The History of Ancient Rome Originally created by Ms. Susan M. Pojer Horace Greeley HS Chappaqua, NY
Geography of the Romans • Rome’s central location contributed to its success in unifying Italy and then all the lands ringing the Mediterranean Sea which it called the “Middle of the Earth.” • Italy was a crossroads within the Mediterranean and Rome was a crossroads within Italy. • The Tiber River on one side and a double ring of seven hills on the other afforded natural protection to the site. • The Apennine Range runs along its length like a spine, separating the eastern and western coastal plains. • The mild Mediterranean climate affords a long growing season and conditions suitable for a variety of crops and the conditions for sustaining large populations. • The mountainous regions were abundant in timber and iron and other metal were found in the northwest region of Etruria.
From Kingdom to Republic • Modern scholars do not support the myths of Romulus and Remus but it appears bands of Indo-European migrants crossed the Alps and settled throughout the Italian Peninsula. • Like their distant cousins in India, Greece, and northern Europe, these migrants blended with the Neolithic inhabitants of the region, adopted agriculture, and established tribal federations. Bronze metallurgy appeared around 1800 B.C.E. and iron around 900 B.C.E. • The first major group of Italy were the Etruscans. Coming from Anatolia, they settled from the Po River in the north to modern-day Naples in the south. • The Etruscans deeply influenced the early development of Rome. Several of the first Roman kings were Etruscan and ruled through the seventh and sixth century B.C.E.
Influence of the Etruscans • Writing • Religion • The Arch
The Roman Republic: 509 BCE - 27 BCE
Formation of an Empire • About 509 B.C.E., Romans drove out the Etruscan kings and declared Rome a republic, a government in which power resides in a body of citizens and consists of representatives elected by them. • The Roman Republic which lasted from 507 to 31 B.C.E. was not a democracy. Sovereign power resided in assemblies and while all male citizens were eligible to attend, the votes of the wealthy classes counted for more than the votes of poor citizens. • In Rome, as in classical China and Greece, patterns of land distribution caused serious political and social tensions. Conquered lands fell into the hands of wealthy elites who organized large plantations known as latifundia.
The Roman Republic • The real center of power was the Roman Senate. Technically an advisory council, first to kings and later to Republican officials, the Senate increasingly made policy and governed. Senators nominated their sons for public offices and filled Senate vacancies from the ranks of former officials. • The Senate whose members served for life brought together the state’s wealth, influence, and political and military experience. • The inequities in roman society led to periodic unrest and conflict between the elite (patricians) and the majority of the population (plebeians). • It became apparent in time the republic which was constructed for small city-states was not suitable for a large and growing republic.
Expansion of the Empire • As it expanded, Rome often offered its opponents a choice between alliance and conquest. If they accepted Roman rule, they would receive Roman citizenship and protection. • Rome fought protracted and bloody wars against the Carthaginians (Hannibal) called the Punic Wars. The Carthaginians were the heirs of the Phoenicians which controlled much of the southern and eastern Mediterranean. • During the early first century B.C.E., Rome fell into civil war as individuals fought for land and power in the new lands of the Romans. While there were attempts to reform the empire under Tiberius in 132 B.C.E. and Gaius in 121 B.C.E., they were both assassinated and the die had been caste for a move away from the Republican ideals and a move toward a centralized imperial form of government.
First Triumvirate Julius Caesar Pompey Crassus (Licinius)
Imperial Rome Emerges • In addition to the Carthagians, the Romans also fought with the Gauls (Celts) from Modern-day France. • Under Julius Caesar, Rome expanded its empire across the Mediterranean and the continent of Europe. • The conquest of Gaul helped to create a political crisis. As a result of his military victories, Caesar had become very popular in Rome. As tensions arose in early 49 B.C.E., Caesar had turned his armies toward Rome. • By early 46 B.C.E., he had made himself master of the Roman state and named himself dictator-an office he claimed for life rather than the usual six-month term. • Caesar’s policies pointed the way toward a centralized, imperial form of government for Rome and its possessions but Caesar’s rule had alienated many members of the Roman elite and he was assassinated in 44 B.C.E. which led to continued civil conflict until the acceptance of Octavian, Caesar’s nephew and adopted son.
The Roman Empire: 27 BCE - 476 CE*
Pax Romana • Octavian known now as Augustus, a term with strong religious connotations suggesting the divine nature of its holder, would rule virtually unopposed and fashioned an imperial government that guided Roman affairs for the next three centuries. • During the two centuries following Augustus’s rule, Roman armies conquered much of the Mediterranean. The empire had expanded to include not only the lands of Italy, Greece, Syria, Gaul, and most of the Iberian Peninsula, but it would go onto conquer lands as far as Britain, most of northern Africa, SW Asia, and Anatolia. • Roman Expansion had especially dramatic effects on European lands embraced by the Empire. Egypt, Syria, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia had long been sites of complex city-based societies but Gaul, Germany, Britain, and Spain were not. • When Roman soldiers, diplomats, governors, and merchants arrived, they stimulated the development of local economies and states.
