If anything Roman society was more committed to ideological explanations of the world; since Livy they attempted to understand their dominance as evidence of their particular manifest destiny and innate qualities. Internal politics were equally marked by ideological distinctions between the optimates and the populares. The Gracchi brothers are good examples of politicians who tied their careers closely to ideology.
The alternative to ideology is naturalistic and mechanistic explanation - and that was something ancient society almost completely lacked. There were no economic theories of development, no theories of international relations, no sociology. I would suggest that Romans understood their ascendency in almost completely ideological terms.
I was listening to a greek history podcast where it was suggested that the performance of Homer's works wasn't for entertainment, per se, but as part of public religious rituals, and that the formulaic aspects of it (the wine-dark sea) are similar to the kinds of ritualistic repetitions you get see in the catholic mass for example (amen, peace be with you, etc). The catalogue of ships makes more sense if you think of it as an oft repeated public ritual that was striving for inclusion for audiences across the greek world. They also suggested that it wasn't often performed all at once, but different sections of it would mark different special occasions-- again, similar to the way the bible is used in Mass. I'm not at all a greek history expert, but it was interesting.
"The subject world shall Rome's dominion own, And, prostrate, shall adore the nation of the gown. An age is ripening in revolving fate When Troy shall overturn the Grecian state, And sweet revenge her conqu'ring sons shall call, To crush the people that conspir'd her fall. Then Caesar from the Julian stock shall rise, Whose empire ocean, and whose fame the skies Alone shall bound; whom, fraught with eastern spoils, Our heav'n, the just reward of human toils, Securely shall repay with rites divine; And incense shall ascend before his sacred shrine. Then dire debate and impious war shall cease, And the stern age be soften'd into peace: Then banish'd Faith shall once again return, And Vestal fires in hallow'd temples burn; And Remus with Quirinus shall sustain The righteous laws, and fraud and force restrain. Janus himself before his fane shall wait, And keep the dreadful issues of his gate, With bolts and iron bars: within remains Imprison'd Fury, bound in brazen chains; High on a trophy rais'd, of useless arms, He sits, and threats the world with vain alarms.”
Editors of Virgil have pointed out that he grew up in badly unsettled times, with civil wars. A bit of imperial peace looked pretty good compared to that.
It is hard not to see the contrast between Vergil's pathos for the costs of war and the Iliad's celebration of aggressive machismo. And yet the Aeneid is ideologically committed to the Roman project of empire as a civilising force.
The best modern parallel is something like Saving Private Ryan, which combines sympathy for the costs and losses of war in general with full support of the motivations of the particular war. Neither work is remotely subversive (they skate close to being outright propaganda for their militaries and societies), but both are profoundly humanistic.
I didn't know the material when I read these, and I was looking for the sack of Troy. I found it in Virgil, and it was well paced.