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Ancient Rome was the period of the Roman empire.
Ancient Rome and the Roman empire. The Roman empire and ancient Rome was a civilization that grew from a city-state founded on the Italian Peninsula circa the 9th century BC. It became a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. In its twelve-century existence, Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy, to a republic based on a combination of oligarchy and democracy, to an autocratic empire. The Roman empire came to dominate Western Europe and the entire area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea through conquest and assimilation. Nonetheless, a number of factors led to the eventual decline of the Roman Empire. The western half of the empire, including Hispania, Gaul, and Italy, eventually broke into independent kingdoms in the 5th century; the eastern empire, governed from Constantinople, is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire after 476, the traditional date for the "fall of Rome" and for the subsequent onset of the Early Middle Ages, also known as the dark ages.
Roman civilization is often grouped into "classical antiquity" with ancient Greece, a civilization that inspired much of the culture of ancient Rome. Ancient Rome contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology and language in the Western world, and its history continues to have a major influence on the world today.
History of Rome and Timeline of ancient Rome, Monarchy, Roman Kingdom.
According to the Aeneid, Rome was founded on April 21, 753 BC by twin descendants of the Trojan prince Aeneas, Romulus and Remus. The Latin King Numitor was ejected from his throne by his cruel brother Amulius and Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, gave birth to Romulus and Remus. The new king feared that Romulus and Remus would take back the throne, so they were to be drowned. A she-wolf (or a shepard's wife in some accounts) saved and raised them, and when they were old enough, they took back the throne. Romulus then killed Remus in a quarrel over which one of them was to reign(In some versions about the a wall surrounding the city, which Remus jumped over to prove that it was useless.) and become the first of seven Kings of Rome, as well as the source of the city's name. As the city was bereft of women, legend says that the Latins invited the Sabines to a festival and stole their unmarried maidens, leading to the integration of the Latins and the Sabines.
The city of Rome grew from settlements around a ford on the river Tiber, a crossroads of traffic and trade. According to archaeological evidence, the village of Rome was probably founded sometime in the 9th century BC by members of two central Italian tribes, the Latins and the Sabines, on the Palatine, Capitoline, and Quirinal Hills. The Etruscans, who had previously settled to the north in Etruria, seem to have established political control in the region by the late 7th century BC, forming the aristocratic and monarchial elite. The Etruscans apparently lost power in the area by the late 6th century BC, and at this point, the original Latin and Sabine tribes reinvented their government by creating a republic, with much greater restraints on the ability of rulers to exercise power.
The Roman Republic was established around 509 BC, according to later writers such as Livy, when the last of the seven kings of Rome, Tarquin the Proud, was deposed, and a system based on annually-elected magistrates and various representative assemblies was established. The most important magistrates were the two consuls, who together exercised executive authority in the form of imperium, or military command. The consuls had to contend with the Senate, which was initially an advisory council of the ranking nobility, or patricians, but grew in size and power over time. Other magistracies in the Republic include praetors, aediles, and quaestors. The magistracies were originally restricted to patricians, but were later opened to common people, or plebeians. Republican voting assemblies included the comitia centuriata and the comitia tributa.
The Romans gradually subdued the other peoples on the Italian peninsula, including the Etruscans. The last threat to Roman hegemony in Italy came when Tarentum, a major Greek colony, enlisted the aid of Pyrrhus of Epirus in 282 BC, but this effort failed as well. The Romans secured their conquests by founding Roman colonies in strategic areas, establishing stable control over the region. In the second half of the 3rd century BC, Rome clashed with Carthage in the first of three Punic Wars. These wars resulted in Rome's first overseas conquests, of Sicily and Hispania, and the rise of Rome as a significant imperial power. After defeating the Macedonian and Seleucid Empires in the 2nd century BC, the Romans became the dominant people of the Mediterranean Sea.
But foreign dominance led to internal strife. Senators became rich at the provinces' expense, but soldiers, who were mostly small-scale farmers, were away from home longer and could not maintain their land, and the increased reliance on foreign slaves reduced the availability of paid work. Income from war booty, mercantilism in the new provinces, and tax farming created new economic opportunity and wealth among the lower classes, forming a new class of merchants, the equestrians. Though the equestrians had vast financial resources at their disposal, they still found themselves counted among the lower-class plebeians, and therefore severely restricted in terms of political power. The Senate squabbled perpetually, repeatedly blocking important land reforms and refusing to give the equestrian class a larger say in the government. Violent gangs of the urban unemployed, controlled by rival Senators, intimidated the electorate through violence. The situation came to a head in the late 2nd century BC under the Gracchi brothers, a pair of tribunes who attempted to pass land reform legislation that would redistribute the major patrician landholdings among the plebeians. Both brothers were killed, but the Senate passed some of their reforms in an attempt to placate the growing unrest of the plebeian and equestrian classes. The denial of Roman citizenship to allied Italian cities led to the Social War of 91-88 BC. The military reforms of Marius resulted in soldiers often having more loyalty to their commander than to the city, and a powerful general could hold the city and Senate ransom. This led to civil war between Marius and his protegé Sulla, and culminated in Sulla's dictatorship of 81-79 BC.
