An Observation of Virgil's Aeneid, Book II
The Romans, unlike the Greeks were not gifted in abstract thought. They constructed no original system of philosophy, invented no major literary forms, and made no scientific discoveries. Yet, they excelled in the art of government and empire building, they created a workable world-state and developed skills in administration, law, and practical affairs. In the Punic Wars, the Roman republic defeated the Carthaginians in North Africa and Rome inherited the Pergamene Kingdom from the last of the Attalids in 133 B.C. Rome became heir to the legacy of the Hellenistic world of the Greeks. The Hellenistic period which lasted 300 years in is noted by the death of Alexander in 323 B.C. It is marked by its rich, sophisticated and diverse culture.
Many Romans were eager to merge with this Greek culture in order to exhibit the dominance of their rule over conquered societies. This exhibition of dominance was the primary motivation of the Roman desire to possess fine works of Greek Art. Whereas, other Romans, were convinced that the pursuit of the assimilation of foreign cultures would only harm the republic. During this time, much social disintegration and unhindered individualism threatened political stability. However, the adoption of Greek art for Roman needs was very popular.
An educated Roman was well versed in the history of Greek Art and was socially compelled to collect Greek art for personal embellishment.
The modernization of the old Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia is an example of the new Roman attitude toward art and architecture as Greek artists migrated in vast numbers to the new capital of the world. Roman generals and their quest to establish Rome as the new unchallenged capital of the world justified the expense of replanning the old sanctuary. This accomplishment would bring them personal glory and uplift the majestic status of Roman people. Roman architecture benefited as the city's wealth grew as other leaders contributed to the expansion of new monuments.
Lucias Cornelius Sculla, (82-78 B.C.) led the Romans is Social War and later became dictator and master of the city of Rome. He brought Corinthian columns form the temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens to renew the shrine of the Roman Jupiter in the capital. This act symbolized the transferal of spiritual power from the aristocracy of the Senate to autocratic leaders, and art began to be shaped by their preferences. This satisfied the Roman desire for grandiose architecture by being the model of Hellenistic majestic ornate style.