Rome and Christianity From Republic to Empire



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Rome and Christianity

  1. From Republic to Empire



  • By the 1st century BC, the Roman Republic was in a downward spiral

  • Politicians and philosophers sought answers to these problems

  • Ultimately, the Roman Republic will not survive



  1. Disorder in the Republic

  • In the 70s BC Rome was not the place you necessarily wanted to be

  • Politicians and generals fought each other to increase their own power

  • Political order was going down into a sinkhole

  • Tribunes were stripped of their power and this caused dissension

  • As all of this was taking place, more and more people were moving into the city, thus further complicating matters

  1. Calls For Change

  • Some wanted to and tried to stop the chaos

  • One such person was Cicero

  • Cicero was an orator, and philosopher

  • He called on the upper class Romans to work together to make Rome a better place

  • He wanted to limit the powers of the generals

  • He wanted more support for the Senate

  • He wanted a return to the system of checks and balances

  • This did not lead to the change he desired

  • Many Romans did not agree with what Cicero was selling

  • Some had better things to do = no time to listen

  • Others, namely a few generals, were working to take over the government

  • Arguably this most one of these was a man by the name of Julius Caesar

  1. Caesar’s Rise to Power

  • Caesar was one of the world’s greatest generals

  • He was admired for his bravery and skill

  • By most accounts, he treated his soldiers with respect and kindness

  • He earned fame by conquering most of Gaul between 58 and 50 BC = this would become modern-day France

  • Other than being a phenomenal soldier, he was a writer as well = wrote history books about his conquests

  • His military success made him a political tour de force

  • Good leader + excellent speaker = many supporters

  • He also had some friends in high places

  • He made an alliance with two men = Pompey and Crassus

  1. Challenges to Caesar

  • This partnership lasted 10 years

  • History would know this connection as the first triumvirate

  • Caesar became so popular that his friends would become jealous

  • Pompey’s allies would turn on Caesar and demand his stepping down as commander of the army

  • They wanted Pompey to control Rome alone

  • Crassus was killed in battle = this would be a two man battle for domination

  • Caesar refused to relinquish his post

  • He took exception to this request, gathered his troops and readied himself for civil war

  • He made his famous crossing of the Rubicon River soon thereafter

  • This meant that there would be no turning back

  • This was a decision that would change the course of history

  • War was certain because it was a rule that no army with its general could enter into Rome

  • Pompey and his allies fled because they didn’t believe they had enough forces to defeat Caesar

  • Pompey fled Italy for parts unknown (Greece)

  • Caesar gave chase

  • They played this game for about a year

  • In 48 BC, Pompey is killed by order of the Egyptian king

  • Caesar returned to Rome in 45 BC and made himself dictator for life

  • He worked to improve Roman society, but along the way he made many enemies

  • Some thought he wanted to become king of Rome

  • Some resented they way he took power

  • The Senate were quite angered by his reducing their power

  • A plot developed to kill Caesar

  • On March 15, 44 BC, a day that would become known as the Ides of March, Caesar was assassinated by a group of senators = stabbed him to death



  1. The End of the Republic

  • After Caesar is dealt with harshly, two people would rise from his ashes to vie for power

  • One was Caesar’s former assistant, Marc Antony

  • The other was Caesar’s adopted son, Octavian, a man who later be known as Augustus

  • These two along with Marcus Lepidus would become the second triumvirate

  1. Antony and Octavian

  • They both could agree that the killers and conspirators against Caesar should be punished

  • They murderers thought of themselves as heroes, but they were sadly mistaken

  • They were forced to flee for their lives

  • They underestimated the popularity of Caesar

  • The people loved him

  • After he was killed, riots broke out

  • The Senate had to act quickly to squelch this uprising

  • Antony gave a eulogy at Caesar’s funeral that would turn more against his murderers

