Humanities › History & Culture Culture in the Ancient Roman Republic It Still Affects Us Today Share Flipboard Email Print History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Rome Figures & Events Ancient Languages Greece Egypt Asia Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated September 03, 2019 The early Romans adopted culture from their neighbors, the Greeks, and Etruscans, in particular, but imprinted their unique stamp on their borrowings. The Roman Empire then spread this culture far and wide, affecting diverse areas of the modern world. For instance, we still have colosseums and satire for entertainment, aqueducts to supply water, and sewers to drain it. Roman-built bridges still span rivers, while distant cities are located along remnants of actual Roman roads. Going further and higher, the names of Roman gods pepper our constellations. Some parts of Roman culture are gone but remain intriguing. Chief among these are the gladiators and death games in the arena. Roman Colosseum Robin-Angelo Photography / Getty Images The Colosseum in Rome is an amphitheater, commissioned by the Roman emperor Flavian between 70–72 CE. It was developed as an improvement over the Circus Maximus for gladiatorial combats, wild beast fights (venationes), and mock naval battles (naumachiae). Gladiators Celia Peterson / Getty Images In ancient Rome, gladiators fought, often to the death, to entertain crowds of spectators. Gladiators were trained in ludi ([sg. ludus]) to fight well in circuses (or the Colosseum) where the ground surface was covered with blood-absorbing harena, or sand (hence, the name 'arena'). Roman Theater Nick Brundle Photography / Getty Images Roman theater began as a translation of Greek forms, in combination with native song and dance, farce and improvisation. In Roman (or Italian) hands, the materials of Greek masters were converted to stock characters, plots, and situations that we can recognize today in Shakespeare and even modern sitcoms. Aqueducts, Water Supply and Sewers in Ancient Rome David Soanes Photography / Getty Images The Romans are renowned for engineering marvels, among which is the aqueduct that carried water for many miles in order to provide a crowded urban population with relatively safe, potable water and water for latrines. Latrines served 12 to 60 people at once with no dividers for privacy or toilet paper. The main sewer of Rome was the Cloaca Maxima, which emptied into the Tiber River. Roman Roads Ivan Celan / EyeEm / Getty Images Roman roads, specifically viae, were the veins and arteries of the Roman military system. Using these highways, armies could march across the Empire from the Euphrates to the Atlantic. Roman and Greek Gods DEA / G. NIMATALLAH / Getty Images Most of the Roman and Greek Gods and Goddesses share enough attributes to be considered roughly the same, but with a different name—Latin for the Roman, Greek for the Greek. Ancient Roman Priests A sermon in the Colosseum. ZU_09 / Getty Images Ancient Roman priests were administrative officials rather than mediators between men and gods. They were charged with performing the religious rituals with exactness and scrupulous care so as to maintain the gods' good will and support for Rome. History and Architecture of the Pantheon Achim Thomae / Getty Images The Roman Pantheon, a temple for all gods, is comprised of a huge, domed brick‐faced concrete rotunda (152 feet high and wide) and an octastyle Corinthian, rectangular portico with granite columns. Roman Burial Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome. Slow Images / Getty Images When a Roman person died, he would be washed and laid out on a couch, dressed in his finest clothes and crowned, if he had earned one in life. A coin would be placed in his mouth, under the tongue, or on the eyes so he could pay the ferryman Charon to row him to the land of the dead. After being laid out for eight days, he would be taken out for burial. Roman Marriage Roman marble sarcophagus with relief depicting nuptial rite. DEA / A. DAGLI ORTI / Getty Images In ancient Rome, if you planned to run for office, you could increase your chances of winning by creating a political alliance through the marriage of your children. Parents arranged marriages to produce descendants to tend the ancestral spirits. Greek and Roman Philosophers A ancient Roman sculpture of the philosopher Plato. Getty Images/iStock/romkaz There isn't a clean line of demarcation between Greek and Roman philosophy. The better known Greek philosophers were of the ethical variety, like Stoicism and Epicureanism which were concerned with the quality of life and virtue.