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Roman Identifications and Vocabulary

  1. The Apennines
  • Italy is a peninsula extending about 750 miles from north to south, and not very wide, averaging about 120 miles across. The Apennines form a ridge down the middle of Italy that divides west from east. Geography had an impact on Roman history. Although the Apennines bisected Italy, they were less rugged than the mountains of Greece and didn’t divide the peninsula into many small isolated communities. Italy possessed considerably more productive agricultural land than Greece, enabling it to support a large population. Finally, Rome had a good central location in Italy from which to expand.
  • Built on the famous seven hills, Rome was easily defended. According to Roman legend, Rome was founded by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus in 753 B.C.E. and archaeologists have found that by that time, a village of huts had indeed been built on the tops of Rome’s hills.
  • Early Roman history is filled with legendary tales of the heroes who made Rome great- one of the best known is Horatius at the bridge. Roman farmers abandoned their fields and moved into the city for protection, but a wooden bridge over the Tiber River was a weak point. Horatius was on guard at the bridge when a sudden assault by the Etruscans caused many Roman troops to throw down their weapons and flee. Horatius urged them to make a stand at the bridge behind him while he held the Etruscans back.
  • The confused Etruscans threw their spears at Horatius who caught them on his shield and barred the way. The Roman soldiers brought down the bridge and Horatius swam safely to the other side. Rome had been saved by the courageous act of a Roman who knew his duty and was determined to carry it out. Courage duty, determination- these qualities would serve the many Romans who believed that it was their divine mission to rule nations and peoples.
  • If we are to believe Livy, one of the chief ancient sources for the history of the early Roman Republic, Rome was engaged in almost continuous warfare with these enemies for the next hundred years. In his account, Livy provided a detailed narrative of roman efforts. Many of his stories were legendary in character; writing in the 1st century B.C.E., he used such stories to teach Romans the moral values and virtues that had made Rome great. These included tenacity, duty, courage, and especially discipline.
  • The greatest historian of the silver age was Tacitus (c. 56-120). His main works included the Annals and Histories, which presented a narrative account of Roman history from the reign of Tiberius through the assassination of Domitian (14-96). Tacitus believed that history had a moral purpose. As a member of the senatorial class, Tacitus was disgusted with the abuses of power perpetrated by the emperors and determined that the “evil deeds” of wicked men would not be forgotten. His work Germania is especially important as a source of information about the early Germans. But it too is colored by Tacitus’ attempt to show the Germans as noble savages in comparison to the decadent Romans. In addition, regarding gladiatorial games, he said, “Few indeed are to be found who talk of any other subjects in their homes, and whenever we enter a classroom, what else is the conversation of the youths.”
  • Rome’s location was also favorable from a geographical point of view, located 18 miles inland on Tiber River, had access to the sea and yet was far enough inland to be safe from pirates. Since the Tiber could be readily forded, Rome became a natural crossing point for north-south traffic in western Italy.
  • The Etruscans were people who lived north of Rome in Etruria. What is certain is that Rome did fall under the influence of the Etruscans for about a hundred years during the period of the kings and that by the beginning of the 6th century B.C.E., under Etruscan influence, Rome began to emerge as a city. The Etruscans were responsible for an outstanding building program- they constructed the first roadbed of the chief street through Rome, the Sacred Way, before 575 B.C.E. and oversaw the development of temples, markets, shops, streets, and houses. By 509 B.C.E., the traditionally accepted date when the monarchy was overthrown and a republican form of government established, a new Rome had emerged, essentially a result of the fusion of Etruscan and native Roman elements.
  • The Roman senate came to hold an especially important position in the Roman Republic. The senate or council of elders was a select group of about three hundred men who served for life. The senate could only advise the magistrates, but this advice of the senate was not taken lightly and by the 3rd century B.C.E. had virtually the force of law.
  • During the Augustan Age, senators filled the chief magistracies of the Roman government, held the most important military posts, and governed the provinces. To belong to the senatorial order, one needed to possess property worth 1 million sesterces.