  • Octavian and Antony set out to deliver retribution

  • They caught up with these murderers in Philippi in Greece

  • In 42 BC they defeated the army of the killers

  • They conspirators that survived the fight would later kill themselves

  1. Octavian Becomes Emperor

  • The two superpowers parted and went their own way

  • Octavian went back to Italy

  • Antony went east to fight Rome’s enemies

  • Antony married Octavian’s sister, Octavia

  • 8 years later, however, he divorced her to marry Cleopatra, queen of Egypt

  • This was interpreted as an insult to Octavian and his sister

  • This led to civil was again

  • 31 BC Octavian sent a fleet to battle Octavian

  • The Battle of Actium led to Antony’s defeat

  • He would flee back to Egypt where he and Cleopatra committed suicide instead of being taken prisoner

  • This opened the door for Octavian to become sole ruler of Rome

  • Over the next few years he would acquire limitless power

  • He also took the title of princeps, or first citizen

  • 27 BC he announced he was giving up his power to the Senate

  • This was not necessarily the case

  • He actually kept all his power

  • The Senate gave him the name Augustus, which means the “revered one”

  • Most historians see this transition of Octavian to Augustus as the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire



  1. Rome’s Growing Empire

  • As Rome became an empire, it already controlled most of the Mediterranean

  • After Augustus, the emperors that followed expanded the empire

  • Some conquered to control hostile neighbors

  • Others conquered to gain control of gold, farmland, and other resources

  • AD 100s, Rome had taken over much of Gaul and central Europe

  • Under Claudius, most of Britain was overtaken

  • They had control of Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and the coast of the Mediterranean

  • North Africa was also in their hands

  • These conquests promoted trade

  • Rome needed raw materials that Italy could not supply

  • Traders brought metals. Cloth, and food from the provinces to the city

  • They also brought spices and silk from Asia and animals from Africa

  • In return, they sent goods made by artisans to the provinces

  • Romans used money, or currency, to pay for these trade goods

  • They traded coins made of gold and silver

  • Most accepted these coins, which helped trade to flourish

  • The first 200 years of the empire were relatively peaceful and prosperous = Pax Romana, or Roman peace

  • During this time the population grew, trade increased, and the quality of life improved



  1. Rome’s Accomplishments

  • Romans made lasting achievements in science, engineering, architecture, and art

  1. Science and Engineering

  • Romans took a practical approach in these areas

  • They wanted results that benefited society

  • They studied the stars to make a calendar

  • They studied plants to learn how to obtain better crops and meat

  • To improve health, they studied the Greeks

  • Galen = famous doctor = Greek surgeon who studied the body = arteries and veins = valves of the heart

  • The Romans were great builders

  • They made cement by mixing lime with volcanic rock and ash

  • They made roads in layers = they were durable

  • Used arches that allowed them to make sturdy bridges

  • They used arches to make aqueducts

  • Aqueducts = raised channel used to carry water from mountains into cities

  • They combined arches to make vaults

  • Vaults = set of arches used to support ceilings



  1. Architecture and Art

  • They admired beauty

  • Architecture copied the Greeks

  • Used columns and marble to cover their buildings

  • Colosseum was built for games

  • Domes were used

  • Roman artist were known for their beautiful mosaics, paintings, and statues

  • Most Roman paintings were frescoes, or a painting done on plaster

  1. Literature and Language

  • Rome housed many great authors

  • Virgil = Roman poet who wrote the Aeneid

  • Ovid = wrote poems about Roman mythology

  • They wrote in Latin

  • Latin would develop into the Romance languages = Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian

  • Many Latin words and phrases can be seen in the English language

  1. Law

  • Rome was highly influential in the realm of law

  • They inspired a system called civil law

  • Civil law = legal system based on a written code of laws

  • This would affect other places by their institution of some kind of written legal code



  1. The Roman Empire and Religion



  1. Religious Tolerance and Conflict

  • Romans were very religious

  • Held festivals in honor of their gods

  • They did not try to push their beliefs off on others

  1. Freedom of Worship

  • When Romans conquered people, they generally allowed those people to keep their own religious beliefs and customs

