Chapter 6: Ancient Rome and Early Christianity, 500 B.C.- A.D. 500
Chapter 6.1: The Roman Republic
The city of Rome was founded in 753 B.C. by Romulus and Remus, twin sons of the god Mars and a Latin princess according to legend.
The earliest settlers on the Italian peninsula arrived in prehistoric times.
Around 600 B.C. an Etruscan became king of Rome.
Rome grew from a collection of hilltop villages to a city that covered nearly 500 square miles.
Various kings ordered the construction of Rome’s first temples and public centers- the most famous of which was the Forum, the heart of Roman political life.
The last king of Rome was Tarquin the Proud.
In the early republic, different groups of Romans struggled for power.
One group was the patricians.
The other group was the plebeians.
The patricians inherited their power and social status.
The plebeians were citizens of Rome with the right to vote.
An important victory for the plebeians was to force the creation of a written law code.
With laws unwritten, patrician officials often interpreted the law to suit themselves.
In 451 B.C. a group of ten officials began writing down Rome’s laws.
In the first century B.C. Roman writers boasted that Rome had achieved a balanced government.
The Roman’s placed great value on their military.
All citizens who owned land were required to serve in the army.
Seekers of certain public offices had to perform ten years of military service.
Roman soldiers were organized into large military units called legions.
The military organization and fighting skill of the Roman army were key factors in Rome’s rise to greatness.
Roman power grew slowly but steadily as the legions battled for control of the Italian peninsula.
By the fourth century B.C. the Romans dominated central Italy.
They defeated the Etruscans to the north and the Greek city states to the south.
By 265 B.C. the Romans were masters of nearly all of Italy.
Rome had different laws and treatment for different parts of its conquered territory.
The neighboring Latins on the Tiber became full citizens of Rome.
In territories farther from Rome, conquered peoples enjoyed all the rights of Roman citizenship except the vote.
All of the conquered groups fell into a third category, allies of Rome.
Rome did not interfere with its allies, as long as they supplied troops for the Roman army and did not make treaties of friendship with any other state.
Rome’s location gave it easy access to the riches of the lands ringing the Mediterranean Sea.
The Romans found a daring military leader to match Hannibal’s boldness.
Chapter 6.2: The Roman Empire
Rome’s increasing wealth and expanding boundaries brought many problems.
The most serious were growing discontent among the lower classes of society and a breakdown in military order.
As Rome grew, the gap between rich and poor grew wider.
Many of Rome’s rich landowners lived on huge estates.
Thousands of enslaved persons were forced to work on these estates.
Small farmers found it difficult to compete with the large estates run by the labor of enslaved people.
Many of these farmers were former soldiers.
A large number of them sold their lands to wealthy landowners and became homeless and jobless.
Most stayed in the countryside and worked as seasonal migrant laborers.
Some headed to Rome and other cities looking for work.
They joined the ranks of the urban poor, a group tat totaled about ¼ of roman society.
Two brothers, Tiberius and Gaius attempted to help Rome’s poor.
They proposed such reforms as limiting the size of estates and giving land to the poor.
They made enemies of numerous senators, who felt threatened by their ideas.
Adding to the growing turmoil within the republic was a breakdown of the once-loyal military.
As the republic grew more unstable, generals began seizing greater power for themselves.
They recruited soldiers from the landless poor by promising them land.
In 60 B.C. a military leader named Julius Caesar joined forces with Crassus, a wealthy Roman, and Pompey, a popular general.
Caesar was a strong leader and a genius at military strategy.
He served only one year as consul.
During 58-50 B.C. Caesar led his legions in a grueling but successful campaign to conquer all of Gaul.
Pompey became his political rival and they feared Caesar's ambitions.
After Caesar’s death, civil war broke out again and destroyed what was left of the Roman Republic.
Rome was at the peak of its power from the beginning of Augustus’s rule in 27 B.C. to A.D. 180.
For 207 years peace reigned throughout the empire except for some fighting with tribes along the borders.
