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Chapter 5: The First World Civilization: Rome, China and the
Transcript of Chapter 5: The First World Civilization: Rome, China and the
II. The Roman Empire at its Height
I. Early Rome and the Republic
Italy is a long and narrow peninsula with mountainous divisions.
Fertile areas are very common.
How was Rome's geography more beneficial than Greece's?
The Mediterranean location of Italy and Rome was ultimately very good for the establishment of an empire.
The Roman Conquest of the Mediterranean, 264-133 BCE
Rome increasingly faces a new Mediterranean rival in the form of Carthage.
Carthage, founded in 800 BCE, has a large empire in the western Mediterranean and gradually begins to conflict with Rome on the island of Sicily.
In 264 BCE the first Punic War begins with Rome wishing to completely conquer the island.
The Romans have larger more important land forces while the Carthaginians have naval might, Rome is forced to come up with new strategies.
By 241 BCE a peace is signed with Rome the victor achieving its' goals.
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Republic, 133-31 BCE
The new empire leads to a severe weakening of the stability of the Republic and this period is marked by severe and constant internal strife.
The Senate and the aristocracy has control over all affairs by this point as they had expanded their power during the Punic Wars.
The backbone of the state was originally the small soldier/farmer but gradually they have been replaced by large latifundias with the dispossessed settling into the urban poor.
These poor are unhappy and lessen the military contribution to the state.
The Gracchus brothers attempt land reform but are murdered in 133 BCE starting a violent turn in events.
Marius, a general, changes Roman recruitment policies which contributes to military instability.
In the new method of recruitment conscript troops are out in favor of those rewarded with money or land through their generals.
Rome is founded in 753 BCE and between 500-250 BCE expands and brings Italy under its control.
Afterward from 250-100 BCE the Roman Republic defeats all its rivals and establishes a Mediterranean empire.
The Roman Republic does not work for this new imperial system and is replaced by an empire under Augustus Caesar.
From 31 BCE – 180 CE the Pax Romana, the period of Roman peace, reigns throughout the Mediterranean.
In the late 2nd and most of the 3rd centuries the empire almost collapses due to political and economic problems.
Two emperors, Diocletian and Constantine, reorganize and bring new life into the empire in the early 4th century.
A newly divided empire after Constantine’s death gradually collapses in the west though due primarily to the invasion of Germanic tribesmen and ends officially in 476 CE.
Rome’s legacy is apparent in terms of language, law, administration, continuance of Greek culture, etc.
The direct Roman heirs; Europe, the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire, and the Islamic world will have further imprints on Greco-Roman heritage before passes it to the modern world.
Professor Jason R. Holloway
Rome was founded in 753 BCE by Romulus and Remus.
The Romans speak Latin.
Early Rome is founded on seven hills and is ruled by a series of kings.
Some of these kings came from neighboring Etruria.
In the 6th century BCE Rome had become a city under their influence.
By 509 BCE a new Roman Republic had been established.
The Roman Republic
The early Republic feels threatened from all angles and embarks on a series of conquests.
The Romans gradually expand outwards and by 340 BCE had conquered Latium.
The Romans begin to gradually encounter the Greeks in southern Italy and are incredibly influenced by them.
By 264 BCE the Romans had conquered all of Italy.
They initially govern their conquests through the Roman Confederation.
Under this system several peoples are given outright Roman citizenship while others are allowed self-government in exchange for military service.
After the fall of the monarchy, the aristocrats establish a republic.
Executives of the Republic were the consuls and praetors, with one leading the military and the other in charge of legal matters.
The Roman bureaucracy evolves and creates a position to manage their conquests.
The Roman Senate is an important body of 300 who serve for life and over time becomes the main ruling body.
Other assemblies exist as well such as the Centuriate Assembly based on classes and favoring the wealthy as well as the council of Plebs.
There is an ongoing class struggle between the plebeians and the patricians.
Each group has different rights and opportunities, no intermarriage amongst them is allowed.
Eventually these issues will lead to great conflict.
Ultimately the plebeians are successful in forming their own assembly ruled by the tribute of plebs.
They eventually receive full legal equality and pass laws for everyone by 287 BCE.
Thereafter in theory everyone is equal but instead a small intermarried group form a new senatorial aristocracy.
Rome compared to Greece is clearly not a democracy.
As a result of their defeat Carthage vows revenge and expands their territory in the Iberian Peninsula.
