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I N 'IO M IN l

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Lemonum Poitiers 0

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51-50 BC*

Caesar invades Aquitania and forces surrender of Uxellodunum

JO LO S A Toulouso


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Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Books Ltd, 27 VVrights Lane, London W8 5TZ, England Penguin Books USA Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, USA Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcom Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2 Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd, 182-190 VVairau Road, Auckland 10, New Zealand Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsvvorth, Middlesex, England

Roman civilization is on e o f the great unifying factors in the history o f Europe and the Mediterranean. T he extensive em pire ruled by the Romans stretched from the sands o f th e Sahara to th e m o u th o f th e R h in e, an d from th e A tlan tic in th e w est to th e Euphrates in the east. It has left us its legacy in the form o f Roman law, which still underlies many w estern-inspired leg a l systems, and in th e R om an ce lan g u a g es F rench, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian derived from Latin, which are still spoken not only in form er Roman territories but in countries o f the New World as well as the Old. Furthermore, Roman cities lie beneath many o f our m odern centres, and the state religion o f the late Roman world Christianityremains the dom inant faith throughout most o f Europe today. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Andent Rome is an introduction to the Roman Empire based on maps. T he Rom ans them selves m ade maps o f their em pire, though little o f these have survived apart from the so-called Peutinger Table (a medieval copy) and fragments such as the marble map o f Rome. It is other sources, then, which have b een used to compile the present volum e, and they are o f broadly two kinds: historical and literary on the one hand (what the Romans said about them selves), and archaeological and architectural on the other Each o f these sources has its own particular role. T he details o f historical events them selves are known to us mainly through written texts in Latin or Greek. These include works o f fam ous historians such as Livy and Tactius, and social or official docum ents such as letters and laws. Coins and inscriptions provide abundant further evidence, and can often be dated precisely. Archaeology, on the other hand, can som etim es be tied into the history but essentially tells us a different kind o f story. We may rem em ber the Romans in terms o f kings and consuls, battles and em perors, but for the majority o f Roman inhabitants, those who ploughed the fields and tended the olive groves, by far the best testim ony com es from archaeological rem ains o f ordinary houses, farms and vvorkshops. N o on e source o f evidence, however, is intrinsically better then the others; it is by using them together that we gain the fullest insight into the world o f ancient Rome.

First published 1995 Published simultaneously in Penguin Books 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Text copyright Chris Scarre, 1995 The moral right of the author has been asserted Design and maps copyright Svvanston Publishing Limited, 1995

Ali rights reserved. VVithout limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, ortransmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior vvritten permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book

Printed and bound in Great Britain by The Bath Press, Avon A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Chris Scarre, Cambridge, 1995

ISBN 0 -6 7 0 -86 4 64 -1 /




Foreword Timeline
Part I: From City to Empire

5 8

The Origins o f Rome The Unification of Italy The Wars with Carthage Romes Conquest of the East The Over-Mighty Generals Caesars Conquest o f Gaul Crossing the Rubicon The Civil Wars Shades of the Departed
Part II: The Imperial Regime

20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36

The City of Rome under the Severans Mystery Cults Roman Africa Three African Cities The Empire at Bay The West Breaks Away The Rise and Fali ofPalmyra
PartV : Restoration and Fali

100 102 104 106 108 110 112


The New Order The City o f Rome under Augustus Claudius and the Conquest of Britain Nero and the Year o f theFour Emperors The Western Provinces Three Western Cities Vespasian and the Jewish War Trajans Wars The Roman Army
Part III: The Imperial Peace

46 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62

Diocletian and the Division o f Power The Spread of Christianity Constantine the Great Technology and Engineering A Fragile Prosperity The Fali o f the Western Empire The Inheritors Kings, Dictators and Emperors Further Reading Index Credits and Acknowledgements

122 124 126 128 130 132 134 136 138 139 144

Hadrians Travels The Eastern Provinces Three Eastern Cities Writing and Literacy Trade and Transport The Roman Amphitheatre Roman Spain Guarding the Frontiers
Part IV: The T rou bled Century

72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86

The Year o f the Six Emperors The Parthian Wars


96 98



Timeline: 800-85
c, 80.0-750 Imii-Agc settlement on Palatine Hill 753 (trad) Romulus fbtmds Rome 642-i 7 Roman posver ejttens.tp pat c..616-510 Rome under Etruscan bmihane 534 510: Rome controls 350 sq m of temtoiy 510 Republ i establ islied uh der2 anniially-e[ecied conSiils


84 bc-99 an
814 (irad) Carthage founded c. 750 Greek colonies in Sicilv and S. Ila!y


83-79 civil war: Sulla becomes dictator and purges opponeiits 73-71 Spartacus. leads slav uprising in Capna 64 Pompey conquers Syna 63 Romans annexe Judaea 60 First Triumvirate: Pompey, Caesar, Crassus 58-51 Caesar cohquers Gaul 53 Crassus. defeat cd and killed by Parthians at Carrhae 48 Caesar defeats Pompey at Pharsafus. Pompey flees to Egyp( and is killed 45 Caesar defeats' Pompeian at Mnndn 44 Caesar dicatator forlife; assassinated by Brutns &.Cassius 43 Cicero killed. Second Triumvirate Antonv, Octavian 8c Lepidns -cemeiited by marriage of Antony to Octavknrs sister Octavia 42 Brutus and Cassiu defeaied at Philippi 37 An tony marries Cleopatra at Antioch 31 Octaviaii&Agrippa defeat Antony & Cleopatra at naval battle of Actium 30 Aittony. 8 Cleopatra cOmniit suicide. Oc tavian sole ruler of Roman workl. Egypt a Roman prOvince 27 Ocuivian assumes title,Augustus 12-9 Romans conquer Germanv as far as the'Elbe


c. 80 Temple ofFortuna.ht Praeneste 78 Tabularium at llome



Lucretius (c. 99-55): philosophical j>oem The Nature ofThings

(52 PonsFabiicius
Catullus (c. 84 54): poemsand epigrams 55 Tliealre ol'Pt>tl)p.ey Julius Caesar (100-44): Gallic Wars; Civil lPa/5 55. Hermaus, last. Ihdo-Bactrian king, defeated by Scythians 51 Ptolemy XXII and Cleopatra rulers of Egypt

e, 600 Forum laid om as ptiblic


c. 600 Greek colony at Massilia (Marseille) c. 550 Persian empire o f Cvrus 525. Pei'sian kiug.Cambyses conquers Egypt

510 (trad) Temple o f Jupiter on die Capitot. 486 dcatb o f Buddha 484 Temple of CatOr ; dedicatfed 479 dealb o fConfuus 480 Grccks defeat Persiansat Salamis 447 Partbenon begun 431-404 PlopoiinesianAVar betvveei 1 . Sparta.and Atl^ens 399 dealb o f Socrates

46 Forum o fj ulius!Caesar

46 Julius Caesar reforms calendar

45i 50 Deceinvirate-oimcil o f 10 asume magistrates powers

Sallust (86-35 BC), historian: Jugurthine War, Caliline Conspiracy

Varro (116-27 BC): On RumLlJfe 37 Partliian invade Syria

396 Romans captmeEtrUscan city o f Veii 390 Ceits sack Rome 378 Servtau: :Wal rcmiicl Ronnr 356 first plebeian dicuuor, G; Marcus Rutilus 344 Temple o f Juuo Moneia 343-rl :Fivst Samnite War 340-38 Latin >Var: RoriVe vvins coh irol o f Lati iim 327-04 Second Samnite Wav 298-90 Third Saiimite WaivRoi)iaii territory extens from Bay ofNaples to tlie Adriatic, 281^275 Romans repel invasioh by Ryniius, kihg of Epirus 246-241; First: Punic. War giyes Rdiiie .cositrol 6f Sicilv 218-201 Seeond Punic War: Romans repel Plan ii i bals i liVasiOn o f I talv and conquer much ofSpain 202-191 Romans conquer Cialpiiie Gaul 190 Romans defeat Antiochus the Great at Maghesia 312 Via Appia, Aqua Appia buib under censor Appilts Claudius 290 Libraty of Alexandria founded 281 Via Appia extendcd to Tare n tum Plautus (ic. 254-184): cOmedies Ennius (239-169): plays, annals c. 380 Plato (427-347) founds Academv at Atbens 353 Mausoleuni o f Halicarnassus 343 last nativc pliaraob o f Egypt ousted by Persians. 333-323 Alexander tbe. Great conquers Persian Empire llelle.nislic monarcbie establisbed from parlitioh o f Aiexanders empire: Ptoleniaic kingdom-in Eg)-pt (304), Seleucid empire in Syria & Middle East 272-32 Mauryan Em pero r Asboka promotes Buddhism in S. Asia 240 Bactria & PartJiia sccede from Seleucid empire 237-218 Carthaginians conqner S o u th e rn Spain 221-20R Qin dynasty unites China as single state 206 dcatb of Sbib-bnang-ti, first emperor of China 202 China reuniied by Han dynasty

28 Carthage refoundeil as Roman


V'irgil (70-19): Georgics, Eclogiies; c pic poem Aeneid links founding of Rome to Homers Troy Sti abo (64 BG-AD 21) writes his Geqg)rtphy at Alexandria Horace (65-8): Odes, Carmen Saeculare Livy (59 BC-AD 17) writes olFicial his to 17 of Rome

28 Ma.usoleum of Augustus 27 Pantheou of Marcus Agrippa 13 Theatre of Marrellus 9 Ara Pacis Augustae ' 2 Forum of,Augustus

25 Aelius Gallus leads expedition to Marib (Ymen) 19 HeiOd rebuikls Temple al Jerusalcm

6 planned conquest o f cemral Europe abandoned after rebellion in Balkans 9 tbree tegions under Varuswiped ouc bv Gcrinans. Roman frontier pulled bac k to Rhine II August us dies, succeeded hvliis stepson Tibrius 17 C appadocia & - Commagene an imperial province 14 Pont du Gard aqueduct near Nimes 15 Samian ware potteries founded in Gaul 21-22 Castra Praetoria 8? Pi beri us relires to Capri ^7 fiherius dics; (iaius (Caligula) sticceeds 4 f Caligula assassinated; Claudius
e m p t:r o r

Ovid (43 BC-AD 18): The Art of Love, Metamorphoses; Banished to Black Sea coast by Augustus. AD 8

9 VVang-Mang deposes Han dvnastv in China

Polybius (c. 203-120): Histories (Gk) Terence (c. 190-159): comedies

]4tMi Tlilrd Punic Wiii Romans de.strc^\Gifthage;;Aiiicni st Roflian provi ncc. 146 Muimnius saks Corimb; Grcece a Roman prnvincc (Atliaea)

161 Greek pbilosophers expelled from Rome 149 Catos Otigins publisbed

170 cxpansion o f Graeco-Bai trian kingdom under Dcmetrius & Eitcratides 156-87 Wu-ti greatest emperor of Cliinese Han dynasty

25 Han dy1 1asty res tored 29 Jesus Cltrist crueifted

135-2 siave uprsinj; iu Sicilv 133 reFonus or tiibiuK;' ribcrins Griir:c|ints Jf:ad to his rnurdei'

14ti Temple ofjijpi ler Stator. lirst marblt temple al Romi; 144 Aqun Marcfci 142 Pans Atmiliu 5

141 Parthiaiis conqner Mesopotamia

42 Maurctania annexed 43 invasion of Britain. Lycia an Hltperial ]>rovinrc :>1 Claudius dies; Nero emperor 60 revolt offceni in Bvitain; cmshed in 61 fl 0.re;ind pcrsecfitiou of Christians
in Roidk

64 Neros Goldeii House.

130 Graeco-Bactrian kingdom fali to Kushahs

123-2 tribu ue Gai u Gra(rebus

ni urdere a ftersitteiii piii ig rcfn i'ni 112 Mithridaies becomes king of Pontus and conquers Crimea 106 first caravan nade belsveen Par ih ia & China

tili Jcwish revolt (8-9 revolt of Vindex & suicide of Nero. Civil war Vespasian emperor 10 Sack of Jcrusalem 7H n upiion of Vesnvius destrovs Pompeii & Hcrculanmini 96 Kuiprrcir Domitian assassinated; N 'na emperor 9 / NervaadoptsTrajan 98 .1r:\jui 1ciuperoi

107-100 Maimsdominam in Rome 102 Marius dcfeaUJTeutonts and

(101) C utibri

80 Colosseum, Arcli of Titus, Domus Flavia oii Palatine

Hero of Alexandria (II. 50) invents rudimentaiy stcam turbine Seneca (d. 65): n,agfdies& philosophy Lucan (39-65): lieroic p.oem Pharmtia. Petronius. (d. 66) : comic novel ,SaA7vcoH , A31three \vriters forced to commit suicide by Nero Flavius.josephus (34-c. Q8): History of , the fmish \Var;fe%pishAntiqxiUies Pliny the Elder (23-79^: iV%/2r His(oiy. Dies obsemng eruption of \ resuvius Martial (40-104): Epigicims Tacitus (c 55-r. 117): Annals; Histories; A g i cola; Germania

60 Nero sends ekpeditiori to exp!ore Meroe (Sudan)

91 Chinese defeat Hsiung-nu (I-hms) in Mongol ia 97. Chinese ambassador Kan Ymg visits Antioch

91-89 Social Wai" Rome defeats rebellious lialian allies, but granta major coiiccssions



Timeline: 100-363 a d
101-2 First Dacian War 105-6 Secoiid.Dacian War; Dacia a Roman.province 106 Ai abia ai in exed 113-7 Parthian War: Annenia & N Mesopotamia aririexed. Trajati; d is. Hiidrian stif'ees & HalLs polih)- o f cxpaiisiou
122 H a d rian strerigtheris R hineD a ii tib e fro n tier i 30 fo u n d in g o f A lia C ap ito lin a ori sitc o fj ru s a lc m sparks Jew isli revolt 138 H a d rian .dies, s u c c e e d e d b y A nton itnis Pili 161 M are us A urel ius. & Lucius V er its jo in t e m p e ro rs 165 R om ans ca p t u re .D u ra E uroptis, sak P a rth ia n Capital G tesiphon. 167 Q u a d i & M arcom anrii invacje Italy & b esiege Aqiiileia 168-75 ivars against Q,uadi & M arcom arini 192/3 assassination o f o m m ous leads lo. civil w ar in w hich Severus beoiiies e m p e ro r [98 S everus ca p lu re s Nisibis and sacks G tesiphon. N. M esopotam ia a Roriian provi n ce 209-11 S everus ca m paign in S colland. Dies at York 212 C araalia ex te n d s citizeriship to ali free inhabitiints o f em p ire 217 CaraeaJla inurderecl 230 Persiaiis ivade M esopotam ia 23 7 -8 Pei'ians attack M esopotam ia 250 E m p e ro r D eius perseutes C liristiaiis 251 Deciiis killed iri.battle against G oths 253. P erians ca p tiire A ntioch 254 M arcom arini altack Raveniia. 256 G othic fleci, attacks Asia.M inor, F ranks aUack loiver R hine 260 E m p ero r Valeriaii cap tu re d by Persiaiis. Preakaw ay em p ire in G aul 262 A gri D ecum ats abancioned 268 .G alliem is defeats G oths a t Naisus b u t i assainated so o n after 270 A ureltau e m p e ro r D acia abarid.onecl 273 A urelian re cap tu res Gallic & P alm yrei ic cm pjres 282 Ga ru s invades Persia 293 D iocletian establishes tetrarchy 303-5 G reat p ersecu tio n o f G hrist/ans 305 D iocletian & M axim ian abdicate 313 freed o m o f w orship -restored to Ghristiaiis 324 C o n sta n tm e sOle n ile r 325 C oim eil o fN ic a c a 3 30 G onslantinoplc b ecom es Capital o f em p ire 337 deiith o f C oushintiiie; em p ire s h ared betive.en his 3 sons 3 5 6 -6 0 J u lia n fights F ranks & A lem arihi iii G aul 3 63 Em peroi-Julian killed fighting P rsians

Pliny the Younger (61-113): Panegvric of Trajan; 10 vols oflelters 105 papci' invented in Ghina



100 Ronitin coIony of Timgad founrle 112 Trajans Forum 8c Column


364 empire ivided between brothers Valentinian (west) and Valens (east)





375 Aqueduct o f Valens, Constantiiiople 378 Valens defeated and killed by Goths at battle o f Adrianople

Plutarch (c. 45-125): Paralld Lives (Gk) o f Greeks and Romans 118 Pantheon i cbuilt 122 HadriansVVall 124 Hadrians Library 8c Arch at Athens Juvenal (60-c. 130): Satires Glaudius Ptolemy (11. 125-148) compiles his Geography at Alexandria Suetonius {c. 75- c. 160): Lives oj the Caesars; Ilhtstrious Men Apuleius (c 125-?): The Golden Asa anonymous poem Peruigilium Veneris (The Vigit o f Venus) 166 cmbassyfrom Marcus Aurelius reaches Ghina 401-2 Stilicho repels Vi sigo th invasion o f Italy. Imperial court. moves from Mi lan to Ravenna 106 Vandals, Alans & Suebi cross Rhine & ravage Gaul Marcus Aurelius (121-180): Meditatiom (Gk) Tertullian (c.. 150-230): Apologia; The Blood of hrist Cassius Dio (f. 155-230): Roman liistor)' (Gk) 2 i6 Baths o f Garacalla Antonineltinamy lists routes and mileages throughoui Roman Empire 220 fali of Han dynasty in Ghina 226 Parthian rulers o f Iran ovcrthrown by Persian Sassanian dyuasty Persian ho!y man Mani (216-77) founds Manichaeism 252 fnst Persian invasion of Syria 451 Ae (ius re pel s H uns 455 Vandals under Gaisei te sack Rom e -176 last n-estern em peror deposerl. O doacer king at Rome 408 Stilicho execi.Ued on treason eharge 410 Visigoths sack Rome. Emperor H onorius tells Rritons to defend themselves 120 Roman merehant Maes explores Central Asia & Silk Route

Zosismus: Neio History (Gk) Ammianus Marcellinus (c. 330-c. 393), last great Roman historian Augustan H istm j com piled Eunapius (345-420): Lives of the Sophisls (Gk)

375 H uns defeat Goths on R. Dnieper; they flee towards Danube & Roman territory

391 Theodosius outla^vs paganism 396 Visigoths; pillage Greece

379 Buddhism becom es state religion in China

138 c.ompletion o f Zaghouan aqueduct to supplv Garthage

c. 400 Notitia Digtnlalum lists civil and m ilitaiy posts throughout empire

Claudiati (d. 404): poem s St Augustine o f H ippo (354-430): Confessions; Cily o/God

193-211 Severau wing o f Palatine palae, Septizonium, Arch o f Severus

408 Aicadius dies. Theodosius U em peror in East

413 Theodosian VValls, Constantiiiople 424 Mausoleum o f Gali a Placidia at. Ravenna

118 Visigoths establish capital at Toulouse - 425-500 Angles, Saxons & Jut.es setlle in Britain 420-39 Vandals conquer North Africa

421 2 East Romans defeat Persiaiis

438 Theodosian Gode 44 1 -3 East Rom ans defeat Persians, but are defeated by H uns in Balkans 451 ouncil o f Chalceon 4 31-89 Sidonius Apollinaris, Gallo-Roman

259 second Persian invasion o f Syria Plotinus (205-69), iieo-PIatonist philosopher influential at Rome 269 St Antony becomes a Iiermit, founding eastern moilasticism

475-7 Emperor Zeno temporarily d eposed by usurper Basiliscus 480 Gh u rcl i o f Qa 1a t Simon (Simmi Siylites), Svria

484 Shah Fimz, Persian king, killed by Huns

482 Clovis king o f Franks 271 Aurelian WalI aromi cl Rome

304 Ilsiung-nu (Huns) invade Ghina

493 Fheodoric king at Rome 507 Franks drive Visigoths from Gaul into Spam

481 Zeno makes Ost rogo th The odo rio a consul 488 Z eno sends Theodoric to rule Italv 491 Anastasius becom es em peror in East

526: Mausoleum o f T heodoric at Ravenna

Boethius (<:, 470-525): The Gonsolation ofPhilosophy

r. 315.Basilica Nova completed 329 Si Pelers, Rome, completed 324-337 Great Palae, Constantiiiople, cluirclies o f Holy Apostles & St Eirerie, Constantiiiople 360 firtch u reh o f St Soph ia, Constantiiiople, conipleted 511 Clovis dies; Frankish liingdoui divided 527 Justinian becomes em peror in East 529 Benedict o f Nutsia founds Beuedictine order :it Mont C'assmo ;,10 Bvzantine reconquest nfltalv 532 Ju s tin ian begins rebu ild ing o f H aghia Sopliia at Constantiiiople

528-9 Justinians Code of Civil Laius Gassiodoms (c. 490-583): Variae (letters)




I: From City to Empire

T h e city of Rome began life as a modest village in the region of Italy hnoivn as Latium . Nobody could have predicted that this undistinguished settlem ent merely one of several local centres gradually developing into cities during the 7th and 6th centuries BC ivould eventually become mistress not only of ali Italy, but of the entire M editerranean world.
O ur know ledge o f early Rom e is based on two sources o f evidence: the traditional histories w ritten by Livy an d others several centuries later; and the fm dings o f archaeology. L eg en d h eld th a t the Rom ans traced th eir ancestry back to Aeneas, th e h e ro w ho escaped from the sack o f Troy carrying his father Anchises on his back. His subsequent travels took him to Carthage, w here h e m et and fell in love with Dido before forsaking h e r an d setding in Latium. T here his son fo u n d ed the city of Alba Longa, an d it was from the kings of Alba Longa th at Rom ulus an d Remus, th e founders of Rome, were directly descended. Much of this is evident invention. Troy, we now know, was sacked in the 12th or 13th century b c , whereas C arthage was only fo u n d ed in the 8th or 9th. T h e idea th a t T rojan refugees sought refuge in Central Italy is probably also p u re fiction. B ut th e story o f R om ulus a n d Remus founding the city of Rome may in co rp o ro rate elem ents of truth. For it was in the 8th century th at two existing setem ents, on e on the Palatine Hill, th e o th e r on the Q uirinal, coalesced to form a single village. T his corresponds in tim e approxim ately with th e traditional foundation of Rome by Rom ulus in 753 b c . Early Rom e has been given especially vivid form by the discovery early this century of oval h u t foundations on the Palatine Hill, and by burials (both inhum ations an d crem ations with hut-urns) in the Forum valley and on the Esquiline Hill. Some o f these burials date back as far as the lOth century BC, long before R om uluss supposed foundation.

T h e nascen t settlem en t o f Rom e soon fo u n d itself at war with its pow erful n eig h b o u rs, th e Sabines. A cco rd in g to tra d itio n , R om ulus e n tic e d th e Sabines to a feast, d u rin g w hich th e Rom ans seized th e Sabine w om en as th eir wives. This, again, is probably leg en d which in co rp o rates a germ of tru th , since Sabine influence was strong in early Rom e an d th e eventual com prom ise, by which Rom e was ru led alternately by R om an an d Sabine kings, may reflect R o m es origin in the coalescence o f two ethnically diffe re n t com m unities.

From Village to City T he four earliest kings were shadowy characters, village leaders rath e r than povverful m onarchs, and the settlem ent itself was small and undistinguished. Major change began to take place during the 7th century, w hen tiled roofs an d stone foundations appear, culm inating in the draining of th e Forum area an d its laying o u t as a public square: a form al city centre. This coincided with the appearance o f new rulers, the Etruscans. A ccording to leg en d the first Etruscan ruler, T arquinius Priscus, took control of Rome by peaceful means, gaining the acquiescence an d su p p o rt of th e leading families. H e may well have h ad m uch to offer the early Romans, since th e Etruscans had a flourishing netvvork of city-states in the region to the n o rth of Rome, and Rome stood at a crucial bridging p o in t on the T iber w hich gave the Etruscans access to Latium an d beyond. Rom e never becam e an Etruscan city-state in the strict sense of the term , b u t it took on many Etruscan trappings. It was especially im p o rtan t to the Etruscans since the lat ter h ad established a m ajor zone o f influence in Cam pania to the south, and th e T ib er bridge was th e strategic artery o f com m unication betw een the h o m elan d and these S o u th e rn outposts. T h e Etruscans gave Rome writing (an alphabet they in tu rn had taken from th e G reeks), p u b lic b u ild in g s (in clu d in g th e T em p le o f J u p ite r o n th e Capitol) an d a new political, social an d military organisation. T he tradition al symbols of power, th e fasces (bundles of rods an d axes, which have given th eir nam e to fascism) were also Etruscan in origin. U n d er th e Etruscan kings, Rom e becam e th e u n d isp u ted lead er of a large section o f L atium extending from the Alban Hills in the east to the T iber m outh in the west. T h e Rom ans retained their own language, however, though Etruscan fami lies took u p residence in the city, and a n u m b e r o f Etruscan inscriptions have b een fo u n d there. Yet it was n o t w ithout difficulty th a t the Rom ans eventually freed themselves from Etruscan overlordship.

Above: i t tvas the Etruscans

Above: the E truscans ivere accom plished bronze-tvorkers, producing distinctive a n d p o tverfu l sculptures. This bronze chim aera a m ytkica l creature tvas fo u n d near A rezzo a n d dates from the 4 th century Bc.

w ho constructed the first m ajor roads a n d bridges in central ltaly. T he road leading north from the Etruscan city o f Vulci crossed the deep, narroiv valley o f the riverF iora on the Ponte della Badia. The original bridge consisted o f stone piers supporting a ivooden superstructure, b u t the latter tvas replaced by stone arches in a round the l s t century BC.

R ig h t: the m o st im pressive o f

Etruscan sites to d a y is the B anditaccia cem etery a t Cetveteri. F ounded in the 7th cen tu ry BC, this va i necropolis is d o m in a ted b y a series o f large circular tom hs, m ostly rock-cut, capped by d o m e d m ounds. A ro u n d a n d a m o n g thern are clusters o f less g randiose b urial places, inclu d in g streets o f rectangular tombs.

The Birth o f the Republic T h e Etruscans ru led Rom e for a little over a century; the traditional dates are 616 bc : for the accession of the first Etruscan king, T arquinius Priscus, an d 510 b c for th e expulsion o f the last, T arquinius Superbus th e p ro u d (Between them ame a Latin king, Servius Tullius, son-in-law of T arquinius Priscus.) Livy tells us it was the rap e o f Lucretia by Sextus, son of T arquin the P roud, which incited rebellion by a group o f Rom an aristocrats led by Lucius Ju n iu s Brutus. T h e T arquins were expelled from Rome, an d a new constitution devised, whereby power rested in th e hands o f the senate (the assembly o f leading citizens), who delegated executive action to a pair of consuls w ho were elected from am ong their n u m b er to serve for on e year Thus was b o rn th e Rom an Republic.



In reality, the story was less simple, for the Etruscans did n o t so easily relinquish control of their crucial T iber bridgehead. T arquin the P ro u d sought help from Lars Porsenna, ru ler of the Etruscan city o f Clusium. A ccording to Livy, the Rom ans beat off this attack, notably by H oratiuss heroic tand a t the T iber bridge. Most likely, however, P orsen n a did recap tu re Rome, but failed to hold it for long. T h e Latin cities b an d ed together with Rome to throw off the Etruscan yoke, and won a m ajor victory at Aricia in 506 BC. H enceforth, though Etruscan cultural influence rem ained strong, the Latin cities were politically independent. T he victory at Aricia did n ot m ark an en d to R om es troubles, since the new constitution was n o t flawless an d there rem ained powerful external enem ies. Internally, on e serious th reat was the internecine feuding of the leading families, many o f vvhom com m anded the support o f larg e n u m b e rs o f clien ts an d used th e m on o cc asio n to su b v e rt th e p o w er o f th e State. A n o th e r was th e stru g g le betvveen th e le ad in g families (the patricians) as a whole and the rest of th e p o p u la tio n , especially th e u n d e rp riv ile g e d groups (the plebeians). After some years o f conflict the plebeians forced the senate to pass a written series o f laws (the Twelve Tables) which reco g n ized c e rta in rig h ts a n d gave th e p le b e ia n s their own representatives, the tribunes. It was only later, in the 4th century, th at plebeians were given th e rig h t to tand fo r the consulship a n d o th e r m ajor offices of State.

to pick up the pieces, rebuild the city and restore their dam aged prestige. O ne o f th eir first acts was to provide Rom e itself with b etter defences: the so-called Servian Wall, 6 miles (10 km) long, which was the only city wall th at Rom e possessed until the E m peror A urelian built a new one over 500 years later But it was some years before the Rom ans were able to retu rn to the offensive. W h eth er th e Rom ans en tertain ed any long-term im perialist objectives or merely conquered in se lf-d e fe n c e is o pen to question, b u t the re s u lts were impressive in either case. In 343 they ame into conflict with the Samnites, a pow erful trib al c o n fe d e ra tio n w ho c o n tro lle d th e Central b ac k b o n e o f S o u th e rn Italy. This First Samnite War (343-41) was b rief an d in c o n c lu siv e , b u t was followed by m ore significant R om an gains in the Second and T hird Wars (327-304; 298-90 b c ) . D uring the same perio d Rome strengthened its hold over Latium and renew ed operations against the E tru sc a n s. Victory in th e T h ird Sam nite W ar e x ten d e d R om an t e r r i t o r y across the A pennines to the A driatic Sea. This m ade Rome a m ajor regional power a n d attracted hostile atten tio n from the G reek cities a r o u n d t h e coast of S o u th e rn Italy. They called in the help o f Pyrrhus, k in g o f Epirus, a n ambitious adventurer who arrived at T aren tu m in 280 BC w ith a well-trained army w h ic h i n c l u d e d war elep h a n ts, t h e f i r s t th e R om ans h a d e n c o u n t e r e d . Pyrrhus won battles at H eraclea an d Ausculum, b u t with such heavy loss that th e y gave him little r e a l advantage. H e was eventually defeated in 275, and T aren tu m fell to the Rom ans in 272.

Rome and the Mediterranean Rome now controlled the whole of th e Ita lia n p e n in s u la , e ith e r th r o u g h a llia n c e o r d ir e c t conq uest. T h e n e x t wars w ere fo u g h t a g a in st a m u c h m o re re d o u b ta b le o p p o n e n t th e C arth ag in ian s an d th e p rize th is tim e was n o t m erely Italy b u t th e w hole o f th e W est an d Central M editerranean. R om e's p rin c ip a l advantage lay in the enorm ous reserves o f Ita lia n m a n p o w e r o n w h ich it co u ld call. C a r thage, on the o th er hand, vvas a m a ritim e p o w er with a redoubtable fleet.

Expansion in Italy By th e 5 th cen tu ry b c , R om e w as an im p o rta n t city, b ut by no m eans a m ajor regional power. T he tran sitio n am e a b o u t only th ro u g h p iecem eal expansion in a series o f m in o r wars. T h eir earliest enem ies were th eir im m ediate neighbours to east a n d south: th e A equi an d Volsci. By th e e n d of the 5th century these peoples had been defeated, an d the Rom ans pushed forward their own frontiers, establishing colonies (settlem en ts o f R om an citizens) in strategic places. This practice, extensively followed in later years, enabled Rom e to hold on to conquered territories an d rew arded its citizens with fertile new farm land. T he first resounding Rom an military success was to the n o rth of the city, w here in 396 bc after a ten-year siege they cap tu red Veii. This was the southern m o st o f th e E tru scan cities an d a m ajo r m e tro p o lis, in every sense R om es equal. Any feelings of elation m ust have been short-lived, however, since six years la ter R om e itself was sacked by a new an d m o re d istan t enemy: the Celts (or Gauls). Celtic peoples from C entral E urope had been establishing themselves in n o rth ern Italy during the course of the 6th and 5th centuries, and in 391 bc a Celtic war-band lau n ch ed a raid deep into Etruria. They retu rn ed the n ex t year in even g reater strength, defeated the R om ans at th e R iver Allia, a n d c a p tu re d th e city. T h e citad e l on th e Capitoline Hill held o u t for a few m onths b u t eventually capitulated. T he Celts withdrew with their booty back to n o rth e rn Italy, leaving the Rom ans

Above: the hea rt o f R epublican Rom e, seen from the R iver Tiber. O pening into the river is the m o u th o fth e Cloaca M a xim a , the great setuer ivhich d ra in ed the vatteys betmeen the bills o f Rom e, m a kin g possible the laying o u t o fth e Forum. O riginally b u ilt b y the Etruscans, i t ivas substantially repaired d uring the reign o f A u g u stu s (2 7 bc- ad 14). A b o ve it is the ro u n d tem ple o f Hercules Victor, b u ilt in the late 2 n d century BC.

R ig h t: this p ortrait b u st o f a R om an aristocrat is believed to represent L ucius Junius Brutus, the founder o f the Republic. i t dates from the late 4tb century BC.





R ight: tbe Forum R o m a n u m ,

first la id o u t as a p u b lic square a ro u n d 600 BC, ivas tbe centre o fc iv ic life. Througb tbe m id d le m tts the Sacra Via, R o m e s old est road. In the foregroun is T em ple o f C astor a n d P ollux, first dedicated in in 484 bc a n d reb u ilt b y the fu tu re E m peror Tiberius betiveen 7 b c and AJD 6. B eyo n d it is the sm all ro u n d Tem ple o f Vesta. In the background rises th e Palatine H ill, on w bich the emperors later constructed tb eir palae.

an d M acedonia to g eth er becam e th e R om an province o f Achaea. In the same year the Rom ans at last destroyed Carthage, th eir old enemy, in the T h ird Punic War; its territory becam e an o th er new province, Africa. Shortly afterwards, in 133 BC, they gained yet an o th er overseas territory w hen the last king of Pergam um left his kingdom to the Romans in his will. Thus, almost by accident, Rome becam e the ru ler o f a great M editerranean em pire. T h e provinces b ro u g h t w ealth to Italy, an d fo rtu n es w ere m ade th ro u g h the granting o f valuable m ineral concessions an d enorm ous slaveru n estates. Italian traders and craftsm en flourished o n the proceeds of the new prosperity. Slaves were im p o rted to Italy, too, how ever an d wealthy landow ners soon began to buy up an d displace the original peasant farmers. By the late 2nd century this process had led to renew ed conflict between rich an d p o o r an d dem ands from the latter for reform o f the Rom an constitution. T h e background of social unease and the inability o f the traditional republican constitution to ad ap t to the needs of a powerful em pire togedier led to the rise of a series o f over-mighty generals, cham pioning the cause of eitlier aristocrats or the p o o r in th e last century BC.

Below : this statue o f a patrician w ith busts o fh is ancestors dates fro m eitb er the I s t century bc o r the l s t AB. The patricians were the aristocracy o fR o m e , a n d during the later R epublic they am e increasingly in to conflict w ith senators a n d generals w h o to o k the p a rt o f the plebeians. In the late 2 n d century BC the brothers Graccbus tried to allocate state lands io poorer citizens, b u t these reform s gave rise to su ck h o stiliiy tb a t b oth ivere m urdered.

Below: the Polis A em ilius, the

T h e First P unic W ar (264-41 b c ) was fo u g h t fo r c o n tro l o f Sicily. T h e Carthaginians had long held the w estern en d of the island an d h ad sought fro m tim e to tim e to c o n q u e r the G reek cities o f eastern Sicily, such as C atana and Syracuse. T h e cause of th e First Punic War, as o f many great conflicts, was trivial in o rig in b u t revived o ld rivalries a n d a le rte d th e C arthaginians to th e growing th re a t from Rome. D espite th e ir seafaring sk'ill, the C arthaginians were defeated by the Rom ans in a n u m b er o f naval engagem ents and by th e en d o f war Sicily was red u ced to the status of a Rom an province, becom ing in d eed Rom e's first overseas possession. T he Carthaginians were slow to accept their reverse, and in 218 struck back in the Second Punic War, with an invasion o f Italy itself, led by H annibal. This tim e it was the Rom ans who were w orsted in their chosen elem ent, the land battle, b u t despite crushing victories at Cannae an d Lake Trasim ene H annibal could n o t shake Rom e's h old on the Italian peninsula, an d was unable to attack the city itself. In th e en d the Rom ans tu rn ed the tables by invading C arthaginian territorv. H annibal crossed back to Africa to defend his hom eland b u t was defeated in the final battle o f the war, at Zama, by the Rom an general Scipio Africanus in 202 b c . T he victory over H annibal rem oved C arthage as a military threat, b u t did n o t b rin g th e R om ans any g rea t m easu re o f peace Instead, they fo u n d them selves em broiled in new wars w hich took th em fu rth e r an d fu rth e r afield. In the west, they becam e involved in a vvhole succession o f wars in Spain, seeking to p ro tect and expand the territory in the south of th e country which they h ad taken from th e Carthaginians. In Italy, close to hom e, they renew ed the conquest of the Celtic lands in the n o rth , which becam e th e province o f Gallia Cisalpina(Gaul-this-side-of-the-Alps). But the greatest w ars o f th e 2 n d c e n tu ry b c w ere f o u g h t in th e B alkans a n d th e E ast M editerranean. As th e century began, the Rom ans declared war on Philip, k in g o f M a c e d o n ia , a n d in 196 d e f e a te d th e M a c e d o n ia n arm y at Cynoscephalae. T he Rom ans did n o t initially seek a lasting foothold in the Balkans, b u t m erely wished to neutralize a m ilitary threat. A q u arter o f a century later they were back fighting a new M acedonian king, Perseus, an d by 146 b c h ad com e to realize they h ad no alternative to direct rule. G reece

first stone bridge across the Tiber, tvas b u ilt in 142 BC. A li tb a t sutvives today is this one arch, k n o w n as tbe Ponte Rotto.

The Fali o f the Republic T h e b e g in n in g o f th e e n d o f th e R e p u b lic am e w h en th e b r o th e r s G racchus challenged the traditional constitutional o rd er in the 130s and 120s b c . T hough m em bers o f the aristocracy themselves, they sought to par-





C o in h o ard s fro m ltaly, 100-3 B C

Years BC

Above: R epublican silver coins m o stly denarii o f the 2 n d a n d l s t centuries b c . The responsiblility fo r issuing coins lay ivitb m oneyers a p p o in ted b y the Republic. T hey p u t their nam es on the coins, a n d o ften chose designs ivhich reflected th eir fa m ily hisiory. The h ea d o f R o m a a n d the four-horsed chariot w htch appeared on m a n y coins, houtever , celebrated the city itself. Above rig h t: the p o litica l con -

cei o u t public land to the dispossessed Italian peasant farm ers. O th er measures followed, b u t many senators am e to view the Gracchi as public enemies, and both the brothers m et violent deaths. T he next C h a m p io n o f the p e o p l e was Gaius Marius, a brilliant military comm ander who reform ed the Rom an army an d saved Italy from the invading Cim bri an d T eu to n es in 102 an d 101 b c . H e d e p a rte d from establishe practice by recru itin g his soldiers n o t only from th e lan d ed citizens b u t from landless citizens, including the grovving u rb an proletariat. These were peo p le who, once th e wars were over, looked to th e ir co m m an d er for a m ore p erm a n en t reward in the shape o f land o f th eir own. T hus th e situation developed w here com m anders an d th e ir arrnies b an d ed to g eth er in pursuit o f political objectives, the com m anders seeking power an d the sol diers rewards. T he tem porary ascendancy achieved by Marius was eclipsed by that of Sulla in the 80s b c . Sulla m ade his ltam e in two crueial wars: the first in Italy itself, the so-called Social W ar o f 91-89 b c , w here the Italian allies, though they lost the war, largely won their dem and for full Rom an citizenship; an d the second the defeat o f M ithridates, king o f Pontus, who chose this m o m en t of Rom an vveakness to overrun Asia M inor an d G reece. Sulla was a staunch p ro p o n en t o f aristocratic privilege, an d his short-lived m onarchy saw the repeal o f pro-p o p u lar legislation an d th e co n d em n atio n , usually w ithout trial, o f thousands o f his enemies. After Sullas d eath the p en d u lu m swung back som ew hat in favour o f the people u n d e r a successful new com m ander, Pompey the Great. H e becam e immensely popular for clearing the seas o f pirates an d w ent on to im pose a new p olitical se ttle m e n t o n th e w arrin g kingdom s o f th e East M e d ite r ran e an , notably m aking Syria a R om an province. W hen h e re tu rn e d to Rom e in 62 bc h e found him self faced by two astute political opponents: the im m ensely wealthy M arcus Licinius Crassus, and the young b u t prom ising Gaius Julius Caesar. R ather than com ing to blows, the three m en reach ed a political accommodation now known as th e First Trium virate. U n d er the term s o f this arrange-

BeIow: Greece becam e a Rom an province in tbe m iddle o ftb e 2 n d century BC. The Rom an m a rket a tA tb e n s (seen bere) w as built in the tim e o f Julius Caesar a n d Augustus. The octagonal T ow er o fth e W inds beyond i t w as also b u ilt during tbe p eriod o f R om an dom ination, in tbe m id -ls t century BC. D ecorated uiith reliefs o f the eight ivinds, it tvas originally topped by a iveather vane. Inside w as a w ater clock, or horologium .

m en t Caesar becam e consul in 59 BC and was th en m ade governor of the two G allic p ro v in ces, o n e C isalp in a s o u th o f th e A lps, th e o th e r T ransalpina covering the Southern p a rt of m odern France. H e em barked on a cam paign o f conquest, the Gallic War, which resulted in a huge accession o f new territory, an d then used his battle-hardened army to overthrow Pompey an d take suprem e power for himself. Caesars career was cut short by his assassination at Rom e in 44 BC, b u t rule by on e m an was becom ing an increasingly inevitable prospect. It was a p ro sp ect b ro u g h t to fru itio n by Octavian, Caesars adoptive son. H e an d Mark Antony, C aesars frien d and lie u te n an t, d efeated C aesars assassins at th e Battle of P hilippi in 42 BC. T hey then establishe the Second Trium virate, jo in in g forces with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus to divide pow er betvveen them . T he arran g em en t did n ot last, how ever, an d eventually resolved itself in to d ire c t m ilitary conflict betw een O ctavian an d M ark A ntony. O ctav ian s victory at th e b attle o f Actium left him sole ru ler, and in 27 bc the Senate gran ted him the title Augustus, m aking him the first official em p ero r o f Rome.

flicts a n d civil w ars o fth e l s t century BC are reflected in the n u m b e r o f co in hoards buried th ro u g h o u t lta ly , Sicily, Corsica a n d Sardinia, a n d n o t recovered b y th eir oivners .