In the mid-1st century BC, three men, Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, formed a secret pact-the First Triumvirate-to control the Republic. After Caesar's conquest of Gaul, a stand-off between Caesar and the Senate led to civil war, with Pompey leading the Senate's forces. Caesar emerged victorious, and was made dictator for life. In 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by senators who opposed Caesar's assumption of absolute power and wanted to restore constitutional government, but in the aftermath a Second Triumvirate, consisting of Caesar's designated heir, Augustus, and his former supporters, Mark Antony and Lepidus, took power. However, this alliance soon descended into a struggle for dominance. Lepidus was exiled, and when Augustus defeated Antony and Cleopatra of Egypt at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, he became the undisputed ruler of Rome.
With his enemies defeated, Augustus assumed almost absolute power, retaining only a pretense of the Republican form of government. His designated successor, Tiberius, took power without bloodshed, establishing the Julio-Claudian dynasty, which lasted until the death of Nero in 68. The territorial expansion of what was now the Roman Empire continued, and the state remained secure, despite a series of emperors widely viewed as depraved and corrupt (for example, Caligula was completely insane and Nero's sanity was also in question, especially after he supposedly started a fire that burned down most of Rome itself). Their rule was followed by the Flavian dynasty. During the reign of the "Five Good Emperors" (96-180), the Empire reached its territorial, economic, and cultural zenith. The state was secure from both internal and external threats, and the Empire prospered during the Pax Romana ("Roman Peace"). With the conquest of Dacia during the reign of Trajan, the Empire reached the peak of its territorial expansion; Rome's dominion now spanned 2.5 million square miles (6.5 million km²).
The period between 180 and 235 was dominated by the Severan dynasty, and saw several incompetent rulers, such as Elagabalus. This and the increasing influence of the army on imperial succession led to a long period of imperial collapse known as the Crisis of the Third Century. The crisis was ended by the more competent rule of Diocletian, who in 293 divided the Empire into an eastern and western half ruled by a tetrarchy of two co-emperors and their two junior colleagues. The various co-rulers of the Empire competed and fought for supremacy for more than half a century. In 330, Emperor Constantine I firmly established the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in Byzantium, and the Empire was permanently divided into the Eastern Roman Empire (later known as the Byzantine Empire) and the Western Roman Empire in 395.
The Western Empire was constantly harassed by barbarian invasions, and the gradual decline of the Roman Empire continued over the centuries. Rome was eventually 'taken hostage' by barbarians, after they had been promised land. Their initial plan was to stop anything and anyone entering or leaving the city until they were given land in which to settle. However, after several betrayals, they grew angry and took the city for their own. In 410, the city of Rome itself was sacked by Alaric I and the Visigoths, and on September 4, 476, the Germanic chief Odoacer forced the last Roman emperor in the west, Romulus Augustus, to abdicate. Having lasted for approximately 1200 years, the rule of Rome in the West came to an end.
The Eastern Empire, by contrast, would suffer a similar fate, though not as drastic. The Arab tribes, pushed by religious furor, conquered the richest provinces of the Empire, including those reconquered by Justinian. Rome itself was reconquered, but an emperor of the west was never created. Instead, a viceroy in Ravenna would represent Constantinople to Italy, and would share de facto power with the Pope. 1000 A.D. the eastern Empire was on its height: Basileios II reconquered Bulgaria and Armenia, culture and trade flourished. But soon the expansion was abruptly stopped at the battle of Manzikert, 1071. This finally lead the empire into a dramatic decline. Several centuries of internal strife and Turkic invasions ultimately paved the way for the horror of the Fourth Crusade, resulting in the Sack of Constantinople by renegade Crusaders. The conquest of Constantinople in 1204 would see the fragmentation of what little remained of the empire into successor states, the ultimate victor being that of Nicaea. After the recapture of Constantinople by imperial forces, the empire was little more than a Greek state confined to the Aegean coast. Mehmet II, Turkish Sultan, desired to end once and for all the once mighty empire, and did in 1453, Anno Domini.
Roman Empire society.
