Greece-Rome Comparison Chart

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Comparison Chart







Social Structure






Classical Period: 750-150 bce

  1. Minoans on Crete (3000 – 1400)

  2. Dorian Invasion (1500-1000)

  3. Myceneans (1250-750 bce)

  • Seafarers, Trojan War, Homer

  1. Hellenic Period (750-336 bce)

  2. Hellenistic Period (336-150 bce)

Classical Period: 500 bce-200ad

  1. Latin Invasions (1500-750 bce)

• farming & cattle raising

  1. Etruscans (750-500 bce)

  • Constructed buildings, roads, city walls; metal weapons; new military tactics

  1. Romans drove out E. (500 bce)


Easy distance of Fertile Crescent & Egypt – writing & navigation; deep harbors – merchants & traders, insufficient farmlands – established colonies, mountains – 100s of independent city-states

Warm climate, fertile land – food to support empire, seven hills overlooking the Tiber River; Apennine mountains ran N&S – did not obstruct troop movement


Athenian Democracy

Monarchs → Aristocracy/Oligarchy → Tyranny → Democracy


1. Draco – codified laws (harsh)

621 bce

2. Solon – reformed laws: cancelled debt slavery, all male citizens serve on juries, male commoners vote in legislature

594 bce

3. Cleisthenes – extended citizenship to all economic classes; ostracism 508 bce

  1. Pericles – opened govt. to all classes 461-429 bce

  2. Direct democracy; citizens –

Athenian males 18 & older; women denied vote & other rights, slavery permitted

Sparta: Aristocracy & Military State

1. small # of Spartan citizens & slaves (helots)

2. individual exists to serve the state

3. Council of Elders – 30 men 60 or older

Persian War: GR c-s defeat Persia: Athenian democracy & Hellenic Era

Peloponnesian War: S. defeats A: democracy falters; weakens c-s; Philip conquers Greece & leads to Hellenistic Era; Alexander the Great

Roman Republic (500 bc –27 bc)

Aristocracy: 500 bce controlled by a few nobles (patricians)

  • Two Consuls – heads of state

  • hereditary Senate

  • Praetors - judges

More Democratic: →200 years plebeians (farmers & workers) made political gains

  • Tribunes – elected & could veto consuls and Senate

  • People’s Assembly

  • Twelve Tables – codified Roman laws


  • Roman citizen-soldiers loyal to Republic

  • Roman legions were most effective fighting force of ancient world

  • Secured friendship & allegiance of conquered peoples – gave full or partial citizenship

  • Punic Wars with Carthage in North Africa over trade & control of Mediterranean

  • Eastern Mediterranean area: Macedonia, Greece, Egypt, Syria

  • Rome conquered Greece, but Greek culture conquered Rome


Athens – headed city-state alliance known as Delian League

Sparta – developed Peloponnesian League

Roman Republic Declines

  • Julius Caesar conquered most of central & western Europe

  • Roman soldiers became selectively trained professional soldiers loyal to their military commanders

  • Military commanders fought for control of Rome

  • Julius Caesar became dictator 46 bce

  • Julius Caesar assassinated & succeeded by 3 generals

Roman Empire Pax Romana

(27 bc to ad 180)

Roman Empire (W) Declines & Falls

  • Division of Empire by Constantine (Rome & Byzantine)

  • Corrupt govt & unable to control empire because of its size

  • Rulers wasted money & trade imbalance

  • Social factors: decline in morality; rigid class system; slaves & non-Roman citizens were treated poorly in major cities

  • Germanic invasions began in 3rd century; Rome sacked in 476

  • Impact of Christianity – teachings conflicted w/ dictatorial policies of emperors

  • Heavy reliance on trade, sailing the Black, Aegean, and Mediterranean: exported wine, olive oil, pottery, cloth, & metal implements; imported foodstuffs, timber, hides, and metal ores

  • Athens and most others – Delian League (city-state alliance) & developed trade & industry

  • Sparta remained agricultural
  • Conquests bring wealth to some Romans – nobles prospered by acquiring estates inexpensively

  • Merchants & traders filled army contracts, bought booty, supplied slaves & traded

  • Government officials amassed huge fortunes at the expense of subjects

  • Conquests & slave labor ruined small farmers

  • Heavy, often unjust taxes, burdened people & destroyed incentive

  • Government sponsored free programs known as bread & circuses for landless farmers & unemployed workers

