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Rome and the Romans and Early Christianity. Julius Caesar. Caesar’s reforms alienated Rome’s elite . Saw his as tyrant. 44 B.C. Old conservative ways not possible. Civil crisis for 13 years Octavian. Octavian. Octavian related to Caesar

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Rome and the romans and early christianity

Rome and the Romansand Early Christianity

Julius caesar
Julius Caesar

  • Caesar’s reforms alienated Rome’s elite . Saw his as tyrant.

  • 44 B.C.

  • Old conservative ways not possible.

  • Civil crisis for 13 years

    • Octavian


  • Octavian related to Caesar

  • Defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra at Actium, Greece in 31 B.C.

Anthony and Cleopatra by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema


  • 27 B.C.

  • “Augustus” suggests a divine or semi-divine nature

  • 45 years: “a monarchy disguised as a republic”


  • Centralized political and military power

  • Preserved traditional republican offices and forms of government and included members of the Roman elite in his government

Government under augustus
Government under Augustus

  • Accumulated vast powers for himself and ultimately took responsibility for all important governmental functions

    • Placed individuals loyal to him in all important positions

  • Reorganized the military system

    • Created a new standing army with commanders who owed allegiance to him

      • Eliminated the personal armies of earlier years

  • Stabilized the land after the years of civil war

Mare nostrum
Mare Nostrum

  • Roman Empire surrounded the Mediterranean

    • mare nostrum (“our sea”)

  • Expansion brought Roman soldiers, diplomats, governors, and merchants throughout the region

  • Trade flourished

Roman Empire, 117 A.D.

Pax romana
Pax Romana

  • “Roman peace” facilitated trade and communication

    • 27 B.C. to 180 A.D.

  • Standards of justice and a basic code of law throughout the empire

Life for the Rich

Public Life

  • Pax Romana provided prosperity for many

  • Rich citizens

    • Had both city, country homes

    • Homes had conveniences like running water, baths

  • Wealthy men spent much time in politics

  • Public officials not paid; only wealthy could afford to hold office

  • Roman politicians worked to perfect public-speaking skills

  • Ties of marriage, friendship, family alliances as important as common interests for public officials, political groups

Life in Imperial Rome

Life for the Poor

  • Nearly 1 million Romans lived in crowded three- or four-story apartment buildings

  • Fire a constant threat

  • To keep poor from rebelling

    • Free food, public entertainment offered

    • Two things interested public—bread, circuses

Public Entertainment

  • Entertainments

  • Romans of all classes enjoyed circus, chariot races

  • Circus Maximus—racetrack could hold 250,000 spectators

  • Also liked theater, mimes, jugglers, dancers, acrobats, clowns

  • Bloody Spectacles

  • Spectacles in amphitheaters

  • Wild animals battled, professional fighters

  • Gladiator contests most popular, performed in Colosseum for 50,000 people

  • Public Baths

  • Popular places for entertainment

  • Romans well aware of importance of bathing, hygiene for health

  • Many public baths had steam rooms, meeting rooms, and pools for socializing

Education and Religion

Patriarchal Structure

  • Upper class Romans placed great value on education

  • Parents taught children at home; wealthy families hired tutors or sent sons to exclusive schools to learn Latin, Greek, law, math, public speaking

  • Romans adopted much from Greek mythology, also from Egyptians, others

  • Each family worshipped local household gods, penates

  • Many worshipped emperor

  • Head of family—paterfamilias, family father—oldest living male

  • Had extensive powers over other members of family

  • Within family structure, virtues of simplicity, religious devotion, obedience emphasized

  • Adoption important in Roman society, a way to ensure family name would be carried on

  • Women could do little without intervention of male guardian, more freedom in lower classes


Signs and Augurs

  • Romans believed gods sent signs, warnings

    • Came in form of natural phenomena

    • Flight of birds, arrangement of entrails of sacrificial animals

  • Paid respect to augurs

    • Priests who specialized in interpreting signs

    • Nothing important undertaken without first consulting augurs

New pagan gods

  • Cult of Sol Invictus

    • United sun god of Emesa with all other major sun gods

    • Recognized as chief god of the state by time of emperor Aurelian

      • Replaced Jupiter at the top

The new paganism

  • Mithraism

    • mystery and mysticism

    • Spread as rapidly as Christianity during 3rd century AD

    • Devotees did speak of Mithra as the “only god” but they meant that all the other gods could be understood through him

  • Pagan cults were popular in search for new gods and inner peace


How were populations controlled by the romans
How were populations controlled by the Romans?