Roman encouragement of revolts against this expansion leads Hannibal to invade in the Second Punic War between 218-201 BCE.
The Carthaginian strategy in the war is to destroy Rome and its resources in Italy.
Hannibal leads an army to cross the Alps with 30-40 thousand troops and defeats all challengers.
At the Battle of Cannae in 216 BCE Rome almost loses the war.
Rome is hopeless to defeat Hannibal so they send troops to harass Carthage elsewhere.
In 206 BCE Rome is able to occupy the Iberian Peninsula.
Afterward they invade Africa and Hannibal is recalled to defend the homeland.
In 202 BCE the Romans defeat Hannibal at the Battle of Zama and Carthage is forced to sue for peace surrendering all overseas territory to Rome.
After the war, Cato the Elder famously gives his 'Cartago delenda est' speeches leading to an eventual third war.
In 146 BCE Carthage is completely destroyed and Rome's chief rival is obliterated.
During this period Rome also engages in conflicts in Greece and Macedonia.
Also by 146 BCE these areas are conquered and made into Roman provinces.
In 133 BCE the Kingdom of Pergamum is given to Rome and the Republic is now the masters of the Mediterranean with a new foothold in Asia.
Throughout the epoch, the Roman army is organized in 5000 man legions with other supporting troops.
The soldiers largely provide their own equipment.
In the 4th Century the number of legions is only 4 but that increases to 25 during the Punic Wars.
By 60 BCE the first triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Crassus and Pompey is formed.
All three of these figures are wealthy, famous and militarily powerful and they completely control the government.
With the death of Crassus the balance is disrupted and many are fearful of Caesar's growing influence due in part to his new conquests.
In 53 BCE Caesar is ordered to surrender his army and report to Rome, he refuses and famously crosses the Rubicon with it instead.
After marching on Rome he continues a civil war with the Senate and Pompey before defeating both and seizing control of the state.
In 47 BCE he is made dictator and two years later dictator for life.
He introduces many reforms, gives land to the poor, increases the size of the Senate, changes the calendar, etc.
In 44 BCE he is famously assassinated on the Ides of March.
III. Crisis and the Late Empire
There is an eventual path towards citizenship for them too.
Those conquered thus have a stake in Rome's success.
Several policies explain Rome's success in conquest such as their diplomacy, military persistence and overall strategy.
Within their new conquests Rome founds colonies to both subdue and pacify these areas with a network of roads connecting them all.
These systems allow the efficient occupation and governance of territory and help in harnessing the full resources of all Italy for war.
After Caesar's death, his heirs Octavian and Marc Antony end up fighting for dominance of Rome and its empire.
Antony and his ally Cleopatra are defeated at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE and flee back to Egypt and commit suicide.
As a result Octavian wins the civil war and becomes the complete master of the Roman world.
The Period of instability ends and between 31BCE - 180 CE the Pax Romana reigns supreme.
The Age of Augustus
In 27 BCE Octavian declares the restoration of the Republic.
This is really a declaration of the empire though as he assumes the titles of Augustus and Imperator.
He commands 28 legions of 150,000 men alongside 130,000 auxiliary troops of non-citizens.
The Praetorian Guard is formed with 9000 troops.
Many new provinces are formed where the Emperor alone governs though older ones still pass through senatorial oversight.
He stabilizes the boundaries of the empire eventually on the Rhine and Danube Rivers.
An attempt to conquer Germany fails and 3 legions are destroyed in 9 CE.
At his death in 14 CE the imperial structure is firmly in place and the Senate only exists for tradition.
The Early Empire, 14-180 CE
Succession is in place without question to Augustus' heir firmly establishing the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
During this dynasty more and more of the Senate's tasks are assumed by the imperial bureaucracy.
The downsides of empire are seen in the figures of Nero and Caligula.
Nero kills many individuals including his mom and his reign ends with his troops revolting and a forced suicide.
The period of the Pax Romana is real apparent during the reign of the five good emperors between 96-180 BCE.
These five good rulers are extremely capable individuals and choose extremely capable successors.
Rulers like Trajan and Hadrian create social programs for the poor and large public building works.
Trajan expands the empire to its greatest extent even by 117 CE including Dacia and Mesopotamia.
Hadrian believes it is overextended though and pulls back from Mesopotamia and creates Hadrian's Wall in the north.
At its height the Roman Empire contains 3.5 million square feet and a population of 50 million people.
Imperial citizenship continues to expand outwards during this period culminating in 212 CE.
