Human Legacy Course/The Foundations of Rome

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Human Legacy Course I
The Foundations of Rome
LECTURER: -Atcovi (Talk - Contribs) 14:04, 3 January 2017 (UTC)

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Welcome to the course on Rome. This course will adequately go through the creation of Rome and it’s rise to fame-hood, and obviously, WHY the city of Rome, the city of united Latin villages, became one of the wealthiest and popular cities in its time.

Why and how did the city of Rome become one of the wealthiest, most powerful, and well-known city in Europe? is the simple question. If answered, this will explain this whole unit. Let us dive into the pit of Europe!


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Picture of Italy

Italy is the boot while Sicily is the ball. Italy, a boot-shaped peninsula, is a country located in Southern Europe, surrounded by the Tyrrhenian/Mediterranean/Ligurian Sea to the west, the Adriatic Sea to the east, and the Ionian Sea to the south, and bordered by Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and France. Italy is also the country surrounding the countries of San Marino and the Vatican City, and the country surrounding its present-day capital, Rome. Other cities like Milan, Venice, and Naples hold some stance/importance in Italy.

Geography of Italy

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Example of the rocky Italian coastline (city of Manarola on April 26, 2014)

Italy is a peninsula located in the middle of the Mediterranean Basin. Its most prominent feature is its shape, which appears to be a boot kicking the island of Sicily. Rome was built on seven hills along the Tiber River, about 15 miles inland from the coast, close to the Tyrrhenian Sea. This location protected the city of Rome from invasion by sea. Because of the mountains and waterways, the peninsula is naturally a protected place.

Most of Italy (about 75%) is covered by mountains. The Alps Mountain range is to the North. The Apennine Mountains cut through the entire peninsula in the center of Italy, stretching from north to south, dividing the east and west coasts.

Italy has very rich soil. This rich soil is the perfect match for crops such as grapes, wheat, and olives. Many of its rivers drain into marshes. However, these marshes attracted mosquitoes, which frequently caused the people to suffer from malaria.

Italy, although have a long, rocky coastline unfit for several suitable harbors, the location of Italy is suitable for trade between the continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Rome is a city of true wonders, from the colonization by the Tarquins to the present-day [of Italy] constitutional parliamentary republic. A page on the history of Rome would go over 5000+ bytes! But alas, history is far too interesting to measly talk about it. Here, we'll summarize Roman history to make it interesting, and the additions of pictures to make this page visually appealing. Good luck on your journey through Roman history.

Settlers before the Romans

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An Etruscan mother and child

There were settlers in Italy as early as 5000 BCE. Neolithic farmers created civilizations up and down the Peninsula. The Etruscans ruled northern Italy from 900 to 500 BCE. Their society was not based on equality. The wealthy were aristocrats and only aristocrats could become priests. Together, these groups make up the patricians. The lower class was called the plebeians (farmers, merchants, artisans, etc.). There are also slaves; as in the rest of the ancient world, slavery is not based on race.

The Etruscans, who took control of the united Latin villages, had a monarchy ruled by the powerful Tarquin family. The Tarquins made many contributions to early Roman civilization.

They taught people how to use bricks in building, cover roofs with tiles, and build streets. They drained the marshes, which provided more usable land. They constructed the Forum, which is the public meeting place where most government buildings were located. Religious practices and temples took place there, as well. As a result of Tarquin influence, Rome became one of the wealthiest Italian cities.

After some of the Tarquins ruled cruelly, the people overthrew them, and Rome formed a republic (A government in which citizens elect the leaders).

The Republic of Rome

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A republic is defined as a form of democracy in which citizens elect their leaders (known as representatives) to run the government on their behalf. What is a democracy? A democracy is a type of government where the people have the power to vote on every issue. This is the difference the two terms (Republic: Law - Democracy: People). The birthplace of democracy is in the city of Athens, in Greece.

Group Who? Occupation Participation in Government Representation in Government
Patricians Descendants of the Etruscan nobility Elite Government jobs Citizenship; Voting; Controlled the city of Rome 2 Consuls; Senators
Plebeians Landowners; Townspeople; Merchants; Tradesmen Farmers, Merchants, Tradesmen; Citizenship; Voting; Gradually earned more rights Eventually -- Tribunes with power to veto senate laws
Slaves People forced into slavery, commonly due to conquest/debt Servitude No citizenship/right

How did the government work? Bicameral

  • Executive Branch was Patrician only, with the two consuls.
  • Legislative Branch was patrician only. This branch is divided into two groups, the Assembly of Centuries and the Senate. The Assembly of Centuries was made up of 100 men, who were elected consuls. And the Senate was made up of 500 men who served for life. They advised consuls and proposed laws.
  • In case of an emergency, dictators were temporarily chosen.

