The Relationship Between Rome and Greece.

The Romans had a relationship with Greece long before they conquered them. The southern part of the Italian Peninsula was colonized by Greeks. The cities of Tarentum, Naples, Metapontum, Locri and others were all Greek speaking. Early in the third century B.C. Italy was invaded by Pyrrhus of Epirus. He won two battles but at such a cost that he was reputed to have said “One more such ‘victory’ and we’re ruined!” He finally gave up the effort. The Greeks considered the Romans barbarians but the had to admit “but they don’t fight like barbarians,”

During the 3rd century it became fashionable among the Roman upper class to have their children tutored by Greeks. They would purchase educated Greeks to serve as pedagogues for their children. Mastering Greek and reading Greek literature was considered a necessary part of the education of the Roman patrician or wealthy eques.

During the Second Punic War, the Roman General Marcus Claudius Marcellus conquered Syracuse, a Greek city on Sicily that had been founded by Spartans. He spared the city but plundered it and took massive amounts of Greek artifacts to display in his triumph. The Romans went gaga over these items and Greek material culture became all the rage in Rome.

Many influential Romans, including Scipio Africanus, his daughter Cornelia the Mother of the Gracchi, Titus Quinctius Flamininus, Lucius Aemilius Paullus, Scipio Aemilianus (Scipio Minor) and much later Hadrian, were well known to be Graecophiles. Many Romans adopted Greek philosophies, especially Stoicism.

It was only in the 2nd century after the Romans defeated the Macedonians at the battle of Pydna in 168 B.C. that they actually imposed Roman rule on the Greeks. by this time, Greek culture was thoroughly imbedded in the soul of Rome.

This is why the Roman poet Horace in the late 1st century B.C. wrote: “Captive Greece took captive her savage conquerer and brought the arts to rustic Latium”

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