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What is Rome’s Geographic Setting?
• Peninsula- land surrounded by water on three sides • Rivers, hills, and fertile soil • Italy was in the center of the Mediterranean Sea • Rome was in central Italy, near the Tiber River • Rome was the main, central city of the Western
Roman Empire 110 AD
Roman Empire 117 AD
The Origin of Rome
The foundation of Roma goes back to 753 BC. But this date comes from a myth, so it represents
tradition rather than the truth. But in the first 200 years, it was a relatively small and unimportant monarchy. There was no defined urban core. There were autonomous communities. There were extreme ethnic, political, religious, social, economic and linguistic diversity.
There were Etruscans on the north, in Tuscany. Rome developed under the influence of Etruscans. Etruscans spoke a foreign language and they were
kings of Rome. In late sixth century BC the Romans established their independence from Etruscans. But the Romans borrowed ideas from the Greeks and the Etruscans.
Political Evolution of Rome
The Romans have had almost every type of
government. They had a kingdom, a republic, a dictatorship, and an empire. Their democracy would be the basis for most modern democracies.
Monarchy (753 – 509 BC) Republic (509 – 29 BC) Empire (29 BC – 476 and 1453 )
Roman expansion was particularly rapid under the
later Republic and early Empire. It established itself in north-west Europe, and in the Danube Basin. It established control over Spain, Greece and Carthaginian North Africa in (509 – 218 BC). The expansion of Rome slowed during the 1th and 2nd centuries AD. The only significant gains had been the annexation of lowland Britain, Armenia and Kurdistan on the Black Sea.
The population of Roman Italy reached to 5 million by
100 AD. Roman society had militaristic nature. The big population with militaristic character led Romans to political expansion, conquest and colonization. But the result of rapid expansion was the losses of manpower during wars.
The Romans Society
The Roman population was divided into two groups: Patricians
and plebeians. The patricians were the descendants of the most ancient and powerful families (nobles), they were landowners, lived in large houses, and they had political power in the senate. The plebeians were mainly artisans or peasants who worked the patricians' land; they lived in apartments and they had very limited political rights. The two classes were quite divided: the patricians married and did business only with the people of their class. Senate was made up of 300 upper class men, patricians.
Both Patricians and plebeians had the right to vote.
But only patricians had the right to hold any political, military or religious offices. Basically all the power was in the hands of the patricians. Although the plebeians had fewer rights than the patricians they still had to serve in the army and pay taxes to the people that were oppressing them.
A comparison of two classes
Slaves: If they could gain it, both classes had slaves to do
the work. Citizenship: The citizens of Rome were adult freemen from both classes - plebs and patricians. Women, children, and slaves were not citizens. People from all classes considered themselves as Romans. Religion: Both classes worshiped the same gods and attended religious festivals. Language: Both classes spoke the same language, Latin. Forum: Both classes enjoyed the activities in the Forum, including the many free activities such as jugglers.
Slavery in the ancient world and in Rome was vital to
both the economy and even the social fabric of the society. The Romans established their hegemony on Italy and Sicily. And they transported millions of slaves to Rome, the Italian countryside and Latin colonies all over Europe. They borrowed this tradition of slavery from Hellenic world. For Marxist historians, the big reliance on slavery was the main reason of the Roman decline.
More Territory, More Slaves
In each war, the Republic acquired additional
territory and slave. According to Marxist historians, to gain slave was so important like to gain territory. Rome’s slave population was not self-reproducing. In each conquest, Rome gained new territories. To exploit new territories, it demanded more slaves.
In about 200 BC, the Eastern Mediterranean was
under Greek domination. This region possessed the best institutions such as; assembly, gymnasium, theaters and agoras. But there was despotism and enlightenment at the same time.
Roman economy remained predominantly based on
agriculture. Roman towns and cities remained as the centers of consumption rather than production. The estimated number of Roman towns and cities in the 2nd Century AD. Over 600 in Greece and Italy 150 in Iberia 50 in Mediterranean France and 60 in Dalmatia
Roman Urbanism: Rome
Rome was the focus of urbanism. It provided political leadership. It inspired morality and religious belief. It established conceptions of taste and fashion. Rome as a city was imitated by other provincial cities
throughout the Republic and Empire. There were different cultural traditions like Hellenistic, Near Eastern, Eastern and European. And these different cultures were fusing under the leadership of Rome.
Rome as Megapolis
Rome was the chief-city in a federation of city states. In the 1st Century AD, it had become a megapolis. Its population was about 5 million. There was no other city like Rome both in terms of
size and importance. Alexandria’s population was around 300,000 and Carthage’s was about 20,000
Rome’s Trade Network
Rome was dependent on a wide range of economies,
efficient communications and transport technologies for the resources required for its growing population. Grain trade is a good case point. Corn was the single most important food item for the population. Rome required 200,000 tonnes of corn for a year. This huge amount was coming from Campania, Etruria, Umbria and later from Sardinia, Sicily and North Africa. The corn was sent from these regions as payment in kind for imperial taxation.
Life in Rome
The citizens of Rome lived in a congested and
stressful urban environment like 21 the century urban man. Like Athens before it, it had complex topography and irregular city plan. Roman urbanism developed on the basis of Hellenistic and Carthaginian cultures of the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean. In these cultures, urbanism was more ancient.
The Differences Between Roman and Greek Cities
Roman and Greek cities were quite similar. The difference was the scale and elaboration of cities. Hellenistic cities were refurbished by the Romans. For example, agora was enlarged as a Roman forum. At Ephesus, an Ancient Hellenistic city, all the major
buildings were constructed or rebuilt during the first and second centuries AD.
THE PEAK OF ROMANS
The 2nd Century AD was the peak of Roman imperial
achievement. The Romans became the master of the Mediterranean. • Roman expansion led to the conquering of Northern Africa. • They conquered Carthage, Spain, Greece, and Gaul (France).
THE END OF EMPIRE
The reasons of decline: For Marxists, slave trade, decline in slave trade. Political fragmentation between big geography. It had
expanded behind its capacity. The long distance for trade, difficulty in the transportation of resources. Big migrations of different tribes. In 395 AD, the Empire was divided as Eastern and Western Empires. The Western Empire was collapsed shortly after in 476 AD. The Eastern Empire became more successful and continued until the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople.