book added to the power of the priesthood as they were almost the only persons who could read. New Testament is present in modern civilization, which means that the Roman Empire shaped the Christian religion people follow at the present time.

The last but not least contribution of the Roman Empire defined by Peter Watson in his book titled Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud is the creation of a calendar. The Julian calendar is almost identical to ones used by modern western civilizations and Orthodox churches. The developed calendar had holidays that are similar to the ones people observed today. Before the invention of the new calendar, the Romans used the one, which was based on the accession of governor Diocletian.The new calendar used the date of the birth of Jesus Christ in Judea as its starting point. As a result, the Romans defined the annals of history while the western civilization adapted it to own purposes.

In conclusion, taking into consideration the findings of the study, the Roman Empire played a significant role in the development of modern civilization. Rome shaped the features of modern government and law. The Romans developed the republic as a form of governing body that ruled the nation to limit the authority of the monarchy. Their system of law was the first one that was based on the belief that all people were equal. The belief formed the basis of modern law. The Latin language developed by Romans gave rise to the emergence of Romance tongues while works on grammar and liberal arts, as well as Cicero’s philosophy, improved the level of western education. The invention of concrete as a building material is still regarded as the primary component in building structures in the field of architecture. The Roman Empire also contributed to the spread of Christianity and the emergence of bishops, the communities of monks, such religious doctrines as scriptures and liturgies, as well as the calendar that are still used at the present time. As a result, the Roman Empire was significant for the development of civilization.

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