For our purpose, the importance of the Romans lies in the fact that it was most directly from the ruins of their civilization that our own developed. Therefore, before completing the account of the decline and fall of their empire, we will consider the cultural contributions made by the Romans.
The Romans were not great cultural innovators. During the early republic, they were a simple agricultural people who were isolated from the civilizations upon whom the Greeks had drawn as well as from the Greeks themselves. As they began to expand, they came into contact with the Greeks -- first in southern Italy and then in the Balkans -- and began appropriating from them. But this was not properly Greek (or Hellenic) Civilization from which they were borrowing. It was what is known as Hellenistic, and that requires some explanation. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "2. Rome: Roman Civilization. Pt. I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 53-58.