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date: 06 August 2020


The Oxford Classical Dictionary
Antony J. S. SpawforthAntony J. S. Spawforth, Martin J. MillettMartin J. Millett, Stephen MitchellStephen Mitchell

originally meant the spread of Roman civilization to Italy and the provinces. The term was coined in the 19th cent. and used unreflectively until the 1960s, when scholars influenced by post-colonialism started to question its underlying assumptions. In recent years its fitness to describe the complex processes of interaction between the dominant culture of Rome and the local cultures of the empire has been hotly debated, although an alternative term has yet to win broad consensus. A famous passage in Tacitus (...Romanization describes the processes by which indigenous peoples incorporated into the empire acquired cultural attributes which made them appear as Romans. There has been considerable recent debate about the continued utility for the term, which is now considered outmoded by many. Since the Romans had no single unitary culture but rather absorbed traits from others, including the conquered, the process was not a one-way passing of ideas and styles from Roman to indigene but rather an exchange which led to the metropolitan mix of styles which characterized the Roman world. Styles of art and architecture, town-planning and villa-living, as well as the adoption of Latin and the worship of the Roman pantheon, are all amongst its expressions. The result of Romanization was not homogeneity, since indigenous characteristics blended to create hybrids like Romano-Celtic religion or Gallo-Roman sculpture....No ancient writer provides any general description or explanation of the impact of Roman culture and institutions on the eastern provinces of the empire. The term Romanization is best applied to specific developments which can be traced to the patterns of Roman rule.... ...

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