  • Under the republic

    • Representation (consuls and Senate)

    • Resolution of conflicts between the patricians and plebeians (tribunes)

    • Dictators

  • Under the empire

    • Julius Caesar centralized authority but alienated elite

    • Augustus continued centralization but placated elite and ensured loyalty through patronage

    • Pax romana stabilized region through trade, communication, and law

The beginning of the end
The Beginning of the End

  • By 200-300 AD . . .

  • Government rigid, inflexible, and brutal

  • Change would lead to further decline

  • Theodosian Code locked all men who worked in all trades and services permanently in their occupations

  • Taxes doubled

  • Horrible inflation

  • Harsh punishments for minor crimes

  • Imperial officials terrorized people they were supposed to serve

  • Impossibly high tax quotas

3rd century: empire attacked from several sides.

Also, internal strife weakened the government

Diocletian splits the empire
Diocletian Splits the Empire

294 CE

Eastern half became the Byzantine Empire (survived another 1000 years)

Roman Empire still weak – will survive barely 100 years longer

Top 10 reasons why rome fell
Top 10 Reasons Why Rome “Fell”

10. It had become too big to control easily.

9. It was too costly to properly protect and maintain. The more money spent on the military meant less money spent on public works.

8. It was too diverse. Soldiers adopted local customs. The Empire had barbarians from the conquered lands. There was less in common.

7. Church leaders became influential and took away power from the emperor. Christian beliefs superseded Roman beliefs.

6. At a critical time in Rome’s history – invasions -- there was no strong military leader.

5. Emperors like Nero and Caligula. Society cared only for pleasure and entertainment.

4. Beginning in 186 CD and continuing for 100 years, Rome had 37 different emperors - 25 of whom were assassinated.

Final reasons
Final Reasons there was

3. Soil Depletion: Romans may have too aggressively farmed land, leading to famine

2. Plague – fewer people to defend empire, decreased desire/strength to fight off invaders.

1. Insecurity led to an early feudal system, which weakened the central government

In the end, many historians argue that the empire did not “fall” – it continued to exist in some regions and transformed itself in others.

Change in tradition

  • Germans launched periodic raids into the empire

  • Around 400, entire tribes and groups of tribes (nations) began to move into the empire

  • Captured territory, settled, set up independent kingdoms

The huns
THE HUNS there was

  • Huns displaced Germans

    • Nomadic people from Gobi Desert, Expert horsemen

    • Tried to invade China around 370 AD and were defeated

    • Turned westward, entered northern Europe

    • Terrorized German tribes who lived there

    • Germans migrated to escape them

The invasions begin

  • Visigoths in 375

  • Vandals in 406


The Dark Ages - Part 1 - The Sacking of Rome

Fatal development for the West there was

65% of all revenue came from the East but 66% of the entire army was stationed in the West

Result was horrible and insoluble financial crisis in the West

Troops went unpaid, supplies could not be purchased, bribes could not be paid to barbarian chiefs, etc.

Division of the Empire into two independent halves left the Western half very weak and vulnerable—just as the Germans were renewing their attacks on the frontier again

Constantine had divided the empire in half, each ruled by a co-emperor, with the eastern emperor in Constantinople as the senior partner

The two halves would gradually drift apart and become, by 395, basically independent political entities

The end
THE END there was

  • Later, Angles and Saxons took Britain

  • Franks took Gaul

  • Ostrogoths invade Italy

  • 476, the last puppet emperor, Romulus Augustulus, resigned as Emperor

  • Western Roman Empire finished

  • New era of nationalism


Romulus Augustulus

Many barbarian kingdoms would not last long but they did mark the way for the future

Europe, as a unified unit, was finished forever—replaced by a multitude of small, competing entities

SUMMARY mark the way for the future

  • In the West, the three vital supports of imperial unity had vanished

    • The position of emperor

    • the central administration

    • the army

  • Cities weakened or destroyed

  • Aristocracy, once urban and dependent on the emperor, became rural and virtually independent

New bonds
NEW BONDS mark the way for the future

  • The organization of the countryside into self-sufficient agricultural units

    • Controlled and protected by powerful rural aristocrats

    • Led to Feudalism

  • Collapse of Western Empire was not a disaster mark the way for the future

  • It was a vital step in the development of medieval and modern European civilization

  • Only way to set the foundation for a new society was through the destruction of the old

