Ancient Rome and Early Christianity, 500 B. C.–A. D. 500 The Roman Republic Rome’s Geography



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Ancient Rome and Early Christianity, 500 B.C.–A.D. 500

The Roman Republic

Rome’s Geography

Site of Rome chosen for its fertile soil and strategic location

Located on Italian peninsula in center of Mediterranean Sea

Built on seven hills on Tiber River



The First Romans

Latins, Greeks, and Etruscans compete for control of region

Latins found original settlement of Rome between 1000 and 500 B.C.

Etruscans native to northern Italy; influence Roman civilization



The Early Republic

Early Rulers

Around 600 B.C., Etruscan kings begin to rule Rome

Kings build Rome’s first temples and public centers

Romans overthrow cruel Etruscan king in 509 B.C.

Romans found a republic—government in which citizens elect leaders

Patricians and Plebeians

Different groups struggle for power in early Roman Republic



Patricians—wealthy landowning class that holds most of the power

Plebeians—artisans, merchants, and farmers; can vote, can’t rule

Tribunes—elected representatives protect plebeians’ political rights

Twelve Tables

In 451 B.C. officials carve Roman laws on twelve tablets

Called Twelve Tables, they become basis for later Roman law

Laws confirm right of all free citizens to protection of the law

Citizenship is limited to adult male landowners

Twelve Tables are hung in the Forum



Government Under the Republic

Rome elects two consuls—one to lead army, one to direct government



Senate—chosen from Roman upper class; makes foreign, domestic policy

Democratic assemblies elect tribunes, make laws for common people



Dictators are leaders appointed briefly in times of crisis

The Roman Army

Roman legion—military unit of 5,000 infantry; supported by cavalry

Army is powerful; key factor in Rome’s rise to greatness
Rome Spreads Its Power

Rome Conquers Italy

Romans defeat Etruscans in north and Greek city-states in south

By 265 B.C., Rome controls Italian peninsula

Conquered peoples treated justly; this enables Rome to grow



Rome’s Commercial Network

Rome establishes large trading network

Access to Mediterranean Sea provides many trade routes

Carthage, powerful city-state in North Africa, soon rivals Rome



War with Carthage

Rome and Carthage begin Punic Wars—three wars between 264–146 B.C.

Rome defeats Carthage, wins Sicily, in first 23-year war

Hannibal—Carthaginian general—avenges defeat in Second Punic War

Attacks Italy through Spain and France, doesn’t take Rome



Rome Triumphs

Roman general Scipio defeats Hannibal in 202 B.C.

Rome destroys Carthage, enslaves people in last war (149–146 B.C.)

Section 2: The Roman Empire
The Republic Collapses

Economic Turmoil

Gap between rich and poor widens as Roman Republic grows

Farmers, former soldiers, lose to large estates; become homeless

Two tribunes, Tiberius and Gaius, try to help poor, are murdered



Civil war—conflict between groups within same country begins

Military Upheaval

Military becomes less disciplined and disloyal

Soldiers recruited from poor; show loyalty only to their generals

Julius Caesar Takes Control

Military leader Julius Caesar elected consul in 59 B.C.

Caesar, Crassus, Pompey form a triumvirate—a group of three rulers

Military victories give Caesar increasing popularity and power

Pompey fears Caesar’s growing power and challenges him

Caesar defeats Pompey’s armies in Greece, Asia, Spain, Egypt

Caesar is named dictator for life in 44 B.C.

Caesar’s Reforms

Caesar makes reforms: grants wider citizenship, creates jobs for poor

Group of senators opposes Caesar; kills him on March 15, 44 B.C.

Beginning of the Empire

43 B.C., Caesar’s supporters take control; become Second Triumvirate

Octavian, Mark Antony, Lepidus alliance ends in jealousy, violence

In 31 B.C., Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s forces are defeated at Actium

Octavian accepts title of Augustus, “exalted one,” and rules Rome
A Vast and Powerful Empire

Pax Romana

Under Augustus, Rome moves from a republic to an empire

Power no longer resides with citizens, but a single ruler

Rome enjoys 200 years of peace and prosperity known as Pax Romana



A Sound Government

Augustus, Rome’s ablest ruler, creates lasting system of government

- glorifies Rome with beautiful public buildings

- sets up a civil service to administer the empire



Agriculture and Trade

Agriculture most important industry in empire; 90% of Romans farm

Common coin, denarius, makes trade within empire easier

Rome has vast trading network, includes China and India

Network of Roman roads links empire to Persia, Russia
The Roman World

Slaves and Captivity

Slavery is a significant part of Roman life in both cities and farms

Some slaves become gladiators; forced to fight to death

Gods and Goddesses

Early Romans honor guardian spirits and gods Jupiter, Juno, Minerva

Worship of emperor becomes part of official religion of Rome

Society and Culture

Rich live well; most people are poor, receive grain from government

150 holidays and Colosseum events created to control the masses

Section 3: The Rise of Christianity
The Life and Teachings of Jesus

Romans Conquer Judea

Rome conquers Judea, home of Jews; makes it part of empire, A.D. 6

Many Jews believe a Messiah, or savior, eventually will free them

Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus—a Jew born in Bethlehem (around 6 to 4 B.C.), raised in Nazareth

