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Roman

civilization

HIST 3150 Shehzad Martin


Location
Italian Peninsula
and surrounding
islands
Location

1st millennium BCE: Greek colonies in Southern
Italy, Sicily
 Carthage (‫)قرطاج‬: west coast of Sicily, Sardinia,
Corsica
 Etruscans: Northwest part of the Italian
Peninsula
(e.g. Florence, Pisa)
 Politically powerful, culturally more advanced than
local Italic tribes; used plumbing and sewage;
soil reclamation; decorative architectural detail
 Their origin is unknown; likewise, the Etruscan

writing system has not been deciphered; all we


know is that they were non-Indo-European
 Phoenicians
 Italics – the biggest ethnic group; a cluster of
many tribes residing on the Peninsula

GOVERNMENT/
PERIODIZATION
Kingdom
 Italic tribes originally
lived in an agricultural,
patriarchal society
 8th century BCE: the Latin
tribe in central Italy
(Latium region) established
Rome by merging settlements
built on seven hills and
draining the central
marshlands
 Seven kings of Etruscan

origin;
the last king exiled in 510
BCE

Kingdom
 Residents divided into
six groups based on
personal wealth/property;
each group had its own
set of rights and
responsibilities
 Patricians vs. plebeians
 Patricians:

300 Roman families;


wealthy, privileged
landowners

Legend: Romulus and Remus
 Mother: Vestal virgin
(female priestess)
 Father: Mars (god of war)
 Foundation myth
Children rescued

by a she-wolf
 Likely artificial, meant
to show the Greeks
(now ruled by Rome)
that Roman history was
just as ancient as Greek
and Etruscan traditions


1) Republic
 Res publica = a public matter/cause
 Two consuls, elected from among patricians
for a one-year term
 300-member advisory organ = Senate
 In wartime, a dictator would be elected for a six-month
term and granted unlimited powers
 Early republic (509 – 265 BCE)
 Rise of plebeian political power; people’s tribunes
as plebeians’ elected officials; right of veto


Republic
 Roman law
 The Law of the Twelve
Tables (copper tablets)
 Sophisticated legal
system
 “What is not prohibited
is permitted”
 Marriage between
patricians and
plebeians not allowed
 Replaced previous legal
system, based on
ancestral custom


Republic
 Over time, this structure was replaced by two new social
strata:
Nobility (patricians and wealthy plebeians)
 Proletariat (common people; proles = descendants,
offspring)
 Wars with Etruscans, Greeks, and among Italic tribes
 265 Italy united
 Rome economically and militarily powerful; a number of
allies across the region
 Dividi et impera
 Some allies granted Roman citizenship (with limited rights)

but stripped of self-rule; others cruelly punished


 Conquered territories: Roman colonies
 Roads required for trade and to facilitate military
manoeuvres

Formation of the Roman Empire
Peak of the Roman Empire
 Punic wars (265 – 146 BCE)
 The republic of Carthage – Northern Africa
 A maritime power; professional army
 Rivalry with Rome over the West Mediterranean
 This led to a series of wars – Punic wars


Peak of the Roman Empire
 Hannibal – Hispanic commander
 Crossed Pyrenean mountains and
the Alps;
 Waged successful wars against
Rome; aided by
King Philip of Macedonia
 Some of Roman weapons
constructed by Archimedes
 Hannibal ultimately defeated;
201 BCE peace treaty
 Carthage lost all territory
outside Africa; navy; elephants
 Banned from conducting military

operations in African without


Rome’s consent; reparations of
260 tons of silver


Republic
 Roman expansion shifted eastward:
 146 BCE victory over Greece; 133 BCE Asia Minor
 3rd Punic war: This time Carthage razed
(on fire for 17 days); its location cursed
 Rome = master of West Mediterranean;
continuously expanding
 Influx of gold, copper, grain, crafts, taxes
 Slavery; Greek paidagogos (teachers); gladiators
 Those Roman citizens who had lost their land
also
forfeited the right to serve in the military
 Republican virtues


2) Republic in a crisis (146 – 31
BCE)
 Uprisings by slaves, landless
citizens
 Spartacus

 Conflict with provinces

 Professional army; after 16 years’


service  veterans
 Civil wars, assassinations


Republic in a crisis
 Gaius Julius Caesar
 59 BCE appointed consul

 Wars with Germanic tribes,

Britain
 In Egypt, Caesar became involved
in a dispute between Cleopatra
and Ptolemy XIII; burned down
the Alexandria library


