Rome and Western Civilization
Rome. A mighty civilization, Rome bore the weight of the world for hundreds of years, conquering, establishing laws and creating order throughout the Mediterranean coastline and deep into Europe, Africa, and Asia. They built roads; they had every type of government, and sometimes none; they developed the greatest army the world had yet seen, and preserved and developed Greek culture. But, how specifically does Rome continue to influence Western Civilization, and why should we know about it?
Roman literature continues to be a powerful bedrock to modern literature. Virgil and the Aeneid, Seneca, Cicero, the many historians and other writers continue to make their mark on the minds of the modern individual. They also, with their complex system of libraries, kept thousands of manuscripts from decay, including Homer’s works and more. Roman art is everywhere, and inspired the paintings, statues, and sculptures, during and after the Renaissance. Roman style art is to be found in palaces and homes to this day. Roman architecture is also present everywhere. The columns of both Roman and Greek style ornament some of the wealthy’s homes, as well as government and judicial buildings. Arches, a definite contribution of Rome to architecture, are also to be found in abundance in doorways and bridges. Some of the aqueducts of Ancient Rome are still in use today!
Scholars and philosophers developed the Roman concept of law, and also touched on natural law. Even though they didn’t discover it all, their foundations in the writings of the Greek philosophers from before, they did popularize the ideals of a common law for everyone and all peoples. Rhetoric (public speaking) was studied by the Romans in detail, and Aristotle’s rules of logic are still in practice to this day.
Throughout the Empire, Rome and her armies built hundreds of roads throughout the Empire, in order to enable messages and troops to move quickly around the vast territories in Rome’s possession. Because all of this territory was under Roman subjugation, those who were educated would know either Greek of Latin. This enabled the gospel to be spread far faster then ever, and, with the Roman army keeping the barbarians at bay, missionaries like Paul and Barnabas were able to spread the good news far and wide, without having too many language barriers.
Though the Empire had a lot of flaws, and their people were pagan, it developed and handed down many useful arts and sciences, like logic and philosophy, for the church to build upon, and develop what we now call Western Civilization.