The late 17th and 18th centuries are the period in Western European literary history which is most associated with the classical tradition, as writers consciously adapted classical models. Classical models were so highly prized that the plays of William Shakespeare were rewritten along neoclassical lines, and these "improved" versions were performed throughout the 18th century.
From the beginning of the 18th century, the study of Greek became increasingly important relative to that of Latin. In this period Johann Winckelmann's claims for the superiority of the Greek visual arts influenced a shift in aesthetic judgements, while in the literary sphere, G.E. Lessing "returned Homer to the centre of artistic achievement". In the United Kingdom, the study of Greek in schools began in the late 18th century. The poet Walter Savage Landor claimed to have been one of the first English schoolboys to write in Greek during his time at Rugby School.
The English word "philosophy" comes from the Greek word , meaning "love of wisdom", probably coined by Pythagoras. Along with the word itself, the discipline of philosophy as we know it today has its roots in ancient Greek thought, and according to Martin West "philosophy as we understand it is a Greek creation". Ancient philosophy was traditionally divided into three branches: logic, physics, and ethics. However, not all of the works of ancient philosophers fit neatly into one of these three branches. For instance, Aristotle's Rhetoric and Poetics have been traditionally classified in the West as "ethics", but in the Arabic world were grouped with logic; in reality, they do not fit neatly into either category.
From the last decade of the eighteenth century, scholars of ancient philosophy began to study the discipline historically. Previously, works on ancient philosophy had been unconcerned with chronological sequence and with reconstructing the reasoning of ancient thinkers; with what Wolfgang-Ranier Mann calls "New Philosophy", this changed.
According to legend, the city of Rome was founded in 753 BC; in reality, there had been a settlement on the site since around 1000 BC, when the Palatine Hill was settled. The city was originally ruled by kings, first Roman, and then Etruscan according to Roman tradition, the first Etruscan king of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus, ruled from 616 BC. Over the course of the 6th century BC, the city expanded its influence over the entirety of Latium. Around the end of the 6th century traditionally in 510 BC the kings of Rome were driven out, and the city became a republic.
Around 387 BC, Rome was sacked by the Gauls following the Battle of the Allia. It soon recovered from this humiliating defeat, however, and in 381 the inhabitants of Tusculum in Latium were made Roman citizens. This was the first time Roman citizenship was extended in this way. Rome went on to expand its area of influence, until by 269 the entirety of the Italian peninsula was under Roman rule. Soon afterwards, in 264, the First Punic War began; it lasted until 241. The Second Punic War began in 218, and by the end of that year, the Carthaginian general Hannibal had invaded Italy. The war saw Rome's worst defeat to that point at Cannae; the largest army Rome had yet put into the field was wiped out, and one of the two consuls leading it was killed. However, Rome continued to fight, annexing much of Spain and eventually defeating Carthage, ending her position as a major power and securing Roman preeminence in the Western Mediterranean.