Monday, October 3, 2011

"Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery"

As I was commenting on Meredith's post, I came to realize that the Romans certainly lived up to this cliche. The Romans were notorious for copying elements of culture, art, and architecture from previous civilizations such as the Greeks, Etruscans, and other groups of the Mediterranean. However, I think it is important to note that the Romans not only copied ideas and works of other cultures, but they improved these works. For example, the Romans were the first to use concrete. They used concrete in the columns of the Colosseum which previously would have been made of marble. Moreover, in the Roman appreciation of other cultures, they have preserved many elements of Greek culture for scholars today to study. For example, many of the sculptures of the Hellenic and Hellenistic period that we have been studying only exist today through Roman marble copies. Without these copies, we may not even be aware of these pieces except through ancient texts which were also preserved in Roman libraries. The Romans tendency to imitate and improve elements of past civilizations certainly helped evolve sculpture and architecture and preserve other ancient cultures for our study today.

8 comments:

Ravin said...
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Ravin S said...

Yes Shaina, I totally agree. I was thinking this same thing while reading Arts & Ideas. They inventing things like concrete, domes, the oculus, coffers, Roman arches, and even the aqueducts. These were magnificent pieces of architecture that can even be considered art. They definitely appreciated the work of the Greeks, who they saw as civilized and intelligent. They even had Latin and Greek libraries right next to each other in Trajan's Forum.

ParkerC said...

Also, the stuff they made was built to last. The coliseum is still standing. I see things today that are made of concrete, and just don't seem to last or be very sturdy. But the Roman's took a lot of pride in their constructions and that is why they still stand to this day.

mere said...

Yeah it's just like Mr. Williams was saying. Romans were totally jealous of all the intellect and culture that belonged to Greece. To escalate themselves in the world, they stole bits and pieces from the Grecian way of life.

alyb said...

Also to add to this I think that the Romans tried to stick to the old cultures by their use of columns. They didnt need the columns for structural support as they did in Greek architecture. Instead they used the columns for the aesthetic appearence.

sara pendleton said...

I agree with yall; the Romans were definatly not starting from scratch from an architectural standpoint. Their use of concrete as well as arches was innovative and ground-shaking however they cannot escape the Greek astetic in their constructions. The columns definatly come from a heavy Greek influence BUT the structures themselves are very Roman and innovative. Many Roman buildings look similar to Greek structures but the domes, arches, apeses, and other structural detail were innovative. I find it intersting that the Greeks didnt use arches, domes, or astetic columns because these are such important elements in classical western architecture. Somehow, it was amazing to me that by learning to build a simple arch, you open yourself up to a world of structural possiblities from tunnels to vaulted ceilings to domes and doorways.

Mallory said...

I agree that the romans definitely imitated the etruscans and most of the people before them, however i feel like they added a twist to it make it their own style

christine said...

Yeah i definitely agree. The Romans were smart in that they took things that seemed to be working and made it their own. Also, think about it...without Roman-made replicas of the original Greek statues, we may not have ever known what some of the greatest pieces of art ever looked like.