11. Unification of Western Eurasia: Rome

I. What Were the Origins and Political Organization of the Roman Republic?
A. Geographical Features of the Italian Peninsula

B. Early Settlers of the Italian Peninsula
1. Arrival of Indo-European people about 1,000 B.C.E.
2. Greeks settled in the south of Italy by 800 B.C.E.
- introduction of Greek culture
3. Etruscans
- city dwelling people highly influenced by Greek culture
- conquered much of Italy by 650 B.C.E.

C. The Founding of Rome > Legends
1. Founding of Rome in 753 B.C.E. - credited to Romulus and Remus

2. Ruled by seven kings (753-509 B.C.E.); two of the last three were Etruscan

3. Overthrow of the Estruscan monarchy by 509 B.C.E. by the patricians in retaliation for the rape of Lucretia

D. Government
1. Executive authority
- Imperium > the right to command
- Executive Officials:
> Consul; Praetor; Dictator
> Proconsul; Propraetor

2. Administrative Officials:
- Quaestor
- Aedile
- Censor

3. Senate
- comprised of patricians who served for life
- advised on laws, eventually its advice had the force of law

4. Assembly
- organized by class with the upper classes always having the majority
- passed laws, elected chief magistrates, declared war
- plebes resented their lack of real political power

5. Plebian Assembly (471 B.C.E.)
- headed by two elected Tribunes
- plebiscita (it is the opinion of the plebes)
> proposals brought before the plebian assembly; binding only on the plebes
- accomplishments
• Twelve Tables of Law (450 B.C.E.)
• intermarriage allowed between patricians and plebes
• consulships and religious offices were open (367 B.C.E.)
• by 287 B.C.E. plebiscita had the force of law

E. Establishment of Empire
1. Conquest of Italy (493-264 B.C.E.)
- Samnite Wars vs. the Latin tribes
- Pyrrhic War vs. the Greeks

2. Punic Wars (264-146 B.C.E.) vs. Carthaginians

II. What Contributed to the Fall of the Roman Republic and the Establishment of the Roman Empire?
A. Social Divisions
1. Upper Classes
a) Nobles
- men from both patrician and plebian orders whose families dominated the important political offices; landed wealth
b) Equestrians
- descendants of Rome’s military elite; acquired a great deal of wealth from the creation of the Empire

2. Lower classes
a) small farmers - displaced as unable to compete with imported grain and large landowners
b) urban workers - skilled and unskilled; without landed property

B. Political Conflict
1. The Gracchi Brothers:
Tiberius > Tribune 133 B.C.E.
Gaius > Tribune 123-122 B.C.E.
- worked to restore land to the farmers and both of their terms ended with their murders


2. Legacy of violence to settle political disputes

C. Rise of an Independent Military
1. Marius (157-86 B.C.E.) - Roman Commander
- to defend Rome against Celtic invasion introduced military innovations:
• recruited landless Romans into the army
• rewarded them with war booty and land
• created a professional army
• recruits swore an oath of loyalty to their Commander rather than the Senate

2. began a period of almost continuous civil war

D. Julius Cesar – Dictator (48-44 B.C.E.)
- Consolidated his power
• over the Senate by appointing those loyal to him and increasing their numbers to 900
• over the provinces by granting citizenship to his supporters
- adopted the Egyptian calendar
- assassinated shortly after being made dictator for life

E. The Roman Empire
1. Octavian
- after a period of Civil War (43-31 B.C.E.), Cesar’s grandnephew and heir gained control of the Empire
- proclaimed the restoration of the republic, but gradually created a military dictatorship
- ruled as “Augustus” (31B.C.E.- 14 C.E.)