The Origins of Rome

T he early centuries saw Rome grow from a cluster o f hilltop farm s into a ivalled ciiy with temples and a p a ve d forum.

L e ft: the L apis N iger inscription,

l/P re -u rb an R o m e , 9 th -8 th cen tu ry B C
cremation grave @ inhumation grave

How, then, could Romulus have acted rvith a jvisdom mare divine, both availing himself of ali the advantages of the sea and avoiding its disadvantages, Ihan by placing his cily on the bank of a never-faihng river vihose broad stream flmvs with unt>arying curren l mio the sea V

T radition held that Rom e was founded in 754 bc by tvvin boys, Rom ulus and Remus, who w ere ab an d o n ed by th e ir parents b u t suckled by a she-wolf. A rchaeology has revealed th a t the city actually began life in th e 9 th or 8th century BC as a series o f small farm steads o n a group o f hills overlooking the River Tiber. Between th e hills were marshy valleys w here the local people b uried their ead in cem eteries o f crem ations o r inhum ations. Early houses, such as the so-called H u t of R om ulus, preserved as a p attern o f postholes on the Palatine, would probably have had walls of wattle and daub, and thatched roofs. This early settlem ent may well have flourished, situated as it was overlooking a convenient Crossing p o in t o n th e T iber and astride the im p o rtan t salt ro u te ru n n in g inland from th e river m outh. T h e c ru c ia l d e v e lo p m e n t am e in th e la te r 7 th c e n tu ry b c , w h en an E truscan dynasty, the T arquins, took control of Rom e and began its transform ation from village into city. T he Forum valley was d rain ed by the canalization o f the CIoaca Maxima, an d was converted into a public square with a gravel paved surface. A w ooden b rid g e, th e P ons Sublicius, was throw n across the Tiber, and an Etruscan-style tem ple to Ju p iter Capitolinus built on the Capitol. T h ere may also have been an agger, or city wall, with a defensive ditch beyond it, th o u g h the oldest defence which survives today (the socalled Servian Wall) dates only from the 4th century b c . Rom an historians m aintained th at th e Rom ans evicted their last Etruscan king, T arquin the P roud, in 510 BC, an d becam e a republic governed by a pair of annually elected magistrates, the consuls. I t was a m om entous step, the first in a sequence w hich was to take Rom e in less than five centuries from small Italian town to mistress of the M editerranean.
P .

Quirinal H ill

so called because it w as fo u n d u n d e r a blade stone in the F orum R o m a n u m , is the earliest k n o w n L atin text, da tin g fro m the later 6th or early 7th century b c .


CafnlaHuf H ill


lCsquilim Hill


Palatine - Hill

hut of Romulus
Caelian Hill Q uinnal Hill Viminal' Hill



Forum Rornanum

CIoaca Maxima

Esquiline H ill

Forum Bbarium

temple o f Jupiter Capitolinus

temple of Fortiina and Mater Matuta

Palatinr Hill

first bridge o f Rome: Pons Sublicus

Caelian H ill

Above: in the cretnation graves o f

R ig h t: the s h e-w o lf w hich suckled R o m u lu s a n d R em us becam e tbe sym b o l o fR o m e , appearing in statuary, relief carving a n d on coins from R epublican iim es on. This bronze figure is believed to be the one set u p in the C apitol b y the aedile O gulnius in 2 9 6 BC, although its Etruscan w orkm anship suggests th a t i t ivas m ade several centuries earlier.

tbe Forum cem etery tbe ashes o fth e dead tvere placed in hut-um s, pottery vessels shaped to resemble the houses o f the living. These show us hoiv the first houses o f Rom e m u st have looked.

Aventine Hill

1 0 0 0y th
2/The first city, 7 th -4 th |cen tu ry B C
ara Servian vvall = sewer :=== ? bridge




The Unification of Italy

Roman conquest of Italy was sloiv and hard-fought, but by the m iddle o f the 3rd centurj BC, they were masters o f the peninsula.
R ig h t: this 3rd-century BC

H e lv e tii

:;i iy

L e p o n tii

I /T h e expan sio n o f R o m e , 5 00-200 B C

Roman te rrito ry: 3 | 500 BC

| ij*

i 290 BC ! _ J 240 BC ] Celtic settlement o Roman o r Italian city Greek colony

pottery dish fro m C am pania show s a n In d ia n elephant equipped fo r w a rprobably one o f the 2 0 b rought to Ita ly by Pyrrhus, tvhich tvo u ld have been the first the R o m a n s h a d seen.

Below : this ivory plaque, one

o f a p a ir from Palestrina in Italy, gives a g o o d im pression o fth e arm o u r a n d e q u ip m en t used by R o m a n soldiers in the 3 rd centurv BC.

F rom th e early days o f th e R epublic, Rom e behaved as an expansionist power, flghting fre q u e n t wars to gain new territo ry an d sa fe g u ard its security. T h e first m ajo r gain was the capture o f Veii, the southern m o st of the E truscan cities, in 396 b c . Any elation was shortlived, however, as six years la ter a Celtic raid in g party descended from n o rth ern Italy, defeated th e R om ans a t th e River A llia a n d captu red an d sacked Rom e itself. This proved merely a tem porary setback, and during the re st o f th e 4 th ce n tu ry BC th e R om ans steadily expanded th eir political an d military influence th ro u g h Central Italy. They did this by an astute m ixture o f warfare an d diplomacy, flghting only w here necessary. They also ado p ted a policy o f founding Rom an colonies a t strategic places to consolidate th eir h old on newly conquered territory. T he Rom ans gained mastery of Latium in the Latin war of 340-38 BC, and th en defeated their erstwhile allies the Samnites in the Second and T hird Sam nite Wars of 327-304 an d 298-90 b c . This exten d ed th eir pow er east to the Adriatic an d southwards to the Bay o f Naples. T h eir n ex t m ajor war was against a foreign invader, Pyrrhus, King o f Epirus in northw est G reece. In 280 he landed in Southern Italy with an army o f 25,000 m en an d 20 elephants, the first the Rom ans h ad en c o u n te re d . D espite several victories, P yrrhus was u n ab le to m ake sig n ifican t headw ay an d w ithdrew back to Epirus five years later. This left the Rom ans free to consolidate their hold on S o u th e r n Italy, an d ast th e i r eyes across th e stra its to Sicily w h e r e , in 264, they am e into direct conflict with the Carthaginians (pages 24-25).

Place ntia Pmce uza.


S ta tic il i lln g a u n i

Genua ^Genoa I Mutina Modena' Bononia

Roman road: ----------- before 200 BC after 200 BC Pyrrhuss campaigns Roman victory ^ Roman defeat Arim inum <J' oIRinVmi *> Q , ^ Fanum Fortunae .r.-.m L ,


L in g o n e s j Forum e ..,

O j F r in ia ie s 7n
l % i Pisae*

Florentia Cornelii Florenco f 01'1 E H J


x ^

S a b in i

Asculum Ascoti Peeno

298-90 BC Third Samnite War Roman victory at Sentinum (295) paves way for final conquest o f Samnites C 0 J O 275 BC Romans defeat Pyrrhus who leaves ltaly
279 BC

. & m

pCorfinium Fucens S a m u i fer

Beiow: the bottom panel o f Below: this catved slotte from Flsina in northern lta ly sbotvs an Etruscan o n horseback i flghting a C eltic soldier. The Stone dates from around 400 b c , tvhen the Celts ivere \ pnshing the E tm sc a n s from their seitlem ents in northern Itafo. -------j -

390 BC# Celts defeat Romans on River Allia and sack Rome

Pyrrhus defeats Romans at Ausculum and advances on Rome, but is unable to take city

Tarradna,J Terra ina

327-304 BC0 Romans win Second Samnite War despite defeat at Caudine Forks

Neapolis 9
N ap les

Metapontt .. Tarantum oTaranto,

1 Cl 11 343-41 BC 0 First Samnite War gives Rome 280 BC | Pyrrhus defeats Romans cit Heradea


2/The lan gu ages of ltaly, Sth cen tu ry B C

italic group: | East Italic

V - 0 280 BC V Pyrrhus 0 ' invades Croton [ ltaly

i Faliscan
| Latin 1Osco-Umbrian Venetic other Indo-European: I I Celtic Greek Messapic unclassified: ] Etruscan ] Ligurian 150 kms Rhcgium

278-5 BC Pyrrhus Gela campaigns in Sicily

ma ta
22 23



The Wars with Carthage

I Plaeentia l

R o m e s expansion into Southern Italy brings it into conflict zvith the other major poiver in the Central Mediterranean: Carthage.
By th e 3rd century bc , C arth ag e h ad b eco m e th e ce n tre o f a m aritim e em pire stretching along the coasts o f Southern Spain an d N orth Africa and in c lu d in g th e w estern p a rt o f Sicily. T h e m ajo r en em ies o f th e C arth a ginians had fo r m any years b een the G reek cities of Sicily an d Southern Italy, and Sicily h ad becom e a fre q u en t b attleground between the two sides. Rome was sucked into the Sicilian quarrel in 264 b c when Italian m ercenaries at Messina called for th eir help against the Carthaginians. To co u n ter tite powerful Carthaginian navy, the Rom ans had to build th eir own fleet. T hey w ere successful ag ain st th e C arth ag in ian s on la n d at A g rig en tu m (262) and at sea off Mylae (260) an d Ecnom us (256), b u t th eir invasion of Africa was a disaster, and their fleet was destroyed at D repana in 249. Eight m ore years o f war followed before the Romans won a final victory in a sea battle off the Aegates islands. Victory in the First Punic War gave the Rom ans control o f Sicily, b ut did n o t d eter the C arthaginians from lau n ch in g a second war, d irected at Rome itself, in 218. T h e lead er o f the C arth ag in ian forces was H an n ib al, who m arched his army from S o u th ern Spain across the Alps into n o rth e rn Italy, defeating th e Rom an arm ies sent against him. For 16 years h e cam paigned in central an d S o u th e rn Italy, w in n in g c ru s h in g set-p iec e battles at Lake T rasim ene and C annae. H annibal could n o t capture Rome itself, hovvever, and although at the heig h t of his success m uch o f Southern Italy defected to him, he was unable to break the R o m a n s hold o n the peninsula. At last, in 203, he was foiced to retu rn to Africa to defend C arthage itself against a Rom an counter-attack. His defeat by the Rom an general Scipio at Zam a in 202 b ro u g h t the Second P u n ic War to an e n d a n d c o n firm e d R om es standing as th e regional superpower.
Gadss Cndiz

Massilia Marscille \
A rre tiu m 0 X

207 BC

\2 Q /

Hasdrubal defeated~ arid M Hcd

4 208BC Hasdnibal defeated by Roman.general Scipio and marehes to join Honnlba) j in !taly

jEmponae . I yVC. Ampurias Tarraco 0 218 BC j j f 3ITagona Romans mount Spguntum


Rome Neapoli Naples

216 BC Romans defeated

..Capua J%Cannae 1 ,6 ^ d l s lu m Tarentum T; " roton


counter-attack on Spain

0 Carales

Hannibal leads army to ltaly

Carthago Nova 218BC 0 Cantagena

*204 BC Scipio launches invasion of Africa

Lilybaeum --------r SICILLA c l: .;: : . SyracMse

U uc3


Above: this p o rtra it bust,

fo u n d nea rN a p les, is believed to be o f H a n n ib a l (247-183 BC), altbough tbe tuorkm anship dates from the 2 n d century AD. A talented m ilita tj strategist, H a nnibal tvas tbe son o f H am ilcar Barca, tvho h a d conquered Spain fo r tbe C arthaginians.
Opposite: Carthage tvas fo u n d e d in tbe 9tb century BC b y Vhoenician traders a n d grew into tbe Capital o f a p o tverfu l m a ritim e empire. This Street o f substantial, w ell-b u ilt houses dates from shortly after the Second Punic W ar, testim o n y to its co n tin u ed prosperity.

I 2/The Second Punic W a r , 264-41 BC

J Roman territory, 218 BC
) Carthaginian territory, 2 18 BC | area defeeting to Hannibal Roman victory Carthaginian victory ~ ^ - ^ Hannibal, 218-16 BC Hasdrubal, 208-7 BC Scipio. 209-06 BC Scipio, 204 BC

1 $202 BC I Scipio defeats


Hannibal ot battle of Zamo

? ' 0 203 B C Hannibal withdraws from ltaly to defend Carthage against Scipio

mm-f Hannibal, 203 BC

Carthaginian city

3 /T h e B a ttle o f L a ke T ra s im e n e , 217 BC
JO Hannibals lines B Roman lines

0 249 & C

2 6 0 6C ^ i

I/T h e First Punic W a r , 264-41 BC

0 Carthaginian city Carthaginian co!ony Greek colony Roman victory Carthaginian victory Roman campaigns $ 241'BC

Romans defeat

Carthaginians at sea
V Dr-epana Panormus oSolus

^Lipara M/lae Mesina IT A L IA

Romar\ victory brings an end to the war

Tyndaris o

4 / T h e B a ttle o f C a n n a e , 2 16 BC
0Z3 Hannibals lines gg] Roman lines

W l


Islands i 2 4 /



j26A BC I (omans drive out Carthaginians


^62 BC A g r i; 5 'entum Romans capture y \ ^ Carthaginian j/ VS I T h e B a ttle o f Z a m a , 20 2 BC

P i 3 Hannibals lines Roman lines

256 BC # Romans defeat Carthaginians at sea (


elephants Hannibals camp Roman camp





Romes Conquest of the East

In the space o f a century, Rome became the dom inant political and m ilita rj pozver in the eastern Mediterranean.
From the end o f the 4th century BC, the eastern M editerranean was domin ated by the H ellenistic states w hich A lexander the G reats generals had carved o u t o f his em pire after his death: M acedonia; th e Ptolem aic king dom o f Egypt; the Seleucid realm and, in the 3rd century, Pergam um . In theory, th e Seleucid kings ru led a vast em pire stretching from the Aegean to Afghanistan, b u t in practice th eir control was weak an d patchy. Rom e en tered into eastern politics at the tim e o f th e Second Punic War, w hen King Philip V o f M acedon m ade an alliance with H annibal. To contain P hilips am bitions on ihe D alm atian coast, the Rom ans w ent to war in 214 and again in 200, winning a crushing victory at Cynoscephalae in 197 T his was th e ir first success over the fo rm id ab le fo rm a tio n o f sp earm en know n as the M acedonian phalanx. Five years later the Rom ans becam e involved in a still m ore distant war w hen the king o f Pergam um appealed for h elp against his eastern neig h b o u r, th e Seleucid ru ler A ntiochus III. T he Rom ans crushed A ntiochuss land army at M agnesia in 190.
Above: the ruins o f the tem ple o f A pollo a t G orintb. The sack o f the city b y tbe R om an general M u m m iu s in 146 b c se n t sbock ivaves through the Greek w orld. The historian Pausanias recorded th a t the m a jo rity... ivere p u t to the sivord b y the Rom ans, b u t the tvom en a n d children M u m m iu s so ld in to slavery.,y M u m m iu s becam e rich on the proceeds, a n d b u ilt a tem ple to the g o d H ercules a t Rom e.

2/The E a st M e d ite rra n e a n w orld, 100 B C

D r o v in r p

T h e legions w ere back in action in M acedonia 20 years later, this tim e against P hilips son Perseus. At th e battle o f Pydna in 168 the Rom ans won a decisive victory an d red u ced M acedonia to a Rom an province. G reece was added in 146, after a war in which the Rom ans destroyed the leading G reek city, Corinth. Rome acquired its first territory beyon the Aegean in 133, w hen the last king o f Pergam um b eq u eath ed his kingdom to the Rom an people; it becam e the province o f Asia. In 101 Rom ans established a fu rth er province o f Cilicia in an effort to stam p o ut piracy. It was n o t until the wars of the ls t century, however, that Rome east its im perial noose aro u n d the entire region, from the Black Sea to Syria and Egypt.



The Over-Mighty Generals

In the last centurj B C a series of generals built up m ilitary and politica l poiver, pushing the Republic toivards dictatorship.
T he first of these over-mighty generals was Gaius Marius, who won renow n for his victory over King Ju g u rth a o f N um idia an d w ent on to save Rome from th e th re a t o f invasion by th e G erm anic w ar b an d s o f C im bri an d Teutones. Marius also reform ed the Rom an army, m aking it a m ore disciplined an d red o u b tab le flghting force. His place as leading g eneral was taken by Sulla, who distinguished him self in th e Social W ar of 91-89 b c against R om es form er Italian allies. In 86 b c Sulla m oved east to defeat King M ithridates of Pontus, who had taken advantage of the Social W ar to invade Rom an territory in Asia M inor and Greece. W hen Sulla re tu rn e d to Rome in 82 BC, he quelled the political opposition an d had him self m ade dictator with absolute power. In 79 BC he abdicated an d retired to private life, and died shordy aftervvards. This left the field open for younger rivals, including G naeus Pom peius M agnus (Pom pey the G reat). In the 70s BC Pom pey cam paigned in Spain against the rebel general Sertorius, an d in the following decade h e reach ed the peak of his pow er In 67 b c he was given an ex traordinary com m an d against the pirates who w ere harrying M editerranean shipping, an d flushed them from their Cilician strongholds. H e th e n w ent on to inflict a final d efeat on M ithridates o f Pontus n ear Nicopolis, an d in 64 b c im posed a general settlem en t on the N ear East, making the rem ains o f th e S e le u c id k in g d o m th e R o m an province o f Syria, an d Ju d a e a a R om an dependency.

The Tem ple o fF o rtu n a P rim igenia a t Praesneste. P ortuna Prim igenia w as orig in a llj a pop u la r m o th e r goddess revered a t this old E truscan city near Rom e. Sulla b u ilt this grandiose tem ple to her around 80 bc , The m assive substructure, carved into the hillside, s till survives. A great

Above: this late republican p o rtra it b u st in the V atican M u seu m is believed to represent G aius M a riu s (c.1 5 7 -8 6 b c ). A fte r serving tuith Scipio A em ilia n u s in Spain, M arius rose through the ranks. H e ivas in his fifties ivhen his victories over the C im bri a n d Teutones m ade hini the m o st potverful m an in Rom e.

double ram p leads up to a m onu m en ta l staircase iuhich connects tw o porticoed terraces a n d leads to the sacred enclosure a t the top . The scale o f the tem ple is a m easure o f Sulla3 s am bitions; he had sim ilia r building plans fo r R om e, b u t they rem ained u n fulfilled a t his death.

\ t i \m ic

oce m

iyR ofnor? army,

10! BCO Marius defeats Cimbri 105 fiC0, 1and Teliton&S


0 111 SC


" X ' GermD cW I7r bm ds f Arausio ^ Vercelbe Cimbri and Teutones-defeat GA! LI A ^^OrangC; GALEIA Romans and invade Gaul ANSALPINA Acjnae CLSAEPINA Massilil? *Sextfci 11 ----------- -G 9 1 -8 9 BC Ai>:-CivF3 j-ove'itGe 'j l Soda/ War; Straha and Suito IT A 1IA

77BCO Ppnipey. sent to Spo/ri tb ; 02 flc 0 cfush rcbel genera/ Sertori^f U < jefcal5 Teutones Serioriuis muretedj$ ,
M 6wn o/]5er 72:BG... 82 6C0 captures Rome S AH IilN IA

suppress Italian itprislng; widespread * % < ] o f Roman aVzenship Spartacus iaunies: sfaVe:ii$ing
p j ^ flc



J becomes absolute abdicolcs In 79 bc

n u m id ia

0 71 & C MACEDONIA Spartacus kilkd in battle 'jn Apulia; survlvors cmcifted a/onj* t/ie Via Appia ,
I------------- ; - JkL

ARMENIA <Nicopolis 0 66 RC

,\SIA CAPPA&OCJA Pergamtirn ^ 8# ftt MfthrirfdtesJsing-of Pontus Imades

Pomj)ey defeats Mithridates of Pontus and receives submissionofArimnians


0 IO J) 8C Gui Mcrritjs defeats R ight: this heroic sta tu e o f a victorious general ivas fo u n d n e a rP o m p ey > s Theatre in R om e; i t m a y be the one beneath w hich Julius Caesar ivas assassinated. Gnaeus Pom peius M agnus (1 0 6 -4 8 b c ) ivho b u ilt the theatre, w as the leading m an a t R om e u n til he ivas challenged b y Caesar, p u rsu ed to E g y p t a n d killed.


SICILLV | A(;H ,u J X u , CT?e EPb ^ & m a n ^ oSyraeusae < 5 . BC Athens Syr'a&use Sulla:defeats Mithridates,

nce f M ia0^

0 64 BC

King jiigunha of Numidia

T h e R o m a n Em p ire , 60 BC
I Roman te rrito ry, 60 BC


Roman victory Roman defeat Romans fight Romans rebellion

o f Pontus at Chaeroneg . and Orchomenus CRETA ' * (f r e In i e r nu m 0 68-6 7 bc i t r ) r (t n ft a n \ Metellus suppresses Cretan - eU pirates and maikes Cfete a Roman province

Potiipefs Ebstefn Settfehi ent , Sy//a hecomes a iRoaTan /jroviVree,

, judaea a Roman dependency

------------ i -----^ 6 7 bc


fo/rijie^ suppresses Medrterraaean piracy

and destroys pirate strongholds in Cllicia

Cyrenaica bequeathed to Rome

AIexandria - o PTOLEMA1C K IN G D O M O I EGYPT - | .^v





Caesars Conquest of Gaul

In eight years of dogged fighting, Julius Caesar brought the diverse and independent peoples of Gaul into the Roman Empire.
T he conquest of Gaul is on e of the best known episodes in Rom an history, thanks to the detailed account w ritten by Julius Caesar, com m ander o f the Rom an forces. His Gallic Wars allows us to follow the progress o f the Rom an invasion year by year, until eventually the whole of France an d Belgium had been transform ed into a Rom an province. Julius Caesar was a rising star of th e Rom an political world w hen h e was appointed governor o f n o rth e rn Italy an d Southern France in 59 b c . N ot c o n te n t to re m a in w ith in th e b o u n d a rie s o f his p ro v in ce , h e quickly em barked on an am bitious cam paign o f conquest. At first, h e posed as an ally o f various Gallic peoples, aiding them in th eir struggles against their neighbours or foreign aggressors. By the second year o f his com m and, however, he h ad decided to co n q u er the whole country.

55-54 BC

After British iribcs give aid to Gallic rtbls, Caesar sends reconnaissance mission. Full scale exp>edition next year defeats Cassiveloitnus north of. Thames

Oldbui Blgberr/ M o un t\ Cabum 57BC Caesar moves against Belgc 56 BC

He defeats the Nervii after heavy fighting J,


Caesar bridges tihih? and campaigns against Germani

Bratuspantium 52 BC Gallic confederay under Verdngetorix rebels against Roman rule, but icrustied at Alesia

TJurocortorum, Reims c

56 BC Caesars fleet defeats

Cenabum O ileans

Veneti in sea balile



0 58 BC Helvetii try to migrate vvesL Caesar allies with Aedui, and defeats incomers at Btibracte




M are C a n ta b r ic u m D ay o f
lh s c a y

Bibracte Monc Beuvray

H elvetii
I. Gcnnut

u * ~ Matisco
Macon Gcrgovia

G al l ia C is a lp in a

A rverni

51-50 B C ^ ts Caesar invades

G a llia Transalpin^l

Genova Genoa

Aquitania and forces urrender o f Uxellodunum

Tolosa Toulouse s P Narbo i rNarbonne

o cn

Massilia Marseilles

I/C a e s a r s c a m p a ig n s in G aul, S 8 -5 0 B C
Gallia Above: a reconstruction o fth e Roman provinces Gallic states major Gallic oppidum major British hill fo rt major Roman city Roman road Caesars route: 58 BC 57 BC 56 BC 55 BC battle 54 BC 53 BC ^ 5 i BC Gergovia1 >Vienne siege battle N oviodunum Avaricum' Gorgobina Iracte ^ Gallic oppidum Roman held oppidum Caesars route Vellaunodimi icum

fortifications a t A lesia, tvbere V ercingetorix m ade bis last ta n d a gainst the Rom ans.

Despite the popular image, the peoples of Gaul whom Caesar sought to subdue were far from disorganized barbarians. They had coins and kings, towns and trade, and sophisticated craftsm anship in bronze an d gold. They p u t up a fierce struggle, and on m ore than one occasion ame close to inflicting serious defeat on the Rom an legions. Six years o f d eterm ined com paigning, however, including two celebrated forays to Britain, yielded results. By the w inter of 53 bc it seem ed as though Gaul was at last conquered. But the greatest test o f R om an arm s was yet to com e, for the following year th e Gauls rose u p in revolt, led by a young Gallic chieftain, V ercingetorix. T h e clim ax am e at th e siege o f Alesia, w here V ercingetorix was eventually forced into submission. Gaul was won, and after a fu rth e r two years consolidation Caesar was ready to em bark on the n ex t stage o f his career the seizure o f suprem e pow er in Rome itself.


2/The defeat of Vercingetorix, 52 BC

| | rebellious tribes

A bove rig h t: A G allic coin

sboiuing the head o fth e y o u n g ivarrior Vercingetorix, tvho led the rebellion against R o m a n rule in 52 BC. A fte r his d efea t be w as taken to R o m e tvhere he appeared in Caesars triu m p h before being strangled.

% .





Crossing the Rubicon

W ith a poiverful army at his command, Caesar ivas able to defeat his opponents and make him self the ruler of the Roman zvorld.
T he conquest of Gaul saw Julius Caesar at the head o f a large and seasoned army, and in 49 b c he led it across the Rubicon into Italy. It was an act of war, since n o c o m m a n d e r was allow ed to take his so ld iers o u tsid e his province w ithout express senatorial perm ission, an d the River Rubicon was the boundary o f Cisalpine Gaul. Caesar m arched south to occupy Rome, w hile th e s e n a to ria l p a rty o p p o se d to h im fled acro ss th e A d riatic to D yrrhachium . T here they assembled th eir own army u n d e r the com m and of Pompey, who was now C aesars arch-rival. Caesar followed, and laid siege to D yrrh ach iu m . P om pey b ro k e th ro u g h his en circlem en t and w ithdrew across th e Balkans. T he two arm ies eventually mel a t P h arsalu s in T h ra ce , w h ere on 6 Ju n e 48 b c , Caesar won an ovenvhelm ing victory. P om pey fled to Egypt, w here he was treacherously m urd ered , but this did n o t m ark the end of resistancc to Caesar. L ate in 48 C aesar sailed for

Egypt where, in the A lexandrian War, h e defeated the ruling m onarch and placed C leopatra in control. T h en in 47 he m arch ed his arm ies back to Italy th ro u g h the eastern provinces. T he survivors of Pharsalus h ad regrouped in N orth Africa, and in 46 h e won a fu rth e r victory against them at Thapsus. T he last sparks o f opposition were stam ped o ut ili 45 b c when Caesar defeat ed the army o f Pom peys sons at M unda in Spain. T he victory a t M unda rem oved the last o f Caesars enem ies in th e provinces. Senatorial opposition to the rule o f one m an was still deeply en tren ch ed , how ever. a n d am e to a h e a d in F eb ru ary 44 w hen C aesar h ad him self ap p o in ted p erpetual dictator, m aking him in effect th e m onarch of Rome. A m onth later, on 15 March, he was assassinated by a g ro u p o f s e n a to rs on th e eve o f his d e p a r tu r e fo r a c a m p a ig n a g a in st th e Parthians. a , R ight: . 'G Saius c ju . liu s
Caesar (100- 44 in \ fm m a portrait bu st in tbe British M useum .

'Iforesee no peace that can last a year; and the nearer the struggle- and there is bound to be a struggle approaches, the more clearly do ive see the danger of it . .. Gnaius Pompey is determined not to alloiu Gaius Caesar to be elected consul unless he has handed over his cirmy and provirices; Caesat' on the other hand is convinced that there is no safety for him ifhe once quits his army . .. Letter from Cicero, Rome 50 b c

Gallia Transalpina

jn . ti


* 49 BC Caesar crosses
\ flpjjfcon'.-Fpf-Massilia

Pontus Euxinus
\ Black Sea
47JH Dyrrhachlum-|

jvefes ltoly


H is p an ia

Caesar defeats Pharftaces ,of Pontus

i Zela

Rome 49 BC

Durres i

T arragona Caesar oupies Rome; Pompey and senate fJee to Greece


-^ 4


Carthage. Jalova Carta|ena

Bi indisi

besieged \ / 1 by Caesar-


. 4 5 BC

48 BC0

Caesar defeats Pompeys sons

| Carthage

Pomj!>eydefeated \at Pharsalus and flees to Egypt


6' T \ N 1 *
T h e w a r betw een C a e sa r and P o m p e y, 49 -4 4 B C
Roman frontier, 44 BC Caesars campaigns: 46BC 7 Caesar defeats Pompeian forces Hlerosolyma

Jerusalem j


49-48 BC 48-47 BC 46 BC 45 BC siege






The Civil Wars

The murder of Julius Caesar plunged Rome into a new civil w ar as his heir and rivals struggled fo r supremacj.
C ontrol o f the Caesarian party was disputed betvveen M ark Antony and Octavian (C aesars ad o p ted so n ). Octavian w anted vengeance for C aesars death, while A ntony favoured reconciliation. OCEANUs Eventually, however, Octavian p ersu ad ed A ntony to take ATLANTIC O C the field and together they defeated the army o f Caesars assassins Brutus an d Cassius at Philippi in 42 BC. A ntony an d O ctavian agreed to divide effective pow er betw een them , Octavian taking th e west, an d A ntony the east, with a smaller th ird share for th eir colleague Lepidus. Octavian spent th e following years buildH is p a ni a in g u p h is p o s itio n in th e w est. In 38 B C h e la u n c h e d a d e te rm in e d effo rt to c a p tu re Sicily from Sextus Pomey, son o f Pom pey th e G reat, w ho h a d tu r n e d th e isla n d in to a b ase fro m Cartl% Gades^ Nova' Cadiz w hich to harrass R om es grain supplies. It took two years to win an d O ctavian was th e n faced w ith th e task o f neutralizin g L epidus w hen the M AURET ANI A latter attem pted to stage a coup against him.
O n c e O ctavian h a d C onsolidated his h o ld o n th e w est h e was in a p o sitio n fo r a Final show dow n w ith M ark A n to n y . T h e la tte r h a d fa lle n u n d e r

l/T h e stru ggle fo r pow er, 4 4 - 3 1 B C Roman fro n tie r at death o f Caesar, 44 BC
division o f power at Peace o f Brundisium, 40 BC:

L. 1 Antony

1 ___j
G allia
T r a n s a lp iu a

Lepidus Octavian, spring 31 BC


---- *

Antony and Cleopatra, summer 3! BC Octavian, spring-summer 30 BC battle


Provincin R oM **
Massilia Marseilles
Fai-rarn Govsicd

Pedce of Brundisium; Antony and Octavian -divide empire between them. iedvlng Lepidus onlv Africd "

0 42 BC


Poii l us Eux i n us Black Sea

4 4 B C 0 / t emB

Aniony and Octavian defeat Brutus and y G&sIuf'Gt-Philibbi


Above: M arcus Ju n iu s B rutus (c,8 5 -4 2 BC) w as a m em b er o f

P Brundisium m

at Rome Sardinia

the conservative, R epublican fa ctio n a t R o m e. H e h a d fo u g h t fo r Pom pey against Caesar, a n d in 4 4 b c led the conspiracy to assassinate the d ictator . A fte r his d e fea t by A n to n y a n d O ctavian a t Pharsalus in 4 2 b c , he c o m m itted suicide.

s p r in tu BC Octavian advhntes to Acdiim

i i Actium


C - spring^um rfefio BC Octavian maffoes on Egypt; Antona and Cleopatra commrt suicide fltlo ch

On this side the commander and. soliers alike ivere / uli of a rom; on the other ivas , general dejeetion; on the one side the roivers ivere stong and sturdy, on the other iveakened by privaiions no one ivas deserting from Caesar to A nlony, ivhile Jrom Anlony to Caesar someone or other deserled daily Ve 1 1ius Pa te rculus, Compendium of Roman History

Sra 0 3 6 BC Octavian defeats Sextus Pompey at sea battle of Naiilnrhus and rprnvprc
36 BC 0 Lepidus attempu rising against Octavian and is stripped of power; Octavia tdkcs Africa

3 l BC G sumn)er Octavian defeats AntonjT 1 and Cleopatra at Actium; Antony and Cleopatra flee to Egypt

Q 34 BC

Donations of Alexandria: Antony gives eastern territories to Cleopatra her sons


2/The B a ttle of A c tiu m , 2 S e p te m b e r 31 B C

is o s iK ti Octavian s fleet i__ i (400 warships) 1 ______ 1 Antonys fleet (230 warships) direetion o f wind Octavlao's aneho rage Octavians

SfUns Arabicita

O cta via n s forces have blockaded A n to n y b y land a n d sea . S hort o f supplies, A n to n y a ttem p ts to break out. W ith the iv in d blotving from the northivest, A n to n y s fle e t m u st g et o u t to sea to clear the Island o fL e u c a s a n d g e t back to Egypt. O cta via n s fleet backs in to open ivater, g ivin g its superior num bers room to m anoeuvre. The fleets m eet , m issiles are fired, a n d O cta via n 1 s ships begin to encircle A n to n y s. To reinforce his fla n ks, A n to n y thins o u t his centre; Cleopatray s squadron breaks through the gap, hoists sail a n d flees. A n to n y a n d som e 70 to 80 o fh is ships folloiv, leaving the rest o fh is forces to be captured.

rivin Kt" camp

Agrippa arjd Octavi^rt

A nitrati a

R iglit: M ark A n to n y (M arcus A ntonius, 8 3 - 3 0 b c ), had

Ionian Sea

10 kms

served under Caesar in Gaul. A fter Casesars death , he took the lead in the Caesarian party, arousing the hostility o f Caesars heir O ctavian. The two m en ivere reconciled a n d fo nned the Second Trium virate, an alliance cem ented b y A n to n y s m arriage to O ctavians sister O ctavia . B u t A n to n y s relationship ivith Cleopatra reopened the conflict, leading to his defeat a t A c tiu m in 31 b c .

th e in flu e n c e o f C le o p a tra , Q u e e n o f Egypt, w ho was m istrusted by conserva tive Rom an opinion. T h e breach ame in 32 b c , w hen Octavian drove A ntonys supporters from Rome an d eelared war o n C le o p a tra . A n to n y a d v a n c e d to A ctium o n th e east side o f the A driatic, w here th e final sea battle was fought 011 2 S e p te m b e r 31 b c . A fter a b r ie f stru g g le , A n to n y a n d C le o p a tra fle d th e scen e, yielding o u trig h t victory to O ctavian. T he civil wars en d ed with their suicide in Egypt the fol!owing year O ctav ian was now th e so le r u le r o f th e R o m an world; fo u r years later, in 27 b c , h e was g r a n te d th e title o f A u g u stu s, b e c o m in g th e firs t Rom an em peror.


Julius Caesar mtirdered

Ta|.ent Tarai

A Thracia M acedonia



C re m a tio n and in h u m a tio n a t th e Isola S acra c e m e te ry , O stia , A D 100-250
j * ' E3H cremation inhumation

Shades of the Departed

The funeral monuments ofth e Romans reflected their belief in an afterlife and indicated the social status of the deceased.
To the Rom ans the spirits o f the dead were known as Manes. T h ere was a com m on understanding that they rem em bered with affection their ties with living relatives, an d n ee d ed to be n o u rish ed with offerings o f food and drink, an d even blood. Some graves had special tubes or openings leading down to the burial for this purpose. Q uite w here the dead lived was o pen to differing interpretations. Some th o u g h t they descended into the d epths of the earth, w here they were received by a kindly M other Earth; others that they lin g e red n e a r th e p lace w here they h ad b ee n b u ried ; w hile o th ers believed that they ascended into the heavens. T he m ain source of evidence for Rom an burial customs is the burials them selves, an d the fu n erary m o n u m e n ts (to g e th e r w ith th e ir in scrip tio n s) which w ere erected over them . In general, only wealthy peo p le received carved funeral m em orials o f stone. These frequently carry a p o rtrait of the deceased (often o f several individuals buried in the same family grave) and an inscription addressed to th e Dis M anibus, the spirits of the dead. Burial within the city limits was strictly forbidden by law, and the principal cemeteries grew u p along the arterial roads leading from the cities, such as the Via A ppia south of Rome. H ere, as aro u n d o th er cities, th ere are a wide variety o f tom bs fro m m ajor m o n u m en ts to sim ple graves. Special m e n tio n m ust also be m ade o f the catacom bs, u n d erg o u n d com plexes o f rock-cut graves associated with religious com m unities of Jews an d early Christians and found n o t only at Rome b u t also at Naples an d Syracuse. T he traditional Rom an burial rite was divided into several stages. T he body was first washed, then ano in ted and laid o u t for burial, with a coin placed in the m outh of the corpse to pay C haron the ferrym an who would convey the deceased over the river of Styx. O n the day of the burial, the corpse would be laid on a funeral couch (for the rich) or a simple bier (in the case of the poor) an d carried in procession outside the city or settlem ent to the place of disposal. Burial itself could take the form of either crem ation or inhum a tion. In Republican times, crem ation was the d o m in an t rite at Rome and th ro u g h o u t m ost o f the E uropean provinces, b ut u n d e r the early em pire it was steadily replaced by the eastern practice o f inhum ation until, by the end o f th e 2 n d c e n tu ry a d , even R o m an e m p e ro rs were generally inhum ed.

H: ' 1-

- ~T

B u rial rites in the R o m a n Em p ire , I st cen tu ry A D

~ ] inhumation | | cremation

Roman frontier, AD 14

M rtra-N M

a n n x

10 0 - 125 125-175 175-250

V iii

Vears AD

sici 1 * 1VIT H-i-E'

Som e p ro m in en t R om ans were buried in rem arkable grave m onum ents such as the rOund tom b o f Caecilia M etella beside the Via A p p ia {right).

Above: a m ilitary tom bstone

from the legionary fo r t o f V irconium (W roxeter) in B ritain. The inscription reads M arcus Petronius, so n o f Lucius, o fth e M en en ia n tribe , from Vicetia, aged 38, soldier o fth e 14th legion G em ina, seived 18 years, w as a sta n d a rd bearer a n d is buried here

M oerately tuell-off toivnspeople w o u ld have h a d fa r sim pler m em orials; this one (left), from D yrrhachium (m odem D urres, in Albania), reads D om itius Sarcinator, from T itia N icarium the ivife o f D om itius Sarcinator. Faretvell!

M o s t people h a d to be content w ith a sim ple p it enclosed by com m on tiles. Its p osition iv o u ld be m arked b y a p ottery vessel (left) into ivhich friends a n d fam ily could po u r offerings o f fo o d a n d drink.

R ight: as in h u m a tio n took over from crem ation as the m a in m e th o d o f burial, stone sarcophagi am e in to use. O n ly the ivealthiest sections o f R o m a n society could a fford such bea u tifu lly carved sarcophagi as this one, from A phrodisias in A sia M inor.

R ig h t: som e o fth e fin est exam ples o f R o m a n sculpture can be fo u n d on inhum ation sarcophagi o fth e 2 n d a n d 3rd centuries a d . The exuberant relief carving on this 2ndcentury sarcophagus depicts the trium ph o fD io n y su s.





II: The Imperial Regime

The Emperor Augustus gave Rome a stong, centralized government capable of ruling its vast territories, tactfully veiling his pouier in respect fo r Republican form . Wealth flooded in to Rome; traders travelled throughout the empire and beyond. Literature flourished and great buildings adorned the cities. Only in moments of crisis, ivhen the succession uias unclear, was the underlying poiver of the m ilitary laid bare.
D u rin g th e last two ce n tu ries b c Rome h ad becom e the capital o f a great em pire, b u t it was only at the very e n d o f th a t p e rio d th a t th e p o s itio n o f e m p e r o r was estab lished. Sulla, Champion o f the aristocracy, had been absolute ru ler of Rom e for a few years in the early ls t cen tu ry b c . Ju liu s C aesar h ad achieved a sim ilar position in th e short perio d prio r to his assassination. Both th ese had been shortlived experim ents, however, an d it was only in 27 b c th a t a constitutio n a l a rra n g e m e n t was re a c h e d w h ich gave A u g u stu s s u p re m e p o w er o n a r e g u la r a n d a g re e d basis. A nd it was only tim e w hich show ed th a t this pow er co uld be successfully h an d ed on, leading to a long line o f Rom an em perors from Tiberius, Augustuss im m ediate successor, to Rom ulus A ugustulus, die last o f the w estern em perors, alm ost half a m illennium later. T he rise o f im perial Rome was n o t ju st a question of em perors an d armies, however, b u t was accom panied by an enorm ous accession o f new wealth to Italy. T he m ost populous areas of the M editerranean world had previously lain in the east, in Egypt, the Levant, an d the lands b o rd erin g the Aegean (Greece and w estern Asia M inor). This is n o t to deny th at there h ad been im p o rta n t G reek colonies an d E truscan cities in Italy an d Sicily, n o r to ignore the im portance o f C arthage an d its dependancies, b u t th e rise of Rom e m arks a decisive shift westwards in the econom ic and political centre o f gravity. In one sense, it was a passing phase; by the later Rom an period, and th ro u g h o u t the earlier Middle Ages, it was the east once again which was the centre o f wealth and power. But during the last centuries b c , an d the first two centuries a d , Italy achieved a new level o f prosperity w hich is amply reflected in the rem ains of cities and villas, an d in the production of luxury metalwork and jewellery. F urtherm ore, Italian m erchants an d entrepreneurs, stim ulated by hom e d em an d an d sheltered by Rom an prestige, travelled far afield in the search for new com m ercial openings, establishing small colonies as distant as A rikam edu in Southern India.

The Augustan settlement By the ls t century b c it may have becom e m ore or less inevitable th at Rome should fali u n d e r the power o f a single ruler. T h e old Republican institutions were no longer able to cope with the incessant jockeying for power between over-mighty generals, n o r could they easily m eet the dem ands of the rapidly growing em pire. At the en d o f the day, however, the position of em p ero r, a n d its successful co n tin u a tio n down th e ce n tu ries w hich followed, ow ed m uch to th e wisdom o f A ugustus. Above ali, h e succeeded w here so g reat a m an as Julius Caesar h ad failed: in w inning acceptance from b oth the senate and th e Rom an people at large.

