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Antil Gandhi

Sociology 100
Prof Farber
August 1, 2009

Comparisons between U.S. Society and Roman Society

The parallels between America and the Roman Empire are interestingly similar in some

ways. Both cultures emerged as superpowers of the globe with prominence in development,

technology and overall progressive practices and thinking. Modern society does recognize the

fact that history does tend to repeat itself and will hopefully learn from the mistakes of our

predecessors, but that remains to be seen. Many comparison likenesses exist between America

and Rome; a few areas that can be measured up side by side are political, cultural and

economic.

The societies of the United States and the Roman Empire have many similarities which

can be seen in the political system. In the U.S. it is highly unusual, if not impossible, to be

elected to a high position without having some monetary clout in order to get recognized and

fund a campaign. In Rome, the patrician class held all the political influence, while the common

people, the plebeians, were shut out of the political process. Both superpowers began as small

geographical areas that, little by little, gained more land and increased the size of their

respective militaries to defend these acquisitions. The U.S. began with 13 colonies and has

significantly grown in size since its birth, and the Romans had spread their way across the

globe. In America political divisiveness is present and issues tend to get volatile when politicians

try and assert their solutions; in some ways not unlike what happened in Rome.

In America the middle class is dwindling as a large gap between the upper and lower

economic classes continue to widen. In ancient Rome there was a huge gap in economic

classes where the wealthy held representative positions in government and the poor did not. In
the U.S., large corporations, through their lobbyists, wield tremendous influence on which

legislation will pass and which will fail. They can push legislation through Congress that will be

of great benefit to them but detrimental to U.S. society as a whole. Our healthcare system is a

prime example - insurance companies make huge profits while many citizens receive

substandard care or no care. In comparison, in Rome, power was in the hands of a small,

privileged (rich) class of people (the patricians), who made laws to benefit them at the expense

of society as a whole.

Cultural similarities between Rome and United States can be seen in the fact that both

societies incorporated bias and slavery into their institutions. Slavery in Rome existed

throughout the life of the Roman Republic and Empire, and it was never challenged as an evil

institution. Bias against slaves and ethnic groups such as Jews persisted for many hundreds of

years. The United States was founded with the institution of slavery intact, although it was

ultimately challenged as an evil and eventually abolished. Of course, racism and bias persisted

in the U.S. and still pose problems for American society today.