How Was the Renaissance Influenced by Ancient Greece and Rome?

The Renaissance, a period of remarkable cultural and intellectual rebirth in Europe, drew much inspiration from the civilizations of Ancient Greece and Rome. The study of classical works and the admiration for the achievements of these ancient civilizations greatly influenced the art, literature, philosophy, and political systems of the Renaissance era.

Art and Architecture

The impact of Ancient Greece and Rome on Renaissance art cannot be overstated. The study of classical sculpture and architecture played a pivotal role in shaping the artistic ideals of this period. Artists sought to emulate the beauty, proportion, and symmetry found in ancient Greek sculptures.

Michelangelo’s famous statue “David” is a prime example. This masterpiece captures the idealized human form reminiscent of Ancient Greek sculptures. It showcases his meticulous attention to detail, mastery of anatomy, and understanding of balance and harmony.

Ancient Roman architecture also left an indelible mark on Renaissance buildings. The use of columns, arches, domes, and symmetrical designs became prominent features in many architectural structures during this time.

One notable example is The Dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi for Florence Cathedral. Inspired by ancient Roman architecture, it became an iconic symbol of Renaissance innovation.


Ancient Greek and Roman literary works heavily influenced Renaissance writers. They studied classics such as Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” Plato’s philosophical dialogues, Virgil’s epic poem “The Aeneid,” and many more.

Dante Alighieri’s masterpiece “Divine Comedy” draws inspiration from ancient Greek mythology as it explores various levels of hell (Inferno), purgatory (Purgatorio), and heaven (Paradiso). Dante’s work showcases his profound knowledge of classical literature and its integration into Christian symbolism.

The Renaissance also saw a revival of the epic poem, a form popularized by ancient Greek and Roman poets. Tasso’s “Jerusalem Delivered” is an epic poem that blends historical events with mythology, taking inspiration from Virgil’s “The Aeneid.”

Philosophy and Humanism

The Renaissance witnessed a renewed interest in the ideas and philosophies of Ancient Greece and Rome. The philosophy of humanism, which emphasized human potential, individualism, and the pursuit of knowledge, drew heavily from ancient Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle.

Petrarch, one of the early humanists, was greatly influenced by Cicero’s writings on rhetoric and political philosophy. His own writings helped shape the Renaissance movement by emphasizing the importance of education, virtue, and personal development.

Political Systems

Ancient Greece provided inspiration for Renaissance thinkers in terms of political systems. The concept of democracy as practiced in ancient Athens resonated with many intellectuals during this period. They studied works such as Aristotle’s “Politics” to gain insights into different forms of governance.

Machiavelli’s influential work “The Prince” draws heavily on examples from ancient Roman history to provide practical advice on how rulers should acquire and maintain power. He studied figures like Julius Caesar as well as ancient Roman political institutions to formulate his ideas.

In conclusion,

The Renaissance owes much of its intellectual and artistic achievements to Ancient Greece and Rome. The study of classical works shaped the artistic ideals, literary themes, philosophical concepts, and even political systems during this transformative era. By drawing inspiration from these civilizations, the Renaissance became a bridge between the past and the future, leaving an enduring legacy that continues to influence the world today.