Life in ancient Rome revolved around the city of Rome, located on seven hills. The city had a vast number of monumental structures like the Colosseum, the Forum of Trajan and the Pantheon. It had fountains with fresh drinking-water supplied by hundreds of miles of aqueducts, theatres, gymnasiums, bath complexes complete with libraries and shops, marketplaces, and functional sewers. Throughout the territory under the control of ancient Rome, residential architecture ranged from very modest houses to country villas. In the capital city of Rome, there were imperial residences on the elegant Palatine Hill, from which the word "palace" is derived. The low and middle classes lived in the city center, packed into apartments, which were almost like modern ghettos.
The imperial city of Rome was the largest urban center of its time, with a population well in excess of one million people (about the size of London in the early 19th century, when London was the largest city in the world), with some high-end estimates of 3.5 million and low-end estimates of 450,000. The public spaces in Rome resounded with such a din of hooves and clatter of iron chariot wheels that Julius Caesar had once proposed a ban on chariot traffic at night. Historical estimates indicate that around 20 percent of population under the jurisdiction of the ancient Rome (32% in Roman Italy) lived in innumerable urban centers, with population of 10,000 and more and several military settlements, a very high rate of urbanization by pre-industrial standards. Most of these centers had a forum and temples and same type of buildings, on a smaller scale, as found in Rome.
Roman Empire: Government.
Initially, Rome was ruled by elected kings. The exact nature of the king's power is uncertain. He may have held near-absolute power, or may also have merely been the chief executive of the Senate and the people. At least in military matters, the king's authority (Imperium) was likely absolute. He was also the head of the state religion. In addition to the authority of the King, there were three administrative assemblies: the Senate, which acted as an advisory body for the King; the Comitia Curiata, which could endorse and ratify laws suggested by the King; and the Comitia Calata, which was an assembly of the priestly college which could assemble the people in order to bear witness to certain acts, hear proclamations, and declare the feast and holiday schedule for the next month.
The class struggles of the Roman Republic resulted in an unusual mixture of democracy and oligarchy. The word republic comes from the Latin res publica which literally translates to public business. Roman laws traditionally could only be passed by a vote of the Popular assembly (Comitia Tributa). Likewise, candidates for public positions had to run for election by the people. However, the Roman Senate represented an oligarchic institution, which acted as an advisory body. In the Republic, the Senate held great authority (auctoritas), but no actual legislative power; it was technically only an advisory council. However, as the Senators were individually very influential, it was difficult to accomplish anything against the collective will of the Senate. New Senators were chosen from among the most accomplished patricians by Censors (Censura), who could also remove a Senator from his office if he was found "morally corrupt"; a charge that could include bribery or, as under Cato the Elder, embracing one's wife in public. Later, under the reforms of the dictator Sulla, Quaestors were made automatic members of the Senate, though most of his reforms did not survive.
The Republic had no fixed bureaucracy, and collected taxes through the practice of tax farming. Government positions such as quaestor, aedile, or praefect were funded from the office-holder's private finances. In order to prevent any citizen from gaining too much power, new magistrates were elected annually and had to share power with a colleague. For example, under normal conditions, the highest authority was held by two consuls. In an emergency, a temporary dictator could be appointed. Throughout the Republic, the administrative system was revised several times to comply with new demands. In the end, it proved inefficient for controlling the ever-expanding dominion of Rome, contributing to the establishment of the Roman Empire.
In the early Empire, the pretense of a republican form of government was maintained. The Roman Emperor was portrayed as only a 'princeps', or "first citizen", and the Senate gained legislative power and all legal authority previously held by the popular assemblies. However, the rule of the emperors became increasingly autocratic over time, and the Senate was reduced to an advisory body appointed by the emperor. The Empire did not inherit a set bureaucracy from the Republic, since the Republic did not have any permanent governmental structures apart from the Senate. The Emperor appointed assistants and advisers, but the state lacked many institutions, such as a centrally-planned Budget. Some historians have cited this as a significant reason for the decline of the Roman Empire.
The territory of the Empire was divided into provinces. The number of provinces increased with time, both as new territories were conquered and as provinces were divided into smaller units to discourage rebellions by powerful local rulers. Upon the rise of Augustus and the Principate, the provinces were divided into imperial and senatorial provinces, depending on which institution had the right to select the governor. During the Tetrarchy, the provinces of the empire were divided into 12 dioceses, each headed by a praetor vicarius. The civilian and military authority were separated, with civilian matters still administered by the governor, but with military command transferred to a dux.
On a local level, towns were divided into colonia, colonies composed of former soldiers or members of the Roman underclass, and municipia, towns composed of enfranchised provincials. These cities were given constitutions based on the Roman model, with the elected duovirs and aediles serving as magistrates, and with the local curia, appointed from men of property for life, serving in an advisory capability, similar to the Senate.
