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2nd and 3rd Century Rome
Transcript of 2nd and 3rd Century Rome
The Copper Years
The War Years Silver Age literature is the poetry and prose of the early empire. It is considered slightly inferior to the literature of the Golden Age. •Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)
•Phaedrus (d A.D. 14)
•Tacitus (55- 117) Predictably, following the Silver Age of Latin Literature came the Bronze and Iron Ages. The Iron Age follows the fall of Rome in A.D. 476 when Latin lost its place as the common spoken language. Roman Cities and the Emperors Peoples In size and population the Roman empire was at its peak between the reigns of Vespasian and Hadrian. England
Nile Valley There were probably as many as 2,000 cities, perhaps more. Great urbanization took place. The emperors pushed for people to live in cities by offering them benefits: remission of taxes
access to the Roman army
occupations other than agricultural ones
wealth Nervan-Antonian Dynasty Article Activity Severan Dynasty The story of the Severan dynasty is one of both masculine and feminine power. There were five Severan emperors in the Severan Dynasty. The first of the Severan Emperors was also the first of the soldier emperors of Rome, Septimius Severus. Restored stability to the Roman empire after the tumultuous reign of the emperor Commodus and the civil wars that erupted after Commodus' murder.
By giving greater pay and benefits to soldiers and incorporating northern Mesopotamia into the Roman empire, he brought increasing financial and military burdens to Rome's government.
His reign was known for being bloody and he persecuted both Jews and Christians Married young Julia Domna in her city of Emesa in Syria. They had two sons 11 months apart: Caracalla and Geta. Caracalla Caracalla followed in the ancient Roman tradition of fratricide (begun by Romulus when he killed Remus) by killing his brother Geta in 212 shortly after they both succeeded Septimius Severus to the imperial throne in 211. Caracalla staged the assassination of his brother so that his brother died in his mother Julia Domna's arms. He then carried out a blood bath, killing as many as 20,000 supporters of Geta. He was assassinated by his praetorian prefect Macrinus on April 8, 217. Septimus Severus had served in the Roman army while Marcus Aurelius was emperor and had been stationed in various parts of the empire, including Syria. How they met... After the death of his first wife, Septimus Severus pursued the young women most likely because Julia's astronomical indications said would marry a king and Septimus wanted to be that person. She was very respected by her husband. She was not only intelligent but she also had great political sense. When Severus became Emperor in 193 AD they immediately faced civil war. Unlike most wives of the time, she accompanied her husband on his campaigns. She stayed in camp and not at home. One of the signs of Septimus Serverus' positive view of his wife and Empress was his order to mint coins with her portrait and the words, "mater castrorum" (mother of the camp). When he was killed in England in 208 AD, her two sons were became co-emperors as Severus had wanted. The two men could not rule together and were constantly warring with one another. Julia frequently attempted to mediate between them. Julia Domna died of breast cancer in 217 AD As empress Julia Domna was a patron of the learning and surrounded herself with philosophers, writers and artists. She never lost interest in the ancient Syrian ways of wisdom. After emperors such as Nero and Domitian had banished philosophy and persecuted philosophers, Julia Domna used her imperial power to protect philosophy and help philosophers flourish. One positive legacy he left was the Edict of Caracalla issued in 212 which declared that all free men and women in the Roman Empire were to be given full Roman citizenship. But historians say that the sole motivation for the edict was a desire to increase state revenue. At the time, aliens did not have to pay most taxes that were required of citizens, so although nominally Caracalla was elevating their legal status, he was more importantly expanding the Roman tax base. Macrinus On account of the cruelty and treachery of the Caracalla Macrinus became involved in a conspiracy to kill him and ordered the praetorian guard to do so.Three days later, Macrinus was declared Augustus. He made three mistakes: 1. He refused to award the pay and privileges promised to the eastern troops by Caracalla. 2. He kept those forces wintered in Syria, where they became attracted to the young Elagabalus. 