Thursday, September 4, 2014

Comparing and contrasting two IE Cultures with respect to each culture's Indo-European nature

               In comparing Roman and Hellenic cultures, it is important to look at the similarity and differences in the terrain of both nations. Though both were Mediterranean countries at very similar latitudes, Greek city-states were in very hilly countryside and nearly all were near large bodies of water. Rome consists of both inland planes and hills, with extremely fertile land thanks to the Tiber River. Both nations were known for their wines and olive products, which is very much a result of their latitudes.

                Greek art had the goal of creating ideal artistic forms. Much of their art represented their gods, heroes, and mythologies. Roman art seemed to be more focused on decorative aspects and realistic portraits of subjects. Greek art tended to adorn everyday utilitarian objects, where Roman art more often adorned both living and public spaces.

                Though both cultures were agrarian, Greeks typically were smaller farms and relied on fishing and trade. Rome imported a great deal of their wheat, and annexed provinces and nations that could provide them with important staples. The annexing of other provinces and nations lead Rome’s economy to become dependent upon large populations of slaves. Greeks were known to have slaves but their economy was not driven by it as the Romans were. The Greeks also gave their slaves certain rights. One of the most notable was that they were allowed to become initiates of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Their owners were required to put forth any purchases or money required to become initiated as well.

Both Roman and Hellenic cultures were great influences upon many other of the IE cultures. The Hellenic culture was first in having widespread influence through the Mediterranean areas and most of what now is the Mideast and down into India. While Rome did extend to much of the same areas they also expanded northward into the Gaul and Island Celtic regions. But it is the Romans who seemed to be most influenced by outside forces to the point their religion and culture began to take on dramatic changes. Though the Roman and Hellenic cultures were influenced by many of the same external forces as a whole the Hellenic culture seemed to be more galvanized and able to resist many changes than that of the Roman culture.

Both cultures have left behind a great deal of evidence to their beliefs, their culture and even their personal day to day lives. We even have details of how religious beliefs were practiced on a domestic level. Their cultures have influenced modern government and languages to this very day. And though many historians have written on the similarities of these two IE cultures, it is important to remember that they were very different and distinct entities.
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