Latin is the language largely spoken in the west, and Greek fulfills that role in the east.
All and all a Greco-Roman culture has formed and is firmly in existence.
Cities are the fountainheads of Roman culture and unite the empire through their similarity.
They are ultimately smaller in the west than the east.
The two largest are Rome with 1 million and Alexandria with 350,000.
Huge amounts of trade originate and grow out of the united empire.
Some truly international trade has been established to places as far away as China with the Silk Road first forming.
The Romans build roads everywhere mostly for their armies but also for commerce.
The government uses them to pacify and fully absorb border areas as well.
The most dominate economic activity is still mostly agriculture though.
Latifundias still are the primary unit of organization.
As a result enormous gulfs exist between rich and poor.
The small margin of production in the countryside is used to support the cities and the elite.
Culture and Society in the Roman World
Most Roman culture is enormously influenced by Greece.
As Greece is conquered Rome frequently takes objects from there back.
Greek slaves are extremely common predominately for teaching purposes.
Horace writes of the period that "captive Greece took captive her rude conqueror."
There is a golden age of Latin literature with famed writers such as Cicero and Virgil who writes the Aeneid.
Roman art is mostly Greek but paintings differ in their intense realism.
Romans use Greek architecture immensely but also innovate new ideas such as the arch, the vault, and the dome.
They are the first to use concrete on a truly massive scale.
Concrete allows the mass construction of building such as amphitheaters, hippodromes, aqueducts, public baths, etc.
Their road network further grows to 50,000 miles.
Due in part to these advances Rome grows into a city of 1 million.
The Roman family is hierarchical with the paterfamilias at the top.
The family is not quite nuclear but isn't a joint one either.
Women receive male guardians similar to Greece.
Issues of legal control from father to husband break down over time and as a result women get property rights and greater independence.
Most women marry early, 12 at the minimum but 14 is common.
Despite the dangers apparent in early marriage, the low overall life span still encourages it.
Cicero's daughter with 3 marriages and dying at 34 is a good example of this.
By the 3rd century the paterfamilias has lost lots of his authority.
Crisis in the Third Century
In the 3rd century the empire almost collapses.
Most of the time the country is governed by near military anarchy with whoever had the most money and troops holding power.
There are 22 emperors during this period and only 2 die naturally.
There are constant civil wars during this period as well as invasions from Germanic tribes and the new Sassanid Persian Empire.
There is an almost complete economic collapse too with particular issues with the monetary economy.
There is a difficulty in recruiting soldiers so the employment of Germanic mercenaries begins.
After 180 CE the reign of the Pax Romana concludes and the empire experiences exceptionally trying times.
The Late Roman Empire
At the end of the 3rd century and the early 4th century the empire achieves a new lease on life under Diocletian and Constantine.
The late empire is also radically transformed with the origination of new political, military, economic and religious structures.
Diocletian dramatically increases the size of the imperial government in order to prevent a breakdown of authority.
Both leaders change the military in order to support more rapidly the frontier troops.
Constantine after a trying succession war will build a new capital at Constantinople mostly for strategic and defensive reasons.
Their reforms in general greatly augment government expenses and thus they more rigidly control the economy.
Many professions now become hereditary and see large landowners grow yet more powerful.
After Constantine's death the decline will begin again as the empire gradually splits into western and eastern halves.
395 CE is the last time the empire is fully unified and thereafter two states in effect exist.
Over the course of the 5th century the empire in the east will survive while the one in the west falls and is replaced by Germanic kingdoms.
In the 300s Germanic tribes under pressure from the Huns begin moving towards the empire.
The Visigoths are allowed to settle as allies south of the Danube but problems with them lead to war and an imperial army is devastatingly crushed at the Battle of Adrianople in 378 BCE.
In the early 5th century the Rhine freezes over and Germanic tribes begin to cross in mass into Roman territory.
In 410 CE Britain is abandoned and Rome is sacked by the Visigoths who eventually settle in Spain.
A group known as the Vandals invade and eventually settle in North Africa, they also will sack Rome in 455 CE.
The western empire in alliance with some of these tribes only narrowly defeats Attila the Hun in the mid-5th century.
By this time the western empire only controls Italy and the other provinces are in the hands of 'barbarians' who rule independently though recognizes nominal Roman suzerainty.
The emperor in Ravenna is now a figurehead with his Germanic mercanaries ruling behind the scenes.
