Roman culture is hailed by many as one of the most developed and sophisticated cultures of all time. Every thing that we do in the 21st century America has directly or indirectly got a Roman touch to it thanks to great influence that Roman Empire has had on the American culture. Although we fail to realize the impact those people have on our lives, there are numerous ways in which Roman Empire has modeled the society today. Many aspects of today’s society have been affected by ancient Rome.
Creation of law, development of democratic government practices, influences in language, literature, art, infrastructure, and city-planning are all areas where the influences of Roman ideas can be seen. Additionally, Roman influences have had considerable importance in the spread of Christianity. One of the most important area of influence was Roman law. The American criminal and civil law owes a lot to Roman law code. Roman law developed the division between public law, in which the state is directly involved, such as with issues of treason and taxation, and private law, concerned with disputes between people, such as over contracts.
This system was the basis for what is now known in the West as Civil law. Roman law also influenced the development of private international law. The concept of indictments and jury so commonly used across America is also a derivative of Roman law. Many defense techniques currently employed can also be traced back to Roman procedures. The notion of “innocent until proven guilty,” which underlies the United States ‘ criminal justice system also came from ancient Roman ideas. Also, the purpose of written law as a way to protect individuals from one another and from the power of the state is an inherently Roman idea.
The concept of democracy is said to be originated from Greek civilization but then it was in a raw form. The Roman civilization in the years 509 to 49 BC made it a complete governing system. The Roman process of making laws has also had a deep influence on modern democratic political systems. Legislation was first passed by the comitia, or the assembly of the citizens. It was then approved by the representatives of the upper class, or the senate, and issued in the name of the senate and the people of Rome.
Many countries, including the United States, have since then used the republican Rome as a model for their own governments, requiring that all laws go through two legislative bodies. It is a pattern continued in almost every democratic constitution. Rome was responsible for the spread of the Latin Language, which has formed the basis for Western languages, such as English and French. Sources vary, but tend to agree that well over half of the current English words are of Latin origin.
For that large fraction, there were two main conduits – Norman French and later borrowings directly from Latin. The residual Latin from the Roman occupation of the island was virtually nothing. The map was about the only place where Latin survived. All those English places ending in ‘-chester’ got that from Latin ‘castra’ – they were places Romans had built a military camp, called ‘castra’ in Latin. Again, sources vary, but a typical assessment of sources of Latin-based words would be something like 60% from Norman French, 30% from later borrowings, and 10% from all other sources combined.
That last 10% would include later borrowings from French, borrowings from Spanish, Italian, and the other Romance languages, and even a few words that came into the original Anglo Saxon from Latin before the move to Britain. Roman influence on American culture can be easily understood from the fact that educators in our society teach Latin as a way of helping students better understand the English language. An example of significantly Latin influence the English language can be clearly seen in the following example. Plenty of English vocabularies are derived from Latin. ” Plenty-from Latin plenitas vocabularies – from Latin vocabulum derived – From latin derivare Latin- From Latin Latinus Literature is another area where Roman influence is predictable. Roman authors followed the famous Greek authors, often developing and building upon Greek writing. Many writers have been influenced by the Romans including Shakespeare (Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra), Robert Graves (I Claudius), Milton (Paradise Lost), Dante (Inferno) and James Joyce (Ulysses).
Roman Art has also influenced today’s society. In particular, use of pictures of Emperors on coins and sculptures was an inherently Roman idea. It is also interesting to see how Roman Empire influenced modern American infrastructure system. The Roman system of building structured roads is still a common practice in America where roads are built with three different layers. Also the Roman use of signposts for towns ahead is not just an American practice but used across the globe.
They also had extensive networks of underground lead pipe, supplying clean water. Even the recreational concept of parks, plazas and public libraries owes a lot to Roman influence. To many historians, the concept of city planning now widely used in America and also extensively across the globe can be traced to Roman concepts. However some historians believe the concept of city planning was an ancient Indian concept originated in Indus valley later reused by Romans. The Romans engaged in extensive city-building activities as they consolidated their empire.
Roman colonies and military empires were often laid out with extensive planning. Developments in the architecture of fortification, relating to compact space and fast maneuverability, and the discovery of perspective, focusing the description on the eye of the viewer, led to radial focus in city plans and the development of ideal town plans. The tradition of Roman architecture has had an important influence on American architecture. For example, many courthouses throughout America can be seen to be based on Roman architecture.
A particularly striking example is the U. S. Supreme Court building in Washington. Designed by Cass Gilbert and completed in 1935, the core of the building can be seen to be directly based on the Roman Temple type including the characteristics of being raised on a podium and approached by a formal front staircase. Like Roman temples, the free-standing columns only appear on the front of the Supreme Court building. Like many of the other major public buildings in Washington, the exterior of the Supreme Court is dressed in white marble.
The choice of marble was deliberate to echo the authority of Greek and Roman formal architecture. It is not just America that is influenced, many European cities, like London and Paris, borrow heavily from Roman origins. One of the most highly influenced parts of American culture is religion. The churches in the Roman Empire contributed to the spread of Christianity. In particular, it played a role estrangement between what would become Eastern and Western Christians, known today as Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics.
When the Bishop of Rome took power after Constantinople (now Istanbul) became the capital of the empire, ideological differences became manifest between the East and West. Eastern Christians looked more readily to Constantinople, its Emperor and its bishop. Meanwhile, Western Europeans tended to look to the missionaries sent by Rome and to the Holy Father of Rome for faith and guidance. Ultimately, a split occurred between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. Liturgical life in both these churches was influenced by the Roman Empire, though in different ways.
In the East, court rituals were conducted lavishly, whereas in the West, services tended to be more simple and sober. The use of slaves in America was in practice till mid 19th century. Many people believe this was a practice taken from Roman Empire where prisoners of war were traded as slaves in the market. It is clear that the modern civilizations have taken a lot from Roman Empire to the extent that common things in everyday life can be traced to their Roman origins. The implications of Roman influences in today’s society are clearly significant and far reaching.