Roman literature began to expand during the third century. Early poetry and drama was based off of the Greeks, however, during the Imperial Epoch, the Romans began to experiment and create their own style. Some of the most well-known works of Roman Literature include the Aenied by Virgil.(Text # 128) The Aenied is the official story of the founding of the Roman Empire. It follows the hero Aeneas and his journey from the burning city of Troy after the Trojan War into Italy, where his descendants Romulus and Remus would eventually go on to found the city of Rome. The epic highlights Aeneas's struggles to reach Italy and his eventual success.(Arts, Sciences, and) "Through chance and change and hazard without end,our goal is Latium; where our destinies beckon to blest abodes, and have ordained that Troy shall rise new-born! Have patience all!"(P. Vergilius Maro) This is an excerpt from the Aneid where Aneid is cheering up his crew and motivating them to move on and head to Italy to fulfill their goal. This excerpt shows that the Romans truly valued and exemplified perseverance and determination.
Along with epics, the Romans also created their own style of poetry. Key poets include Ovid and Horace. Horace is famous for his odes-short poems. A line from one of his odes is, "'It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country' (as quoted in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations)."(Arts, Sciences, and). Ovid, on the other hand, is known for his books, more notably, a series called, The Metamorphoses. This series traces the history of the ancient world, with emphasis on the Greek gods and goddesses.
Visual Arts Edit
Another artistic aspect that the Romans based off of the Greeks is their visual arts, including painting, mosaics, and portable art. Roman painting was heavily influenced by the Greeks and Etruscans. The earlier styles of painting were more simple and were made to create the illusion of a 3 dimensional space. This style was later enhanced by the addition of columns to the 3 dimensional elements. Soon the Roman style evolved even more and contained, “insubstantial architectural detail and abstract designs against a monochrome background with small central vignettes.”(352 Adkins) After a while, the final style just melded together all of the previous styles, “mixing unrealistic elements of pattern with realistically portrayed architectural elements and figure scenes.”(352 Atkins)
The Romans displayed their love for fancy trinkets through their portable art. Portable art is art that is easy to move around, like jewelry or pottery. Roman jewelry was highly decorative and very impractical for everyday use. They were only brought out in order to impress high society.(Adkins 352) Pottery on the other hand, had multiple purposes, both practical and impractical. “In the Mediterranean Age, liquids such as wine, oil, and fish sauce were usually transported in are clay jars known as amphorae.”(196 Adkins) Amphorae were used for trade as well as mortaria. Mortaria “were large bowls with a flange for easy gripping and a spout”(317 Adkins). When selling pottery, like mortarias, Roman potters always made sure to stamp their name on the piece, for the reason that if the buyer wanted to buy more works from the same maker, they would be able to find him.(317 Adkins) In order to increase the quality of their decorative pieces potters put special glazes and treatments on their art to make them more decorative and visually appealing.
Finally, the Romans created beautiful mosaics. Mosaics, unlike most of Roman art, were used in the home on a daily basis. They were most often used as rugs, however, they were also put on pillars, walls, and in the baths. "They also reveal much about Roman activities like gladiator contests, sports, agriculture, hunting and sometimes they even capture the Romans themselves in detailed and realistic portraits."(Cartwright)
Performing Arts Edit
One of the Roman people's favorite pastimes was to go to the theater. Dating back to fourth century B.C.E., by the end of the of the Republic, the Romans built large stadiums with over 20,000 seats each. Concerning plays for the higher classes, actors were almost always male, and often wore masks to showcase the role that they were playing. The lower classes on the other hand, featured both men and women, and were about mythology. These shows were called pantomimes and mimes. They both features music and dancing similar to ballet, however pantomimes were silent and mimes involved speech.(Arts, Sciences, and)
Towards the earlier days of Rome, musicians were not looked at favorably. Music was below all other possible pastimes. However, with the help of Greek influence, music slowly became more popular and important. "Music held great importance in certain religious contexts throughout the Roman World."(Music in the) The Romans used a great variety of instruments, including the bagpipe, buccina, bugle, cornu, tuba, aulos, and certain percussion instruments. Buccines and cornus were different types of horns and an aulos was a type of flute made of reed. It was one of the most common instruments of Ancient Rome.(Music in the)
Keeping with the Roman theme of showing off, all of Roman architecture was grand and public, including the baths. "Bathing is a part of daily life today that usually takes place in private. The Romans, however, built huge public baths that provided another form of public entertainment or recreation."(Arts, Sciences, and) Bathing was often a social event so most citizens of Rome did not have bathing areas in their homes. These baths also had other amenities including gyms and even libraries. Some of these baths are still standing today, proving how architecturally skilled the Romans were.
The Romans used many building materials including marble, concrete, and tufa, a volcanic stone native to Italy. Tufa was put into use first, until after the Augustan Age, when marble became a more popular substitute. Finally, Roman concrete was unlike any other building material used before. "The major contribution the Romans made to the mortar recipe was the introduction of volcanic Italian sand (also known as “pozzolana”)."(Roman Architecture) Pozzolana was an extremely durable material, which is why most major Roman buildings are still standing today.
One of the most unique parts of Roman architecture is its attention to detail. The buildings were perfectly designed to be symmetrical and exact in measurement. Also, unlike all that came before, including the Greeks, the Romans were able to focus more on interior design. They added arches, cupola roofs,(small domes on buildings), and semicircular alters.(Text # 128) The Romans also designed aqueducts, which are artificial canals. They were in the shape of arches and were often several feet tall. They were placed all over the Roman Empire and were very efficient.