Comparing Civilizations

Mesopotamian, Ancient Egyptian, Hellenistic Greek, and Roman were great civilizations that enormously influenced the following development of the world. Each civilization contributed a large amount of it’s achievements to the overall progress of the world. However, I think that Hellenistic Greek was the most important out of the chosen civilizations to impact the world. Hellenistic Greek was the culmination of the advancement of the ancient world. By using the following comparison of these civilizations I will try to prove my point of view of Hellenistic Greek being the greatest.

Mesopotamian is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It is very interesting that Mesopotamians had a started some sort of democracy. They solved all the rising questions and problems by public assemblies and voting. They used debates to have pros and cons presented and then decided about the following actions or solutions. However, their class structure was sharply divided. At the top were kings and noble classes. There were also slaves who could engage in business, own property, and even testify in court.

The daily life of Mesopotamians was very boring. They only worked and worshiped their gods. The main industry that people were engaged in was agriculture. The tools used to work in the field were made out of stone. This shows not much of the progress in innovations that would make the very day life much easier.
The main reminding of Mesopotamian art are the frescoes that were found as decorations of sanctuary rooms. Bull and bear heads were also used as decorations. Scholars also found drawings that probably were the musical notes for Mesopotamians. Mesopotamian did not achieve much in architecture. Their houses were plain without any decorations which is probably the result of people being busy working and not having time to decorate their houses.

Mesopotamian philosophy is revealed in their myths that were the combination of Babylonian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Sumerian myths. Each of these regions had their own myths but due to the closeness all of them were related and had a lot of similarities. Myths were mostly about the religious events and importance of worshiping their ancestors. Most of the writing, though, that survived from Mesopotamian times consist of laws, accounting records, list of kings and enemies.
Ancient Egypt had a different concept of political structure comparing to Mesopotamia. In Egypt it was all up to the pharaoh and there were no debates and public discussions. The social structure was similar to the Mesopotamian. On the very top was the pharaoh, then vizier, then high priests and nobles, then priests, engineers and doctors, then scribes and craftsmen. On the very bottom of the social pyramid were soldiers, farmers and tomb builders.

Agriculture was the main occupation for Egyptians just like for Mesopotamians. The Egyptians were one of the first groups on earth to begin farming, probably around 10,000 BC. They were also great at building. The Egyptian pyramids were built throughout ages and still remain one of the wonders of the world.
Most of what we know about Egyptian art comes from the paintings the Egyptians created in the tombs of rich people when they died. It is very similar to Mesopotamians. These pictures were supposed to help the dead person when he or she reached the next world, where the Egyptians thought a person lived after the death in this world. So the paintings showed all sorts of things that people did in their regular lives.

Egyptian homes were made of dried mud bricks. Towns had small narrow streets. Throughout the Egyptian history the styles in architecture were changing. In the beginning, they built mainly mastabas, a kind of tomb with a flat roof like a house. Then during most of the Old Kingdom, the Egyptians built the pyramid tombs which are now so famous. In the Middle Kingdom, the mastaba tomb came back again, although in a more elaborate form for the Pharaohs. No more pyramids were built. Finally in the New Kingdom there was a lot of building that was not tombs: temples for the gods especially, but also palaces for the Pharaohs.

The main philosophy of the Egyptians was to be afraid of nature gods. They believed in Gods, sacrificed, and were afraid of them. Each natural thing had its own God. What we have left of Egyptian writing, like Egyptian art, mostly comes out of tombs. Because of this, most of what we have left is prayers. Other writing like laws and lists of who gave their fair share to the temple mostly has rotted away over the years. We do not know whether the Egyptians wrote novels or stories, but if they did then these stories have also rotted away.

The civilization that I believe is the greatest is Hellenistic Greek. During the Hellenic era Macedon was the most popular, important, and interesting city-state of Greece. Hellenistic Greece was more similar to Mesopotamia than to Egypt in its political structure. Huge Greece was divided into city-states that has own governing bodies. Macedon was also kind of buffer to protect the rest of the Greek empire from the aggressive neighbors. However, Macedonians were always unappreciated by their fellow Greeks. Hellenistic era was also called “the age of the Greeks” because Greeks’ culture was spread all over the world.

