Ancient Roman and Greek architecture

Subject: Art
Type: Informative Essay
Pages: 6
Word count: 1749
Topics: Architecture, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Multiculturalism


The art of architecture has been in existence for over a thousand years ago. History reveals that man has always advanced the building technology to develop structures that match the emerging economic, political and social needs (Freeman, 2014). The ancient architecture has proved to be among the most outstanding technologies to ever exist in history. The Roman and Greek architectural designs and structures are some of the historical, unique features in the world of engineering. Essentially, research reveals that the Roman and Greek architectures share some common characteristics and also depict some differences in the designing and construction of structures. Therefore, it is imperative to evaluate the various features to visualize the similarities and differences of the ancient Roman and Greek architecture. The assignment seeks to discuss the various similarities and differences that exist between the ancient Roman architecture and ancient Greek architecture.

Differences between the Ancient Greek and Roman Architecture

Sometimes it is a bit difficult to identify the differences between the ancient Roman and ancient Greek architecture due to the close resemblance of some features (Sammis, 2002).  However, an in-depth analysis reveals that there are various differences that exist between the two. For instance, the materials used in the construction works in the two cultures were quite different. The Greeks preferred marble and granite to build its temples. On the contrary, the Romans used lesser materials such as bricks and concrete to construct temples. The use of different construction materials resulted in structures that upheld the architectural authenticity of the respective cultures. It is important to recognize that the Greek architecture existed before the Roman architecture and therefore much of the ancient Roman architecture was borrowed from the ancient Greek architecture.

The arch design was another feature that differentiated the ancient Greek architecture from the ancient Roman architecture. The Greek preferred to reinforce the roof using the post-Intel system.  The system made use of beams where two beams support a third beam that lies horizontally.  On the hand, the Romans perfected the arch technology to enhance exclusive decorations and ensure that it was stronger than the system employed by the Greek people. The Romans ensured that the arch was strong and efficient enough to supply water to Rome. The distinctive features of the architectural designs in the two cultures reveal the perfectionist nature of the Roman architecture. In essence, the Romans were determined to construct complex and prestigious structures that would be more attractive than the Greek structures.

According to Gagarin (2009), the ancient Roman architecture was influenced by the desire to show power and unite the Romans.  The buildings reveal the power of Romans to the outside world and motivate people to live together. On the contrary, the ancient Greek architecture was influenced by political ambitions and the need to fulfill some personal interest of leaders. The political purposes that instigated the construction of ancient Greek buildings included celebrations of certain political events such as civic power or praise to the warriors after war. Therefore, the two cultures did not have a mutual drive or interest in designing their respective architecture. The motivation and ambition were quite different as portrayed by the general designing of buildings.

Vignola, Leeke & Watkin (2011) argues that architectural order is among the factors that differentiated the two civilizations. For instance, the Greeks used the Doric and Ionic architectural order in most of its structures. The Parthenon stands as  Doric column example that the Greek used in building their structures. The structure was built to honor goddess, Athena.  However, the Romans favored the Corinthian order in most of its structures. The Pantheon is among the structures that depict the Corinthian style adopted by the Romans.  In essence, the designing of the columns ensured that the two civilizations showed unique, distinctive features to the outside world. Despite the fact that the Roman architecture borrowed much from the Greek architecture, various amendments were made to the style and design employed to uphold authenticity and originality.

The ancient Greek and Roman architecture were greatly influenced by religion. In essence, the temples in both cultures were built to fulfill the religious needs. However, the purposes of constructing the temple differed between the two civilizations. For instance, the temple in the ancient Greek (Parthenon) was established as a dedication to Athena. On the Romans’ side, the most renowned temple (Pantheon) was built in honor of the seven planetary gods that existed in the Roman community. Therefore, the designing and style of the temple were meant to appease all the gods unlike in Greek where Athena was the only concern. The religious ceremonies of Romans were conducted inside the temple, unlike the Greek ceremonies that had to be carried out outside the temple (Gabucci, Hartmann & Peccatori, 2002). In this regard, the architectural design of the respective cultures ensured that the partitioning was done effectively to accommodate the religious ceremonies

The ancient Roman architecture portrays the influence of the adoption of emerging engineering skills and secular features in the establishment of structures. However, the Greek architecture reveals the influence of religion and perfection in the development of architectural structures. Apparently, the Romans developed advanced means of building structures to resolve the flaws observed in the ancient Greek architecture.  In essence, the Roman focused on developing structures that were accommodative to the changes in the architectural world. On the Greeks’’ side, the architectural work was conservative in the sense that it was influenced by gods. In fact, most buildings in the ancient Greek were temples. The gods played a significant role in determining the nature of the ancient Greek architecture.

