1. Latins, an Indo-European people who were the ancestors of the Romans, settled at Alba Longa on the mouth of the Tiber River in the Italian peninsula some time between 1500 and 1000 BC.
  2. Moved up river to Roma in 753 BC (threatened by Greeks seeking new colonies and the Etruscans, a non-Indo-European people probably from Asia Minor)
    1. Roma built on seven hills surrounded by fertile plain of Latium (superb defensive position and good land for agriculture)
    2. Government

                                                               i.      Tribal monarchs elected by noble warriors

                                                             ii.      Council of noble warriors or patricians known as the Senatus

  1. 509 BC patricians overthrew monarch; established a republic (res publica or public thing)
    1. Abuse of Tarquins or patrician power play?
    2. Executive: two magistrates or consuls

                                                               i.      Elected for one year

                                                             ii.      Could veto (I forbid) each other

                                                            iii.      Commanded the army, convened the assembly and supervised finances

    1. Senate: ex-consuls and ex-military officers

                                                               i.      Chief advisory body

                                                             ii.      Held office for life unless ejected by the censor

    1. Centuriate Assembly (comitia centuriata)

                                                               i.      Elected consuls

                                                             ii.      Determined political policies

    1. No role for common people or plebs
  1. The Struggle of the Orders (plebeian efforts to obtain political voice)
    1. 494 BC general strike
    2. Tribunes who could veto acts of the magistrates and bring plebeian concerns to the senate
    3. 471 tribunal assembly (concilium plebis)
    4. 450 BC ancient legal customs codified: Twelve Tables
    5. 421 quaestorship (office in charge of the treasury and criminal prosecution) open to plebs
    6. 367 BC the Licinius-Sextus Laws one plebeian consul
    7. 287 BC acts of Tribunal Assembly (concilium plebis) binding on all
  2. Foreign Policy was Imperialist (see map)
    1. 500-275 BC conquered Italy; Roman Confederacy gave local self-government but required service in Roman army
    2. By 30 BC controlled Mediterranean (Mare Nostrum)
    3. Affected domestic policies

                                                               i.      From 3rd c. BC on, influx of slaves, loot and tribute undermined traditional Roman economy

                                                             ii.      Senators acquired huge estates (latifunda) and turned fields into pasture for cattle

                                                            iii.      Displaced agricultural workers became urban proletariat

                                                           iv.      40 percent of Rome’s one million people were slaves

                                                             v.      Increased disparity between rich and poor

  1. Roman Revolutions (133-27 BC)
    1. Marked by political assassinations, gang warfare, and civil war
    2. Destroyed the institutions of the republic
    3. Reformers such as the Gracchi brothers, Tiberius Gracchus in 133 BC and his brother Gaius Gracchus in 123 BC, murdered
  2. Julius Caesar (100 – 44 BC)
    1. 60 BC part of a triumvirate of three rulers with general Pompey and banker and general Crassus
    2. Used political connections to get military command in Gaul
    3. Used army’s triumphs to increase political power in Rome
    4. Defied Pompey and crossed the Rubicon River in 49 BC
    5. Defeated Pompey and declared dictator for life
    6. Embarked on a series of government reforms

                                                               i.      Instituted program of public works

                                                             ii.      Founded colonies

                                                            iii.      Extended citizenship to provincials

                                                           iv.      Redid the calendar

    1. Defender of democratic forces or potential tyrant?

                                                               i.      Murdered on Ides of March, 44 BC

                                                             ii.      Deified by populace

  1. Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian (ruled 31 BC – 14 AD)
    1. Caesar’s 18-year-old nephew and adopted son
    2. Defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra at Alexandria in 30 BC and assumed sole leadership of the Empire
    3. Claimed to restore the republic

                                                               i.      Senate packed

                                                             ii.      Proclaimed Princeps or First Citizen

                                                            iii.      Made imperator “emperor” (commander) of the army, supreme priest

                                                           iv.      Titled Augustus (Revered)

  1. Roman Empire
    1. Maintained fiction of republic

                                                               i.      27 BC offered to give up power but Senate resisted

                                                             ii.      Claimed to rule with advice and consent of the people

    1. Instituted reforms

                                                               i.      Restored law and order (creating the Roman police force, the Praetorian Guard)

                                                             ii.      Created professional civil service and professional standing army

                                                            iii.      Passed a series of laws to reform family life and to increase the birthrate

  1. Pax Romana (27 BC – 180 AD)
    1. 200 years of relative peace and prosperity for Mediterranean World

                                                               i.      Although problem with Augustus’ successors -- 7 of first 10 caesars met violent ends (Caligula stabbed by own guard; Claudius fed poisoned mushrooms by wife; Nero committed suicide)

                                                             ii.      No law regulating succession; most named successors

    1. Until the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 AD, Roman rule was generally efficient, not terribly burdensome, and relatively tolerant

                                                               i.      Usually respected traditions of peoples they ruled, e.g. religion

                                                             ii.      Granted all freemen in the empire Roman citizenship by 212 AD

    1. Limitations of Pax Romana

                                                               i.      Jews refused to worship Roman gods or emperors; led to diaspora in 2nd c. AD

                                                             ii.      Many achievements due to widespread use of slave labor

                                                            iii.      Debate over decadence; Bread and Circuses

1.      Roman citizens devoted afternoons to entertaining

2.      175 festivals by the 4th c.

3.      Indulged in public baths – 800 in Rome

4.      Attended theatre and chariot races (Circus Maximus seated 200,000+)

5.      Sponsored gladiatorial and animal games at Colosseum (neuter of the Latin word for gigantic) which seated 45,000+

6.      Provided outlet for aggressions

7.      Distributed free grain to poor in Rome


“The bath, wine, and love ruin one’s health but make life worth living.”