Unlike the previous civilizations Greeks were not afraid of finding something new about the Earth. Greeks were the first to find out that the earth was round. Greeks wanted to know more about the universe, heavens, and themselves. They studied the sky, moon, connection to other planets.

The main fact that reminds us about the Hellenic architecture is Hellenic Pyramids. Greeks borrowed the idea from the Egyptians. Greeks also got a lot assembled in their culture from different cultures. By doing this they created the best known culture at that time. By the 300’s BC, in the Hellenistic period, there are some new architectural types. Less time is spent on temples. The new form is the theater, and many theaters are built all over the Greek world. Also, there is new interest in town planning at this time: streets begin to be laid out in straight lines, instead of just developing naturally. With the conquests of Alexander the Great, architecture becomes an important way to spread Greek culture and show who is in
charge in the conquered countries.
The main trend in philosophy at that time was unique that was never practiced before. It was called autarkeia which meant self-sufficiency. It was introduced by cynics who were headed by Diogenes. Behind his rejection of traditional allegiances lay a profound concern with moral values. What matters to human beings, he taught, was not social status or nationality but individual well-being.
The Hellenic language is the most perfect human achievement in the linguistic field. And this, of course, is not incidental. This language, therefore, is the creation of people with superior thought and mental consistency. The qualities characterizing the language of the Hellenes, also characterize their being. Proof is that the same qualities (clarity, providence, power, expressional wealth etc) are found in their mental and artistic creations.

Roman civilization was basically a copy of Greek. That is the main reason why I think it is not as great as Greek. The conduct of political affairs was heavily dominated by the senatorial class, particularly by a small number of noble families. The upper classes generally followed one of two informal political factions: Populares (“the party of the people”) Optimates (“the party of the best men” or of the aristocrats).

The main occupation of Romans was agriculture. Latium which was the area around Rome was an agricultural region. That is very similar to all civilizations that I wrote before. Romans also had a new industry – pottery. Pottery was introduced from Campania and the art of bronze-casting from Etruria. A Roman would usually get up early and work a six hour day.

One distinct difference between the civilized Roman world and others was their housing. Whereas others lived in primitive huts, Rome took to housing its people in sophisticated brick-built houses, not so different from what people live in today. The Romans brought a lot of new ideas to architecture, of which the three most important are the arch, the baked brick, and the use of cement and concrete.
Roman art grows out of Etruscan art and at first it is a lot like Etruscan art. Because of this, it has a close relationship to Greek art as well. Roman art as a type of its own really gets going around 500 BC. The Romans were particularly interested in portraiture: in making statues that really looked like one particular person, especially a famous person. As was the habit of Roman society, the Romans did not invent their music. The music of Rome has its origins in Greek traditions. Our term for music itself is derived from the Greek term Mousike, which means “the art of the muses.” Early Greek music was purely melodic, or homophonic, utilizing only one melody without chordal accompaniment. The Greek musical system used Pythagorean mathematics to organize the chief concodant intervals according to simple numerical ratios.

Roman philosophy is thoroughly grounded in the traditions of Greek philosophy. Interest in the subject was first excited at Rome in 155 BC by an Athenian embassy, consisting of the Academic Carneades, the Stoic Diogenes, and the Peripatetic Critolaus. Of more permanent influence was the work of the Stoic Panaetius, the friend of the younger Scipio and of Laelius; but a thorough study of Greek philosophy was first introduced in the time of Cicero and Varro. In a number of works they tried to make it accessible even to those of their countrymen who were outside the learned circles.

Roman authors turned primarily to Greek sources, when composing the cultural heritage that became known as Roman ancient culture. For example Virgil, when describing the mythical origins of Rome in his Aeneid, turned to Homer’s tales about Troy.

