Both the Romans and the Greeks are considered cornerstones of a lot of aspects of civilization. From early designs of the numbers and the alphabet to innovations in literature, arts, and philosophy, both have clearly contributed to the development of civilization, in particular, the West. Greece is well-known its historical belief in mythical Gods and Goddesses, while Rome, which also had their own gods and goddesses, is better known for the founding and spreading of Christianity. However, their histories and development have many very distinct differences as well as similarities.
General comparisons between Ancient Greece and Rome Geographically, both Greece and Rome are Mediterranean countries, but the terrain of the two is very different. The ancient Greek city-states were separated from each other by hills and all were near the water. Rome was inland, on one side of the Tiber River, but the Italic tribes (in the boot-shaped peninsula that is now Italy) did not have the natural hill borders to keep them out of Rome. In Italy, around Naples, Mt. Vesuvius produced fertile land by blanketing the soil with tephra which aged into rich soil.
There were also two nearby mountain ranges to the north, called the Alps and the east, called Apennine (Gil, 2007). The economy of both Greece and Rome was agriculturally based. Greeks lived on small self-sufficient wheat-producing farms, but bad agricultural practices made many households incapable of feeding themselves. After some time, Greece began producing wine and olive oil, which were also the chief exports of the Romans. On the other hand, the Romans imported their wheat and captured provinces that could provide them with this all-important staple.
They also engaged in farming and trading with neighboring countries. Both Greece and Rome worked mines. While Greece also had slaves, the economy of Rome was dependent on slave labor until the late Empire (Gil, 2007). Meanwhile, the early social classes of Greece and Rome were both similar and at the same time different in several ways. Although these classes are no longer visible today, they played an important role in shaping the two countries’ histories. Greece had slaves, freed men, meltics, citizens, and women. Rome, on the other hand, also had slaves and freed men, but also plebeians and patricians.
Plebeians were the lower class while the patricians were the upper class of Rome. The Plebeians were originally relatives of the fathers or the heads of the families of the old tribes of Rome which were believe to have been divided into 3 tribes, Tities, Luceres, and Ramnes. The classes were divided according to wealth status. However, in Greece, mostly in Athens, women were not considered citizens while in Rome the women were (Gil, 2007). Early and Modern government The earliest form of civilization in Greece can be traced back to the Minoan Civilization.
Although scarce information is known about the Minoans, they were basically merchants who were engaged in exporting their rich natural resources overseas, in particular timber, to neighboring lands. The Minoan civilization collapsed after the Myceneans invaded. This period was called the Mycenean or Bronze Age, which was dominated by a government type called aristocracy. In this form of government, power was held by a small group individuals belonging to elite or noble families or classes. The end of the Mycenean Age began during the invasion of another group of Greek people called the Dorians.
This age, collectively called the Dark Ages, saw the rise of the first Greek city-states, which was the term for the divisions among cities in Greece, and also saw the rise of the rule of Kings. Aristocracy eventually replaced that rule and even an aristocracy within an aristocracy or an elite group ruling over the elite (Taylour, 1990). After the dark ages, the age called Ancient Greece began. While there are no exact dates on the beginning of this era, many historians believe that this was basically the foundation of Western culture. In this age, each of the city-states of Greece had different forms of government.
Noticeably, however, some city-states where ruled by autocracy, mostly through tyranny or dictatorship, where all political power is ruled by a single person (Robinson, 1957) In 510 BC, the city-state of Athens created the first democratic government where they gave more power to the poor. However, not all power was in the hands of the people as most of them, women and slaves in particular were not able vote The Hellenistic period followed when Rome invaded most parts of Greece. Here most of Greece was ruled by kings, however, during this period wars continuously broke and the entire country was in disarray.
A major of attempt of Greece, under the control of Macedonians, to revolt Roman rule failed, Rome eventually invaded the entire Greek land, except the city of Rhodes, and here aristocracy prevailed (Robinson, 1957). Afterwards, the Bryzantine period began, which basically an amalgam of both Greek and Roman culture. Here most forms of the government were oligarchy in which power is controlled by only the elite few, since Greece was under Roman control. The Bryzantine Empire was gradually weakened by constant invasions from Turks, Latins and eventually fell to another group of Invaders called the Ottomans (Robinson, 1957).
The Ottoman Empire, in turn, crumbled during the Greece’s first war of Independence which began in 1821 and concluded in 1830 when England, France, and Russia forced the Ottoman Empire to grant Greece its independence under a European monarch, Bavarian prince Otto. He was deposed 30 years later, and the Great Powers chose a prince of the Danish House of Glucksberg as his successor. He became George I, King of the Hellenes. Greece entered World War I in 1917 on the side of the Allies. After the war, Greece took part in the Allied occupation of Turkey, where many Greeks still lived.
