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-Ancient Rome-. I. Geography A. The Italian peninsula is located in a strategic position in the center of the Mediterranean Sea

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I. Geography

  • A. The Italian peninsula is located in a strategic position in the center of the Mediterranean Sea
  • B. Unlike the geography of Greece, which divided its people, the geography of the Italian peninsula allowed its people to unite under one government
  • C. Rome’s location has many natural geographic advantages including being on a fertile plain, located near a river, and living in a Mediterranean climate

II. Early History of Rome

A. Rome was settled by the Etruscans who had moved to the Italian peninsula from Asia Minor

B. The Etruscans brought with them many elements of Greek culture including mythology and architecture

1. The religion of Ancient Rome was polytheistic

2. Rome’s first government was a monarchy


C. In 509 BC, the Romans overthrew the Etruscans and established a republic

1. The governing body of Rome was the Senate, which represented the upper class, known as the Patricians


2. The farmers, artisans, and merchants of Rome were known as Plebeians

a. Plebeians made up a much larger portion of the population

3. Slaves were not citizens and had no legal rights


D. The rights of citizens in Rome were protected by the TwelveTables

Aspects of the Twelve Tables that serve as the basis for western law include:

1. Equal protection under the law

2. Innocent until proven guilty

3. Rules of evidence


E. Due to the strength of its military, Rome was able to conquer areas through the Mediterranean world and beyond

1. During the era of the Roman Republic, Rome became a colonial power


F. The Punic Wars involved bitter fighting between Rome and Carthage (Northern Africa) for control of the Mediterranean region


III. The Rise of Julius Caesar

A. In times of crisis, the Senate could appoint a dictatorwho would lead the country with absolute power for up to six months


B. Due to his military prowess and success, the Senate appointed Caesar “Dictator for life,” which he turned into absolute power


1. Julius Caesar was a member of the firsttriumvirate

a. The triumvirate was a group of three rulers who led Rome


C. Due to Caesar’s absolute power, he was assassinated by senators who wanted to return to the ideals of the Republic


D. Caesar’s contributions to Ancient Rome include:

1. Giving land to the poor

2. Extending Roman citizenship to conquered peoples

3. Creating public works projects

4. Increasing the pay for soldiers

5. Developing a more accurate calendar

a. The Julian calendar


IV. The Second Triumvirate

A. Caesar’s appointed successor was his adopted grandnephew Octavian-Augustus

1. Octavian was a part of the second triumviratein Rome


B. Octavian won the power struggle with Marc Antony and Egyptian empress Cleopatra

1.He was then given the title of Emperor Augustus, “Exulted one”

Mark Antony



C. Beginning with the rule of Augustus, Rome entered a two hundred year period of relative peace and prosperity known as the PaxRomana. (Roman peace)

1. It was during the PaxRomana that Rome experienced a Golden Age


D. Accomplishments of Rome during the Golden Age included:

1. The Coliseum

2. Aqueducts

a. Sewers


3. A relatively stable government

4. Roads and improved infrastructure

a. Allowed armies and information to move quickly and also promoted unity within the empire


6. Expanded and improved trade

a. Coined money

7. Written history

8. Roman law


V. Religion Under the Roman Empire

A. Rome was traditionally polytheistic and persecuted followers of different faiths


B. In 70 AD, a Jewish revolt resulted in the Diaspora, which was the dispersal of Jews from their homelands throughout the empire


How does Christianity start?

  • What is the appeal of Christianity?
  • Why are many Christians seen as an unfavorable religious sect in the Roman Empire.?

C. Due to their refusal to worship Roman gods, Christians were also persecuted throughout the empire

1. Constantine was the first Roman emperor to legalize Christianity


VI. Reasons for Rome’s Decline

A. Germanic Tribes

1. Germanic tribes were constantly putting pressure on Rome’s immense frontierborders

a. The attacks left border areas poor and depopulated


2. The government taxed its citizens heavily in order to pay for the defense of the borders

a. The heavy taxes caused the middle and lower classes to hate the government


B. Spiritual Considerations

1. Many citizens were apathetic and indifferent towards the empire

2. The citizens who preserved and added to Roman culture, the urban upper class, lost interest in public life

3. All classes of Roman citizenry did little or nothing to help the empire


C. Political and Military Problems

1. The constant demands of the Late Roman Empire robbed its citizens of their initiative and civic spirit

2. For many, the state became the enemy, hated even more than the Germans


3. The quality of Roman soldiers had deteriorated

a. Mostly peasants who were not committed to Greco-Romancivilization

4. Citizens no longer respected or honored military service


D. Economic Considerations

1. The western empire experienced a large decrease in population

a. Less taxes

b. Fewer agricultural workers

c. Less men for the army


2. Roman cities failed to expand their industry and commerce

3. The economy could not support the demands of constant warfare

4. Focus shifted from the city to the estate; from the streets to the farm


A. Reasons why Byzantine did not fall

1. Had more money

2. More urbanized

3. More populated

4. Germanic and Hunnishinvasions were in the west


B. Byzantine Civilization

1. Religion = Christianity

2. Language and Culture = Greek

3. Administration = Roman

4. Capital = Constantinople


C. During the Early Middle Ages

1. Byzantine civilization was more advanced than the west

2. Byzantine scholars studied:

a. Literature

b. Philosophy

c. Science

d. Greek and Roman law

3. Trade and urban life thrived in Constantinople


D. The Great Schism

1. Differences developed between the Byzantine and Roman church

2. The Pope resisted domination by the Byzantine emperor

3. Byzantines would not accept the Pope as head of all Christians

4. Final split occurred in 1054

5. Roman Catholic in the west —Eastern Orthodox in the east


E. Impact on World History

1. Prevented Muslim Arabs from entering Eastern Europe


3. Preserved the philosophy, science, mathematics, and literature of ancient Greece

4. Contacts with Byzantine civilization stimulatedlearning in Latin Christendom to the west

5. Influenced civilization in Russia