Greece and Rome
Government, Religion, and Military
Two of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world were the civilizations of Greece and Rome. These two civilizations were especially significant from the time periods prior to the Roman Republic. These two civilizations both affected Europe and the Mediterranean regions including the rest of the world around them. Though the two civilizations differed in location, they also had many aspects that were very similar. One of these includes the government, with both showing the beginnings of the representative government. Another aspect between these civilizations was the military with similar strategies, tactics, and organizational similarities. Finally, the last similarity between the two ancient cities of Greece and Rome was the religion. Both civilizations worshipped multiple deities and constructed grandiose shrines and temples in their honor to show their dedication. Though there were differences between the two societies the similarities between the two were far more important.
First, the governments between both Rome and Greece were very similar. As opposed to most other prior and contemporary civilizations, Rome showed the beginnings of a representative government. This meant that the citizens, the overall people of the society, had an important role in the government. Polybius was a Greek historian who wanted to advise Greeks and upper class Romans of the usefulness of the Roman constitution. The Roman government consisted of three parts; the consuls, the Senate, and the people. The consuls were in charge of all affairs concerning the public, and also could distribute the public funds. The consuls also controlled organizational aspects of the military such as military tribunes and military service requirements. Next, the Senate controlled the treasury and all aspects regarding the revenue and expenditures. They dealt with foreign affairs such as embassies, and also implemented public investigations of treason conspiracy, poisoning, and assassination. Lastly, the people were the last branch. The people controlled rewards and punishments, and controlled which laws were ratified and military alliances and truces. Polybius states, “For the people alone amid the organs of State have jurisdiction over the conferring of rewards and punishments, these representing the sole bonds by which kingdoms and states and, in short, all human society are held together…” (Polybius, “Constitution of Roman Republic”, pp.2).
Human society is based on the want of rewards and the fear of punishment. This want of rewards and the fear of punishment is what holds the society together, without it people would have nothing to strive for and likewise nothing to deter them from doing something wrong. This can be viewed as the single most important aspect within a society, therefore since the people control the rewards and punishments they control how the society works. Polybius here states that people do actually matter, and is not just the individual’s within the government (the Senate and the consuls) that helps make a civilization become strong and able to stay stabilized. Polybius ends with explaining that each part of the government shares the power and each branch works in conjunction. Although the Senate can declare war and has the decisions of many key roles within the civilization, it needs the approval of the consuls and the people to make their overall decision. The consuls are the ones who control the troops and strategies of the military as well as how much money is given in towards the military, and the people are the ones who decide either to accept or reject treaties or alliances for the military. Each branch of the government affects the other. No matter how strong and “higher” up the Senate is from the people and the consuls, they still both act in correlation with each other. This exemplifies how much control the people had...
Cited: Heather, Peter. The Fall of the Roman Empire : A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. 6-17.
"Voyage Back in Time: Ancient Greece and Rome." On-campus. 1998. University of Richmond. 10 Oct. 2008 .
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