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Introduction to Ancient Rome

Introduction to Ancient Rome

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Introduction to Ancient Rome

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173 página
2 horas
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Publicado:
Aug 31, 2016
ISBN:
9781531294779
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Libro

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The early Roman state seems to have been formed by the union of three communities. These constituted three tribes, known as Ramnes (the Romans proper, who gave name to the mixed people), Tities, and Luceres. Each of these tribes was divided into ten wards, or districts (curiæ); each ward was made up of gentes, or clans, and each clan was composed of a number of families. The heads of these families were called patres, or "fathers," and all the members patricians, that is, "children of the fathers."
At the head of the nation stood the King, who was the father of the state. He was at once ruler of the people, commander of the army, judge and high priest of the nation, with absolute power as to life and death.
Next to the king stood the Senate, or "council of the old men," composed of the "fathers," or heads of the families. This council had no power to enact laws: the duty of its members was simply to advise with the king, who was free to follow or to disregard their suggestions.
The Popular Assembly (comitia curiata) comprised all the citizens of Rome, that is, all the members of the patrician families, old enough to bear arms. It was this body that enacted the laws of the state, determined upon peace or war, and also elected the king...
Editorial:
Publicado:
Aug 31, 2016
ISBN:
9781531294779
Formato:
Libro

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Introduction to Ancient Rome - Phillip Myers

INTRODUCTION TO ANCIENT ROME

Phillip Myers

ENDYMION PRESS

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Copyright © 2016 by Phillip Myers

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE ROMAN KINGDOM

THE ROMAN RELIGION

THE EARLY ROMAN REPUBLIC: CONQUEST OF ITALY, (509-264 B.C.)

SECESSION OF THE PLEBEIANS.

WARS FOR THE MASTERY OF ITALY

THE FIRST PUNIC WAR. (264-241 B.C.)

ROME BETWEEN THE FIRST AND THE SECOND PUNIC WAR

CARTHAGE BETWEEN THE FIRST AND THE SECOND PUNIC WAR.

THE SECOND PUNIC WAR.

EVENTS BETWEEN THE SECOND AND THE THIRD PUNIC WAR

THE THIRD PUNIC WAR

WAR IN SPAIN

THE LAST CENTURY OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC. (133-31 B.C.)

THE LAST CENTURY OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC (concluded). (133-31 B.C.)

THE ROMAN EMPIRE (From 31 B.C. to A.D. 180.)

ROMAN EMPERORS FROM AUGUSTUS TO MARCUS AURELIUS. (From 31 B.C. to A.D. 180.)

DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE IN THE WEST; BEGINNING OF THE GREAT GERMAN MIGRATION. (A.D. 180-476.)

LAST DAYS OF THE EMPIRE IN THE WEST

ROMAN EMPERORS FROM COMMODUS TO ROMULUS AUGUSTUS. (A.D. 180-476.)

FINAL PARTITION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. (A.D. 395.)

ARCHITECTURE, LITERATURE, LAW, AND SOCIAL LIFE AMONG THE ROMANS.

THE ROMAN KINGDOM

(Legendary Date, 753-509 B.C.)

DIVISIONS OF ITALY.—The peninsula of Italy, like that of Greece, divides itself into three parts—Northern, Central, and Southern Italy. The first comprises the great basin of the Po, lying between the Alps and the Apennines. In ancient times this part of Italy included three districts— Liguria, Gallia Cisalpina, which means Gaul on this (the Italian) side of the Alps, and Venetia.

The countries of Central Italy were Etruria, Latium, and Campania, facing the Western, or Tuscan Sea; Umbria and Picenum, looking out over the Eastern, or Adriatic Sea; and Samnium and the country of the Sabines, occupying the rough mountain districts of the Apennines.

Southern Italy comprised the countries of Apulia, Lucania, Calabria, and Bruttium. Calabria occupied the heel, and Bruttium formed the toe, of the peninsula. This part of Italy, as we have already learned, was called Magna Græcia, or Great Greece, on account of the number and importance of the Greek cities that during the period of Hellenic supremacy were established in these regions.

The large island of Sicily, lying just off the mainland on the south, may be regarded simply as a detached fragment of Italy, so intimately has its history been interwoven with that of the peninsula. In ancient times it was the meeting-place and battleground of the Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans.