The Study of the Language Embodying and Transmitting Folklore: an Endeavour to Reveal Its Relevance to Sociolinguistics

The general studies of the varied aspects of social life that interest us to a substantial extent include folkloristics, sociolinguistics, sociology, social and cultural anthropology, ethnology and ethnography. Though these studies are known and established as different subjects of learning or disciplines, it is not always possible to make a clear distinction between them. They are even found to be overlapping and inter-dependent in many respects. This factor encourages the present writer to examine how the subject-matter and/or medium of one social science can contribute to the study of another social science. For the convenience of the current investigation, the researcher has narrowed down the area and zeroed in on folklore and sociolinguistics.
That is, the present paper purports to be an endeavour to investigate and ascertain the relevance of the study of the language of folklore to sociolinguistics since folklore is embodied and composed in, and manifested and transmitted by means of spoken language and sociolinguists discover and determine the relations of language to society. To explore the issue in question, the researcher first elucidates the role of language in folklore and then ascertains the aspects of language studied in sociolinguistics. Finally, the relevance of the study of the language of folklore to sociolinguistics has been established and exhibited.

Language and folklore
Folklore being constituted of the customs, beliefs, attitudes, life style, joys, sorrows, entertainments, events, states, habits, traditions, and so forth of a particular group of people or community manifests itself as myths, legends, proverbs, riddles, tales, poetry, and other forms of artistic expression and passes down through the oral tradition. Hence, speech, a primary and productive skill of the language used by a specific community, performs a very significant part in containing, carrying, transmitting and communicating the varied products of the experience and knowledge of the people of the community. That is, the spoken word of course used in social contexts functions as the medium of folklore that not only encompasses the cognitive, cultural and social effects of the society/community but also profiles the trends of the society/community (Dundes 1965).
Social scientists have always considered language as an inevitable factor in social life since culture is only transmissible through coding, classifying and concentrating experience through some form of language. Hoijer (1964) maintains that there exists a functional interrelationship between socially patterned habits of speaking and thinking and other socially patterned habits. According to Worsley (1970), a developed language is a unique and distinctive human trait, and human society is a higher level of organization of behaviour than merely instinctive or animal behaviour. Sapir (1970: 68) also acknowledges language as a valuable guide to the scientific study of a particular culture, because ‘the network of cultural patterns of a civilization is indexed in the language which expresses that civilization’. It is therefore obvious that the speech of a particular community embodies and transmits its folklore, and folklore is naturally an authentic manifestation of the speech.
Moreover, Malinowski (1923) observes that an utterance in a primitive language is totally incomprehensible unless it is placed into its cultural setting and related to the circumstances in which it occurs. He argues –
Language is essentially rooted in the reality of the culture, the tribal life and customs of the people, and … it cannot be explained without constant reference to these broader contexts of verbal utterance. (op. cit.: 306)
This postulate makes it clear that speech is intelligible when it is explained with reference to its context. And folklore can provide us with the context we need to interpret the language or speech of a community that no more exists in its primitive or previous form but is manifested in its customs and traditions.