Shift of loyalty
SHIFT OF LOYALTY mark the way for the future

  • Many Roman citizens had come to view the state as a parasitical vampire

    • Robbing and persecuting them and giving absolutely nothing in return

    • In their eyes, local church leaders and large landowners were the only people they could trust for protection and justice

New bonds1
NEW BONDS mark the way for the future

  • Many German leaders created formal kingdoms

    • Roman law and structures

    • Goal: conserve Roman society

    • Germans employed Romans and preserved much of the administrative and legal heritage of Rome

Clovis, ruler of the Kingdom of the Franks

German kinship vs roman kinship
German Kinship vs. Roman Kinship mark the way for the future

  • No formal political organization

    • Personal loyalty

    • Kinship and lordship

  • Kinship

    • Based on clans

    • Group of clans = tribe

      • Maintained myth that they all were descended from a legendary hero or god

    • Major function was mutual protection

      • If a person was killed or injured, his kin were expected to get vengeance from the offender or from the offender’s kin group.

Lordship mark the way for the future

  • Relationship between leader and his retinue of warriors

    • Serve leader faithfully in return for protection and share of spoils

    • Took place outside traditional ties of kinship

The goths
THE GOTHS mark the way for the future

  • Divided into two sub-groups

    • Visigoths (Danube River)

    • Ostrogoths (southern Russia)

  • More advanced political organization, United under strong kings

  • Close contact with Eastern Roman Empire

    • Exposed to Roman/Greek civilization

    • First tribe to convert to Christianity, first to become literate, and first to assume a veneer of civilization

Ostrogoth King

Mutual influence
MUTUAL INFLUENCE mark the way for the future

  • Romans and German barbarians influenced each other

    • Germans enlisted in the Roman army in the 3rd century AD

    • War bands who fought for Rome under their own chieftains

    • Trade also developed between two groups

Early christianity
Early Christianity mark the way for the future

  • Hebrew Bible

  • Law = Torah, first 5 books

  • Prophets

  • Writings = wisdom literature

  • The Bible = central source for faith and morality, ethics

  • After Jewish revolts of 66-70 AD and during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian, Christians began to emphasize their separateness

  • Gulf between Jews and Christians had become huge by this time

Early christianity1
Early Christianity mark the way for the future

  • Gospels

  • Labeled Jesus not just a prophet, but a Messiah

  • Told the story of death and resurrection

  • Compassion for poor and marginalized attracted followers

  • Preached against class distinctions


Spread of christianity
Spread of Christianity mark the way for the future

  • Paul of Tarsus

  • Made Christianity more than an off-shoot of Judaism.

  • Roman roads made missionary travel easy

  • Common language in Empire

  • Judaism was already well-developed with networks

Motivation for persecutions
MOTIVATION FOR PERSECUTIONS mark the way for the future

  • Some emperors thought Christians were ignorant and stubborn, but not responsible for disasters

  • Superstitious emperors saw disasters as reflected anger of the gods at Christians

  • Saw Christians sacrilegious, blasphemous, and dangerous

Why persecute
Why Persecute? mark the way for the future

  • Romans typically did not care about obscure religious beliefs – if it did not threaten the state

  • But Christians would not acknowledge Roman gods

  • Civic order relies on devotion to family and state, but Christians placed their God first

Reversal of fortune
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE mark the way for the future

  • In the end, the persecutions did not succeed in eradicating Christianity

    • Simply too many Christians and some were in a position to protect others

    • Persecutions also created martyrs who inspired others

    • Came to an end when Constantine officially protected the

    • Constantine credited with being the first Christian emperor


JULIAN mark the way for the future

  • Sons of Constantine followed father’s policy towards Christians

  • Nephew Julian tried to restore paganism and weaken Christianity by reducing privileges of Christians

    • Prohibited them from holding teaching positions

    • But he was overthrown and killed in 363 AD

VICTORY mark the way for the future

  • Theodosius (379 AD) proclaimed Christianity to be the official religion of the state

    • Christians immediately begin to persecute pagans

    • Destroyed temples or converted them into churches

    • Church settled theological disputes

Mixed blessing for the empire
MIXED BLESSING FOR THE EMPIRE mark the way for the future

  • Church now attracted money and men

  • Turned away from public service and joined the Church

    • St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome

    • Wealthiest man in the empire sold all his family’s possessions and became a monk

St. Ambrose

St. Augustine

GROWTH mark the way for the future

  • Hellenistic religions helped pave the way for success of Christianity.

  • Shared similarities with such cults as Isis made Christianity acceptable.

    • Cult of Isis held ritual purification rites and offered promise of an afterlife