  • The chief executive officers of the Roman Republic were the consuls and praetors. Two consuls, chosen annually, administered the government and led the roman army into battle. They possessed imperium, or “the right to command.” In 366 B.C.E., the office of praetor was created. The praetor also possessed imperium and could govern Rome when the consuls were away from the city and could also lead armies. The praetor’s primary function, however, was the execution of justice. He was in charge of the civil law as it applied to Roman citizens. In 242 B.C.E., reflecting Rome’s growth, another praetor was added to judge cases in which one or both people were non-citizens. The Roman state also had a number of administrative officials who handled specialized duties, such as the administration of financial affairs and supervision of the public games of Rome.
  • The Roman Republic had a number of popular assemblies. By far the most important was the centuriate assembly. Organized by classes based on wealth, it was structured in such a way that the wealthiest citizens always had a majority. The centuriate assembly elected the chief magistrates and passed laws. Another assembly, the council of the plebs, came into being in 471 B.C.E. This popular assembly reserved for plebeians could eventually hold the highest offices of state, they could intermarry with the patricians, and they could pass laws binding on the entire Roman community.
  • A popular assembly for plebeians only, called the council of the plebs, was created in 471 B.C.E., and new officials, known as tribunes of the plebs, were given the power to protect plebeians.
  • The most noticeable element in the social organization of early Rome was the division between two groups- the patricians and the plebeians. The patrician class in Rome consisted of families descended from the original senators appointed during the period of the kings. They were great landowners who constituted an aristocratic governing class. Only they could be consuls, other magistrates, and senators. Through their patronage of large numbers of dependent clients, they controlled the centuriate assembly and many other facets of Roman life.
  • The plebeians constituted the considerably larger group of non-patrician large landowners, less wealthy landholders, artisans, merchants, and small farmers. Although they, too, were citizens, they did not have the same rights as the patricians. Both patricians and plebeians could vote, but only the patricians could be elected to governmental offices. Both had the right to make legal contracts and marriages, but intermarriage between patricians and plebeians was forbidden. At the beginning of the 5th century B.C.E., the plebeians began a struggle to seek both political and social equality with the patricians. \
  • After their conquest of the Italian peninsula, the Romans found themselves face-to-face with a formidable Mediterranean power- Carthage. Founded on the coast of North Africa by Phoenicians around 800 B.C.E., Carthage had flourished and assembled an enormous empire in the western Mediterranean. By the 3rd century B.C.E., the Carthaginian empire included the coast of northern Africa, southern Spain, Sardinia, Corsica, and western Sicily. With its monopoly of western Mediterranean trade, Carthage was the largest and richest state in the area. The presence of Carthaginians in Sicily made the Roman apprehensive about Carthaginian encroachment on the Italian coast. In 264 B.C.E., mutual suspicions drove the two powers into a lengthy struggle for control of the western Mediterranean.
  • In the First Punic War (the Latin word for Phoenician was punicus), the Romans determined on the conquest of Sicily. The Romans-a land power- realized that they could not win the war without a navy and promptly developed a substantial naval fleet. After a long struggle, a Roman fleet defeated the Carthaginian navy off Sicily, and the war quickly came to an end. In 241 B.C.E., Carthage gave up all rights to Sicily and had to pay an indemnity to Rome. Sicily became the first Roman province.
  • The Second Punic War began after, after Carthage vowed revenge and added new lands in Spain to compensate the loss of Sicily. This time the Carthaginian strategy aimed at bringing the war home to the Romans and defeating them in their own backyard. After much destruction and death, the Romans pursued a strategy aimed at undermining the Carthaginian Empire in Spain. By 206 B.C.E., the Romans had pushed the Carthaginians out of Spain. The Romans then took the war directly to Carthage, forcing the Carthaginians to recall Hannibal from Italy. By the peace treaty signed in 201 B.C.E., Carthage lost Spain, which became another Roman province. Rome had become the dominant power in the western Mediterranean.
  • Fifty years later, the Romans fought their third and final struggle with Carthage. The Carthaginians had technically broken the peace treaty with Rome and the Romans used this opportunity to carry out the complete destruction of Carthage in 146 B.C.E. The territory of Carthage became a Roman province called Africa.