Law of the Roman Empire.
The roots of the legal principles and practices of the ancient Romans may be traced to the law of the twelve tables (from 449 BC) to the codification of Emperor Justinian I (around 530 AD). Roman law as preserved in Justinian's codes continued into the Byzantine Empire, and formed the basis of similar codifications in continental Western Europe. Roman law continued, in a broader sense, to be applied throughout most of Europe until the end of the 17th century.
The major divisions of the law of ancient Rome, as contained within the Justinian and Theodosian law codes, consisted of Ius Civile, Ius Gentium, and Ius Naturale. The Ius Civile ("Citizen law") was the body of common laws that applied to Roman citizens. The Praetores Urbani (sg. Praetor Urbanus) were the individuals who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens. The Ius Gentium ("Law of nations") was the body of common laws that applied to foreigners, and their dealings with Roman citizens. The Praetores Peregrini (sg. Praetor Peregrinus) were the individuals who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens and foreigners. Ius Naturale encompassed natural law, the body of laws that were considered common to all being.
Economy of the Roman Empire.
Ancient Rome commanded a vast area of land, with tremendous natural and human resources. As such, Rome's economy remained focused on agriculture and trade. Agricultural free trade changed the Italian landscape, and by the 1st century BC, vast grape and olive estates had supplanted the yeoman farmers, who were unable to match the imported grain price. The annexation of Egypt, Sicily and Tunisia in North Africa provided a continuous supply of grains. In turn, olive oil and wine were Italy's main exports. Two-tier crop rotation was practiced, but farm productivity was overall low, around 1 ton per hectare.
Industrial and manufacturing activities were smaller. The largest such activity were the mining and quarrying of stones, which provided basic construction materials for the buildings of that period. In manufacturing, production was on a relatively small scale, and generally consisted of workshops and small factories that employed at most dozens of workers. However, some brick factories employed hundreds of workers.
Some economic historians (like Peter Temin) argue that the economy of the Early Roman Empire was a market economy and one of the most advanced agricultural economies to have existed (in terms of productivity, urbanization and development of capital markets), comparable to the most advanced economies of the world before the Industrial Revolution, the economies of 18th-century England and 17th-century Netherlands. There were markets for every type of good, for land, for cargo ships; there was even an insurance market.
The economy of the early Republic was largely based on smallholding and paid labour. However, foreign wars and conquests made slaves increasingly cheap and plentiful, and by the late Republic, the economy was largely dependent on slave labor for both skilled and unskilled work. Slaves are estimated to have constituted around 20% of the Roman Empire's population at this time and 40% in the city of Rome. Only in the Roman Empire, when the conquests stopped and the prices of slaves increased, did hired labor become more economical than slave ownership.
Although barter was used in ancient Rome, and often used in tax collection, Rome had a very developed coinage system, with brass, bronze, and precious metal coins in circulation throughout the Empire and beyond-some have even been discovered in India. Before the 3rd century BC, Copper was traded by weight, measured in unmarked lumps, across central Italy. The original copper coins (as) had a face value of one Roman pound of copper, but weighed less. Thus, Roman money's utility as a unit of exchange consistently exceeded its intrinsic value as metal. After Nero began debasing the silver denarius, its legal value was an estimated one-third greater than its intrinsic.
horses were too expensive, and other pack animals too slow, for mass trade on the Roman roads, which connected military posts rather than markets, and were rarely designed for wheels. As a result, there was little transport of commodities between Roman regions until the rise of Roman maritime trade in the 2nd century BC. During that period, a trading vessel took less than a month to complete a trip from Gades to Alexandria via Ostia, spanning the entire length of the Mediterranean. Transport by sea was around 60 times cheaper than by land, so the volume for such trips was much larger.
Class structure of the Roman Empire.
Roman society was strictly hierarchical, with slaves (servi) at the bottom, freedmen (liberti) above them, and free-born citizens (cives) at the top. Free citizens were themselves also divided by class. The broadest, and earliest, division was between the patricians, who could trace their ancestry to one of the 100 Patriarchs at the founding of the city, and the plebeians, who could not. This became less important in the later Republic, as some plebeian families became wealthy and entered politics, and some patrician families fell on hard times. Anyone, patrician or plebeian, who could count a consul as his ancestor was a noble (nobilis); a man who was the first of his family to hold the consulship, such as Marius or Cicero, was known as a novus homo ("new man") and ennobled his descendants. Patrician ancestry, however, still conferred considerable prestige, and many religious offices remained restricted to patricians.
