The Romans Create a Republic Geography

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The Romans Create a Republic


  • Central location on the peninsula

  • Near the sea, on the river – Good for transportation and trade

  • Fertile soil is good for farming

  • Mountains are not steep – will allow unification

How It Began:

  • Settled by the Latins near the Tiber River – farmers and shepherds

  • Greek colonies in S. Italy and Sicily – influence farming and religion

  • Etruscans in N. Italy – metalworkers and engineers – Influenced writing, religion and architecture


The Early Republic:

  • Class Structure

    • patricians (aristocrats) held most power, made laws

    • plebeians (common man) had right to vote

  • Twelve Tables

    • Laws written and hung in public

    • Form the basis for later Roman Law

    • Show that all free citizens have the right to protection under the law


  • Consuls

  • Senate

    • 300 members of the aristocracy

    • Served for life – provides continuity

    • Advise consuls, influence foreign and domestic policy

The Roman Army:

  • All citizen landowners were required to serve

  • Flexible fighting force

Rome Expands:

  • Control

    • Defeat Etruscans and Greeks – control peninsula

    • Treated defeated people well – citizenship or ally status – helped to control the empire later

  • Punic Wars

    • Series of 3 wars with Carthage to control western Sea

      • 3rd Punic War – Rome destroys Carthage – gains African coast

    • Later Rome gains control of entire Mediterranean Sea

      • “Mare Nostrum” – Our Sea

The Roman Empire Brings Change

Expansion Creates Problems:

  • Rich landowners take farms of soldiers at war

  • Returning soldiers move to cities for work – few jobs

  • Widening gap between rich and poor

  • Class tensions

Republic Collapses:

  • Character of military changes

    • Generals hire landless poor as soldiers to fight for pay

    • Citizen soldiers loyal to the republic decline in number

    • Soldiers are now loyal to Generals rather than Rome

    • Generals now can take power by force – civil wars result

Julius Caesar:

  • Very popular military leader

  • Senate names Caesar dictator for life

  • Caesar’s Reforms

    • Granted more people citizenship

    • Expanded senate

    • Helped poor by creating jobs

    • Increased pay for soldiers

  • Troubled by Caesar’s growing powers, senators assassinate him

Beginning of the Empire:

  • Octavian avenges Caesar, takes control of Rome

  • Rome is now an empire, with Octavian (Augustus) as the first emperor

A Vast and Powerful Empire:

  • Pax Romana

    • Starting with Augustus, Rome is peaceful and prosperous for over 200 years

  • Economy

    • Farming

    • Trade

      • Vast trade network – from Spain to Middle East

      • Roads linked destinations, army and navy secured trade routes

      • Common currency made trade easy

  • Managing a Huge Empire

    • Roman army used men from provinces – they gained citizenship

    • Army spread Roman customs to remote areas

  • Sound Government

    • Civil service managed gov’t functions (people were paid)

    • Many plebs and slaves administered the empire effectively

    • Made a stable gov’t that could survive bad emperors

  • Succession

    • Gov’t had no rules for picking new emperors – civil war possible

    • 5 “good emperors” picked successors who had the support of the army and senate

The Rise of Christianity

Jews Come Under Roman Rule:

  • Judea becomes Roman province after revolt against Roman influence

Life and Teachings of Jesus:

  • Jesus’ Message

    • Taught belief in one god - monotheism

    • Stresses people’s love of God, others, enemies and themselves

    • God would create an eternal kingdom after death

    • Jesus lived simply – his message appealed to the poor

  • Jesus’ Death

    • Romans felt Jesus challenged the authority of Rome

    • His following was strengthened when his body was gone after death

Christianity Spreads Throughout the Empire

  • Paul’s Mission

    • Paul spread Jesus’ message

    • Pax Romana made travel and exchange of ideas easy

    • Welcomed all people, regardless of class, sex, occupation or status

  • Jewish Rebellion

    • Jews were defeated at Masada and other battles

    • Jewish political state was gone

    • Diaspora – dispersion of the Jews – exiled from homeland

  • Persecution of Christians

    • Refused to worship Roman gods - monotheism

    • Were persecuted and executed

    • Despite this, the religion spread

A World Religion

  • Widespread Appeal

    • Embraced all people

    • Gave hope to the powerless

    • Promised life after death

    • Offered personal relationship with a loving God

    • Alternative to extravagances of Rome

  • Early Christian Church

    • Pope – Bishop of Rome and head of the Christian Church

    • Bishop – priest who supervised several small local churches

    • Priest – led church at local level

    • Rome was chosen as capital of the Church

  • Constantine Accepts Christianity

    • Roman emperor who converted to Christianity

    • Stopped persecution of Christians

    • Edict of Milan – made Christianity an approved religion in Empire

  • Discord and Harmony

    • New Testament written to try and end conflicts of belief

  • Fathers of the Church

    • Augustine – wrote “The City of God”