  • When the Romans encouraged one of Carthage’s Spanish allies to revolt against Carthage, Hannibal, the greatest of the Carthaginian generals, struck back, beginning the Second Punic War (218-201 B.C.E.). Hannibal crossed the Alps with an army of thirty to forty thousand men and six thousand horses and elephants and inflicted a series of defeats on the Romans. Rome seemed on the brink of disaster but refused to give up, raised yet another army, and began to re-conquer some of the Italian cities that had gone over to Hannibal’s side.
  • At Cannae in 216 B.C.E., the Romans lost an army of almost forty thousand men. The king of Macedonia made an alliance with Hannibal after the Roman defeat at Cannae. At the Battle of Zama in 202 B.C.E., the Romans decisively defeated Hannibal’s forces, and the war was over.
  • In 148 B.C.E., Macedonia was made a Roman province, and when some of the Greek states rose in revolt against Rome’s restrictive policies, Greece was placed under the control of the Roman governor of Macedonia. In 133 B.C.E., the king of Perganum deeded his kingdom to Rome, giving Rome its first province in Asia. Rome was now master of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The backbone of the Roman state and army had traditionally been the small farmers. But over time, many small farmers had found themselves unable to compete with large, wealthy landowners and had lost their lands. By taking over state-owned land and buying out small peasant owners, these landed aristocrats had developed large estates called latifundia that used slave labor. Thus the rise of the latifundia contributed to a decline in the number of small farmers. Since the latter group traditionally provided the foundation of the Roman army, the number of men available for military service declined. Moreover, many of these small farmers drifted to the cities, especially Rome, forming a large class of landless poor.
  • Some aristocrats tried to remedy this growing economic and social crisis. Two brothers, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, came to believe that the underlying cause of Rome’s problems was the decline of the small farmer. To help the landless poor, they bypassed the senate by having the council of the plebs pass land reform bills that called for the government to reclaim public land held by large landowners and distribute it to landless Romans. Many senators, themselves large landowners whose estates included large areas of public land, were furious. A group of senators took the law into their own hands and killed Tiberius in 133 B.C.E. 12 years later, Gaius suffered the same fate. The attempts of the Gracchus brothers to bring reforms had opened the door to more instability and further violence.
  • In the closing years of the 2nd century B.C.E., a Roman general named Marius began to recruit his armies in a new way. The Roman army had traditionally been a conscript army of small farmers who were landholders. Marius recruited volunteers from both the urban and rural poor who possessed no property. These volunteers swore an oath of loyalty to the general, not the senate, thus inaugurating a professional-type army that might no longer be subject to the state. Moreover, to recruit these men, a general would promise them land, forcing generals to play politics in order to get legislation passed that would provide the land for their veterans. Marius left a powerful legacy. He had created a new system of military recruitment that placed much power in the hands of the individual generals.
  • Three powerful individuals came to hold enormous military and political power – Crassus, Pompey, and Julius Caesar. Crassus, who was known as the richest man in Rome, had successfully put down a major slave rebellion. Pompey had returned from a successful military command in Spain in 71 B.C.E. and been hailed as a hero. Julius Caesar also had a military command in Spain. In 60 B.C.E., Caesar joined with Crassus and Pompey to form a coalition that historians call the first Triumvirate.
  • The combined wealth and power of these three men was enormous, enabling them to dominate the political scene and achieve their basic aims: Pompey received lands for his veterans and a command in Spain, Crassus was given a command in Syria, and Caesar was granted a special military command in Gaul (modern France), beyond the Rubicon River.
  • Caesar had conquered all of Gaul and gained fame, wealth, and military experience as well as an army of seasoned veterans who were loyal to him.
  • When leading senators decided that Pompey would be less harmful to their cause and voted for Caesar to lay down his command and return as a private citizen to Rome, Caesar refused. He chose to keep his army and moved into Italy by crossing the Rubicon, marching on Rome, and defeating Pompey and his allies, leaving Caesar in complete control of the Roman government.