A class division originally based on military service became more important. Membership of these classes was determined periodically by the Censors, according to property. The wealthiest were the Senatorial class, who dominated politics and command of the army. Next came the equestrians (equites, sometimes translated "knights"), originally those who could afford a warhorse, who formed a powerful mercantile class. Several further classes, originally based on what military equipment their members could afford, followed, with the proletarii, citizens who had no property at all, at the bottom. Before the reforms of Marius they were ineligible for military service and are often described as being just barely above freed slaves in terms of wealth and prestige.
Voting power in the Republic was dependent on class. Citizens were enrolled in voting "tribes", but the tribes of the richer classes had fewer members than the poorer ones, all the proletarii being enrolled in a single tribe. Voting was done in class order and stopped as soon as a majority of the tribes had been reached, so the poorer classes were often unable even to cast their votes.
Allied foreign cities were often given the Latin Right, an intermediary level between full citizens and foreigners (peregrini), which gave their citizens rights under Roman law and allowed their leading magistrates to become full Roman citizens. While there were varying degrees of Latin rights, the main division was between those con suffrage ("with vote"; enrolled in a Roman tribe and able to take part in the comitia tributa) and sans suffrage (without vote; unable to take part in Roman politics). Some of Rome's Italian allies were given full citizenship after the Social War of 91-88 BC, and full Roman citizenship was extended to all free-born men in the Empire by Caracalla in 212. Women shared some basic rights with their male counterparts, but were not fully regarded as citizens and were thus not allowed to vote or participate in politics.
Family of the Roman Empire.
The basic units of Roman society were households and families. Households included the head of the household, paterfamilias (father of the family), his wife, children, and other relatives. In the upper classes, slaves and servants were also part of the household. The head of the household had great power (patria potestas, "father's power") over those living with him: He could force marriage and divorce, sell his children into slavery, claim his dependents' property as his own, and possibly even had the right to kill family members.
Patria potestas even extended over adult sons with their own households: A man was not considered a paterfamilias while his own father lived. A daughter, when she married, usually fell under the authority of the paterfamilias of her husband's household, although this was not always the case, as she could choose to continue recognizing her father's family as her true family. However, as Romans reckoned descent through the male line, any children she had would belong to her husband's family.
Groups of related households formed a family (gens). Families were based on blood ties (or adoption), but were also political and economic alliances. Especially during the Roman Republic, some powerful families, or Gentes Maiores, came to dominate political life.
Ancient Roman marriage was often regarded more as a financial and political alliance than as a romantic association, especially in the upper classes. Fathers usually began seeking husbands for their daughters when they reached an age between twelve and fourteen. The husband was almost always older than the bride. While upper class girls married very young, there is evidence that lower class women often married in their late teens or early twenties.
Education of the Roman Empire.
In the early Republic, boys were taught to read and write by their father, or by educated slaves, usually of Greek origin; the ultimate aim of Roman education was to produce men who could speak effectively. Village schools were also established. Later, around [200 BC], boys and some girls at the age of 7 were sent to a school outside the home called a ludus. Basic Roman education included reading, writing, and counting, and their materials consisted of scrolls and books. At the age of 13, students learned about Greek and Roman literature. At the age of 16, some students went on to rhetoric school. Poorer people were usually taught by their parents as school was not free. Pupils went to school every day, except religious festivals and market days. There were also summer holidays.
Culture of the Roman Empire: language Latin.
The native language of the Romans was Latin, an Italic language the grammar of which relies little on word order, conveying meaning through a system of affixes attached to word stems. Its alphabet, the Latin alphabet, is ultimately based on the Greek alphabet. Although surviving Latin literature consists almost entirely of Classical Latin, an artificial and highly stylized and polished literary language from the 1st century BC, the actual spoken language of the Roman Empire was Vulgar Latin, which significantly differed from Classical Latin in grammar and vocabulary, and eventually in pronunciation.
While Latin remained the main written language of the Roman Empire, Greek came to be the language spoken by the well-educated elite, as most of the literature studied by Romans was written in Greek. In the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which later became the Byzantine Empire, Greek eventually supplanted Latin as both the written and spoken language. The expansion of the Roman Empire spread Latin throughout Europe, and over time Vulgar Latin evolved and dialectized in different locations, gradually shifting into a number of distinct Romance languages.
Although Latin is an extinct language with very few remaining fluent speakers, it remains in use in many ways, such as through Ecclesiastical Latin, the traditional language of the Roman Chatholic Church and the official language of the Vatican City. Additionally, even after fading from common usage Latin maintained a role as western Europe's lingua franca, an international language of academia and diplomacy. Although eventually supplanted in this respect by French in the 19th century and English in the 20th, Latin continues to see heavy use in religious, legal, and scientific terminology-it has been estimated that 80% of all scholarly English words derive directly or indirectly from Latin.