    • Emphasized the afterlife to comfort people after the sacking of Rome

The Decline of the Roman Empire

Rome’s Economy Declines

Rome Faces Military Upheaval

Roman Politics Decay

Emperor Diocletian - Reforms

Emperor Constantine

Germanic Invasions

Rome and the Roots of Western Civilization

Legacy of Greco-Roman Civilization:

  • Greco-Roman culture is a blend of Greek, Hellenistic and Roman cultures

  • Romans borrowed and adapted elements from both cultures to create their own style

Roman Fine Arts:

  • Bas-Relief

    • Low relief – from flat background

  • Mosaic – set small tiles to make design

Learning and Literature

  • Philosophy

    • Borrowed from Greeks – Stoicism is influential

  • Literature

    • Virgil – poet - wrote The Aeneid – modeled after the epics of Homer

    • Ovid – poet - wrote light, witty poetry

    • Tacitus – wrote accurate, objective historical accounts

Roman Achievements

  • Latin

    • Basis for the Romance languages (French, Spanish, etc.)

    • Root of many English words

    • Language of Catholic Church into the 20th Century

  • Architecture, Engineering, Technology

    • Arch, dome, concrete used to build spectacular structures

    • Unlike Greeks, Roman architecture emphasized grandeur

    • Aqueducts – engineering and architectural marvels

    • Roads – so well built some are still used today

  • Law

    • All persons have the right to equal treatment under the law

    • Person is innocent until proven guilty

    • Burden of proof rests with the accuser, not the accused

    • Judges could interpret laws

Served as model for legal systems in many countries, including the U.S.

The Byzantine Empire
What is was:

  • The Greek speaking Eastern half of the Roman Empire that remained after the Latin speaking Western half had collapsed and fell to barbarians

  • Although the Western half was under the control of foreigners, the Eastern half (Byzantines) believed themselves to be the Roman Empire

  • Over the centuries, the Byzantine Empire develops a Greek influence while the rest of Europe begins to develop as kingdoms during the Middle Ages

How It Began:

  • 292 CE - Emperor Diocletian divides the Roman Empire into two sections – East and West

    • The Eastern half was wealthier

      • could bribe barbarian tribes not to invade

      • could hire mercenaries to defend it

      • located on strategic trade routes (Silk Road and Bosporus Strait)

        • Controls key trade routes between Europe and Asia

  • 330 CE - Emperor Constantine moves the capital from Rome to Byzantium (renamed Constantinople) – It was a “New Rome”

Life in “New Rome”

  • Constantine wanted “New Rome” to be as magnificent as Rome had been

    • Commissioned buildings, baths, theaters, a university and law courts

    • Imported artwork from throughout the empire

      • Preserved Greco-Roman heritage

  • Most people spoke Greek, although the official language was Latin

    • The rich and elite spoke Latin

  • Governed by Roman law and political institutions

  • Education

    • Students studied ancient Greek literature, philosophy, science art, medicine, art and rhetoric

      • Classical education

Emperor Justinian

  • Reconquered most of the “old” Roman Empire

    • This was the largest expanse of the Byzantine Empire

    • It weakened the Empire – drained it of much needed resources

  • Justinian’s Code

    • Collected of all of Rome’s laws into a simple and clear system of laws

    • Removed obsolete or contradictory laws

    • Provides a clear, consistent and efficient legal system

    • Becomes the model for future European nations

  • Hagia Sophia

    • Model for Byzantine architecture

      • Domed structure, use of mosaics

Contributions of the Byzantine Empire:

  • Religion

    • Eastern Orthodox Church spreads to Russia

  • Architecture

    • Domed architecture spreads to Russia

  • Alphabet

    • Cyrillic alphabet from the Byzantines is still used in Russia

  • Culture

    • Preserved Greek and Roman culture until it is rediscovered by Western Europe after the Crusades

  • Autocratic Rule

    • Russia will have Tsars - absolute rulers – Russian for “Caesar”

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