  • Within a few years after Caesar’s death, two men had divided the Roman world between them – Octavian, Caesar’s heir and grandnephew, taking the west and Antony, Caesar’s ally and assistant, the east. Octavian and Antony eventually came into conflict. Antony allied himself with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII, with whom, like Caesar before him, he fell deeply in love. Both fled to Egypt, where, according to the account of the Roman historian Florus, they committed suicide a year later: Antony was the first to commit suicide by the sword and afterwards, Cleopatra got herself into the royal tomb where she lay down in a coffin beside her Antony and applied poisonous snakes to her veins.
  • At the Battle of Actium in Greece in 31 B.C.E., Octavian’s forces smashed the army and navy of Antony and Cleopatra.
  • Octavian, at the age of 32, stood supreme over the Roman world. The civil wars were ended. And so was the Republic. In 27 B.C.E., Octavian proclaimed the “restoration of the Republic.” Although he gave some power to the senate, in fact, Octavian became the first Roman emperor. The senate awarded him the title of Augustus – “the revered one” – a fitting title in view of his power, previously reserved for gods. Augustus proved highly popular, and his continuing control of the army afforded him great power. Augustus maintained a standing army of 28 legions (1 legion = 5,000 troops), or about 150,000 men. Augustus inaugurated a new system for governing the provinces and stabilized the frontiers of the Roman Empire.
  • The senate gave Augustus the title of imperator, or commander-in-chief. Imperator is Latin for our word emperor.
  • Augustus was also responsible for setting up a praetorian guard of roughly 9,000 men who had the important task of guarding the person of the emperor. Eventually, the Praetorian Guard would play a weighty role in making and deposing emperors.
  • By his actions, Augustus established the Julio-Claudian dynasty; the next four successors of Augustus were related either to his own family or that of his wife, Livia. Several major tendencies emerged during the rule of the Julio-Claudians (14-68 C.E.). In general, more and more of the responsibilities that Augustus had given to the senate tended to be taken over by the emperors, who also instituted an imperial bureaucracy, staffed by talented freedmen, to run the government on a daily basis. As the Julio-Claudian successors of Augustus acted more openly as real rulers rather than as “first citizens of the state,” the opportunity for arbitrary and corrupt acts also increased.
  • At the beginning of the 2nd century, five so-called good emperors presided over the Pax Romana. These rulers treated the ruling classes with respect, cooperated with the senate, ended arbitrary executions, maintained peace throughout the empire, and supported generally beneficial domestic policies. Though absolute monarchs, they were known for their tolerance and diplomacy. By adopting capable men as their successors, the first four good emperors reduce the chances of succession problems.
  • Under the five good emperors, the powers of the emperor continued to be extended at the expense of the senate. Increasingly, imperial officials appointed and directed by the emperor took over the running of the government. The good emperors also extended the scope of imperial administration to include areas previously untouched by the imperial government. Finally, the good emperors were widely praised for their extensive building programs.
  • The Roman Empire experienced a lengthy period of peace and prosperity between 14 and 180 during the reign of the five “good emperors.” During this Pax Romana (the “Roman Peace”) trade flourished and the provinces were governed efficiently.
  • Catullus (c. 87-54 B.C.E.) was the finest lyric poet Rome produced and one of the greatest in world literature. Catullus became a master at adapting and refining Greek forms of poetry to express his emotions. He wrote poems on a variety of subjects, including political figures, social customs, the use of language, the death of his brother, and the travails of love. He became infatuated with Clodia, the promiscuous wife of a provincial governor, and addressed a number of poems to her (called her Lesbia), describing his passionate love and hatred for her. Catullus’ ability to express in simple fashion his intense feelings and curiosity about himself and his world had a noticeable impact on later Latin poets.
