How does Ancient Roman Literature influence today’s world?

Ancient Roman Literature reflects the legacy of the culture, education system, and evolution of Ancient Rome.

It had humble beginnings as Greek Literature heavily inspired it. It evolved to leave behind a legacy that lasts and has a noticeable impact on today’s world. 

The Literature was primarily limited to historical epics that expanded to poetry, drama, comedy, tragedy, and philosophy.

Many prolific literary figures worldwide like William Shakespeare and his play ‘Romeo and Juliet‘ and powerful poem, 9 circles of hell, composed by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri have drawn inspiration from the Literature of Ancient Rome.  

Origin and establishment of Ancient Roman Literature 

A mosaic depicting musicians of Ancient Rome
A mosaic depicting musicians of Ancient Rome
Source: Wikimedia Common

Ancient Roman Literature originated from the classical themes of Greek Literature. Initially, it was only limited to translating Greek Literature into the Latin language.

 It originated formally in 240 BC or the 3rd century B.C. A Greek play was adapted into Latin and performed for the Romans.

A prisoner of war named Livius Andronicus was brought to Rome to translate spaces for Roman people. His most notable translation was Homer’s Greek epic Odyssey into a Latin verse called Saturnian.

Initially, the Roman authors felt less competent and intimidated than Greek writers as they considered Greece to have more refined, highly intellectual varieties of classical arts and prominent cultural pursuits. 

Roman Literature’s foundation was established with Greek Literature translated into Latin by the learned Roman individuals. These individuals could speak and read in Greek as well as in Latin. However, Ancient Romans developed a rich literature of their own gradually.

Role of Latin language to spread Ancient Roman Literature worldwide 

A mosaic of Ancient Rome with Latin languages
A mosaic of Ancient Rome with Latin languages
Source: Wikimedia Common

The Literature in ancient Rome was written in Latin since Latin was the primary language used for both written and spoken purposes.

Ancient Rome expanded into the Holy Roman Empire during the Imperial period in 27 B.C. from Portugal to Persia and Scotland to the Sahara Desert. 

The expansion of territory helped to spread the Latin language across the Empire.

The Empire transformed into a global superpower and made Latin a basis for several other languages.

More specifically, a group of languages called ‘Romance languages’ historically evolved from Latin. 

French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Portuguese are present in Romance languages.

Even the English language derives plenty of words from Latin. Thus, Latin became a root of significant languages worldwide that are spoken in today’s world.

As a result, Roman Literature could easily be translated and read across several countries of the world. 

Development of Ancient Roman Literature 

Ancient Roman Literary figure Cicero
Ancient Roman Literary figure Cicero
Source: Wikimedia Common

Literature in Ancient Rome flourished during the Imperial period and several literary writings, poetry, drama, historical texts, comedy, and philosophy. Its scale expanded with the expansion of Rome into the Holy Roman Empire. 

Caesar Augustus was the Roman Emperor during the rise of the Roman Empire in 27 B.C. Original literary voices had emerged during this time. His regime is regarded as the golden period of Roman Literature. 

Catullus was a pioneer poet during this period. His genre was limited to extreme emotions, primarily love and hatred. However, it reflected the surrounding turmoil he came from. 

Another prolific writer Marcus Tullius Cicero also belonged to this golden period. Cicero is the most well-known literary figure in today’s world, among other Ancient Roman literary figures. 

In comparison to others, most of his writings are preserved to date. His famous contemporary included Julius Caesar, a Roman dictator. Cicero highly praised his rhetoric and style. 

The golden period produced great poets such as Virgil, Horace, and Ovid, who created impacts in the Literature of Ancient Rome. Virgil depicted Roman country life and embodied the Roman way of life in his writings.

 He wrote epic poetry that romanticized Ancient Rome. Virgil’s most prominent work was Aeneid.

He crafted a traditional folk story that Rome descended from Troy. Horace contributed through his odes and satires. He was a satirist poet who created his style that evolved later on.  

The silver age of Ancient Roman Literature began during the 2nd century C.E. Lucan wrote epic poetry, and Juvenal was a satirist. On the other hand, Pliny the Younger was a correspondent.

 Seneca the Younger was a tragic playwright and a satirist. They were some of the notable literary figures in the Silver age of Ancient Roman Literature. Roman Literature written after the 2nd century C.E. is not regarded as essential and is often dismissed. 

