There is a quality of cohesiveness about the Roman world that applied neither to Greece nor perhaps to any other civilization, ancient or modern. Like the stone of Roman wall, which were held together both by the regularity of the design and by that peculiarly powerful Roman cement, so the various parts of the Roman realm were bonded into a massive, monolithic entity by physical, organizational, and psychological controls. The physical bonds included the network of military garrisons, which were stationed in every province, and the network of stone-built roads that linked the provinces with Rome. The organizational bonds were based on the common principles of law and administration and on the universal army of officials who enforced common standards of conduct. The psychological controls were built on fear and punishment—on the absolute certainty that anyone or anything that threatened the authority of Rome would be utterly destroyed.
The source of Roman obsession with unity and cohesion may well have lain in the pattern of Rome’s early development. Whereas Greece had grown from scores of scattered cities, Rome grew from one single organism. While the Greek world had expanded along the Mediterranean seas lanes, the Roman world was assembled by territorial conquest. Of course, the contrast is not quite so stark: in Alexander the Great the Greeks had found the greatest territorial conqueror of all time; and the Romans, once they moved outside Italy, did not fail to learn the lessons of sea power. Yet the essential difference is undeniable. The key to the Greek world lay in its high-powered ships; the key to Roman power lay in its marching legions. The Greeks were wedded to the sea; the Romans, to the land. The Greek was a sailor at heart; the Roman, a landsman.
Certainly, in trying to explain the Roman phenomenon, one would have to place great emphasis on this almost instinct for the territorial imperative. Roman priorities lay in the organization, exploitation, and defense of their territory. In all probability it was the fertile plain of Latium, where the Latins who founded Rome originated, that created the habits and skills of landed settlement, landed property, landed economy, landed administration, and a land-based society. From this arose the Roman genius for military organization and orderly government. In turn, a deep attachment to the land, and to the stability which rural life engenders, fostered the Roman virtues: gravitas, a sense of responsibility, pietas, a sense of devotion to family and country, and iustitia, a sense of the natural order.
Modern attitudes to Roman civilization range from the infinitely impressed to the thoroughly disgusted. As always, there are the power worshippers, especially among historians, who are predisposed to admire whatever is strong, who feel more attracted to the might of Rome than to the subtlety of Greece. At the same time, there is a solid body of opinion that dislikes Rome. For many, Rome is at best the imitator and the continuator of Greece on a larger scale. Greek civilization had quality; Rome, mere quantity. Greece was original; Rome, derivative. Greece had style; Rome had money. Greece was the inventor; Rome, the research and development division. Such indeed was the opinion of some of the more intellectual Romans. “Had the Greeks held novelty in such disdain as we,” asked Horace in his epistle, “what work of ancient date would now exist?”
Rome’s debt to Greece was enormous. The Romans adopted Greek religion and moral philosophy. In literature, Greek writers were consciously used as models by their Latin successors. It was absolutely accepted that an educated Roman should be fluent in Greek. In speculative philosophy and the sciences, the Romans made virtually no advance on early achievements.
Yet it would be wrong to suggest that Rome was somehow a junior partner in Greco-Roman civilization. The Roman genius was projected into new spheres—especially into those of law, military organization, administration, and engineering. Moreover, the tensions that arose within the Roman state produced literary and artistic sensibilities of the highest order. It was no accident that many leading Roman soldiers and statesmen were writers of high caliber.
罗马具有一种希腊和其他任何不论是古代的还是现在的文明都不具备的凝聚力。罗马墙上的石块是靠设计的规整和特别有力的水泥而被固定在一起，与此相同，罗马帝国的各个部分也因物理的、组织的和精神的束缚而组成了一个坚若磐石的整体。物理的束缚包括驻扎在每个省的戍卫军组成的网络和连通每个省与罗马的用石头铺成的道路网络。组织上的束缚则基于法律和行政的一般原则，以及遍布各地、统一行动的军政府。精神上的控制则建立在恐惧和惩罚上——毫无疑问，任何人或任何事，只要威胁到罗马的权威，都终将被摧毁。 罗马人对统一和团结的执著可能源自于罗马早期的发展模式。希腊是从二十几个分散的城邦发展而来，然而罗马则是从单个组织发展而来。希腊沿着地中海航线扩张，然而罗马帝国则通过领土的占领而壮大。当然，它们的对比也不是那么的绝对：在亚历山大大帝时期，希腊找到了他们整个历史中最大的领地征服者；罗马人虽曾一度迁移到意大利之外，但他们却没有忘记海洋的力量。然而，他们之间本质的区别是不容否认的。希腊世界的关键是强大的船队，而罗马帝国的关键则是他们行进的部队。希腊人死守着海洋，罗马人则死守着土地。希腊人是天生的水手，罗马人则是陆上强兵。 毫无疑问的是，为了解释罗马现象，人们应该极大地强调他们的几乎是本能的领土观念。罗马人的天性就在于对领土的组织、扩张和防御。完全也可能是Latium平原——拉丁人最初建立罗马的地方，造就了罗马人陆地定居、陆地财产、陆地经济、陆地行政以及以陆地基础的社会习惯和技巧。在此基础上也产生了罗马人的军事组织和政府管理的才能，。反过来，对土地以及稳定乡村生活的深深的依恋孕育了罗马人的品格：gravitas，一种责任感；peitas，对家庭和国家的牺牲精神；以及iustitia，一种对自然秩序的使命。 现在人们对罗马的态度各异，从无限的崇尚到彻底的反感。经常有权威的崇拜者，尤其是在历史学家中，不由自主地推崇强大，他们对罗马权力的欣赏远胜于对希腊狡黠的欣赏。与此同时，有一种固化的观念厌恶罗马。对于很多人而言，罗马至多不过是对希腊更大规模的模仿和延续，希腊文明拥有质量，罗马则仅仅拥有数量。希腊是发明者，而罗马则是研究和发展的分支。这些实际上是一些高智商罗马人的观点。“如果希腊人像我们一样轻视创新？”Horace 在他的信件中问道“那么有什么古时候的作品能现存于世呢？” 罗马的确欠着希腊无数的债务。罗马人吸收了希腊人的宗教和伦理哲学。在文学上，希腊作家被下意识地当作他们拉丁后裔的模范。毋庸置疑的是，一个受过教育的罗马人一定会讲流利的希腊语。在推理哲学和科学上，罗马人实际上没有超过前期希腊的成就。 然而如果认为罗马是希腊-罗马文化的晚辈那就错了。罗马的天才们突破了新的领域—尤其是在法律、军队的组织、管理和工程上。而且，由罗马国家内部产生的压力促使文学和艺术的造诣达到最高水平。所以很多罗马的高级军官和政治家们都是高素质的作家。