At age 30 begins preaching monotheism, Ten Commandments

Does good works, reportedly performs miracles

Stresses personal relationship with God, love for friends and enemies



A Growing Movement

Apostles—the twelve men who are disciples (or pupils) of Jesus

Jesus ignores wealth and status; his message appeals to poor



Jesus’ Death

Many Jews view Jesus as the Messiah; others see him as a heretic

Roman governor Pontius Pilate sentences Jesus to be crucified

Apostles believe Jesus ascended into heaven after death



Christos, Greek word for “savior”; Christianity derived from “Christ”
Christianity Spreads Through the Empire

Growth of Christianity

Followers spread Christianity—new religion based on Jesus’ teachings



Paul’s Mission

Apostle Paul—spends life preaching and interpreting Christianity

Common languages of Latin and Greek help to spread message

Paul stresses Jesus is son of God who died for people’s sins

Paul declares that Christianity open to all converts

Jewish Rebellion

Jews rebel against Rome; Romans storm Jerusalem, destroy Temple

Rebellions in A.D. 66, 70, 132 fail; Jews driven from homeland

Diaspora—centuries of Jewish exile (from Greek word for “dispersal”)

Persecution of the Christians

Christians won’t worship Roman gods; become enemies of Roman rule

Roman rulers use Christians as scapegoats for hard times

As Pax Romana crumbles, Christians crucified, burned, killed in arena


A World Religion

Christianity’s Expansion

Christianity becomes powerful force; reasons for widespread appeal:

- embraces all people

- gives hope to the powerless

- appeals to those repelled by extravagance of Roman life

- offers personal relationship with a loving God

- promises eternal life after death

Constantine Accepts Christianity

Constantine—Roman emperor battles for control of Rome in A.D. 312

Has vision of cross, Christian symbol; places on soldiers’ shields

Believes Christian God helped him win; legalizes Christianity

In A.D. 380 Emperor Theodosius makes Christianity religion of empire



Early Christian Church

Priests direct a single church; bishops supervise numerous churches

Apostle Peter—first bishop of Rome; clergy trace their authority to him

Pope—the father, or head, of Christian Church; Rome, center of Church

A Single Voice

Church leaders compile standard Christian beliefs in New Testament

New Testament added to Hebrew Bible (also called Old Testament)

The Fathers of the Church

Early writers and scholars of teachings called Fathers of the Church

Augustine, bishop in North Africa, one of the most important Fathers

Stressed receiving sacraments to obtain God’s grace

Wrote famous book, The City of God

Section 4: The Fall of the Roman Empire
A Century of Crisis

The Empire Declines

Pax Romana ends in A.D. 180 with death of emperor Marcus Aurelius

Subsequent emperors unable to govern giant empire



Rome’s Economy Weakens

Hostile tribes outside the empire disrupt trade



Inflation—drop in value of money and rise in prices—weakens trade

Overworked soil, war-torn farmland leads to food shortages



Military and Political Turmoil

By third century A.D. Roman military in turmoil

Soldiers loyal to commanders, not Rome; commanders fighting for throne

Government enlists mercenaries—foreign soldiers they pay to fight

Average citizens lose interest in the affairs of Rome
Emperors Attempt Reform

Diocletian Reforms the Empire

In A.D. 284 Emperor Diocletian restores order, divides empire in two

Two emperors in Greek-speaking East, Latin-speaking West

In A.D. 305 Diocletian retires, rivals compete for power



Constantine Moves the Capital

Constantine becomes emperor of Western Empire in A.D. 312

Seizes Eastern Empire in A.D. 324; moves Roman capital to Byzantium

Byzantium eventually renamed Constantinople—city of Constantine


The Western Empire Crumbles

Germanic Invasions

Mongol nomads from Asia, the Huns, invade northern borders of empire

Germanic tribes flee Huns, enter Roman lands, sack Rome A.D. 410

Attila the Hun

Attila—unites the Huns in A.D. 444; plunders 70 cities in East

Attacks Rome in 452; famine and disease prevents victory



An Empire No More

Last Roman emperor falls to Germans in 476; end of Western Empire

East thrives for another thousand years (Byzantine Empire)

Section 5: Rome and the Roots of Western Civilization
The Legacy of Greco-Roman Civilization

A New Culture Emerges

Romans adopt aspects of Greek and Hellenistic culture

Results in Greco-Roman culture, or classical civilization

Roman Fine Arts

Romans develop bas-relief sculptures to tell stories

Artists skilled in creating mosaics, painting frescoes

Pompeii—Roman town; ash from volcano eruption A.D. 79 preserves art

Learning and Literature

Romans borrow from Greek philosophy and literature

Poet Virgil writes epic Aeneid modeled after Homer’s Greek epics

Roman historian Tacitus excels in writing factually accurate history



Annals and Histories provide comprehensive look at Roman life
The Legacy of Rome

The Latin Language

Latin was official language of Roman Catholic Church until 1900s

Develops into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian

More than half the words in English stem from Latin



Master Builders

Romans pioneer use of arch; also used domes and concrete

Create aqueducts—structures to bring water into cities, towns

Roman System of Law

Principles of Roman law form basis of modern legal systems



Rome’s Enduring Influence

By preserving and adding to Greek civilization, Rome strengthened the



Western cultural tradition


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