Chapter 5 - The World of the Romans

Early Rome and the Republic
- Italian peninsular, though separated by the Apennines, still had large areas of fertile soil
- Surrounded on three sides by the Med sea, the Adriatic Sea, and the Tyrrhenian sea
- Unlike Greece, the mountains in Italy were not rugged enough to divide the land into isolated, independent communities
- Also unlike Greece, Romans had much more fertile land and were agriculturally sustained by their productivity
- Rome was built on 7 hills making it easy to defend, it was close to the Tiber river so could get to the sea but wasn’t close enough to feel threatened by pirates, located on the most fertile plain in Italy (Latium), became a good central starting place for the expansion of Roman civilization (right between north and south on the western side of the peninsular, in the Med sea, so also important for connecting the East and the West
- When Rome conquered unified Italy, involvement in Mediterranean affairs were natural and when they conquered the Med, governing was easy because of Rome’s central location
Early Rome
- founded by two brothers (Romulus and Remus) in 753BCE, (founding myth)
- early Romans were a pastoral people who spoke Latin
- Influence from Etruscans who turned Rome into a city; Etruscans (people North of Rome) constructed Sacred Way, the first roadbed before 575BCE and oversaw building of temples markets shops houses, Servian wall 4th century BCE
- 509BCE, monarchy was overthrown but the New Rome was obviously fusion of Etruscan and early Roman elements- Romans must thank the Etruscans for dress, alphabet
Roman Conquest of Italy
- Rome surrounded by enemies on every side, was in constant warfare and with meeting these threats, Rome eventually conquered all of Italy (Livy, ancient historian wrote accounts of Roman history emphasizing values of tenacity, courage, discipline, duty 1st cent BCE)
- Rome conquered Latin peoples of Latium and then the Samnites who were in the south and Central Apennines, bringing them in contact with Greece (much influence- olives, grapes, art, architecture, literature), later in 267BCe, conquered Southern Italy, then remaining Etuscans
- Roman confederation established, goving some Latins citizenship and making everywhere else an ally (Rome would give citizenship to loyal allies so conquered states would want Rome’s approval and be loyal)
- Romans were superb diplomants, persistant fighters, capable of expansion, conquering, and ruling. Insisted on military support from allies, so essentially all of Italy was in one army. Roads useful in connecting the fortified colonies across the penin. Rebellions were harshly extinguished
The Roman State
- consuls- picked annual, two, executive officer, admin, and army leaders, had imperium (right to command)
- praetor- executed justice, filled in for consuls when they were away, civil law,
- senate- 300, served for life, by 3rd cent BC, was virtually force of law (though originally just advised the magistrates)
- centuriate assembly- classes based on wealth, elected chief magistrates, passed laws,
- Rome was an aristocratic republic controlled by a relatively small group of elite
Struggle of Orders: Social Division
- patricians- descendents of orig senators, great landowners, aristocrats, (only they could be magistrates, senators, consuls), controlled centuriate, minority, more rights
- plebeians- large landowners, majority, less wealthy, artisans/merchants/farmers, not as many rights, wanted social equality, council of plebs, tribunes held power to protect them
- 4th cent BCE, Plebs allowed to be consuls, 287BCE supposedly all were equal under the law but in reality, some plebeian and patrician families formed a new senatorial aristocracy, not a democracy
Roman Conquest of Mediterranean (264-133BCE)
- Carthage- trade capital of the Med region, richest, largest state,
- Punic Wars (conquest of Med)
n 1st war- conquest of Sicily, Romans victorious after struggle to fight no the sea (since they were land based), Carthage made up for losses but getting some of Spain (wanted revenge on Rome too)
n 2nd war- Hannibal fought against Spanish revolt (which was encouraged by Romans), Hannibal took army over mountains to Rome to fight on their doorstep, Romans on brink of failure but did not surrender and eventually pushed Carthage out of Spain (which was their strategy 206BCE) war was over with Hannibal’s defeat in Battle of Zama 202BCE, with loss of spain to Rome, Carthage was replaced by rome as leading power in West Med region
Eastern Mediterranean
- After dealing with Carthage, Rome turned to settle problems w/ greek states + their supporters
- Gave Greek states freedom and tried to indirectly control it, but changed its policies and made /Macedonia a roman province and became masters of all of the Med region
Nature of Roman imperialism
- opportunistic expansion (no set plan), if there was a threat, Romans didn’t faced it immediately
- 3 stages- Italy, Carthage/West Med, and Hellenistic kingdoms
- Two sides: 1st, Romans conquered solely for defense purposes, 2nd, for glory and economic benefits (2nd cent BCE, spoils of war, slaves, etc)
Growing Inequality and Unrest
- Govt ruled by 300+ aristocrats , creation of latifundia (large slave-run estates)
- small farmers no longer able to compete with wealthy land owners, backbone of state and army (small farmers) declined, farmers moved to cities and formed a new class of landless poor
- Gracchus bros tried for reform to give land to the landless poor but senators (wealthy landowners) were furious and had them killed, but not before they opened the doorway to unrest and revolution.
