Why Are Ancient Greece and Rome Called Classical Civilizations?

Why Are Ancient Greece and Rome Called Classical Civilizations?

When we talk about the ancient world, two civilizations often come to mind – Ancient Greece and Rome. These societies are frequently referred to as “classical civilizations.”

But what does this term really mean? Why are they considered classical? Let’s dive into the fascinating reasons behind this classification.

The Definition of Classical

To understand why Ancient Greece and Rome are called classical civilizations, we first need to define what “classical” means. In general terms, the word “classical” refers to something that is timeless, enduring, and of high quality. It denotes a standard of excellence that has stood the test of time.

Ancient Greece: The Birthplace of Democracy

Ancient Greece is often referred to as the birthplace of democracy. During this period, which spanned from the 8th century BCE to the 6th century CE, Greek city-states developed a system of government where power was vested in the hands of its citizens. This concept of democracy was revolutionary for its time and laid the foundation for modern democratic societies.

Ancient Greek society also made significant contributions to various fields such as philosophy, literature, art, and mathematics. Thinkers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle laid the groundwork for Western philosophy. Playwrights like Sophocles and Euripides produced timeless tragedies that still captivate audiences today.

The Olympic Games

Another aspect that makes Ancient Greece a classical civilization is its establishment of the Olympic Games. These games were held every four years in Olympia and brought together athletes from different city-states. The Olympic Games showcased physical prowess, celebrated cultural unity, and promoted peace among competing states – ideas that continue to resonate with us today.

Ancient Rome: The Builders of an Empire

The Roman civilization, which emerged in the 8th century BCE and lasted until the 5th century CE, is renowned for its vast empire. The Romans were exceptional builders and administrators, constructing awe-inspiring structures like the Colosseum, aqueducts, and roads that are still marvels of engineering today.

Rome’s legal system was also highly influential. The development of Roman law formed the basis for many legal systems around the world. Concepts such as innocent until proven guilty, contracts, and property rights were all part of Roman legal practice.

Pax Romana

An important aspect that solidifies Rome’s status as a classical civilization is the Pax Romana or “Roman Peace.” This period, which lasted from 27 BCE to 180 CE, brought relative stability and prosperity to a significant part of Europe and the Mediterranean region. It allowed for cultural exchange, trade, and intellectual growth – characteristics that define a classical society.

The Enduring Legacy

One of the defining features of classical civilizations is their lasting impact on subsequent societies. Ancient Greece and Rome have left an indelible mark on our culture, language, art, architecture, politics, and philosophy. Their ideas continue to shape our understanding of democracy, citizenship, human rights, and aesthetics.

In conclusion, Ancient Greece and Rome are called classical civilizations because they embody timeless qualities of excellence in various fields such as government systems (democracy), cultural achievements (literature and art), architectural marvels (Colosseum), legal systems (Roman law), and periods of stability (Pax Romana). Their contributions have stood the test of time and continue to influence our world today.