  • The most distinguished poet of the Augustan age was Virgil (70-19 B.C.E.). . Virgil’s masterpiece was the Aeneid, an epic poem clearly meant to rival the work of Homer. The connection between Troy and Rome is made in the poem when Aeneas, a hero of Troy, survives the destruction of Troy and eventually settles in Latium; hence Roman civilization is linked to Greek history. Aeneas is portrayed as the ideal Roman – his virtues are duty, piety, and faithfulness. Virgil’s overall purpose was to show that Aeneas had fulfilled his mission to establish the Romans in Italy and thereby start Rome on its divine mission to rule the world. As Virgil expressed it, ruling was Rome’s gift.
  • The Romans excelled in architecture, a highly practical art. They made considerable use of curvilinear forms: the arch, vault, and dome. The Romans were also the first people in antiquity to use concrete on a massive scale. By combining concrete and curvilinear forms, they were able to construct massive buildings – public baths, such as those of Caracalla, and amphitheaters capable of seating fifty thousand spectators. These large buildings were made possible by Roman engineering skills. These same skills were put to use in constructing roads (the Romans built a network of 50,000 miles of roads throughout their empire), aqueducts (in Rome, almost a dozen aqueducts kept a population of one million supplied with water), and bridges.
  • The Twelve Tables of 450 B.C.E. was Rome’s first code of laws, but it was a product of a simple farming society and proved inadequate for later Roman needs. Nevertheless, from the Twelve Tables the Romans developed a system of civil law that applied to all Roman citizens. As Rome expanded, Romans became involved in problems between Romans and non-Romans as well as between two non-Romans. Although some of their rules of civil law could be used in these cases, special rules were often needed. These rules gave rise to a body of law known as the law of nations, defined by the Romans as “that part of the law which we apply both to ourselves and to foreigners.” Under the influence of Stoicism, the Romans came to identify their law of nations with natural law, or universal law based on reason. This enabled them to establish standards of justice that applied to all people.
  • At the heart of the Roman social structure stood the family, headed by the paterfamilias—the dominant male. The household also included the wife, sons with their wives and children, unmarried daughters, and slaves. A family was virtually a small state within the state, and the power of the paterfamilias was parallel to that of the state magistrates over the citizens. Like the Greeks, Roman males believed that the weakness of the female sex necessitated male guardians. The paterfamilias exercised that authority; upon his death, sons or nearest male relatives assumed the role of guardians.
  • The most famous slave revolt on the Italian peninsula occurred in 73 B.C.E. Led by a Thracian gladiator named Spartacus, the revolt broke out in southern Italy and involved 70,000 slaves. Spartacus managed to defeat several Roman armies before he was finally trapped and killed in southern Italy in 71 B.C.E. 6000 of his followers were crucified, the traditional form of execution for slaves.
  • Entertainment was provided on a grand scale for the inhabitants of Rome. The poet Juvenal said of the Roman masses: “But nowadays, with no vote to sell, their motto is ‘Couldn’t care less’. Time was when their plebiscite elected generals, heads of states, commanders of legions: but now they’ve pulled in their horns, there’s only two things that concern them: Bread and Circuses.” Public spectacles were provided by the emperor and other state officials as part of the great festivals- most of them religious in origin- celebrated by the state. Over 100 days a year were given over to these public holidays. The festivals included three major types of entertainment. At the Circus Maximus, horse and chariot races attracted hundreds of thousands, while dramatic and other performances were held in the theaters. But the most famous of all the public spectacles were the gladiatorial shows.
  • The gladiatorial shows were an integral part of Roman society. Perhaps the most famous was the Flavian amphitheater, called the Colosseum, constructed at Rome to seat 50,000 spectators. Where a society invests its money gives an idea of its priorities. Since the amphitheater was the primary location for the gladiatorial games, it is fair to say that public slaughter was an important part of Roman culture. Gladiatorial games were held from dawn to dusk. Contests to the death between trained fighters formed the central focus of these games. Most gladiators were slaves or condemned criminals, although some free men lured by the hope of popularity and patronage by wealthy fans participated voluntarily. They were trained for combat in special gladiatorial schools.