EARLY INHABITANTS OF ITALY.—There were, in early times, three chief races in Italy—the Italians, the Etruscans, and the Greeks. The Italians, a branch of the Aryan family, embraced many tribes (Latins, Umbrians, Sabines, Samnites, etc.), that occupied nearly all Central Italy. The Etruscans, a wealthy, cultured, and maritime people of uncertain race, dwelt in Etruria, now Tuscany. Before the rise of the Romans they were the leading race in the peninsula. Of the establishment of the Greek cities in Southern Italy, we have already learned in connection with Grecian History (p. 111).

Some five hundred years B.C., the Gauls, a Celtic race, came over the Alps, and settling in Northern Italy, became formidable enemies of the infant republic of Rome.

THE LATINS.—Most important of all the Italian peoples were the Latins, who dwelt in Latium, between the Tiber and the Liris. These people, like all the Italians, were near kindred of the Greeks, and brought with them into Italy those same customs, manners, beliefs, and institutions which we have seen to have been the common possession of the various branches of the Aryan household (see p. 5). There are said to have been in all Latium thirty towns, and these formed an alliance known as the Latin League. The city which first assumed importance and leadership among the towns of this confederation was Alba Longa, the Long White City, so called because its buildings stretched for a great distance along the summit of a whitish ridge.

THE BEGINNINGS OF ROME.—The place of preeminence among the Latin towns was soon lost by Alba Longa, and gained by another city. This was Rome, the stronghold of the Ramnes, or Romans, located upon a low hill on the south bank of the Tiber, about fifteen miles from the sea.

The traditions of the Romans place the founding of their city in the year 753 B.C. The town was established, it would seem, as an outpost to guard the northern frontier of Latium against the Etruscans.

Recent excavations have revealed the foundations of the old walls and two of the ancient gates. We thus learn that the city at first covered only the top of the Palatine Hill, one of a cluster of low eminences close to the Tiber, which, finally embraced within the limits of the growing city, became the famed Seven Hills of Rome. From the shape of its enclosing walls, the original city was called Roma Quadrata, Square Rome.

THE EARLY ROMAN STATE: KING, SENATE, AND POPULAR ASSEMBLY.—The early Roman state seems to have been formed by the union of three communities. These constituted three tribes, known as Ramnes (the Romans proper, who gave name to the mixed people), Tities, and Luceres. Each of these tribes was divided into ten wards, or districts (curiæ); each ward was made up of gentes, or clans, and each clan was composed of a number of families. The heads of these families were called patres, or fathers, and all the members patricians, that is, children of the fathers.

At the head of the nation stood the King, who was the father of the state. He was at once ruler of the people, commander of the army, judge and high priest of the nation, with absolute power as to life and death.

Next to the king stood the Senate, or council of the old men, composed of the fathers, or heads of the families. This council had no power to enact laws: the duty of its members was simply to advise with the king, who was free to follow or to disregard their suggestions.

The Popular Assembly (comitia curiata) comprised all the citizens of Rome, that is, all the members of the patrician families, old enough to bear arms. It was this body that enacted the laws of the state, determined upon peace or war, and also elected the king.

CLASSES OF SOCIETY.—The two important classes of the population of Rome under the kingdom and the early republic, were the patricians and the plebeians. The former were the members of the three original tribes that made up the Roman people, and at first alone possessed political rights. They were proud, exclusive, and tenacious of their inherited privileges. The latter were made up chiefly of the inhabitants of subjected cities, and of refugees from various quarters that had sought an asylum at Rome. They were free to acquire property, and enjoyed personal freedom, but at first had no political rights whatever. The greater number were petty land-owners, who held and cultivated the soil about the city. A large part of the early history of Rome is simply the narration of the struggles of this class to secure social and political equality with the patricians.

Besides these two principal orders, there were two other classes—clients and slaves. The former were attached to the families of patricians, who became their patrons, or protectors. The condition of the client was somewhat like that of the serf in the feudal system of the Middle Ages. A large clientage was considered the crown and glory of a patrician house.

The slaves were, in the main, captives in war. Their number, small at first, gradually increased as the Romans extended their conquests, till they outnumbered all the other classes taken together, and more than once turned upon their masters in formidable revolts that threatened the very existence of the Roman state.

THE LEGENDARY KINGS.—For nearly two and a half centuries after the founding of Rome (from 753 to 509 B.C., according to tradition), the government was a monarchy. To span this period, the legends of the Romans tell of the reigns of seven kings—Romulus, the founder of Rome; Numa, the lawgiver; Tullus Hostilius and Ancus Marcius, conquerors both; Tarquinius Priscus, the great builder; Servius Tullius, the reorganizer of the government and second founder of the state; and Tarquinius Superbus, the haughty tyrant, whose oppressions led to the abolition by the people of the office of king.

The traditions of the doings of these monarchs and of what happened to them, blend hopelessly fact and fable. We cannot be quite sure even as to the names. Respecting Roman affairs, however, under the last three rulers (the Tarquins), who were of Etruscan origin, some important things are related, the substantial truth of which we may rely upon with a fair degree of certainty; and these matters we shall notice in the following paragraphs.

GROWTH OF ROME UNDER THE TARQUINS.—The Tarquins extended their authority over the whole of Latium. The position of supremacy thus given Rome was naturally attended by the rapid growth in population and importance of the little Palatine city. The original walls soon became too strait for the increasing multitudes; new ramparts were built—tradition says under the direction of the king Servius Tullius—which, with a great circuit of seven miles, swept around the entire cluster of the Seven Hills. A large tract of marshy ground between the Palatine and Capitoline hills was drained by means of the Cloaca Maxima, the Great Sewer, which was so admirably constructed that it has been preserved to the present day. It still discharges its waters through a great arch into the Tiber. The land thus reclaimed became the Forum, the assembling-place of the people. Upon the summit of the Capitoline Hill, overlooking the Forum, was built the famous sanctuary called the Capitol, or the Capitoline temple, where beneath the same roof were the shrines of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, the three great national deities. Upon the level ground between the Aventine and the Palatine was laid out the Circus Maximus, the Great Circus, where were celebrated the Roman games.

NEW CONSTITUTION OF SERVIUS TULLIUS.—The second king of the Etruscan house, Servius Tullius by name, effected a most important change in the constitution of the Roman state. He did here at Rome just what Solon at about this time did at Athens (see p. 120). He made property instead of birth the basis of the constitution. The entire population was divided into five classes, the first of which included all citizens, whether patricians or plebeians, who owned twenty jugera (about twelve acres) of land; the fifth and lowest embraced all that could show title to even two jugera. The army was made up of the members of the five classes; as it was thought right and proper that the public defence should be the care of those who, on account of their possessions, were most interested in the maintenance of order and in the protection of the boundaries of the state.

The assembling-place of the military classes thus organized was on a large plain just outside the city walls, called the Campus Martius, or Field of Mars. The meeting of these military orders was called thecomitia centuriata, or the assembly of hundreds. [Footnote: This assembly was not organized by Servius Tullius, but it grew out of the military organization he created.] This body, which of course was made up of patricians and plebeians, gradually absorbed the powers of the earlier patrician assembly (comitia curiata).

THE EXPULSION OF THE KINGS.—The legends make Tarquinius Superbus, or Tarquin the Proud, the last king of Rome. He is represented as a monstrous tyrant, whose arbitrary acts caused both patricians and plebeians to unite and drive him and all his house into exile. This event, according to tradition, occurred in the year 509 B.C., only one year later than the expulsion of the tyrants from Athens (see p. 122).

So bitterly did the people hate the tyranny they had abolished that it is said they all, the nobles as well as the commons, bound themselves by most solemn oaths never again to tolerate a king. We shall hereafter see how well this vow was kept for nearly five hundred years.

THE ROMAN RELIGION

THE CHIEF ROMAN DEITIES.—THE basis of the Roman religious system was the same as that of the Grecian: the germs of its institutions were brought from the same early Aryan home. At the head of the Pantheon stood Jupiter, identical in all essential attributes with the Hellenic Zeus. He was the special protector of the Roman people. To him, together with Juno and Minerva, was consecrated, as we have already noticed, a magnificent temple upon the summit of the Capitoline Hill, overlooking the Forum and the city. Mars, the god of war, standing next in rank, was the favorite deity and the fabled father of the Roman race, who were fond of calling themselves the children of Mars. They proved themselves worthy offspring of the war-god. Martial games and festivals were celebrated in his honor during the first month of the Roman year, which bore, and still bears, in his honor, the name of March. Janus was a double-faced deity, the god of the beginning and the end of everything.

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