I absolutely love the Greek classics, as long as they've been translated into modern prose, but if there is one thing I dislike, it is that the Greeks pretty much just did whatever they wanted because they wanted to. I'm not saying they were evil or anything, but even when they did good, they really only did it because they wanted to do whatever - even Thermopalae (sp) impressive though it was really wasn't more than just a statement of pride.
Rome was different.
I am not Ancient Rome's biggest fan. I passionately loathe the gladiatorial games. That being said, Rome was probably one of the best things to happen to the ancient world. Rome was founded on justice, duty, and sacrifice. True, the real Rome was screwed up, but I think that Maximus from Gladiator got it right when he said that there was a dream that was Rome, and "this is not it." The dream of Rome was civilization in a world of barbarians; justice in a world where one man's word was law; freedom in a world where the strong ruled the weak. Rick Riordan, to his credit, did a fabulous job showing the difference between the Greeks and the Romans. This was most notable part of this was probably the character of Mars in The Son of Neptune, the second book. The character of Ares, the Greek form of Mars, was an agressive jerk who picked fights left and right. The following quote describes Mars pretty well:
"Nobody welcomes war - not if they're smart. But war finds everyone sooner or later. It's inevitable... War is a duty. The only real choice is if you take it, and what you fight for."I think that just about sums up the "dream that was Rome."