Religion of the Roman Empire and Roman mythology.
Archaic Roman religion, at least concerning the gods, was made up not of narratives, but rather of complex interrelations between gods and humans. Unlike in Greek mythology, the gods were not personified, but were vaguely-defined sacred spirits called numina. Romans also believed that every person, place or thing had its own genius, or divine soul. During the Roman Republic, Roman religion was organized under a strict system of priestly offices, which were held by men of senatorial rank. The College of Pontifices was uppermost body in this hierarchy, and its chief priest, the Pontifex Maximus, was the head of the state religion. Flamens took care of the cults of various gods, while augurs were trusted with taking the auspices. The sacred king took on the religious responsibilities of the deposed kings. In the Roman empire, emperors were held to be gods, and the formalized imperial cult became increasingly prominent.
As contact with the Greeks increased, the old Roman gods became increasingly associated with Greek gods. Thus, Jupiter was perceived to be the same deity as Zeus, Mars became associated with Ares, and Neptune with Poseidon. The Roman gods also assumed the attributes and mythologies of these Greek gods. The transferral of anthropomorphic qualities to Roman Gods, and the prevalence of Greek philosophy among well-educated Romans, brought about an increasing neglect of the old rites, and in the 1st century BC, the religious importance of the old priestly offices declined rapidly, though their civic importance and political influence remained. Roman religion in the empire tended more and more to center on the imperial house, and several emperors were deified after their deaths.
Under the empire, numerous foreign cults grew popular, such as the worship of the Egyptian Isis and the Persian Mithras. Beginning in the 2nd century, Christianity began to spread in the Empire, despite initial persecution. Beginning with Emperor Nero, Roman official policy towards Christianity was negative, and at some points, simply being a Christian could be punishable by death. Under Emperor Diocletian, the persecution of Christians reached its peak. However, it became an officially supported religion in the Roman state under Constantine I and became exponentially popular. After a brief and unsuccessful pagan revival by the emperor Julian the Apostate, Christianity became the permanent religion of the empire. All religions except Christianity were prohibited in 391 by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I.
Art, music and literature of the Roman Empire.
Most early Roman painting styles show Etruscan influences, particularly in the practice of political painting. In the 3rd century BC, Greek art taken as treasure from wars became popular, and many Roman homes were decorated with landscapes by Greek artists. Evidence from the remains at Pompeii shows diverse influence from cultures spanning the Roman world. Portrait sculpture during the period utilized youthful and classical proportions, evolving later into a mixture of realism and idealism. During the Antonine and Severan periods, more ornate hair and bearding became prevalent, created with deeper cutting and drilling. Advancements were also made in relief sculptures, usually depicting Roman victories.
Latin literature was from its very inception influenced heavily by Greek authors. Some of the earliest extant works are of historical epics telling the early military history of Rome. As the Republic expanded, authors began to produce poetry, comedy, history, and tragedy.
The Romans were a very sex-saturated culture. In documentaries and books describing what was unearthed at Pompeii, the frescoes, paintings and mosaics depict daily life or are just patterns. Others have been unearthed in public baths that could be considered the Roman equivalent of pornography.
Games and activities of the Roman Empire.
The ancient city of Rome had a place called Campus Martius (Translating roughly as "Field of Mars" named after Mars, the Roman god of war), a sort of drill ground for Roman soldiers, which was located near the Tiber river. Later, the Campus Martius became Rome's track and field playground, which even Julius Caesar and Augustus were said to have frequented. Imitating the Campus Martius in Rome, similar grounds were developed in several other urban centers and military settlements.
In the campus, the youth assembled to play and exercise, which included jumping, wrestling, boxing, and racing. Riding, throwing, and swimming were also preferred physical activities. In the countryside, pastimes also included fishing and hunting. Women did not participate in these activities. Ball-playing was a popular sport, and ancient Romans had several ball games, which included Handball (Expulsim Ludere), field hockey, catch, and some form of football, where the aim was to carry a ball (made out of rags wrapped in leather) close enough to kick it into a large barrel the breadth of a man's shoulders.