New Role for the Roman Army
- no more small landowning farmers to make up army so Marius employs the landless, offering them property for service and loyalty to HIM, not state, which led to generals playing politics to grant them land (power into hands of individual generals)
- Sulla- gave example of conquering by force (failed to reinstall traditional senate-governed republic)
Collapse of the Republic
- defined by power struggle b/w powerful individs and the civil wars they genereated
- Crassus, Julius Caesar, Pompey- 1st Triumvirate
n Crassus dies leaving direct competition b/ JC and P; JC - conquers all of Gaul (fame fortune, milit. Experience, seasoned, loyal army) was asked to step down but he didn’t and went to conquer Rome (defeated P and supporters)
Julius Caesar
- named dictator in 47BCE, gave land to the poor, increased size of senate to 900 (filled it with his supporters and weakened its power), assassinated by group of senators in 44BCE
- left Anthony and Octavian to succeed him, Octavian won and bcame 1st emperor
Age of Augustus (31BCE-14CE)
- had great army of subject people and Romans
- created the Praectorian guard- 9000 men to guard the emperor (would play huge role in future making and disposing of emperors)
- claimed to have reinstalled the republic but really established a uniform imperial policy (he could override the senatorial decisions)
- stabilized frontiers- conquered central/maritime Alps, Balkan penin up to Danube river, but experienced defeat in germany in 9CE (Varus vs Germanic tribes)
- died leaving behind an empire that was here to stay (little opposition to new system)
Augustan Society
- 3 classes- senatorial, equestrian, lower class
n Senatorial- recognized ruling class
n Equestrian- given share of power under Augustus, ope to all Roman citizens of good standing with valuable property, given important positions but not as important as senatorial jobs
n Majority, free citizens not included in above classes, some movement to equestrian
The Early Empire (14-180)
- Julio-Claudian dynasty- four successors of Augustus came from his or his wife’s line
- More and more the leaders acted like rulers, took responsibilities away from the senate and into their own hands, opportunity for arbitrary/corrupt acts increased (Nero killed people he wanted out of the way)
Five Good Emperors (96-180)
- during Pax Romana, five emperors treated upper class w/ respect, ended arbitrary executions, cooperated w/ senate, maintained peace throughout empire, supported beneficial domestic policies; were known for tolerance and diplomacy
Frontiers and Provinces
- Trajan continued expansion around Mediterr region and parts of ME but his successors reverted to defensive imperialism and pulled out of outlying territories and strengthened fortifications as the edges
- Greco-Roman civilization created as a fusion of east and western parts of the empire (west-roman east-greek)
- Admin and culture depended on cities of the Empire, where lays of life, law, and Latin spread to others
- Romanization in the provinces was reflected by the change in the governing classes. Not all were Italian families, some were even from equestrian fams. Provinces supplied legionaries and emperors later too
Prosperity and Trade
- internal peace led to high levels of trade
- grain and luxury items from the east were transported to Italy and the west so one side was getting richer while the other had its pockets drained
- pacified border territories made long-dis trade safer and this developed in the early empire (similarities to Han China; SILK ROAD- connected the two empires)
Prosperity in Industry and Farming
- increased trade helped stim manufacturing; frst 2 centuries of the empire;
- concentration of industries
- agriculuture- chief occupation of Roman pop (though dominated by latifundia)
- enormous gap between rich and poor (ag grown for peasants and to feed cities but when harvest was bad, that left little for the peasants)
Culture and Society in Roman World
- ENORMOUS Greek influence (spread by merchants, ambassadors, artists)
- After conquering Hellenistic kingdoms, Rome became a willing transmitter of Greek culture
- emerged in 3rd cent BCE (Greek influence); last century of the Republic is when Rome started creating their own verses in Latin (Catullus, finest lyric poet in Rome)
- Oratory perfected by Cicero
Golden Age of Lit
- reached in the Age of Augustus 1st cent BCE (Virgil’s The Aeneid – described Roman virtues and values, Ovid’s The Art of Love, etc, example of Roman expression)
Roman Art
- Wall paintings, frescos, mosaics, major advancements in architecture- public bathes, amphitheatres, 50000 miles of road, aqueducts (example of Roman engineering skills)
Roman Law
- The Twelve Tables (450BCE)- fit for simple farming society so not much use later
- From that, Romans developed new civil law “the law of nations”
