It is no simple task to pinpoint the most important contributions of the Greco Roman ages towards the later Western Roman culture of the Renaissance. Almost every aspect was influenced or supported by another. Despite this, there is a particular concept that has continually served as a core contributor: religion.
From the time of early Greece and Rome, around 2500-500 BC, humans have considered religion to be not only an explanation of how life was created, but also a guide on how to live life. Initially, religion in Greece was centered around the poetry of Homer and Hesiod. Gods were thought to be of great multiplicity and each had a distinct personality which reflected the society of man. Their essence lacked uniformity, as portrayed in Greek poetry. This lack of uniformity allowed the stories to change in order to subjectively explain why things were the way they were. Morals and values were often unclear and an afterlife was not of much concern. Without the guidance of morals, young Greeks often sought guidance from epic heroes.
Like Greece, Ancient Rome’s initial religion consisted of a plethora of gods. Their gods were based on concepts similar to the Greek gods but held different names and were based on a slightly different value system. While Greek mythology seemed to uphold the ideals of courage, hospitality, heroism, fate, and sacrifice, Ancient Roman mythology was based more on piety and numen: the “active power of the gods.”
A major downside to these original Greek and Roman religions was their lack of rationality. This lack of rationality, however, spurred eventual rational thinking. In fact, around the sixth century BC in Greece, the first philosophers were born. Before this time, philosophical thoughts were s...
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...amounts of Christian artwork including the impressive paintings that cover the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel. These large paintings tell the overwhelming story of God’s relations with man from the beginning to what is still to come.
Overall, religion was a core concept in the development of Greco Roman culture. Each stage of this development of religion not only influenced the following stages but also served as key contributors to the culture of the Renaissance. The initial polytheistic religion based on mythology was revived through Renaissance art and literature. The Greco Roman philosophies spurred by religion, specifically Platonics, influenced Renaissance philosophical thought, art, and literature. Augustus’s goal of religious unity was revived through Pope Nicholas V. Christianity inspired vast displays of art.
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