The well-structured political procedures of the ancient Roman and Greek civilizations substantially influenced the construction of governments in Europe and the United States.
In both ancient Rome and Greece, political parties, government divisions, and terms like democracy, monarchy, and tyranny were first used.
Although Rome took many of its political principles from the Greeks – and as a result, formed a system similar to that of Greece – there were a few changes.
The Greeks had monarchs, oligarchs, totalitarianism, warrior cultures, and direct democracy, whereas the Romans had kings who were eliminated by an elected republic, then overthrown by emperors.
Athenian citizens could all vote, but women and slaves weren’t considered citizens like they were in Rome. In Rome, only the elite men could vote.
During Greece’s Golden Age, which spanned 500–300 BCE, Athens was the epicenter, whereas Rome’s golden age occurred in the closing decades of the Republic and the early decades of the Empire.
Table of Contents
- Were Rome and Athens both Democratic?
- What were Roman and Greek politics like when kings ruled?
- What is the City-State Government Model?
- How did social classes impact ancient government systems?
- What were the social classes of Ancient Athens and Rome?
- How was “political integrity” implemented in Ancient Roman and Greek governments?
- What role did women play in Ancient Greek and Roman governments?
- How did these ancient governments depict fatherhood?
- Which government was more structured: Rome or Greece?
- What were the economies of Ancient Rome and Greece like?
- Was manufacturing a major part of these ancient economies?
- What is the United States government like?
- Is the United States government more like Rome or Athens?
- How powerful was art to the Ancient Romans and Athenians?
In both its Republic and Empire eras, Rome had many democratic aspects, although its systems tended to favor the wealthy.
Even though Greece shared many of the same characteristics as other countries, it ultimately placed a greater emphasis on equality and democracy.
By electing representatives, the Romans implemented a form of semi-democracy. With this decision, criminal activity was reduced to a minimum and the possibility of murder was reduced as well.
However, deformed newborns were cruelly slaughtered.
Citizens of the city-state of Athens exercised complete influence over the city’s government through a system known as direct democracy.
Athens was first ruled by kings, then an oligarchy (a small group of people in power), and finally by a democracy (voting by the citizens).
When the city-states of Greece formed leagues and fought each other, Greece became more vulnerable to the Macedonian kings and the Roman Empire.
Rome was formerly ruled by kings. When Rome saw what was happening around the world, they decided to get rid of them.
This new republican form of governance incorporated aspects from all three branches of the American political system.
We know now as Roman emperors a new kind of one-man rule that was first sanctioned under the Roman constitution.
In the West, the Roman Empire disintegrated into a series of smaller kingdoms.
Greek and Roman political systems were founded on the city-state paradigm. Their political development was impacted by the significantly different geography of Greece and Rome.
With its rugged coastline and several small islands, Greece is both a peninsula with high mountains and an archipelago with a varied topography.
The Greek city-states had limited interaction, resulting in each city-state developing on its own.
For centuries, each city-state maintained its independence and discouraged the formation of a monarchy.
With mountains to the east and the sea to the west, Rome sits above a wide plain.
This resulted in Rome being a huge city-state that was able to absorb people from both the north and the south.
Roman citizenship was granted to some of the vanquished peoples and newcomers.
It was customary for Rome’s Senate to be represented by senators from two political groups.
Both the patricians and the plebeians were depicted as nobility and affluent merchants, respectively.
There were no political parties in the Greek government.
It was only after the Greeks understood that enabling public officials to be elected by popular vote would almost always result in the wealthiest residents being elected that they instituted a system of proportional representation.
According to the Greek government’s desire to make the government more representative, officials allowed the selection of some public officials – those who did not require specific qualifications, including military experience – to be determined by a random draw to which any citizen might submit their name.
There were four major social classes in early Athens and Rome: those who were born free; freedmen; those who were enslaved; and those who were foreigners and women.
Citizenship was only given to a subset of these groups.
- Enslaved people
- Enslaved people
There were political mechanisms in place in ancient Rome and Greece for removing government officials who were not fulfilling their duties effectively.
The two main consuls in Rome served a one-year tenure. Voters knew they wouldn’t have to put up with a chief consul for much longer if their opinion of him declined.
Political offices not filled by the lottery were elected once a year in Greece. A second means of working with undesirable elected, assigned, and informal political leaders were available in Athens.
