What Some Features That Ancient Rome Shares With Western Civilization

Trade and Commerce

Ancient Rome was one of the most influential empires in history, and many of its impacts can still be seen today. It is no accident that many aspects of Western civilization found their roots in the policies, practices and traditions used in Roman rule. One of the more prominent aspects of this is how ancient Rome shaped the way trade and commerce were conducted.

One of the most powerful institutions of Rome was its excellent taxation system. This allowed Roman rulers to readily collect funds for major projects, including the construction of monuments and the development of trading networks. These trading networks would eventually form the basis of the global trading network that we enjoy today.

Roman merchants also followed the concept of fair trade, a practice that had not been seen in many previous societies. This involved setting specific standards for pricing and quality of goods, allowing merchants to avoid potential issues that could potentially arise from substandard or overly expensive goods. Roman traders also established trade networks with other empires and regions, contributing to a larger trading economy.

Roman law also had a profound effect on the way trade was conducted in Rome. The development of the legal system allowed Roman rulers to create regulations and laws that governed how taxes, fees and other aspects of trading could be conducted. This provided a framework for merchants, traders and other professionals to follow and abide by.

Ancient Rome was also the source of several basic trade practices that are still used today. This includes concepts such as the use of currency, the formation of business partnerships and the concept of usury. The use of these concepts helped develop a more advanced trading structure that is still used today in many parts of the world.

Architecture and Design

The architecture of Rome has been admired for centuries, with many famous landmarks and remarkable structures still standing today. Constructions such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Forum demonstrate the sophistication of the Roman design ethos.

Roman architecture was largely based on the use of durable materials such as stone and concrete. Roman engineers used arches and domes to great effect, creating monuments that were both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional. They also created intricate and ornate designs, many of which have been adopted into modern architectural styles.

The Romans also used advanced building techniques such as, for example, the use of cross vaulting to consolidate and solidify large structures. This form of building technique would eventually be adopted in much of Western civilization, with structures such as churches and cathedrals making full use of the technique.

The use of Roman design in modern architecture is also clearly evident. Classical columns, for example, are still widely used in buildings, with the iconic Pantheon in Rome being the inspiration for many modern-day structures. The use of columns in architecture has become so common that it is often almost unrecognizable in its original appearance.

The influence of Roman architecture is also evident in the design of other heirlooms, such as furniture and artwork. Roman furniture was typically made with luxury materials, such as woods and metals, making it an ideal aesthetic component for many modern homes. Similarly, Roman artwork such as statues and columns have been widely used in modern decor, adding an iconic touch of antiquity to many homes.

Laws and Political Structures

Ancient Rome was infamous for its political system, and it is not surprising that Western civilization still remains heavily influenced by the system of Roman law even today. Roman legal institutions established rules and regulations to govern society, which were then adopted and adapted by European countries over the centuries.

The most recognizable aspect of Roman law is its system of justice, which was based on the concept of natural law. This system detailed a series of guidelines and procedures that had to be adhered to in order for justice to be served. It included concepts such as the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial and the principle that no one should be punished without having been proven guilty. These concepts are still very much part of the legal systems in use in Western countries today.

Notably, the Roman system relied heavily on legislation and the concept of precedent. This allowed for the creation of laws that were specific to individual situations, providing a greater level of flexibility in the legal system. This concept has been at the basis of modern legal systems for centuries.

The Romans also introduced constitutionalism, in which the population had a say in the laws and regulations that were implemented. This notion of government by the people would eventually evolve into true democracy, which is a feature of governments in use in countries across the world today.

Finally, the concept of checks and balances, which allows the different branches of government to have equal authority and power, was first developed by the Romans. This concept has become an integral part of many governments today, ensuring that no one person or faction is able to gain absolute power over the nation’s affairs.

Social Structures

Ancient Rome may have been a powerful and influential empire, but it was also a complex society that was divided into distinct social groups. The most recognizable of these was the patrician-plebian system, which divided Roman citizens into two distinct classes based on wealth, power and social status.

This system was an example of how Rome was very advanced compared to many of its contemporary societies. Society, regardless of its wealth inequality, was divided into various tiers in order to preserve law and order. This is still a feature of many civil societies in the West, as different classes are subject to different legal regulations and societal expectations.

The concept of patronage, which is the relationship between rich and powerful individuals and those of lower social status, was also heavily evidenced in the Roman system. This relationship, which is still common in many Western countries today, allowed the wealthy to benefit from their patronage of those in lower classes, while also providing those at the bottom of the ladder with some form of protection.

The concept of slavery was also an intrinsic part of the Roman social system. This system allowed the richest members of society to own, maintain and control poorer citizens, which was both profitable and convenient. This concept of ownership still has implications in modern society, where exploitation of workers for personal gain remains a feature in some areas.

Finally, the concept of extended family networks was a feature of Roman society. This concept is still very much present in many Western countries, with strong family ties playing a major part in the day-to-day lives of many people.


Roman entertainment holds a special place in the annals of Western civilization. Many popular forms of amusement and pastimes have their roots in the activities enjoyed by Roman citizens and emperors.

Sports and physical activities were hugely popular in Rome, and many of these games remain popular today. Chariot racing and gladiatorial combat, for example, are still celebrated in countries across the world. Roman theatre and other forms of performing arts were also popular, and many of the plays and performances that were once commonplace in the Colosseum continue to be enjoyed by millions.

However, most of the modern entertainment industry can trace its roots to the concept of the Roman ludi. These were public events that were held in the city of Rome and were usually associated with various divine deities. These events were hugely popular in Roman times and included chariot races, theatrical performances and mock naval battles. Today, these events have been modernized but still remain popular in many parts of the world.

The Roman legacy of entertainment can also be seen in modern popular culture. Many popular films, television shows and books draw upon Roman mythology and folklore, while ancient Roman characters and stories are often used as inspiration. This also applies to films and television shows set centuries in the future, where Roman-inspired imagery is often used as a backdrop.

Roman entertainment also relied heavily on gambling, a practice that is still prevalent today. Roman citizens would wager on the outcome of gladiatorial fights, chariot races and other events, starting a tradition that has transcended the centuries and is still seen in popular forms of gambling such as sports betting and online casinos.

Political Philosophy

Political philosophy is an integral part of a modern society, and the ideas and theories developed in ancient Rome remain relevant today. Roman political philosophy was based on the concepts of Stoicism, a school of thought which espoused the idea of living in harmony with nature and the universe.

Stoicism argued for simplicity in life, avoiding material consumption and instead focusing on virtue and morality. This philosophy resonates heavily with modern-day practices, especially as many cultures around the world continue to move away from reliance on material goods and focus on building communities and relationships between citizens.

The concept of personal liberty was also a staple of Roman public policy. This idea was pushed by the great Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero, who believed that all citizens were entitled to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This principle has endured to this day, with many countries now abiding by the notion of personal liberty as a fundamental legal right.

Cicero’s influence on Roman society was far-reaching. He introduced concepts of democracy and accountability to the Roman state and pushed for reform of the senatum, the ruling body of Rome. These ideas resonated with many individuals and eventually gained recognition, paving the way for the development of democratic governments in many countries today.

Stoicism, democratic principles, and the concept of personal liberty all remain cornerstones of modern political thought. Though the Roman Empire has long since faded, its influence is still deeply entrenched in the fabric of Western civilization, making it an integral part of our modern-day world.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

Leave a Comment