- Innocent until proven otherwise, right to defend oneself before a judge (like now)
- paterfamilias- family units headed by dominant male (relation ship is like magistrate over citizens) (brought on by belief of female weakness and the need of a guardian)
- Women were passed from father to husband, legally through marriage but this changed after 50BCE where women would still be legally controlled by father- fathers who died left their daughters to wield some power from that if they chose to
- Education to the priveliged daughters of upperclass; 14 was common marriage age
- By 2nd cent BCE, paterfamilias had less absolute power over family; women of the Early Empire had considerable freedom and indep (sometimes through husband)
Slaves and their Masters
- Romans relied the most on slavery during its time; expanding through warfare brought slaves
- Slaves were used as servents, laborers, teachers, musicians, tutors and artists and doctors
- Treatment varied with the masters; laws were strict with runaway slaves
- Harsh conditions led to massive slave revolts like that led by Spartacus in 73BCE
Imperial Rome
- Rome as a city was only comparable to China’s imperial capital, Chang’an
- Rich lived in villas and poor lived in apartments (insulae)
- Public buildings were magnificent, example of Rome’s wealth
- Gladiatorial Shows- chief entertainment in the city besides the circus and used to satisfy and occupy the mass’s attention so thered be no thoughts of unrest
Disaster in Southern Italy
- eruption of Moutn Vesuvius in 79CE
Crisis and the Late Empire
- problems emerge during Aurelius’s rule (even though he was one of the ‘good emperors’) and mre after his death
Crisis of 3rd cent
- civil wars; Septimus Severus used legions to seize power- established military monarchy inspiring more milit men to try and gain power
- 235-284 – continual civil war; Sassanid invasions in the east; Germanic tribes, Franks, Goths- boundaries not restored until Aurelius (270-275)
- Invasions/civil war/plague caused economic upheaval; pop decrease; decline in trade and industry; serious inflation
Late Roman Empire
- End of 3rd Cent and beginning of 4th there was a revival of the empireunder Diocletian and Constantine who restored stability and order (new govt structure, new econ and social systems; new state religion
Reforms of Diocletian and Constantine
- enlarged/expanded admin bureaucracies (civil and military bureaucracies were separated)
- military reform – army was enlarged
- construction of new capital – Byzantium
- public funds drained into advancement of army and civil service
- new econ and social policies to compensate for financial burdens
- these policies based on coercion and control (though it stabilized, wasn’t enough to resuscitate)
End of Western Empire
- After death of Constantine, east and west virtually split and became almost indep but west (which was poor from lack of manufacturing and industry) failed to live on and was taken over by Germanic tribes
- Though this happened by 467 with depose of Romulus Augustulus, direct imperial rule had already been lost gradually during that century
Religious World of the Romans
- polytheistic, adaptations of Greek pantheon of gods
- Jews had a period of unrest between the diff groups in Judaea (under control of Rome) but nothing ever came of it
- Jesus was seen as a potential revolutionary that would spark the anticipated revolution from the Jews against Rome so he was denounced and an outlaw
Importance of Paul
- Christianity began with relig movement in Judaism
- Paul of Tartus (5-67) – founded Christian communities trhoguhout Asia Minor and along the Aegean sea; finished the story of Jesus (that he was the savior son of God…)
Spread of Christianity
- spread slowly at first; after destruction of Jerusalem by Romans, Christian churches were established in lots of cities in the east and some in the west part of the Empire
- fundamental values of Christianity differed intensely from those in the Greco-Roman world but Romans disregarded them thinking it was just another wave of Judaism; but Roman roads helped spread the religion
- in 1st and 2nd cents, there was no systematic persecution of the Christians ( it began during Nero’s reign- used as scapegoats for unhappiness)
Triumph of Christianity
- had created a defined hierarchal structure of bishops and clergy
- 1st cent slow spread, 2nd cent taking root, 3rd cent spread widely b/c of universal religion qualities (fulfilled human need to belong, gave a path of salvation, offered more tangibility since Jesus was a real person of that time, attractive and accepting of all people regardless of class, gender etc)
- Persectutions failed to work while the church grew stronger and more stable and in 4th cent with Constantine, it became officially tolerated (became state religion later w/ Theodosius
Comparisons of Han and Rome
- refer to your essays!
- Other comparisons already cited in notes above