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Transcript of ANCIENT ROME
IN THE BEGINNING...
IN THE BEGINNING...
Rome began in ancient times as one of many small villages built by a tribe called the Latins. By the first century AD the Romans ruled over an empire that stretched from England to Palestine. This included all the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, among them the civilisations of Egypt and Greece.
The Romans had two legends to explain their origins. According to one legend, refugees from the Trojan War were led away from Troy by the Trojan hero Aeneas. They found their way to Italy and settled there. It was said that one of Aeneas’ descendants, Romulus, founded Rome.
The second legend tells of twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, who were the grandsons of a king. Their uncle wanted to make sure of his own succession to the throne so he put the young twins in a basket which he then floated on the Tiber River, hoping they would die. However, the babies were washed ashore and were rescued by a she-wolf who heard their cries. The she-wolf cared for the babies until a shepherd found them. When the boys grew up, they discovered they were descendants of the king. They decided to build a new city on the banks of the Tiber.
Romulus chose a place on the southern bank of the river where there were seven small hills. The two young brothers argued with each other as to who should be king of the new city. Romulus eventually killed Remus and he named the new city Rome, after himself. Legend says that Romulus became the first king of Rome in 753 BC.
Whether we believe this story or not, most historians agree that a small settlement grew at about this time on the seven hills overlooking the Tiber.
By the seventh century BC, there were already three advanced civilisations in the region:
Etruscans, from Etruria in the north of Italy
Greeks who lived in colonies spread arounD southern Italy and Sicily
Carthaginians who occupied coastal regions of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and northern Africa.
The Etruscans had settled north of the Tiber River. They developed skills in the use of bronze and pottery which they had learned from the Greeks. They adapted the Greek alphabet, which the Romans then took over. The Romans also adopted another Etruscan invention - the supporting arch for buildings.
The Etruscans invaded the village of Rome and eventually turned it into a large city and important trading centre. By 550 BC the Etruscans, who were by now the rulers of Rome, were the most powerful people in Italy. The people of Rome and the Latin tribes around Rome joined forces to fight against the powerful Etruscans.
After many years of fighting, the Romans gained their freedom from the Etruscans in 509 BC. In fact, they were even able to capture the Etruscan city of Veii and add the Etruscan land to their own. The Romans eventually conquered land to the north near the Po River and started to expand their rule over large areas of Italy.
It took just over 200 years for the Romans to take control of Italy. Two factors were to play a vital role in all future Roman expansion:
Taking control of Italy 509–270 BCE
Rome’s initial military superiority
the policy of making the conquered peoples feel they were a part of Roman civilisation by granting them citizenship rights.
The first hundred years were spent in extending control over northern Italy, including defeating the Gauls (from what is now France) who sacked Rome in 390 BCE. The Romans also conquered groups in southern Italy. Once tribes were defeated they were encouraged to enter into an alliance with Rome, and their leaders took up Roman citizenship.
Taking control of Italy 509–270 BCE
Wars with Carthage 264–146 BCE
Carthage was located in North Africa, close to Italy. It was a powerful maritime trading centre with trading posts in Sicily and Spain. From 264 to 146BCE, Rome fought a series of wars with Carthage for control of Sicily. These wars were also known as the Punic Wars. After the final defeat of Carthage, Rome occupied the city itself and put it under Roman rule
Wars with Carthage 264–146 BCE
Expansion and the end of the Republic 146–44 BCE
Expansion and the end of the Republic 146–44 BCE
With control of Italy and a settlement in North Africa, Rome was now in a position to take control over most of the land bordering the Mediterranean. In this period Roman armies were continually engaged in warfare as Rome expanded its control over Spain, Greece, North Africa and the Middle East. As a result of this warfare, individual generals became very powerful and were in a position to challenge republican rule.
A struggle for power between two generals dominated the end of this period.
Pompey was killed after being defeated in battle by Julius Caesar in 48 BCE. However, Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE by Romans who felt he was becoming too much like a king.