The Republic lasted for 15 years, from 509 BCE - 494 BCE.

The Revised Republic

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As hinted before, the Plebeians wanted more rights. Only Patricians were allowed to become consuls and senators, even though the Patricians only made up 5% of the population. The Patricians also frequent changed laws, which were not recorded, to suit their own needs. After much conflict, the Roman Republic was revised.

How long did the revised Republic last? 494-30BCE

How did it work?

  • The Executive Branch was made up of the Consuls (2 patricians with 1 year terms who ran day-day affairs; Vetoed each other) and the Tribunes (Plebeians who had the power to veto any government decision. These people were protected by the law). This branch also consisted of the Twelve Tables (XII), which was a written law code that gave fair laws to all social classes. First states innocent until proven guilty.
  • The Legislative Branch was made up of the Senate (300 Patrician men, who made laws and was in office for life), the Assembly of Tribes (Elected plebeians, this group was eventually able to make laws), and the Assembly of Centuries (100 patricians who elected the Consuls).

The problems and the many attempts of the Republic can be seen here: Human Legacy Course/The Foundations of Rome/Problems in the Roman Republic & the Responses (this is after the Punic Wars).

When in Rome - The Punic Wars

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(Portuguese) Map of the First Punic War

Carthage is a powerful city on the coast of North Africa (in present-day Tunisia) that was once a Phoenician colony. Why might Rome and Carthage fight? Carthage controlled most of the proximity; close proximity between the two strong groups; competition for trade prior prior to the Punic Wars, Rome controlled all of the Italian Peninsula, south of the Rubicon River.

Carthage controlled Sicily, & the Romans feared Carthage's navy would prevent them to trade/capture overseas.

First Punic War (264-241 BCE)

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Rome and Carthage were in competition for trade, so that caused a lot of tension. This led into the first Punic War. At the beginning of the war, Rome had no navy but built it up quickly using one of Carthage's ship as a model. This led to Rome using land tactics in naval battles (grappling hooks). Eventually during the war, Carthage asked for peace. Rome made them pay and give up Sicily.

Second Punic War (218-202 BCE)

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A bust of Hannibal
General Scipio

Hannibal was a general from Carthage. At the beginning of the war, he was in Spain. Hannibal's army included foot soldiers, cavalry (horse soldiers), and war elephants. He marched his army across the Alps, where many of his forces died.

Despite his losses, Rome's army was no match for his and retreated. Hannibal was not equipped to attack Rome, so he raided the countryside for years and tried to break Roman alliances (didn't work). Although often requested, Carthage never sent reinforcements.

Rome attacked Carthage. The Roman general Scipio fought and defeated Hannibal at the Battle of Zama. This battle marked the end of the Punic Wars.

Carthage lost the war and was required to pay damages again. Carthage loses more territory and power to Rome.

Third Punic War (149-146 BCE)

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Many Romans still hated Carthage. The Senate decides to crush Carthage. The Romans finally decimated Carthage and took control of their lands. The popular (but false) rumor is that Rome hated Carthage so much, they settled the land. Carthage was too valuable, and Rome too smart.

The Romans also had defeated Macedonia (Greece), and were the supreme power in the Mediterranean Basin.

The 1st and 2nd Triumvirates

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Arrangement of busts of Caesar, Crassus and Pompey

A triumvirate is defined at []: A political regime dominated by three powerful individuals.

The 1st Triumvirates

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The first triumvirate was made up of Gnaeus Pompey, Julius Caesar, and Marcus Crassus. Gnaeus and Crassus, in the beginning (70 BCE), were both consuls. They, along with the powerful Roman general Julius Caesar, split up their executive power in 60 BCE.

Until 49 BCE when things heat up, Pompey became the solo consul in 52 BCE and Crassus is killed in battle in 53 BCE. Caesar, until Pompey notices, spent ten years in Gaul, present-day France, and created a powerful army that was loyal to him.

Pompey notices his army and ordered him to return to Rome without his troops. Caesar fails to follow instructions and started a civil war in 49 BCE. He captured all of Italy and the Med. Sea, while Pompey fled out of Rome.

In 45 BCE- he named himself Dictator for Life. Though dictator, he did do some positive things for Rome, such as he created jobs for the unemployed in Rome and started land distribution.

Though he named himself Dictator for Life, he was killed shortly afterwards by Brotus and Cassius on March 15, 44 BCE.

The 2nd Triumvirates

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Bust of Octavian

The 2nd Triumvirates consist of Marc Antony, Octavian, and Marcus Lepidus. In the beginning, Antony was a top military and government official during Caesar's rule, and this is the same for Lepidus. Octavian is related to Caesar, and ruled Italy.