A popular form of entertainment were gladiatorial combats. Gladiators fought either to the death, or to "first blood" with a variety of weapons and in a variety of different scenarios. These fights achieved their height of popularity under the emperor Claudius, who placed the final outcome of the combat firmly in the hands of the emperor with a hand gesture. Contrary to popular representations in film the gesture for death was not "thumbs down". The emperor would signify "death" by holding a raised fist to the winning combatant and then extending his thumb laterally. "Mercy" was indicated by a raised fist with no extended thumb. Animal shows were also popular with the Romans, where foreign animals were either displayed for the public or combined with gladiatorial combat. A prisoner or gladiator, armed or unarmed, was thrown into the arena and an animal was released. Gladiators fought in games held only ten days per year, and could earn the ancient Roman equivalent of 500,000 EUR for competing in a single fight to the death.
The Circus Maximus, another popular site in Rome, was primarily used for horse and chariot racing, although it was also used in many other events. It could hold up to 385,000 people; people all over Rome would visit it. Two temples, one with seven large eggs and one with seven dolphins, laid in the middle of the track of Circus Maximus, and whenever the racers made a lap, one of each would be removed. This was done to keep the spectators and the racers informed on the race statistics. Other than sports, the Circus Maximus was also an area of marketing and gambling. Higher authorities, like the emperor, also attended games in the Circus Maximus, as it was rude not to. They, knights, and many other people who were involved with the race sat in reserved seats located above everyone else. It was also found rude for emperors to root for a team. The Circus Maximus was created in 600 BC and hosted the last horse racing game in 549, lasting for over a millennium.
Technology of the Roman Empire.
Ancient Rome boasted the most impressive technological feats of its day, utilizing many advancements that would be lost in the Middle Ages and not be rivaled again until the 19th and 20th centuries. However, though adept at adopting and synthesizing other cultures' technologies, the Roman civilization was not especially innovative or progressive. Many practical Roman innovations were adopted from earlier Greek designs. The development of new ideas was rarely encouraged; Roman society considered the articulate soldier who could wisely govern a large household the ideal, and Roman law made no provisions for intellectual property or the promotion of invention. The concept of "scientists" and "engineers" did not yet exist, and advancements were often divided based on craft, with groups of artisans jealously guarding new technologies as trade secrets. Nevertheless, a number of vital technological breakthroughs were spread and thoroughly utilized by Rome, contributing to an enormous degree to Rome's dominance and lasting influence in Europe.
Engineering and architecture of the Roman Empire.
Roman engineering constituted a large portion of Rome's technological superiority and legacy, and contributed to the construction of hundreds of roads, bridges, aqueducts, baths, theaters and arenas. Many monuments, such as the Colosseum, Pont du Gard, and Pantheon, still remain as testaments to Roman engineering and culture.
The Romans were particularly renowned for their architecture, which is grouped with Greek traditions into "Classical architecture". However, for the course of the Roman Republic, Roman architecture remained stylistically almost identical to Greek architecture. Although there were many differences between Roman and Greek building types, Rome borrowed heavily from Greece in adhering to strict, formulaic building designs and proportions. Aside from two new orders of columns, composite and Tuscan, and from the dome, which was derived from the Etruscan arch, Rome had relatively few architectural innovations until the end of the Roman Republic.
It was at this time, in the 1st century BC, that Romans started to widely use concrete (which was invented in the late 3rd century BC), a powerful cement derived from pozzolana which soon supplanted marble as the chief Roman building material and allowed for numerous daring architectural schemata. Also in the 1st century BC, Vitruvius wrote De architectura, possibly the first complete treatise on architecture in history. In the late 1st century BC, Rome also began to make use of glassblowing soon after its invention in Syria, which occurred about 50 BC, and mosaics took the Empire by storm after samples were retrieved during Sulla's campaigns in Greece. Article on history of Roman concrete
Concrete made possible the paved, durable Roman roads, many of which were still in use a thousand years after the fall of Rome. The construction of a vast and efficient travel network throughout the Roman Empire dramatically increased Rome's power and influence. Originally constructed for military purposes, to allow Roman legions to be rapidly deployed, these highways had enormous economic significance, solidifying Rome's role as a trading crossroads-the origin of the phrase "all roads lead to Rome". The Roman government maintained way stations which provided refreshments to travelers at regular intervals along the roads, constructed bridges where necessary, and established a system of horse relays for couriers that allowed a dispatch to travel up to 800 km (500 miles) in 24 hours.
The Romans constructed numerous aqueducts to supply water to cities and industrial sites and to assist in their agriculture. The city of Rome itself was supplied by eleven aqueducts with a combined length of 350 km (260 miles). Most aqueducts were constructed below the surface, with only small portions above ground supported by arches. Powered entirely by gravity, the aqueducts transported very large amounts of water with an efficiency that remained unsurpassed for two thousand years. Sometimes, where depressions deeper than 50 miles had to be crossed, inverted siphons were used to force water uphill.
