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Greek and Roman Art and Architecture

Greek and Roman art and architecture were both innovative and distinguished by features which can be compared and contrasted. In both cultures the major trends in art and architecture were set in their respective archaic periods. However, the comparison and contrasting of both are best restrained to the more mature periods of each society.

Classical Greek art begins around the Fifth Century B.C. During this time the Greeks had consolidated their military victories by ousting the Persian invaders, reduced civil unrest by removing the old kingships and replacing them with oligarchies and democracies, and limited the mercantilism of the Greek poli or city states (Greer 66-69). In terms of art and architecture, however, it should be remembered that Greek art was largely commissioned by the demos of relatively small cities usually in honor of some religious or civic event (Greer 66-69). Both art and architecture, in Greek society often one in the same or combined, were usually created in the more public places of the time. In this way, the free citizens of the town could admire more aesthetic creations in the places in which they spent a large part of their time.

Classical Roman art began roughly around the First Century, B.C. By this time, Rome had consolidated its control within the Roman Republic and had become the predominate power of the Mediterranean region. The city of Rome had become the largest city of the known world and because of its continual urban activities, used art and architecture as part of large state funded projects designed to service the populace. Nevertheless, this "public art" reflected the interests, desires, and whims of a small percentage of the population namely, the ruling elite. In the style of the gladiatorial circuses, this elite believed that it could keep the population content and interested by providing large artistic projects which could be viewed by the common citizen (Brilliant 1...

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