Octavian forced the North African ruler Lepidus to retirement, and declared war on Antony (More bio: Drove out Caesar's assassins out of Rome, subsequently taking over Rome. Also ruled Syria and Asia, as well as Greece. Married to Cleopatra of the former-Roman ally Egypt). Octavian defeated Antony at the Battle of Actium (naval battle), and Antony and his wife, Celopatra, both committed suicide in 31 BCE. Octavian became the supreme ruler, and began the Pax Romana.


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Constantine, who converted to Christianity after seeing "Chi Ro" in the sky.
A bible
A sketch of Paul in a church

Christianity is a monotheistic religion, that now has the most followers out of the rest of the followers in the world! Christianity developed from Judaism.

  • The "messiah", in Christianity, is a "savior". Christians consider Jesus as the messiah/savior.
  • In Christianity, Incarnation means embodiment (body, flesh).
  • Christians believe Jesus is the son of God.
  • Christian Doctrine - A set of church beliefs.
    • The Christian Doctrine is established by councils meeting and deciding what to include and leave out.
  • The Christian's holy text is the Bible, the old testament of the Torah (in Christian's belief). The New Testament describes the life of Jesus.
  • Early followers of Jesus are called Disciples/Apostles.

The Roman polytheistic disagree with Christianity and thought that people should be loyal to an emperor, not a God. The polytheistic persecuted and killed Christians in Rome. Even though there was persecution and hatred towards Christians, Christianity prevailed. Two figures in Christianity are important in the religion's history: Paul, and Peter. Paul traveled across Rome and preached the Gospel, while Peter built churches and became the first pope/priest. As along with these two individuals, three emperors impacted Christianity's spread: Diocletian, Constantine, and Theodosius. This is what you need to know about these three emperors:

  • Diocletian persecuted Christians.
  • Constantine legalizes Christianity, and converts.
  • Theodosius bans paganism, as well as making Christianity the official religion of Rome

The church became important during the decline of the Roman Empire because it appealed to the Romans, rather than paganism (because in Christian beliefs, anyone and everyone could go to heaven). After the spreading of this religion, people's loyalty laid on God, and not the emperor. This rapid spread of Christianity led to the religion being the unifying force in the Western Empire.

Pax Romana and the Fall of the Roman Empire

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Pax Romana - Starting with Octavian (Augustus Caesar), two centuries of peace and prosperity under imperial rule. During this time, there was an expansion and solidification of the Roman Empire, particularly in the Near East.

Impacts of the Pax Romana

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Economic Impact
  1. Standardized money stem (common coinage)
  2. Expanded trade
  3. Guaranteed safe trade and travel
  4. Promoted prosperity and stability
  1. Returned stability to the social classes
  2. Increased emphasis on family ties
  3. Paterfamilies - Father's the head of the house
  1. Create a civil service system, like Qin Shi Haung Di
  2. Developed a uniform rule of law

Fall of the Empire

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The head of Commodus, with his nose chopped off.
Pius, the relaxed emperor
Five good emperors during the PR
  • Nerva - Granted liberties to the people
  • Trajan - Non-patrician (he's not rich); public building
  • Hadrian - Huge wall across England
  • Pius - Peace (relaxed emperor)
  • Aurelius - Philosophy, honorable and noble emperor.
The one bad emperor that ends the PR
  • Commodus - Selfish, ego, cruel, ends the Pax Romana.

When Commodus' screws up the Pax Romana, Germanic Tribes invade the western half of the Empire (called Barbarians [by the Empire]).

  • Goths - Sweden, Baltic/Black Seas, Ukraine
  • Franks - France
  • Angles/Saxons - England
  • Alemanni - Germany
  • Huns - Central Asia towards Germany.
  • Visigoths - Balkan, Rome, Northern Gaul.
  • Ostrogoths - Italy and the Balkans.
  • Vandals - Spain, N. [North] Africa.

These groups wanted to raid the Roman Empire for several reasons, some might be because of the warmer climate [in the empire] for farming, better grazing land for cattle, wealth, or escaping to peaceful lands (away from the Huns, who were nomadic Asian warriors led by Atila).

Reactions of Rome's leaders
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A bust of Diocletian in Croatia
Diocletian (284 CE)
  • Divided the empire into two parts and created co-emperors
  • He ruled the eastern provinces
  • Issued the Edict of Prices to help stop inflation
  • Restricted people from changing professions
Constantine (312 CE)
  • Made jobs hereditary
  • Moved the eastern capital to Byzantium, a Greek city on the coast of the Bosporus Strait, and renamed it Constantinople (330 CE)
  • This is also the emperor who signed the Edict of Milan, allowing freedom of religion
  • Saw the Chi Ro in the sky.
Portrait of Theodosius
  • At his death, he willed the Empire to separate into two independent parts
  • The Byzantine Empire became the eastern portion
  • The Roman Empire remained the western portion
The Fall
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