  • Sometimes these beliefs would permeate to the Romans who lived nearby

  • Romans would over time build temples to these adopted gods

  • Some Romans worshipped the Greek s gods

  • Over time they would become the main gods of Rome

  • Romans would change many of their names

  • They also adopted some gods and beliefs from the Persians, Gauls, and Egyptians

  • They prayed to a variety of gods and goddesses

  • A religion was banned only when the rulers of Rome saw it as a political problem

  • Judaism was an example of this

  1. Clashes With Jews

  • Jews were monotheistic, the Romans were not

  • Yahweh was the only god

  • Some Romans saw this as an insult because the Jews did not worship their gods

  • For a time they allowed the Jews to keep their religious beliefs

  • The Jews rocked the boat when they chose to rebel in the province of Judea

  • The Jews were defeated

  • As time passed, Romans began to treat the Jews harshly = resentment and heavy taxes

  • Emperor Hadrian outlawed many Jewish rituals

  • He thought this would squelch their thirst for independence

  • The opposite happened

  • They rebelled and were crushed again



  1. A New Religion

  • In the first century AD, a new religion was formed

  • It was called Christianity

  • It was based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth

  • It had many of the ideas of Judaism, but developed as a separate faith

  • The followers of this faith saw Jesus as the Messiah, or “God’s anointed one” = he was the son of God sent to lead them



  1. Jesus of Nazareth

  • Many saw him as the Jewish Messiah

  • Most of what is known about his life is found in the Bible = the book of the religion of Christianity

  • The Christian book is made up of two parts = the Old Testament and the New Testament

  • Old Testament = the life and times of the Hebrew people

  • New Testament = life and teachings of Jesus

  1. The Birth of Jesus

  • According to the Bible, Jesus was born in Bethlehem

  • His birth marks the shift from BC to AD

  • Christians believe that God was Jesus’ father

  • He studied the laws and teachings of Judaism

  • By the age of 30, he began to teach about religion

  1. Crucifixion and Resurrection

  • As a teacher he attracted many followers

  • At the same time, he made many enemies by speaking out against the authority of political leaders

  • He would be arrested and killed by crucifixion

  • According to Christians, three days later came the Resurrection = rise from the dead

  1. The Teachings of Jesus

  • He travelled from village to village teaching

  • He taught love of God and of other people

  • He expected people to love all people, even the sick and their enemies

  • Salvation was a theme of his = rescue from sin

  • People saved from sin would go to heaven when they died

  • Over centuries, people began to interpret his teachings differently = different denominations

  1. The Spread of Jesus’ Teachings

  • Apostles were used to spread the word

  • The first were 12 disciples

  • After the Resurrection, these Apostles traveled about telling of his life and teachings

  • Some wrote accounts of his life = the 4 Gospels = Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

  • Probably the most influential of the Apostles was Paul of Tarsus

  • He travelled throughout the known word preaching and teaching

  • He would teach through letters as well



  1. The Growth of Christianity

  • Early Christians spread teachings of Jesus only among Jews

  • Paul would introduce Christianity to other people

  • Christians trying to spread their belief would meet opposition

  • Some were arrested and killed if they refused to worship Rome’s gods

  • Some Roman emperors became wary of the Christians, thus began an era of persecution

  • Persecution = punishment of a group because of its beliefs

  • This caused many Christians to meet in secret

  • In the early 300sA D, Emperor Constantine became a Christian and removed the bans on it

  • Later Christianity would become the official religion of the Roman Empire



  1. The End of the Empire



  1. Problems in the Empire

  • At its apex, the Roman Empire included all the land around the Mediterranean Sea

  • In the early AD 100s, the empire stretched from Britain south to Egypt, and from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Syrian Desert

  • By the end of the 200s AD, the empire had given up some of this land

  • Some emperors feared that the empire was too large to defend or govern efficiently

  1. External and Internal Threats

  • Germanic warriors attacked Rome’s northern border

  • Persian armies invaded from the east

  • For a while Rome defended these borders, but it would prove costly

  • These attacks and raids of barbarians made many in the empire antsy

  • Some of these people would abandon their land

  • To grow enough food to supply their needs, Romans would invite Germanic farmers to grow crops on Roman lands