The Roman Empire 27 BCE – 476 CE
Caesar’s assassination was followed by nearly twenty years of civil war. Forces led by Mark Antony (Caesar’s ally) were opposed by forces led by the much younger Octavian (Caesar’s adopted son).
Octavian finally defeated Mark Antony in 31 BCE. In 27 BCE he gave himself the name Augustus. He ruled for 41 years until his death in 14 CE. Emperors continued to rule in Rome for another four centuries. From the late third century CE the empire was divided into western and eastern empires; one ruled from Rome and the other from Constantinople. The Western Roman Empire was defeated by invaders from the north in the fifth century CE. The Eastern Roman Empire developed into the Byzantine Empire, which lasted for another thousand years.
The Roman Empire 27 BCE – 476 CE
1. In which year was Rome originally founded?
a) 250 BC
B) 700 AD
C) 753 BC
2. Which year came first?
a) 27 BC
B) 12 BC
C) 700 AD
3. Who were the two major world powers in 24 BC?
Three geographical features are important as a background to understanding the history of Roman Italy: the location of its mountain ranges and plains; its position in the Mediterranean; and the location of the Tiber River.
These mountains sweep across the north and north-west of Italy, separating it from the rest of Europe. They also offer some protection from cold northerly winds, giving Italy a milder climate, especially in the south where average monthly maximums range between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius.
These mountain ranges begin in the north-west, linking up with the Alps and then running like a backbone down Italy in a general south-east direction. The highest peak is 2912 m (Australia’s Mount Kosciuszko is 2228 m) and there are twenty peaks over 2000 m.
The Apennines can be divided into three approximately equal sections. The Northern Apennines form a barrier between the Po River Valley and the rest of Italy. This region was not brought under Roman control until the first century BCE.
The Central Apennines run close to the eastern coast of Italy. To the west of the Central Apennines are the valleys of the Arno and Tiber rivers. The valley of the Tiber was the original heartland of the Roman Empire.
The Southern Apennines are closer to the western coast and run down the ‘toe’ of Italy. They form a chain with the mountains of Sicily, separated by the Strait of Messina. In southern Italy the lowlands are on the east, facing Greece.
Position in the Mediterranean
The Italian mainland and Sicily together stretch right across the middle of the Mediterranean Sea — the south-west tip of Sicily is only 140 km from the coast of Africa. Once the Romans had placed Sicily and Carthage under their rule, they were in a strong position to dominate the whole region around the Mediterranean Sea.
Rome and the Tiber
At 406 km the Tiber River is Italy’s third longest river. In ancient times it formed the boundary between three Italian tribes: the Etruscans to the west, the Sabines to the east and the Latins to the south.
About 25 km from its mouth, the Tiber flows through a series of hills, one on its west bank and six on its east bank, and then turns towards the sea. At this point there is an island in the middle of the river, and below it the river becomes shallow and can be more easily crossed. The Latin-speaking people who were the ancestors of the Romans first lived in huts on the Palatine Hill around the ninth or tenth century BCE. As the population expanded, they occupied the Esquiline Hill to the east and then moved down to the lowlands. This area was swampy and subject to flooding but was first drained and later paved. This became the Roman Forum — the centre of Roman life.
The Roman Republic
The Roman Republic
Roman society was divided in two ways, one based on ancestry and one based on wealth.
Social division based on origins
Social division based on wealth
One of the basic divisions in Rome was between the patricians and plebeians. The patricians were those who could trace their origins back to nobility and were usually quite wealthy. The rest of the population were plebeians. A few of these could be quite rich, while others might be landless labourers.
Since the plebeians formed most of the army and all the workforce, over time they were able to force patricians to let them take part in government.
The other social division in Rome was based purely on wealth. The wealthiest were the senatorial class, and this included most of the patricians. Their wealth was based on land and they were forbidden to engage in commerce.
The second class, which could include some of the richest people in Rome, were the equites. Equites made their fortune through trade or through collecting taxes and taking a share of the money for themselves.
The least wealthy in Roman society were the proletariat — those with no land at all. They had to rely on selling their labour.