Language and sociolinguistics
We do not use a language in a vacuum. We use it in some context to communicate with one another in our day-to-day life situations. That is why, a language has to be studied with reference to the context of a particular setting in which it is spoken. This exhibits the importance of the culture of the setting as language is an index to or reflection of the culture. Malinowski (1923: 305) rightly holds –
The study of any language spoken by a people who live under conditions different from our and possess a different culture must be carried out in conjunction with a study of their culture and of their environment.
He supports the ethnographer’s approach to language as real and fundamental, and finds the uses of language in a primitive community being fourfold – the speech of action, narrative, phatic communion and the ritual use of words. And it is claimed that Malinowski’s recognition of these four pragmatic functions of language use and the relationship between language use, context of situation, and culture anticipate present-day sociolinguistic thought (Stern 1983). That is, the study of language in its social context starts from the assumption that speech varies in varied social circumstances and that there exist speech varieties within a speech community.
It is conspicuous that culture is an adaptive device by which people survive in their various environments and so is language, the most obvious purpose of which is the conveying of information, including information about the situation and the speakers. This is a function that it serves in all societies. But other functions are also served as well, such as to mark social identities and social statuses, establish and maintain social relationships, and to serve the expressive needs of individuals. A function performed by language in one society may be performed by a different social institution in another society. Not all societies use language or focus on it to the same extent, value it equally, or use it for the same purposes. Likewise, some societies have only one language, and some have more than one. One language might, thus, be assigned a number of different functions in one society, which are divided among more than one language in some other society. Not all languages or language varieties are capable to the same extent on fulfilling any given function.
Language, especially speech being the natural means of communication in real life situations is manifested in diverse forms, such as dialogues and folklore, and appears to have a variety of possible relationships with society or the community (Wardhaugh 1992). Firstly, social structure may either affect or determine linguistic structure and/or behaviour. Secondly, directly opposed to the first one, linguistic structure and/or behaviour may either influence or determine social structure. Thirdly, language and society may influence each other. Fourthly, there exists no relationship at all between linguistic structure and social structure, and each is independent of the other. But, the fourth relationship appears to be entirely baseless. We can reasonably assume that the most basic function of a language is to exercise some sort of control over the behaviour of the people of the community, and vice versa. It might be hypothesized on the societal level that the chief function of a language includes social cooperation and control – promoting conformity to a society’s norms. A language performs the role of a tool, a vehicle of the social order. The principal effect of a language is found to be the creation of a system that makes integration, social coordination and cooperation as well as cultural cumulation and transmission.
Consequently, we have had ‘sociolinguistics’ defined as ‘the study of language in relation to society’ (Hudson 1996:1). That is, this branch of linguistics is concerned with investigating, disclosing and ascertaining the relations of language to varied aspects of society, such as social class, ethnic origin, life style, education, age, sex, attitudes, emotions, and so forth. Stern (1983: 218) contends – ‘in sociolinguistics converge all the earlier efforts in anthropology, sociology, social psychology, and linguistics to relate language systematically to society and culture’. And a major direction of sociolinguistics is the study of the individual’s communicative activity in its social setting, referred to as ‘ethnography of speaking’, or more widely as ‘ethnography of communication’ (Sherzer 1977). To elaborate on the ethnography of speaking, we could consider what Labov (1970: 30) postulates –
There is a great deal to be done in describing and analyzing the patterns of use of languages and dialects within a specific culture: the forms of speech events, the rules for appropriate selection of speakers; the interrelations of speakers, addressee, audience, topic, channel and setting; and the ways in which the speakers draw upon the resources of their language to perform certain functions.
This approach to sociolinguistics extends the area of linguistics beyond the study of formal properties of utterances to the study of the social contexts and of the participants in acts of communication. It is then important to investigate everything from considering who speaks what language to whom and when and to what end (Fishman 1972), that is, the distribution of linguistic items, to considering how a given linguistic variable might relate to the formulation of a specific grammatical rule in a given language or dialect, and even to the processes through which languages change.
However, a worthwhile sociolinguistics is more than a simple mixing of linguistics and sociology which takes concepts and findings from the two disciplines and attempts to relate them through correlational techniques or any other simple way. A mechanical amalgamation of standard linguistics and standard sociology is not likely to suffice in that adding a speechless sociology to a sociology-free linguistics may miss entirely what is significant in the relationship between language and society (Hymes 1974). Sociolinguistics has to discover specific points of connection between language and society, and formulate theories that throw light on how linguistic and social structures interact. This leads to the investigation into the relevance of the study of the language of folklore to sociolinguistics.