R ight: the A ra Pacis Augustae

R ig h t: this head o f A ugustus, from a colossal b ronze statue , was fo u n d b eyo n d the frontiers o fth e R o m a n Em pire in M eroe (m o d em Sudan). I t was probably taken fro m R o m a n E g yp t as b o o ty b y raiders fro m the south.

(oltar o fth e A u g u sta n Peace) w as set u p in the C am pus M artius in 13 b c . The relief depicts the em perors fam ily; the m an w ith his head covered is probably A u g u stu ss trusted lieutenant Agrippa, the victor o f A ctiu m . H is y o u n g son G aius clings to his toga. A ugustus a dopted G aius a n d m ade him one o f his heirs, b u t G aius predeceased him .

It was the victory over Antony and C leopatra at the battle of Actium in 31 BC which gave Augustus suprem e power. L earning from Caesars example, however, he did n o t seek to enforce his will on the Senate b u t sought a solution which m aintained his position u n d er th e cloak of Republican forms. In his personal testam ent he claim ed h e h ad restored the Republic, and in a sense, paradoxically, that was true. A ugustuss constitutional arrangem ent, reached first in January 27 BC an d th en refined four years later, gave him overall control o f the army an d m ost o f the im p o rtan t provinces (notably those with military g arrisons). It also gave him the power to propose or veto legislation, to overrule any provincial governor, an d to sit alongside the elected consuls. For the first nine years, from 31 to 23 BC, he was elected consul as well, b u t th at was n o t essential to his power base, and later em per ors could pick and choose w hether they wished to be consul, or allow their supporters that h o n o u r instead. A ugustus took p articu la r care to consolidate his p o sitio n at Rom e, and tu rn ed the city into a Capital worthy of a great em pire. H e claim ed to have fo u n d it brick an d left it m arble, an d he and his family beautified it with many new m onum ents. T hese included structures o f an essentially propa g andist o r dynastic n atu re, such as th e A ra Pacis A ugustae (Altar o f the A ugustan Peace) o r the huge circular m ausoleum where h e and his close relatives w ere eventually b u ried . O ne n otable om ission, however, was an im perial palae. Augustus chose to concentrate instead on building public




m onum ents. Rome by this tim e had o utstripped A lexandria to becom e the largest city o f the western world, with a population o f aro u n d a million people, and Augustus took particular pains to build new aqueducts and reorganize the regular ship m en t of grain at State expense on which the u rb an p o o r depended.

until the late 2nd century. It was short-lived departure. W hen D om itian was m u rd ered , the elderly Nerva was chosen by the senate, an d he in tu rn chose Trajan, by adoption, as his son and successor

The growth o f empire The imperial succession P erhaps the greatest of A ugustuss legacies were his tactful handling of suprem e power an d his long life. W hen h e died in ad 14 h e h a d b e e n e m p e r o r fo r o v er 40 y ears, a n d th e id e a o f suprem e power in the hands of one m an no longer seem ed a dangerous innovation. T he accession of Tiberius was smoothly han d led , and the position o f em p ero r was u n ch allen g ed even w hen he withdrew from Rome to spend m uch of his last ten years on Capri. Gaius generally known by his nicknam e, Caligula in tu rn succeeded w ithout serious opposition, b u t his excesses did raise resentm ent am ong the senatorial aristocracy Both his predecessors h ad faced conspiracies against th eir lives as was only to be expected in an autocradc Stateb u t Caligula was the first to fali prey to such an attem pt. W h e th e r h e was really m a d d er or b a d d e r th a n o th e r em perors is open to question. T he death of Caligula b ro u g h t to the fore the power o f the praetorians, th e em perors elite corps of bodyguards. However m uch the senate may have h o p ed for the retu rn of the Republic, the p raeto rian guards had a vested interest in the institution of em peror, and appointed th e unlikely Claudius, lam e a n d stam m ering, in C aligulas place. H e reig n e d fo r 14 years, a p eriod in which the im perial household, and the court officials in particular, becam e increasingly powerful. T h at continued u n d er his successor, the notorious Nero. Again, the story of events is strongly coloured by his eventual downfall, b u t there is no d o u b t th a t a reign which began well ran into increasing opposition in later years. His brutal suppression o f conspiracy and failure to retain senatorial sup p o rt u n d erm in ed his position and led to open rebellion in Gaul an d Spain in a d 6 8 . D eserted by his guards and officials, N ero took his own life. N ero was the last of the Julio-Claudians, the dynasty o f em perors who had ruled Rome since Augustus. They were ali related to each other, at least by marriage, b u t it is striking th at n o n e was succeeded by his own son. Only Claudius h ad a son surviving at the Ume o f his death, an d he was passed over in favour of Nero. T he guiding principal in determ ining the im perial succession was adoptionTiberius was ad o p ted by Augustus, and N ero by Claudius. T h e d e a th o f N ero p lu n g e d Rom e in to a p e rio d o f crisis, as successive em perors w ere proclaim ed by th eir supporters, briefly seized power, and then fell before a stronger contender. T h e year 69 saw no fewer th an four of them : Galba, O tho, Vitellius and Vespasian. T h e m ajor new feature was the role o f the fro n tier armies in prom oting their own nom inee, an d pressing his claims by force w here necessary. T hus Vitellius was very m uch the creation o f the Rhine army, and Vespasian ame to power through the sup p o rt of the eastern legions. T he em perors o f the later ls t century a d Consolidated Rom an rule at hom e an d abroad. Vespasian was followed by his sons T itus an d D om itian, the only case of direct father-son succession in the whole history of the em pire

BeIow : this m osaic fro m the

Tem ple o fF o rtu n a a t Palestrina depicts the riches o f E g y p t th a t fell into R om an h ands after the B attle o f A c tiu m in 31 BC. The floodlands o f the N ile p rovided an a b u n d a n t grain harvest, som e o f ivhich ivas shipped to Rom e to fe e d the u rban populace. R ea lizin g the p o litica l poiver this gave h im , A u gustus m ade E g y p t h is personal possession; he a n d his successors ruled it as pharaohs, a n d n o senator ivas allotved go there iv ith o u t im perial perm ission.

A ugustus in h e rite a n em p ire b u ilt up over two and a h a lf cen tu ries of R epublican governm ent since the acquisition of Sicily, R om es first overseas province, during the First Punic War (264-41 bc ). T here w as little planning b eh in d this territorial expansion until the institution of em peror itself created the o p p o rtu n ity fo r centralized strategic th o u g h t. B ut em p ero rs were expected to be military m en, and alongside any g rand strategies they recognized the pressure from their subjects to prove themselves successful gener als. New co n q u e sts also b ro u g h t slaves a n d booty, an d p ro v id ed m any o p p o rtu n ities for R om an bureau crats an d en tre p re n eu rs to enrich them selves at the expense o f the defeated peoples. Augustus him self greatly expanded the em pire. His victory at Actium in 31 BC was followed by the invasion of Egypt (whither Antony an d C leopatra had fled for refuge) the following year. Egypt was a large an d prosperous country, b u t u n d e r Augustus it becam e p art o f the e m p ero rs private dom ain, a province u n d e r his personal supervision. It also provided m uch of the grain n ee d ed to feed the growing population of Rome. A ugustuss m ajor foreign wars were fought with the aim of rationalizing the

Above: one o f A u g u stu ss acts

wa$ to reform the currency, establishing a system ivhich survived u n til the ntiddle o f the 3 rd century. The silver denarius (top left) rem ained the backbone o f the coinage, tarrifed a t V is o f a g o ld aureus. Its half, the quinarius (n e x t from top) ivas p roduced only spasm odically. The large brass sestertius w as u/orth a quarter o f a denarius; this one ivas struck d uring the reign o f T ib en u s (a d 14-37). Its h a lf ivas the brass dupondius, represented here b y a coin o f Trajan a d 98-1 1 7 ). The radiate croivn helped to distinguish it from the sim iliarly-sized as, ivhich ivas m ade o f copper a n d ivorth h a lf as m uch; this piece was struck u n d er G aius C aligula" (a d 3 7 -4 1 ). The sm allest oppers, the semis a n d quadrans ivorth a h a lf a n d a quarter o f a n as respectively su ccu m bed to infla tio n a n d were n o t struck after the early 2 n d century.



T he Rom ans ten d ed to portray th eir foreign enem ies as uncivilized barbarians, b u t the tru th was rath e r different. T h e Britain attacked by Claudius was already organized into kingdom s with coinage an d towns (though n o t the kind of m arket-place coinage in use in the Rom an w o rld ). Dacia was still m ore sophisticated, a powerful kingdom with a ru ler who had already successfully resisted Rom an aggression some 20 years earlier. T he key to Rom an military success was of course the army, stationed mainly in camps spread o ut along the vulnerable frontiers. They h ad b o th a defensive an d an offensive role, being deployed an d redeployed as the needs of individual cam paigns o r em ergencies dictated. O ne m ajor change from the days of the Republic was the m o re static conception o f the military establishm ent. It was Augustus who first fixed tlieir pay, an d their num bers rem ained relatively constant, at aro u n d 28 legions plus a similar n um ber o f auxiliaries, th ro u g h o u t the ls t an d 2nd centuries. W hat did change was the n atu re of th eir accom m odation, as during the late ls t century the original camps of tim b e r a n d tu r f w ere steadily r e b u ilt in sto n e. T h e fro n tie rs too w ere stren g th en ed by watchtowers an d forts, a first step towards the continuous fro n tier barriers built by H adrian.

R ight: A rabia Petraea tvas

an n exed by the E m peror Trajan in AD 106. Its principal city, Petra, tvas a m a jo r trading centre in the Jordanian desert, fa m o u s fo r its im pressive tom bs such as the D eir (seen here), tvhich ivere carved directly from the rock ivhere they stood.

Below : th e S o u th e rn parts o f G aul, uihere Greek colonists ha d already introduced the trappings o fc iv ic life, were q u ickly integrated in to the R o m a n Em pire. The theatre a t Arausio (Orange), in G allia N arbonensis, was b u ilt u nder A ugustus; his statue stands in the central niche above the stage.

The rise o f the provinces W ithin the frontiers, the lst century was a tim e of growing prosperity. As the new provinces b ecam e b e tte r in te g ra te d a n d steadily m o re R om anized, provincials themselves played an increasingly p ro m in en t role in the governm e n t o f th e em pire. R om an citizenship was gradually ex ten d ed to vvhole towns an d cities in the provinces (though always excluding w om en and slaves), and provincials soon ame to form significant m inorities in the senate at Rome. At the same tim e, th e econom ic balan c e betvveen Italy a n d th e

im perial frontiers. H e conquered the n o rth e rn Balkans, so as to carry the frontier to a suitable natural barrier, the River D anube. Rivers were chosen as b o u n d arie s in th e east an d west as well. In th e east, it was th e River E uphrates which m arked the boundary betw een the Rom ans an d their east ern neighbours the Parthians. Augustus waged no m ajor wars on this front. It was in th e west th a t th e g reatest tro u b le lay. W hen C aesar co n q u ered Gaul he had m ade the Rhine the frontier o f his new province. T h at left an awkward salient of u n co n q u e red territory in the Alps, betw een Gaul and Italy. Augustus sought to remove this by conquering the Alpine tribes and carrying the frontier forward here, as in th e Balkans, to the D anube. T he n ext step was to move the Rhine frontier forw ard to the Elbe. T h at seem ed to have been achieved, an d the Rom ans were poised to advance still fu rth er into central Europe, w hen rebellion in the Balkans caused the withdrawal of troops for operations there instead. T h ree years later, in a d 9, th ree Rom an l e g i o n s w ere d estro y ed by th e G erm an s w hile C ro s s in g th e T e u t o b u r g Forest, and the territories beyond the Rhine w e re abandoned. Augustus left his successors with the advice n o t to extend im perial territory, b u t to consolidate w hat they already held. T h ere was nonetheless a steady acquisition o f new provinces during the ls t an d early 2nd centuries a d , driven partly by strategic considerations an d partly by th e quest for military glory. Sometimes, new provinces were created peacefully by absorbing what had h ith e rto been client kingdoms. Such was th e case with M auretania in A D 44 and T hrace in a d 46. But o th er provinces were acquired by direct conquest. T h e m ost notab le instances are B ritain, invaded by C laudius (an em p ero r desperate for military glory) in A D 43; an d Dacia, co n q u ered by T rajan in the two fiercely-fought Dacian wars o f 101-2 an d 105-6.




an d e n c o u ra g e m e n t to H o race, Virgil an d Livy. O th e r wealthy Rom ans added th eir patronage o f the poets and historians of the day. T he greatest literary work was w ithout d oubt Virgils A eneid, an epic poem which retold the origins o f Rom e in th e legend o f A eneas fleeing th e sack of Troy to make a new beginning in Italy. O th er literature took a m ore practical slant. T h ere were for instance the Natural History, an enorm ous encyclopaedia by Pliny the elder, who died in the eruption o f Vesuvius in a d 79, and the ten books O n A rchitecture by Vitruvius, w hich exerted such influence on the architects of the Renaissance. T h ere was even a treatise on th e Rom an water supply. In h isto rical term s, how ever, o u r know ledge o f th e ls t cen tu ry com es m ainly from historians who w ere w riting after its close, above ali Tacitus an d Suetonius. In term s of buildings and o th er m onum ents, the ls t an d early 2nd centuries have left am ple rem ains, including som e of th e m ost impressive achievem ents o f Rom an architecture. Rom e itself saw an upsurge o f building u n d er the early em perors. This included a series of adjoining im perial fora (public squares with tem ples, offices and law courts), supplem enting the facilities of th e original Forum R om anum at the h eart o f the city. T he last an d greatest o f these, the F orum o f T rajan, is n otable today fo r th e striking T ra ja n s Colum n, with its spiral relief reco rd of the e m p ero rs Dacian Wars. M ention m u st also be m ad e o f th e C olosseum , th e la rg e st a m p h ith e a tre o f the Rom an world, which was dedicated in ad 80. T he legacy of the early em pire extends far beyond Rome itself, hovvever, and includes buildings b oth pub lic and practical. T h e great arched aqueducts of Nimes an d Segovia belong to this period, as do the artificial harbours at Ostia and Caesarea. It is these, as m uch as the m onum ents of the em perors themselves, which convey the confidence and pow er o f Rom e at its apogee.

R ight; A ugustus had pttrcbased a villa on the Palatine before he bec a m e emperor , a n d bis successors gradually bo u g h t up m u c h o f the rest o f the h ill. The surviving ruins are largely tbe ivork o f tbe Flavian em peror D om itian (81-96), w bo b u ilt an extensive palae com binitig State rooms, gardens a n d private apartm ents. This transfo n n a tio n o f the Palatine H ill into an im p eria l residence has given rise to the m o d em w ord palae.

provinces began to change, as the latter began to benefit from the opportunities offered by Rom an rule. At o ne level, the em pire was an enorm ous trading zone w here im p o rt taxes were held to a m inim um . African olive oil and Gaulish Samian ware could now easily be shipped to m arkets m Italy and beyond, along with the highly prized garum (fish sauce) from Spain. This was a trade in everyday items, n o t expensive luxuries, and helped to give the whole em pire a feeling of com m unity, even though im p o rtan t differences still rem ained between the east (where G reek was spoken) and the west (where Latin was now the official language). T rading opportunities were n o t restricted to the em pire itself, hovvever, b ut extended far beyond. This was especially tru e in the east, w here m erchants from th e R om an E m pire (mostly from G reece o r the eastern provinces) sailed the Indian O cean or travelled the Silk Route to bring eastern luxuries such as Chinese silks or exotic spices an d perfum es to the m arkets of the East M editerranean. Rom an pottery and glassware travelled east in retu rn , b u t it was gold and silver coins which provided the m ain m eans of paym ent, draining the em pire of an estim ated 100 m illion sesterces every year.

B e lo w : T rajans M arkets a t Rom e. In the foreground are the foun d a tio n s o fh is forum . The largest o f ali the Im perial Fora, i t contained laiv courts, offices a nd, above ali, the enorm ous B asilica Ulpia, notv la rgelj buried beneath the Via dei Fori Im p en a li. Both Forum a n d m arkets ivere b u ilt ivith the proceeds o f T rajans conquest o f Dacia.

The imperial legacy To the m odern observer, the legacy of im perial Rome resides mainly in its literature and m onum ents. In literary terms, the ls t century ad was p a rt of th e g o ld en age o f L atin w riting w hich had b eg u n with a u th o rs such as Cicero a n d Catullus in the late Republic. Augustus considered patronage of the a rts to be one of t h e duties o f h is role as first C itizen, and g ave support
44 45



The New Order

The Emperor Augustus imposed a new unity on the Roman ivorld, but victory escaped him in Germany.

Oceananus Germanicus

12 BC

Drijjm- leads Rohian fket to altiick Germans o f lower Ems

Uh a u v i I i rit rt eri

0 9 AD

Fossa Drusiana $ --------------i canal dug by Drusus to take Roman fleet from Rhine to North Sea VecJiteni

Tftree Roman: legions

under command o f Quiptilius Varus ambushed and annihifated by Germans

Augustus keptfor hi. in.srlf ali the more vigorous provinces those that coul not be safely adnnnistered by an annual governor . He nrarty always restored ki ngdoms he had conquered to their defeated dfnasties ... linkins
G ernmnia Iiifcrioi'

2/A u gU stu ss c am paign in G e rm a n ia ,

12 B C - A D 9
Roman frontier 12 BC lim it o f pacified area,
AD 6

V e ffia T i Oberaden [Nteuss[tf>j Sugmnbri i [ p Colonia Agrippina Ubit Cologhe


Tp p cn *1 / 1 BC
Rqman advance abng tippe and establish advance base

500m * 9BC Drusus leads amiy to Elbe but dies from a ridlng acddent on

,.' i -A-

the return pum ey a rc o m a tn n

4 '6 BC

Drusus, 12-9 BC Tiberiuss projected campaign, AD 6 military canal

V<wP \ PJemetes

H e rm u n d u r i ft. Hemumduri frecome loyal diies o f Rome

nbefrus prepores pincer altack oti Marcomanni from west and muth

legionary bases o r marching camps: UH [7S i founded before 12 BC founded 12 BC-AD 6 Roman defeat Dangstetten


9 Augusta 1 /fugsburg
I VindeficorujmCarnimtum [Q| Petroriell 1

allies by mut.ua/. ties of friendship and interma.rri.age

Aipine provinces: 1 Alpes Poeninae 2 Alpes Cottiae 3 Alpes Maritiiriae i-'Augusta Augusta 1 /^ e ro ru m Virtdelicorum

I/T h e R o m a n provinces in the age o f A u gu stu s,

31 B C - A D 14
] j imperial province senatorial province


Life o f A ugustus
Aijul tanin


R aelia


N oricu iji _Vi rum

P a n tirm iti

T H R A C E client kingdom BOSPHOKAN KINGDOM imperial frontier @ provincial capital or other major city

/ T o b s^ , -1 ToulotM IP I

Mediolanum Milan

nun 1 3 \ o 1
} Genija MiSSilia Genovft Marseiiles
Bd lo g ria

S p lit'

M w in Byzantium Istanbul ^ Macedonia ( pergamum Asia . Athenae -Atliens 9 Larakia \ Ephesus (T.vtlhaml) ^
O, X 3 Oalfttla

Tarraco Tanagona

ranica Rome


Tarentum Ta ran to

Carthago Nova Cartagena Caesarea

Saidinia Achaea .Carthago Sicilia Syracusae Syracuse


C o m it ia g e n e




A n tio c h



. Dahiacus R ight: A u gustus took the

C re ta

security o f tbe em pire v eiy seriously, acting as co m m ander-in-cbief o f the R o m a n armies. This ls tcen tu iy b c statue fro m tbe Trim a Porta in R om e shoivs bim in fu ll dress uniform , stressing tbe im portance o f his m ilita ry povuer base.

5 Cyrene

Hierosojyma ' lemsalgm






The City of Rome under Augustus

U n der Augustus, Rome became the greatest city of the western tuorld, graced with im pressive new public buildings.

Since the city tvas not adorned as the dignity ofthe empire demanded, and ivas exposed to flood and. fire, he so beautified it that he could fuslly boast that he had found. ii built of bridi and left it in marble. " Suetonius, Life of Augustus

By the end of the ls t century b c , Rome h ad a population of aro u n d a million people, from wealthy senators to craftsm en, shopkeepers an d slaves. R ealizing th a t th e citys in fra stru ctu re h a d n o t k ep t p ace w ith its rap id growth, Augustus ivided Rome into 14 adm inistrative regions, each u n d er an appointed m agistrate, set up a police force an d fire brigade, an d built or resto re d several aqueducts. To prev en t flooding h e had the River T ib er dred g ed and w idened; according to his biograplier Suetonius it h ad for som e tim e b ee n filled with ru b b ish an d n arro w ed by ju ttin g b u ild in g s. Crucially, A ugustus to o k p erso n al responsibility fo r th e co rn dole, the m onthly distribution of free grain to the citys poor A ugustus also sp e n t en o rm o u s sums on th e ag g ran d isem en t o f th e city, making it a worthy Capital for so great an em pire. H e boasted th at he found Rome brick and left it m arble, an d the aim was n o t ill-founded. At the h e a rt o f th e m e tro p o lis, m any o f th e ex istin g b u ild in g s o f th e F o ru m R om anum were faced in m arble for the first time during his reign. Nearby he built his own new Forum to serve as a lawcourt an d adm inistrative cen tre. In his rebuilding o f the city, Augustus was assisted by m em bers of his family and by trusted friends an d lieutenants such as Statilius T aurus and above ali Marcus Agrippa. In the Campus Martius region to the n o rth of the city, Agrippa was responsible for a whole series o f new buildings: the origi nal P antheon, the Baths of A grippa an d the Saepta Julia. N orth of these Augustus erected an enorm ous sundial, the H orologium , with an obelisk b ro u g h t from Egypt as its pointer. Nearby, standing within a park, was the circ u lar M ausoleum , desig n ed to resem b le an E tru scan b u rial m o u n d , w here in AD 14 the ashes o f Augustus him self were finally laid to rest.

Above: the H orologium o r S o la n u m A ugu sti Augustt& s Sund ia l tvas et u p around 10 JiCj u sing a n obelisk from E g y p t as a p ointer. O n the em perors birthday it po in ted toivards the A ra Pacis Augusta*, an alta r com m em orating the peace A ugustus h ad brought to the etnpire. e1i ij

Mausoleum of Augustus

_ _ Ara Pac| Augusta \ ^ _ / Q(A!tar.6{ Augusta/1 Horologium o f Peace).fp 1 Augustus / (soiar c lo c k );

Pantheon o f Agrippa r (later rebuilt by Hadrian) I J o f Baths o f Agrippa 7 Pompey (52 B C )---------1 --------- -i |
P b it fc o

Saepta Julia (voting endosure)

u 0

_ Temple o f Juno Moneta (C. 4th BC) Tabularium toffidal record offir.pl (7S Bc) Portico of.Livia (wlfe^of Augustus) branch o f

Theatre o f Pompey . v L Largo Argentina 1 ;o Argentina (first stone th e a tre f I 1 t| [(fou r temples C C. 3 d at Rome) (5.5 BC) tJ * to C, BC) Z3 C : lst I st BC) Pons Agrippa Theatre and C r y p t f J J > fl\ i H (Bridge o f A g r ip p a ^ (portico) o f Balbus U

f Aqua Julia

11 ^

J Forum of Augustus
Forum o f Julius Caesar (46 BC) buildings o f ithe Forum

Amphitheatra of Statilius T a u r u s '- J (first stone amphkh atre,at Rome) _ Portico o f Octavia (s ite r o f Augustus)

"T a M U -sir J j^J f ^ aJP

( T \\
T f


2 ^ -:.

Te'n Temple o f - v /, Jupt J ^ f te r Capitolinus (Ci 6th 8C, rebuik C, I st 8C) Temple of ApoHo
o n the Palatine

I fo B jj ff

Above: a m o n g the m a n y

Pons Sublicius (tim ber footbridge) (originally C. 7th BC) Pons Aemilius (piers f 79 BC, arches 142 B: first stone bridge) 3 Pons Cestjus (C. ls t BC) 4 Pons Fabricius (62 BC) Theatre.of Marcellus (nepheW o f Augustus)
Porticus Aeniilia (market warehouse) (early C. lst BC)

pu b lic b uildings o f A ug u sta n R o m e ivere places o f entertainm ent. The Theatre o f M arcellus, com pleted in 11 BC a n d n a m ed after the em peror s nephetv, can be seen here b eh in d the colum ns o fth e earlier T em ple o fA p o llo .
R ight: the Forum o f A u g u stu s w as dedicated in 2 b c . Its

Circus M axim us^-,/,< (mainly C, 2nd BC ^ and later)

T h e city o f R o m e in the age o f A u g u stu s, 3 I B C - A D 14

major buildings: I I i I pre-Augustan Augustan wall aqueducts administrative region

centrepiece tvas the tem ple o f M ars U ltor (M ars the Avenger) to com m em orate the fa c t th a t A u g u stu s h a d avenged the m u rd er o f Julius Caesar. The statues proclaim A u g u stu ss fa m ily lineage, going back to the c ity s legendary fo u n d er Aeneas.






Claudius and the Conquest of Britain

The Romans invaded B ritain in a d 43, and ivent on to most of the island under direct rule by the end of the l s t century.
Britain was a relatively late adition to the Rom an E m pire. Julius Caesar h ad m ade two expeditions to Southern E ngland in 55 an d 54 BC, b u t though he received the nom inal submission o f several Southern leaders th ere was no follow-up, an d Britain lay beyond direct Rom an control for an o th er cen tu ^ . It was politics at Rome rath er th an any military or econom ic necessity w hich eventually led th e E m p e ro r C laudius to invade th e island in 43. Claudiuss reign, following the m u rd er o f Caligula in January 41, had got off to a shaky start, and he badly n eed ed a military victory to shore up his prestige. T he invading force consisted of fo u r legions and was com m anded by Aulus Plautius, w ho becam e the first governor o f R om an Britain. T he m ain army p u t ashore at Richborough, forced its way across th e Medway a n d th e T h a m e s a n d c a p tu r e d C o lc h e s te r, c a p ita l o f th e p o w erfu l Catuvellaunian kingdom . D uring the following years the Rom ans steadily expan d e th eir control over th e rest o f Southern Britain an d into Wales. In 47 they suppressed a rebellion am ong th e Iceni, who h ad earlier allied themselves with Rome; four years later they defeated and captured the native leader Caratacus. T he last serious opposition in Southern Britain was the revolt led by Boudicca, queen o f the Iceni, in 60-61, which was only suppressed after serious reverses. At first the Rom ans attem pted to control n o rth ern England th ro u g h their allies, the Brigantes. But in 69 an anti-Roman faction gained control o f the tribe, leading to military intervention w hich bro u g h t the area u n d e r direct Rom an rule. From 79 the famous general Agricola em barked on the conquest o f Scodand, and four years later won a great victory over the natives at Mons G raupius. At this point, however, tro u b le o n th e D anube fro n tier forced the em p ero r D om itian to withdraw troops from Britain and give up the attem pt to conquer the whole island. A gricolas conquests were steadily abandoned, an d by the en d o f the century the fro n tier had been pulled back to th e Tyne-Solw ay isthm us, w h ere H a d ria n was to b u ild his wall
(> -page 8 6 - 7 ) .

AD 83 * Bcrtt/e'of Mons,GraupJ(js:'

Agrfcofa's army mhs nic/jor viaary over C o/edorife ,

2/ A g r ic o la s c a m p a ig n s in Sco tland , A D 79-84

Agricola, AD 79-84 @ legionary fo rt marching camps: a definitely this period a probably o f this period

a d 83 /pgfooory fori begrm'to

| Inchtuthil

Battle o f Mons Graupius (suggested locations)

/K *

cifnsolidaie hold over east . Scotland, but abandoned J K , A \' incomplete c. 87 A ^ * >V_e

i i

v / V ^ Agnoto,defeats peoples

1/ T h e invasion o f Britain,
A D 4 3 -7 5
Roman allies: Atrebates, absorbed AD 70s ---------- Iceni, conquered AD 60-61 Brigantes, conquered AD 69-74 Roman campaigns: Aulus Plautius, AD 43 Aulus Plautius, AD 43-7 suppression of Icenian revolt, AD 47 further campaigns, AD 47-50 Petilius Cerealis, AD 69-74 tow n sacked by Iceni, AD 6 1 battle Startvvlck t 5 # > Eboracum York legionary fortress tribal centre hill fo rt Roman villa

' ,

j^ ''jj. . .

f y

\ z . oflov/land Scotland and 0 - at/rance? to River fay_

Above: this b ronze head o f the

E m peror C laudius (t . a d 4 1 -5 4 ) m a y have com e from th e tem ple o f C laudius a t Colchester. I t tvas fo u n d : in the R iver A ld e in Suffolk, tvhere i t tvas p robably throivn a fter being to m from a statue taken as bo o ty d uring B oudiccas revolt.



o -V

flijertrtfom give Romans

land nd sea / \ P e/ d m tr d a f soutftwes Scotland-x o >

The quarrels of petty chieftains divide ihern; nor indeed have ive any iveapon. . more effective than this, that they have no common purpo.se; rarely wul two or three slat.es confer lo repu I,se a common danger; accordinglj Ihejfight individii.aJ.ly and. are colledively conquere. Taci (us, Agricola
R ig h t: a R o m a n ballista bolt

M ohapja i\ Upi Oceanus H ibem icus M sh Sea

# A D 60 Suetonius Paulinus captures Anglesey


AD 7 1 *

Petilm Cerealis canqi/ers the &rigahtcs>-

O ceanus G e r m a n ic u s N orlh S ea

D ecea n Ov ii
Viroconiu.m W roxecer

fflL ir te o k

A D 47' first revolt by. Iceni suppressed

AD 5 1 *

native leader Coractacus defeated

Bageri do 1 1 Grim s Dltch Glevum Gloufeesfcer

* A D 61 . SfJetomfis Paulinus * 'defets revolt of

Jceni led by Boudicca

Veru jami u m5 St Albans Londinilmi London > Ca l l e v a ^ Silch.esccr Rshbourrie

@ ; v i:- Camulodunum Colchester


0 A D 43

Ica Caerleon

r_z;, Emperor

Claudius enters Camulodunum in triumph

^R utupiae ci, Richborough

Sabrina Aest. Seveni Estum y

lodged in the spine o f a skeleton buried a t M aiden C astle in D o rse t T h e v id im m a y have been killed d u rin g the R o m a n siege o f this hill fort, or in th e massacres th a t follotved.

Isca Diimnonioru.'m Exe(er

Mrt klen Castle

'Gesoriacum I BoulogneJ AD 43 +

iNoviomagu Chfchester

Roman invasjan force of 4 legions and auxiliaries under Au/us PJotriiLis lands





Nero and the Year of Four Emperors

N e r o s unpopularity brought the rule of Augustuss fam ily to an end, and plunged the empire into civil zvar.
N ero (r. 54-68) was the last o f the Julio-Claudians, th e dynasty fo u n d ed by Augustus. H e was only 16 w hen he succeeded his adoptive fath er Claudius, b u t he was guided by able advisers an d the first years o f the reign were later regarded as a golden age. As tim e w ent by, however, there was growing con flict with the senate, and in 65 a wide-ranging conspiracy against N ero was diseovered and brutally suppressed. H e also becam e u n p o p u lar am ong the w ealthy fo r confiscating p roperty, an d was suspeeted by m any o f having intentionally started the G reat Fire which destroyed the centre o f Rome in 64. T he suspicion was untru e, b u t N ero did n o t help m atters by buying up the land to build his G olden H ouse, a lavish garden villa set in th e h ea rt of the Capital. T he end am e in 68, w hen first Vindex in Gaul an d th en Galba in Spain broke out in open rebellion against him. V index was quickly defeated, b u t N ero lost support at Rome an d was driven to suicide in Ju n e. H e was suc ceeded by the elderly Galba, who arrived in Rome in the autum n of 68 but was m urdered in the Forum in January the following year. His m urdere r O th o seized pow er at Rom e, b u t th e R h in e legions h ad already deelared in favour of their own com m ander Aulus Vitellius. O tho had relatively few troops at his disposal in Italy an d had been defeated by the

Cremona 1.2



council of war

P la c e n t ia

2 /O th o v. V itellius, A D 69
O tho s forces Vitelliuss forces battle

Piacenza B rixellum ^

M are
A d r ia tic u m
Arminium Rimini

3/Vitellius v. V espasian, A D 69
Vitelliuss forces Vespasians forces battle

late March 0 BresCe,, \ S 0 j*J Bologna Caecina mounts abortive attack 01 6 Apr $1 6 Apr Otho on Placcntia Otho commits commiti suicide 0 M ar-Apr Vitelliuss forces invade llaty in lwo divisions under Valens and Caecina


Mate L i g u s l i cu m
1 0 eor/y April Valens joins Caecina 2 0 14 Apr Otho s forces defeated

Fanum Fortunae Fnno

late Sept 4 Vespasian's, supporters set up camp 01 4 A Otho I Home

June 0 Vitellius's forces advance on Rome i

mid-Aug 0 Vespasians supporters entrust Antonius Primus with invasion of ltaly $ late Aug Antonius occupies Aquileia

Poetovio o

$ 3 Sept
Antonius captures Patavium

17 July 0 Vitellius enters Rome


ome 0

Verona Patavium idriacum Hostilia

/V ,,

0 2 Jan 69 Rhine legins deelare for Vitellius


Cologna Agrippina

Placentia V > Piacenza Brix<?l Bresci

0 Vitellian forces divide: first dlvision to Hostilia, second;. to Cremona

< g \C o lo g n e \ p 0 14 Apr 69 Augusta 'U first battle of Treverorum Cremona: Vitellians l'r ie r o 1'- '')< defeat Otho May 68 Nero s forces defeat Vindex

Bononia Bologna

Ravenna Arminium Rimlni Fanum 0 Fortunae 1 Fari'o

M a r e

24 -2 5 Oci 69
second ^gttle of jZr&ffona: Vtsbasian's forces defeat Vitellians O Aug 69 Danube legions dedare for Vespasian

Above: th e fo u r em perors w h o

fo lloived N ero in rapid succession, as d epieted on their silver coins. A li ivere experienced adm inistrators or m ilita ry m en. G alba (top) ivas the governor o fH isp a n ia Tarraconensis a n d already over 7 0 ivhen deelared em peror. O th o (second from top), a frie n d a n d supporter o f Nero, h a d g o n e o ver to G alba in the hope o f b ein g n a m ed as his successor. W h en G alba appo in ted som eone else, O tho h a d th em b o th m urdered. Soon after, V itellius (second from bottom,) m arehed on Rom e. H e seized poiver, o n ly to be deposed b y the supporters o f Vespasian (bottom).
R ight: a contem porary R om an

invading Vitellian forces at the First Battle of Cremona

in April. Vitellius now took control o f Rome, b u t by July an o th er rival em pero r had been proelaim ed in June 68 th e east: T itu s Flavius V esp asian u s (V esp asian ), Calba leams of Neros death c o m m a n d e r in th e Jew ish W ar. T h e D a n u b e Salamantica Clunia^ legions deelared for Vespasian and led by Salamanca Antonius Prim us defeated th e Vitellians at the Second Battle of C rem ona in Septem ber 69. Emerita Augusta Toletum ToledoO Merida, In D ecem ber the Flavian forces fo u g h t their way in to Rom e, d rag g e d V itellius fro m ilis Corduba .Cordoba hiding place and killed him, in his turn, in the Forum . Vespasian becam e un d isp u ted ru ler o f Apr 68 0 the Rom an world, the fo u rth an d last em peror Galba prodaimed o f the eventful year 69.

20 Nov Vespasian's forces advance to Fanum Fortunae

Vesontior Burdigala B ordenu*'

Mar 68 Vmdex rebels against Nero and attacks ipgdunum ig u s ta V ^

/ 24 -5 Oct
Vitellian forces defeated 2 $ Vitellians abandon Hostilia and concentrate at Cremona

Lugdunum Lyon Cremona irbo irbonne Tarraco Tarragona $ late summer

Calbg sets out for Rome

15 D e c O Vitellians attempt to hold Narnia, but surrender Narnia


N arnig
20Dec+ Vespasian's supporters fight their way into Rome and kili Vitellius f t 0 17 Sept Caedna leads j Vitellian forces from Rome R om e o


gossa Narona Rome

15 Jan 69 $ Otho deposcs and kills Galba 20Dec69$ Vespasian s forces ocupy Rotfier: y

Tarentunv Tara nto j Pergamum

Nicomedia ~Ancyra Arikara Laodicea

Carthago Nova Cartagena

summer 7 0 $ ' Vespasian travels to Rome to take power

Atlienae Athens..

Ephosus r
... .

Tarsus Antioch

p o rtra it b u s t o fN e ro . D eelared a p u b lic enem y b y the Senate, he fle d R o m e and co m m itted suicide, aged 31, a t the suburban v illa o f one o f his freedm en. A ccording to the biographer Suetonius, his d y in g ivords ivere, H oiv ugly a n d vu lg a r m y life has becom el D espite his unp o p u la rity iv ith the Senate a n d th e arm y, N ero ivas n o t iv ith o u t his supporters, ivho con tin u ed to place floivers on his grave fo r years aftenvards.

Syracusae Syracuse


l/T h e w ars o f succession, A D 68 -9

1 ' 1Roman Empire

provincial Capital o r major city < Vindex Mar-May 68 Galba, Apr-autum n 68 Vitellius, Jan-Ju!y 69 * Vespasian, July-Dec 69 battle Sinus Memphis Cyrene
winter 69-7 0 Vespasian in Alexandria


69 V&pasian deelared emperor




R ight: the ivestern provinces

The Western Provinces

R om es s ivestern provinces included a w ide range of cultures, from the urban south to the rural Celtic north.
T he southw estern provinces of the Rom an Em pire were the rich M editer ran e an regions o f Spain ( pages 84-5), Southern France, an d Italy itself, w here city life had been establishe long before the spread of Rom an rule. F urth er north , in Gaul, Britain an d the G erm anies, were the less urbanized lands of the Celts and others. To ali these regions R om an rule b ro u g h t certain benefits notably peace an d w ider trad in g o p p o rtu n itie s a n d the vvestern provinces steadily to o k on m o re a n d m o re o f th e trap p in g s of Rom an culture. New cities were fo u n d ed with grid-plan Street layouts, classical tem ples an d m unicipal baths. A m phitheatres were built in or beside the m a jo r tow ns, s u p p le m e n te d by th e a tr e s in th e m o re lite ra te so u th . E laborate aqueducts provided fresh drinking water to the cities, while roads and bridges ensured better Communications. T h e provinces soon becam e closely in c o rp o rated in th e im perial system itself; th e E m p e ro r C laudius gave le ad in g G aulish citizens th e rig h t to becam e senators at Rome, an d the spread of pow er from Italy to the p ro vinces c o n tin u e d in th e cen tu ries w hich follow ed. Britain an d th e G er m anies also took a leading p art in the political life o f the em pire th ro u g h the sie o f their military garrisons: th ree to four legions in Britain and eight (later reduced to four) along the Rhine, supported by substantial auxiliary forces. It was th e Rhine legions vvhich backed Vitelliuss bid for power in ad 69 ( pages 5 2 -3 ), an d th e arm y o f Britain w hich su p p o rted Clodius Albinus in the 190s ( pages 96-7). T h e m ost telling legacy of Rom an rule, however, is the fact that many of their centres have rem ained im p o rtan t to the present day, including the m o d em capitals o f London, Pari and Bonn.

rem ained predom inantly agricultural. This bronze m odel fo u n d a t Piercebridge in C o u n ty D urh a m shoivs a British p lougkm an, hooded a gainst the cold, ivith his team o f tivo oxen.

Today the tuhole zvorld has its Graeco-Roman culture. Smart Gaulish professors are Iraining the latvyers of Britain...

Satire XV

R o m e s w estern provinces, lst-2ncf

ce n tu ry A D
g) 18! provincia! Capital legionar/ fort other city fortified land frontier - - ; river frontier major road
250 InlleS




Wall/ &


Oceanus Germanicus

bpndinium p 'r ]
London,1 '

North Sea

Below rig h t: the trappings o f sophisticated u rban life ivere establishe early in the Southern parts o f G aul thetem ple o f A u g u stu s a n d L iv ia a t V ienne w as b u ilt in the early l s t century a d . Far rig h t: the fo u n d a tio n s o f a


Isca Dumnonibrutn


Kan ten , 3 Cofonia AgHppina' Co togne

Augustao Treverofum


t o -B o n n a 8-arin iselim

Celtic tem ple a t O isseau-leP e tit in northern France, The central tem ple tvas surrounded b y a temenos, or sacred enclosure, a p la n fo u n d th ro u g h o u t northern G aul a n d B ritain. C eltic gods often id en tified ivith their R o m a n counterparts co n tin u ed to be tvorshipped in the northern provinces.
Below : this cerem onial

V in d o b o n a

A rgei^ icbrate^ / SraS b ou rg i

^ A u g u s ta V[ncjp|corlJm
f t a e t ia

Vienna j

S a in te s

, Limonurrv
ip oltieis


Brigantlum Li Conina


Mediolantim A .o Milan Aquileia ? ' lfqdvsJPo Grao

R.o-venna Nemaustis An 1 e_c. r a

gg N im es
C e m e n c lu m

scabbard tvas fo u n d in the R hine. R ichly decorated w ith go ld a n d silver, i t bears the portrait o fth e E m peror Tiberius (r. a d 14-37). The R hine legions could m ake or break emperors , a n d such g ifts to senior officers ivo u ld bave helped to ensure their lo yalty.

l(i^t r


Massilia Marssiiles



Sca lla b is >anta(!erh

ra c o Ta g o n a

A Alpe Graiae et Poeninae B Alpes C ottiae C Alpes M aridm ae

A len a "\ iAlalla

C orsica

Ncapo%'. N a p le sb c Pompeii
T areocum

i. |Hmerpta.iftUgti! \ 'jftleri.da \ Corduba^

G a d e si



*:t j i

/ *

arthago Nova
C a rta g e n a

Messana Messinn

Sicily Syracusae





Three Western Cities

London, fo u n d ed after the invasion o f Britain in a d 43 at an im p o rta n t Crossing o f the Tham es, soon becam e the Capital o f the province. In the follovving decades it was fu rn ish ed with a forum a n d basilica, a g o v ern o rs palae, and (in the early 2nd century) an am phitheatre. T he cit.y walls were built in c.190, com pleted by the addition o f riverside defences in the late 3rd or early 4th century. L ondon was never one of the g reat Rom an cities, however: new evidence suggests th at after a peak in the early 2nd century th ere was a sharp decline in population, though it rem ained a centre o f gove rn m e n t until the collapse o f Rom an rule in the 5th century.