The Empire Stops Expanding • One noticeable difference during this time is the building of walls to keep out the Barbarians of the Empire. • The most famous was Emperor Hadrian’s Wall (117 - 138 C.E.) which defined the most northern extent of Roman expansion on Britain. • As military commanders were more focused on defensive strategies than on offensive strategies, these changes started to sow seeds for future conflict.
Roman Law • Under conditions of political stability and the Pax Romana, jurists constructed an elaborate system of law. • Romans began a tradition of written law about 450 B.C.E., when they created the Twelve Tables. • As armies spread Roman influence, jurists worked to construct a rational body of law that would apply to all peoples under Roman rule. • They established the principle that defendants were innocent under proven guilty and they also had the right to challenge their accusers in a court of law. • Like transportation and communication networks, Roman law helped to integrate diverse lands that made up the empire and the principles of Roman law continued to shape Mediterranean and European society long after the empire had disappeared.
Roman Society • As Rome expands, it did levy tribute, taxes, rents, and recruited soldiers from the peoples in conquered. They settled their own soldiers in captured lands, turning those lands into Roman estates and enslaving millions of people. • The Supplying of Rome, the construction of cities, and trade across the Eurasian land mass transformed the Empire dramatically. • Even though it was law for the peoples of the empire to worship Roman deities, as conditions worsened and contact with other areas increased, new religious thoughts would permeate the empire. • The two groups who were creating the greatest concern for the Romans were the Jews of Palestine and a Jewish sect, known as Christians.
“Third Century Crisis” 235 to 284 C.E.
Empire in Crisis • From 235 to 284 C.E., Rome was beset and nearly destroyed when political, military, and economic problems befell the empire because of a frequent change of rulers. • Twenty or more men claimed the office of emperor during this period and most only reigned for a period of months or years. • Diocletian implemented radical reforms that saved the Roman state by transforming it. One thing he did was to divide the empire into two: One primarily Latin-speaking and one primarily Greek-speaking which led to a period of multiple emperors ruling the West and East Roman Empires. • In addition, the barbarians were also gathering and attacking the Empires outer flanks (Celts,Goths, Huns, Saxons, Vandals, Franks, and others).
Byzantium: The "New Rome"
The New Rome • When Diocletian resigned in 305 C.E., the old divisiveness reemerged as various claimants battled for the throne. • The eventual winner was Constantine who reunited the entire empire under his sole rule by 324. • In 312, Constantine won a key battle near Rome. He later claimed he had seen a cross superimposed on the sun before battle. Believing the Christian God had helped him achieve victory, he would later legalize Christianity called the Edict of Milan. • This ended the persecution of Christians in the empire.
Constantinople • In 324, Constantine transferred the imperial city from Rome to Byzantium, an ancient Greek city on the Bosporus Strait between the Black and the Mediterranean Seas. • This move reflected and accelerated changes in the empire. Constantine and his mother, Helena, studded the city and the Empire with churches and involved himself in doctrinal disputes over which beliefs constituted heresy. This discussion will eventually give way to a further break of the empire and the Christian faith. • However,the heavy involvement with religion of the emperors in Constantinople did not prevent them from playing conqueror and lawmaker.
The “Barbarians” • Rome labeled many of its neighbors on its borders barbarians, including the Celts of central Europe, the various Germanic groups of northern and eastern Europe, and the steppe nomads of central Asia. • Many of these groups did not have cities, written languages, formal governments, established geographical boundaries, nor codified laws. • The view of the Barbarian peoples as being beneath the true “Roman” would shape harsh treatment and sow the seeds of conflict with the Roman Empires.
Rise of the Barbarians • Continuing imperial vitality in the Eastern Empire contrasted with deepening decline in the Western Empire, which became a separate entity after 395. • While the Byzantine armies were able to stop the warring bands north of the Danube River, many of these groups would move toward the west and create havoc for the Western empire. • The primary “Barbarian” groups were the Huns, Vandals, Goths, Saxons, and Franks. • The Goths, a Germanic People, would go on to sack Rome in 410. By 530, with the old Roman economy and urban centers in shambles, the Western Roman empire would eventually fall to numerous tribes from across Europe and Asia.
Byzantine Empire • The Byzantine Empire originated as the eastern half of the classical Roman empire, which survived the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century C.E. • In the early days, the Byzantine Empire embraced Greece, the Balkan region, Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Northern Africa. • Under Justinian (527-565), armies were sent out to regain control of lost territories and he would regain some of the areas and establish a legal code which will influence most of the modern European systems. • One of the reasons why the Byzantine Empire was able to survive 1000 years after the fall of Rome may be due to its administrative system. The ruling classes were never isolated and alienated as they were in the west.