In 476 CE Odoacer desposes the last Roman Emperor in the west, Romulus Augustulus, which symbolically ends the Roman Empire.
Why did the empire ultimately fall?
There are many reasons often given such as the adoption of Christianity, the impact of non-Romans given citizenship, lead poisoning, plagues, the lack of technological development due to slavery, an unworkable political system.
There is some truth in all of these but the most basic element is that the west was unable to stop a takeover by the Germanic tribes whereas the empire in the east was able to.
Transformation of the Roman World: The Development of Christianity
The rise of Christianity is a huge break in Greco-Roman tradition.
The Roman pantheon of Gods is similar in style and substance to the Greek ones.
The Romans have extreme tolerance of other religions.
They often adopt other religion's Gods themselves and even at times considers certain emperors as Gods.
Many mystery religions develop in the east interesting many who desire a more emotional attachment.
They frequently hold the promise of a better future life thus explaining some of their appeal.
Amongst Rome's most original contributions is its system of law.
Their first law code, the Twelve Tables, is developed in 450 BCE.
It encounters problems in distinguishing between Romans and foreigners though.
A law of nations emerges that can be referred to as Natural Rights, or a standard of universal law based on justice and reason for all.
Some of these were the ideas of innocent til proven guilty and the right to present oneself with evidence before a judge.
Slavery is common in the ancient world but the Romans take it to a new level.
It is a sign of prestige to own and be attended by as many slaves as possible.
Greek slaves again are in most high demand.
War captives are frequently taken to work the fields.
The treatment of slaves is varied and it is clear that many slave owners live in constant fear of revolt.
In the 2nd -1st century BCE slave revolts become more common.
In 73 BCE a gladiator named Spartacus leads a large revolt of 70,000.
He manages to defeat several armies before being vanquished two years later and his forces being very notably punished.
At the center of the empire is Rome which has now become a colossal city.
Only Chang'an, the Han Chinese capital, rivals it worldwide.
The masses are governed by the philosophy of "bread and circuses."
Gladiatorial are just one of many examples of this.
In the arenas other exotic activities are undertaken.
Some large natural disasters occur during this period such as the explosion of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.
Its rediscovery in the late 18th and early 19th century reignited an interest in the classical world and provided much greater knowledge of it.
Towards the Common Era the Romans encounter the Jews and their state becomes a province.
Early on they experience problems and eventually a group known as the zealots will lead a revolt that ends in 66 CE at Masada and also with the destruction of the Jewish temple.
Jesus of Nazareth begins preaching in this environment.
His core teachings of humility, charity, and brotherly love become major tenets of Western civilization.
Jesus is seen by the Romans as a potential revolutionary zealot and is executed.
His death and story spread nonetheless and the message is in many ways accentuated by his execution, Christianity is born as a result.
Originally it is viewed as a sect of Judaism but Paul starts to change that.
Paul teaches to Jew and Gentile alike his message of salvation through Jesus who died as an atonement for sin.
Christianity spreads slowly at first while the stories of his disciples become codified in the ‘good news’ of the Gospels.
Even early on some works are excluded from the future bible due to their perceived contradictory nature by early church leaders.
The destruction of Jerusalem and the spread of Christianity throughout the empire leaves early church authorities with substantial independence.
By 100 CE most eastern cities have churches and have achieved a substantial following amongst Greeks.
Over the next two centuries it will spread west and to the Latin-speaking population.
Initially Rome is not too concerned with the rise of Christianity but eventually this attitude begins to shift.
Christianity increasingly is viewed as harmful to society since they do not worship the state Gods or the rulers of Rome and it is believed that this creates social divisions.
Early Roman persecution is more sporadic and unofficial than often portrayed though many do still die as a result of their faith.
By the 2nd century BCE many Romans solely view Christians as harmless despite the power that their small numbers will hold.
In the 3rd century Christianity takes off for several reasons such as the following: the offer of salvation appeals to those in awful conditions; it was similar to the mystery religions people were familiar with but Jesus was seen as more relative; the limited persecution of the church does little to end it but encourages it to organize with bishops and other hierarchical structures assuming control of church communities; and Christian theology is starting to fully develop.
In the late 3rd century and early 4th century there are the last and most notable state persecutions of Christians but these ultimately fail as the religion as grow too strong.
Constantine in 313 CE issues the Edict of Milan mandating the toleration of Christianity and he will officially be baptized on his death bed.
By the time of Theodosius the Great’s death in 395 CE he had made Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire.