Chapter 10 – ancient rome geography

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Location – The Italian Peninsula is located in

southern Europe.

It is strategically located between

western Europe, North Africa, and

western Asia.
Shape – The Italian Peninsula is shaped like a

woman’s boot that is about to kick Sicily.

Boundaries – Mediterranean Sea (south), Adriatic

Sea (east), and Tyrrhenian Sea

(west), Alps (north)
Rivers – Tiber River – midway down the Italian


Po River – northern section of the Italian


Mountains – Alps (north)

Apennine Mts. – running down the

eastern side of the Italian peninsula

“Backbone of the Italian Peninsula”

Landforms (Terrain) - similar to Greece

mountainous with some

fertile plains (Latium Plain –

around Rome)

Climate – Warm and moist most of the year – great

conditions for growing grapes and olives

Legend – The king was overthrown by his brother. The new king attempted to drown his infant nephews. The babies were put in a basket and thrown into the Tiber River. The basket drifted to shore where a female wolf found it. The wolf cared for the babies until a shepherd found them and took them home. When they got older, they discovered who they were and killed the evil king. They founded a city on the banks of the Tiber River. The brothers fought over the naming of the city, and Romulus killed Remus. The city was named Rome after its first king, Romulus.
Early People of Rome – Latins – as villages

united they became known as Romans

Etruscans – came from the north – skilled

builders & farmers taught Romans

how to build aqueducts and make

better weapons and ships

Greeks–crossed the Adriatic Sea to settle on the

Italian Peninsula

Roman Society – Citizens and non-citizens

Citizens were divided into two groups

– Patricians and Plebeians

Patricians – members of Rome’s noble

families – owned large farms

Plebeians – men who farmed, traded, and

made things for a living

(such as farmers, soldiers, and

merchants). Plebeians served in

the army and paid taxes.

Majority of citizens were plebeians.

Republic – means “public things” in Latin

Citizens have the right to vote, or choose

their leaders. People elected to represent

the people are called representatives.

Senate – governing body – made up entirely of


Consuls – two patricians chosen to manage the

government and the army

The two consuls had the power to stop the other consul from taking action if he

did not agree.

Dictator - someone who has total control over the people

Appointed by the consuls in time of an emergency.

Plebeians often spoke out against the power of the patricians. Patricians owned much of the land around Rome and the plebeians were forced to rent land from the patricians. Plebeians threatened to revolt and stop serving in the army.

To get a say in the government the plebeians:

1) Refused to serve in the army

2) Refuse to pay taxes

Also, threatened to leave Rome and start own city.

The threat worked. Plebeians could …

1) Elect officials called Tribunes

2) Tribunes could veto a government action by the Senate

3) Had their rights protected

4) Elect their own assembly.

5) Eventually, passed laws for all of Rome.

The Senate was forced to meet the plebeians demands. The citizen assembly appointed men to protect the rights of the plebeians. These men were called tribunes. Initially there were only two tribunes appointed. Over time the tribunes numbered ten men. They became very powerful. However, the patricians still had more power than the plebeians.


  • Senate – controlled by the patricians

- determined how Rome would act

toward other governments

- controlled all the money collected and

spent by the republic

  • Consuls – two men elected by the citizen


- served as Rome’s army


- served as powerful judges

  • Tribunes – eventually 10 men elected by the citizen assembly

- protect the rights of the plebeians

Structure of Government Under the Republic

2 Consuls
Head of Government

Senate (300 members)  





1 year term  

Life term  


Consuls chose the Senators  


Elected the 2 Consuls  

Ran the government, overseeing the work of other government officials.  

Advised the consuls. Advised the Assembly.  

Elected government officials including judges. 

Directed (commanded) the army  

Directed spending, including tax dollars  


Acted as judges  

Approved or disapproved laws made by the Assembly  

Voted on laws suggested by government officials  

In an emergency, consuls could choose a dictator – a single ruler to make quick decisions.  

Made decisions concerning relationships with foreign powers  

Declared war or peace  

Both consuls had to agree on their decisions. Each had the power to Veto the other. In Latin, veto means “I forbid.” 



Wealthy Romans – Boys and some girls went to school. Some were home tutored by Greek slaves.
Main meal was eaten in the late afternoon. Wealthy citizens consumed fish, birds, olive oil with herbs, dates, and pork. Poor citizens ate wheat and barley, bread, olives, and meat scraps.
Roman clothing – light and comfortable due to the


  • Men wore long togas made of woolen cloth. This came from the Etruscans.

Women wore two layers of tunics.

They also wore gold jewelry with

precious gems.

Plebeians wore short togas and

tunics to make it easier to work in.
PUNIC WARS – three – all won by Rome
Main cause – control of Sicily
1st Punic War – Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar led an unsuccessful attack on Rome. Hamilcar made Hannibal swear revenge on Rome.
2nd Punic War – Hannibal’s plan was to surprise Rome by attacking from the north. He led his troops through Spain, Gaul (present day France), over the Alps and onto the Italian peninsula. His plan worked and Rome lost battle after battle. Finally, a Roman general, Scipio, decided to attack Carthage hoping to get Hannibal and his troops to leave Rome and return to their homeland to defend it. The Carthaginians returned home only to be defeated at the Battle of Zama (outside of Carthage). The defeat of Hannibal gave Rome control over Carthage’s vast territory. Rome became the most powerful nation in the Mediterranean region.

A famous Roman general who took advantage of the republic’s weakened condition after the Punic Wars. He conquered many foreign lands (including France and Belgium) and returned to Rome to take part in a civil struggle for control of Rome. With the help of money from Cleopatra (Egypt), Caesar was able to win control of Rome and declared himself dictator. A dictator is someone who rules with absolute power. Government under a dictator is called a dictatorship.
Julius Caesar made important changes in Rome, such as the calendar, land to his soldiers, free grain to the poor citizens, increased jobs and citizenship to many people not born in Rome. This angered many patricians in the Senate and a plot to kill Caesar was launched. On March 15, as Caesar was attending to business on the floor of the Senate, he was stabbed to death. According to legend, a friend warned Caesar to “Beware of the Ides of March.” The senators who killed Caesar believed they have saved the republic from dictatorship.

After Caesar’s death a 14 year civil war broke out for control of the government. The winner was Octavian, Caesar’s grand-nephew and adopted son. He took the name “Augustus”, or “honored one” as a sign of his new power. The month of August is named after him.
Life under Augustus was good and Rome prospered. His rule began the Pax Romana, “the Roman Peace.” This would last for nearly 200 years.
Augustus was not the only emperor during this period. There were good emperors and bad emperors. Some are listed below.



Claudius (followed Caligula)– tried to improve conditions in the empire

Caligula – declared himself a god – was mentally cruel and unstable

Marcus Aurelius – lowered taxes and helped the poor

Nero – followed Claudius – poisoned his stepbrother and murdered his wife and his mother

Accomplishments during the Pax Romana (lasted for nearly 200 years)

  • Building of roads - “All roads lead to Rome”

  • Construction of beautiful public buildings and arenas (Pantheon, Colosseum)

The Colosseum was a famous Roman arena. Site of mock sea battles, gladiator fights, and persecution of Christians. At one point in time, the Colosseum had a canvas retractable roof.

Roman architecture consisted of domes and arches.

  • Building of aqueducts (brought water into the city from higher locations)

  • Roman Forum (similar to the Greek agora)

  • Theaters and public baths

  • Police and fire protection

  • Trade and business prospered

Much of the legal system in the U.S. is based on the principles, or basic rules, the Romans developed. Similar to Hammurabi’s Code of Laws in Babylon, Rome had the Twelve Tables. The Twelve Tables were laws covered everything from marriage to slavery. They were posted in Rome’s Forum. The Forum was a gravel clearing in the middle of Rome and was the center of life in Rome (similar to the Greek agora).

  • Language helped unite the Roman Empire.

  • Romans brought their Latin language with them to the lands they conquered.

  • Latin is the basis for many languages spoken today. These are called Romance languages.

  • Romance languages include Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian.


Jesus lived during the time of the Roman Empire. He was a Jew from the southern part of the Roman province of Palestine. During his ministry, he healed sick people and performed many miracles. He had twelve special followers called apostles. Jesus was put to death because those in power were afraid that he was becoming too popular and might lead a revolt and take control. After his death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, his disciples continued Jesus’ work and spread Jesus’ teachings throughout the empire.
Early Christians were persecuted. It was against the law to be a Christian. Christians were forced to practice their religion in secret. Catacombs were underground burial rooms for Christians.
Emperor Constantine made Christianity equal to all other religions and outlawed the persecution of Christians. Before he died, he was baptized. At that point, many Romans followed the example of Constantine and became Christians. In A.D. 380, emperor Theodosius made Christianity Rome’s official religion.
Christians called Peter the first bishop of Rome. Later, Christians would give the bishop of Rome the title pope – from the Latin word for “father.”


Causes for the decline

  • Invasions from northern tribes (German-speaking peoples)

    • Cities and farmlands were destroyed.

    • Roads were unsafe to travel. Trade suffered.

    • isolationism

  • Empire got too big

    • Difficulties with communication, collecting taxes, and transporting army from one place to another

Army weakened

  • Because the army battled for control of government, it got weaker as a fighting force.

  • Many Romans refused to serve in the army.

  • Hired mercenaries (paid fighters). They were not loyal to the empire and did not stop invaders.

• Empire is divided in two. Diocletian, in an

effort to make the empire more controllable,

divided the empire into two sections, Eastern

Roman Empire and the Western Roman

Empire. Diocletian became the head of the

wealthy Eastern Roman Empire and put some

of his generals in charge of the west. The

people in the west felt abandoned by their

Constantine became emperor when Diocletian retired. He attempted to reunite the east and the west, but he stayed in the east. He established a new capital city called Constantinople (Byzantium – site of old Greek city). The city still exists today as Istanbul, Turkey. After Constantine died, the Empire divided & split again. As time passed, the division became greater and the west grew weaker. In addition the west continued to be plagued by invasions by barbarians from northern tribes. Finally the last ruler was removed from Rome and the western empire collapsed. The Eastern Roman Empire became known as the Byzantine Empire and lasted another 1,000 years.
While the empire was dividing, Christians began to disagree about the role of the emperor in religion. In the east, the emperor was also the head of the church and appointed church officials. In the west, the church looked to the pope for leadership. They believed the pope had authority over all Christians including the emperor. The Byzantine Christians strongly disagreed. Finally in 1054, the Christian church split in two. The eastern church became known as the Byzantine Orthodox Church. The western church became known at the Roman Catholic Church.
The Legacy of Rome

  • Roman alphabet

  • Road construction

  • Construction material (cement & marble)

  • Architecture – domes and arches

  • Government – republic – three branches of government

  • Primitive mail service

  • Water system

  • Languages – Latin – Romance Languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French & Romanian)

  • Spread of Christianity

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