ANCIENT ROME A Brief Overview Historical Overview of Roman History Early Rome: Archaeological Evidence Population grew with the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age in the 10th c. BCE. Large nucleated settlements developed, including Rome, 20 km inland. Traces of iron-age huts (thatched) and cemeteries dating from the 9th-7th c. have been found in several places in Rome. Surviving literary accounts of the beginnings of Rome are based entirely on legend - show us how the Romans liked to see themselves. Early Latium Early Rome Romulus’ City (8th-6th c.BCE) Later Roman tradition credited Romulus with founding Rome in 753 BCE, its first king. During the 8th-6th c. 3 distinct groupings appeared in central Italy: in Latium, Etruria, and Samnium the peoples in each spoke different languages (Latin, Etruscan, Oscan). They had similar social and political systems, but rather different religious and funerary practices. Individual settlements were separate, each with a ‘king’ or small ruling elite of warrior-landowners. The Time of the Kings Legend preserves seven king names, but there were surely more. In the course of the 6th c. Rome grew into a major power. The city now contained a large temple of Jupiter, land drains and culverts to increase habitable land, large stone aristocratic houses. Romans built a defensive wall circuit enclosing 426 hectares, and held sway over much of Latium (up to 100 km to the south). The Roman Republic: The Capital of Italy Towards the end of the 6th c. Rome abolished the monarchy and established a new political order the Republic. King was replaced by 2 consuls and a number of lesser magistrates elected yearly by the male citizen body. The consuls chose an advisory body, the Senate (later you had to have well-defined qualifications to serve; landed wealth, military & political service) The Patricians Consuls led the army in war and had executive legislative powers. Army service was a duty of citizenship, but in reality limited to those who could afford their own equipment. A small number of aristocratic families, the patricians, gained a monopoly on the consulship and most other civic and priestly offices from the middle of the 5th century on. The Plebeians Late 5th c.: the lower classes formed their own alternative state, electing their own officers and forming their own cult. For 200 years this plebeian organization fought to improve the lot of its members. Principal demands: debt relief, fairer distribution of economic resources (like land). 4th c. the plebeians won equal rights - a pleb could now run for consul. In 342, a rule was established mandating that one of the two consuls be plebeian. Roman Territorial Expansion Romans conquered and destroyed Veii in Etruria in 396, then moved on to take control of the rest of Latium and Samnium until all of central Italy was under its sway. By 300 Rome was the dominant power in Italy. Thereafter, it continued to expand its power both north and south through war and colonization. Roman imperialism was the result of continuous war, and continuous war was the result of the Roman system of alliances in Italy. Rome: Capital of the Mediterranean 3rd-2nd c. BCE. Rome continued to gain power by making her enemies into allies. After Rome had control of peninsular Italy, it moved to control Sicily (first province), bringing war with Carthage (north African power). By 100 BCE most of the Aegean, large parts of Asia Minor and North Africa came under direct Roman rule. Effect of Conquests The nobility grew vastly more wealthy from spoils of military campaigns - the plebs also participated in the economic benefits. The upper classes adopted sophisticated habits, the influence of Greek culture grew pervasive (educated and cultured Greeks were slaves to elite Romans, educated Roman children, served as secretaries, etc.). Spurred the development of Roman architecture, visual arts, and literature on Greek models. Civil Wars: 90-31 BC Widening gulf between rich and poor led to unrest. The republican style army and negotiating skills of Rome’s politicians achieved an empire - but had trouble governing it (war, invasion, slave revolts). A professional, long-service army was established in 107-100 by abolishing the old property qualifications and enlisting and training a proletariat force. Problem: generals could make the army their own private weapon to achieve political goals. Rise of Dictators Much of the 1st century was taken up with a series of military dictatorships (magistrates given supreme powers to deal with emergencies). Internal wars - the Italian allies, spurred on by opposing Roman generals Marius and Sulla, rebelled against Rome (“Social Wars”), winning the right of Roman citizenship. Civil War Marius and Sulla battled it out first (88-82) Pompey (really popular), Crassus (really rich), & Julius Caesar (really smart) first joined forces then fought next (49-45). Caesar became consul in 48 and dictator for life in 45/44 (then assassinated on March 15, 44). Mark Antony and Octavian (44-31) fought last. Octavian won, becoming the first emperor under the name Augustus. These wars caused terrible loss of life. Augustus & Imperial Rome Octavian was born in 63 to Julius Caesar’s niece Caesar adopted him in 45 BC, making him his heir. When Caesar was murdered 6 months later, Octavian fought for 13 years to establish himself and to eliminate all possible rivals for power. Final victory: battle of Actium in 31 BC. With the defeat of Antony and his ally Cleopatra VII, Egypt became a Roman province. Augustus’ Reforms Augustus called himself ‘princeps’ - first citizen, or leader among equals. The Senate remained the most important political body, but its powers were restricted by Augustus’ control of fiscal and military policy. The army now owed its allegiance to the ruling emperor only. More military campaigns were undertaken to consolidate natural boundaries, increase revenue. Reorganization of taxation and administration of the provinces. Augustus, continued The provincial empire doubled in size, 1/5 of the population of Italy was resettled in overseas ‘colonies.’ Augustus ruled for 44 years, blending tradition with innovation. The City of Rome By the start of the empire, Rome was the largest city in the ancient world, having a population of about 1,000,000. As their political power waned after the fall of the Republic, the elite focused not on townhouses in Rome but on elegant suburban houses, known as Gardens (‘horti’). Other Emperors The lack of an established law of succession resulted in tension between emperors and the other elite, who might try to unseat them. The Julio-Claudians: Tiberius to Claudius (CE 1454), Nero (54-68). Period of instability followed. The Flavians (CE 69-96). Vespasian restores order (69-79), his grandson Domitian blew it (murdered in 96) Roman Empire, 2nd c. Had a territory of about 5 million sq. km., with a population c. 55 million. Each province had a Roman governor aided by Roman procurators. There were 160 elite Romans serving in these capacities, who used local officials to perform routine administrative activities. Social structure - 3 elite classes over the rest: senatorial order equestrian order local elites the lower-classes Other Emperors The High Empire: Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines (CE 96-180). Series of adopted imperial heirs who all had been leading senators before their adoption. Marcus Aurelius’ son, Commodus, reignited political tensions - was assassinated on New Year’s Eve 192. The Severans (CE 193-238). The Later Third Century: all hell broke loose, 18 emperors and hordes of usurpers in 50 years: nearly all met violent deaths after short reigns. 4th c. CE The imperial burden was shared between 2 emperors, until Constantine and his sons took control of the empire in 324. Constantine was the first emperor to convert to Christianity.