Influence of Ancient Roman authors on notable literary figures of the world 

Ancient Roman Authors
Ancient Roman Authors
Source: Wikimedia Common

Ancient Roman Literature left behind an everlasting legacy, and the greatest writers in the world have drawn inspiration from it. Among them, the most notable literary figures of the world include Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton, Dante, and William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare was highly influenced and fascinated by Ancient Roman Literature. The theatrical tradition of Ancient Rome mainly influenced Shakespeare. It can be seen in plays such as ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Antony and Cleopatra.’ 

The writings of Ovid and Virgil heavily inspire Shakespeare’s work. For instance, ‘Metamorphoses’ of Ovid was an inspiration for the tragic and most famous play ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ 

John Milton contributed to English Literature by writing the epic poem ‘Paradise Lost.’ Virgil’s epic poem Aeneid heavily inspired it. After reading Aeneid, he strived to bring artistic brilliance like Aeneid into English Literature. 

Ovid heavily inspired Geoffrey Chaucer. Ovid’s work ‘Heroides’ was his personal favorite. He was also inspired by the overall Ancient Roman way of writing. Roman tradition was often reflected in his writings. 

Influence of Ancient Roman Literature in today’s world 

Ancient Roman mosaic depicting actors
Ancient Roman mosaic depicting actors
Source: Wikimedia Common

The influence of Ancient Roman Literature can be seen in modern Literature and other fields such as Law and Religion. An essential gift of it to today’s world is the legacy of the Latin language. The Classical Latin language used evolved through the Middle Ages. 

Till today, Ecclesiastical Latin is used in the Roman Catholic Church as an official language. It is a language of theological science and is no longer used in daily conversations. 

It will cause the current form to be unchangeable, and thus, it can be used for Divine worship. As a result, the language of Divine worship has helped to cause uniformity in prayer as per the belief of Catholics. 

Usage of Latin as the official language in churches has maintained the sanctity of Christianity as a religion in today’s world. 

On the other hand, Latin descended to form a basis for the group of Romance languages. French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Portuguese are spoken by the most significant European native speakers worldwide by a speculated one billion people. 

Similarly, Romance languages are second languages for people across Europe, Africa, and the Americas. 

The Latin language used in the Literatures of Ancient Rome has highly contributed to the development of the English language. Several words of English are rooted in Latin. 

English is a global and powerful language in today’s world and belongs to the group of West Germanic languages. 

More than half of the grammar and lexis of English is derived from Latin. German and Dutch also constitute significant percentages of Latin. 

Some of the Latin legal terms are used in laws written in several languages in today’s world. It can be found in legal textbooks, legal documents, and Acts or Constitution (written in italics). Sometimes, law courts also use Latin legal jargon to give decisions tracing the roots to Ancient Roman law. It is only possible as Latin legal terms used in Ancient Roman Literature are relevant even in today’s world. 

Literature has continued to influence most of the Literature till the 20th century. The influence is prominent till today. During the 20th century, English writer P.G. Wodehouse used several Latin references in his books. Thus, he wrote beautiful lines that were very much loved. 

Ancient Roman author Ovid’s influence is found in T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land.’ Little bits of Latin are present in his epic poem. However, the most famous example is J.K. Rowling. She wrote the Harry Potter novels. 

They feature plenty of Latin names and Roman mythological references like werewolves. It has shaped popular culture in today’s world. As a result, Latin references are used even in day-to-day conversations. 

Conclusion 

Ancient Roman Literature has influenced today’s world in different ways. An abundance of poetry, drama, historical texts, philosophy, and other Literature were produced during the Golden age of Ancient Roman Literature. They continue to influence the literary writings of today’s world.

Ancient Roman Literature heavily inspires most of the notable literature and literary figures that have existed worldwide. Romance languages are based on Latin, which was used in Ancient Roman Literature. Even the almighty English language derives a whole lot of words from Latin used in Ancient Roman Literature. 

The Latin alphabets used in Ancient Roman Literature are used in the English language. Similarly, it has impacted legal systems worldwide by providing short and effective legal terms that do not need massive exaggeration once they are memorized. In a nutshell, Ancient Roman Literature has influenced the writing and reading culture of today’s world.

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