Exploring the Impact of Roman Rule on Cultures and Languages – A Q&A
This passage delves into the varying impacts of Roman rule on cultures, languages, and religions. While the western provinces underwent cultural assimilation to conform to Roman ways, the eastern provinces retained their local identity and maintained a strong sense of Greekness. Classical Greek was idolized in the east, whereas the west saw the decline of indigenous languages and cultures. Additionally, the passage discusses the Jewish revolt against Roman rule, with religion being a fundamental factor. Overall, the article explores the complex ways in which Roman rule affected various cultures.
Table of Contents
- Romanization of the Western Provinces
- Retention of Greekness in the Eastern Provinces
- Language Evolution and Obsession with Classicism
- Jewish Revolt and Religious Incompatibility
- Mystery Cults and Religious Pluralism in the Roman Empire
Q: What was the impact of Roman rule on the western provinces?
A: The western provinces saw the decline of indigenous cultures and languages as the Roman way of life was assimilated. The pre-Roman past was largely forgotten, and Romanization became the norm. This assimilation was so severe that local languages and cultures were lost entirely, replaced by Latin and Roman practices.
Q: How did the eastern provinces respond to Roman rule?
A: The eastern provinces retained a strong sense of Greekness, with Greek language and memories of the pre-Roman world holding sway. Classicism was the dominant cultural force in the east, focused on conforming to a homogeneous and unthreatening model of Greekness.
Q: How did the Greek language evolve during the Roman empire?
A: The Greek language underwent significant changes between the fourth and second centuries BC. However, during the first and second centuries AD, Greek intellectuals rejected the contemporary ‘common’ Greek language as vulgar and unsuitable for literary production, favoring the ‘pure’ Athenian dialect of the fifth and fourth centuries BC. This led to the development of dictionaries, grammars, and handbooks of Classical Athenian language to avoid inappropriate modernisms.
Q: Why was there an obsession with classicism in the eastern provinces?
A: The eastern provinces retained a strong sense of Greekness, and Athens was favored as the cultural center of the East Roman world. The cultural obsession with the distant past reflected a deep cultural resistance to Rome, and Greek cities preserved a much stronger sense of their local identity than the western provinces.
Q: What was the Jewish revolt against Roman rule about?
A: The Jews repeatedly tried to throw off the Roman yoke and establish an independent Jewish state centered on Jerusalem. The revolt was not merely a protest against Roman maltreatment but aimed at deeper religious roots. The fundamental problem was that the Jewish God was incompatible with any kind of polytheistic system, and the line separating Jew from Gentile was not open to negotiation.
Q: What was the Mithras cult?
A: The Mithras cult was a mystery religion, open only to male initiates belonging to one of seven grades. It was one of the many religious practices tolerated in the Roman Empire, a world of religious pluralism.
The impact of Roman rule on cultures, languages, and religions was profound, varied, and complex. The western provinces saw the decline of pre-Roman cultures and languages, replaced by Roman practices and Latin. In contrast, the east retained a strong sense of Greekness, with classicism being the dominant cultural force. The Jewish revolt was rooted in religious incompatibility, while the Mithras cult demonstrated the religious pluralism of the Roman Empire. This article highlights the varying ways in which Roman rule impacted the vast array of cultures under its control.