Similarities between the Ancient Roman and Greek Architecture

Marconi & Steiner (2015) argues that there exist various similarities between the ancient Roman and Greek architecture. For instance, the two cultures used columns in building temples.  The designs employed by the two cultures revealed much about each other. For instance, the Greek top was quite similar to the Romans bottom. Moreover, the construction of temples was another similarity that the two cultures enjoyed. The architectural work by the two civilizations portrays that significant effort was employed to build outstanding temples for worship and other religious functions. The gods were highly respected, and so were the temples.

The ancient Roman and Greek architecture laid the foundation for the modern engineering and civilization (Galinsky, 1992). The complex structures build during the Romans era motivated the present cultures to develop more advanced buildings that would be more appealing than the ancient structures. In essence, it can be observed that both the ancient Roman and Greek architecture influenced the existence of modern architecture by a significant percentage. The modern architecture focuses on improving the designs and styles that existed in the ancient Roman and Greek architecture to establish buildings that are accommodative to the changing nature of technology and other engineering resources.

The reliance on gods when making architectural decisions was a common factor for both the Romans and Greeks (Belozerskaya & Lapatin, 2004). The art of architecture was considered sacred, and it was among the ways that man used to interact with the gods. In essence, both the ancient Greek and Romans architecture followed a common religious path where everything was done in consideration of the will of gods. The influence of gods in the ancient Roman and Greek architecture is evidenced by the numerous temples constructed in both civilizations in the ancient times.  Apparently, the ancient architecture in the Roman and Greek civilizations can be said to be a dedication of the people to the gods.

The architecture in both civilizations shared common ideas regarding meetings and sharing of thoughts. The buildings in both cultures reveal that large spaces were left to allow sufficient room for meetings and discussion of ideas. In essence, both civilizations sacrificed huge open areas and constructed some buildings behind them to house people who gathered for meetings. The gathering places served similar purposes in both civilizations, and therefore they had many matching features.  For instance, the places were used as trading points in some instances, and people were allowed to attend the auctions from different places. Moreover, the elders could sermon people in the open areas to discuss the issues affecting the members of the community. It can be observed that the open spaces in both civilizations were meant for multipurpose functions.

The ancient Romans and Greek architecture used arches to give their buildings an aesthetic appearance. An analysis of the ancient buildings in the two civilizations reveals that the decorations that were made by the ancient Greeks were also used in the Romans buildings (Malacrino, 2010).  Some of the decorations included the use of pillars and the three arch designs. The architects in both civilizations ensured that the buildings were designed such that the arches allowed easy movement of soldiers in case of war and also eased traffic during major events.  In essence, the ancient architecture was tailored to solve the political, economic and social needs of the community. The arches and pillars would ensure that security was intact and also sufficient space was secured for social gatherings and trade.


The ancient Roman and Greek architecture laid the foundation for modern architecture. The materials and designs used in the construction of ancient buildings were strong and ensured that the cultural outlook was presented in buildings. The ancient Roman architecture delivered many features from the Greek architecture.   The Greeks were the first people in history to develop the art of architecture. Therefore, the Romans had to rely on what existed to find the path of their architecture. The reliance on the Greek architecture resulted in the development of structures that resembled the Greeks works. However, the Romans modified their architecture to establish a unique and different brand. The Romans were concerned about the value of their architecture, and therefore they built structures that were better than those of the Greeks.  In essence, the Roman architecture was born from the Greek architecture, and most of the Romans buildings came into existence due to the inspiration drawn from the Greek works. It is imperative to identify that the Romans did not copy the Greek architecture, but used it to develop advanced structures.  The Greek Architecture served as a motivation to the architectural works of the Romans.  The differences that exist between the two civilizations attest that each culture developed authentic structures that were unique from each other.  In summary, the ancient architecture established the footing for the growth of modern engineering and building technologies.

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  2. Freeman, C. (2014). Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press
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  7. Marconi, C., & Steiner, D. (2015). The Oxford handbook of Greek and Roman art and architecture. New York : Oxford University Press.
  8. Sammis, K. (2002). The era of early civilizations and empires. Portland, Me: J. Weston Walch.
  9. Vignola, Leeke, J., & Watkin, D. (2011). Canon of the five orders of architecture. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, Inc., 2011.
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