In 1921, the Greek army marched toward Ankara, but was defeated by Turkish forces led by Mustafa Kemal (later Ataturk) and forced to withdraw. In a forced exchange of populations, more than 1. 3 million Christian refugees from Turkey poured into Greece, creating enormous challenges for the Greek economy and society. Greek politics, particularly between the two world wars, involved a struggle for power between monarchists and republicans. Greece was proclaimed a republic in 1924, but George II returned to the throne in 1935.
A plebiscite in 1946 upheld the monarchy, which was finally abolished by referendum on December 8, 1974 (History of Greece, 2007). Subsequently, Greece created a parliamentary type of government where in the executive powers are given to a prime minister which still retains its form today. On the other hand, the earliest form of Roman government can be traced during the Estrucan period where the Romans were ruled by Kings and monarchy prevailed. The Romans eventually revolted against the Estrucans, who were weakened by Greek conflicts, and gained independence.
They adapted a republic system of government based on a Senate, a group of composed of nobles, and favored political participation during assemblies. This marked the beginning of the Roman Republic, which stretched for hundreds of years. This also saw the rise of Rome as a military power, which conquered nations thereby establishing itself as an Empire and founded Christianity. The seat of power was in Rome itself but puppet emperors were designated in the conquered nations in the west, which was called the Western Roman Empire.
During this time, the Senate, stripped of its wide political powers, but still influential, appointed a Bishop of Rome that would later be known as the Pope (Dudley 1960). The Western Empire, however, fell during a barbarian invasion. Rome also fell to Gothics but was retaken soon afterwards. The wars devastated much of the city so the Eastern Roman Empire came to aid. The Senate was basically restored, however, after some time, the aristocratic powers were soon absorbed by the church, headed by the Pope. The rule of Papacy prevailed for years and this was called the Holy Roman Empire due to the expansion of Christianity.
After some time, the Romans revolted against aristocracy and the Church’s rule, resulting in the formation of a communal Rome, where the Senate and the Old Roman Republic were revived. The Pope would be instated as the Holy See years afterwards but he would not have direct control of the civil government (Dudley 1960). Rome was incorporated in Italy in 1870 and from 1870 until 1922, Italy was a constitutional monarchy with a parliament elected under limited suffrage. During World War I, Italy renounced its standing alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary and, in 1915, entered the war on the side of the Allies.
In 1922, Benito Mussolini came to power and, over the next few years, eliminated political parties, curtailed personal liberties, and installed a fascist dictatorship termed the Corporate State. The king, with little or no effective power, remained titular head of state. (History of Italy, 2007). Following the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, the King dismissed Mussolini and appointed Marshal Pietro Badoglio as Premier. The Badoglio government declared war on Germany, which quickly occupied most of the country and freed Mussolini, who led a brief-lived regime in the north.
An anti-fascist popular resistance movement grew during the last 2 years of the war, harassing German forces before they were driven out in April 1945. A 1946 plebiscite ended the monarchy, and a constituent assembly was elected to draw up plans for the republic. From 1992 to 1997, Italy faced significant challenges as voters–disenchanted with past political paralysis, massive government debt, extensive corruption, and organized crime’s considerable influence–demanded political, economic, and ethical reforms.
In 1993 referendums, voters approved substantial changes, including moving from a proportional to a largely majoritarian electoral system and the abolishment of some ministries. New political forces and new alignments of power emerged in March 1994 national elections. The election saw a major turnover in the new parliament, with 452 out of 630 deputies and 213 out of 315 senators elected for the first time (History of Italy, 2007). This form of Roman government still exists today. Dudley, D. R. (1960). The Civilization of Rome. New York: New American Library. Gil, N. S. (2007) Comparisons between Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.
Retrieved October 11, 2007 http://ancienthistory. about. com/od/greecevsrome/ss/GreecevsRome. htm Robinson, C. E. (1957). A History of Greece. New York: Barns and Noble Inc. Taylour, L. W. (1964). The Mycenaeans. Revised edition (1990). London: Thames & Hudson. United States Department of State. (2007). History of Greece. History of Nations. Retrieved October 11, 2007 from http://www. historyofnations. net/europe/greece. html United States Department of State. (2007). History of Italy. History of Nations. Retrieved October 11, 2007 from http://www. historyofnations. net/europe/greece. html