greco roman


[gree-koh-roh-muhn, grek-oh-]

In modern Olympic and amateur wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling is a particular style and variation.

The Greco-Roman period of history refers to the culture of the peoples who were incorporated into the Roman Republic and Roman Empire.

Greco-Roman Culture

In the schools of art, philosophy and rhetoric, the foundations of education were transmitted throughout the lands of Greek and Roman rule. Within its educated class, spanning all of the "Greco-Roman" era, the testimony of literary borrowings and influences is overwhelming proof of a mantle of mutual knowledge. For example, several hundred papyrus volumes found in a Roman villa at Herculaneum are in Greek. From the lives of Cicero and Julius Caesar, it is known that Romans frequented the schools in Greece. The installation both in Greek and Latin of Augustus' monumental eulogy, the Res Gestae, is a proof of official recognition for the dual vehicles of the common culture. The familiarity of figures from Roman legend and history in the "Parallel Lives" composed by Plutarch is one example of the extent to which "universal history" was then synonymous with the accomplishments of famous Latins and Hellenes. Most educated Romans were likely bilingual in Greek and Latin.


Rome became the superpower of its age in the political and legal spheres, and by its military might, the enormous Roman state created an enduring amalgam of disparate peoples and bestowed relative peace and prosperity on those.

Caesar plundered and enslaved without apology. However, he also invited many Gallic leaders to join him in Rome as members of the Roman Senate. The requirements of manpower in arms meant that citizenship was extended to non-Romans who served in Roman legions. By 211 AD, with Caracalla's edict known as the Constitutio Antoniniana, the general populace came into possession of citizenship. As a result, even after the city of Rome fell, the people of what remained of the empire (referred to by many historians as the Byzantine Empire) continued to call themselves Romans ("Romaioi" in the Greek language which eventually became the empire's official language).

The imperial Roman state was a vast social experiment in hybridization. Imperial Rome is identified with the cultural legacy of its forebears; it sustained that tradition without innovation, until Constantine broke away from the attenuated religion of the Greco-Roman past and transformed Rome's cultural matrix by embracing Christianity, which was the faith of a persecuted minority. The life of Constantine is arguably a better terminus of the Greco-Roman age than any other; it may equally be considered as the herald of the Middle Ages.

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