Folklore and sociolinguistics
It is evident that linguists are mainly interested in those aspects of speech which help them solve problems of formal grammar. They only attend to social and expressive aspects of speech so as to explicate grammatical issues. In the choice between ‘langue’ and ‘parole’ (Saussure 1916) or ‘competence’ and ‘performance’ (Chomsky 1965), only langue or competence being the exclusive domain of structure is chosen for the proper subject of linguistics. A general investigation into the principles governing the interaction between the participants in a speech event has not yet been carried out. However, sociolinguistics makes the opposite choice and picks up the variability of parole or performance that constitutes the substance of linguistics.
Contrariwise, anthropologists and other social scientists leave the linguistic characteristics of speech aside and usually take account of only its form in order to extract its content. They simply discuss the importance of a verbal genre, such as myth or gossip, and overlook or are unaware of what one needs to know to recognize an instance of a verbal genre or to perform it as well as of the ways in which what is said is a function of how it is said. Thus, anthropologists postulate ethnographies of speech (Hymes 1974) and appear to be blind to the communicative aspects of speech, that is, to the crucial question ‘What is the actual functioning of speech?’. In this connection, Hymes (1974: 126) contends –
It might seem that little of importance is at stake; a certain kind of information slips away between the two approaches – that of grammar and that of ethnography – but nothing consequential. In my view, quite the opposite is the case. We shall not be able to have a theory that accounts for the meaning of language in different lives and cultures, that can deal with the many linguistic problems of the contemporary world, until we examine this “slippage” and reconstruct the study of language from its vantage point – that of the actual functioning of language.
Speech, the true nexus between language and social life and/or the medium of folklore, has hardly been paid adequate and proper attention. As sociolinguistics is oriented towards both data and theory: that is, any conclusions we come to must be solidly based on evidence, folklore that travels through speech can certainly provide the sociolinguists with plenty of data to be exploited to find out varied interesting aspects, such as linguistic state, social conditions, cultural traits, and the like. This is also consistent with Laguna (1927: 19-20) who clearly advocates the pragmatic functions of language, that is, to direct, control and correlate human activity manifested in folklore and studied in sociolinguistics –
Men do not speak simply to relieve their feelings or to air their views but to awaken a response in their fellows and to influence their attitudes and acts. It is further the means by which men are brought into a new and momentous relationship with the external world, the very relationship which makes for them an objective order.
In other words, as both language and folklore are directly related to a speech community and considered as an index to culture, sociolinguistics should find the language of folklore relevant to its study.

Sociolinguistics studies speech so as to unfold the relations between speech and the speech community/society. And speech is the medium of folklore that incorporates all the aspects including traditions, customs and culture of the speech community. Hence, folklore can certainly contribute to sociolinguistics via speech.
The content and context of folklore, and the manner in which folklore activity is organized are obviously closely correlated with the institutions of the society in which it is situated. This emerges from the consideration of function and contexts, for these relate to specific social groupings in any society, and to its social occasions and activities. It is clear too that the organization of folklore activity plays a wider role in society, over and above the particular groups and occasions on which it is practised, and without the participants necessarily including this among their conscious intentions. Folklore and its performance can also be seen as a way in which a heritage of artistic performance and of social values and ideas is passed on from one generation to another – with changes and development, no doubt, but providing a basic continuity of artistic form and outlook between generations. Therefore, the language that carries folklore can be studied in sociolinguistics in order to discover its relations to the particular society.
According to Hymes (1974), folklore is relevant and contributes to sociolinguistics with respect to the concepts of performance and of genre. To support his view, he reviewed Lomax (1968: 155 – 61) who refers to ‘the performance orientation of the research’, treats performance situation, rules of performance, and particularly five levels of performance style in song – “interlocked’, ‘simple social unison’, ‘overlap’, ‘simple alteration’, and ‘solo and explicit’, and implicitly defines the relation of performer to audience. Hymes (1974) then considers Ben-Amos (1971: 5) who maintains that ‘the performance situation, in the final analysis, is the crucial for the available text’. Hymes (1974) also studies Abrahams (1968) who propounds that what is necessary is a method that would emphasize all aspects of the esthetic performance. Moreover, Hymes (1974) reviews Arewa and Dundes (1964) who demonstrate ways to study folklore as communication in terms of rules of use. Hymes (1974) thus comes to the conclusion –‘the essential element common to all these approaches is the movement from a focus on the text to a focus on the communicative event’.
That is to say, folklore, especially its language can be studied in sociolinguistics so as to reveal the relation between folkloristic materials and other aspects of social life in situ, as it were, where that relation actually obtains, the communicative events in which folklore is used.