\ W m 0m

Above: this geom etrical

Above: Vesuvius smoulders

beh in d the Tem ple o fA p o llo in the m a in religious enclosure o fP o m p e ii. The Ionic colum n to the le ft ivas s e t up as a su n d ia l b y the d u u m virs Sepunius a n d Errenius.

P o m p e ii owes its fam e to th e b la n k e t o f ash th a t r a in e d dow n from Vesuvius in A ugust 79, ento m b in g th e inhabitants, sealing b read in the ovens an d election graffiti on th e w alls, an d leaving the m ost fully preserved of an cien L Rom an cities. Since the 18th century, excavations have u ncovered large areas an d revealed priceless in fo rm atio n on city life. T here were the customary public buildings: the forum o r m arketplace, a theatre and gymnasium, and the am phitheatre w here gladiatorial displays were held. T he sum ptuous villas o f the wealthy were ad o rn ed with peristyle courts and sophisticated wall paintings, while the shops, bars and taverns, the bakeries and brothels, show how ordinary people lived.
Porta Capua Porta Nola

m osaic floor ivas dtscovered in 1869 close to the M ansion H ouse in the C ity o f London. I t dates fro m the 3 rd century AD, a n d its q u a lity a n d sophistication hoivs the contin u in g im portance o f L o n d o n in the later R om an period, even though the city w as by then in decline as an urban centre.


and forum ls icentu ry harbour


0 A K p

temple wharf mosaic bath house cemetery

i tmterfrorii

1 tem ple o f the Genius o f Augustus 2 tem ple o f the Lares 3 tem ple o f Fortunae Augustae

Porta Sarno


Trier was fo u n d ed by the E m peror Augustus an d developed into the leading city of n o rth east Gaul. T he grid-plan Street layout probably dates from the ls t century a d , as does the Stone bridge across the Moselle, b u t the greatest buildings of Rom an T rier belong to the 3rd an d 4th centuries, w hen th e city rose to prom inence as an im perial residence first u n d er the breakaway Gallic em perors (260-74) and th en u n d e r C onstantius an d C onstantine (293-337). T h e city walls and the im posing Porta Nigra were probably built d u rin g this period. T h ere was also a great im perial palae, with an audience hali (basilica) an d a circus o r race track, an d adjacent to it th e enorm ous K aisertherm en or Im perial Baths. At its height, the city may have had a population of 80,000.
Left: the Porta N igra, the north gate o fth e R om an city o f Trier, ivas probably b u ilt in the 3 rd century AD. I t otves its survival to the fa c t th a t i t was later converted into a church a n d palae fo r the bishops o f Trier.


4th-century double d iu fi



'} imperiji

Porta Nocera

bakery workshop brothel fountain hypothetical grid o f streets


Porta Marina





R ig h t: this relief, from the

Vespasian and the Jewish War

R om an control of Ju daea was resented by religiously-com m itted Jews, and in the spring of 66 discontent turned into open revolt.
T he rebels seized control o f Jerusalem , and at B eth-H oron they defeated th e force w hich Cestius Gallus, the R om an governor o f Syria, led against them . T his success allow ed th e rebels to seize co n tro l o f large areas of Ju d aea an d Galilee. Realizing th a t a d eterm in ed cam paign was now need ed to suppress the revolt, th e E m peror N ero despatched an experienced military co m m an d er, T itus Flavius V espasianus (V espasian), with a fo rce o f th ree legions and num erous auxiliaries. In 67 Vespasian recovered Galilee and restored control over the coastal cities o f Judaea, an d the following year captured Jericho and Emmaus, leaving Jerusalem increasingly isolated. Vespasian was p re p a rin g fo r the final assault w hen news ame th at N ero had b ee n overthrown. Military operations were largely suspended while the situation a t Rom e was unclear. T h en , in July 69, V espasian him self was proclaim ed em peror by th e eastern legions, an d a few m onths later h e departed for A lexandria and then Rome, leaving th e com pletion o f the Jewish War to his son Titus. In Septem ber 70, after a seven-m onth siege, Titus captured Jerusalem . T he rebel cause was now hopeless, b u t groups co n tin u ed to hold o u t in the fortresses of H erodium , M achaerus an d Masada, until they too were taken by the Romans.

arch set up a t R om e to com m em orate T itu s''$ victory , show s the Tem ple treasures being carried o f f b y the Rom ans.

As fo r Titus, his iniagination dwe.lt on Rome, zvealth and pleasure: it luould he long before the.se dreams zuere realized if Jerusalem ivere destined not to fali in the immediate fu tu re." Tacitus, Histories

/ 6 7 AD

69 AD
Vespas/crn proc/crimetf

oP tolem ais/ fall ofJotapata and Gamala \ / feoefe to suppressior^ef

\ /


rebellion in Galilee
pGamaia ,otar,3Ta

emperor in juty J Mauni

C a lJ -/
jp ,,1 ?Tibeflas

C arm eb
0 6 7 AD {

Vcspasiai\arrives to toke charge of Rbman forces


2/Jerusalem u n d e r siege, 70 B C
In M arch 70 T itus began a siege o f Jerusalem tvhich was to last fo r seven m onths. The tivo outer ivalls fe ll in M ay, a n d the rest w as encircled by a siege-tvork, b u t i t tvas n o t u n til Septem ber th a t the R om ans fin a lly broke through the th ird ivall. Jerusalem a nd its T em ple ivere destroyed, a n d the inhabitants killed or sold in to slavery.
Roman advance <


Gadnra o

Nov 66 ad 0 rebels defeat Cestius Gallus


68 AD BothH oron

jericho atid Envnaus

R ight: the la st action in the tvar was the siege o f M a sa d a in spring 74, The R o m a n com m ander F lavius Silva erected an encircling w a ll ivith attached forts, H e eventually captured the rocky citadel o n ly b y b u ild in g a great siege ram p on a n atural spur a gainst its ivestem face , a t ivhich p o in t the defenders com m itted suicide rather than fa li in to R o m a n hands.

30 kms 20 mlles - 35

Hierosolyma jerusalem

Sept 70 AD

Titus captures Jcivsghm |

l/T h e Jewish W a r , 66 -7 4 B C
i border o f Roman province o f Judaea Vespasian, 67 AD Vespasian, 68 AD Titus, 70 AD Bassus and Silva, 71-4 AD Roman defeat siege



Jewish counterattack Roman camp wa!i breached


Spring 74 Ai) Romans (oke Masada afterJ lengthy siege 1





Trajans Wars
Mare E u x i n u s

The Emperor Trajan (98-117) was the first Roman ruler fo r several decades to conquer new territories and establish new provinces of the empire.
His two great wars were fought against the Dacians an d the Parthians. T he Dacian kingdom lay n o rth o f the D anube in th e area of m o d ern Romania. U nder its powerful king Decebalus, Dacia h ad becom e a th reat to Rom an supremacy and had defeated Rom an arm ies during the reign of Domitian (81-96). Trajan determ ined to p u t an en d to this situation by forcing Dacia into submission. D uring th e first Dacian W ar (101-102), T rajan defeated the D acians in heavy fighting, a n d D ecebalus am e to term s. W hen h e broke these in 105, T rajan em barked on a second cam paign aim ed at nothing less than the conquest o f the whole kingdom , w hich becam e the Rom an province o f Dacia. By 114 the em peror was back on cam paign, fighting against R om es great eastern rivals the Parthians. T h aty ear h e conquered th e m ountain kingdom of A rm enia, and the following tu rn ed n o rth e rn M e so p o tam ia in to a n o th e r R o m an province. His m ost dram atic success ame in 116, w hen his army occupied Southern M esopotam ia an d advanced as far as the P ersian Gulf. T h e new co n q u ests co uld n o t be h e ld , how ever, a n d T ra ja n h a d already been forced to abandon Southern M e so p o tam ia w h en h e d ie d in A u g u st 117.
R ig h t: a relief carving o f

Hl ttck S c a

T rapezus Trabzon,

King o f Armenia submits to Trajan. Armenia becomes a Roman province

Melitene -s ,< r '

legionsjoined by reinforcemenis

NisibisO Singara O

a m ia
Tarsus O Antioch

*117 \
Romans ir^tall Parthian client king and withdraw from southcm Mesopotamia

* 114
Trajan assembles legior\s




Mare Intarnum Meditrnnnea.il

t Berytus
Belrut Damascus


Romans take*Paqhian vvinter capitol

Romans capture Edessa, Nisibis and Singara^ Mesopotamia becomes a Roman province Roman occupation of southem Mesopotamia

T r f n reaches Persian 6 ulf

Rhiiadelphia Hiefosol/Jrtia Jerusafem GaZa L

R o m a n sta ndard bearers, from tbe m o n u m e n t set up a t Tropeutn Traiani (m odem A dam clisi) b y Trajan to com m em orate bis successful D acian cam paigns .




I /Th e D a c ia n W a r s , 101-6
fro n tie r o f Roman Empire, 101 annexed 105-6

101 Dacian counterattack defeated #/ate 101 Dacians inflict heavy losses on Roman legions

200 mites

2/The P arth ian W a r , 114-7

----------fro n tie r o f Roman Empire tem porary Roman occupation, 114 annexed 114

Above: Tbe D acian W a r brougbt Trajan enorm ous ivealtb fro m spoils a n d tbe sale o fsla ves. H e used this to b u ild a great fo ru m a n d m a rk e t a t Rom e, luhich u>ere dedicated in 112. The Senate a d ded tbe m o n u m e n t kn o ivn as T rajans C olum n (above). C arved w ith a spiral frieze shotving episodes from the w ar, i t serves as a m em o ria l to the cam paigns a n d a valuable record o fth e e q u ip m en t a n d appearance o fth e R om an a rm y in Trajans day.

Dacian Capital capital o f Roman province Roman Iegionary base First Dacian W ar: Roman campaigns Dacian counter attack Second Dacian W ar: Roman campaigns battle 4 ^ site o f Trajans victory monument Viminaciui Tropaeum Traiani Adamclisfi ^Tomi Constanza

* 102 Trajan moves part o f his army downstream to Oescus late 102 Roman armies converge for fmal assault. Dacians make peace

annexed 1!5

| Parthian Empire, 1 14
Parthian capital capital o f Roman province Roman legionar/ base Roman campaigns tow n captured

Trajan builds bridge across Danube F * 106 Trajan takes Dacian capital * 106 Dacian leader Decebalus commits suicide

E u x in u s G






The Roman Army

R o m e grew to greatness on the strength of its army, a disciplined figh tin g force that proved superior to ali its opponents.
From the last centuries B C an d th ro u g h o u t the early im perial era, the backbo n e o f the army was the legions, infantry units o f aro u n d 5000 m en, ali highly trained and well equipped. Each legion was divided into centuries co m m an d e d by ju n io r officers o r ce n tu rio n s. Six c e n tu rie s m ad e u p a coh o rt, an d ten co h o rts a legion. L egionaries fo u g h t m ainly with sh o rt sword an d throw ing javelin, p ro tec ted by a rectan g u lar shield an d bodyarm our. T he real strength of the legion lay in its professionalism an d disci pline, which enabled it to carry o u t com plex manoeuvres in the h e a t o f bat tle. Legionaries were also responsible fo r building roads, forts an d bridges, and were ad ep t at siege warfare as well as set-piece battles. Alongside the legionaries were the all-im portant auxiliaries, non-Rom an soldiers recruited from the native peoples o f th e em pire. These o p erated in cohorts o f 500 or 1000 m en u n d e r the com m and o f a Rom an officer, some o f them specialist units (such as Syrian archers) flghting with their own preferred weapons. A uxiliaries served for a longer p erio d a n d w ere less well paid than legionaries, b u t on discharge were gran ted R om an citizenship. T he legions, o n th e o th e r hand, were recruited only from Rom an citizens. In the early Republic they h ad been taken from lan d ed citizens an d peasant farm ers with sufficient property to afford to provide their own equipm ent. Marius changed ali that in the late 2nd century B C , allowing landless citi zens (including th e growing u rban proletariat) to enlist. In 31 B C , at th e e n d of the civil wars, a h uge force of 60 R om an legions was u n d e r arms. Augustus red u c ed these to 28, stationing th em along the frontiers w here they w ere m ost n ee d ed . T h a t still left a R om an arm y o f aro u n d 300,000 m en, h alf legionaries an d h alf auxiliaries, re p rese n tin g a h u g e on g o in g com m itm ent in term s o f public expenditure. U n d er the early em pire, legionaries w ere paid 900 sesterces a year, an d signed u p for a p eriod of 20 years. They were forbidden to m arry during th e ir Service, though m any did o f course fo rm lasting relationships, an d their illegitim ate children could by the 2nd century win citizenship them selves by jo in in g u p as th eir fath ers h a d d o n e. D om itian ra ise d s o ld ie r s pay in th e la te l s t c e n tu ry , a n d Septim ius Severus again a century later. Severus also allowed legionaries to m arry a n d to live with th eir families outside the camp. Such concessions may have strengthened the soldiers* loyalty or simply recognized existing reality; b u t they m ade th e Rom an army less m obile an d flexible. D u rin g th e course o f th e 3 rd an d 4th c e n tu r ie s th e arm y was r e fo rm e d to c o u n te r new e n e m ie s a n d c h a n g in g strategies. U p to this tim e, forces h ad b ee n thinly spread along the frontiers, leaving n o reserve army for em ergencies or special campaigns. T h e army h ad also b e e n d o m in a te d by th e le g io n s o f infantry. In th e m id-3rd century this was

c h a n g e d by th e e s ta b lis h m e n t o f a m o b ile cavalry fo rc e , a n d u n d e r C onstantine th e army was formally divided into fro n tier troops (or limitanei) an d a field army (comitatenses) b oth consisting o f cavalry an d infantry. T he field army co n tin u ed to be a pow erful an d professional force th ro u g h o u t th e 4 th c e n tu ry a n d in to th e 5 th , th o u g h in c re a sin g ly c o m p o se d o f G erm anic m ercenaries rath e r th an Citizen recruits.
2/The legio n ary fort o f N o v a e siu m ,

Above: one o fth e best sources

o fe v id en c e fo r the R om an arm y in action is the spiral r e lie fo n T rajans C olum n a t Rom e, com m em orating the D acian W ars o f 1 0 1 -6 . The lotvest section shoivs supplies being loaded onto river boats; above this, a boar, a ram a n d a buli are led to sacrifice ivhile a messenger falls from his horse as Trajan ivatches from a rostrum ; a n d on the n e x t level, the soldiers b u il a cam p tvhile a D acian prisoner, possibly a spy, is dragged before the emperor. Britaiinia

I st century a d N ovaesum (Neuss) in the province o f Germania Inferior is a typical legionary fort, an d bas been thoroughly excavated. Situated on the crucial Rhine frontier, it could hold up to S000 men. I.egion XX Valeria ivas station ed herc until they were transferred to Britain to take p a rt in the invasion o f 43 bc..
officers' houscs cavalry barracks infantry barracks centurions' barracks granaries and stores



Above: m o d em replicas o ftb e

w ea p o ttry o fth e R om an legionary: the gladius or short stvord, a stahbing tveapon ivhich co u l be used effectively in close com bat; the pilum, a heavy ja velin w ith a p o in t designed to ben d on im p a ct 50 th a t it could n o t be re-used by the enem y; the shield (scutuni), a n d belmet.

G erm ai
fn fe /i


1 1 M < ! M \ \ IIU \ II\ \

\l\ ..I M I \ V \ U |

IA..M 11 't\ v ili Al .i s i \ \ 11 i \ i i i \ ri \

\ lll \( i -I SI A. I\ l l l s



rADnnRi\ x i .i '-ii\.\, xi\ <.t


Right i a m o d e m reconstruction o f a R o m a n carro-balUsta. The

vertical cham bers a t the fro n t contained the coils used to tension the botv, ivhich could propel a fo o tlong (30-cm) bolt to a distance o f 1000 feet (300 m ). A s im ilia r tveapon is depicted on the frieze o f Trajans

j V l I AVI \ V fl. I A l IMA IMA I IDI I is. I I I .I l(

) Iarrnconciisis W Lusitaiiia .
r B a n ic a ) VI GKMINA I

C orsica Oithynia
Thraeia n nd PcuiU is

r^ Y1 iPjn^ l L ^,. IV N | A < '^ H O N I tA . X <;i:\H\A|


^ U ^ m N A KIsl

M aiu'etania

C uppadocia

N iu u id ii
i -r 1 I AlJtiU al A
l A M . I 'M A

l a m p h vlia ( ;ypru s



i^jMKAI A , XhK iri K N S IN l

G w ^naifea

- r --


I/T h e R o m a n legions, A D 24-150

Roman frontier: I AD 24 AD 74 Roman legions: [m j E jfl M AD 24 AD 74 AD 150

1 A lpes Poeninae
2 Alpes C ottiae 3 A lpes M aritiraae

[llT G A lT ll lA rvI h T .R R A T A


' f


< ' I - " n 1-

j AD 150





III: The Imperial Peace

2nd century ivas a period of relative stability in the his tory of the Roman Empire. Trajan s zvars carried Roman rule across the Danube into Dacia and southeast into A rabia and M esopotamia. Under H adrian, some ofth e eastern gains ivere given up, but this still left an empire greater in territorial terms than it had ever been before. Secure ivithin its borders, the Roman state flourished in relative peace and prosperity. Yet this ivas no happy commonivealth. D espite the pageantry of the monuments and the paternalism o fth e emperors it rem ained a ivorld ofharsh class divisions, ivith slaves, peasant farm ers and the urban poor eking out a meagre living alongside senators and the rich.
The Frontiers Consolidated T h e history of Rom e in th e 2nd century is m uch m o re th an th a t o f o f individual em perors and th eir policies, yet th e re are significant changes from reign to reign w hich reflect th e responses o f cen tral governm ent to new problem s and circum stances, an d some of these b ear the stam p o f individual rulers. T rajan h ad been a keen m ilitary m an, an d however m uch the conquest o f Dacia was a strategic necessity, the eastern cam paigns at the en d o f his reign clearly were not. H ad rian sensibly rein e d back the military m ach in e a n d set his sights on co n so lid atio n r a th e r th a n conquest. This was shown m ost clearly by the co nstruction o f lin ear b arriers on certain frontiers. T he m ost fam ous o f them are H a d ria n s Wall in n o rth e rn B ritain a n d th e G erm an fro n tie r betw een th e R h in e a n d th e D anube. B oth w ere enorm ous undertakings. T h e G erm an fro n tier work consisted o f a substantial tim ber palisade ru n n in g for alm ost 350 miles (550 km ). H a d ria n s British fro n tier, th o u g h m uch sh o rte r in le n g th a m ere 75 miles (120 k m ) m ade up for this in its even g reater solidity: a stone-built structure u p to te n feet wide at the base an d originally 12 feet (4 m) high, a t least in its eastern two thirds th e w estern section was initially built o f tu rf and only later reinforced witji stone. H a d ria n s consolidation o f the fro n tiers was p erh ap s good policy, b u t it m arks a transition in the history of the Rom an E m pire. T h e great p erio d o f expansion was over, an d th e role o f the army an d th e em p ero r was no lo n g e r to c o n q u e r new territo ry b u t to d e fe n d w hat they already co n trolled. This h ad to some ex ten t b een the case since th e d eath o f Augustus a cen tu ry b efo re he h ad w arn ed his successor to keep w ithin existing b o undaries an d n o t to em bark o n any risky foreign adventures. Yet piecem eal expansion had contin u ed , culm inating in T ra ja n s wars of th e early 2nd century. H a d ria n s fro n tier policy m arked th e rejectio n of fu rth e r te r ritorial expansion, an d gave it physical expression in structures o f tim ber and stone. T he army becam e m o re an d m ore a defensive force, th ere to repel foreign invaders an d p u t down rebellions rath e r th an to em bark on aggressive wars o f conquest. T h e m o m en tu m of expansion was halted, b u t it was d ifficu lt to m a in ta in stability, a n d as tim e w ore o n th e R o m an em pire fo u n d itself increasingly fighting a rea rg u ard action against pressures from w ithout. T his pressure would ultim ately lead to the fali o f the R om an E m pire in th e west.

Opposite: the Pantheon, a tem ple to ali the gods, w as fo u n d ed b y A u g u stu ss trusted frien d A grippa in 2 7 BC. H adrian entirely rem odelled it, retaining A g rip p a s porch b u t replacing the original rectangular structure b ehind by a daring circular building w ith an enorm ous dom e even larger in d iam eter than tb a t o f S t leters in the Vatican. It provides am ple p r o o f o f R om an tnastery o f neiv b u ild ing techniques, especially the use o f brick a n d concrete, a n d o f their new concepts o fa rch itectural design. A lo n e am ong R om an tem ples it has retained its stucco a n d m arble veneer to the p resent day, p ro vid in g a uniq u e exam ple o fth e inter n at appearance o f a great R om an building.






Government and Rebellion H ad rian sp en t m uch o f his 21-year reig n trav ellin g a ro u n d th e em p ire, g ain in g a level o f first-h an d e x p e rien c e u n riv alled since Augustus. His jo u rn ey s took him to b o th eastern a n d w estern provinces, an d w ere a m ix tu re o f business an d pleasure. In the Rom an world the centre o f govern m en t was the em p ero r an d his entourage, w herever they m ight be, and supplicants or litigants w ishing for an au dience o r comm a n d e d to a p p e a r b e fo re th e e m p e ro r m ight find themselves facing a lengthy and expensive voyage. It was only by visiting the p rovinces them selves, th e re fo re , th a t an e m p ero r could h o p e to gain an accurate im pression o f th e ir p roblem s an d needs. H ad ria n s travels m ark a stage in the gradu a l tr a n s itio n fro m an e m p ire o f conq u ered provinces ru led by an Italian aristocracy, to a c o m m o n w ea lth stre tc h in g fro m th e S yrian d e s e r t to th e A tla n tic O cean. It is significant, too, th a t H adrian h im self, like T ra ja n b e fo re h im , was o f S p an ish e x tra c tio n a lth o u g h , u n lik e T ra ja n , H a d ria n was a c tu a lly b o r n at Rome. I t was o n H a d ria n s th ird voyage th a t he h it u p o n th e schem e th a t was directly to cau se th e o nly m a jo r w ar o f his re ig n . Passing th ro u g h Palestine, he d ecid ed to refo u n d th e city o f Jerusalem as th e colony o f Aelia C apitolina, A elius being his family nam e. Jeru salem an d its tem ple h ad b een destroyed by T itus h a lf a cen tu ry before, b u t still h e ld pow erful associations fo r th e Jewish com m unity, and the idea o f a pagan settlem ent on their sacred site stirred them into arm ed rebellion. Led by Simon Bar Cochba, they waged a four-year cam paign o f open warfare an d guerrilla fighting which was serious enough to dem and the presence o f H ad rian himself. By the time he retu rn ed to Rome in 135 h e was a relatively old m an, and his fmal years were devoted to the question of the succession. H e him self had been ad opted by Trajan, officially on the la tte rs death b ed (though there were some who claim ed th at T rajan s widow h ad m anipulated the story and the adoption h ad never actually taken place). H adrian too was childless, which once again left him free to nam e a successor of his choice. H e chose A ntoninus Pius, an u p rig h t an d wealthy Italian noblem an of rath er conservative views. As p a r t o f th e deal A n to n in u s in tu rn a d o p te d M arcus A urelius as his even tu al successor. T his system o f ad o p tio n served th e R om an E m pire well, fro m N erv as ad o p tio n o f T rajan in 97 to M arcus A ureliuss death in 180. It ensured th a t each new em peror had proved him self capable o f g o v e rn m e n t b efo re he assum ed pow er It rem o v ed th e vagaries o f heredity, which could produce bad em perors as well as good a po in t which was b ro u g h t hom e when M arcus Aurelius was succeeded n o t by an adopted em peror but by his own son, the unstable Com modus.

The Antonine Age T h e accession o f A n to n in u s Pius in 138 m a rk e d th e b e g in n in g o f th e A ntonine age, a period later looked back to as a kind o f golden age in the history of the Rom an em pire. A ntoninus him self reigned for 23 years and was followed by his adopted son, the fam ous philosopher-em peror Marcus Aurelius. Both were considered estimable rulers in th eir own rath e r differe n t ways. A ntoninus Pius comes over to us as a benign and paternalistic fig ure. In sharp contrast with his predecessor H adrian, h e never left Italy once after his accession, and even in earlier life may only have been overseas on one occasion. A n u m b er o f wars were fo u g h t on his orders, b u t ali o f them at a d istan ce. T h e m o st im p o r ta n t was th e re -o c c u p a tio n o f S ou th ern S cotland, w hich h a d b e e n ab a n d o n e d in th e tim e o f D om itian. In 159 A ntoninus o rd ered the construction o f a new wall, the A ntonine Wall, to ru n betvveen th e estuaries o f Clyde an d F o rth . B uilt o f tu rf an d tim b er rath e r th an stone, it was nonetheless a m ajor u n dertaking though the area conquered was hardly in itself of world significance. Wars were also fought in M auretania an d along the D anube frontier, b u t A ntoninus was fortunate to face n o m a jo r crisis a n d th re a ts a lo n e w ere su ffic ie n t to d e te r th e Parthians, R om es eastern neighbours, from breaking the peace.
R ig h t: this reliefp a n e l depict-

ing the E m peror M arcus A urelius (161-180) comes from a now ~vanished m o n u m ent, possibly a trium phal arch com m em orating his cam paigns on the D anube.

Above: the asa d i D iana a t O stia, the p o r t o f Rom e, w as b u ilt in the m id -2 n d century AD. The g ro u n d -flo o r level tvas occupied by shops, ivbile stairw ays lead to apartm ents on the floors above.





W hile th e re ig n o f A n to n in u s P ius was relatively u n tro u b le d , his successor M arcus A urelius was less fortunate. H e assum ed power jointly in 161 with his adoptive b ro th er Lucius Verus, b u t within a year of their accession Verus h ad had to leave for the east to c o u n te r a se rio u s P a rth ia n in v a sio n . In 165 th e Rom ans achieved a m ajor victory, capturing an d sacking th e P arth ia n capital o f C tesip h o n in Southern M esopotam ia. W hen they retu rn ed to Rome the following year, however, they b ro u g h t back m ore than just loot they b ro u g h t the plague. An epidem ic of unspecified nature (though probably n o t the bubonic plague o f Black D eath fame) raged th ro u g h o u t the em pire in the year 168, carrying oflf thousands o f victims in Rom e an d o th er m ajor cities. Perhaps sensing this weakness, Germ anic peoples chose this m om ent to cross the D anube an d attack Italy. This was the start o f th e G erm anic wars which were to preoccupy M arcus Aurelius for the rest o f his reign (Lucius Verus dying in 169). They mark, in a sense, the e n d o f R om es unchallenged greatness, the first time for over 200 years that any foreign people h ad invaded Italy, an d a foretaste of worse thingS to come. T he principal protagonists on this occasion were the Q uad i a n d M arco m an n i, G erm an ic p eo p les living n o rth o f the D anube. T h eir descent on Italy in 170 cre ate d a crisis w hich to o k several years to settle. At le n g th o rd e r was restored, b u t n o t before large areas o f the fro n tier zone h ad been devastated. Meanwhile M arcus Aurelius was com m itting his philosophical thoughts to a notebook, entitled simply To H im self. It is this th at has com e down to us as the Meditations, presenting a gloomy picture o f stoicism in the face of hardship an d adversity.

Imperial Buildings T he 2nd-century em perors were great builders, using the resources of the State on a range o f impressive projects. Some o f them were for the private e n jo y m e n t o f th e e m p e ro rs them selves. H a d ria n , A n to n in u s Pius an d Com m odus ali had th eir p referred country villa, in addition to the official im perial palae on the Palatine at Rome. G reatest of ali was H ad ria n s palatial residence at Tivoli, a series of massive pavilions set in ornam ental gardens an d richly decorated with sculptures an d carvings. H adrian was especially keen on G reek art an d many of the sculptures were copies o f fam ous G reek masterpieces. A ntoninus Pius too had his country villa, at L aurentum on the coast south of Rome. T hough m uch less survives th an at Tivoli, this too was set within an extensive estate. Com m odus in tu rn chose to spend m uch o fh is tim e away from Rome, th o u g h n o t far away, at the Villa o f the Quintillii on the Via Appia, some 6 miles (10 km) from the city centre.
R o m a n expansion spread the trappings o f Greek civic culture throughout the M editerranean a n d beyond. C om edians (right) dreiv their inspiration from the Greek p la y w rig h t M enander a n d his R om an im itators Plautus an d Terence. By the tim e the theatre a t Dougga, Tunisia (above) ivas b u ilt in the 2n d c e n tm y AD, the grea t age o f R om an dram a w as long dead; the last p la y w rig h t o f any stature h ad been Seneca (d. AD 65), the tu to r o fN e r o an d a u th o r o f a n um ber o fg o ry tragedies. A udiences preferred m im e a n d farce, an d m a n y theatres even staged w ild beast fights.

Above: the g rea t bronze doors

o fth e Pantheon date from H adrian's reonstruction o f the bu ild in g in the 2 n d century.

The End o f a Dynasty T he last years o f M arcus Aurelius were occupied by renevved attem pts to conquer Central E urope, a project which h ad been ab an d o n ed by Augustus almost 200 years before. T hen in 180 h e died, and ali thoughts of advancing the fro n tier were shelved. Com m odus, the new em peror, quickly showed signs o f insecurity and m egalom ania. Leaving it to pow erful officials to carry on the work o f governm ent, his regim e soon becam e u n p o p u lar for its corruption, a situation which was n o t help ed by th e idiosyncratic behaviour of the em peror himself. H e displayed a great enthusiasm for gladiatorial spectacles, in which he was n o t only audience b u t actually participated, taking the role o f a seulor, arm ed with sword an d shield, against the retiarius with his trid en t and net. His behaviour may n o t have been as m ad as it is reported to us by the Rom an historians, b u t it alienated the elite and eventually posed a th re a t even to C om m oduss own c o u rt officials. H e p la n n e d to make a grand entry into the am phitheatre on New Years day 193, dressed (once again) as a gladiator. Instead he fell victim to assassination on the last day of 192, being first poisoned and th en strangled in his bed. His death m arked the en d of the A ntonine dynasty.





Rom e rem ained the h ea rt o f the ,e m pire, however, an d continued to receiye m uch attention in term s of new public buildings an d m onum ents to im peri al glory. V ictories abroad w ere m arked by th e construction o f trium phal arches or com m em oradve columns. T h e Arch o f C onstantine is now known to be largely the work o f H adrian, an d M arcus Aurelius follovved T rajan s exam ple in erecting a g reat colum n with spiralling frieze to com m em orate his victories in the n o rth ern wars. It was H adrian, however, who devoted the greatest attention to new building at Rom e during this period. H e com plet ed the reconstruction o f the city centre w hich h ad been b egun by Dom itian, b u t he is fam ous above ali for the rebuilding of the P antheon. O ne fu rth er series o f im perial buildings at Rome deserves particular m ention: the temples o f the deifled em perors. Trajan, H adrian, A ntoninus Pius and Marcus A urelius w ere ali deified by the senate after th eir d eath (H adrian only after some opposition from the sen ate). Each th en received the tem ple owing to a god. T rajans, com pleted by H adrian, was in his Forum . T h e colum ns of H ad ria n s may still be seen in the side o f th e Stock Exchange in the Piazza di P ietra at Rome. T h e tem ple o f A ntoninus an d Faustina (his em p ress), rem odelled in the 17th century as the church o f S Lorenzo in M iranda, still stands in the F orum R om anum , an d gives some id ea o f the im m ense scale w hich these m onum ents to th e im perial dynasty assumed. Im perial building was n o t confined to Rom e or Italy. O ne o f th e largest projects o f th e A ntonine p erio d was the g reat baths bu ilt on the seafront at Carthage. H adrian on his travels ro u n d th e em pire also d o n ated buildings in the places he visited, notably the Library an d Forum at his much-beloved A thens. A nd over and above these civil constructions we m ust reckon the enorm ous effort p u t in to m ilitary cam ps an d fro n tier vvorks, such as the walls o f H adrian an d A ntoninus Pius in Britain.

o f fo u r successive em p ero rs w hose characters an d authority com m an d ed involuntary respect. T h ere is som e t r u t h in this picture. It was in th is period, for example, that t h e State establishe (and encouraged wealthy private citizens to establish) alim entary schemes, w here m oney was len t to landow ners and the interest used by local towns and cities to feed an d cloth the children o f needy fami lies. T h e state also stepped in to help cities vvhich had borrow ed m oney to em bark on public building projects, an d becom e b an k ru p t as a result. Yet the p icture o f th e age is n o t alto g eth er a rosy one. O utbreaks o f epidem ic disease in the 160s an d after were o n e u n p leasan t feature. A n o th er was th e b eginnings o f a division o f society in to honestiores an d humiliores. Previously ali R om an citizens h ad b ee n equal before th e law. T h e m ajor distinction had been betvveen citizens an d non-citizens. W ith th e extension o f th e R om an franchise, however, new social pressures am e in to b eing w hich called for a division betw een rich citizens an d p o o r So d u rin g the 2nd century a process was set in train w hich gradually gave m ore legal privileges an d in d em n ities to th e rich, th e honestiores, at th e expense o f the p o o rer citizens, the humiliores. An exam ple is a law of H ad rian specifying pun ish m en ts for those convicted o f moving boundary stones ( i.e. stealing la n d ). M en o f standing w ere m erely to be banished, b u t th e rest were to be sen ten ced to a beating a n d two years h a rd labour. Still h arsh e r treatm en t was m eted o u t to m arginal groups such as Christians who refused to sacrifice to the traditional gods. Social changes were coupled with econom ic decline in som e regions o f the em pire. It is doubtful in d eed w hether Rom e ever really adapted to the concept o f a fixed territorial base u n su p p o rted by the windfall profits o f expansionist wars. T h e capital itself con tin u ed to prosper, buoyed up by its posi tion at the h ea rt o f a great em pire. O th er Italian cities were becom ing less pro sp ero u s, however, an d th e cen tre o f gravity was steadily shifting away from Italy towards w hat h ad once been the d ep e n d en t provinces. Gaul, the R hineland, an d Africa, in particular, underw ent an econom ic boom in the 2nd century, at th e expense o f traditional Italian industries. As the econom ic geography o f th e em pire ch an g ed , so d id its politics, with provincials becom ing ever m o re p ro m in en t an d powerful. This, and th e growing pres sures on th e frontiers, were to be hallm arks o f th e following century.

Literature T he early decades o f th e 2nd century cau g h t the tail e n d o f the greatest period of Latin literature with the historical writings o f Tacitus an d the later satires o f Juvenal. Only slightly later th an these are the fam ous biographies o f the first 12 Caesars by Suetonius, who served as secretary to the E m peror H adrian until he was dismissed for m isconduct. T hese w ere alm ost the last great Latin writers in the classical m ould. T h e later p art o f th e century saw A puleiuss comic novel The Golden Ass. An anonym ous an d enigm atic poem called Pervigilium Veneris (The Vigil o f Venus) may also belong to this per iod. But G reek h ad enjoyed a resurgence an d was now the m ain literary language once again, at th e ex p en se o f L atin. M arcus A urelius, th o u g h a Rom an by birth an d upbringing, chose G reek as th e m ost ap propriate language in which to write his Meditations. T h e greatest G reek w riter o f the age, however, was undoubtely Plutarch, a native o f C h aeronea in G reece who wrote essays, dialogues and parallel lives o f fam ous Greeks an d Romans.
R ight: the Em peror C om m odus (r. AD 181-192) soughl to id e n tify h im s e lf w ith the gods; this portra it b u st portrays h im as Hercules. In a f i t o f m egalom ania he renam ed the A frican grain fleet, u/hich brought v ita l fo o d supplies to Rom e, C om tnodiana Herculea, a n d the city o fR o m e itse lf C olonta C om m odiana.

Roman Society in the 2nd Century T he historian Edward Gibbon began his Decline and Fali of the Roman Empire with the words If a m an were called to fix th e p erio d in the history of the world during w hich the condition o f the h um an race was m ost happy and prosperous, he would, w ithout hesitation, nam e th a t w hich elapsed from the death o f D om itian to the accession o f Com m odus. T h e vast ex ten t of the Rom an E m pire was governed by absolute power, u n d er the guidance of virtue an d wisdom. T he armies were restrained by the firm b u t gentle h and




R ight: tbe legacy o f H ad ria n s

Hadrians Travels
The reign ofthe emperor Hadrian (117-138) was a time of consolidation and retrenchment fo r the Roman empire.
H adrian began his reign by ab an d o n in g T ra ja n s eastern conquests (save for A rabia which h ad com e peacefully u n d er Rom an rule in 106). T h en in 121 he em barked on the first o f a series o f journeys which took him to practically every corner of the em pire. O ne o f his m ajor concerns was the security o f the frontiers, and to this en d he strengthened the defences in several areas, including the all-im portant Rhine an d D anube. H ad ria n s m ost fam ous frontier work was the construc tion of the wall in n o rth e rn E ngland w hich still bears his nam e, built to divide the Rom anized Britons from the barbarians beyond (page s86-7).
Above: th is four-drachm a coin
w as struck a t A lexa n d ria in the lO th yea r o f H a d ria n s reign (AD 22 7- 28 ). O ne side shotvs the em perors portrait, the other a C anopic ja r used by the E gyptians to preserve internat organs rem oved from the b o d y during m um m ifica tio n .

H adrian h ad a great love of G reek culture and m uch of his travelling was in G reece and the H ellenized eastern provinces. H e spent at least th ree winters at Athens, endow ing the city with a library, forum and arch. H adrian also visited Egypt, travelling up the Nile as far as Thebes. His last eastern jo u rn e y was however from military necessity ra th e r th an tourism ; for his plan to refound Jerusalem (destroyed by Titus in a d 70) as the Rom an city o f Aelia C apitolina sparked off a serious revolt am ong the Jews which took four years of fierce fighting to suppress.

travels m a y be seen in the palae w hich he b u ilt a t T ivolt (Tibur) near Rom e. The v a st com plex o f buildings stretched fo r alm ost a m ile, a nd incorporated a variety o f architectural features inspired by, a n d nam ed after, places he had visited on his travels. The colonnaded po o l n am ed the C anopus utas m odelled on a fam ous canal in Egypt, tvhile the Stoa Poecile, or pa in ted p ortico" tvas based on tbe original a t Athens. There was also a theatre (foreground) a n d a circular pavilion, c ontaining apartm ents, surrounded b y a m o a t and edged b y a sem icircular colonnade.


IS rita n n ia

H a d ria n s travels,
T rapezus
T rabzon

122* U*Sp
Hadrian orders construction ^London

121-132 AD
Roman empire, I 17-138 Hadrians routes: 121-125 ---- * 128 128-132

of Horidri's WqW j

His villa at Tibur was marveliouslj coristructed, and he aci.ual.ly gave to pa,ris ofit the names o f provi nces and. places . Lyceum, A cademia, Prvlaneum, Canopus, Poecile and Tempe. A nd in order not to omil anjihing, he even made a Hades. Life of H adrian, from the H istna Augusta

122 Hadrian sirengthem Upper Rhine/Upper Danubp vreo OCEANUS

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rebellion against Roman rule

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Hadrian visits desert trading city of Palmyra


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Jerusalem re founded as Aelia Capitolina, leading to jewish revolt 132-135

cmstracl/on of Nymphaeum j at head of the Zagh'ouan aqucduct

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military operations in Mauretaniar

128* Hadrian North AftfcaiV'troops. after fieid manoeuvres

y V oAntihoopolis 30 October 130 w Hadrian founds city in memory Tliebes tuxor ofhis favourite Antinaus



The Eastern Provinces

W h en Rome took control of Asia Minor, the Levant and Egypt in the l s t and 2nd centuries b c , she acquired some of the ivealthiest territories of the M editerranean ivorld.
This was a region where sophisticated u rb an cultures h ad been established for centuries. T he com m on language h ere was G reek rath e r than Latin, b u t ben eath the H ellenized veneer were a myriad of older local traditions and languages. These included exotic religions such as th e cult of many-breasted A rtemis at Ephesus, tiie sun-worship of H eliopolis (Baalbek) and Emesa, and the pharaonic religion o f Egyptn o t to m ention the uncom prom ising m onotheism of the Jews, who were n o t only to be found in Ju d aea b u t also at A lexandria and other centres.
C itie s and provin ces o f the East, 2nd ce n tu ry A D
border of Roman Empire provincial capital legionary fortress other major town major Roman road


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Trapezus1 '. Trabzon Amastris Byzantium isianbuP

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Above: this 5th-century


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m osaic from D aphne, near A n tio ch , displays the lively m etropolitan life o f the R o m a n east. O n the fa r le ft a reclining m a n is served b y an a ttendant. P a st the three figures to his rig h t is the O ljm p ic stadium . B eyo n d it, a m a n rides up to a bath house. O n the fa r rig h t are the springs fo r ivhich D aphne ivas fam ous.

T he Rom an peace allowed trade and agriculture to flourish in this multiethnic, polyglot vvorld. Buildings and m onum ents of the early centuries ad bear am ple testim ony to the prosperity o f b oth individuals and com m unities. T he m ajor cities of Antioch and A lexandria each had populations num bering hu n d red s o f thousands, and even lesser centres such A phrodisias in Asia M inor or Gerasa (Jerash) in the Levant were em bellished with theatres and fountains. Egypt occupied a special place in the Rom an scheme. T he fertility given by the annual Nile flood enabled it to produce substantial agricultural surpluses, and grain from Egypt was shipped each year to Rom e to feed the u rban populace. So im portant was Egypt within the em pire that Augustus forbade any senators from visiting the province w ithout specific perm ission from the em peror, who ru led it as his person al d o m a in a n d was w o rs h ip p e d th ere as a pharoah. T h e se c u rity o f th e e a s te rn provinces were badly affected by the rise o f the pow erful Persian em pire d u rin g the 3rd centurv A D , b u t the im p e ria l Capital its e lf was m oved fro m R om e to C o n s ta n tin o p le in 330 and the east continued to flour ish w hile th e w estern provinces o f B ritain, G aul an d Italy itself w ent into decline. It was only the Islamic invasions of the 7th c.entury w hich b ro u g h t an en d to Rom an hegem ony in the region.