Republic in a crisis
 45 BCE: Caesar as the only ruler
Held the titles of consul, people’s tribune,

dictator (for an unlimited term), highest


priest – concurrently; breach of
constitution
Forced Senate to endorse his new role; title
= Imperator (supreme military commander)
Julian calendar in place until 16th century
 44 BCE Caesar was murdered by

his adoptive son Bruttus


 Soon thereafter – end of the republic


3) Imperial age
Republican tradition of power-sharing
abandoned
 Appointments rather than elections

 Emperor’s title: “Augustus”

 In eastern provinces,

Emperor = object of religious


worship
 “Bread and games”

 Pax Romana

 Golden age of Roman culture,

literature
 Poets Virgil, Horatius, Ovid


Imperial age – famous emperors
 Caligula: 37-41 CE
 Public works;

initially a popular
leader
 Mentally ill

 Horse as a consul

 Caligula murdered
Imperial age – famous emperors
 Claudius (41-54 CE)
 Expansion into Africa,
Palestine
 Strong bureaucracy

 Poisoned by his spouse


Imperial age – famous emperors
 Nero (54-68 CE)
 Started out as a good ruler
(brought up by philosopher
Seneca)
 Became a tyrant

 Drove his own family as well


as Seneca to suicide
 Confiscated property of his
enemies
 Prosecuted Christians

 Rome on fire

 Nero committed suicide


Imperial age –
amous emperors
 Titus (79-81 CE)
 A benevolent emperor
 But suffered three

disasters:
 Vesuvius

 Rome on fire for

three days
 Plague epidemic
Imperial age – famous emperors
 Traianus (98—117 CE)
 Greatest territorial
expansion of
the Roman Empire
 Mesopotamia, Armenia,
Britain
Imperial age –
famous emperors
 Marcus Aurelius
(161-180 CE)
 “Philosopher on the

throne”
 Stoicism

 Military expeditions

 Died of plague in a Roman


camp at Vindobonna
(Vienna)
Imperial age – famous emperors
 “Anything in any way beautiful derives its
beauty from itself and asks nothing
beyond itself. Praise is no part of it,
for nothing is made worse or better by
praise.”

 “Death is a release from the impressions
of
the senses, and from desires that make us
their puppets, and from the vagaries of
the mind, and from the hard service of
the flesh.”

 Marcus Aurelius

Imperial age – famous emperors
 “Anything in any way beautiful derives its
beauty from itself and asks nothing
beyond itself. Praise is no part of it,
for nothing is made worse or better by
praise.”

 “Death is a release from the impressions
of
the senses, and from desires that make us
their puppets, and from the vagaries of
the mind, and from the hard service of
the flesh.”

 Marcus Aurelius

Decline of the Empire
 3rd century CE:
Intensifying incursions by Germanic tribes
 Numbers of slaves falling

 Roman defensive lines on the Rhine

and the Danube rivers broken


 Some provinces surpassed Rome economically

 Growing influence of eastern religions

 Christianity (originally a sect for lower

classes)
 Roman army becoming “Barbarian”

(= dominated by non-Romans, even in official


ranks)
Decline of the Empire
 Empire divided into four sections,
in order to improve governance
 4th century CE: new capital city at Constantinople
(emperor Constantine)
 313 CE: Through the Edict of Milan, Christianity
granted equal standing with other religions
Decline of the Empire
 375: invasion of Huns from central Asia
 As a result, Germanic tribes migrating
 Barbarians fleeing to Rome

Period of the Migration of Nations
 378 CE Rome defeated by Barbarian tribes
 395 Western and Eastern Roman Empire
 Erosion of Roman authority
 Barbarians (including Vandals) setting up
their own kingdoms
 Regional warlords in conflict with each
other
 Early 5th century CE: Constantinople:
population 400,000
 476: fall of the last Western Roman emperor;

Rome overrun by Germanic peoples


CONTRIBUTIONS (CONTINUED)
Rhetoric
Rhetoric
 The die is cast

Alea iacta est


(point of no return)
 To cross the Rubicon

 Veni, vidi, vici

I came, I saw, I conquered


Jerash, Jordan
Palmyra, Syria