  • These farmers often came from the same tribes that threatened Roman borders

  • Over time, whole Germanic communities had moved into the empire

  • They chose their own leaders and largely ignored the emperors

  • This would lead to problems

  • Other internal problems plagued the empire

  • Disease spread, killing many

  • Taxes were increased to pay for the defense of the empire

  • Diocletian would emerge as an emperor with an idea

  1. Division of the Empire

  • Diocletian became emperor in the late 200s BC

  • He was convinced that the empire was too big to run for one person

  • He ruled the eastern half and named a co-emperor to rule the western portion

  • After Diocletian died, Constantine would reunite the empire for a while

  • He also move the capital from Rome to Turkey

  • It would be known as Constantinople = “city of Constantine”

  • Even though it was still called the Roman Empire, the power had shifted to the east



  1. The Decline of Rome

  • Tribes had begun to settle in the northern region of the Roman Empire in the 200s AD

  • A century later, these fighters would ban together to raid deep onto the heart of the empire

  1. Early Invasions

  • The Huns would be the source of these raids

  • They were fierce warriors from Central Asia

  • They invaded southeastern Europe and then launched raids on nearby kingdoms

  • The Huns would beat the Goths = Visigoths and Ostrogoths

  • They would flee into Roman territory

  • Rome’s leaders feared that the Goths would destroy Roman land and property

  • They fought to keep them out

  • They were fairly successful in the east

  • The western armies would be defeated by the Goths = they moved into the Roman Empire

  • The Romans kept fighting to keep the Goths out, they even paid them to stay away

  • In 408 AD they stopped paying

  • In 410 BC, the Visigoths sacked the city of Rome

  • This was demoralizing for the Romans

  1. The Fall of the Western Empire

  • This Gothic victory would inspire many other tribes to get their fair share

  • The Vandals, Jutes, Saxons, Angles, and Franks all launched attacks on the western part of the empire

  • The Huns, with Attila at the helm attacked the east

  • Strong leaders were needed to survive

  • Unfortunately, weak emperors were on the slate for awhile

  • Military leaders would jockey for power for many years

  • In 476 AD, the Western Roman Empire would come to an end



  1. Factors in Rome’s Fall

  • Many factors caused the fall of the Roman Empire

  • Communication among parts of the empire was difficult, especially during times of conflict

  • The Roman Empire had become too large to govern efficiently

  • Political crises would arise

  • Corruption was prevalent

  • Corrupt officials used threats and bribes to achieve their goals

  • The needs of the citizens were largely ignored

  • Wealthy citizens fled to their country estates and created their own armies for protection

  • Some used these armies to overthrow emperors and take power for themselves

  • City life became hard

  • Population in Rome decreased

  • Schools closed

  • Taxes and prices increased

  • Poverty was commonplace



  1. A New Eastern Empire

  • Even though the western part of the empire had dissolved, the eastern portion grew wealthy and powerful

  • A new society would be created

  1. Justinian

  • Retaking Rome was a dream held by many emperors

  • Justinian would be no different

  • He regained much of the western portion of the empire through force

  • He also had a passion for law and the church

  • He developed the Justinian Code = a simplified version of the Roman law that guaranteed fair treatment for all

  • He did make many enemies, some that would almost drive him out of Constantinople

  • His wife Theodora would help keep him strong

  • He stayed and put down this insurrection

  • After he died, the eastern empire began to decline

  • The land that he had gained fell again

  • 1453 = Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople, bringing an end to the Eastern Roman Empire

  1. Byzantine Society

  • The society in the east was vastly different from that of the west

  • There were many non-Roman influences

  • People spoke Greek, not Latin

  • This society developed here would fall under the category of the Byzantine Empire

  • Christianity was the main religion of the empire

  • Interpretation of Christian beliefs would later cause a rift in the faith = the Orthodox Church would be formed in the 1000s AD

  • This would result in the eastern and western portions of the empire being divided by religion as well


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