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Far rig h t: tbe tem ple com plex a t Pbilae in S o u th e rn E g yp t ,

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situ a ted on an island in the N ile, ivas begun u n d e r the Ptolem ies a n d com pleted d urin g th e R o m a n period. The nam es o f A u g u stu s, Caligula a n d C laudius are recorded in cartouches in the colonnades , a n d Trajan a d ded a k io sk in the 2 n d century. Philae rem ained a m ajor centre fo r the ivorship o fls is a n d Osiris ivell into the C hristian age, u n til the c u lt w as suppressed in the 6th century.

Ale^aKdiia^ L IB A



.Myus Horm iis

R ight: the theatre a t Bostra ivas b u ilt in the 2 n d century AD. This N abatean city becam e the Capital o fth e R o m a n province o fA ra b ia , a n n exed b y Trajan in 106. D uring tbe reign o f Severus A lexa n d er (222-35) it became a R o m a n colonia.

Elephantine/Syene j





Three Eastern Cities

E p h e su s u n d e r R o m an ru le was th e leading city of the eastern Aegean and Capital o f the province o f Asia. In the early c e n tu rie s A D it was extensively reb u ilt with co lo n n ad ed streets, large bathing com plexes and o th er fine public buildings including a richly decorated library. T h e life-blood of the city was die thriving port, linked to the sea by a narrow channel an d to the city centre by a Street edged with colonnades and lit by oil la m p s a t n ig h t. A n o th e r so u rce o f w ealth was th e c u lt o f th e goddess Artemis, housed in a splendid tem ple ju s t outside the city an d focus of a lively pilgrim trade.
Above: one o fth e moststriking remains o f Roman Ephesus is tbe

Eastern Gate

Above: this mosaic o f a table setting provides a glimpse

o fth e casual elegance enjoyed by wealthy citizens o f Antioch in their palatial villas in the Southern suburb o f Daphne.

library, built as a mcmvrial U > Tiberius Julius Celsus in the early 2nd century A D . Richly adorned with marble columns and facings, it bas mches to hold up to 12,000 scrolls; Celsus left a legacv o f 25,000 denarii to pay for their purchase.

St PauPs prison


colofinaded harbour.Street


A n tio c h on the O rontes was the capital of the province o f Syria an d a city n o ted for wealth and luxury. Its prosperity derived from trade and from the agricultural produce o f the adjacent plain, notably wine an d olive oil. U nlike many m ajor Rom an cities it was some 15 miles from the sea, b u t it was connected by a good road to its own harb o u r town o f Seleucia. T he city walls are testim ony to the fact th at from th e 3rd century AD A ntioch was vulnerable to Persian attack, b u t it rem ained an im p o rtan t centre o f com m erce and governm ent. T he sophistication o f late Rom an A ntioch is best illustrated by the luxurious villas of D aphne, a Southern suburb no ted for its natural beauties.

Caesar Campua Mart.iux

Mount Silpius

theatre gymnasiurn
M o un t Pioh

library of Celsus fountairt-, V of T rajan Servate House girPs gymnasium upper agora

Pm ius l'unoitus \Vrstrm Hmhfiur

Phatoi Island


(u n slljn r

vi(tu n i Comsus


A lexandria vvas the second largest citv of the Rom an world, with a p o p u la tio n o f a r o u n d h a lf a m illio n p e o p le . F o u n d e d by Pharos A lexander the G reat in 331 b c , it stood at the w estern eclge of the (Iighthouse) Nile D elta an d was th e p o in t from which Egyptian grain vvas ' shippe to Rome. It was also a thriving cultural centre, liome to H ero, inventor o f an elem entarv steam turbine, an d to th e g e o g ra p h e r an d a s tro n o m e r C laudius P tolem aeus. F rom th e 2 n d c e n tu ry it b ec am e a m a jo r c e n tre of C h ristia n th e o lo g y a n d seat o f o n e o f th e fo u r P atriarchs. T h o u g h a g re a t city, A lex an d ria was n o t a peaceful one, b u t vvas notorious for its riots and Street violence.
Right: much o f Roman Alexandria lies buried beneath tbe m odem city; this smoli semi-circular theatre is one o f the few buildings visible today. Around the rear ivere marble columns imported from Italy. Scratched on the seats are draivings o f charioteers.

Left: a Roman copy o fth e cult statue o f Artemis. The manybreasted represeiitation u f the goddess at Ephesus was much visited b y pilgrims.





Writing and Literacy

JV riting was a key featu re of Roman society: in monumental inscriptions, literary ivorks, personal letters and bureaucratic records even as graffiti on the walls.

Here are my jokes and rvitticisms, my loves, my sorroivs, complainis and vexaiions; now my style is simple, noto more elevated.,. PIiny the Yonnger, Lelters

A bove: In R o m a n libraries,

the scrolls ivere stored in pigeonholes; a sm a ll parchm e n t label tvas fix e d to the e n d o f each scroll. This engraving tvas m ade from a c aiving fo u n d in the 1 7th centu iy a tN e u m a g e n near Trier, b u t subsequently lost.
A bove rig h t: this 3 rd -c en tm y p apyrus from O xyrhynchus in E g y p t preserves an epitom e o f the R om an historian L ivy (59 BC-AD 17). M a n y a ncient ivorks have survived only as epitom es (abridgem ents ) . L iv y ivrote 142 books o f history; o f these, 3 5 survive intact , m a n y o fth e rest as epitom es. B e lo w : m a n y cities o fth e

th e everyday writing o f w orkm ens accounts o r simple letters was relatively w idespread, at least am ong th e u rb an populace, as was the ability to read public posters an d inscriptions. Several different m aterials were used for written docum ents. In the east, and even in Italy, papvrus was wiely em ployed. This was m ade from the pith of an Egyptian m arsh plant, p o u n d ed in layers to m ake a form of p aper which could then be w ritten on in ink. Several papyrus docum ents o f the Rom an period have been preserved in the dry sands o f Egypt. They include the oldest surviving gospel fragm ent, p a rt o f St J o h n s gospel, w ritten probably in the 2nd century a d . An alternative to papyrus vvhere that was either unavailable or too expensive was p arch m en t or vellum, m ade from the skins of cattle, sheep and goats. W ooden stylus tablets, with a recessed surface covered in co lo u red wax, were a n o th e r possibility. H ere th e vvritten message was inscribed in the wax using a bronze o r iron stylus. Stylus tablets could be reused by sm oothing o u t the wax ready to receive a new message (as scratches on the underlying wood often reveal) b u t were n o t only for tem porary writings b u t for wills an d legal contracts. W ooden leaf tablets (thin sheets o f wood) were also w ritten on in ink. They were so thin th a t they could be folded, and an address written on the outer face. Alternativel)', they could be tied together at the edges in a concertinalike arran g e m en t. P a rc h m e n t a n d papyrus d o cu m en ts d u rin g th e early R om an p eriod (as in classical Greece) were stored mainly in the form of rolls, up to 16 feet (5 m) long, occasionally with rollers at eith er end. They could be kept in boxes o r on shelves, b u t were clumsy an d cum bersom e for easy reference. A major innovation (tliough o ne w hich vvas slow to catch on) was the invention o f the book or codex, in which leaves of p arch m e n t w ere b o u n d to g e th er down o n e edge. Books m ade th e ir first ap p e aran c e in th e 2nd cen tu ry a d , m ainly for Christian texts, b u t it was n o t until the 4t.h century th at they ame into general use.
R ight: pens o f reed a n d m etal

R ight: this tuall p a in tin g from

P om peii shoius a yo u n g w o m a n w ith stylus a n d set o f luooden ivriting tablets ( ls t century a d ).

B e lo w rig h t: a m o n g the m any tvooden ivriting tablets recovered a t the fo r t o f V in d o la n d a on the northern fro n tier o f R om a n B ritain w as this invita tio n to a birthday party, ivritten a ro u n d AD 100: C laudia Severa to her Lepidina, greetings. I send yo u a w a rm in vita tio n to come to us o f September l l t h , fo r m y b irth d a y celebrations, to m ake the day more enjoyable b y y o u r presence. Give m y greetings to yo u r Cerialis. M y Aelius greets you and yo u r sons. I w ill expect y o ii, sister. Farewell sister, m y dearest soul, a I hope to prosper, and greetings.

highly-literate eastern provinces h a d fin e public libraries . T h e E m peror H adrian, a n art-lover ivith a strong interesi in Greek culture, h a d this library built a t A th en s after his visit in AD 124.

How many Rom ans could read or write for themselves is rath e r a difficult question. T he wealthy were taught these skills by a private teacher as p art of their childhood education. T h e less privileged had to rely on o th er m eans of learning, persuading a friend or relative to teach them , o r (in towns and cities) attending a school. E ducation was rarely free, b u t it seems th at even am ong th e p o o r there were som e who could read an d write. High-flown prose and artful rhetoric may have been the preserve o f a small elite, b u t


(bronze or iron) were used to w n te on papyrus or vellum . Ink, m ade from a so lution o f soot a n d water, was.. kept in elegant in laid bronze inkpots.

Sulpicia L ep id in a w as the ivife o f the garrison co m m a n der. H er frie n d s greeting a t the en d o fth e letter is the earliest kn o ivn ivriting in L a tin b y a ivom an.





Trade and Transport

E fficient road and sea Communications alloiued goods to be traded throughout the Roman Empire and fa r beyond its frontiers.
T he Rom ans are famous for the roads they built to connect the far-flung provinces o f th e ir em pire. T h ese allow ed the arm ies to be deployed rapidly, an d helped to stimulate the econom y by assisting the transport o f goods from town to town. T he Rom ans used b oth two-wheeled and four-wheeled carts pulled by horses or oxen. T here may even have been a rule about keeping to one side o f the road, though w hether rig h t or left is still disputed. Armies an d em perors travelled mainly by road, b ut for the transport of bulky goods w ater transport was m ore efficient: from the Edict o f Prices laid down by the E m peror D iocletian in 301 we learn th a t it was ch e a p e r to ship grain from Spain to Syria than move it 75 miles inland. Large num bers o f Rom an shipwrecks aro u n d the shores of the M editerranean tes- Eboracum j v Y o rk / tify to the scale o f m aritim e trade, as well as its rislcs. A m ong the Metals i 1 m ost im p o rtan t com m odities were wine, olive oil an d grain. B r i i' ii nki i a W ine and olive oil travelled in large pottery amphorae packed M e ta ls 'jLoridJhiuim in straw, though wine could also be carried in casks. Grain M e ta ls h a d a p a rtic u la r p la ce in th e R o m an eco n o m y , b e in g shipped from Egypt and Africa (m odern Tunisia) to Rome to provide the m onthly corn dole for the u rban citizenry.
Antioch Damascus Aiexandna Mathura Tamfuk Seleucia/ iCteslphon Luoyang

' I n d i a
Masulipatam ,, Meroe Axum

M are},

M uzirisSv- ' ;

2 /R o m an trad e w ith the E a st

Silk route other trade route sea route major trade centre incense-producing area

T aprobane | Sl i Lalilca

Above: this bronze coin o f Nero (AD 54-68) ivas issued to commemorate the completion o fth e harbour o fO stia a t the mouth o fth e River Tiber near Rome. It shoivs a birds eye view o f the basin surrounded by ivharfs and full o f shipping. The reclining figure in the foreground represents the Tiber.

M ji r e E r y t h r a e

____ I _____ lipO km i


i/T ra d e in th e R o m a n Em p ire , 2nd cen tu ry A D

Roman frontier sea route
with usual sailing time

Below: this stretch o f Roman

road at Vulci, Italy, still survives in remarkably good repair. These essential arteries o f communication were solidly constructed to luithstand the elements and provide an all-weather surface.

^ Augsss# Vindelicorum Most inhabitants o f the em pire survived, as they had always e oAugsbarg. d o n e, on th e p ro d u ce o f th e ir local area. T h e OCEANUS M e ta ls N o r it u m exception was the rich, who used th eir wealth Viruhumri to purch ase exotic luxuries. T hese in c lu d ed A T L A N T I C O C E A N Herfiolanum Lugdunurn Burdigala silks from China, incense from Arabia and Mtlap' B grdeaU jfc Aquiteii M e tals b spices from Southeast Asia. Some of ihese Gr^do ' Genua M e ta ls 1 , Gonova j M e ta ls goods travelled along the so-called Silk M assilia...-V\etats f p lo i a W in e M e ta ls v Route th ro u g h C entral Asia, others by j i \ - Jau lo u stV o .M arB ifellles l htanae,. sea acro ss th e I n d ia n O ce an In M e ta ls ^ N ^ V r'~~ -Geasai'augLiSteJ .. N a fbo r|he V * l *3 dof5 A A i exchange, R om an m erch an ts trad e d II i s | a i W i o \ Corsica gold, glassware and oth er manufacW in e M etals ' 6 da/s tures, which turn u p today as far T o le tu m Tarragona Emerita Augusta r. G rain afield as Malaysia and Vietnam. Medda/ Su nimfa.

main roads production areas

V < /, Sirmiujfi '

, D a c i a


. . f' Vi^m aum ,

Pontus Euxinus
H o e s i a

H itrih SM i
B ith v fiia & P o n tu s i f\|icomedia rjAncyra

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W o ta ls o CarthaRa Nova


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M e t a ls

5 0 Dk m s





Left: lions, bears, leopards,

The Roman Amphitheatre

Th e Roman passion fo r gladiatorial games led to the construction of vast amphitheatres. Their im pressive ruins can still be seen across Europe and North Africa.
ft 'JIJiAt&ffl]

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IiI U' ili VS''!'1 '-j

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I chanced to stop in at a midday shoto, expecting jun, m i, and some relaxation. It was ju st the reverse,.. in the morningmen are throion to the lions and. the bears, at noon they are throron to their spec tators. K ili him! Lash him! B u m h i m ! . A nd when the show stops fo r interrnission, L et s have rnen killed meantvhile! Lel s not have nothing going on! Seneca, Moral Epistles
. Milan

T he gam es played a m ajor p a rt in R om an life, especially in Italy an d the w estern provinces, vvhere they were the scene for freq u en t an d often bloody displays. T he m ost fam iliar are th e contests betw een gladiators, train ed fighters n o t unlike the boxers of today, b u t arm ed in m uch deadlier fashion with n et and trid en t (the retiarius) or sword, shield and helm et (the secutor). T hese w ere the classic com batants, b u t th ere were o th e r kinds of gladiator, often heavily arm oured. N ot ali those taking p art were trained or prepared. Crim inals co n d em n ed to d eath including Christians on occasionwere som etim es com pelled to fight each o th er or exposed nakecl to wild animals in the arena. T housands of animals perished in these spectacles as many as 11,000 in the great games held by T rajan in 107. Most elaborate o f ali were the sea-fights, fought (if we may believe it) in flooded am phitheatres or on special lakes built for the purpose. T h e violence o f R om an gam es has tro u b le d m any m o d e rn a n d som e ancient com m entators, b u t it does n o t m ean th a t the Rom an spectators were any m ore bloodthirsty th an m od ern viewers of violent films and television series. This was violence at a distance, in a carefully controlled context. G ladiatorial com bats were eventually b a n n e d by th e E m p ero r H o n o riu s (395-423), b u t the tradition of the Rom an games lives on in the bullfights o f Spain and S outhern France. l< feW

ivolves a n d even ostricbes were trapped a nd transported fro m fa r afield for the gam es . Som e ivere set against unarm ed prisoners, others used in stage-m anaged hunts involving elaborate scenery incuding real trees. This m osaic, fro m M o k n in e in T unisia, shotvs a leopard being killed in the arena , tvhile the p erform ers p a y is brought in.

t :.v. -Ntar.^

L e ft: the biggest o f ali the

arenas tvas the C olosseum a t Rom e. B egun by the E m peror Vespasian (a d 6 9-79) a n d com pleted in AD 80 by bis son T itu s (a d 79-81), i t could h o ld as m a n y as 5 0 ,000 spectators. The 76 entrances a n d 1 60 passages allotved the entire audience to seat them selves ivith in te n m inutes, a n d the stands ivere originally covered b y an adjustable canvas atvning.

A m p h ith e a tre s and th e an im a i trad e

Trapezus Trabzon v Carnuntum I Roman empire, -----I 2nd century AD

B ritan n ia n o
"..Londinmm don,;

' '
Colonia Agrippina


amphitheatre source of animals fo r Roman arena


Treverrum S

Augita I


N o r ic u m . P o n tu s

A u,od,s



.1 T L A N T K O C K A S

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Lepcis Magna


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Roman Spain
The Iberian peninsula ivas one of the most prosperous regions of the Roman Empire, with great cities and a thriving export trade.
T he peninsula was divided into th ree separate provinces: Lusitania in the west, Baetica in the south, an d T arraconensis in the east an d n o rth. T he Rom an conquest was a long draw n-out affair, beginning in 206 b c with the capture o f C arthaginian possessions in the south ( pages 24-5) an d ending with the crushing of the last resistance in the northw est in 19 b c . By this tim e, the Southern region o f Spain was thoroughly Rom anized. A network o f roads connected its towns and cities, Crossing th e m ajor rivers on fine stone bridges such as the on e th a t spans the Tagus at Alcantara. Several Iberian cities, including E m erita A ugusta (M erida), C orduba (C oroba), Hispalis (Seville) and Carthago Novo (C artagena), were substantial places with ali the trappings of urbanized Rom an life; at M erida, the 2nd-century theatre, with its impressive porticoed stage-front (scaenae frons), survives and is still used for theatrical productions.
Above: p o ttery containers (amphorae) fo r transporting

1/R o m a n Spain, c. 2nd A D

----------- provinciat boundary provincial capital seat o f provincial councii H] legionary base other centre

R ig h t: the a queduct a t Segovia

ivas p robably b u ilt d uring the reign o f Trajan. The great arches th a t toiver 128 f t (39 metres) over the city are ju s t the fin a l section o f a ivatercourse th a t starts in the hills 10 m iles (16 km ) aivay.

----------- Roman road SILVER natural resource


modem boundary

Spanish ivine, olive oil a n d fish sance have been fo u n d ali aro u n d the shores o f the ivestem M editerranean. They form one o fth e m a in com ponents o fth e rubbish m ounds b e h in d the ivaterfront a t R o m e a n d som e, w ith m anufacturers m arks from Spain, have been fo u n d as far afield as W ro xeter in B ritain a n d H eddernheim in G erm any ,

At the en d o f the ls t century, Spain provided the first Rom an em peror of provincial origin in the p erso n o f T rajan (r. 9 8 -1 1 7 ), b o rn probably at Italica n ea r m o d e rn Seville. T ra ja n s successor H ad rian (r. 117-138) vvas also o f Spanish origin. Families such as those o f T rajan an d H adrian drevv m uch o f their vvealth from the agricultural p roduce o f Southern Spain, particularly from the export of wine and olive oil. Spain was also an exporter of the highly-prized fish sauce knovvn as garum, which was processed in factories alo n g th e Southern coast. T h e m ost obviously p ro fitab le o f R om an Spains resources, hovvever, were its metals: gold in the northwest, copper an d silver in the southvvest. In th e Rio T in to are a rem ain s o f th e screw pum ps and w ater vvheels used to drain the deep workings still survive, providing vivid evidence of Rom an hydraulic capabilities (pages 128-9).
2 /R o m an Italica

Brigantium La CorunaLucus Augusti


Asturica" .Augusta Ctunia

amphitheatre .

Emporiae Ampurias Ta r raco Tarragona



Italica ivas the first com m unity o f R om an citizens in Spain, fo u n d ed by Scipio A fricanus in the 3 r c e n tm y BC as a hom e for veterans o fth e tvar against C arthage . For m uch o f its exitence it ivas overshadoived by , nearby H ispalis (Seville), a n d its m ain claim to fa m e ivas th a t the E m peror Trajan ivas born there. W hen H adridh viited Spain in 1.22 he em bellished the city by a d d in g a com pletely n e w q u a ite r alongsjde the old m unicipium , com plete tvith a m onum ental forum a nd an am phitheatre capable o f seating 25,000 spectators. This gave the city a onsiderable boost elegant toum houses tvith elaborate m osaic floors ivere built b u t i t ivas a som eivhat artificial one, a n d by the n e x t century Italica's im portance h ad ivaned once again .

Scallabis Sari tare i7i

JJsbon Emerita Augusta Mrida__ - i- ' - " I oletym Toledo
Minor Minpn


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r ' S ILV E R

/ * /5 b a e ti c ;
, S li V I K ' F IS H S AU C E Ol.fiVE O IL 1 (iltailca ' i1

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Hispalis' Seville /


O. i

Carthago Nova




400 yds





Guarding the Frontiers

Tlie peace and prosperity of the empire depended on the defence of its fron tiers, ivhich were guarded by forts, ivatchtoivers and ramparts.
U ntil the m iddle decades o f th e 3rd century, Rome h ad n o m obile field army h eld in reserve, and military units were co n cen trated in camps and forts along the frontiers. It was the defence o f these frontiers which gave the provinces the security which allowed their econom ies to flourish an d pro vide taxes for the im perial treasury. N ot surprisingly, then, m aintaining an d strengthening the frontiers was a m ajor preoccupation o f governm ent. At First this was achieved by building a chain of forts and watch-towers linked by a military road to allow the rapid deploym ent of troops. U n d er H adrian (117-38), how ever, crucial sections of the fro n tie r began to be fortified in m ore substantial mann e r by the building o f a continuous ram part or wall. T he m ost fam ous an d elaborate is H ad ria n s Wall, the 70-mile (112-km) stone wall ru n n in g from th e m o u th of th e River Tyne to th e Solway Estuary, an d extended down the C um brian coast by fo rts a n d w atchtow ers. In its c e n tra l se ctio n H a d r ia n s W all ru n s across ru g g ed terrain , an d su b stan tial stretch es o f th e wall an d its forts, milecastles and tur rets can still be seen. O n th e E u ro p e a n m a in la n d th e re was generally no n eed for such a continuous barrier, since
Above: a stretcb o f H adrians

the fro n tier ran along the Rhine an d the D anube, which themselves form ed a sufficient obstacle. Forts, camps an d watchtowers were built along their banks, an d a strong frontier-work was constructed between the u p p er reaches of the two rivers. New frontier defences con tin u ed to be bu ilt d u rin g the late Rom an period, especially along th e D anube w here pressure from the n o rth was in ten se. T h ese in c lu d e a series o f b o u n d ary earthvvorks, th e Devils Dykes an d Brazda lui Novac d u N ord, built by C onstantine (306-37) to p ro tect tributary peoples beyond the D anube from the Goths.

2/The D a n u b e fro n tie r in the 4th cen tu ry

_ Lauriacum Raetia I I N o ri u m Ripen.se Viniiobona

Rorrian fro n tie r provi ncial

fo rt o r fo rtle t


luntum 4

N o ric u m M e ite rra n eu in Venetia 8c H is tria Foram lulii friuii \

L H aBrar

150 rnslej


Panrm iiia I

abanoned 270


Ptujnanta II"

Sfi'mium5 Vimihaclui M oesia W Dacia


Pontus buxmus Bhtrk Sca

Praevalitana D airdaiita


i _

^Serjaica Th ra cia

H ao in im o n tits Adrianople liiippopotij ^ E i n i i a ^

walL In the foreground is a turret, w h ic h ivo u ld have been used fo r observation a n d defence. The tvooden superstructure is based on the turrets depicted on T rajans C olum n a t R o m e . In the distance is a m ilecastle, a m ore su b sta n tia l defence ivith barrack a ccom m odation. There ivere ttvo turrets betiveen eacb milecastle.




IV: The Troubled Century

The century folloiving the death o f Commodus was m arked by a remarkable series of shifts in Roman fo r tunes, greater than the empire had ever experienced before. A period of firm govemment by the early Severans ivas folloived by a gradual decline of Central authority. Coupled with the appearance of more poiverful enemies on the im perial frontiers, this led to a crisis in the security and stability of the empire which lasted throughout the m iddle decades of the 3rd century. Riven by in tem al faction and assailed by foreign enemies, the empire broke up into a number of regional poivers. For a moment it looked as though ali ivas lost, as though the Roman empire ivas a t an end. But a series of capable m ilitary emperors managed to restore the position during the course of the 270s, laying the groundivork fo r the major reorganization undertaken by Diocletian after his accession in 284.

R ight: the E m peror Septim ius Severus (r. 1 93-211), w ith his

T he m u rd er o f Com m odus on New Years Eve 192 b ro u g h t to an en d the A ntonine age, b u t while Com m odus him self had been u n p o p u lar with both the Senate an d the praetorian guard, his dem ise did n o t at once usher in peace T h e assassins, w ith th e s u p p o rt o f th e Senate, m ad e th e elderly Pertinax em peror. H e was a respected statesm an an d distinguished military com m ander, b u t he too lacked the su p p o rt o f the praetorians an d was m ur d ered by elem ents o f the g uard in M arch 193. This m arks the high p o in t of praetorian fortunes; never again were they to exercise such pow er at Rome. T heir im m ediate move was to offer the posi tion o f em peror to the person who would pay them the m ost money, and the choice thus fell u p o n the wealthy b u t ineffectual Didius Julianus. H e had no supp o rt in the provinces, an d the fro n tier legions soon began to declare fo r th e ir own candidates: P escennius N iger in th e east, C lodius Albinus in Britain, Septim ius Severus on the D anube. Severus was the eventual winner, largely by being b older an d m ore ruthless than his com petitors. H e m arched on Rom e an d easily disposed of Didius Julianus, b u t h ad h ard flghting to do before he overcame Pescennius N iger an d Clodius Albinus. It vvas n o t until 197, over four years after C om m oduss death, th at Severus had undisputed rule over the vvhole em pire. W ith one short break, m em bers o f the Severan family were to govern Rome for m ore th an 40 years. This m arks a fu rth e r step in the growing importan ce o f th e provincials, especially th o se fro m th e A frican an d e a ste n provinces. Severus him self was b o rn at Lepcis M agna in Cyrenaica (m odern Libya) His rival Clodius Albinus am e from H ad ru m etu m (Sousse) in m od ern Tunisia. By this .time, a large p ro p o rtio n o f the senators at Rom e were o f A frican origin. M ost o f th e m in fact s u p p o rte d A lbinus ra th e r th a n Severus, which caused Severus to instigate a purge of 29 senators once he h a d defeated Albinus. Severuss African origins vvere plain for ali to h ear in his African accent, vvhich he never lost. T o African vvas m ixed a Syrian elem ent, since Severus was m arried to JuLa D om na, d a u g h te r o f th e H igh P riest o f th e sun-god E lagabal at Emesa (m o d e m H om s). T hus C aracalla (211-17), Severuss successor, vvas h alf African, half Syrian, an d h e in tu rn vvas succeeded after a b rief interlude by

w ife Julia D om na a n d their sons Caracalla a n d G eta . Severus le ft the em pire to his tw o sons, b a t in 212 Caracalla m urdered his hrother. Thousands o f G etas supporters were also killed, his statues sm ashed a n d his portraits including this one defaced.

his m o th e rs sisters gran d ch ild ren M arcus A urelius (Elagabalus) (218-22) an d A lexaner Severus (222-35), b oth of vvhom vvere p u re Syrian.

The Empire under the Severans Septim ius Severus relied heavily on the su p p o rt o f the army b oth to bring him to povver an d to retain it. H e naturally paid particular attention to military matters, vvaging a series o f vvars, raising nevv legions and im proving the soldiers pay an d conditions for the first tim e since Dom itian a century earlier. Legionaries vvere now allovved to m arry and to live vvith their vvives and families in civilian accom m odation outside the military camps. His m ajor vvars against foreign enem ies vvere in Britain and the east. Severus fought tvvo separate campaigns against the Parthians, in 195 an d 197-8, and created tvvo nevv im perial provinces (M esopotam ia an d O srhoene) in the P arthian borderlands beyond the E uphrates. These vvere the first significant add itio n s to the em p ire since T ra ja n s co n q u est o f D acia som e 90 years before. T he vvar in Britain ame n ear the en d o f the reign, an d vvas nothing less th an an attem p t to revi-ve the plan of conquering the vvhole of Scotland. N either this n o r the P arthian wars may be considered to have been a strategic necessity, though they b ro u g h t booty and glory to the army. O ne further objective of the British vvar, vve are told, vvas to remove Severuss troublesome sons from the hothouse politics o f Rome. A n o th e r area vvhere S eptim ius Severus took serious m ilitary action vvas N orth Africa, his hom e territory. Lepcis M agna received a suite of impressive nevv public buildings befitting the birthplace o f an em peror. Severus also cam paigned against the desert nom ads and o rd ered the construction of



a new system o f roads an d forts which pushed the fro n tier significantly fur ther to the south. He also created the new province o f N um idia. T h e importance of Africa w ent well beyond its close links with the im perial family. It continued to be one of the m ost prosperous provinces o f the em pire, producing huge quantities of oil from vast olive groves, and continuing to be a m ajor supplier of grain for the city of Rome. T he econom ic success of the African provinces is amply dem onstrated by great building projects o f the 2nd and early 3rd centuries, such as the am p h ith eatre at E1 Djem. In Italy, on the other hand, the Severan p erio d was characterized by contin u in g econom ic decline. Politically, Italian s vvere b eco m in g steadily less im p o rta n t as provincials took m o re an d m ore o f th e key positions. T h e influence o f the Senate, too, vvas falling, as m em bers o f the equestrian o rd er (many of them as wealthy as senators, b u t distinguished from them by being non-political) vvere given p lu m com m ands. T h e realities o f povver vvere reflected by Severuss stationing o f one o fh is three nevv legions in Italy, as if it vvere ju st an o th er province. T he legion vvas based at A lbanum , a m ere 20 miles from Rome, as a visible p ro o f o f the em p ero rs authority over Senate and Capital.
R ig h t: the praetorian guard, shoiun here in a relief caruing from R om e, ivere the elite bodyguard o fth e em perors . They reached the height o f their poiver a n d influence in 193 w hen, after assassinating the Em peror Pertinax, they p u t the em pire u p fo r sale to the highest hidder .

Rome itself, hovvever, vvas n eith er neglected by the Severans n o r ab andoned as an im nerial residence. Q uite the contrary. Severus added a nevv vving to the Palatine palae, a trium phal arch in the Forum , an d may have begun construction o f the baths n am ed after his son Caracalla. T he later Severans also built at Rome, Elagabalus, for instance, erecting an enorm ous tem ple on the Palatine to the sun god he vvorshipped.
R ight: Septim ius Severus am e

from Lepcis M agna in T ripolitana, a region then a t the zenith o fp r o sp e n ty . The source o fth is utealth ivas the agricultural produce o f the farm ing villas a n d their surrounding estates. This one, a t Utica in B yzacena (m o d e m Tunisia), is one o fth e bestpreserved in the R om an w orld.

The Severan Succession Septim ius Severus died at York in 211 an d vvas follovved by his sons Marcus A ntoninus (nicknam ed Caracalla after his favourite type of cloak) and Geta. T he tvvo vvere constantly at odds with each other, an d though each built up a substantial follovving at Rom e, it vvas Caracalla vvho eventually vvon the stru g g le, h aving G eta m u rd e re d after only a few m o n th s o f jo in t rule. C a ra c a lla s p e n t th e re s t o f h is re ig n o n a g ra n d to u r o f th e e a s te rn provinces. T he notoriety he gained by m u rd erin g his b ro th er vvas reinforced by his u n explained massacre of the young male population o f A lexandria vvhen he visited the city in 215. Like his father he increased the pay o f the soldiers, on vvhom he d epended, an d like him too h e m o u n ted a m ajor vvar against the Parthians. T he first foray, in 216, vvas an unqualified success, so fa r as it w en t, th o u g h by early th e follovving y ea r th e P a rth ia n s h a d reg ro u p ed and vvere poised for a m ajor counter-offensive. Caracalla did n o t live to face the threat, since he vvas m u rd ered by one of his bodyguard, a m an vvith a private grievance, in spring 217. H e left tvvo great m onum ents to his five-year reign, one physical, the oth er c o n s titu tio n a l. T h e p h y sical m o n u m e n t vvas th e e n o rm o u s B ath s o f Caracalla, the greatest of Rom an bathing complexes, vvhich vvas declicated
90 91



It was d u rin g th e weak reig n o f Severus A lex a n d er th a t th e first signs em erged of the serious external pressures which were to bring the em pire alm ost to its knees in the decades to come. O ne of the m ost im p o rtan t of these events was the establishm ent of a new im perial power on the eastern fro n tie r Since th e last ce n tu ries B C th e N ear East beyond th e lim its o f R om an rule had been dom inated by the em pire of the Parthians. In AD 226, the last Parthian king, A rtabanus V, was overthrown by one o f his vassals, the Persian ru ler Ardashir. In the 6th century B C the Persians had conquered the lands aro u n d the East M editerranean, including Asia M inor and Egypt, an d A rdashir in a show of bravado now laid claim to these form er territories. In 230 h e invaed R om an te rrito ry , forcing th e unw arlike Severus A lexander to stage a powerful counter-attack. It was en o u g h to halt A rdashir in his tracks, b u t failed to win any great victories. W hen two years later (235) A lexander p referre d do a deal with the G erm ans on the R hine fro n tier ra th e r than fight them , his soldiers d ecided they h ad had en ough. They m u rd ered A lexander and his m other, an d proclaim ed as em p ero r one of their own com m anders, M aximinus the Thracian.
R ight: D ougga, in m o d e m

Tunisia, tvas one o fth e flourishing R om an cities o f N orth Africa. Its g rand p u b lic buildings included the capitol a tem ple o fth e C apitoline tria d o fd e itie s, J u p ite r J u n o a n d M inerva. T his w as dedicated in AD 166, a n d th e p e d im en t scidpture depicts the apotheosis o fth e E m peror A nto n in u s Pius, w b o h a d d ied five years earlier.

The Slide towards Crisis T he army had always been a m ajor power-broker in the im perial gam e, but tbe policies of the Severans and th eir rejection of senatorial authority had m ade th e office o f e m p e ro r m o re d e p e n d e n t on th e m ilitary th a n ever before. T he relationship becam e even closer during the m iddle dccades of the 3rd century,w hen the continual threat o f foreign invasion m ade control o f the army and military com petence the essential prerequisites for a successful reign. T he Rom an em pire was now clearly on the defensive Those em perors who failed m et a speedy and violent end. in 216 b u t fu rth e r added to during the 220s. T he constitutional reform for whieh he is best known is the granting in 212 of Rom an citizenship to ali the free male inhabitants of the em pire. It was n o t as radical a move as it seem ed. Many provincials already possessed R om an citizenship th ro u g h grants by earlier em perors. It did remove a m ajor constitutional distinction between Italians and non-Italians, b u t the im p o rtan t difference in law was now that betvveen rich and poor, honestiores an d humiliores. Caracalla was succeeded by an o th e r African em p ero r, M acrinus, a M oor who had trained as a lawyer and th en jo in e d the army in search of b etter prospects. H e was an innovation in one im portant respect, being the first non-senator to becom e em peror. But he did n o t reign for long. H e failed to defeat the Parthian counter-attack in 217 and was forced to seek a humiliating peace. T hen, early the following year, the Syrian legions restored the Severan family to power in the person o f Caracallas n ieces son Elagabalus. Elagabalus was only 14 years old at the tim e, an d real power rested with his m other and grandm other, both Syrian princesses, the latter of them the sis ter o f Severuss em press Julia Domna. W hile they an d th eir officials ran the business of governm ent, Elagabalus devoted him self to his role as hereditary H igh Priest of the sun god of Emesa. T he sacred black stone of Emesa, symbol of the god, was brought to Rome and installed in a special tem ple on the Palatine. Elagabalus him self engaged in exotic rituals and strange sexual practices in the Service of his god. W hen these becam e such an embarrassm ent th at they posed a th reat to the regim e, he was done away with an d his m ore acceptable (though still very young) cousin Severus A lexander m ade em peror in his place. T h e d r ift to w ard s m ilita ry a u to c ra c y is w ell r e p r e s e n te d by S everus A lexanders successor Maximinus. H e was n eith er senator n o r equestrian, b u t an ordinary soldier who had risen th ro u g h the ranks. Faced with the threat of G erm an invasion, he spent m ost o f his reign on the Rhine and the D anube, and ignored Rome entirelv. His place was with the army, not courting politicians in the capital. His only visit to Italy as em p ero r was at the end o f his reign, when the Senate p u t up two of their ovvn candidates to oppose him. Even on that occasion he d id n t reach Rome b u t was m u rd ered while besieging the rebellious city o f A quileia (at the head o f th e Adriatic) in April 238. T he em perors who ruled Rome from Philip the Arab (244-9) to Gallienus (253-68) presided over a situation o f inereasing crisis. T he militai"y struggle was m ade ali th e m o re difficult by the n e e d to d efen d several fro n tiers sim u lta n eo u sly , In th e w est, a G e rm a n c o n fe d e ra tio n know n as th e A lem anni th reaten ed the Rhine and U pper D anube. O n the lower D anube, the principal enem y was the Goths (another G erm anic people, recently settled in the U kraine). In the east, the Persians u n d er a new aggressive ruler S hapur I, m ounted periodic invasions o f Syria and adjacent provinces. The nadir was reached in 260. In that year, the E m peror Valerian was captured by the Persians and en d ed his days in captivity. No longer able to control the east, his son G allienus was forced to rely on h elp from the rulers of Palmyra, who used th eir position to establish a quasi-independent stale. At the same tim e the western provinces broke away to form a separate Gallic em pire, and the truncated body of the central em pire was afflicted by a rash o f prelet)ders.





Against ali expectations, the em pire was slowly p u t to rightsiby a series of soldier-em perors o f Balkan origin, referred to as th e Illyrian em p ero rs. C laudius II (268-70) d efeated the G o th s. A u re lia n (2 7 0 -7 5 ) su p p re s s e d th e breakw ay Palmyrene an d Gallic realms an d reu n ited the em pire as a single unit. Carus (282-3) tu rn ed the tables on the Persians by invading M esopotam ia a n d sacking the im p o rtan t city of Ctesiphon. But the Rom an em pire did n o t escape from its ordeal unscathed. Large areas su ffered invasion a n d d e s tru c tio n , a n d th e re was widespread econom ic dislocation.

Persecution was suspended in 260, an admission o f failure on the p art of the au th o rities, an d fo r th e n ex t 40 years th e C hristians w ere left in peace. Christianity was by now recognized to be m ore th an ju st an o th er O riental cult, b u t it was still very m uch a m inority religion in the em pire as a vvhole. T h e attem pts to stam p it o u t were harsh an d violent, invoking prison, tor ture an d death, b u t they m ust be ju d g e d in the context of the 3rd century crisis. Christianity could ali too easily be seen as yet an o th er force for division in a realm w hich th e em p e ro rs w ere fig h tin g d esp erately to h o ld together. Few could have p red icted that, w ithin a century it w ould have becom e the official State religion.

Saints and Martyrs

Above: the econom ic collapse o fth e m id -3 rd century Ud, in the Western provinces, to a proliferation o fim ita tio n s o f the o fficia l R o m a n coinage. These are o ften k n o w n as barbarous radiates on a ccount o f their crude style a n d the radiate croivn u>hich is the m o st p ro m in en t feature o fth e design. T h ey do n o t appear to have been forgenes in the sense o f coins in ten d ed to deceive m a n y are fa r sm aller than th eir R o m a n prototypes a n d are p robably the result o flo c a l initiatives to provide sm all change, suitable for everyday transactions, th a t the State w as unable or uniuilling to supply.

C hristianity was by no m eans a new relig io n in th e 3 rd century, b u t began at this tim e to feature increasingly prom inently in the affairs o f the em p ire. T h e first g re a t C h ristian p e rse c u tio n was th a t o rd e re d by th e em peror Decius in 250. Christians in cu rred official displeasure (along with Jews) because they refused to offer traditional pagan sacrifice for the welfare o f em pire an d em perors. But Jewish beliefs were tolerated, w hereas Christians were persecuted, ostensibly on the charge of atheism . We hear of famous public m artyrdom s from th e 2nd century onwards: of the slavegirl B landina and h e r colleagues in th e am phitheatre at Lyons in 177; or of P e rp e tu a an d Felicity a t C arth ag e in 203, to c e le b ra te th e b irth d a y o f Severuss son Geta. T he persecution o f 250, however, was on an altogether different scale, and was followed by a second im perial edict in 257, forbidding public worship, and a th ird in 258 which was directed against Church leaders an d C hurch property. Yet despite these persecutions (which were enforced to differing degrees in differen t provinces) C hristianity co n tin u ed to win new converts, an d the deaths o f martyrs, althou g h a d eterre n t, ad d ed a to u ch of h ero ic lustre.

B elow : Portchester Castle n ear Portsm outh is the bestpreserved o fth e ehain o f coastal forts b u ilt on both sies o f the E nglish C hannel in the late 3 r d a n d early 4 th centuries. The rounded projeeting toivers are typical o f later R o m a n m ilitary arehiteeture. In the 4th century this a n d the other coastal forts ivere placed u n d e r the c o m m a n d o f a single m ilita ry officer, the comes lito ris Saxonici C o unt o fth e S a xon Shore ivhose jo b ivas to p rotect eastern B ritain fro m the a ctivities o f Sa xon pirates.

70 -

C u rr e n c y in collapse, 2nd ce n tu ry A D
The 3 rd centurv sa w m n a w a y inflation a n d dehasem ent o f tbe coinage. Under the Severans the silver content o f the Roman coinagealreadv debased by M arcus Aurelius fell drartiatu'rillv. The inf1ationary spiral was com ptm iuled tvben Caracalla (211-17) intraduced a netv silver coin, the antnmnianu$(abovc). It ivas p ro b a b h tariffed a t 2 denarii, though it only w eighed 1 Vi tim es as much as the older coin. Its silver content , less than 5 0% to start tvith, plum nieted in the ntiddle o fth e cetitury, an d by the sole reign o f Galliettus (260-6H) the antoninianui ivas little more than a bronze coin ivith ii thin silver tvash on the surface. Under these circumstances the productian o f large bronze coins such as the etertra ivas no longer economica! an d soon ceased altogether.