  • Augustus had taken a number of steps to revive the Roman state religion, which had declined during the turmoil of the late Republic. The official state religion focused on the worship of a pantheon of Greco-Roman gods and goddesses, including Juno, the patron goddess of women; Minerva, the goddess of artisans; Mars, the god of war; and Jupiter Optimus Maximus (“best and greatest”), who became the patron deity of Rome and assumed a central place in the religious life of the city. The Romans believed that observance of proper ritual by state priests brought the Romans into a proper relationship with the gods and guaranteed security, peace, and prosperity.
  • The desire for a more emotional spiritual experience led many people to the mystery religions of the Hellenistic east, which flooded into the western Roman world during the Early Empire. The mystery religions promised their followers an entry into a higher world of reality and the promise of a future life superior to the present one. They also featured elaborate rituals with deep emotional appeal. By participating in their ceremonies and performing their rites, an adherent could achieve communion with spiritual beings and undergo purification that opened the door to life after death.
  • Christianity was regarded as simply another eastern mystery religion, offering immortality as the result of the sacrificial death of a savior- god. At the same time, it offered more than the other mystery religions did. Jesus had been a human figure, easy to relate to. Moreover, Christianity had universal appeal. Unlike some mystery religions, it was not restricted to men, nor did it require a painful or expensive initiation rite, as other mystery religions did.
  • Roman involvement with the Jews began in 63 B.C.E., and by 6 C.E., Judaea (which embraced the lands of the old Jewish kingdom of Judah) had been made a province and placed under the direction of a Roman procurator
  • Unrest continued, augmented by divisions among the Jews themselves. The Sadducees favored cooperation with the Romans. The Pharisees, although they wanted Judaea to be free from Roman control, did not advocate violent means to achieve this goal. The Essenes, as revealed in the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of documents first discovered in 1947, constituted a Jewish sect that lived in a religious community near the Dead Sea. They, like most other Jews, awaited a Messiah who would save Israel from oppression, usher in the kingdom of God, and establish a true paradise on earth. A fourth group, the Zealots, were militant extremists who advocated the violent overthrow of Roman rule.
  • It was in the midst of the confusion and conflict in Judaea that Jesus of Nazareth (c. 6 B.C.E.-29 C.E.) began his public preaching. Jesus- a Palestinian Jew- grew up in Galilee, an important center of the militant Zealots. Jesus’ message was simple. He reassured his fellow Jews that he did not plan to undermine their traditional religion According to Jesus, what was important was not strict adherence to the letter of the law and attention to rules and prohibitions but the transformation of the inner person. God’s command was simple- to love God and one another: “Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presented the ethical concepts- humility, charity, and brotherly love- that would form the basis for the value system of medieval Western civilization.
  • To the Roman authorities of Palestine and their local allies, the Nazarene was a potential revolutionary who might transform Jewish expectations of a messianic kingdom into a revolt against Rome. Therefore, Jesus found himself denounced on many sides and was given over to the Roman authorities. The procurator Pontius Pilate ordered his crucifixion.
  • The most important figure in early Christianity after Jesus was Paul of Tarsus (c. 5- c. 67). Paul believed that the message of Jesus should be preached not only to Jews but to Gentiles (non-Jews) as well. Paul was responsible for founding Christian communities throughout Asia Minor and along the shores of the Aegean. Paul provided a universal foundation for the spread of Jesus’ ideas. He taught that Jesus was, in effect, a savior-god, the son of God, who had come to earth to save all humans, who were basically sinners as a result of Adam’s original sin of disobedience against God. By his death, Jesus had atoned for the sins of all humans and made possible their reconciliation with God and hence their salvation. By accepting Jesus as their savior, they too could be saved.
  • Christianity spread slowly at first. Although the teachings of early Christianity were disseminated mostly by the preaching of convinced Christians, written materials also appeared. Among them were a series of letters or epistles written by Paul outlining Christian beliefs for different Christian communities. Some of Jesus’ disciples may also have preserved some of the sayings of the master in writing and would have passed on personal memories that became the basis of the written gospels- the “good news” concerning Jesus- which were written down between 50 and 150 and attempted to give a record of Jesus’ life and teachings; these texts formed the core of the New Testament.
