Rome through Documents. Document 1. Roman Law - The Twelve Tables The following document dates from the early Roman Republic (c. 449 BCE). Covering both civil and criminal matters, it was inscribed on large bronze plaques for all to see. TABLE IV: PATRIA PROTESTAS: RIGHTS OF HEAD OF FAMILY
Roman Law - The Twelve Tables
The following document dates from the early Roman Republic (c. 449 BCE). Covering both civil and criminal matters, it was inscribed on large bronze plaques for all to see.
TABLE IV: PATRIA PROTESTAS: RIGHTS OF HEAD OF FAMILY
Ø Quickly kill ... a dreadfully deformed child.
Ø If a father thrice surrender a son for sale, the son shall be free from the father.
TABLE XI: SUPPLEMENTARY LAWS
Ø Intermarriage shall not take place between plebeians and patricians
Document 4Funerary inscription which reads (in Latin): "To the gods of the [afterworld] ,To Julia ChrestesJuniusPhoebion for his wife well deserving it he made it."
“Let them enjoy indeed the title of citizens.”
- as recorded by Tacitus, A.D. 48
As we know from the myth of Romulus and Remus, the original community of Rome was founded in 753 BCE. In the late 600’s BCE, Romans were ruled by the Etruscans. The Etruscans were the people who lived north of Rome in central Italy. These northern Italians
were highly skilled artisans who knew how to pave roads, drain marshes, and construct sewers. They were also under the control of a monarch. In 509 BCE wealthy Roman landowners overthrew the Etruscan king and vowed never to be ruled by a monarch again. In place of the monarchy, the Romans established a republic (a thing
of the people). A republic is a form of government in which voters elect officials to run the state. In the Roman Republic, only adult male citizens were entitled to vote and to take part in government. Three important groups of citizens helped govern the republic: the Senate, the magistrates, and the assemblies
- Textbook: Journey Across Time
Charles Mullett concluded that “Classical authors are to be counted among the ‘founding fathers.’ ... The heroes of Plutarch became the heroes of the revolutionary American leaders. Not less than the
Washingtons and the Lees, the ancient heroes helped to found the independent American commonwealth.”
Charles F. Mullet, “Classical Influences on the American Revolution,” CJ (1939): 92.
A Day in the Life of a Schoolboy
I awoke before dawn; I arose from my bed; I sat down and put on my socks and shoes. I requested water for my face; I washed my hands first and then my face; I wiped them dry. I took off my sleeping clothes and put on my tunic; I did up the belt. I greased down my hair and combed it. I put a scarf around my shoulders; on top of that I put a white cloak, and over that a rain mantle. I left my bedroom with my pedagogue and nurse and went to greet my father and mother; I greeted them both and kissed them. Then I left home.
I went to school. I entered and said, "Hello, teacher," and he kissed me and greeted me in return. My slave who carries my books handed me my waxed tablets, my writing box, and my writing instruments. Sitting in my place, I smoothed over the tablets. I printed the assigned sentence. When I had finished it, I showed it to the teacher. He corrected it, wrote over my errors, and bid me to read it aloud. Having been bidden, I recited it to another student. Immediately afterward a fellow student dictated to me. "And you," he said, "dictate to me." I said, "First recite." And he dictated to me, "Didn't you see? I recited before you did" I said, "You're lying; you didn't recite." "I'm not lying!" "Well, if you're telling the truth, I will dictate." In the midst of this quarrel, the little boys, who were so bidden by the teacher, lined up in two groups for their elementary exercises; one of the older boys gave one group of them syllables to spell. The other group recited word lists, in order, to the assistant teacher; they print the words and then print lines of verse. I, who am in the advanced class, was given a dictation exercise. When we sat down, I went through my word lists and notes on grammar and style. Called up to the head teacher to read aloud, I listened to his comments on narration, speech construction, and characterization. I was questioned about grammatical theory, and I gave my answers. "Do you say 'to whom'?" "What are the parts of a speech?" I declined nouns and parsed sentences. When we had finished this, the teacher dismissed us for lunch. After being dismissed, I came home. I changed clothes and ate some white bread, olives, cheese, dried figs, and nuts. I drank cold water. After lunch I returned to school.
Source: Jo-Ann Shelton, As the Romans Did: A Sourcebook in Roman Social History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 113-114.
This excerpt is from a textbook, The Course of Civilization by Strayer, Gatzke & Harbison (1961)
The basic trouble was that very few inhabitants of the empire believed that the old civilization was worth saving … the overwhelming majority of the population had been systematically excluded from political responsibilities. They could not organize to protect themselves; they could not serve in the army . . . Their economic plight was hopeless. Most of them were serfs bound to the soil, and the small urban groups saw their cities slipping into uninterrupted decline.
Excerpt from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.
The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness (large size)…The introduction … of Christianity, had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The clergy successfully preached the doctrine of patience; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister; a large portion of public & private wealth was consecrated to the …demands of charity and devotion …
This excerpt is from Uses of the Past by Herbert J. Muller.
First the economic factor …While the empire was expanding, its prosperity was fed by plundered wealth and by new markets in the semibarbaric provinces. When the empire ceased to expand, however, economic progress soon ceased…. The abundance of slaves led to growth of the latifundia, the great estates that … came to dominate agriculture and ruin the free coloni
(farmers) who drifted to the cities, to add to the unemployment there. The abundance of slaves kept wages low.
This excerpt, from The New deal in Old Rome by Henry Haskell, blames the decline on the heavy taxation required to support the government expenses.
…Part of the money went into … the maintenance of the army and of the vast bureaucracy required by a centralized government…the expense led to strangling taxation… The heart was taken out of enterprising men…tenants
fled from their farms and businessmen and workmen from their occupations. Private enterprise was crushed & the state was forced to take over many kinds of businesses to keep the machine running. People learned to expect something for nothing. The old Roman virtues of selfreliance & initiative were lost in that part of the population on relief (welfare)…The central government undertook such farreaching responsibility in affairs that the
fiber of the citizens weakened.
This excerpt, from Romans without Laurels by IndroMontanelli, blames
the fall on “internal decay,” specifically that of the military. Rome, like all great empires, was not overthrown by external enemies but undermined by internal decay. . . .The military crisis was the result of …proud old aristocracy’s…shortage of children. (Consequently) foreigners poured into the…Roman army [was] composed entirely of Germans
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.