Years AD


C lodius A lb in u s (below) tvas Severuss longest-lived rival. Severus g ranted h im the title Caesar in 193, b u ttv h e n A lb in u s tvas proclaim ed A ugustus b y his troops in 195 , tvar betiveen the tivo emperors ivas inevitable. A lb in u s set up his g o v e m m e n t a t Lyon, capital o f G allia L ugduniensis a n d one o f the g reat cities o f the R om an ivest (rig h t, the theatre). A fte r his d e fe a t by Severus ju s t outide the city early in 197, A lbinus c o m m itted suicide.

The Year of the Six Emperors

The assassination o f Commodus shattered the p o litica l stability of the preceding century and plunged the empire into civil war.
T he bloodthirsty eccentricities o f the E m peror Com m odus (180-92) m ade him u npopular with aristocracy an d co u rt officials alike, an d h e was eventually m urdered on the last day o f 192. His successor was the Prefect o f Rome, Pertinax, b u t he too was assassinated ju st three m onths later. Power then passed to a rich senator called Didius Julianus in re tu rn for a huge bribe to the praetorian guard. T he com m anders of the fro n tier armies were umvilling to accept this State o f affairs, an d in April 193 two rival em perors were proclaim ed: P escennius N iger in th e east an d Septim ius Severus on the D anube. Severus m arched quickly on Rome an d overthrew Julianus. After only a b rief pause to settle affairs in th e capital, he th en m arched east to confront Niger. His army crossed the Sea o f M arm ara an d defeated N igers forces at Cyzicus and Nicaea. They pressed forward th ro u g h Asia Minor, ovenvhelm ing N iger in a final, decisive en c o u n ter at Issus, the same spot w here A lexander the G reat had defeated the Persians 500 years earlier Niger fled to A ntioch, w here he was captured an d killed. Severus spent a few m onths consolidating his hold on the eastern provinces and m ounting a short cam paign against the Parthians ( pages 98-9). B efore r e tu r n in g to R om e h e w en t to c o n fro n t a n o th e r rival: Clodius Albinus, the governor of Britain. Albinus an d Severus had A'i'jjTOJS c r o s s e s OV IO Gaul v/ith om becom e allies in 193, b u t by the en d o f 195 they were openly hostile, a n d war b ro k e o u t th e follow ing year. A lbinus h a d th e arm y o f tu g d u n e n Britain at his com m and, b u t failed to win over the powerful G erm an legions. Severus defeated him outside Lyon in February 197, bringing an end to four years o f civil unrest.

Above: the eventual victor o f

the civil ivars o f 193-7 ivas Septim ius Severus (t . 193- 211). B o m a tL e p c is M a g n a in N o rth Africa, he w as prefect o f Upper P annonia ivhen p roclaim ed em peror b y his troops. This p o rtra it appears on a sestertius struck later in his reign.

T h e w ars o f succession, A D 19 3-7

Roman frontier Septimius Severus: march on Rome, 193 war against Niger, 193 4 war against Albinus, 196-7 Clodius Aibinus, 196 area supporting Pescennius Niger area supporting Clodius Albinus battle

T h e Eve n ts o f 193
31 Dec 192 C om m odus assassinated. 1 Jan 193 P raetorian guard procla im the Gity Prefect o f Rome, P. Helvius Pertinax, em peror. T h e ir choice is ra tifie d by the Senate. 28 M a r Pertinax, fo rce d to make u n p o p u la r economies, is assassinated by the p rae toria n guard. D id ius Julianus, a ric h senator, is procla im e d em p e ro r in re tu rn f o r 25,000 sesterces to each p raetorian. A p r-M a y G. Pescennius N ig e r, legate o f Syria, and P. Septim ius Severus, legate o f Pannonia, b o th p rocla im e d e m peror by th e ir troops. Severus marches o n Rome. Senate condem ns Julianus and ra tifies n o m in a tio n o f Severus. 2 June D idius Julianus executed 10 Ju ne Septimius Severus enters Rom e a t th e head o f his troops.

m m
4 V

i-1 < 7n { u $

L usitania

Massilia Marseilles

^ lak 195 h 1 " /jofcfr oul under siege against Severan forces _ - ~
T h ia c e Byzantium * btkob uI N icomedia . S " p f e m i t a| ttieus | Nicaea his M j | | r i 95$> .

Corsica Rome,
Tarentum Taranto M acedonia

Emori ta Augusta Merida

Sewrt/r^^K ^rontfe^^di'
eerptures Msifojs to punfsh

P cF rfhfm sfor s[i|p^ji?n| Niger 3 Nistbis

jP A & T H IA N

10 June 193 0
Severus and h/s

Pergarnum lin ik A* Laodreea o P am phvlia

army enter ity

Carthage Si ili a

' 'Athcnn

usb ^ w f i P M P I R E
'AntiochV pafniyra


' J lafe i 93 Severan troops cros$;Se'd of

Marmara and defe<?tarmy o f Niger at Cyzicus and Nicaea

M auretaoia

C ypnis

0 Apr 193
Pescennius Niger prodaimed Emperor M ar 194* Mar 194 aesarea p Seyerd^army v/ins Niger flees to Antioch Palaeslina l dedsivtfvictor/ tiver but is captured and killed .Niger at Issus


Above and rig h t:

S e ve m ss predecessors a n d rivals, as depicted on their silver coins. From top: P ublius H elvius Pertinax; M arcus D idius Julianus a nd G aius Pescennius Niger.

__Alexanrfa^'^v,i //.1
Mernphiso Cyrenaica Aegyptus ,

;W J



conslrued boats on the Euphmtes and proceeded fortoard partly by sailing and partly lry marching along the river Later, upon capi u ri ng Ctesiph on, he permitted the soldiers to plunder the entire city, and he sinu a vast number of people, besides taking as many as a hundred thousand captives." Cassius Dio, Roman History
summer 197+


The Parthian Wars

C iv il strife among Rome s eastern rivals, the Parthians, alloived the emperors Severus and Caracalla to expand their territory.
Romes eastern fro n tier ran u p against the em pire of th e Parthians, who had progressively taken control o f Iran and M esopotam ia in the final cen turies b c . T hey h ad in flic ted a cru sh in g d e fe a t o n th e R om an g en e ral Crassus a t C arrhae in 53 b c , a n d h ad inflicted heavy casualties on M ark A ntonys retreatin g arm y in 36 b c . By th e 2nd century a d , however, they w ere n o lo n g e r th e fo rc e th ey h a d b e e n . T ra ja n successfully in v a d ed M esopotam ia in 114, an d briefly controlled the whole country. H alf a century later, d uring th e jo in t reign o f M arcus Aurelius an d Lucius Verus, the R om ans in v a d ed again an d sacked C tesip h o n , th e P a rth ia n cap ital o f Mesopotamia. D uring the reign o f Septim ius Severus (193-211) th e P arthian realm was riven by in te rn al political divisions an d proved even easier prey. Severus conducted a short cam paign in n o rth ern M esopotam ia in 195 to punish the Parthians for supporting his rival Pescennius N iger ( pages 96-97). Nisibis was captured, an d a new Rom an province o f O srh o en e established. Two years later he was back again, sacking C tesiphon for the second tim e in 50 years and taking a fu rth er ch u n k o f P arthian territory to form the Rom an province of M esopotamia.

195 ---First Parthian VVor Osrhoene becomes Roman province

Second Parthian War Severus arrives by sea

from Brundisium to i join army in Syria/

le s s a j^ ^ ^ jl
O s rh o e n e *

v Nisibis ~r*Feb-/V1ar 198 ^

Severus attacks but fails totake Hatra - 4 autumn 198 Severus attacks but fails to take Hatra - a second Ume

> M a r t Internu vi

province Severus leaves for tour o f Palestine and Egypt

M ftittenanean Stn \



Above: a contem porary po rtra it b u st o fth e E m peror Caracalla (r. 21 1 -1 7 ). O n the death o f S ep tim iu s Severus, Caracalla inherited the throne jo in tly w ith his brother Geta, b u t p ro m p tly m urdered him . Caracallas reputation fo r c m elty w as increased b y his u n exp la in ed m assacre o f the y o u n g m en o fA le x a n d ria in the spring o f2 1 6 .

I/T h e P arthian W a r s 19 5 - 199

Roman frontier, 193 annexed 195 annexed 198

S y 1 1 an D e t e r t.

^ autumn 197 Severus builds fleet and soils down Euphrates to fmd Seleucia and Babylon abandoned late 197 $ Severus captures Ctesiphon


B e lo w : D ura Europus, on the w est b a n k o fth e Euphrates ,

2 /4 2/4
Caracalla visits Dada, Moesia and Thrace narrowly escapes shipwreck winter 2 i 4 -5

Trapezus' T rabzon


* 8 April 2 17 Caracalla murdered byhis bodyguard 4

w as captured b y the R om ans in 165 a n d becam e a strategic frontier toivn. The citadel served as bo th a n in n e r refuge a n d as a strongpoint controlling the river traffic.
P A R T H IA N E M P IR E $ spring 216 \ surprises Parthian king Artabanus V. Roman forces raid wide(y, largely uhopps'ed .Ctesiphon

T h e n e x t m a jo r d e v e lo p m e n t am e u n d e r S everuss so n a n d successor Caracalla (211-17). Caracalla sp e n t m uch o f his reig n travelling th ro u g h th e eastern provinces. H is m ain objective was a fu rth e r invasion o f Parthia, w hich h e began in 216 with a surprise attack on A rbela in Media, beyond th e River Tigris. Al th o u g h the Parthians w ere yet again w eakened by rival claim ants to th e th ro n e, they struck back in 217 an d forced th e Rom ans to com e to term s. Ry th a t tim e, however, Caracalla was dead, m u rd ered o n the ro ad from Edessa to C arrhae.

Thessalonica N2/4 Ancyra Ankara ' winter

216-7 1 V
Edessa |eugma ^ P ^n tio ch

visits supposed tomb of Achilles at Troy

\ A s ia

Urfa^ '
Carrhae ^ .


Athenae,., Athens 0

2 14 i se'eks cure at temple of Aescuiapius, Greek

god o f healing

i | O summr 215 V spring 216 \ Sy r i a

winter 2 156

visits tomb of Alexander

the Great and orders massacre of young men

r\{//''A e lia CapitolirraF || Jerusalem f

Sinus Ptfrsiais

Pernati r.uif

2 /C arac alla in the East, 2 1 4-17

Caracallas route:
2 1 3 -4


___ ___ Roman frontjeri

----- 214-5 215-6 ----- *

S in us A ra b in if \ H o l Sea

Roman ally Parthian capita!






The City of Rome under the Severans

A s capital of a great empire, the city of Rome was the site of ive building projects in the fir s t three centuries A D.
A m ong the m ost spectacular were a series o f bathing establishm ents, beginning with those of T rajan b u t best rep resen ted today by th e rem ains o f th e Baths o f Caracalla. E ntertainm ent o f a different kind was provided by the Colosseum, the largest am p h ith e atre o f th e R om an w orld, capable o f seating some 50,000 spectators ( pages 82-3 ). Nearby, in the h ea rt of the city, were the Im perial Fora, a series of tem ples and adm inis trative buildings built by successive em perors to com plem ent and expand the facilities o f th e original Forum Rom anum . T he em perors also also bu ilt fo r th eir own com fort, an d Septim ius Severus ( a d 193-211) added his own palae to those of his predecessors on the Palatine Hill. Im perial m o num ents of a different kind were the tem ples to the deified em perors an d th e great circular im perial m ausolea built by Augustus and H adrian. T h ro u g h o u t this period Rom e was unw alled, co n fid en t an d secure at the h ea rt o f a powerful em pire. It was therefore a sign o f m ore troubled times w hen in 271 the E m peror A urelian o rd ered the construction of the great circuit o f defensive walls and gates w hich bears his nam e. In the following 50 years Rome received new buildings from Diocletian an d C onstantine, b u t by th e m iddle o f the 4th century the centres of power had moved elsewhere an d the city was in decline.

Above: this fragment o f a marble map ofRorne shotvs part o f the Aventine Hill, with the temples o f Diana Comificiana and Minerva. The map was made around AD 200 and shoivs the rebuilding o fth e area round the Forum Pacis, lubich had been damaged by fire some some years earlier. It tvas originally displayed there in a hali near the Temple o f Peace.

2/The Palatin e Hill, c, 235

I/T h e C it y of R om e , c. 235
Servian Wall Aurelian Wall aqueut major buildings: 1 Golosseum 2 Baths of Trajan 3 Praetorian Camp 4 Baths of Caracalla 5 Circus Makimus 6 Imperial Pijace 7 Temple of Detfied Claudius 8 Mausoleum of Hadrian 9 Mausoleum of Augustus 10 Pantheon 11 Stadium of Domitian 12 Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus i3 Imperial Fora 14 Roman Forum
15 Castrensian Amphitheatre
P o rta P o rtu en se

Porta Flamlnia

The imperial palae complex on the Palatine Hill '#4 contained residences built by emperors from Augustus omvards, and tvas massively enlarged by Domitian (AD 81-96), I t overlooked the Circus M aximus, and a passageivay led directly to the imperial box. Nearby lay the private apartments o f the emperor himself, grouped around a small ornamental garden . Guarded by the praetorian guard (tvho had their otvn ivalled camp on the nortbeastern edge o f the city), the Palatine remained tbe principal residence o fth e emperors into tbe 3rd centuty. By this time, the hilltop u/as crotvded tvitb buildings; to make room for his otvn residence, Septimius Severus had to build a massive vaulted platform out from the side o f the bili. This tvas partly concealed by a free-standi.ng ornamental fasade, the Septizonium, at ground level. O n the northtvest side o f the bili, a later Severan emperor Elagabalus (218-22) added a vast temple.


Right: in the south o f the city,

the Emperor Caracalla (211-17) built the largest and most extravagant baths Rome had yet seen. These ivere the leisure complexes o f their age, complete ivith art gaUeries, libraries and exercise halls. Lavishly decorated ivith marble and mosaics, the Baths o f Caracalla could hold up to 1500 people.

4 270-75
begun by Aurelian


P o rta Latina P o rta A rearina

276-82 completed by Probus 306-12

doubled in height by Maxentius

Porta Appia





R ight: m a n y p opular cults

Mvsterv Cults
The tra d itio n a l Roman gods ivere gradually overshadoived by Oriental mystery cults and their deities: Cybele, Isis, M ithras and Christ.

originated in the eastern provinces. This fresco, from the Tem ple o f C onon a t D ura Europus in Syria, dedicated in AD 70, shoivs priests, ivearing conical hats , lighting a sacrificial fire.

A n d novo conies in a procession/ Devotees o f the frenzied Bellona, and Cybele, Mothcr o f Gods/Led by a giant eunuch, the idol o fh is lesser/ Companions in obscenitj. Long ago, tvith a sherd,/ H e sliced of]"his geniials: runo neither the hmvling rabble/Nor the kettledrums can outshriek him.

T he religious beliefs of ancient Rom e were m ixed an d varied. At th eir h ea rt lay th e traditional pan th eo n o f Rom an gods, h ea d ed by Ju p iter an d Ju n o . D uring th e la ter R epublic, th ese am e increasingly to be e q u a te d w ith G reek deities of similar function, Ju n o , for exam ple, being considered the Rom an equivalent of H era, and D iana of Artemis. T h e Rom ans also adopted a nu m b er o f G reek gods, including Apollo. T he m ost significant new com ers in R om an religious life d u rin g th e late Republic w ere n o t however G reek gods or rituals, b u t cults of a m ore distant, O riental origin. These reflected t h e growth of Rom an political influ ence in the east M editerranean; b u t t h e earliest of these introductions, t h e cult of Cybele or M agna M ater, took place w hen the Rom ans h ad hardly s e t foot east o f the Adriatic. T his was in 204, d u rin g the second Punic War, when the black Stone of Cybele was b ro u g h t from h e r sanctuary at Pessinus in A natolia an d installed in a tem ple on the Palatine, in ob ed ien ce to a prophecy which foretold she would help the Rom ans against H annibal. O th er O rien tal cults follovved th e in tro d u c tio n o f Cybele to Rome. O ne was th a t o f Atargatis, a ferdlity deity often referred to simply as the Syrian goddess. T h ere w ere also Egyptian deities, notably Isis an d Serapis, the lat ter developed from the cult o f th e sacred Apis bulls at M em phis. T hese were b ro u g h t to Rome th ro u g h com m ercial contacts an d th o u g h generally discouraged by the S ta te , they spread th ro u g h o u t the em pire in t h e early centuries a d . T hese cults drew th e ir p o p u larity fro m th e fact th a t they o ffered th e ir ad h e re n ts th e h o p e o f im m o rtality an d a m o re p e rso n a l an d sp iritu a l belief th an th e official state religion. Each cu lt h ad its own special features. T he w orship o f Cybele, for exam ple, was fam ous for th e ritu al of laurobolium, in w hich th e individual step p ed down into a p it w here h e or she was b a th e d in th e b lo o d o f a buli sacrificed above them . T his was clearly a c e re m o n y o f p u rific a tio n , th o u g h so m etim es p e rfo rm e d on beh alf of the em p ero r an d th e state.

B eIow rig h t: during the centuries o f suppression, C hristians used secret sym bols. Scratched on this tile fro m C orinium (Cirencester in G loucestershire) is an apparently inn o cen t ivord gam e: A repo the soiver guides the ivheels carefully readable either vertically or horizpntally. B u t the L a tin ivords are an anagram o f Pater N oster, A O (alpha an d omega). The Cirencester tile ca nnot be da ted accurately, b u t a fragm ent o f the sam e palindrom e has been fo u n d on a late 2 n d -century am phora sherd fro m the R o m a n fo r t a t M anchester. B e lo w : the c u lt o fth e Syrian

Satire VI

R ight: tbe g o d M ith ra s ivas o f

Persian origin, a n d became particularly p o p u la r ivith the R o m a n arm y. H e w a depicted in his sh n n es slaying the m ystic b u li w hose blood ivas the source o f life. M ith ra ic believers sought m oral p u rification through undergoing ph ysica l ordeals.

sun g o d ivas introduced to R om e in 2 18 b y the E m peror Elagabalus. R eintroduced by Aurelian later in the century, it becam e an im p o rta n t p a rt in the state religion. This lead plaque shoivs the sun g od in his chariot; a fem ale d iv in ity fla n k e d b y horsem en beloiv and, a t the base, a b a n q u et scene. F o u n d in the form er Yugoslavia, it dates from the late 3 rd o r early 4th century ivhen the c ult ivas a t its height.

Mysteries, sacred truths revealed only to the initiated, w ere a feature of m any cults, an d m ade conversion an emotive experience. This is true o f two o th e r e a ste rn relig io n s w hich b ecam e w id esp read in th e early empire* M ithraism an d Christianity. D uring the 3rd century the state re lig io n its e lf b e c a m e m e rg e d w ith e a s te rn b eliefs. A urelian (270-5) built a huge tem ple at Rome to Sol In v ictu s (th e U n c o n q u e re d S un) T h is c u lt rem ained a key elem en t o f official worship until th e conversion o f the E m p e ro r C onstantine in the early 4th century, m arked the fin a l sta g e in th e v icto ry o f O rie n ta l religion over the traditional Rom an gods ( page 124-5 ).

R ig h t: this relief from R om e carving from R om e shoivs an archigallus, the eunuch high p fie s t o fth e c u lt o fC y b ele , also knoivn as M agna M ater. W earing the robes a n d m itre o fh is calling, he carries a fla il the rites involved flagellation a n d a vessel o f p in e kernels, ivhich ivere sacred to the goddess. A ro u n d him are the m usical Instrum ents used to drive the ivorshippers in to a frenzy o f ecstatic dancing.





Roman Africa
The North African provinces, from the borders of Egypt to the A tlantic coast, tuere among the most prosperous in the empire.

2/O llve oil ex tra ction

T he olive o il on tvhich m uch o f R om an A frica s tvealtb ivas based ivas extracted a t countless farm s throughout the provinces. T his o il Processing b u ild in g ivas excavated a t W adi um ni el-Bagel in m odern L ib ya . The arbores in R o o m 1 held a ivooden beam iv ith a iveight a t the other end. T h is tvas u sed to press the olives. The o il ivo u ld run in to a ta n k fu ll o f ivater, tvhere the sed im e n t sank to the bottom . The oil floated on the top a n d drained through a g ully in to a tank. The best o il ivo u ld be ladelled in to vats} ivhile the h eavier grade oil iv e n t through a sp o u t to R oom 5, tvhere am phorae (storage jars) ivere ivaiting to receive it.

Throughout its mhabited area ii is extraorinarily fer Lile, but, since the greater part of ii is uncultivated and, covered by sterile sands .. it is more ttbandoned, than seitled. ponius Mela on Africa

With the Sahara D esert to the south an d th e M editerranean to the north, th e African provinces were fertile lands with sufficient rainfall for farm ing, backed u p by irrigation w here necessary. Olives and cereals were the principal crops, and bo th were widely exported. Rom an N o rth Africa was second only to Egypt as a supplier o f grain for Rome, and such was the abundance o f olive oil th a t only th e poorest households were unable to afford oil lamps to light th e ir hom es. T h e g reat cities lay mostly in the old C arthaginian lands o f the east. Thysdrus (E1 Djem) an d Lepcis M agna were prosperous oil producers, b u t the greatest o f ali African cities was Carthage. N o rth A frica possessed o n e n o ta b le ad v a n ta g e o ver th e E u ro p e a n or Levantine provinces of th e em pire, in th a t its long lan d fro n tier was less threaten ed by foreign enem ies and d em anded considerably fewer troops. A system o f forts an d military roads was built, nonetheless, to form a protective shield against nom adic raiders, an d physical barriers were erected at specially vulnerable places o r across seasonal pastoral routes leading south into the desert. T here were occasional raids, even so, b u t the relative security o f N orth Africa is shown by the fact th a t only a single legion was stationed there, com pared with 14 or m ore on the R h ine-D anube frontier.
Left: the splendid m osics

I/R o m a n A frica, 3rd cen tu ry A D

province [#] ----------provincial capital legionary base other centre Roman road fro n tie r fo rt fro n tie r barrier

R ight: b y the 3 rd century AD, Thysdrus (El D jem ) in m o d e m T u nisia h ad groivn so w ealthy on the p rofits o f olive oil th a t U ivas able to b u ild ah am phitheatre surpassed in sie only b y the C olosseum a t Rom e.

from Tunisia give a vivid picture o f life in R om an Africa. Even m odest h illtoivns could a fford mosaics fo r public buildings or houses o f the w ealthy. M a n y o f them d e pict rural villas surrounded b y trees a n d livestock; farm s such as these ivere the backbone o fth e region econom y a n d the key to R o m a n A frica s success.

Utica Cfirth Hlppo Regius A.nnajba

Thubiirbo (J
Malus , Meapoifs ----- i Nabeui

, .jonstahtihc
O n cu l jf


I Caesarea ChercheIS Cartenna

Ojemila N u rn l d i a ^ * Thevestis " /Thamugad Tebess^.' _^T im g a d ' Lambaesis

Sufecula Sbeitla

Thysdms El Jom

Portus Magnus S;idom

Th|Kudeds^B?diaS Vucara
fliskra Ad Maiores^ Nepete Nefta

(m lf of (ku m
ipae es \

lljrfbii /v

Rusaddir Pornaria Tiemcen n D oueeir!

Tamalleni Tdm ine Sabratba Tentheos' Zlntan Ghirza

Otim ah

J'':l i iT ';


below le v el




Three African Cities

200 yds

market basilica


baths house of Sertius

____ market o f Qf Sertius

Tim gad is one of the fm est examples of a Rom an colonia, a city c re a te d specially fo r r e tire d so ld iers o f th e T h ird Augustan Legion who were based at Lambaesis nearby. T he city was fo u n d ed in a d 100 by o rd er of the E m peror Trajan; its rig id g eo m etrical p lan testifies Lo its m ilitary origin. Within the grid, space was fo u n d for a forum , th eatre and public baths, but o th er buildings such as the Capitolium (a te m p le to th e C a p ito lin e tria d o f J u p ite r , J u n o an d Minerva) were relegated to the suburbs. Colonies such as Tim gad vvere in tcn d ed to serve as strongpoints for the surro u n d in g area, and the city vvas provided with vvalls from th e start. As it grew, Tim gad acquired ali the usual amenities of a prosperous Rom an city, including a library and no fevver than 14 public baths. Many houses vvere clecorated vvith ornate floral mosaics.

Lepcis M agna, like Carthage, vvas founded as a Phoenician colony and only ame u n d er Roman rule in the 2nd ceniurv b c . Its wealth derived from a fertile h in terlan d vvhere cereals an d olives vvere grovvn, an d from the trad e vvhich passed through its harbour. By the early Ist century a d the city had been fu rn ish ed vvith a new fo ru m an d basilica, an d a fine theatre and m arket vvith tvvin Central kiosks. In the early 2ncl century T rajan an d H ad ria n ad d ed a triu m p h al arch and public baths respectively. T he city reached its greatest clistinction at the en d o f the century vvhen Septimius Severus, born at Lepcis, becam e R om an e m p ero r H e b u ilt a g ran d nevv forum an d co lo n n ad e d Street, an d im proved th e h a rb o u r facilities by adding vvarehouses and a lighthouse.
500 yds

Above: tbe theatre a t Lepcis M agna ivas b u ilt in A n 1-2 b y a Punic noblem an

Late Roman city wails: surviving o r excavated temple of Rome and Augustus temple o f \ Liber Paterv > Late Roman wall old forum Above: the h ypocaust piers o f

A n n o b a l R u fu s a n d refurbished in tbe 2 n d century.

Roman cemetery

Carthage had been R om es great enem y during the three Punic Wars, and was destroyed by them in 146 bc. It was too good a site to be ignored, hovvever, and in 29 b c the E m peror Augustus officially fo u n d ed a new Rom an city of C arthage. It soon grevv to be one of the four greatest cities of the R o m an w o rld , a lo n g sid e A le x a n d ria , A n tio c h a n d R om e itself. T h e E m peror H adrian augm ented the citys w ater supply by constructing the impressive Zaghouan aq ueduct in the m id-2nd century, an d his successor A ntoninus Pius d o nated th e im m ense A ntonine baths overlooking the sea front. C arthage becam e a wealthy an d sophisticated m etropolis, an d by the 3rd century had gained additional standing as a centre of Christianity. T he city was captured by the Vandals in 439, b u t rem ained a m ajor centre until th e 7 th ce n tu ry , w hen it was ec lip sed by th e new A rab fo u n d a tio n o f T unis nearby.

the A n to n in e baths o n the ivaterfront a t Carthage. B u ilt on the instructions o fth e E m peror A n to n in u s Pius betw een a d 145 a n d 162, this m a gnificent baths com plex w as one o fth e largest outside R om e itself.

Byzantine gate chalcidium "Severaf1 "forum


Severan \basilica

palaestra nymphaeum




R ig h t: the capture o fth e E m peror Valerian b y the Persians in 2 60 is com m em orated in this rock carving a t N aqsh-i R ustam , near Persepolis. Valerian died in captivity , a n d it tvas rum oured th a t his stuffed b o d y w as displayed as a trophy in the Persian court. True or not , the story reflects the hum ilia tio n inflicted on R om e by the capture o fth e emperor.

The Empire at Bay

The m iddle of the 3rd century saw the Roman Empire threatened by internal strife and foreign invasions.

Three hundred and tiuenij Ihousand Goths have invaded Rom an ferntorj... The tvhole republic is fatigued and exhausled.

Life of Claudius II, from the

Hisloria Augusta

In th e ea ste rn provinces th e m ain adversaries w ere th e G oths an d th e P ersians. T h e G oths vvere a G erm an ic p eo p le w ho h ad recen tly settled aro u n d the n o rth e rn shores o f th e Black Sea. From the 240s to the 270s they posed a continuous m enace to the Balkan provinces an d Asia Minor. They defeated and killed the E m peror Decius in 251 at Abrittus, b u t did n ot attem pt to settle w ithin th e im perial frontier. In 256 they m o u n ted maritime raids on Asia M inor, an d in 268 launched a com bined land an d sea offensive, sacking A thens. T h e Persians had overthrown th eir Parthian overlords in the 220s to establish a new em p ire east o f th e E uphrates. T hey staged a series o f assaults on R om es eastern provinces from th e 230s, cu lm in atin g in th e g rea t invasions o f 253, w hen A ntioch was sacked, an d 260, w hen they took th e E m p e ro r V alerian p riso n e r at Edessa. In addition to foreign attack V alerians son Gallienus (r. 253-68) was also challenged by a succession of rivals. Som e aim ed a t to tal pow er, w hile o th e rs form ed breakaway states in the east an d west. G erm anic peoples broke th ro u g h the w estern fro n tiers on several occasions, m ost seriously in 260 when they invaded Gaul and raiding parties reached as far as T arraco in Spain. T h ere were m ajor invasions o f Italy in 259, 268 a n d 271. T h e R o m an s fought back successfully on ali fronts, however; w ithin a few Putim years th e P ersians h a d b een 1 Ilispaiiia d riv en back b e y o n d th e T ig ris a n d th e G o th s b ey o n d th e D a n u b e . By th e e n d o f th e 270s th e Bactica em pire had been reunited and its frontiers restored.

c. 263 j

Romans abandon , Agri Decumates

- 272


500 km

sj- * y y /

Alemanni Juihungi

Vandals & Sarmatians

Romans abandon Dacia >

Coths defeat and\ kili emperor Decius

Mneotis PaluS
Sea of Aroif



Below: the Emperor Trajan Decius (r. 249-51), depicted on one ofthe last silver tetradrachms issued by the mint a t Antioch, capital of Roman Syria. Tivo years after Deciuss death in battle against the Goths, Antioch ivas sacked by the Persians and this long-running coin series ame to an end.

4 260 Tranks sock Tarraco

*259 Gallienus defeats 1 Alemanni


la is s u s X 'j 268 $ ils defeats < \ Goths

M oesia Abrittus In fcrio r Thracia

u x in u s
Trapezus J rabzon

M acedonia C appadocia

4 260 Valerian captured by Persians lesopotam ia



Gotfes and Heruli

sack Atiins

t ^ Lycia and ] Pamphvlia

253 & 260 $

M auretania TiiigiUma Persians sack Antioch

In vasio n s and rebellions, 250-71

Roman frontier, 260
permanently abandoned maximum extent of Gallic Empire, 260 maximum extent o f Palmyrene Empire, 260

Persian invasions, 253-60

Germanic invasions, 251-71 Roman victory Roman defeat city sacked ATnca Alexandria

Arabia C yrcnaica Aegyptus Si$m Arabii Red Sea





The West Breaks Away

A la rm e d by R om es failu re to defend them from attack, the western provinces break away and choose their own emperor.
B eset by invaders on his n o r th e r n an d e a ste rn fro n tiers, th e E m p e ro r Gallienus (r. 253-68) was unable to hold the em pire together. Many provin cials preferred to p u t their faith in regional leaders, who could be seen to be d e fe n d in g th e ir fro n tiers, th a n in a d ista n t a n d in e ffec tu a l c e n tra l authority. T h e m ost successful regional l'uler was Postum us, governor of Lower Germany, vvhose revolt in the au tu m n o f 260 led to the creation of a Gallic E m pire w hich survived as a separate State for alm ost 15 years. T he ore o f this breakaway em pire was form ed by the three provinces of Gaul (Lugdunensis, A quitania an d N arbonensis) plus the two G erm anies with their powerful frontier forces. By 261, Britain an d Spain had also gone over to Postumus, and even Raetia was briefly in his control. T he Gallic Em pire won support from the people of these provinces by concentrating on the defence of the Rhine frontier; n eith er Postumus n o r any o f his successors m ade an attem pt to m arch on Rome. Instead, they recognized the distinctive personality o f the western Rom an provinces an d sought to m ake this a source of strength. Prosperous an d self-sufficient, the Gallic Em pire survived the death o f its founder, though Spain seceded in 269 and the lands east o f the R hone were co n q u ered by Claudius II (r. 268-270). Four years later the last Gallic E m peror, Tetricus, was defeated in a hardfought battle at Chalons-sur-Marne and the provinces of Gaul, Britain and G erm any were reabsorbed into the Rom an Em pire by Claudiuss successor A urelian(r 270-75).

The p rosperity o f G aul a n d th e R h in ela n d in the 3 rd century is clearly dem onstrated b y the m a n y villas to be fo u n d throughout the countryside. A v illa tvas the nerve-centre o f a fa rm in g estate. In the in n er courtyard tvas the residence o fth e otvners, tvh m a y also have h a d a house in a nearby toivn. The d a y-to -d a y ru n n in g o fth e estate tvo u ld have been le ft to a m anager, tvhoe house can be seen facing onto the outer courtyard. This tvas tvhere produce tvo u ld be brought fo r storage, a nd tvhere fa m in g e q u ip m e n ta n d som e livestock ivo u ld be kept. M a n y villas tvo u ld also have h a d lig h t industry, possibly a sm all m etahvorks, attached.





The Rise and Fali of Palmyra

A s Rome lost its grip on its eastern provinces, the poiverful trading city of P alm jra assumed the leadership o fth e region.

l/P a lm y r a and th e East, 260-73

Roman frontier, 260 | || || i^ | Roman Empire, 271 Empire o f Palmyra, 271 Palmyrene victory

In the. m anner of the Persians [Zenobia] received ivorship... but in the manner of a Roman emperor she cameforlh to public assemhlies, luearing a helmet and girt with a purple. /Ulet Her face was clark... her eyes ivere black and poiverful ,,. her pirit divinely great, her beauij incredible. The Thirty Tyrants, from the Historia Augusta

D uring the first two and a h alf centuries a d , the city of Palmyra op erated as a se m i-in d ep en d en t povver o n th e fringes o f R om an Syria, b u t its g reat opportunity ame w hen the Persians overran the eastern provinces in 260 an d c a p tu re d th e R om an E m p e ro r V alerian at Edessa ( pages 108-9). V alerians son Gallienus was distracted by troubles on the n o rth ern frontier, by the n eed to deal with a series of rival claimants, an d by the secession of the Gallic Em pire, and was unable to cou n ter th e Persian th reat in person. This left the field clear for the Palmyrenes u n d er their ruler O denathus to take the lead in defending the eastern provinces. At first they o perated as allies of Gallienus, and achieved some notable successes: they recovered the province of M esopotam ia from the Persians, an d in 266 defeated them in front o f their capital Ctesiphon. T he greatest expansion of Palm yrene povver ame after O d en ath u ss death in 267 A lthough he was nom inally succeeded by his son Vaballathus, the real povver was exercised by his widow Zenobia. In 270-71 she em barked on a p ro g ram m e o f co n q u est w hich b ro u g h t Egypt an d large areas o f Asia M inor u n d er h e r rule. It was a short-lived trium ph, however, since in 272 th e E m p e ro r A urelian (r. 270-75) la u n ch e d a d e te rm in e d cam paign to recover the eastern provinces an d destroy Z enobias povver. H e advanced thro u g h Asia M inor, vvinning victories at Tyana, Im m ae, an d Emesa, and besieging Zenobia in Palmyra itself. She was caught fleeing to Persia on a camel, and after appearing in A urelians triu m p h was allovved to retire to a villa near Rome. T he eastern provinces vvere b ro u g h t back peacefully u n d er Rom an control, b u t the Palmyrenes had n o t learned th e ir lesson. In 273 they tried to assert their ind ep en d en ce once again; the revolt was p u t dovvn and the city destroyed.

ifeianbu! < r-~ ~ Ancyra Ankara ^

Roman victory Palmyrene campaigns, 260-70 Aurelian's reconquest, 272

C ap p a d o cia

-------------- --------------- r ^ r -

G a la tia / 2 1 0 -7 i Zenobia bnquers Ar!/i flAinnr

\Pam phyna

M esopotam ia w *260 C ilid a A ntiot (gtesiphon Immae

Oenathiis d eats Pererans and J fecovers prov tce of Mesopotamia

vrntep Cyprus

Q * 266

Hoffts, JP hoeoida

Oendthus defeai f Persrans in front of

their capital Ctesiphon

Palaesfina Hierosolyiria Jerusalem A!exandria 269-70 Below : tbe colom iaded inin street o f P ahtyra w as b u ilt in ,the 2 n d c en tu ty AD iv ith the profits from its extensive trade tv itb the East.

Cy r e n a i c a

Zenobia invades Egypt

N orth Gate

2/The C ity o f P a lm y ra
The oasis city o f Palm yra in the Syrian d eseti becam e an im portant. centre on the long-distauce trade m u fes leading to the populous cities o fth e E ast M eiterranM h. The Palmvrenes greiv u>ealthy op the p rofits o f this trade a n d adornc th e ir:d ty ivith tem ples a n d colom taes. A t the heart o f the c ity ivas the great sanctuary o f Bel, an enorm ous tem ple ta n d m g iv i thin a great rectangular encloure.

coiumn r spring ancuiary o f laaf Sharnln colonniadecj streets | colonnaded screeets oval piazza sartctuary o f Bel Damascus gate monumenta! arch

centur/ wall

funerary. temple 1

patridan houses

frouse-tomb o f Ailami tomb tovver of a Iamblichus

200 ro


20 0y d *



V: Restoration and Fali

R ight: this m issorium , or silver

The later 3rd centurj was marked by a program me of recovery and consolidation begun in the 27 Os but brought to fruition in the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. The follow ing decades were m arked by the firm government of D iocletian s colleagues and successors, culminating in the reign of Constantine, the fir s t Christian emperor. Thereafter, though paganism lived on, Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire, and remained so during the declining years of Roman rule, until the abdication o fth e last western emperor in 476.

dish, show s the Em peror Theodosius (r. 3 7 9 -9 5 ) in ali the m ajesty tvith w hich the 4th-century ntlers o fR o m e sought to buttress their poiver. T he realism o f earlier Im perial portraiture has g iven w a y to a remote, icon-like depiction, ivith m ore em phasis on the trappings o f poiver the robes a n d diadem than on the physical appearance o f tbe in d iv id u a l emperor.

T he Rom an world of the 4th century was very different from the em pire of the Julio-Claudians three h u n d red years before. D espite the m odest eastern conquests of Diocletian, C onstantines victories n o rth o f the D anube, an d J u lia n s anrbitious P ersian cam paign, th e R om an E m p ire was now very m uch em battled against foreign enemies. F u rth erm o re from the m iddle of the 4th century, and defmitively from 395, it was divided into two halves, each o f which w ent its separate way.

Defence o f the Realm W hen Diocletian ame to power in 284 it m ust have seem ed that he was ju st an o th er Illyrian army officer who w ould rule for a few years an d th en be m u rd ered by the troops to make way for a successor. This h ad been the patte rn fo r th e past 30 years. Even an e m p e ro r as stro n g an d successful as A urelian h ad fallen victim to assassination. Yet D iocletian proved him self equal to the situation, establishing a position of power which he lield for over 20 years until yielding n o t to m u rd er or even a n atural death, b u t voluntarily abdicating to spend his last years in peaceful retirem ent. Given the turbulence of recent decades, this was a rem arkable achievement. O n his accession Diocletian was faced by two m ajor security concerns: the security o f the em pire an d its frontiers; an d th e security o f th e im perial office itself. T he security of the em pire he addressed by increasing the sie o f the army. Many new legions were created, b u t though these were still the well-drilled infantry units fam iliar from earlier periods they were often substantially sm aller, som e o f th em com posed o f only aro u n d 1000 m en, as opposed to the earlier 5000. But the army as a w hole was larger than it had been in the 2nd century, an d p erhaps n u m b ered as m any as 400,000 m en, an increase of a third. In addition, D iocletian spent m uch effort and outlay on the strengthening of the fro n tier defences. T hese m easures m ust have placed considerable strain on the resources of th e state, an d D iocletian accom panied th em by tax reform s which sought to ensure th a t the army was regularly paid an d adequately supplied. These new taxes w ere paid partly in coin, b u t partly in kind, itself a reflection of th e decline o f the m on etary econom y w hich was a h allm ark o f th e late R om an period.

The Expression o f Power T h e freq u en t im perial assassinations had been a destabilizing factor during the 3rd century. Diocletian sought to cou n ter this by introducing elaborate co u rt cerem onial, which m ade the em p ero r rem ote an d aloof. H enceforth, w hen em perors appeared in public on state occasions, they wore a jewelled diadem , jew elled shoes, an d robes of p u rp le an d gold. Subjects who wished to approach them had to prostrate themselves at their feet and kiss the hem o f their robe. G one were the ays when the em p ero r was simply princeps or first citizen. T h at had always been som ething of a fiction, b u t novv the em p ero r east off ali p retence an d becam e dominus et cleus, lord and g o d G one also were the days w hen the em p ero r p rete n d ed to rule in consultation vvith the Senate; he was now absolute m onarch, vvith a council of advisers appointed by himself. Im perial security was im proved still fu rth er by ehanges in the organization o f the em pire. Many of the rebellions o f the previous h alf century had been m ade possible by the fact th a t a provincial governor in an im p o rtan t fron tier province had b oth civil an d military forces at his com m and. This combi-





nation m ade it possible for him to defy Central governm ent vvith little local opposition. D iocletian ch an g ed ali th a t by sep aratin g civil an d m ilitary authority. T he com m anders of the army no longer had civilian functions as well; each province had b oth a civil governor and a military com m ander or d u x T he boundaries of the provinces had been redraw n once before by Septimius Severus. Now the Severan provinces were yet fu rth er subdivided, so th a t provincial governors controlled smaller territories an d had even less individual power. Britain, for instance, whicli had originally been a single province, vvas divided into tvvo by Severus, an d into four by Diocletian. T he provinces in tu rn were gro u p ed into 12 larger units, or dioceses, controlled by vicars directly responsible to the im perial adm inistration. T he m ost radical change in the position of em p ero r was D iocletians cooption o f colleagues. This arose from the recognition that the problem s facing the em pire (and especially the fro n tier threats) vvere too great to be h a n d le d by o n e r u le r alo n e. D io cletian a p p o in te d his first co lleag u e, M axim ian, as C aesar (ju n io r em p ero r) in 285, an d p ro m o te d him to A ugustus (senior em peror, on an equal footing with himself) a year later. In 293, the n um ber o f em perors vvas increased to four by the ap pointm ent o f ju n io r em perors in both vvest and east. This division o f povver knovvn as the tetrarchyhad im p o rtan t consequences for the future. It institutionalized th e distin ctio n betvveen eastern an d vvestern halves o f th e em p ire, vvhich vvas to becom e m ore firmly fixed in the course o f the 4th century, and vvas to lead after 395 to a situation vvhere the tvvo halves o perated independently of each other.

