Greece Creation of the Graeco-Roman World
Source: The Library of Congress Country Studies
The period from 31 B.C. until the death of Marcus Aurelius in A.D. 180 is often referred to as the era of the Pax Romana, or Roman Peace--a phenomenon that actually occurred only in the central areas of the empire, including Greece and the Greek East. The peace and security of the first two centuries A.D. promoted a cultural flowering and economic growth in the Greek world, as well as integration of Greeks into the ruling elite of the empire.
Peninsular Greece was divided into two provinces: Achaia, incorporating central and southern Greece, and Macedonia, which included Thessaly, Epirus, and Macedonia proper. Because these provinces were not required to support Roman occupation forces, their fiscal burdens were relatively modest. Greek cities became the financial, economic, and administrative core of the eastern reaches of the empire. The first result of this role was economic growth and prosperity--Greek cities like Athens, Corinth, Alexandria, Miletus, Thessaloniki, and Smyrna flourished as both producers and commercial centers. From this settled prosperity, an urban Greek elite arose.
Decentralized Roman provincial administration created spaces for local men to rise in power and status, and, beginning with the reign of Emperor Vespasian (A.D. 69-78), significant numbers of Greeks even entered the Roman Senate. At the same time, life in Greek cities incorporated Roman features, and new generations of "Romanized" Greek citizens appeared. An example of such new Greek citizens was Herodes Atticus, a fabulously wealthy financier and landowner from Athens, who rose to be consul of Rome in A.D. 143, and whose bequests still adorn his home city.
On the other hand, several Roman emperors such as Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius actively embraced Greek culture and traditions, encouraging the hellenization of Roman culture. Together, Latin and Greek became the dominant languages of the empire. Literature, art, oratory, rhetoric, education, and architecture all drew on Hellenic roots from the age of the Greek polis. During the Pax Romana, Greece and Greek culture were a vital part of the Roman Empire.
Data as of December 1994
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