How Roman Culture Changed Over Time

The Roman Empire was one of the most powerful and influential civilizations in world history. The ancient Romans made an enormous impact on western culture and society through their language, government, architecture, art, and religion. However, Roman culture was not static and unchanging, it evolved over time in response to various internal and external factors.

The Early Roman Republic (753 BC – 509 BC)

The Roman culture during the early republic period was characterized by a strong sense of civic duty and a deep reverence for ancestors and tradition. The patricians, Rome’s elite class, held most positions of authority in society and maintained their power through alliances with other wealthy families. Roman religion was also strongly influenced by these traditional values and was focused on the worship of ancestors and household gods.

The Late Republican Period (509 BC – 27 BC)

During the late republican period, Rome experienced significant societal changes that substantially impacted Roman culture. The rising power of merchants and land-owning plebeians allowed them to gain more political influence and challenge the domination of the patrician class. Rome also expanded its territories, which brought in new cultural influences from conquered peoples.

This period also saw a shift in Roman religion towards more Hellenistic beliefs and practices. The Roman Pantheon was expanded to include new gods and goddesses from Greece and other parts of the world. Art and architecture also changed during this time, with greater emphasis placed on public works and monumental structures such as aqueducts and amphitheaters.

The Roman Empire (27 BC – 476 AD)

With the establishment of the Roman Empire, the culture of Rome changed dramatically. The emperor became the ultimate authority in society, and there was a shift towards a more authoritarian government. Roman religion continued to evolve, with Christianity becoming a significant force during the empire’s later years.

Art and architecture also saw significant changes under the Empire. Roman sculpture had a greater emphasis on realism, while monumental buildings such as the Colosseum and Pantheon became more prevalent. Latin continued to be the primary language of Roman culture, but Greek also remained important as a language of scholarship and culture.

The Fall of the Empire and Beyond (476 AD – Present)

The fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD marked the end of an era in Roman culture. However, the impact of Roman civilization remained significant. Medieval Europe inherited many aspects of Roman culture, from law and government to art and architecture. Latin, the language of Rome, remained a language of learning and scholarship in Europe for centuries to come.

In modern times, the legacy of Roman culture is still evident in the Western world. Latin is still used in the sciences and the humanities, while Roman architecture continues to impress and inspire architects today. However, Roman culture was not perfect, and many of their ideas and practices have been rejected or improved upon over time.


In conclusion, Roman culture was not static and unchanging. It evolved and adapted over time in response to various internal and external factors, from political and societal changes to religious and cultural influences. The Roman Empire may have fallen, but its impact on Western culture and society has endured for centuries.

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