Diocletians Edict on M ax im u m Prices, 301

I n 301 th e E m p e r o r D io c le t ia n p u b lis h e d th is e d ic t in a n a tte m p t to c lie c k in f la t i o n , v v h ic h h e a t t r ib u t e d to u n l i m it e d a n d fr e n z ie d a v a ric e . P ric e s a re g iv e n in derutni, b u t b y th is p e r io d th e

den a riu s vvas m e r e ly a n a c c o u n tin g u n it , a n d n o t

re p r e s e n te d b y a p h y s ic a l c o in . Its r e la tio n s h ip to th e a c tu a l c o in s s tr u c k

by D io c le t ia n

a n d h is

successo rs is s t ill n o t u n d e r s to o d .

w estern provinces as his fa th e rs successor, b u t only grudgingly accepted by the o th e r tetrarchs. At about th e sam e tim e M axentius, son o f D io c le tia n s col league Maximian, deelared him self em p ero r at Rome, an d took possession o f Italy an d N o rth Africa. T he consequence vvas a series o f civil vvars an d political settlem ents vvhich en d ed only vvith the overthrovv o f the tetrarchy and the victory o f C onstantine as sole ruler in 324. U nder C onstantine, the program m e of adm inistrative and military reform continued. H e vvas responsible for dividing th e R om an arm y in to fro n tie r tro o p s an d m obile field u n its, a tnove vvhich vvas criticized by som e observers since they felt it vveakened the fro n tiers. C o n stan tin e him self vvas a successful m ilitary com m ander, hovvever, vvho won n o t only civil vvars b ut also ca m p aig n ed successfully ag ain st G erm an s an d Goths. But his m ost fam ous innovation vvas n o t military or adm inistrative, it vvas religious: the adoption of Christianity as the official State religion. Christians had had a bad start to the 4th century. In F ebruary 303 th e e a ste rn em p ero rs D iocletian an d

vvheat b a r le y rye le n tils 1 a r m y m odius * 1 a rm y m odius 1 a n n y m o d iu s 1 a r m y m odius

100 60 60 100

II. Likevvise, for vvines:

P ic e n e T ib u r t in e o r d in a r y b e e r, G a llic o r P a n n o n ia n b e e r, E g y p tia n 1 I t a lia n sextarius 4 1 I t a lia n sextarius 1 I t a lia n sexlarius 1 I t a lia n sextarius 1 I t a lia n sexta.ri.us 30 30 8

III. Likevvise, for oil:

Constantine and Christianity D iocletians reform s set the pattern of im perial adm inistration for decades to come. T he tetrarchy itself, hovvever, soon fell victim to individual ambition. W hen D iocletian ab d icated in 305 h e fo rced his se n io r colleague Maximian to do so also, an d together they passed on the m antlc of govern m en t to their ju n io r colleagues Constantius and Galerius, vvho becam e the nevv senior em perors. They in tu rn app o in ted nevv ju n io r colleagues, so that the tetrarchic arrangem en t vvas continued. VVhen Constantius died in 306, hovvever, cracks began to shovv. His son, Constantine, vvas recognized by the
R ight: the Basilica N ova ivas

f r o m u n r ip e o liv e s s e c o n d q u a lity

1 I t a lia n sextarius 1 I t a lia n se x la n u s

40 24

IV. Likevvise, for meat:

p o rk beef 1 I t a lia n p o u n d 1 I t a lia n p o u n d 12 8

V. Likevvise, for fish:

sea fis h fis h , s e c o n d q u a lity r iv e r 1 I t a lia n p o u n d 1 I t a lia n p o u n d 24 16 12 8 100 Above: an integral p a rt o f D iocletiaus reforms ivas his restoration o f a stable currency. M in ts th a t b ad sprung up throughout the em pire to m e et the entergencies o fth e 3rd cen tu ty ivere regularized, a nd netv ones created. A li struck to a standard design, a n d tbe m in ts initials on the reverse alloived a ny lapse in quality to be traced to its source. Like tbe crisis m oney o f the later 3 rd century, D iocletians coins were o f bronze tvith a th in silver tvash on tbe surface , b u t they ivere m uch larger a n d m ore carefully m ade. The aggressive, bull-headed portraits o f D iocletian a n d his colleagues illustrate their m ilita ty preoccupations a nd the need to itnpress their potver upon the populace.

r iv e r fis h , b e s t q u a lity 1 I t a lia n p o u n d

1 I t a lia n p o u n d 100

beguu by M a xen tiu s, tubo seized p o w er a t R om e in 306 , b u t o n ly com pleted after C o nstantine's victory a t the M ilvia n bridge brought the city u n d er bis control.

s e c o n d q u a lity o y s te rs

V II. For vvages:

f a r m la b o u r e r , vv ith m a in te n a n c e c a r p e n te r , as a b o v e p ic t u r e p a in te r , as a b o v e b a k e r, as a b o v e e le m e n ta r y te a c h e r, per boy c h e c k - r o o m a tte n d a n t p e r b a th e r * a s ta n d a r d s iz e d d a ily 2 used fo r d ry goods. m o n t h ly 75 d a ily d a ily 150 50 d a ily d a ily 25 50 75

vvall p a in te r , as a b o v e d a ily


Galerius had issued an edict o rdering the destruetion of ehurehes and scriptures. It vvas follovved soon aftervvards by o th e r edicts, culm inating in the com m and th at everyone m ust offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. This the C hristians refu sed to do, an d they died in their thousands in consequence. T he persecution con tinued in the eastern provinces until 312, b u t after the initial onslaught it becam e spasmodic and haphazard




in n a tu r e , a n d n e v e r h a d m u;ch im pact in the vvest. I t was on e thing to tolerate, an o th er actually to a d o p t th e C hristian reli gion. Yet th a t was w hat C onstantine did, after his victory over M axentius at th e M ilvian b rid g e ju s t n o r th o f Rome in O ctober 312. H e claim ed to have seen a vision of th e cross in the n o o n d ay sky shortly befo re th e b at tle, w ith th e d iv in e c o m m a n d C o n q u e r by th is . W h a te v e r th e tr u th , w h e th e r th r o u g h p o licy o r p e r s o n a l c o n v ic tio n , C o n s ta n tin e h e n c e f o r th b e c a m e a c o m m itte d C hristian. H e took an interventionist lin e in th e affairs o f th e C h ristian c h u r c h , p re s id in g in p e r s o n a t C h u rch councils, w hile at th e same tim e ad m itting C hristian bishops to h is in n e r c irc le o f c o u n s e llo rs. T em ple treasures w ere confiscated an d used to fu n d a m ajor p rogram m e o f church building, including th e first St P e te rs at Rom e an d th e churches built over the Holy Places at Jerusalem an d B ethlehem . Paganism d id n o t suddenly disappear, hovvever, an d despite edicts designed to discourage or p ro h ib it pagan practices, non-C hristians co n tin u ed to h o ld high positions a t co u rt th ro u g h o u t th e 4 th century. O ne final feature o f C o n stan tin es reig n vvas th e fu rth e r eclipse o f Rome as a centre o f im perial governm ent. C onstantine him self had at on e tim e p la n n e d to be b u rie d th e re , b u t in 330 h e d e d ic a te d a new Capital at C onstantinople on the Bosphorus. T his vvas a C hristian Capital, vvithout th e heavy legacy o f p a g a n tem p les a n d in s titu tio n s so co n sp icu o u s at Rom e. It also illu strate d an im p o rta n ce shift in th e im p erial c e n tre of gravity, vvith th e e a ste rn p ro v in ces in creasin g ly im p o rta n t as th e vvest slipped into decline.

The Successors o f Constantine By the time C onstantine died in 337 h e h ad divided th e em pire am ong his th ree surviving sons C onstantine II, Constantius II an d Constans. H e had in te n d e d his ste p -b ro th e rs so n Flavius Iulius D alm atiu s to b e a fo u rth Caesar, b u t C onstantines sons m urd ered him vvithin six m onths. N ext to go vvas C o n stan tin e II, killed in b attle against his b ro th e r C onstans in 340. Constans him self vvas killed fleeing from th e u su rp er M agnentius in 350. Only Constantius survived to die a natural death, in November 360, b u t even h e rea ch ed only 44, an d he vvas ab o u t to do battle vvith his cousin Ju lian vvhen h e vvas carried off by a fever. C onstantines sons may have had fevv scruples in dealing vvith their rivals or in d e e d vvith each o th e r b u t they ali claim ed to be C hristian em perors. Julian, hovvever, vvas a staunch advocate of the traditional religion, and tried in various ways to turn back the clock. H e removed the tax exem ption vvhich Constantine had given to Christian clergy, and renevved the practice of pagan sacrifice vvith great enthusiasm. H e provoked Christians even fu rth er by arbitrarily closing th e G reat C h u rch at A ntioch an d th r e a te n in g to re b u ild th e T em p le at Jerusalem as a counterpoise to C onstantines church of the Holy Sepulchre. Actions such as these u n se ttle d even m any pag an believers, b u t Ju lian did n o t survive to carry o u t ali his schemes. H e vvas killed in his am bitious b ut abortive Persian campaign o f 363. Ju lian s successors vvere Christians, b u t it vvas n o t u n til th e final years o f th e 4 th century th at they began to take fu rth er steps to eradicate pagan belief. In 384 the regional govern o r Cynegius ord ered the closure o f temples in E gypt. S even years la te r, th e E m p e ro r T heodosius issued a series o f fu rth e r edicts prohibiting pagan sacrifice an d vvithdravving subsidies from pagan priests. T h e stren g th o f feeling against pagans drove groups o f C hristians even monks to attack pagan temples an d synagogues. Christianity vvas so povverful th a t a p ro m in en t bishop such as Ambrose of Milan could even impose hum iliating public penance on the E m peror Theodosius himself. For th e o rd in ary p eople, those vvorking th e Iand, th e 4th cen tu ry vvas a tim e o f increasing repression. A lavv o f 332 tied te n a n t farm ers to th e land, to p rev en t th em avoiding p aym ent o f poli tax. T his vvas o ne o f m any examples o f th e grovving au th o ritarian ism o f th e late em p ire. A n o th er tre n d vvas th e in creasin g vvealth o f th e very rich , at th e very sam e tim e as th e p o o r vvere s u ffe rin g ta x a tio n a n d o p p re s s io n W e a lth y lan d o v v n ers am assed en o rm o u s estates and lived on th em in palatial villas su rro u n d ed by storeroom s an d vvorkshops vvhich could take on th e ch aracter o f small tovvns. W hile som e regions o f th e em pire vvere in econom ic difficulty, others, such as Syria an d N o rth Africa, ex p erien ced renevved prosperity as the century drevv to its close. Knovvledge o f the official administrative and military structure at this period comes to us from a 1551 copy o f an official 4th-century docum ent, th e Notitia Dignitatum (list o f offices), vvhich details the civil an d military com m ands of the em pire and preserves the nam e and even the insignia of individual military units. It also lists the im perial factories established by Diocletian to supply th e army vvith vveapons a n d o th e r materials.

Above: this tvall painting, from a villa a t I.iillingstone in K ent, depiets tw o C hristians p ra yin g tvith outstretehed hands. II dates fro m the tnid4th century, ivhen a sm all room in the villa appears to have been converted in to a chapel.

R ight: the early 6th~century

church o f S i Sergius a n d Bacchus a t Rasafdh, an im p o rta n t late R o m a n garrison toum in yrla. The w est en d o fth e church was form ed b y a p a ir o fto tv e rs; a t the ea st end, the sem icircular apse w as covered b y a h a lf dom e.

A bove: silv er coins o fth e later 4 th century. A s p a r t o f his reform , D iocletian h ad reintroduced coins o f fin e silver, b u t they w ere never issued in very large quantities a n d tbe denom in a tio n tvas soon debased . I tiv a s n o t u n til the reign o f C onstantius II (337-61) th a t the em pire once again h ad a silver coinage p le n tifu l enough to form a regular p a r t o fth e currency. T he large n u m b e r o f silver h oafds fo u n d in B ritian reflects both th e success o fth is coinage an d the prosperity o f the province d u rin g its last decades o f R om an rule.





R ight: the O strogothic King

The Gothic Invasions In m ilita ry te rm s, th e la st decades o f the 4th century were d o m in a te d by th e m e n a c e of the Goths. T his G erm anic peo ple h a d s e ttle d n o r th o f th e Black Sea and had already raided Asia M inor an d th e Balkan provinces of the Rom an em pire d u rin g th e m iddle d ecad es o f th e 3 rd ce n tu ry . By th e la te r 4 th c e n tu ry th e G o th s fo u n d themselves u n d er considerable pressure from a new n om adic enemy, the H uns, on their east ern flank, and sought refuge vvithin the territories o f the em pire. Valens, the eastern em peror, allowed on e gro u p to en ter, b u t later so badly maltreated them that they rebelled. In a great battle fought at A drianople in 378 the army of the eastern em pire suffered a crushing defeat, an d Valens him self was killed. By this tim e the em pire was defmitively divided into two halves, east and west. T he division took its final form w hen V alentinian I (364-75) gave con trol of the east to his b ro th er Valens (364-78). Yet in 378, in this m o m en t of crisis for the eastern em pire, authority reverted to V alentinians son and successor in the vvest, the E m peror G ratian (367-83), H e installed his army com m ander Theodosius I as the new eastern em peror To T heodosius fell the enorm ous task o f clearing the Goths from the Balkans, or at least bringing them u n d er control. This was achieved only by allowing them to settle vvithin the em pire u n d e r their own king, norm ally as an ally o f Rom e b u t effectively as an arm ed and autonom ous people. The Sack o f Rome W h en T h e o d o siu s d ie d in 395 his y o u n g sons A rcadius an d H o n o riu s were installed as respectively eastern an d w estern em perors. T h e Goths chose this m o m en t to break into o pen rebellion. U n d er their new lead er Alaric they advanced on C onstantiiiople and th en em barked on an orgy of killing and looting in Greece. T h e year 397 found th e m in E p iru s (n o rth w est G re e c e ), an d th e re they settled for fo u r years until in 401 they m ade a first invasion o f Italy. T h a t was tu rn e d back by S tilic h o , th e arm y c o m m a n d e r a p p o in te d by T h eodosius to take care o f H o n o riu s. A second invasion in 407 was b o u g h t off. T hey w ere back the following year, however, an d in 410, after two years seeking to negotiate with the vacillating gove r n m e n t o f H o n o riu s , th e y lo st p a tie n c e an d sacked Rome. T he event was reg ard ed as a catastrophe by contem p o raries, even th o u g h Rom e was n o lo n g er the seat o f im perial governm ent in Italy; th a t had been m oved to Ravenna, safe b eh in d its Coastal

Theodoric ousted O doacer from Rom e in 493, w ith B y za n tin e support. H is m a g n ificen t palae is depicted in this m osaic in the church o f S t Apollinare N ttovo at R avenna, b u t a fte r his successors were driven o u t by the B jza n tin e reconquest in the S40s, his p o rtra it a n d the fla n k in g figures o fh is courtiers ivere carefully excised from the mosaic.

marshes. T h e w estern em pire was in d eed already in crisis, beset n o t only by Goths b u t by rival em perors and by armies o f Vandals, Alans an d Suebi who h ad crossed the Rliine and were ravaging Gaul. T he Goths themselves left Italy an d w ere eventually ced ed a kingdom c e n tre d on T oulouse in 418. H o n o riu s survived five m ore years, dying o f disease in 423. By that time, Britain, to g eth er with large areas o f Gaul an d Spain, were effectively beyond his control. H o n o riu s s successors in th e west fared little b etter. T h e lo n g reig n o f V alentinian III (423-55) saw the defeat of th e H unnish leader Attila at the battle o f the Catalaunian Fields in 453, b u t failed to tu rn ed back the tren d to fra g m en tatio n . N o rth A frica fell to th e V andals in 439. T h e w estern e m p e ro rs w ho follovved V alen tin ian g rad u ally y ield ed m o re an d m o re povver to the G erm anic com m anders who controlled their armies, eventually becom ing little m ore th an figureheads. T he last o f ali, Rom ulus Augustus (knovvn dismissively as Augustulus, the little A ugustus), abdicated in 476, vvithdravving vvith a com fortable pension to Campania. T h e abdication o f Rom ulus Augustus m arks the en d o f the Rom an em pire in the vvest, vvhich hen cefo rth was a mosaic o f G erm anic kingdom s ru led by O strogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, Saxons an d others. W ithin these ter ritories, th e R om an aristocracy survived, read in g an d vvriting in Latin as before (only in Britain was Latin displaced), an d putting their adm inistra tive skills to the Service of new masters. In the east, by contrast, the Rom an em p ire rem a in ed strong. Its em p ero rs freq u en tly in te rv en ed in vvestern affairs; th e m o st povverful o f them , Ju stin ian I (5 2 7 -6 5 ), actually reconq u ered a substantial p art o f the lost vvestern provinces. Much of this territory vvas lost again in die century th a t follovved, but th e Byzantine realm sur vived, its Greek-speaking rulers continuing to style themselves E m peror of the Rom ans until the last of them died by the city vvalls vvhen the O ttom an Turks conquercd C onstantinople in 1453.

Below : this ivory diptycb sboivs the E m peror H onorius (r. 3 9S -4 2 3 ). H e holds a standard w ith the legend In tbe nam e o f Christ, yo u ivill alw ays conquer, recalling tbe cross in the s k y tuhicb appeared to C onstantine before the battle o f tbe M ilvia n Bridge bearing the inscription conquer by th is. In fact, H onorius tvas unable to p reven t tbe G oths from inva d in g Italy a n d sacking R om e itself.

R ight: the G erm anic peoples

w ho invaded tbe R om an Em pire in the 5 th c en tu ty did n o t set o u t to overthroiu it, b u t to share in its tvealth. This late 5th- or 6 th-century m osaic from C arthage depicts a V andal lord ivbo bas successfidly acquired the trappings o f R o m a n life, including a com fortable villa in tbe lusb N o rth A frican farm land.





R ight: the only R om an

Diocletian and the Division of Power

The accession of Diocletian in 284 brought an end to 50 years of im perial decline and ushered in a period of reorganization and recovery.
O ne of D iocletians first acts was to nam e a colleague, Maximian, as em per or with responsibilit)' for the western provinces. T h at was in 285. Eight years later the division of power was taken a stage fu rth er w hen Diocletian and M a x im ian e a c h a p p o in te d a ju n io r c o lle a g u e : G ale riu s in th e east, Constantius (father of C onstantine) in the west. T hus was establishe the tetrarchy, th e system of g o v ern m en t w hich divided overall responsibility b etw een a co lle g e o f fo u r re g io n a l e m p e ro rs , h e a d e d by D iocletian. R om e was a b a n d o n e d as a m ajo r im p erial resi dence, and new centres establishe n ea rer the troubled fron tiers: T rier and Milan, Thessalonica an d Nicom edia. D iocletians reorganization of the im perial adm inistration vvent m uch fu rther than a simple division of povver he com prehenFlavia Caesariensts sively overhauled the provinces, creating a system o f smaller provinces grouped into 12 larger adm inistrative units called / ^ T r m r j dioceses. A nother crucial innovation was the separation o f civil an d military power; governors o f provinces an d dioce principa! 0 \ ses had no military authority an d army com m ands were res/dence of Cvntantiu . organized in a way vvhich cross-cut provincial boundaries. T h e aim was to rem ove o n ce a n d fo r ali th e th re a t o f insurrection by povverful provincial governors.
Above: the fo u r tetrarcbs em brace, sivords a t the ready, sym b o lizin g their u n io n in defence o fth e em pire . This m arble sculpture, d a tin g from c. 300 , tvas later set into the angle o f S t M a rk s basilica in Venice.

em peror to abdicate voluntarily, D iocletian b u ilt h im s e lf this v a st villa a t Split. The colonnaded peristyle, or courtyard, led to the m ausoleum in ivhich D iocletian w as eventually interred.

r 0 2 9 7AD Constant/us Roman rule to

Britain, ruled by ; usarpers Carausm and Aliectus since 286

resider/ce of

: Mbximin
Augusta. Vindelicorum j Kaeiia I I .( Noiicuia rattnouUrl

D iocletian also addressed the em p ires econom ic A quita nica problem s, increasing the w eight of the gold coins, * /v 7/c OOtiJV II Burdigala issuing the first good silver for a century. and reorganizing th e m ints. A u n ifo rm N ovcm \ Populi \ c o in a g e was stru c k th r o u g h o u t th e Gallaecia / NarboMii em pire, and each coin carried the nam e o f the m int vvhich pro d u ced it so th at any lapse in quality could be traced to its source. In 301 he attem pted to cu rb in flatio n by freezing of vvages an d prices, b u t this did n o t hold for long. O n the vvhole, hovvever, D iocletians reform s vvere so successful that in 305 he was able to abdicate voluntarily.


^ K ^ V irg iu m 1 --i' ilii 1 vi.1 iii-i i;11ii> i;1 1 llVericila &' i /Si jS i nLini * J || 4 ? m W Histi--




P A R T V : R E S T O R A T IO N A N D F A L L

The Spread of Christianity

C hristianity fir s t took hold in the east, but apart from an early appearance a t Rome itself, it did not become popu lar in the ivest until the 3rd century.

W ith them umre four ivomen, Ammonarion, a most respectable young luoman, in spite o f the savage and prolonged torture .., kept true lo herpromise and ivas led away, The others ivere Mercuria, a very dignified lady, and Dionysia, the mother o f a large family but ju s t as devoted to her Lord. The governor ivas ashamed, to go on torturing zvilhout resulls and. to be defeated by ivomen, so they died, by the srvord ivithout beingput to any further test by torture ...

For many years, Christianity was ju st one o f a n u m b er o f oriental religions gaining adherents in the m ajor cities o f the Rom an Em pire 1 (page 102-3). It first achieved official notoriety in the reign CEA!Ws r ,c oa<Ax o f N ero, who m ade th e C hristians th e scapegoats fo r the Burigala G reat Fire o f Rom e in A D 64. T h e historical Jesus had BordeauKo', died som e 35 years before, b u t Christianity spread quickly th ro u g h the eastern provinces, an d by the 50s there was even a Christian com m unity a t Rome. % fl ' 1 By the e n d o f the ls t century, the p attern o f toleraSaragossa tion a lte rn a tin g w ith p erse cu tio n , w hich was to Tolctum co n tin u e u n til the reig n o f C o n stan tin e in the Toledo Corduba early 4th century, had been established. D om itian i 'a-- v ( a d 81-96), like N ero, is said to have persecuted C arth ago Christians; g o o d em perors such as T rajan (A D 9 8 Nova llliberis 117) chose to ignore them as far as possible. T h e serious Elvira 306 p ersecu tio n s b egan in th e 3 rd century, vvhen Christianity vvas well established even am ong the ruling classes, b u t am e to be seen as a th reat to the state. In 250 the E m peror Decius ( a d 249- 51) issu ed an e d ic t re q u ir in g ali citiz en s o f th e em pire to m ake sacrifice to the traditional gods o f Rom e. U nable to do this, m any C hristians suffered torture and death. P ersecution vvas renevved in 303 in a last-ditch attem pt by Galerius to bolster the old faith, b u t in 312 th e E m p ero r C o n stan tin e m ade Christianity th e state religion; he vvas baptized on his d ea th b e d in 337. Paganism vvas still tolerated, b u t tem ple treasures vvere confiscated an d used to su p p o rt a m ajor church-building program m e. This included the first St P ete rs in Rome an d churches over the holy places of B ethlehem and Jerusalem , vvhere C onstantines m o th er H elena claim ed to have found the cross o n vvhich Christ vvas crucified. C onstantine took a p er sonal interest in Christian doctrine, an d supervised the church councils at Arles an d Nicaea to com bat heresy. T h e link betvveen church an d state vvas to re m a in a povverful fo rc e fo r c e n tu r ie s to come.
R ig h t: early Christian

R ig h t: C hristianity h a d taken ro o t in B ritain b y the early 4 th century, ivhen this m osaic ivas installed in a R o m a n v illa a t H in to n S t M a ry in D orset. The im age is clearly iden tified as C hrist b y the C hi-R ho m onogram the fir st letters o f the G reek Chrestos, C hrist tvhile the pom egranates sym bolize e te m a l life.

The persecution of Christians under Decius ( a d 250). from Eusebius,

Ecclesiastical History

com m unities a t R om e excavated large co m m u n a l cemeteries (catacombs) outside the city boundaries fo r the b urial o f th e ir dead. These tuere n o t places o f tvorship, though m em orial services ivere som etim es h eld there. The C hapel o f the Popes, in the C atacom b o fS . C allisto, w as b u ilt a ro u n d AD 250.

/r V c )





Constantine the Great

TJnwilling to s h a r e p o w e r , C o n s ta n tin e d e fe a te d h is r iv a ls a n d r e u n ifie d th e e m p ire , giving i t a n e w re lig io n a n d a n e w c a p ita l.

acclaimed emperor Britanniae . '


l/T h e rise o f C o n sta n tin e , A D 306-24

Roman fro n tie r Constantines realm:
0312 Constantine invodes hoty; defeats Maxentius at Turin and Verona

Constantines campaigns:

against Maxentius, 212 against Licinius, 316 against Licinius, 324

1 ' London Augusta Treverorum

306 ] added 312

^ -

Above: this carved p lin tb supports a n obelisk brought fro m E g y p t a n d set up in tbe H ippodrom e a t C onstantinople, I t show s the Em peror Theodosius I (3 7 9-95), surrounded b y his fa m ily a n d courtiers, lualcbing the races from the im perial box.

'i 3 1 6-12 $ Trier( T he system of divided rule vvhich D iocletian had established did n o t long battle ~"j added 316 C onstantine e m p e r o r / survive his r e tir e m e n t in 305. In th e vvest, th e stru g g le vvas betvveen ~] added 324 Qf W e s t e r n p r o v in c e s Aususta Vlndelicorum M axentius, vvho h ad seized Italy an d N o rth Africa, an d C onstantine, who! G a I I i a e 0316 sConstantine July 324 0 h ad succeeded his fath e r Constantius as vvestern em p ero r in 306. In 312 ! defeats Licinius ^iru n u m Constantine C onstantine invaded Italy an d defeated M axentius at T u rin an d V erona, and siezes Balkans defeats Licinius Burdigalf th e n a t th e b a ttle o f th e M iivian B ridge. T h is left h im BordeauKVie n n e n s i Sirmium undisputed ruler of the vvestern provinces. C onstantine at J Tolosa Pontus Euxinus V - -0Yupinacium Augusta Verona first ag reed a division o f povver vvith Licinius, vvho co n ToulOuse 'ibalae * - Sstev Black Si*a Taurinorum J Spalatum Jnkovci trolled the east, b u t by 316 h e felt strong enough to attack r Turin Split Narbo I t a I i a k. ej Serdica J 4 his rival, seizing G reece a n d the Balkans. T h e ensuing / "Sarajosa f Narbonne Narona? 5of|a o ^ A d r f r n o Byzantium tru ce lasted u n til 324, vvhen C o n sta n tin e finally / H i sipa., i . e Corsica Istanbul M o c s i a e \ tdirr? P o n ( i c a Tarraco p .Chrysopolis defeated Licinius; his victorv re u n ite d the R om an Emei'lta Augusta _c )Ancyi*a Tarentum ThesSalonica \ Heracga Ta r ragom J^OskUdar . . . . 1 r Tolefum Taranto o Ankara Em pire u n d e r the rule o t o n e m an. ^ ^ x Toiodo_J'Y i


C onstantine used his povver to prom ote the religion he h a d a d o p te d C hristianity. H e claim ed to have seen a Vision o f the cross of C hrist th e evening before the battle of the Miivian Bridge, an d to have vvon his victory through the povver of th at symbol. H e m ade Christianity th e State religion, confiscating tem ple

Gades Cadlzo

, - 6 ------- | | ^
-Corduba .

Carthago Nova

0 Oct 3 12 Constantine defeats Maxentius at Miivian Bridge af)d takes control of ltaly ahd North Africa

Ephesus,. Athenae AtfVens : Laodioea

Tarsus oAntioch Palmyra o

.O Sep t 324 final defeat of Licinius leaves Constantine ruler o f whole empire


2/The C ity o f C o n stan tin o p le , 330-413

The site o f C onstantines neto capitaf, on a peninsula com m anding tbe Bosphorus, ivas easily defensible, an d one o f the first tbingi he built bere w as a ivall. The city also controlled access to tbe Black Sea and trade w itb the East. Constantine endotved his foundation uritb tbe public buildings o f a great Roman city: a large circular forum , a hippodrom e, an d *<?/<? a colonnaded main Street. From the start, the city tvas a Christian one; tbe great ehurehes o f Hagia Sophia an d Hagia Eirene ivere first b uilt in C onstantines reign, though they d id not assume their present form until tbe 6th century. Tbe aqueduct ivas a d ded in tbe reign o f Valens (367-78), an d a further set o f tvalls, ivhich still tand , under Theodosius // (402-50).


n e ^ n

S e {X Hierosolyma jerusalem

Church o f the 'H oly Aposdes

extent o f city under f\nr>sranfirifs 330 J Constantine extent o f cltv under Theodosius II. 413



A e g y p tu s

colum oa
l Iil

300 mi les


G reek A cropolis

aqueduct o f Valens

arch o f Theodosius forum o f Arcadiusi

(orum o( Constantine lippodrom e

harbour of Theodosius

Imperial palae

R ig h t this h ea d o f C onstantine

tvas p a r t o f a colossal statue o fth e em peror set u p a t R om e. Its m assive scale a n d brutal sim plicity reflect the ehanging conception o f im perial pow er in tbe 4 th centuryy as lipservice to republican form gave w a y to divinely~ appo in ted autocracy.

treasures a n d b u ild in g m any new ehurehes. H e also took a personal in terest in theology, participating in C hurch councils a t Arles in 314 an d N ic a e a in 325, a n d b e in g b a p tiz e d o n his d eath b ed in 337. C onstantine stren g th en ed the secu rity o f th e e m p ire , esp ecially a lo n g th e D a n u b e ( pages 8 6 -8 7 ), a n d r e f o rm e d th e arm y, m a k in g a d is tin e tio n b e tw e e n f ro n tie r units an d a m obile field army. H e was also a lavish b u ild er: a t T rier, his first capital, a n d a t Rom e, w here h e b u ilt b aths a n d co m p leted th e massive B asilica N ova w h o se r u in s still d o m in a te th e Forum . T h e senate also voted h im the fam ous A rch o f Constantine, to com m em orate his vic tory over Maxentius. O n e o f C onstantines m ost lasting achievem ents was the transform ation of the G reek city o f Ryzantium into a new capital, C onstantinople, in 330.





Roman Technology and Engineering

R o m a n technical skills were applied to large-scale projects roads, aqueducts and mines and to everyday manufactured goods.
T he em pire d ep en d ed for its Communications on the netw ork o f all-weather roads which began as a series o f strategic arteries in Italy enabling troops an d supplies to be moved rapidly from o n e sector to another. T he actual m eth o d o f construction varied greatly from place to place, d ep en d in g on th e availability of m aterials an d the local subsoil. In m arshland, the road m ight take the form o f a gravel causeway on a tim ber raft. In the eastern provinces, roads consisted of loose stone fill betw een carefully laid kerbs. T he finest roads o f ali, however, were those such as the fam ous Via Appia, with a surface o f polygonal paving slabs carefully fitted together T he laying-out o f Rom an roads was in the hands o f train ed surveyors, as was th e still m ore dem anding discipline o f aqueducts. R om an aqueducts were designed to bring drinking water from distant sources to supplem ent local supplies. G enerally they ran in covered channels at gro u n d level, following the natural contours; this in itself d em an d ed skilled surveying. It is w here defiles vvere to be crossed, however, th a t aqueducts becam e m ost impressive, striding on arches across a river valley or lowland plain so as to maintain the gradient o f flow within the specifled param eters. For motive power, the Rom ans m ade use of wind, water, an d muscle, b oth hum an an d animal. W ind power was little used save for sailing ships; vvindmills for grinding grain were a medieval innovation. W ater, however, was used fo r m illing, bo th in small-scale establishm ents such as those at river crossings on H ad rian s Wall, and in the batteries of water mills on the hillside at Barbegal in Southern France, designed to p roduce flour on an industrial scale. Muscle povver was a m ore traditional source o f energy. Animals

tu rn ed th e rotary mills at Rom an Pom peii, an d the w idespread availability o f slave labour may have rem oved m uch o f the incentive for the adoption o f labour-saving devices such as the primitive steam turbine described by H ero o f Alexandria. A n o th er dim ension of en g in eerin g skill was the sinking o f m ines, notably fo r valuable m etals such as co p p e r an d lead. T h e m in es o f th e Ib erian peninsula were especially productive, an d have yielded rare examples of the technology used by the Rom ans to drain w ater from the deep er galleries, including screw pum ps an d water wheels. Alongside these m ajor engineering works the Rom ans also developed con~ siderable technical skill in the m anufacture of smaller items such as pottery a n d glassware. Som e o f th e ir glassware was o f rem a rk a b le quality the P ortland Vase is a fine exam pleb u t the Rom ans used glass even for everyday objects such as bottles. Pottery was also p ro d u ced in quantity, notably the m any types of amphorae (often locally m ade) or th e red-slipped table wares o f G aul an d N o rth Africa. Klin sites th ro u g h o u t the R om an world show that Rom an potters could achieve high tem peratures in carefully con trolled conditions, an d the ubiquity o f th eir products is evidence of both their skill an d success.
R ig h t: R om an m ining operations som etim es used sophisticated p u m ping e q u ipm ent to clear the low er levels o f mater. T h is series o f eight pairs o fiv a te r tvheels u/as fo u n d in the R om an copper m ines a t Rio T into in Lusitania.

Above: glassivare tvas w id ely

produced throughout the em pire a n d ranged from ornate decorative pieces to sim ple household containers such as this sm all late R o m a n glass bottle o f the type used fo r cosm etics or m edicines.

R ig h t: pottery oil lamps,

w id ely used fo r lighting throughout the R o m a n tvorld, represent a n early form o f m ass production; cla y was pressed in to stone m oulds to form the upper a n d lotuer halves, tvhich ivere then fixed together a n d fired. M a n y lam ps could ih u s be produced to the same design. This sm all lam p, its n o zzle still stained w ith soot, com es from R om an E gypt.
R ight: m any types o fk iln were

Above: this length o fle a d ivater pipe, bearing the nam e o f the Em peror D om itian (ajd 8 1-96) com es from the D om us F lavia on the Palatine H ill a t Rome. M o st ivater pipes w ere m ade o f pottery, b u t lead tvas em ployed tvhere flexibility a n d resistance to stress was critical.

used to fire a w ide range o f pottery in the provinces o f the em pire. This Colchester-type k iln ivas w id ely used in Britain. The vaulted com bustion cham bers ivere su n k into the g ro u n d and lined iv ith b tic k or stone. A b o ve them , a ventilated clay floor supported the pots. The dom ed tu r f r o o f w o u ld have been b u ilt afresh over each neiv batch o f pots.

Left: this relief carving, from

the lst~century tom b o f the H aterii n ear Rom e, shoivs a crane a t ivork on the funerary m o n u m en t o fth is fa m ily, ivho m a y have been build in g contractors. The crane tvas raised b y m eans o f the treadivheel a t the bottom , tvhich tvas operated by slaves.




Ghurchm en such as Bishop A m brose o f M ila n ("far righ t, on a m osaic from the chapel o f S t V ictor in M ilan) laielded enorm ous authority; in 390 he successfully d em anded th a t the E m peror T heodosius h im se lf do pu b lic penance fo r a massacre in Thessalonica. B u t paganism died hard, even in o fficial circles; this Sthcentury ivory plaque (rig h tj shours a d iv in ized em peror carried up from his funeral pyre b y w in d gods.


A Fragile Prosperity
A fte r the troubles of the 3rd century, the 4th ivas a period of reneived p rosperitj in many parts of the Roman empire.
T he reform s o f Diocletian and C onstantine provided a sound adm inistrative and military structure, though they also placed a heavy tax b u rd en on the po o rer citizens. In the western provinces, the greatest prosperity was found in ru ral villas. T he towns, by contrast, w ere in decline, and it seems th at wealthy landow ners ab an d o n ed th eir city houses to live on th eir country estates. T he military threat on the R h ine-D anube fro n tier an d in the east rem ained a constant m enace th ro u g h o u t the century, and m uch of central governm ent revenue was devoted to army pay a n d to State factories set u p to supply the soldiers with weapons an d clothing. T he m ain centres o f govern m ent, too, followed the R hine-D anube axis, though were n ot so close to th e fro n tier as to be directly exposed to foreign attac k : T rie r a n d M ilan ( la te r R a v en n a ) in th e w est, B R ITA N N IA E Sirm ium and C onstantiiiople in the east. Londinium H T he best historical evidence comes from the m iddle o f London the century, from the sh o rt reign o f the E m peror Julian. B etw een 356 an d 360 h e fo u g h t ag ain st F ranks an d Alam anni in eastern Gaul, restoring an d strengthening the R hine fro n tier; b u t m any o f his gains th e re were sq u a n d e re d w hen h e w ithdrew tro o p s fo r th e abortive Persian cam paign o f 363, in which h e was killed. Ju lia n s m o st fam o u s ex p lo it, how ever, was his a tte m p t to tu r n back th e clo ck a n d restore the worship of the old pagan gods. H e failed, and C hristian bisho ps c o n tin u e d to ex e rc ise g re a l Salamantica pow er in the la ter decades o f the Salamana. century.

Colonia' Agrippina

t a Cologne

Augusta l|SKvAugusta Tofeverorum Vindelicum Augs-burgi G ALLIAE Carnuntum Petrorieli

Below : several item s fro m a

m assive h oar o fla te R o m a n tableware, jew ellery a n d coins fo u n d a t H o xn e in S u ffo lk in 1992 . T b ey include a silver pepper-pot in the form o f an empress; a bangle ivith the ivo m a n s n am e Juliana; a n d toiv neckiaces, one tvith a p en d a n t m ade fro m a g o ld coin o fth e E m peror G ratian (r. AD 3 7 5 -8 3 ). The hoard ivas buried som e tim e a fter 407, possibly because o ftro u b le s arising fro m the collapse o f R o m a n a u th o rity in B ritain. Such rich hoards illustrate the lu x u ry still available, in the h ands o f a n elite feiv, d uring the last years o f R o m a n rule.

Burdigala Borrtaiu*

.Aqusriurri Budapest
PAN NO NIAE Mediolanum 8 Strni Ium .Belgrade Siscia Sisak Lyon


^ e .S r dpi
i i gj Ravenna COKSICA I TALI A

V I E N N E N S I S'



Arelate Arles * p tr Massilia .M.ar&ellles


Pontus E u xin u s Black Sea

H I S P A N 1A E


Emerita Augustae
Merida .Corduba

'Tarraco Ta r rago na

A d n a n o p le /' Edirne





SARDINIA _Gades :'Cadiz Carthago Nova

Cartagena Tingi T ang'er



^ , .<Laithage

S IC L L IA 9 Syracuse

CAthcnae ,/A tln erV s*

* q Laodlcea - q Lattakia Ephesus


Palmyra CYPRUS

T h e e m p ire divided, c. A D 400

Roman frontier jg] imperial capital E S division between Eastern and VVestern Empires regional capital AFRICA


* r


prefectures: Gallia Oriens ||lj |j lllyricum lllyricum, Italia,

State run 'Industries: m int

o Cyrrene Alexarvdria . 1|V

treasury weapons factory d oth factory o r dye-works

0 4S0 kms 300 miles

MemphisO, C Y R E N A IC A AEG YPTUS J 0





Left: Flavius Stilicho, shourn bere

The Fali of the Western Empire

The catastrophic B attle of Adrianople set in motion a ehain of events ivhich culminated in the sack o f Rome.

AH the devastation, the butcherj, the plundering ,.. ivhich accompanied the reent disaster at Rome ivere in accordance ivith the general practice of marfare. But there was something which ... changed the tuhole aspect of the scene; the savagery ofthe barbarians took on such an aspect that the largest ehurehes ivere ... set aside to be filled ivith people io be spared . This is to be attributed to the name of Christ and the influence of Christianit)'.

In 375 the Visigoths, seeking refuge from the H uns w ho were invading their territory, crossed the D anube into the R om an Em pire. T h ere they were tolerated for a while, b u t in 378 the Eastern E m peror Valens led an army to drive them out. I t vvas a disastrous error; at th e Battle o f A drianople the em peror vvas killed and his army destroyed. His successor T heodosius I concluded a peace treaty in 382 vvhich allovved the Visigoths to settle vvithin the em pire, technically as Rom an allies. In 395, hovvever, they rebelled u n d er their nevv ru ler Alaric. W ith the aim o f extracting fu rth e r concessions from the Romans, they began raiding the Balkans, and in 401 invaded n o rth ern Italy. T he young W estern E m peror H onorius an d his co u rt ab an d o n ed their usual resid e n ce a t M ilan fo r th e safety o f R avenna. Stilicho, re g e n t to H onorius and him self o f G erm anic origin, drove the invaders back. T he military situation in the vvest becam e critical in D ecem ber 406 vvhen nevv G erm anic invaders, Vandals, Alans an d Suebi, 0410 Londor crossed the R hine in force. T h e sacked T rie r a n d ravaged Honorius telkj&T Britons to organize G aul, th e n c ro sse d th e P y re n ee s in to S p ain in 409. their own defense F rustrated in his attem pts to o b tain satisfactory recogniVandals, Alans and I Rhine and tion from H onorius, Alaric invaded Italy once again and on 24 A ugust 410 the Goths sacked Rome. T h o u g h it vvas no longer the im perial capital, the event sent O CEAN [IS shock vvaves th ro u g h th e civilized vvorld. V I ' l A K T f C O C K A N A laric d ied la te r th e sam e year a n d th e 409 Vandals, Alans and Suebi Visigoths left Italy for Gaul an d Spain in cross Pyrenees to raid 412; Italy rem ained in Rom an hands. T he and settle in Spain Visigoths established an in d e p en d e n t king m r ' d o m in A q u ita in e in 418, hovvever, a n d large parts of Spain vvere in Suebic, Alan Iraugusta o r V an d a l c o n tro l. By th e tim e th e 'arrao assa O arrrai Vandals crossed to Africa an d captured Emerita Augusta C arthage in 439, th e W estern Em pire T o le tu m Vjfigoihs invade Spain but Merida / vvas on the verge o f final breakdovvn. Toledo Xithdrow to Gaul under
/ Hispalis

on an ebony panel, tvas a V andal b y birtb. O ne o f an increasing n u m b e r o f G ertnanic soldiers to acbieve high rank in the R om an arm y, he becam e the effective ruler o fth e W e stem E m pire after the death o f T heodosius I in 395. A s k ilfu l politician, he w as able to p la y o ffth e G oths, tb e E a s te m E m pire a n d his rivals in. the w est against each other, b u t these dangerous intrigues eventually led to his fa li from poiver an d execution in 408.