The foregoing analysis, examination and discussion have made it clear that folklore reveals the traditions, customs and culture of a speech community and transmits them through speech in spontaneous and natural functioning, whereas sociolinguistics studies speech so as to uncover its relations to the speech community. Hence, the language of folklore is evidently a subject matter of sociolinguistics as the language can create an opportunity of investigating how it was/is related to a particular society, such as Homer’s society, the society reflected in the language of Beowulf, in the language of the story of Beder Meye, and so forth. And the relevance of the study of the language of folklore to sociolinguistics may provide a special opportunity for the development of folklore itself (Hymes 1974).

Abrahams, R. D. ‘Introductory remarks to a rhetorical theory of folklore’. Journal of American Folklore, 81, 1968: 143 – 158.
Arewa, E. O. and A. Dundes. ‘Proverbs and the ethnography of speaking folklore’. In J. J. Gumperz and D. Hymes (eds.). The Ethnography of Communication. Washington, D. C.: American Anthropological Association, 1964.
Ben-Amos, D. ‘Towards a definition of folklore in context’. Journal of American Folklore, 84, 1971: 3 – 15.
Chomsky, A. N. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1965.
De Laguna, G. A. Speech,Its Function and Development. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1927.
Dundes, A. (ed.). The Study of Folklore. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1965.
Fishman, J. A. ‘The sociology of language’. In P. P. Giglioli (ed.). Language and Social Context: Selected Readings. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1972.
Hoijer, H. ‘Cultural implications of some Navaho linguistic categories’. In Del Hymes (ed.). Language in Culture and society: A Reader in Linguistics and Anthropology. New York: harper and Row, 1964.
Hudson, R. A. Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Hymes, D. Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1974.
Labov, W. ‘The study of language in its social context’. Studium Generale, 23, 1970: 30 – 87.
Lomax, A. Folk Song Style and Culture. Washington, D. C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1968.
Malinowski, B. ‘The problem of meaning in primitive languages’. In C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards (ed.). The Meaning of Meaning: A Study of the Influence of Language upon Thought and of the Science of Symbolism. London:Trubner and Co., 1923.
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Greek and Roman Ornaments in the Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Arts in San Francisco is a unique construction that originally was built for a short-term purpose, for an exhibition that lasted less than one year, however the energy which was put in the creation of the structure stretched its existence for half a century. The Roman architectural style and structure is displayed in the columns lining the building. These columns were initially projected to be Corinthian, that is architectural design of ancient Rome. The same conscious understanding of space and surroundings can be found in Roman plan, using the organically supporting materials. The central part of the Palace is recognized as the rotunda it was situated near the pond that added extra attraction of the Palace, and gave its guests an astonishing experience.

There were more 100 fireproof display rooms; numerous types of artworks of artists that worked in a variety of parts of the globe were held in there. This area had been raised at the back of the domed area in order to provide a bigger space for the main spot of the Palace, which is the central rotunda. The eight Roman columns and the circular dome make up the pergola connected by a bridge to the middle rotunda. Such form of construction can be found in Roman holy places of the early times. This symbol shows the dignity of the Roman architecture even though it is debased by the obvious reconstruction of the ruins. This contact of elements causes a mood of “melancholy” to spectators.

The Greek culture has its elements in the added designs and decorations of the Palace of Fine Arts. The ornate decorations, the murals, and the sculptures indicate the architectural motif of the Greeks revealed in the Palace. Some of the valued artworks consist of frescos of Robert Reid. The murals consist of four pieces describing mostly the improvement of art in the various parts of the world, as planned by the original purpose of the exhibition. Other art pieces of the Palace represent the excessive architectural design classically seen in architecture of Greece. The statues show the strong emotion in the absence of talent, as the ornaments mostly portray the culture. Besides to the decorations, the last panel situated beneath the dome stands for the Greek specifically, culture, the significance of arts in the culture.