“Ostracism” refers to a practice in which citizens gather in public to write the name of a political figure they wish to be shunned on the surface of the pottery.
Ten years of exile from Athens were imposed on the candidate who received the most votes.
None! Citizenship in the Roman Republic was divided into several categories. Citizen status was granted to women and males who were at least 15 years of age and descended from Rome’s ancient tribes.
Voting for particular candidates and legislation was made available to all men over the age of 18.
They could vote, but they couldn’t hold public office.
Not letting women hold office or vote was strictly enforced by Roman officials.
The upper-class ladies, however, had the power to influence their husbands’ political views as well as to place one of their offspring in a politically powerful position by arranging their children’s marriages.
As citizens, Greek women had no rights. Being the wife of a Greek citizen was the pinnacle of their social status.
It was the father’s decision whether or not to keep a newborn child. The Roman paterfamilias served as the household’s top official.
Fathers were still able to rule over their adult sons, even if they had families of their own.
There was more of a traditional nuclear family dynamic in the Greek household, known as the Oikos.
Sons had the legal right to question their fathers’ abilities in an Oikos.
Each city in the Greek civilization was governed by its own set of laws and regulations. They also had different constitutions as well as citizenries for every city throughout the Greek nation.
The Greeks were scarcely ever united as one country. When they went to battle, it was the only time some of them joined forces or united.
Under these circumstances, a few of the cities would band together to wage war against other cities or empires.
The Romans were famous for being all together under one banner. Rome was governed by a single constitution and the same set of laws.
Unlike Greece, you didn’t just vow devotion to just one city, but rather to your entire country.
Rather than having several armies gather together as one, there was only one army during battle.
As a citizen of one city in Greece, a person wasn’t automatically a citizen of another city. If you lived in one of Rome’s many cities, you were automatically considered a Roman citizen.
Agriculture was the primary source of income for ancient civilizations, including Greece and Rome.
Wheat-producing fields were perfect for Greeks, but many households couldn’t feed themselves due to poor farming practices.
It wasn’t unexpected that wine and olive oil would become the primary Roman exports.
That’s because, considering their similar geographic conditions and widespread popularity, large estates took control and began producing them.
The Romans, who relied on imported wheat and annexations of regions that could provide it, were farmers and traders both.
In the opinion of the Greeks, trading was degrading. Writers made comparisons between the country’s pastoral/farming lifestyle and the politically charged, trade-based lifestyle of a city dweller as Rome became an urban center.
Manufacturing was also a common occupation in the city. Both Greece and Rome were involved in mining.
It was not until the late Empire that the Roman economy was completely dependent on slave labor, and even if Greece had its share of enslaved people.
Coinage was used in both cultures. To help pay for the Empire, the Romans debased their coinage.
The United States is best described as a constitutional federal republic rather than a democracy, according to a US Embassy website.
Why do you think this is? “Constitutional refers to the fact that the United States government is founded on a Constitution, which is our supreme law.
“In addition to establishing the form of the federal and state governments, the Constitution also restricts their powers.”
There is a federal government, as well as governments in each of the 50 states. “Republic” means that the people are in charge yet have representatives who are chosen to carry out their duties.
The executive and legislative branches of government are found in both the United States and the Roman Republic.
All governments are subject to some form of balancing act, whether it be the Roman Republic or the United States of America.
A great deal of what we believe to be “Greek” art was copied from an earlier work that originated in Athens.
Classical Greek sculptors sought to produce an ideal art form, while Roman artists sought to produce accurate portraits, frequently for decoration, to adorn their homes.
Oversimplification is evident in this case.
There was a lot of variation in Roman and Greek art, and not all of it was based on the Greeks’ designs.
In the same way that Roman art graced the living quarters, much of Greek art adorned utilitarian artifacts as well.
Mycenaean, geometric, archaic, and Hellenistic periods of Greek art are also included in the Classical period, which is the peak of Greek art.
Imitative art was prevalent during the Hellenistic period, as there was a market for reproductions of earlier works.
Sculptures like the Venus de Milo and mosaics and frescoes (paintings on walls) are often associated with ancient Greece and Rome, respectively.
Both nations’ great artists employed a wide range of techniques and media in their creations.
For example, imported Greek pottery was quite popular in Italy.