This page about the contributions of the ancient Romans focuses on outlining a number of different aspects and contribution of ancient Rome to modern society. A separate page has been reserved for a more in-depth look at ancient roman inventions and another dedicated to innovation in ancient Rome.
Various contributions of ancient Rome:
“Emperor”, “Caesar”: It is interesting that the titles adopted by Roman leaders were later reutilised by other people and cultures. For example the name “Caesar”, clearly derived from Julius Caesar, is at the root of the word “Kaiser”. “Emperor” is of course broadly used in many languages and cultures.
Latin Language (romance languages)
Language (anglo-saxon languages such as English have many words with latin root)
Roman Law: particularly the legal system of countries such as Italy. Nevertheless even countries such as Britain have a great deal of latin terminology within them, showing the extent of Roman contribution.
A stable political system – the pax romana – which allowed free trade and a relatively free exchange of ideas and information, even if not fostering R&D as such. Many ancient Roman inventions which we enjoyed through the medieval ages and even today may not have existed if Roman hegemony hadn’t allowed them to become widespread.
A fertile ground for the development of Christianity
The first encyclopaedic compendium by Pliny the Elder (Pliny’s Natural History)
Development of many military techniques, such as used by modern Police forces for crowd control.
Spread of many types of plant and agriculture as Roman contact spread as far as India and linked with trade routes to the far East. An example is the lemon tree, so common to us nowadays but only acclimatised in central Italy at the time of Pompeii.
Emperor Augustus is sometimes referred to as the “godfather of Europe”
Roads and international trade
All of these subjects are discussed in greater depth on their own pages. We’d be happy to hear from you if you have other areas which you feel ought to be added to the list.
We should not conclude this short section without considering that there may be things which have NOT made it down to us because of Roman “interference” with history. For example…
a great many species of animals became extinct (this reminds me that in the 19th century there were apparently many exotic types of plant within the ruins of the Colosseum, brought over from afar and protected by the relatively unusual microclimate it afforded. These have clearly since been lost following its gradual restoration and cleaning.
A number of civilisations were absorbed by ancient Rome, such as the Etruscans. Whilst this would at first sight be considered as a negative “contribution”; within the context of ancient Rome it is also important to consider the effects of “Romanisation” which brought a civilising culture to many of the peoples which were influenced (not just militarily conquered) by Rome. An aspect which was considered positive even by some of the cultures of the day and is attested by Tacitus when he describes ambassadors being sent to the emperor to ask for inclusion within the Roman domains and not necessarily being accepted or by rulers leaving their dominions in roman control rather than at the mercy of claimants to the throne.
A quick look at the varied links at the bottom of this page will give a general impression of the broad range and spectrum of contributions made by the ancient Romans.