The romans held their vast empire together in part through efficient government and able rulers.
Agriculture was the most important industry in the empire.
Rome emphasized the values of discipline, strength, and loyalty.
Slavery was a significant part of Roman life.
It was widespread and important to the economy.
The Romans made more use of the slaves than any previous civilization .
Slaves could be bought and sold.
They could be punished, rewarded, set free, or put to death as their masters saw fit.
Slaves worked in both the city and on the farm.
Many were treated cruelly and worked hard at labor all day long.
Some strong, healthy males were forced to become gladiators, or professional fighters, who fought to the death in public contests.
Slaves in the wealthier areas were treated better.
The earliest Romans worshipped powerful spirits or divine forces called numina
Closely related to these spirits were the Lares who were the guardian spirits of each family.
They gave names to these powerful gods and goddesses and honored them through various rituals, hoping to gain favor and avoid misfortune.
Government and religion were linked in Rome.
Wealth and social status made huge differences in how people lived.
By A.D. 250, there were 150 holidays a year.
On these days of celebration, the Colosseum would fill with the rich and the poor people alike .
The spectacles they watched combined bravery and cruelty, honor and violence.
In animal shows, wild creatures brought from distant lands, such as tigers, lions, and bears, fought to the death.
In other contests, gladiators engaged in combat with animals or each other until one of them was killed.
Chapter 6.3: The Rise of Christianity
Roman power spread to Judea, the home of the Jew, around 63 B.C.
At first the Jewish kingdom remained independent, at least in name.
Rome took control of the Jewish kingdom in A.D. 6 and made it a province of the empire.
A number of Jews believed that they would once again be free.
Historians believe that sometime around 6-4 B.C. a Jew named Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea.
Jesus was raised in the village of Nazareth in northern Palestine.
He was baptized by a prophet known as John the Baptist.
As a young man he took up the trade of carpentry.
At the age of 30, Jesus began his public ministry.
For the next three years, he preached, taught, did good works, and reportedly performed miracles.
He emphasized God’s personal relationship to each human being.
He stressed the importance of people’s love for God , their neighbors, their enemies, and even themselves.
He also taught that God would end wickedness in the world and would establish an eternal kingdom after death for people who sincerely repented their sins.
Historical records of the time mention very little about Jesus.
Jesus’ growing popularity concerned both Roman and Jewish leaders.
When Jesus visited Jerusalem about A.D. 29, enthusiastic crowds greeted him as the Messiah, or king- the one who, the Bible had said, would come to rescue the Jews.
The Chief priests of the Jews, however, denied that Jesus was the Messiah.
They said his teachings were blasphemy, or contempt for God.
The Roman governor Pontius Pilate accused Jesus of defying the authority of Rome.
One man, the apostle Paul, had enormous influence on Christianity's development.
During the early years of Christianity, much Roman attention was focused on the land of Jesus’ birth and on the Jews.
In A.D. 66 a band of Jews rebelled against Rome.
In A.D. 70 the Romans stormed Jerusalem and destroyed the temple complex
The Jews made another attempt to break free of the Romans in A.D. 132.
Another half million Jew died in three years of fighting.
The Jewish religion survived and the Jewish political state ceased to exist for more than 1800 years.
Most Jews were driven from their homeland into exile.
Christians also posed a problem for the Roman rulers.
Despite persecution of its followers, Christianity became a powerful force.
A critical moment in Christianity occurred in A.D. 312 when the Roman emperor Constantine was fighting three rivals for leadership of Rome.
He had marched to the Tiber River at Rome to battle his chief rival.
The day before the battle at Milvian Bridge, Constantine prayed for divine help.
He reported that he saw the image of a cross, a symbol of Christianity.
He ordered artisans to put the Christian symbol on his soldiers’ shields.
His troops were victorious in battle.
On A.D. 313 Constantine announced an end to the persecution of Christians.
He declared Christianity to be one of the religions approved by the emperor.
Christianity continued to gain strength.
