Hellenization

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The process by which, in the middle age of the Roman Republic, Greek influences began to be felt to a greater degree in the Roman world. Romans viewed Greek culture with a large degree of skepticism, regarding Greek culture as opulent and perverse in opposition to the simple, utilitarian Roman ideal. One particular voice on this perspective was Cato the Elder, a consul, censor, and dictator, who sought to stamp out Hellenism through a campaign of moral legislation.

Despite the campaigns of Cato and other Romans, Hellenism became an increasing force in Roman life, and arguments against it became an increasing theme of political life. Augustus Caesar, as the young Octavian, staged his rise to fame in large degree on the dichotomy between himself - portraying himself as an "originalist" Roman - and the "debaucherous" Marcus Antonius. As much as the young Octavian pressed this theme, though, he himself was a great force for Hellenization in Rome upon his ascension as Augustus Caesar following the Constitutional Settlement of 27 B.C. As princeps, Augustus re-did much of Rome's architecture in the majestic Greek style, remarking upon his death, "Behold, for I found Rome of clay, and I leave her of marble."

References

  • Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Life of Cato."
  • Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Life of Marc Antony."
  • Suetonius, De Vitae Caesarium, "Life of the Deified Augustus Caesar."
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