Greeks Vs Romans: Similarities and Differences

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The ancient Greeks and Romans created foundational civilizations that the modern world has idolized and used for growth for centuries. The modern world has taken many ideas from both these civil giants and incorporated them into recent times, and yet both the Greek and Roman empires sometimes gave different ideas on the same topic. Greek and Roman philosophies in both military tactics and leadership characteristics have similarities and differences, and both have influenced political institutions of today.

Both Greek and Roman militaries were built to be strong, formidable forces. Sparta’s army was built by loyal citizens who put militarism as their priority, much like the Romans. Sparta used their force to conquer other Greek City-States such as Athens, while Romans used their military to conquer nearby civilization such as Persia and the Italian peninsula. Both put high honor and pride into their militaries, giving benefits such a land grants to veterans. Both armies were huge in size, the Greeks having over at least 250,000 men during the Peloponnesian War, and the Roman army peeking at 500,000 men under Emperor Severus. Both militaries and their ideologies can be seen in modern times with the high respect veterans are given. In most cultures, joining the military is seen as a high achievement and is held in high esteem. Whether this is due to the Greeks and Romans, or a bi-product of human nature, that is up for debate, but the similarity of past and present still remain.

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The definition of leadership has changed significantly, but for the Greeks and Romans there were several similarities. In Grecian culture leadership was built by intelligence, strength, cunning, and military background. This is seen from the classic Greek story of the Odyssey, in which the main character who is harold as a leader bestows all of the above characteristics. Odysseus, the main character, is a warrior from the Trojan War who beats his foes with his cleverness and his skill with weapons thus using his military training and using cunning. The Romans also valued these things, as seen with their interest in their leaders such as Augustus, and Hadrian who both served in the military and led their civilizations with great wisdom and strength. Both the Greek and Roman ideas of leadership was quite similar, mostly because the Romans often took Greek philosophies (such as what makes a person a great leader) and incorporated them with their own beliefs. Of course, as there always are, there were differences between the two cultures.

While Rome and Greece had large armies for their time, Rome did indeed have the biggest army of the two. As stated before, 250,000 Greek men were most likely fighting during the Peloponnesian War, while the Roman army had at least 500,000 individuals enrolled at its peak. That is over half of the Grecian army. Not to mention, the Roman army was much more complex and organized than the Spartan army (which made up majority of the Greek army). The Spartans fought for individual glory, which is supported by their phrase, ‘Come home with the shield or on it’. which means a spartan was expected to win or die trying. The Spartans also did not have real ‘tactics’ other than overwhelm the enemy. During battle Spartans would not stay together and would separate to fight individually. Roman military was about coordinated attacks and glory for the unit as a whole.

Leadership also has some differences. Although Rome took much of Greek culture when it came to what a leader should be, they did have some distinct differences. The Greeks (mostly the Athenians) believed in openness and honesty in their leadership, which is clear when philosophical debates broke out during the Peloponnesian War about whether it was okay for a leader to lie for an advantage over the enemy. The Romans valued honesty in individuals but not necessarily their government and those in power. They expected the government to work in their favor, but understood that a certain type of openness could be disadvantages. The ideals of openness and honesty can be seen in modern expectations of what the government should be like - an example is the United States government. The President and Congressmen of America are expected to be honest and open with the public about policy and foreign and internal affairs.

Greek and Roman philosophies in both military tactics and leadership characteristics have similarities and differences, and both have influenced today’s ideologies. The patriotism about military activity is clear in modern society, and the idea that leaders should be strong, intelligent, and honest are embodied in almost every civilization. While both the Roman and Greek empires had their differences, both offered the present great wisdom for the future.

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