Women in the Republic
The social and political position of women depended on that of their father before marriage and their husband after marriage. Women were considered citizens and had the protection of Roman law, but did not have a vote in any of the Roman assemblies.
However, marriage contracts could guarantee that in the case of divorce a woman’s dowry would be returned to her; and when men were absent on business or away fighting, a woman would run the household estate.
The main functions of government were in the hands of a group of men called magistrates. These were elected annually by the people, but because winning elections depended on buying influence, only the richest Romans could be magistrates.
Republican government officials around 100 BCE
These were the leaders of Rome. Like other senior magistrates, they wore a white toga with a purple stripe. Consuls kept many of the powers of the original Roman kings in military, religious and legal areas, including being commander-in-chief of the military, but their power was still limited because:
With two consuls, each could act as a check on the power of the other.
They were elected for only a one-year term
As the area controlled by Rome increased, the consuls could not supervise all the administration, so praetors took over the legal responsibilities of consuls. When administration of the expanding republic became more complex, the number of praetors increased from two to four and then to six.
These people were responsible for the administration of Rome and its buildings and for organising religious festivals. Aediles would often spend a lot of money on festivals and entertainment in the hope that this would help them get elected as consuls.
These were treasurers who looked after finances.
Two other officials held power on special occasions.
When Rome was under direct attack, a single strong leader was needed. In this situation, the two consuls could be replaced by a dictator. He held his position for only six months.
Every five years, an electoral roll had to be made up. This was in the hands of the censor, who decided who could be on the electoral roll.
The senate was a group of 300 men whose role was to advise the magistrates. However, they had a strong influence on the way Rome was governed:
You became a senator after holding a high position as a magistrate, so senators were all people with experience of administration.
During the period of Roman expansion, the consuls were often leading armies that were fighting a long way from Rome. This meant the senate could make more decisions.
Once you became a senator, you held your position for life and did not have to worry about being re-elected.
Role Of THe PLebians
Plebeians took part in republican government in two ways:
They met in assemblies, where they had a vote on electing magistrates. There were limitations on these powers because the more powerful people were in smaller assemblies and voted first. Also they could not make laws but just voted ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on laws that were put before them.
They had their own elected officials called the tribunes of the plebeians. They had the power to veto any decision of the senate. Plebeians also took an oath to kill anyone who threatened the life of tribunes.
THe Cursus Honrum
The Romans were worried that an individual might become too powerful, especially if he was a general, so they introduced the cursus honorum — a path of honours. A man could not become a consul until he had held each of the other positions below it, and there was a minimum age limit for each position. However, a powerful figure such as Pompey or Caesar could ignore any restrictions.
THE ROMAN EMPIRE
Octavian was now the most powerful man in Rome and he gradually took more and more important positions. At the same time he made sure to keep all the old Roman forms of government and sought the approval of the senate for all his actions. At first, he did not call himself emperor but instead used the title ‘first among equals’ (in Latin principes inter pares). Octavian gave the people peace after almost 60 years of fighting.
Octavian acquired the title Augustus, and under this name he ruled Rome and the empire for 41 years, from 27 BCE to 14 CE. Strong frontiers were established, taxes from the provinces flowed into Rome, and a massive building program began. It was also an age of such great poets as Virgil and Horace, and historians such as Livy.
The Roman Republic came to an end in 44 BCE when Julius Caesar was assassinated. Caesar’s death was followed by thirteen years of civil war as three men, each supported by his own army, fought for control: Mark Antony, Octavian and Lepidus.
Lepidus was the first to withdraw from the conflict. In 41 BCE Mark Antony travelled to Egypt to get more troops for his army. While there he met Cleopatra and, like Caesar before him, fell in love with her. He spent the winter of 41–40 BCE in Egypt with Cleopatra, but returned to Rome in the spring of 40BCE and did not see his twins to whom she gave birth.
