A number of influences shaped the cultural, political, religious and social structure of Greco-Roman civilization over the course of its evolution. Originating around 2700 BC with the first “Greeks” on the southern coast of Europe on the Mediterranean Sea, this civilization spread into North Africa and Asia Minor and became a part of the Roman Empire. It also led to significant artistic, technological, philosophical and political innovations still in existence today. One of the most important concepts to emerge was that of the “polis” or city-state, later referred to as the “city of God.
” The “polis” provided the foundation for modern ideals of democracy and the relationship between government and faith. By the 5th – 14th centuries AD, the thinking dominant in Greco-Roman culture had changed and new ideas on “church and state” emerged, largely due to the influence of the Christian and Islamic religions. This paper will review the evolution of the concept of the “city of God” during the Greek and Roman Empires and European Middle Ages by analyzing the writings of Christian and Islamic philosophers and changing beliefs about the following: 1. ) time, 2. ) space, 3. ) divinity and 4. ) human society.
Greek city-states or “polis,” such as Athens and Sparta, emerged around 800 BC and became the highest level of political unity in the Greek Empire. Various forms of government developed in Greek city-states, beginning with monarchies and later becoming democracies and oligarchies. . The society was also polytheistic, and the people worshipped a variety of gods in diverse ways. Conflicts arose between the aristocracy, middle and plebian classes, and famous philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle focused on theory and the ideal, publishing philosophical treatises to address the problems of governance and bring some sense of order.
For example, Plato intimated that the “polis” was in fact a “city of God” because it represented the greater good and the morality and values of its citizenry. He suggested that man’s soul and the “state” (government) were inextricably linked by destiny and that the success of governance lay in man’s ability to exercise control. He also stated that justice was based on two things: proper division of labor among socioeconomic classes within a city-state and in the balance between reason, appetite and passions in an individual soul.
Aristotle later expounded upon Plato’s theories. He defined the state or political body as the highest expression of community with the ability and purpose of achieving the greatest good for its citizens. By 2nd century BC, the Romans took control of Greece. While Romans maintained a polytheistic view of faith based on Greek religious practices, they were a much more practical people, focusing on technical applications and advancements as opposed to hypothetical theories of order that dominated Greek thinking.Sample Essay of PapersOwl.com