3. He banished Julia Maesa, Julia Domna's sister, back to Emesa but allowed her to keep her substantial wealth. Julia Maesa Julia Maesa was married to a Syrian noble and had two daughters Julia Soaemias and Julia Mamaea each one mother of an emperor. She had moved to Rome to join her sister's court when Septimius Severus had become Emperor. However, after her nephew, Caracalla, died, she was banished back to Syria by the new emperor Macrinus. Macrinus foolishly allowed her to keep her enormous wealth and with it Maesa engaged in a plot to overthrow Macrinus and place one of her grandsons, Elagabalus, in his place. In order to achieve this goal, mother and daughter started the rumor that the 14 year old boy was Caracalla's illegitimate son. The two Julias were successful, mainly because Macrinus was of an obscure origin without the proper political connections, and Elagabalus became emperor. The teenager proved to be a disaster as emperor, scorning Roman values with both religious and sexual scandals. He took the liberty of marrying a Vestal virgin. She was one of a rumored five wives during his brief four years reign and was also openly homosexual. Maesa therefore convinced him to adopt his younger cousin Alexander Severus as an heir, then promptly conspired with the Praetorians to have her elder grandson, as well as his mother (her daughter, you will remember) assassinated. She died fairly early into Alexander's reign and then she, like her sister, was deified. Alexander Severus When Alexander Severus tried to make peace through diplomacy and bribery instead of fighting against the Germanic tribes, his troops were outraged. They killed both Alexander Severus and his mother, in 235. Under the guide of his mother, he did do many good things for the empire such as the lowering of taxes, strengthening of the currency, giving loans to citizens with a low interest rate, encouraging the arts, and removing excessive luxury from the imperial court. Religiously he was also very open minded and desired to build a temple for Jesus but pagan priests persuaded him against the idea. He did, however, construct a synagogue for the Jews. Alexander was the last of the Syrian emperors. The Crisis of the 3rd Century The Crisis of the Third Century was a period of major decline for the Roman Empire. When Alexander Severus and his mother were assassinated in 235 AD, the Empire plunged into civil war, ending the Servian dynasty. Consequently, a long line of generals seized power, only to be quickly assassinated and replaced by another general. At the same time, the German tribes breached the frontiers
Gothic pirates raided Asia and Thrace
The Franks penetrated all the way to Spain, all burning cities on the way.
Even worse, the Parthian Dynasty in Persia was replaced by the far more militant Sassanids, who claimed all of Asia and promptly invaded Rome's eastern provinces. With wars on all fronts, and a lack of a strong central government, Roman rule broke down. Many of the provinces seceded from Roman authority. A Gallic Empire, comprising Gaul, Spain, and Britain, was created in the north The Palmyrenes (a Romanized city state in the East) seized the Eastern territories that the Persians didn't conquer. Roman currency had been gradually devalued over time as Emperors had reduced the content of precious metal in the coins to be able to spend more money. In order to fund the army, the money was highly devalued until the economy collapsed. With all these problems going on, it looked like the Roman Empire was doomed... The Emperor Claudius II reconquered Gaul and brought an end to the Gallic Empire. Then he turned East and defeated the Palmyrean Empire, reuniting the Empire. However, by the end of the Third Century, the empire had largely recovered... Diocletian rose to power through interesting circumstances. During a war with the Persians, Numerian, the current Emperor, was killed and Diocletian was made Emperor by the troops of the Roman Army. The man who supposedly killed the Emperor went by the name of Aper, which means "boar". This was significant for Diocletian because as a young soldier a prophesy was made that he would be made emperor after the old emperor had been killed by a boar. Though Numerian was dead, Carinus, Numerian's brother and co-ruler, still stood in Diocletian's way of becoming Emperor. However, Carinus's own troops turned on him and killed him. Thus, in 285 AD, Diocletian became the sole Emperor of Rome. When Diocletian became ruler, the empire had been the product of many years of chaos and instability. Diocletian sought to change this. Through political restructuring and reform, he began to re-establish partial balance and peace in the Empire. Diocletian's first order of business was to restructure the current form of political rule. While the Roman Empire was too large to govern alone, Diocletian formed a tetrarchy. Article Activity... Under Diocletian the imperial court was much expanded and elaborated. People were to kneel before their emperor, kissing the hem of his robes. All this was no doubt introduced to yet further increase the authority of the imperial office. Under Diocletian the emperor became a god-like creature, detached from wordly affairs of the lesser people around him. Diocletian and Maximian declared themselves the respective sons of Jupiter/Jove and Hercules. With this spiritual link between them and the gods, Diocletian adopted the title Jovianus and Maximian the one of Herculianus, which served to further elevate them and set them apart from the world around them. No previous emperor had ever gone so far. Jupiter Temple in the Palace of Diocletian. Jupiter Diocletian This it was the pagan equivalent of ruling 'by the will of God', which Christian emperors were to do in years to come. Diocletian elevated his own position and further reduced the power of the provincial governors. He doubled the number of provinces to 100. Controlling such small areas, it was almost impossible now for a governor to launch a rebellion. To help oversee this patchwork of little provinces, thirteen dioceses were created, which acted as regional authorities over the provinces. His reforms