Back in Rome, Antony married Octavian’s sister, Octavia. However, three years later, he divorced her and returned to Egypt to be with Cleopatra. Influential Romans saw this as a betrayal and began to question how loyal Antony was to Rome.
Octavian took this as an opportunity to declare war on Mark Antony and, in 31 BCE, he defeated Antony’s forces in the battle of Actium in Greece. Antony then fled with Cleopatra back to Egypt.
Later, Mark Antony stabbed himself to death after hearing rumours that Cleopatra was dead. The Romans then went to arrest Cleopatra, but she too committed suicide rather than be a captive of the Romans.
Establishing THe Empire
In order to rule the widespread Roman provinces, Augustus divided them into two groups. Those that had been under Roman control for many years and were relatively peaceful were called senatorial provinces. As in the Republic, these were ruled by provincial governors who had once held office as consul and praetor (see source 1 in section 2c:3). The provinces where there was still a lot of fighting were called imperial provinces and they were ruled by Augustus through people he appointed. This was to prevent a repeat of the problem that had occurred with Julius Caesar — an individual building up powerful support among his own troops and challenging the authority in Rome.
Augustus also reduced the size of the army. At the height of the civil war with Mark Antony, there had been 60 legions. Augustus reduced this number to 25 and settled the discharged soldiers on land mostly bought with his own money. He also used local people in the provinces as auxiliaries—soldiers who could support the Roman legions. Many of these had special abilities, such as skills in archery or horse riding.
To protect himself, Augustus also had a small body of selected soldiers in Rome and major Italian towns. These were the Praetorian Guard. Other soldiers were jealous of the special pay and conditions that the Praetorian Guard enjoyed.
The most difficult areas of the empire to control were the frontiers in the north, where skilful and courageous fighters always posed a threat to the Romans. In one battle, they had been able to destroy three of Augustus’s legions. Most of the legions were placed along this northern boundary.
Controlling The Borders
FOod And Eating
FOod And Eating
Many Roman buildings were made of wood, and numerous emperors declared that it was illegal to cook in apartments. People who did not have houses with proper cooking facilities bought their food from street vendors and cooked it in public ovens. They bought salt, sausages, porridge and bread. Wealthy citizens with a proper kitchen had slaves who would cook and serve meals.
The main meal for the Romans, the cena, was eaten in the evening. During the day they ate very simple foods. The two basic foods were bread and gruel, both made from wheat. The dough for the bread would be kneaded or left to ferment. It was then baked in a clay pot covered by embers. The bread could be enriched with grated cheese or honey placed in the middle of the dough. Gruel was made from flour boiled in water. Once the flour had broken down, cheese, honey or egg could be added to the gruel. A few vegetables, grown in a garden attached to the house, could be included.
On special occasions such as weddings, birthdays or visits by foreign guests, rich Romans would hold banquets that sometimes went on for days. This might begin with honeyed wine and small pieces of food to whet the appetite. The main meal might consist of wild boar or chicken. Finally there would be a dessert of fruit, shellfish or oysters. Many courses would be served, including delicacies such as oysters, truffles and mushrooms. The guests would eat and drink so much on these occasions that a room was often provided especially for vomiting!
The evening meal for a well-off Roman would be held in the triclinium — a room with three couches arranged in a horseshoe shape around the walls of the room. The men ate lying down, leaning on their left elbow. If women and children were present, they would sit at a table in the centre of the room. The evening meal was the one most likely to include meat; this could be chicken or a young goat. Because Romans ate with spoons only, all meat had to be thoroughly cooked. Any wine served was mixed with water.
A poorer family’s evening meal might include only a hambone or bacon cooked in a vegetable soup, served with a mixture of cheese, olive oil, garlic and salt, and spread on bread.
THE LEGACY OF ANCIENT ROME
THE LEGACY OF ANCIENT ROME
Many of the features and institutions of our time can be traced back to developments that took place in ancient Rome from 100 BCE to 400 CE. Some of the contributions that stand out are:
recognition of the rights of the citizen and the rule of law
development of methods by which a vast empire can be created and ruled
lively political writing and the art of oratory
great engineering achievements, some of which still stand nearly 2000 years later
incorporation of Christianity, which was brought from Palestine to western Europe, and became one of the major world religions.