  • At the end of the 3rd century and beginning of the 4th, the Roman Empire gained a new lease on life through the efforts of two strong emperors, Diocletian and Constantine, who restored order and stability. The Roman Empire was virtually transformed into a new state: the so-called Late Empire, which included a new governmental structure, a rigid economic and social system, and a new state religion – Christianity. Both Diocletian (284-305) and Constantine (306-337) expanded imperial control by strengthening and enlarging the administrative bureaucracies of the Roman Empire.
  • Additional military reforms were also inaugurated. The army was enlarged to half a million men, including German units. Mobile units were established that could be quickly moved to support frontier troops where the borders were threatened. Though more revenues were needed to pay for the army and bureaucracy, the population was not growing, so the tax base could not be expanded. Diocletian and Constantine devised new economic and social policies to deal with these financial burdens. To ensure the tax base and keep the empire going despite the shortage of labor, the emperors issued edicts that forced people to remain in their designated vocations.
  • In general, the economic and social policies of Diocletian and Constantine were based on an unprecedented degree of control and coercion. Though temporarily successful, such authoritarian policies in the long run stifled the very vitality the Late Empire needed to revive its sagging fortunes.
  • In the 4th century, Christianity prospered as never before after Constantine (306-337) became the first Christian emperor. Although he was not baptized until the end of his life, in 313 Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, officially tolerating the existence of Christianity. Under Theodosius “the Great” (378-395), it was made the official religion of the Roman Empire. Christianity had triumphed.
  • Constantine’s biggest project was the construction of a new capital city in the east on the site of the Greek city of Byzantium on the shores of the Bosporus. Eventually renamed Constantinople (modern Istanbul), it was developed for defensive reasons: it had an excellent strategic location. Calling it his “New Rome,” Constantine endowed the city with a forum, large palaces, and a vast amphitheater.
  • Ferocious warriors from Asia, known as Huns (who may have been related to the Xiongnu, the invaders of the Han Empire in China), moved into eastern Europe and put pressure on the Germanic Visigoths, who in turn moved south and west, crossed the Danube into Roman territory, and settled down as Roman allies. But the Visigoths soon revolted, and the Roman attempt to stop them at Adrianople in 378 led to a crushing defeat for Rome. Increasing numbers of Germans now crossed the frontiers. In 410, the Visigoths sacked Rome. Vandals poured into southern Spain and Africa, Visigoths into Spain and Gaul. The Vandals crossed into Italy from North Africa and ravaged Rome again in 455.
  • Twenty-one years after 455, the western emperor Romulus Augustulus (475-476) was deposed, and a series of Germanic kingdoms replaced the Roman Empire in the west while an eastern Roman Empire continued with its center at Constantinople.
  1. “Seven Hills”
  1. Horatius at the Bridge
  1. Livy and Tacitus
  1. Tiber River
  1. Etruscans
  1. Senate
  1. Consuls and Praetors
  1. Centuriate and Council of the Plebs
  1. Tribunes
  1. Patricians and Plebeians
  1. Carthage
  1. Punic Wars
  1. Hannibal
  1. Cannae and Zama
  1. Perganum
  1. Latifundia
  1. Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus
  1. Marius
  1. Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus
  1. Gaul
  1. “Crossing the Rubicon”
  1. Antony and Cleopatra VII
  1. Battle of Actium
  1. Octavian/Augustus
  1. Imperator
  1. Praetorian Guard
  1. Julio-Claudians
  1. “The Good Emperors”
  1. Pax Romana
  1. Catullus
  1. Virgil’s Aeneid
  1. Concrete
  1. Twelve Tables
  1. Paterfamilias
  1. Spartacus Rebellion
  1. “Bread and Circuses”
  1. The Colosseum and Gladiators
  1. Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, and Mars
  1. Mystery Religions
  1. Judaea
  1. Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and Zealots
  1. Jesus of Nazareth
  1. Paul of Tarsus
  1. New Testament
  1. Diocletian and Constantine
  1. The Edict of Milan
  1. Constantine’s “New Rome”
  1. Huns and Visigoths
  1. Romulus Augustulus

 

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