The Romans also made major advancements in sanitation. Romans were particularly famous for their public baths, called thermae, which were used for both hygienic and social purposes. Many Roman houses came to have flush toilets and indoor plumbing, and a complex sewer system, the Cloaca Maxima, was used to drain the local marshes and carry waste into the Tiber river. Some historians have speculated that the use of Lead pipes in sewer and plumbing systems led to widespread lead poisoning which contributed to the decline in birth rate and general decay of Roman society leading up to the fall of Rome. However, lead content would have been minimized because the flow of water from aqueducts could not be shut off; it ran continuously through public and private outlets into the drains, and only a small number of taps were in use.
Military power of the Roman Empire.
The early Roman army was, like those of other contemporary city-states, a citizen force in which the bulk of the troops fought as a legion. Each legion contained some 5,000 soldiers called legionaries and was divided into groups of 60 to 120 soldiers. The legion had several advantages over the phalanx. It was smaller and could move faster. Soldiers in a phalanx fought as a group and could only move in one direction. The groups within a legion could split off from the main body and attack from the sides and the rear, as well as the front. The soldiers were required to supply their own weapons, and returned to civilian life once their service was ended.
The first of the great army reformers, Camillus, reorganized the army to adopt manipular tactics and divided the infantry into three lines: hastati, principes and triarii.
The small landholders had traditionally been the backbone of the Roman army, but by the end of the 2nd century BC, the self-owning farmer had largely disappeared as a social class. Faced with acute manpower problems, Gaius Marius transformed the army into a volunteer force and accepted recruits from the lower classes, providing arms and armor for these troops out of his own pocket.
The Roman army was a marvel of discipline, which arguably made it one of the best armies of its time. Over the course of history, Rome faced many enemies who had more skilled warriors than the average Roman Legionary, at times roman armies were faced with enemies that held the advantage of superior numbers; yet the Roman legions were still almost always able to come out victorious. The Roman army owed much of its success to its brilliant generals, but no general can command an army that doesn't obey him.
Roman discipline was brutal; running from a battle was generally punished by death, and minor breaches of military rules could earn a flogging. A Legion was trained to virtually worship the silver eagle standard, and its loss in battle meant the Legion's disbanding. The Roman Legions specialized in working as a team and sticking together: the Legionaries would follow their general anywhere, and in the case of the late Roman Republic and the later Roman Empire this loyalty to individual generals was the largest factor in the famously incessant Roman civil wars.
The Roman army included foreign Auxiliaries from subjugated peoples almost from its very foundations. They especially relied upon these soldiers in roles where Romans did not traditionally excel such as cavalry and archery. Somewhat predictably, as Roman territory expanded the ratio of these troops to roman citizens in the military increased.
The last reorganization of the army came when Emperor Constantine I divided the army into a static defense force and a mobile field army. During the Late Empire, Rome also became increasingly dependent on allied contingents, foederati.
As the Western Roman Empire neared collapse in the 4th and 5th century Rome began to enlist entire tribes into the army rather than recruiting individuals into existing auxillary units. In effect, Rome had outsourced the defense of their territory to outside peoples. Ultimately, this led to the slow death of the empire as the boundaries between the "barbarian" realms and Roman lands gradually became more ambiguous and eventually no distinction could be made at all. Almost without exception the new overlords of Roman land continued to rule under a Roman banner and kept the existing Roman institutions in place for approximately another century after the traditional date of the end of the western empire-476, when the position of Emperor (whch had long been reduced to the status of a puppet position) was finally abolished by the Ostrogoths in 476.
Ancient Rome in popular culture.
Scholarly studies of the Roman Empire.
The interest in studying ancient Rome arose presumably during the Age of Enlightenment in France. Charles Montesquieu wrote a work "Reflections on the Causes of the Grandeur and Declension of the Romans". The first major work was The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, which encompassed the period from the end of 2nd century to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. Like Montesquieu Gibbon paid high tribute to the virtue of Roman citizens. Barthold Georg Niebuhr was a founder of the criticism and wrote The Roman History, carried until the First Punic war. Niebuhr has made an attempt to determine the way the Roman tradition appeared. According to him, Romans, like other people, had a historical ethos which was preserved mainly in the noble families. During the Napoleonic period the work titled The History of Romans by Victor Duruy appeared. It highlighted the Caesarean period popular at the time. History of Rome, Roman constitutional law and Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, all by Theodor Mommsen, became very important milestones. Later the work Greatness and Decline of Rome by Guglielmo Ferrero was published. The Russian work (The Outlines on Roman Landownership History, Mainly During the Empire) by Ivan Grevs contained information on the economy of Pomponius Atticus, one of the greatest landowners during the end of Republic.
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