The Roman Empire at its peak was spread over much of Europe and Britain. Many modern-day nations have inherited aspects of Roman life and speak languages, such as French, Spanish and Italian, that are derived from the Roman language, Latin.
WHat THe romans gave us
The Romans further developed the arch, which was first used by the Etruscans for bridges. They used it for vaults (long hallways with a semi-circular roof) and finally for creating domes. Domes were used in many public buildings, from baths to temples and basilicas. Basilicas were large, covered halls used as courts of justice and for banking and other commercial transactions. The largest basilica in Rome was built by the Emperor Constantine in 311CE. It covered an area of about 5800 square metres, which is about two-thirds the size of a football field. The most famous temple in Rome is the Pantheon (built 120–124 CE), which has a space 43 metres in diameter, enclosed by walls 6 metres thick. Light enters through a central opening in the dome of about 8.5 metres across.
The Romans were very skilled builders, engineers and town planners (see source 3). People living in towns had well-built roads, plumbing and sewerage systems. Some examples of Roman architecture and engineering that were the ancestors of those we use today are:
. In every town, the Romans built a town square or forum. Forums were surrounded by public buildings such as temples, courts, theatres, libraries and small businesses selling goods and services to the public.
. The Romans used an arched bridge with a gradual slope to carry water across valleys and over long distances.
. The Romans constructed roads all over the empire in order to move soldiers and supplies. These stretched thousands of kilometres through Europe and Africa, and some still exist today.
. These were used as meeting and relaxation centres. They could hold up to 1600 people and contained hot and cold baths, steam rooms and massage rooms.
As Rome expanded, some Romans became interested in the new religions they discovered. However, the senate felt these strange beliefs would upset the stability of Rome, so they frequently banned them. Some significant gods and religions include the following.
Bacchus, the god of wine, was based on the Greek god Dionysus. His festival in March (early spring) was noted for its alcohol-induced excesses, and for a time it was banned.
Isis was an Egyptian goddess who appealed particularly to Roman women, freedmen and slaves. She was also the protector of sailors and fishermen, and her festival was held in early March at the start of the sailing season.
Mithras was portrayed in Persian clothing, killing the bull of cosmic darkness. It was believed that worshipping Mithras would let you overcome the control fate had over you. Mithraism was particularly strong among soldiers.
Christianity came from the Roman province of Palestine, where Jesus Christ was crucified on the orders of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor around 30 CE. Jesus’ followers believed he rose from the dead. In 64 CE, Nero blamed the Christians for a great fire in Rome. Christianity appealed to the poorer classes and slaves of Rome, and its followers were often persecuted.
Political and Legal Writing
One of the great writers of this time was Julius Caesar (see section 2c:8). His accounts of his military campaigns in Gaul were significant in bringing him to the attention of influential people in Rome, and helped lay the groundwork for his period of rule. He continued to write during the civil war against Pompey and his supporters that followed his taking up the position of leader in Rome. His works continue to provide a rich source for historians today.
Cicero (106–43 BCE) is recognised as the greatest of the Roman orators. One of his most important early speeches led to the prosecution of the corrupt governor of Sicily, Gaius Verres, in 70 BCE.
Cicero supported the assassination of Caesar in 44 BCE but believed that the assassins should also have killed Mark Antony (see source 5). Cicero continued to support the senate against individuals trying to take power for themselves. When Octavian (Augustus) became consul in 43 BCE, in a pact with Mark Antony and Lepidus, one of Octavian’s first steps was to order the assassination of his opponents and this included Cicero.
Law and Government
Many elements of our political and legal systems come from the Romans. Roman law was carefully structured and recorded, so that every citizen could know what the law was. The current legal systems of many continental European countries, such as France, Germany, Spain and Italy, are based on the Roman Civil Code.
In our political system, words such as senate, senator, candidate and republic all date back to Roman times.