  • Hellenic – gods and goddesses

    • Priests could receive prophecies from gods at? Holy places called oracles

  • Hellenistic – regional worship
  • Early Rome – worshiped tribal gods

  • Republic – adopted Greek gods & goddesses

  • Christianity – started as a reform movement among Jews & gained converts under leadership of Paul, a Hellenized Jew; spread throughout empire & its converts were persecuted (Christian martyrs)

  • Edict of Milan: By ad 313 Christianity was so widespread that Constantine granted freedom of worship to all Christians in empire (west & east); before death, converted to Christianity

  • Byzantium – at height under Justinian & Theodora: Christian Church known as Eastern Orthodox – Hagia Sophia & Law Code

  • Upper classes – inherited positions of aristocracy

  • Athens allowed rich and poor to vote if citizens

  • Slaves were educated in Athens & could earn freedom

  • Sparta – helots: lower slave class

  • Women – Athens: raise children; serve as priestesses; under protection of father or brother; could not vote; in charge of slaves & educating children

  • Sparta: educated to be good mothers; ran estates while husbands at war; expected to bear children for the state
  • Upper classes were wealthy & educated

  • Lower classes were poor and ignorant

  • Slaves & non-Romans were treated poorly

  • Women – Roman women enjoyed greater freedoms than in Greece; some were educated, could own land & property, still under guardianship by fathers or brothers; males inherited - paterfamilia




  • Tragedies – Aeschylus (Agamemnon), Sophocles (Antigone, Oedipus Rex) Euripides (Medea)

  • Comedies – Aristophanes (Lysistrata)

  • Poetry: Homer (Iliad & Odyssey), Hesiod (The Theogeny), Sappho & Pindar – lyric poets

Olympic Games

  • Athletic games to honor the gods


  • Cicero – father of prose

  • Vergil – epic poet Aenid

  • Horace – Odes

  • Seneca – Stoic philosopher

Historical Writing

  • Livy – encyclopedic history

  • Plutarch – compared Roman & Greek heroes in Parallel Lives

  • Tacitus – life among the Germanic barbarians in Germania

  • Caesar – commentaries



  • Socrates – “Know thyself,” Socratic method – sought truth → persistent questioning; put to death for corrupting the youth – drank hemlock rather than fleeing; no written works

  • Phil: Plato – Dialogue discussed ethics, religion, beauty, & logics; we know what we know of Socrates because of him; perfect forms – Allegory of the Cave; best govt philosopher kings; student-Aristotle

  • Aristotle: treatises on philosophy, govt, and literature; truth through reason & observation

Math & Science

  • Pythagoras – geometry

  • Hippocrates – medicine

  • Democritus – atoms


  • Herodotus – “father of history” – embellished; used facts, fables, and hearsay (acct of Persian War)

  • Thucydides – “first scientific historian” (Peloponnesian War)



  • Diogenes – founded school of cynics, which included criticism of materialism & social conventions, and a distrust of human virtue

  • Zeno – founded stoicism, advocating freedom from passions & desires, and detachment from the outside world

  • Epicurus – founded Epicureanism, advocating the search for pleasure and happiness while maintaining a sense of moderation

Math & Science

  • Aristarchus – astronomy: sun larger than earth, earth revolves around sun

  • Euclid – geometry

  • Archimedes – physics: pi, lever & pulley

  • Eratosthenes – geography & astronomy: circ of earth


  • Galen – Greek physician: books on medical knowledge

  • Ptolemy – incorrectly believed earth was center of universe

Roman Law

  • Bodies of law on business matters & family relationships, individual rights & international affairs

  • Justinian Code – influenced western Europe & indirectly US

  • Tended to be impartial & humane

    • All persons equal before the law

    • Accused persons are guaranteed legal protection (forced confessions are invalid)


  • Latin is root of all Romance languages (source of one-half of words in English



  • Three columns – Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian

  • The Parthenon, et al.

Sculpture - Hellenic

  • Embodied ideals of city-states: simplicity, dignity, restraint, & patriotism

  • Phidias – Athena in Parthenon

  • Myron – Discus Thrower

  • Praxiteles - lifelike statues of gods & goddesses

Sculpture – Hellenistic

  • Realistic: Venus de Milo, Death of Laocoon, Dying Gaul, Winged Victory of Samothrace (Nike, goddess of victory)

Painting – mostly on pottery


  • Military roads, aqueducts, bridges & marble buildings

  • Used arch, and column

  • Dome

  • Stone amphitheater – the Colosseum

  • Concrete as a building material

Copied Greeks in most other areas –

  • beautiful mosaics

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