In 380, the emperor Theodosius made it the empire’s official religion.
By this time Christians had given their religion a structure, much as the Roman Empire had a hierarchy.
At the local level, a priest led each small group of Christians.
A bishop, who was also a priest, supervised several local churches.
Eventually, every major city had its own bishop.
Later bishops of Rome claimed to be the heirs of Peter.
As Christianity grew, disagreements about beliefs developed among its followers.
Church leaders called any belief that appeared to contradict the basic teachings a heresy.
In an attempt to end conflicts, Church leader tried to set a single, official standard of belief.
These beliefs were compiled in the New Testament, which contained the four Gospels, the Epistles of Paul, and other documents.
The New Testament was added to the Hebrew bible, which Christians called the Old Testament.
In A.D. 325, Constantine moved to solidify further the teachings of Christianity.
Also influential in defining Church teachings were several early writers and scholars who have been called the Fathers of the Church.
Chapter 6.4: The Fall of the Roman Empire
During the third century A.D. several factors prompted the weakening of Rome’s economy.
Hostile tribes outside the boundaries of the empire and pirates on the Mediterranean Sea disrupted trade.
The Romans lacked new sources of gold and silver.
The economy soon suffered from inflation.
Agriculture faced equally serious problems.
By the third century A.D the Roman military was also in disarray.
Roman soldiers in general had become less disciplined and loyal.
To defend against the increasing threats to the empire, the government began to recruit mercenaries.
Mercenaries: foreign soldiers who fought for money
They would accept lower pay than Romans, they fely little sense of loyalty to the empire.
Rome survived intact for another 200 years.
This was due largely to reform-minded emperors and the empire’s division into two parts.
In A.D. 284 Diocletian, a strong-willed army leader, became the new emperor.
Siocletian believed that the empire had grown too large and too complex for one ruler.
He divided the empire into the Greek speaking East and the Latin-speaking West.
He took the eastern half for himself and appointed a co-ruler for the West
He retired in A.D. 305 due to his ill health.
His plans for orderly succession failed.
Civil war broke out immediately.
By 311, four rivals were competing for power.
With Byzantium as its capital, the center of power in the empire shifted from Rome to the east.
Soon the new capital stood protected by massive walls and filled with imperial buildings modeled after those in Rome.
The city eventually took a new name Constantinople, or the city of Constantine.
The decline of the Western Roman Empire took place over many years.
Its final collapse was the result of worsening internal problems, the separation of the Western Empire from the wealthier Eastern part, and outside invasions.
Germanic peoples had gathered on the northern borders of the empire and coexisted in relative peace with Rome.
The Huns were indirectly responsible for the Germanic assault on the empire, and became a direct threat.
Chapter 6.5: Rome and the Roots of Western Civilization
Under the Roman Empire, hundreds of territories were knitted into a single state.
Each Roman province and city was governed in the same way.;
By the second century B.C. Romans had conquered Greece and had come to greatly admire Greek culture.
Educated Romans learned the Greek language.
The mixing of elements of Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman culture produced a new culture, called Greco-Roman culture.
This was often called classical civilization.
Roman artists, philosophers, and writers did not merely copy their Greek and Hellenistic models.
They adapted them for their own purposes and created a style of their own.
Roman art and literature came to convey the Roman ideals of strength, permanence, and solidity.
Romans learned the art of sculpture from the Greeks.
The reign of Augustus was a period of great artistic achievement.
The Romans borrowed much of their philosophy from the Greeks.
Stoicism, the philosophy of the Greek teacher Zeno, was especially influential.
It encouraged virtue, duty, moderation, and endurance.
The Romans wrote excellent prose, especially history.
The presence of Rome is still felt daily in the languages, the institutions, and the thoughts of the western world.
Visitors from all over the empire marveled at the architecture of Rome.
The arch, the dome, and concrete were combined to build spectacular structures, such as the Colosseum.
Roman roads were also technological marvels.
Rome’s most lasting and widespread contribution was its law.