III. What was the Social Organization of the Roman Empire?

A. The Social Order
1. Upper classes
- became extremely wealthy through new opportunities offered by the Roman conquests

2. A large and wealthy middle class
> trade and finance

3. Small farmers
> under stress

4. Lower urban classes
> mob potential

5. Slaves
> numbers dramatically increased as the empire expanded

B. Women
1. Patriarchal Society

2. Roman women had more freedom than Greek women
- men and women did not inhabit separate spheres
- could inherit, acquire, dispose of property
- marriages were arranged
- women remained under the authority of their fathers after marriage
- after their fathers died they gained an independent status
- divorce fairly easy to obtain

C. Influence of Greek Culture
1. Wars of conquest resulted in numerous Greek and Hellenistic people being brought back to Rome as captives including artists, philosophers and craftsmen

2. children of the wealthy classes received a traditional Greek education with its focus on rhetoric and philosophy

3. Greek became the second language of educated people

4. Greek poetry, literature and art dominated Roman culture

IV. What Were the Origins of Christianity and How Did It Spread?
A. Jews undergoing conflict and struggle

1. Split in the community
- those who retained their Semitic heritage
- those who assimilated into Hellenistic society

2. Resistance to Roman rule
- Rome conquered Judea (40 B.C.E.)
- Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.E.) was appointed king by the Romans, but failed to gain the support of the Jews
- Ten years after Herod’s death Roman rule was imposed and resisted
- Destruction of the Temple (70 C.E.) and dispersal of the Jews

B. Jesus of Nazareth(c.6 B.C.E.-30 C.E.)
1. One of many Jewish teachers and prophets, began to attract a following among the Semitic Jews of Galilee about 30 C.E.

2. Recognized as the Messiah

3. His teachings were unique
- focus on the transformation of the inner person
- only two laws: love God, love on another
- ethical principles: Sermon on the Mount emphasized humility, charity, brotherly love

C. Spread of Christianity
1. Jesus’s teaching spread from Judea to the Hellenistic cities in the east where they were introduced to the Greek speaking communities

2. St. Paul (c. 3-54 C.E.)
- a Hellenized Jew from Tarsus in Asia Minor who became a Christian missionary
- first to write down the doctrines of the new religion: emphasized the divine nature of Jesus and His role as Savior; faith in Jesus as a means of salvation

3. Separation of Judaism and Christianity
- Should non-Jews be expected to live according to Jewish law and ceremonials?
- No, the new revelations superseded the old law

4. Early followers of the new religion:
- “humble men”
- women from all social and economic groups

5. Early organization
- observed weekly rituals
- active in missionary and charitable work
- looked to the guidance of a local bishop
- after 70-110C.E. the gospels of Mark, Luke, Matthew, John appeared; along with the letters of St. Paul comprised the New Testament

D. Problems faced by early Christians
1. Interpretation of texts
- the Gnostics
- theological school founded in Alexandria, Egypt

2. Conflict with the Roman State
- refusal to worship state gods > treasonous
- as a semi-secret religion it was illegal
- generally Christians were not prosecuted

3. Roman adoption of Christianity
- Great Persecution of Christians (303-312 C.E.)
> part of Diocletion’s program to restore and strengthen Roman institutions
- the courage of the Christians inspired conversions

4. Edict of Rome (313 C.E.)
- Constantine granted the Christians religious toleration

5. Theodosius the Great made Christianity the state religion in 380 C.E.

V. What Led to the Collapse of the Roman Empire in the West?
A. Overall Decline
1. Political decline
- Civil Wars (180-192)
> Marcus Aurelius (the last of five good emperors) was succeeded by his incompetent son, Commodus
- Military monarchy (193-235)
> Severan rulers
- Military anarchy (235-284)

2. Invasion
- Persians from the east; Germanic tribes in the west

3. Economic collapse
- debasement of coinage
- return to barter
- decline of long distance trade

4. Weakening of the military
> increasing reliance on subject peoples and the Germanic barbarians

B. Restoration of the fourth century
1. Diocletion (284-305) > divided the Empire into two administrative halves

2. Constantine (306-337) > established Constantinople as the new capital

C. Collapse of Roman authority in West
1. A new period of civil war after Constantine’s death

2. A new intensity to the Germanic invasion in the north due to the westward movement of the Huns

3. Sack of Rome in 410
- last Roman Empire in the west, Romulus Augustus, deposed in 476

D. Transformation of the West
1. Establishment of Germanic states


2. Development of Medieval civilization: a synthesis of Latin, Germanic and Christian cultures

E. Transformation of the East
1. Continuation of the Roman Empire (until 1453)

2. Development of Byzantine civilization: a synthesis of Latin, Hellenistic and Christian cultures

F. Islamic Empire
1. the rise and expansion of Islam in the 7th Century

2. Development of Islamic Civilization: a synthesis Arab, Persian and Islamic cultures
 

 

 

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