The Hellenistic Age lasted several centuries from approximately 323 BCE until the death of Cleopatra in 30 BCE. The Hellenistic culture was one of cultural openness and variation. It was characterized by adapting or adopting to new cultures that it came across. During this period, Rome began to expand outwards from the central city through a steady series of conflicts and conquests. As the Roman rule spread, the Roman armies facilitated strength throughout the regions where Roman roads and settlements extended. This strength led to increasing stability which was sustained for a substantial length of time.
Professor Weber attributes the external cultural influence that can be seen in the Romans as being a result of the relative stability that Roman rule was able to achieve over several centuries, including at least two centuries beginning with Emperor Augustus. He indicates that this led to a bleed-through mingling of cultures which resulted in a deeply entrenched Greco-Roman culture. On the other hand, Professors Matthews, Platt, and Noble focus more on the cultural exposure that happened during the actual process of conquering the foreign lands as being the impetus for the influences seen in Roman society. Despite attributing the primary catalyst, Professors Matthews, Platt and Noble do acknowledge that the stability did lead to other slow developments and cultural shifts.
The common conclusion that can be drawn from both perspectives is that there were two interdependent factors which led to the cultural integration. The first being the success of the Roman conquest and the second being the stability that followed. The stability came to play a large role as it facilitated the spread of a common language, Koine Greek, throughout the various regions. The common language and the shift in cultural use can be seen when following the course of Roman writing for which the earliest Roman records we have are in Greek. It was a very slow development that saw a shift later towards Latin which was still originally in a Greek style, though it did progress to be distinctly Romanesque over time.
Influence of Roman respect for/influence of Greek history
Greek culture was the strongest direct cultural influence we can see within the newly developing Roman culture. The Romans attributed much of what they referred to as humanitas, (Latin for civilization) as being originally invented by the Greeks. However, this belief did extend to attributing their contemporary Greeks as being equals to them. Rather, this belief led to a great esteem for the Greek culture and history of the past. Specifically, there was a large focus on fourth and fifth century Greek culture and literature. The Romans looked that this Greek content and held it up as a standard in “literary greatness, scientific and historical knowledge, and political freedom.”
For the contemporary Greeks of that time, it meant that they held a unique position in relation to the Romans. They were permitted to remain distinctly Greek regarding their own history and language and some of their traditions. Many elite Roman citizens desired Greek teachers who could facilitate an education in the Greek literature and matters. There was a Roman restoration of the prior traditions, virtues and religious rituals though always with a focus on the aspects that already reflected Roman values