406 Auu: Suebi cross Tri4|> rmage Gaul.

T reverorum

Augusta Vindelicorum Above: m e Porta A ppia a t 402 l,.ugdunum Mediolanum Milan m * 4 /2 >
Western capital moved to Ravenna

Visigoths settled south o f Danube L I under treaty ^ N

Aqulleia Grao

378-----Goths defeat and kili Emperor Valens\at battle o f Adrianople

Athaulf leads Visigoths Into Gaul

Ravenna SpalatuN. S . Split - \ 40/-2 y ^ Rome j


NaronaN,, r

4 /0

Alarics first invasion of ' ily tumed back by


Rome , noto kttoivn as the Porta San Sehastiano, tvas origitially built in the retgri^ o f Aurelian (2)10-75),bu t it a n d the w alls oti either side were heightened and strengthened first by M axentius in the early*kb Q c6ntury, then aga hi in w 3 Sinope after the first G m h it^ invasion o fitn fo,

jessalonicaJ o N icom ^di; *Cyzicus ergamum \



*treaty of 418 and establlsh capital at Toulouse I

Alaric invades ltaly a second ume and sacks Rome

Tarentum | Taranto


Seville Carthago Nova

# 439
Carthage fails to Vandals

Alaric contemplates : AchaiaV Siciiia invasion of Sicily 1395-7 C,0, S Syracuseo and Africa but Visigoths underAlari^.rebel dies of illness and raid Balkans and Greece

St Augusti ne,
The City of God

9 Cartagera
Tingi Tangierv

V'ana/s'crdss from
Spain to Africa 429- 39 0 Vandals conquer North African provinces

, Palmyra Cvprus ODamascus



T h e G e rm a n ic invasions, A D 378-439
Visigoths: Roman fro n tie r 357-82 395 410 412-18

d iterra ft (l rl
Cyrene Hlerosolym a 1 jerusalem

division betvveen Eastern and VVestern Empires

Alexandria Vandals, Alan and Suebi, 406-11 Vandals, 429-39


imperial residence

-------- i settled by Goths under _____ J treaty of 382




The Inheritors
W h ile Roman emperors continued to rule their eastern dominions from Constantinople, Germanic kings struggled fo r poiver in the zvest.
By the en d o f the 4th cen tu ry th e R om an E m pire was divided in to two BuhU halves, east a n d west, ea ch w ith its own e m p e ro r. T h e Boreauifv em perorsat times openly at warp resen ted a disunited fro n t to the G erm anic p eo p les pressing on th e ir fro n tiers. T he west, the vveaker o f the two halves, was dismembered in the course of the 5th century. T h e Visigoths e s ta b lish e a k in g d o m in A q u ita in e in 418, a n d Visigoths extended their power to Spain. Vandals raid ed Gaul / an d Spain before Crossing to Africa and conquering the old Rom an province by 439. Anglo-Saxons raided and settled eastern B ritain d u rin g th e 4th an d 5th centuries, changing the language an d establishing their own kingdom s. In th e late 5 th c e n tu ry F ra n ce am e Tirigl / Tangter \ increasingly u n d e r the control of the Franks; at Vouille 554 1 in 507 they defeated the Visigoths and advanced their Byzantrne :'coFTtjm ?r_ sot/tfief/i Spajn borders to the Pyrenees. Italy itself becam e p art o f the
0 540

2/The Byzan tin e reconquest. A D 533 533-54

] Byzantine Empire, 527 JustiniarT s reconquests

Byzantines,take Ravefina

Byzantine campaigns 537

5 Grao
Sirmium O'SErtgidunu'rni Naissus N i

Vjjoulouse' OArelate Arles.

Barcino Barcelona







pDyrrhaGhlyrn . A f, _ n-es Thessr aIonlg;

Above: the m ausoleum o f T heodoric a t R avenna. The O strogothic K in g Theodoric o u sted O doacer in 488, w ith th e su p p o rt o f the B yzantine E m peror Zeno, a n d ruled Italy u n til his death in 526.

0Lilyb$feuni Mekana Htppo- Regliijo

Athena&o .A cheni



l/ W e s t e m E u ro p e c. A D 526
Germanic kingdoms and peoples ---------- j areas still ruled by I -----------1 rvrA-miarnfinn pre-migration inh5 inhabitants ] ^ Byzantine Empire battle

0 533 8yzantine general 8elisarius conquers Vandal kingdom


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O stro g o th ic k in g d o m in 476 w h en th e la st R o m an e m p e ro r, R om ulus Augustus, was forced to abdicate an d sent into com fortable retire m en t in Cam pania. T he transition from Rom an province to G erm anic kingdom d id n o t m ark an ab ru p t break with the past. In m any areas the existing provincial aristocracy continued to h old land an d povver, to vvrite and vvorship as before, only novv as vassals of G erm anic elites. T he nevv rulers n ee d ed these people to ru n their realms. Christianity rem ained the d o m in an t religion an d bishops took on a grovving im portance, save only in eastern Britain. H ere change was m ore radical, an d the mission of Saint A ugustine (597) vvas req u ired to begin the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. T he Eastern Em pire (from this tim e referred to as Byzantine) escaped the fate of the vvest, an d co n tin u ed to flourish u n d e r a series o f capable em per ors. In the first h alf of the 6th century, the E m peror Justinian even reconq u e re d o f som e o f th e lo st vvestern provinces: N o rth Africa, vvhere the Vandal kingdom fell in 533; Italy an d Sicily, vvhere the Byzantines retained a foothold for over 200 years; an d Spain. T he hold on Spain proved tenuous, hovvever, an d m ost o f Italy fell to the Lom bards in 568. By the m iddle o f the follovving century, Slavs in th e Balkans an d Arabs in th e N ear East an d N o rth Africa h ad strip p ed Byzantium o f m uch o f its territory. From this point, the em pire vvas ju st one of several states jockeying for povver in the M editerranean vvorld of the early M iddle Ages.

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Above: the E m peror Justinian


(r. 5 2 7-65), depicted on a m osaic in the chtirch o f San Vitale a t Ravenna. The m osaic ivas m ade soon after J u stin ia n s troops captured R avenna in 540; the city rem ained the capital o fth e B y zantine territories in Italy u ntil 751.



RULERS OF ROME, 753 b c - a d 565

Rulers of Rome, 753 BC-AD 565

R o m e s L e g e n d a r y K in g s

The Illyrian Emperors

268-70 270-75 275-76 276-82 282-3 M. Aurelius CLAUDIUS II GOTHICUS L. Domitius Aurelianus (AURELIAN) M. Claudius TACITUS M. Aurelius PROBUS M. Aurelius CARUS

E m perors
The Julio-Claudian Dynasty
27boad 14 Caesar AUGUSTUS (Octavian) TIBERIUS Claudius Nero 14-37 37-41 Gaius Caesar Germanicus (CALIGULA) 41-54 Tiberius CLAUDIUS Nero Germanicus 54-68 NERO Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus 68-69 69 69 Servius Sulpicius GALBA M. Salvius OTHO Aulus VITELLIUS

M. Aurelius Numerius Numerianus (NUMERIAN) 283-5 M. Aurelius CARINUS 284-305 G. Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus (DIOCLETIAN)


The Tetrarchy
West 286-305 M. Aurelius Valerius MAXIMIANUS 305-6 Flavius Valerius CONSTANTIUS 306-12 M. Aurelius Valerius MAXENTIUS 307-37 Flavius Valerius Constantinus (CONSTANTINE I)
urPe,' *}ome

j, 284-305
f ; i i 3

305-11 308-24

DIOCLETIAN r at p d ttt v i w GALERIUS Vale s Maxmnanus


C. Valerius Licinianus LICINIUS

L e a d in g St a t e s m e n o f t h e R e p u b l ic
509 486 485-79 458 451-50 377 367 356 312 217 205, 194 184 168 142 133 123-22 115 109 107-86 81-79 66 63 60-53 Lucius Junius BRUTUS consul SPURIUS CASSIUS consul
consulship held by patrician family the FABII Lucius Quinctius CINCINNATUS dictator The Decemvirs council of ten G. LICINIUS Stolo & Lucius SEXTIUS consuls M. Furius CAMILLUS dictator G. Marcus RUTILUS first plebeidn diator APPIUS CLAUDIUS Caecus censor Q. FABIUS MAXIMUS dictator P. Cornelius SCIPIO (AFRICANUS) consul M. Porcius CATO censor L. Aemilius Paulus consul P. SCIPIO AEMILIANUS & L. MUMMIUS consuls

The Flavian Dynasty

69-79 79-81 81-96 T Flavius Vespasianus (VESPASIAN) TITUS Flavius Vespasianus T Flavius Domitianus (DOMITIAN)

The House of Constantine

307-37 CONSTANTINE I The Great sole emperorfrom 324 337-40 Flavius Claudius Constantinus 337-50 Flavius Julius 337-61 Flavius Julius CONSTANTIUS (II) (CONSTANTINE II) CONSTANS 350-53 Flavius Magnus MAGNENTIUS
usurper in the West

The Adoptive Emperors

96-98 98-117 117-38 138-61 161-80 161-9 180-92 193 193 193-4 193-7 M. Cocceius NERVA Marcus Ulpius Traianus (TRAJAN) P. Aelius Hadrianus (HADRIAN) T. Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus (ANTONINUS PIUS) Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus (MARCUS AURELIUS) L. Aurelius Verus (LUCIUS VERUS) associate emperor ivith Marcus Aurelius L. Aurelius COMMODUS P. Helvius PERTINAX M. DIDIUS JULIANUS G. PESCENNIUS NIGER Decimus CLODIUS ALBINUS

360-3 Flavius Claudius Julianus (JULIAN The Apostate)

363-4 FlaviusJovianus (JOVIAN)

The House o f Valentinian

364-75 375-83 383-88 388-92 392-94 West East Flavius Valentinianus (VALENTINIAN I)364-78 Flavius VALENS Flavius Gratianus (GRATIAN) 379-95 Flavius THEODOSIUS (I) MAGNUS MAXIMUS usurper Valentinianus (VALENTINIAN II) EUGENIUS usurper

49-44 43-36


TIBERIUS GRACCHUS tribune GAIUS GRACCHUS tribune M. Aemilius SGAURUS princeps senatus Q. Caecilius METELLUS consul G. MARIUS consul 7 times Lucius Cornelius SULLA dictator Gn. Pompeius (POMPEY) extraorinaiy pozuers M. Tullius CICERO consul First Triumvirate: POMPEY; G. JULIUS CAESAR; M. Licinius CRASSUS JULIUS CAESAR dictator Second Triumvirate: G.Julius Caesar Octavianus (OCTAVIAN); Marcus Antonius (MARKANTONY); M. Aemilius LEPIDUS OCTAVIAN consul mith special poruers

The House of Theodosius

3795-95 THEODOSIUS! sole emperor 394-5 395-423 HONORIUS 395-402 ARCADIUS 402-50 THEODOSIUS II

The Severan Dynasty

193-211 211-17 211-12 217-18 218-22 222-35 235-8 238-44 244-9 249-51 251-3 253-60 253-68 Lucius SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS M. Aurelius Antoninus (CARACALLA) P. Septimius GETA M. Opellius MACRINUS M. Aurelius Antoninus (ELAGABALUS) M. Aurelius SEVERUS ALEXANDER * G. Julius Verus MAXIMINUS M. Antonius Gordianus (GORDIAN III) M. Julius Philippus (PHILIP) G. Messius Quintus Traianus Decius (TRAJAN DECIUS) G. Vibius TREBONIANUS GALLUS P. Licinius Valerianus (VALERIAN) P. licinius Egnatius GALLIENUS

S i
423-5 424-55 455 455-6 457-61 461-5 467-72 472 473-4 474-5 475-6 JOHANNES Placidius Valentinanus (VALENTINIAN III) Petronius MAXIMUS AVITUS Julius Maiorianus (MAJORIAN) Libius SEVERUS Procopius ANTHEMIUS Anicius OLYBRIUS GLYCERIUS JULIUS NEPOS Romulus Augustus (AUGUSTULUS) 450-57 MARCIAN



These lisls are selective: only Ihe most important Republican statesmen are given; some jun io r emperors and short-lived usurpers are omitted. The name by which a person is besi known to history is given in capitals. Nicknames, e.g. Caligula, and Anglicizations, e.g. Mark Antony, are placed in brackets. The Roman names Gaius and Gnaius are o/ten spelled with a C, a sumival of the time (before the 3rd centmy bc) when the Latin alphabet had no G. The G is used throughout this book to reflect their actual pronuncialion.

474 91


Gallic Emperors
259-68 268-70 270-73 M. Cassianius Latinius POSTUMUS M. Piavonius VICTORINUS G. Pius Esuvius TETRICUS





Further Reading

References shown in bold are maps or pictures. Quoles are in italics.

ANCIENT WRITERS Ammianus Marcellinus, The Later Roman Empire, tr. Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Penguin 1986. Caesar, The Civil War, tr. J.F. Mitchell, Penguin 1976. Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul, tr. F.A. H andford, rev. Jan e F. G ardner, Penguin 1982. Eusebius, The History of Ihe Church, tr. G.A. Williamson, rev. A. Louth, Penguin 1989. Josephus, TheJeiuish War, tr. G.A. Williainson, Penguin 1970. Lives of the Later Caesars (The First P art o f the Augustan History, vvith newly com posed Lives of Nerva and T rajan), tr. A. Birley, Penguin 1976. Livy, The Early Histoiy of Rome, tr. Aubrey de Selincourt, P enguin 1971 Livy, Rome and Italy, tr. & annot. Betty Radice, Penguin 1982. Livy, Rome and the Mediterranean, tr. H, Bettenson, Penguin 1976. Livy, The War ivith Hannibal,. tr. Aubrey de Selincourt, Penguin 1988. Polybius, The Rise of the Roman Empire, tr. from the Greek by lan Scott-Kilvert, Penguin 1979. Suetonius The Tioelve Caesars, tr R. Graves, rev. M. Grant, Penguin, 1989. Tacitus, On Britain and Germany, tr. H. Mattingly, Penguin 1948. Tacitus, Histories, tr. K. Wellesley, Penguin 1990. Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, tr Michael G rant 1971.

Cornell, T., & Matthevvs, J., Atlas of the Roman World, Phaidon 1982. Crawford, M., The Roman Republic, F ontana 1978. Finley, M. (ed.), Atlas of ClassicalArchaeology, Chatto & Windus 1977. Garzetti, A., From Tiberius to the Antonines, M ethuen 1974. Keay, S.J., Roman Spain, British Museum Publications 1988. Le Bohec, Y., The Imperial Roman Army, Batsford 1994. Randsborg, K , The First Millennium AD in Europe and the Mediterranean, Cam bridge University Press 1991. Raven, S., Rome in Africa (3rd ed.), Routledge 1993. Richardson, L., A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, Jo h n s H opkins University Press 1992. Salway, P., The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain, O xford University Press 1993. Scarre, C., Chronicle o f the Roman Emperors, Tham es & H udson 1995. Scullard, H.H., From the Gracc.hi to Nero: A History ofRome 133 BC to ad 68 (5th ed.), Routledge 1982. Talbert, R.J.A. (ed.), Atlas o f Classical Histoij, Croom Helin 1985. Toynbee, J.C., Death and Burial in the Roman World, Tham es & H udson 1971. W ard-Perkins, J.B., Roman Imperial Architecture, Penguin 1981. Wells, C .,The Roman Empire (2nd ed.), Fontana 1992.

Aemilianus, Scipio 28 Aeneas 45 Aequi 14 Agricola, general 50, 51 Agrippa, Marcus 39, 48, 64 Alamanni 130 Alans 121,132 Alaric, ruler, Visigoths 120, 132 Albinus, Clodius, emperor 54, 88, 96,97 Alemanni 93 Alexander the Great 26, 77, 96 Ambrose, bishop of Milan 131, 119 Aramonarion 124 Amphitheatres 82, 83, 105 Anchises 12 Anglo-Saxons 134, 135 Animals 83 Antargatis 102 Antiochus III, ruler, Seleucid 26 Antoninus Pius, em peror 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 92, 106 Apis 102 Apollo 102 Apuleius 70 Aqueduc.ts 85, 106, 126, 128 Arabs 135 Arcadius 120 Ardashir, king of Persia 9 Artabanus V, king of Parthian 93 Artemis 74, 76, 102 Attila 121 Augustan settlement 39 Augustine, St 132, 135 Augustus (Octavian) 14, 19, 29, 34, 35, 38, 38, 39, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 46, 46, 47, 48, 49, 52, 57, 62, 64, 66, 68, 74, 100, 101, 106 Augustus, Romulus, em peror 38, 121, 135 Aurelian, emperor 15, 94, 100, 103, 110, 112, 114, 133

Blandina 94 Boudicca, queen of Iceni 50 Brigantes 50 Brutus, Lucius Junius 13, 15 Brutus, Marcus Junius 34, 34 Byzantines 135 Caesar, Julius 18, 19, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 38, 39, 42, 48, 50 Caligula (Gaius), em peror 39, 50, 74 Caracalla (Antoninus), em peror 88, 89, 91, 91, 92, 94, 98, 98, 99,
100, 101

Dalmatius, Flavius Iulius 119 Decebalus, king of Dacia 60 Diana 102 Dido 12 Dio, Cassius 99 Diocletian, em peror 80, 88, 100, 114,115,116,117, 119,122,123, 126, 130 Dionysia 124 Dionysus 37 Domitian, em peror 40, 41, 44, 50, 60, 62, 67, 70, 124 Domna, Julia, empress 88, 89, 92 Drusus 46 Elagabal 88 Elagabalus (Antoninus, Aurelius) 91, 92, 101, 103 Etruscans 12,13,14,15 Eusebius 124 Faustina 70 Felicity 94 Franks 121,130,134 Galba, emperor 40, 52, 53 Galerius, em peror 116, 117, 122 Gallic War 19, 30 Gallienus, em peror 93, 94, 108,
1 1 0 , 112

MODERN SOURCES T he follovving is a selective list, concentrating on recen t works which should be readily available to the general reader. Cary, M., & Scullard, H.H., A Histoij ofRorne, (3rd ed.), Macmillan 1979. Cam eron, A., The Later Roman Empire, F ontana 1993.

Caratacus 50 Carthaginians 15, 16, 22 Carus, emperor 94 Cassius, Spurius 34 Catullus 44 Celsus, Tiberius Julius 76 Celts 14, 15 Charon the ferryman 36 Chimaera, Etruscan 12 Cicero, Tullius 20, 32, 33, 44 Cimbri 18,28 Cinnamus 54 Claudius, em peror 40, 42, 43, 50, 50, 52, 54, 74 Claudius II Gothicus emperor 94, 108, 110 Cleopatra, queen of Egypt 32, 35, 39, 41 Coins 30,40,72,80,111,119 Commodus, em peror 66, 68, 69, 70, 71, 88, 96 Constans, emperor 119 Constantine I, em peror 57, 63, 86, 100, 114, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 122, 124, 126, 127, 130 Constantine II, emperor 119 Constantius II, emperor 119 Count of the Saxon Shore 95 Crassus, Marcus Licinius 18, 98 Cybele 102, 103 Cynegius 119 Dacian Wars 42, 63 Dacians 6 0 ,60

Gallus, Cestius 58 Germans 93,117 Geta, em peror 89, 91, 94, 98 Gibbon, Edvvard 70 Goths 86, 93, 94, 108, 117, 120, 121, 133 Gracchus brothers 16,18 Gratian, em peror 130 Hadrian, em peror 43, 50, 64, 66, 67; 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 79, 84, 86, 100, 106, 107 Hannibal 16, 24, 24, 26, 102 Helena 124 H era 102 Hercules 71 Hero 77 Historia Augusta 72, 108, 112 139



Honorius, em peror 82, 120, 120, 121,132 Horace 45 Horatius 14 Horologium 48,49 Huns 120, 132 Iceni 50 Isis 74, 102 Jesus Christ 102,124 Jewellery 130 Jugurtha, king of Numidia 28, Julian (The Apostate), emperor 114,119,130 Julianus, Didius, em peror 88, 96 Juno 92, 102, 107 Jupiter 92, 102, 107 Justinian, emperor 121, 135, 135 Juvenal 54, 70, 102 Kochba, Simon Bar 66

Mithras 102, 102 Mithridates, king of Pontus 18,28 Mons Graupius, Battle of 50 Mosaics 41, 57 74, 77, 83, 104, . 120, 121, 125, 135 Mummius 26 Nero, emperor 40, 52, 52, 58, 69, 80, 124 Nerva, em peror 41,66 Niger, Pescennius, em peror 88, 96, 98 Notitia Dignitatum (list of offices) 119 Octavia 35 Octavian see Augustus Odoacer 120, 134 Odenathus, ruler, Palmyra 112 Ogulnius 20 Osiris 74 Ostrogoths 121, 135 Otho, em peror 40, 52, 53, 54 OttomanTurks 121 Parthians 4 2 ,60,61,67,89,91, 92, 93, 96, 98, 99 Paterculus, Vellius 34 Patricians 16 Pausanias 26 Pens 79 Perpetua 94 Perseus 17,26 Persians 93, 94, 96, 108, 109, 112 Pertinax, em peror 88, 90, 96 Petronius, Marcus 36 Philip V, king of Macedon 16, 26 Philippus Julius (Philip) 93 Plautius, Aulus 50 Plautus 69 Pliny the Elder 45 Pliny tlie Younger 78 Plutarch 70 Pompey the Great 18, 19, 28, 32, 33, 34 Pompey, Sextus 34 Porsenna, Lars 14 Postumus, emperor, Gaul 110,

Punic Wars 17, 24, 25, 41, 102, 106 Pyrrhus, king of Epirus 15,22 Quadi 68

64, 66, 70, 72, 74, 84, 85, 89, 98, 107, 124 Trajan Decius, em peror 94, 108, 124 Trasimene Lake, Battle of 16, 24, 25 Vaballathus, ruler, Palmyra 112 Valens, em peror 120, 132 Valentinian I, em peror 120 Valentinian II, em peror 121 Valerian, em peror 93, 108, 109,

Remus 12, 20, 20 Romulus 12, 13, 20, 20 Sabines 13 Samian ware 44 Samnite Wars 15, 22 Samnites 15,22 Sarcophagi 36,37 Saxons 121 Scipio, Cornelius (Africanus) 16, 24 Seneca 69, 82 Sertorious 28 Servius, Tullius 13 Septimius Severus, emperor 62, 88, 89, 89, 90, 91, 94, 96, 97, 98, 99, 107 100, 116 Sextus 13 Shapur I, king of Persia 93 Silva, Flavius 58 Slavs 135 Social War 18 Sol Invictus 103 Stilicho, Flavius 120, 132, 133 Suebi 121, 132 Suetonius 45, 46, 48, 52, 70 Sulla, Lucius Cornelius 18, 28, 29, 38 Tablewarc 130 Tacitus 45, 50, 70 Tarquin Superbus (Tarquin the Proud) 13, 14, 20 Tarquinius Priscus 13 Taurus, Statilius 48 Terence 69 Tetrarchs 122 Tetricus, emperor, Gaul 110 Teutones 18,28 Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths 120, 134 Theodosius I, em peror 115, 119, 120, 127, 131, 132, 133 Thirty tyrants 112 Tiberius, em peror 38, 40, 46, 54 Titus, emperor 40, 58, 59, 66, 72, 83 Trajan, em peror 40,41,42,60,

Laelianus 111 Lapis Niger inscription 21 Latin War 22 Lepidus, Aemilius 19,34 Licinius, emperor 126 Livy 12, 13, 14, 45, 78, 79 Lombards 135 Lucretia 13 Macrinus, emperor 92 Magnentius, emperor 119 Manes (Spirits of the Dead) 36 Marcomanni 46,68 Marcus Aurelius, em peror 66, 67, 67, 68, 70, 89, 98 Marius 18, 28, 28, 62 Mark Antony (Marcus Antonius) 19, 34, 35, 39, 41, 46, 98 Mausoleum 48 Maxentius, emperor 116,117, 118, 126, 127, 133 Maximianus, emperor 116, 117,

Vandals 106, 121, 132, 133, 134, 135 Vercingetorix, chieftain, Gauls 30, 31 Verus, Lucius, emperor 68, 98 Vespasian, em peror 40, 52, 53, 54, 58, 83 Villas 77, 91, 123 Vindex 52 Virgil 45 Visigoths 121, 132, 134 Vitellius, em peror 40, 52, 53, 54 Vitruvius 45 Volsci 14 Vouille, Battle of 134 Weaponry 62

Zama, Battle of 16,24,25 Zeno, emperor 134 Zenobia, ruler, Palmyra 112

Alcantara 84 Alde, River 50 Alesia, Gaul 30 Alexandria 40,58,72,74,77 91, 98, 106, 129 Allia, River 14,22 Alps 24, 42, 46 Anatolia 102 Antioch 74, 77, 96, 106, 108, 119 Antonine baths, Carthage 106 Antonine Wall 67 Aphrodisias 36,74 Apennines, Mountains 15 Aqueduct, Segovia, Spain 85 Aqueduct of Valens, Constantinople 126 Aquileia 93 Aquitania 110,132,134 Ara Pacis Augustae 39, 39 Arabia 42, 64, 72, 74, 80 Arbela 99 Arch of Constantine, Rome 70 Ardashir 93 Arezzo 12 Arikamedu 38 Arles (Arelate) 124, 127 Armenia 60 Asia 26, 76, 80 Asia Minor 18, 28, 38, 74, 93, 96, 108, 112, 120 Athens 19, 70, 72, 108 Atlantic Ocean 66,104 Ausculum 15 Aventine Hill 100 Baetica 84 Balaton, Lake 87 Balkans 16, 17, 32, 42, 46, 108, 120, 126, 132, 135 Banditaccia cemetery 12 Barbegal, France 128 Basilica Nova, Rome 116, 127 Basilica Ulpia, Rome 45 Baths of Agrippa, Rome 48 Baths of Caracalla, Rome 91, 101 Beth-Horon 58 Bethlehem 118,124 Black Sea 26,108,120,126 Bonn 54 Bosphorus 118, 126 Britain 30, 42, 43, 50, 51, 54, 57, 63, 64, 70, 74, 78, 84, 88, 89, 96, 110, 110, 116, 119, 121, 128, 130, 135

Abrittus 108 Actium 19,34,35,39,41,46 Adrianople (Edirne) 120, 132 Adriatic Sca 15, 22, 32, 35, 93, 102 Aegates Islands 24 Aegean Sea 26, 38, 54, 76 Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem) 66, 72 Aeneas 12 Afghanistan 26 Africa 14,16,17,71,80,90,104, 105, 132, 134, 135 Agrigentum 24 Alba Longa 12 Alban Hills 13 Albanum 90

Maximinus, emperor 93 Mela, Pomponius 104 Menander 69 Mercuria 124 Metella, Caecilia 37 Miivian Bridge, Battle of 116, 118, 120, 126 Minerva 92, 107 140

Byzacena 91 Byzantium 126, 134 (see ako Constantinople) Caesarea 45 Campania 13,22,121,135 Campus Martius, Rome 39, 48 Cannae 16, 24, 25 Capitoline Hill 14 Capri 40 Carrhae 98,99 Carthage 12, 16, 17, 24, 24, 38, 70, 85, 94, 106, 107, 121, 132 Carthago Novo (Cartagena) 84 asa di Diana, Ostia 66 Catalaunian Fields 121 Catana 16 Cerveteri 12 Chaeronea 70 Chalons-sur-Marne 110 Chapel of St Victor, Milan 131 Chapel of the Popes, Rome 124 China 80 Church of St Sergius & Bacchus, Rasafah, Syria 118 Church of St Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna 120 Church of San Vitale, Ravenna 135 Cilicia 26 Circus Maximus, Rome 101 Cirencester 103 Cloaca Maxima 14, 20 Clusium 14 Clyde, River 67 Colchester 50 Coionia Cornmodiana 71 Colosseum, Rome 45, 83, 105 Constantinople 74, 118, 120, 121, 126, 127, 130, 134, 134 Gorduba, Cordoba, Spain 84 Corinium (Cirencester) 103 Corin th 26 Cremona 52 Ctesiphon 68, 94, 98, 112 Cynoscephalae 17, 26 Cyrenaica 88 Cyzicus 96 Dacia 42, 43, 45, 64, 89 Danube, River 42, 46, 50, 60, 64, 64, 67, 68, 72, 86, 87, 88, 93, 96, 104, 108, 114, 127, 132 Daphne 74, 77 Deir tomb, Petra 42 141

Pottery 22 Praetorian guard 90, 96, 100 Primus, Antonius 52 Ptolemaeus, Claudius 77 Ptolemies, Egyptian dynasty 74


1NDEX Mauretania 42 Mauretania 67 Mausoleum of Theodoric, Ravenna 134 Media 99 Mediterranean Sea 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 24, 26, 27, 28, 38, 44, 54, 69, 74, 80, 84,93, 104, 112, 135 Meway, River 50 Memphis 102 Meroe 38 Mesopotamia 60, 64, 68, 89, 94, 98, 112 Messina 24 Milan 122, 130, 132 Miranda 70 Moselle, River 57 Munda 32, 33 Mylae 24 Naples 22, 36 Naqsh- i Rustam 109 Neumagen, Germany 79 Nicaea 96 Nicomedia 122 Nicopolis 28 Nile, River 41, 72, 74, 77 Nimes 45 Nisibis 98 Nocaea 124, 127 North Africa 24, 32, 82, 83, 89, 92, 96, 117, 119, 121, 126, 129 Novaesum (Neuss), German}' 63 Numidia 90 Oisseau4e-Petit, northern France 54 Orontes, River 77 Osrhoene 89,98 Ostia 45, 66, 80 Oxyrhynchus, Egypt 78 Palae of Hadrian, Tivoli 73 Palatine Hill 12,16,20,44,69,91, 92, 100, 101, 102, 129 Palestine 66 Palmyra 93, 112, 113 Pannonia 96 Pantheon, Rome 48, 64, 68, 70 Pari 54 Parthia 99 Pelso, Lake 87 Pergamum 17,26 Persepolis 109 Persian Gulf 60 Pessinus 102 Petra 42 Pharsalus 32, 34 Philae, Egypt 74 Philippi 19,34 Piazza di Pietra 70 Piercebridge, Co. Durham 55 Pompeii 56, 78, 129 Pons Aemilius, Rome 17 Pons Sublicius, Rome 20 Ponte della Badia, Vulci 13 Porta Appia (Porta San Sebastiano), Rome 133 Porta Nigra, Trier 57 Portchester Castle 95 Portsmouth 95 Praeneste (Palestrina) Italy 22, 29 Pydna 26 Pyrenees, Mountains 132, 134 Quirinal Hill 12 St Marks, Venice 122 S tPeters, Rome 64, 118, 124 Styx River 36 Suffolk 50, 130 Syracuse 16,36 Syria 18,26,28,58,77,80,93, 103, 112, 118, 119 Tagus, River 84 Tarentum 15 Tarraco 108 Temple of Apollo, Rome 26, 48 Temple of Augustus & Livia, Vienne, France 54 Temple ofBel, Rome 113 Temple of Castor and Pollux, Rome 16 Temple of Claudius, Rome 50 Temple of Conificia, Rome 100 Temple of Diana, Rome 100 Temple of Portuna Primigenia, Praeneste 29 Temple of Hercules Victor Rome 14 Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, Rome 13, 20 Temple of Mars Ultor, Rome 48 Temple ofMinerva, Rome 100 Temple of Vesta, Rome 16 Teutoburg Forest 42, 46 Thames, River 50, 57 Thapsus 32 Theatre of Marcellus, Rome 48 Theatre of Pompey, Rome 28 Theatre, Alexandria 77 Theatre, Arausio 43 Theatre, Bostra 74 Theatre, Lepcis Magna 107 Theatre, Lyon, France 97 Theatre. Dougga, Tunisia 69 Thebes, Egypt 72 Thessalonica 122, 131 Thrace 32,42 Thysdrus 104, 105 Tiber, River 13, 14, 17, 20, 48, 80 Tigris, River 99 Timgad 107 Tivoli (Tibur) 69, 73 Toulouse 121 Tower of Fortuna, Palestrina 41 Tower of the Winds, Athens 19 Trajans Column, Rome 45, 60, 60, 62, 63, 86 Trajans Markets, Rome 45 Trier (Augusta Treverorum) 57, 79, 122, 127, 130, 132 Tripolitana 91 Tropeum Traiania (Adamclisi) 60, 60 Troy 12,45 Tunis 106 Tunisia 69, 80, 88, 91, 92, 104 Turin 126 Tyana 112 Tyne, River 86 Ukraine 93 Utica 91 Vatican 64 Veii 14,22 Verona 126 Vesuvius, Mount 45, 56, 56 Via Appia 36,37,69,128 Via dei Fort Imperiali, Rome 45 Vienne 54 Vietnam 80 Villa of the Quintillii 69 Vindolanda, Northumbria 78 Vulci 13, 80 Wadi Umm El-Bagel 105 Wales 50 Wroxeter (Virconium) 36, 84 Yugoslavia 103

Dorset 50, 125 Dougga 92 Drepana 24 Dura Europus 99,103 Dyrrhacium (Durres), Albania 37 Eonomus 24 Edessa (Urfa), Turkey


99, 108,

Heddernheim, Germany 84 Heliopolis (Baalbak), Lebanon 74 Heraclea, Italy 15 Herodium 58 Hinton St Mary, Dorset 125 Hispalis (Seville) 84 Hispania Tarraconensis 52, 84 Hoxne, Suffolk 130 Hungary 87 Immae 112 India 38 Indian Ocean 44, 80 Iran 98 Issus 96 Italica 84 Italy 1 2 ,1 4 ,1 5,1 6 ,1 7 ,1 8 ,2 2 ,2 4 , 30, 32, 38, 42, 43, 44, 43, 44, 45, 52, 54, 67, 68, 70, 74, 79, 79, 80, 82, 90, 93, 108, 117, 120, 126, 128, 132, 134, 135 Jericho 58 Jerusalem 58, 59, 66, 72, 118, 124 Judaea 28, 58, 74 Kaiserthermen (Imperial baths), Trier 57 Kent 118 Lambaesis 107 Latium 12, 13, 15, 22 Laurentum 69 Le Mans 111 Lepcis Magna 88, 89, 91, 96, 104, 107 Levant 38, 74 Lezoux 54 Libya 88, 105 London 5 4 ,57 Lullingstone, Kent 118 Lusitania 84, 129 Lyon (Lugdunum) 94, 96, 97 Macedonia 17, 26 Machaerus 58 Magnesia 26 Maiden Castle 50 Mainz 111 Malaysia 80 Manchester 103 Mansion House, London Marmara, Sea of 96 Masada 5 8 ,58

Egypt 26, 28, 32, 35, 38, 41, 46, 48, 57, 72, 74, 80, 93, 104, 112, 119, 126, 128 E1 Djem 90 Elbe, River 42, 46 Emerita Augusta (Merida) 84 Emesa (Homs) 88, 92, 112 Emmaus 58 England 72 English Channel 95 Ephesus 7 4 ,76 Epiras 22, 120 Esquiline Hill 12 Euphrates, River 42,89,99,108 Felsina 23 Forth, River 67 Forum of Augustus, Rome 48 Forum of Trajan, Rome 45 Forum Romanum, Rome 16,45, 48, 70, 100 Forum Valley, Rome 12 France 18, 30, 54, 82, 128, 134 Galilee 58 Gallia Cisalpina 16,18 Gallia Lugdunensis 97,110 Gallia Narbonensis 43 Gal lia T ransalpina 18 Gaul 30 ,31, 32, 40, 42, 43, 52, 71, 74, 108, 110, 111, 121, 129, 130, 132, 134 Gerasa 74 Germama 63 Germany 46,47,54,84,110 Gloucestershire 103 Greece 17,18,19,2 2 ,2 6 ,2 8 ,3 8 , 44, 70, 72, 120,126 H adrians Wall 86,128 Hadrumetum 88 Hagia Eirene, Constantinople 126, 127 Hagia Sophia, Constantinople 142

Raetia 110 Rasafah, Syria 118 Ravenna, Italy 120,130, 132, 134, 135 Rhine, River 40, 42, 46, 52, 54, 63, 64, 72, 83, 93, 104, 110, 121, 130, 132 Rhineland 71 Rlione, River 110 Riehborough 50 Rio Tinto 84,129 Romania 60 Rubicon, River 32 Sacra Via, Rome 16 Saepta Julia, Rome 48 Sahara Desert 104 Scotland 51, 50, 67, 89 Segovia 45,85 Seleucia 26,77 Servian Wall, Rome 15 Severus Alexander, em peror 74, 89, 92, 93 Sicily 16,22,24,34,38,40,135 Sirmium (Mitrovica), Yugoslavia 130 Solway estuary 86 Spain 16, 24, 28, 32, 40, 44, 46, 52, 54, 80, 82, 84, 85, 108, 110, 121, 132, 134, 135 Split 123

Zaghouan Aqueduct, Carthage 106 Zliten 83





Picture Credits
Alinari, Florence: 21tr, 22bl, 67, 90 Ancient Art and Architecture Collection, Middlesex: 109, 123 Bridgeman Al t Library, London: 57d, 89 British Museum: 50tl, 54b, 55, 80tl, 96br, 125, 130 Bildarchive Foto Marburg: 57bl Codcx Photographic Archive, London: 14, 18, 19, 20, 24, 28, 37cr, 37cl, 40, 52tl (photos: lan Johnson), 54cl, 54c, 56, 72, 75, 79tl, 79tr, 79bl, 94, 95, 96, 97, 103bl, 108, 111, 117, 119, 120bl, 126, 128bl, 128tl Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut, Rome: 16bl, 60cr C.M. Dixou, Canterbury: 39, 78t, 83tr, 92, 104, 118tl, 120tr, 134, 135 W erner Forman Archive, London: 16tr, 17, 21cl (Museo Capitoline, Rome), 37bl, 38, 65, 91, 102 (Museo Naz.ionale Romano, Rome), 103t (National Museum, Damascus), 106, 115 (Academia de la Historia, Madrid), 129bl (Museo Gregoriana Profano) Giraudon, Pari: 43 Robert Harding Picture Library, London: 107 Hirmer Fotoarchive, Munich: 127 Michael Holford Collection, Essex: 85, 121 Israel Government Tourist Office: 58 Mansell Collection, London: 34, 35, 46, 52b, 59, 69b, 103.br, 131 ti Museo ArqueIogico Nacional, Madrid: 12tl Museo Nuovo nel Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome: 15 Princeton University (Department of Alt and Archaeology) 74t, 77tl Rogcr-Viollet, Pari: 62bl Scala, Florence: 22t, 41, 71, 98, 122, 131tr Chris Scarrc: 12br, 13tl, 25, 26, 34b, 42, 44, 45, 48cl, 60tl, 63, 66, 68, 69t, 74bl, 76, 77br, 80b, 99, lOlbr, 105, 113, 116, 118b, 129cr, 133tr Society of Antiquaries, London: 50br Ted Spiegel, South Salem, New York: 62tl (courtesy of West Point Military Academy) Vindolanda Trust, Hexham: 78b Walters Art Library: 37br
Sixleen Satires, tr. Peter Green, Penguin 1967- p.58: Tacitus, The Histories, tr. Kenneth Wellesley, Penguin 1964; p.72: The Scriptmes Historiae Augustae, tr. David Magie, Loeb Classical Libray, 1922-32; p.78: TheLetters of the Younger Pliny, tr. Betty Radice, Penguin 1963; p. 82: Seneca, MoralEssays, U'. J. W. Basore, Loeb Classical Library 1928-35; p. 99: Cassius Dio, Roman History, tr. E. Cary, Loeb Classical Library 1914-27; p.102: Juvenal, Sixteen Satires, tr. Peter Green, Penguin 1967; p.104, Pomponius Mela on Africa, tr. in Reinhold and Levvis; p.112: The Scriptmes Historiae Augustae, ibid.; p.124: Eusebius, Ecclesiastical Histoij, tr. G.A. Williamson, rev. A. Lowth, Penguin 1989; p.132: St Augustine, The City of God, tr. H. Bettenson, Penguin 1984.

based at J editor o lournal.


>ks 1981) ient W ork n 1993).

F o r Sw a nsto n P Concept:

u b l is h in g

im it e d

Malcolm Swanston

P eter Smith M alcolm Svvanston


Chris Schiiler R honda Carrier

Design and Illustration:

Je a n Cox Barry Haslam


The author and publishers gratefully acknowledge the following translations from ancient writers used in this atlas: p.20: Cicero, Republic, tr. in N. Lewis and M. Reinhold, Roman Civilization, Columbia University Press 1990; p.32: Cicero, Let-terfrom Rome, p.34: tr. in Lewis and Reinhold; Vellius Paterculus, Compendium of Roman History, tr. in Lewis and Reinhold; pp. 46 & 48: Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, tr.J.C. Rolfe, Loeb Classical Library 1914; p.50: Tacitus, Agricola., tr Sir W. Peterson, Loeb Classical Librai-y 1969; p.54: Juvenal,

Ralph O rm e
A dditional Illustrations:

Je a n n e Raclford Maggie Slack

Picture Research:

Julian Baker Peter Massey Peter Smith


Chris Scliuler C harlotte Taylor


A ndrea Fairbrass P eter Gamble Elsa G ibert Elizabeth H udson David M cCutcheon Kevin Panton

Barry Haslam

Quay Graphics, N ottingham .


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