greatly reduced the senate's power and strengthened the military. The forces were divided into two parts. One part were the frontier troops guarding the borders. The other, highly mobile forces stationed inland, away from the immediate frontiers, could rush to any trouble spot. Further the fleet was expanded. This expansion of the military under Diocletian represented a large increase compared to the previous reigns. With now well over half a million men under arms, as well as a struggling economy, the tax burden was becoming hard to bear for the ordinary population. Diocletian's government though was well aware of this. Under his administration a complex taxation system was created which allowed for regional variations of harvests and trade. Areas with more fertile soil or wealthier trade were hence taxed harder than poorer regions. In AD 301 the Edict of Maximum Prices imposed throughout the empire tried to fix prices and wages in order to curb inflation. The system however did more damage than it did good. Regional price variations no longer existed and therefore trade suffered. Many goods also became unprfitable to sell, which therefore also meant that trade in those goods simply disappeared. Persecution But Diocletian, the great reformer of the empire, should also become known for his very harsh persecution of the Christians. Trying to strengthen Roman traditions, he much revived worship of the old Roman gods. The foreign cults however, Diocletian had no time for. In AD 297 or 298 all soldiers and administrators were ordered to make sacrifices to the gods. Anyone who refused to do so, was immediately dismissed. On 24 February AD 303 another edict was issued. This time Diocletian ordered the destruction of all churches and scriptures within the empire. More edicts followed that year, ordering all Christian clergy to be thrown in prison, to be released only after having made sacrifice to the Roman gods. In April AD 304 Diocletian issued his final religious edict. All Christians were ordered to Roman gods. Anyone who would refuse would be executed. Emperor Constantine Emperor Constantine I is often credited with converting the Roman Empire to Christianity. In fact, though he ended the persecution of Christians and eventually converted, some historians debate the true nature of his faith. His association with Christianity began with a fateful battle for control of the Western Roman Empire. Constantine faced Western Roman Emperor Maxentius at the Tiber River's Mulvian Bridge in A.D. 312. Fourth-century historian and bishop Eusebius of Caesarea reported that before the great battle Constantine saw a flaming cross in the sky bearing the words "in this sign thou shalt conquer." Constantine did indeed conquer, routing and killing his enemy on a day that loomed large not only for the emperor but for the Christian faith. The next year Constantine, now the Western Roman Emperor, and Eastern Roman Emperor Licinius signed the Edict of Milan, which finally ensured religious tolerance for Christians. The agreement granted freedom of worship to all, regardless of deity, and brought an end to the Age of Martyrs, which had begun after Jesus' death. Christians were also given specific legal rights such as the return of confiscated property and the right to organize dedicated churches. Constantine's Building Program After unifying the Roman Empire under his rule in A.D. 324, Constantine rebuilt his seat of his power in largely Christian Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinople and today is Istanbul. Rome was considered to be too far away from the frontiers to be the imperial administrative center. The move of the capital was his biggest project and the city was called "city of Constantine," or Constantinople. Calling it his "New Rome," Constantine endowed the city with a forum, large palaces, and a vast amphitheater. It was officially dedicated on May 11, 330 "by the commandment of God," and in the following years, many Christian churches were built there. The location could not have been more strategic... He had a the ability to tax the ships and travelers who came through there. This made the empire very wealthy. Located at the point where Europe meets Asia. The site lay along the land route from Europe to Asia and the seaway from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and had in the Golden Horn an excellent and spacious harbor. The despair of its enemies, the walls of Constantinople were the most famous of the medieval world, singular not only in scale, but in their construction and design, which integrated man-made defenses with natural obstacles. Their principal composition was mortared rubble, faced with blocks of fitted limestone and reinforced by courses of layered red brick. To enhance the integrity of the overall network, the towers and walls were built independently of one another. The entire city was enclosed in a defensive circuit of 14 miles of walls, reinforced by more than 400 towers and bastions, and several strong points and fortresses. ARTICLE ACTIVITY The New Forum The senate house was located on the northern side But Constantine did not entirely forget about Rome He was the first emperor to build churches for the Christian faith in Rome, including the first basilica dedicated to St. Peter, built on the supposed site of his burial. Earlier he had also built public baths and the triumphal Arch of Constantine.