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Chapter 6, Ancient Rome and Early Christianity
Terms in this set (52)
Why was Rome considered to be in a strategic spot?
Rome was built on seven rolling hills at a curve on the Tiber River, near the center of the Italian peninsula. It was midway between the Alps and Italy's southern tip. Rome also was near the midpoint of the Mediterranean Sea, and had fertile soil.
How did the Etruscans from Italy strongly influence the development of Roman civilization?
They were skilled metalworkers and engineers.They boasted a system of writing, for example, and the Romans adopted their alphabet. They also influenced Rome's architecture, especially the use of the arch.
What is a republic?
A form of government in which power rests with citizens who have the right to vote for their leaders. In Rome, citizenship with voting rights was granted only to free-born male citizens
Who were the patricians?
Wealthy landowners who held most of the power, and who had helped defend Rome from invaders.The patricians inherited their power and social status. They claimed that their ancestry gave them the authority to make laws for Rome.
Who were the plebeians?
The common farmers, artisans, and merchants who made up the majority of the population.
The plebeians were citizens of Rome with the right to vote. However, they were barred by law from holding most important government positions. In time, Rome's leaders allowed the plebeians to form their own assembly and elect representatives called tribunes . Tribunes protected the rights of the plebeians from unfair acts of patrician officials.
What were the Twelve Tables?
In 451 B.C., a group of ten officials began writing down Rome's laws. The laws were carved on twelve tablets, or tables, and hung in the Forum. They became the basis for later Roman law. The Twelve Tables established the idea that all free citizens had a right to the protection of the law.
Who were the consuls in Roman government?
Like kings, they commanded the army and directed the government. However, their power was limited. A consul's term was only one year long. The same person could not be elected consul again for ten years. Also, one consul could always overrule, or veto, the other's decisions.
What was the Senate in Roman government?
The senate was the aristocratic branch of Rome's government. It had both legislative and administrative functions in the republic. Its 300 members were chosen from the upper class of Roman society. The senate exercised great influence over both foreign and domestic policy.
The assemblies represented the more democratic side of the government. For example, an assembly organized by the plebeians, the Tribal Assembly, elected the tribunes and made laws for the common people-and later for the republic itself.
In times of crisis, the republic could appoint a dictator -a leader who had absolute power to make laws and command the army. A dictator's power lasted for only six months. Dictators were chosen by the consuls and then elected by the senate.
What were the assemblies?
The assemblies represented the more democratic side of the government. For example, an assembly organized by the plebeians, the Tribal Assembly, elected the tribunes and made laws for the common people-and later for the republic itself.
What is a dictator?
In times of crisis, the republic could appoint a leader who had absolute power to make laws and command the army. A dictator's power lasted for only six months. Dictators were chosen by the consuls and then elected by the senate.
What were the legions?
In addition to their government, the Romans placed great value on their military. All citizens who owned land were required to serve in the army. Seekers of certain public offices had to perform ten years of military service. Roman soldiers were organized into large military units called legions . The Roman legion was made up of some 5,000 heavily armed foot soldiers (infantry). A group of soldiers on horseback (cavalry) supported each legion. Legions were divided into smaller groups of 80 men, each of which was called a century. The military organization and fighting skill of the Roman army were key factors in Rome's rise to greatness.
How did the Romans treat the people of conquered lands?
Allowed them to maintain their own local customs and government, as long as they acknowledged to Roman leadership. They had to pay taxes to the Roman empire, and supply soldiers to the Roman army.
What was Carthage?
A Phoenician city in N. Africa that competed with Rome for trade routes along the western Meditteranean.
What was the first Punic War?
A fight for control of Sicily and the western Mediterranean, lasted 23 years (264-241 B.C.). It ended in the defeat of Carthage.
What was the second Punic War?
The Second Punic War began in 218 B.C. The mastermind behind the war was a 29-year-old Carthaginian general named Hannibal . Hannibal was a brilliant military strategist who wanted to avenge Carthage's earlier defeat.
Hannibal assembled an army of 50,000 infantry, 9,000 cavalry, and 60 elephants with the intent of capturing Rome. Instead of a head-on attack, however, Hannibal sought to surprise the Romans with a most daring and risky move. He led his army on a long trek from Spain across France and through the Alps. Despite losing more than half his men and most of his elephants, the general's move initially worked. For more than a decade, he marched his forces up and down the Italian peninsula at will. Hannibal won his greatest victory at Cannae, in 216 B.C. There his army inflicted enormous losses on the Romans. However, the Romans regrouped and with the aid of many allies stood firm. They prevented Hannibal from capturing Rome.
What was the Third Punic War?
A general named Scipio (SIHP•ee•oh) devised a plan to attack Carthage. This strategy forced Hannibal to return to defend his native city. In 202 B.C., at Zama near Carthage, the Romans finally defeated Hannibal.
During the Third Punic War (149-146 B.C.), Rome laid siege to Carthage. In 146 B.C., the city was set afire and its 50,000 inhabitants sold into slavery. Its territory was made a Roman province.
Why were the Punic Wars important?
Rome's victories in the Punic Wars gave it dominance over the western Mediterranean. The Romans then went on to conquer the eastern half. By about 70 B.C., Rome's Mediterranean empire stretched from Anatolia in the east to Spain in the west.
What caused economic turmoil in Rome as the empire expended?
As Rome grew, the gap between rich and poor grew wider. Many of Rome's rich landowners lived on huge estates. Thousands of enslaved persons-many of whom had been captured peoples in various wars-were forced to work on these estates. By 100 B.C., enslaved persons formed perhaps one-third of Rome's population.
Small farmers found it difficult to compete with the large estates run by the labor of enslaved people. Many of these farmers were former soldiers. A large number of them sold their lands to wealthy landowners and became homeless and jobless. Most stayed in the countryside and worked as seasonal migrant laborers. Some headed to Rome and other cities looking for work. They joined the ranks of the urban poor, a group that totaled about one-fourth of Roman society.
Two brothers, Tiberius and Gaius (GUY•us) Gracchus (GRAK•us), attempted to help Rome's poor. As tribunes, they proposed such reforms as limiting the size of estates and giving land to the poor.
Who was Julius Caesar?
In 60 B.C., a military leader named Julius Caesar joined forces with Crassus, a wealthy Roman, and Pompey, a popular general. With their help, Caesar was elected consul in 59 B.C. For the next ten years, these men dominated Rome as a triumvirate , a group of three rulers.
Caesar was a strong leader and a genius at military strategy. Following tradition, he served only one year as consul. He then appointed himself governor of Gaul (now France). During 58-50 B.C., Caesar led his legions in a grueling but successful campaign to conquer all of Gaul. Because he shared fully in the hardships of war, he won his men's loyalty and devotion.
The reports of Caesar's successes in Gaul made him very popular with the people of Rome. Pompey, who had become his political rival, feared Caesar's ambitions. In 50 B.C., the senate, at Pompey's urgings, ordered Caesar to disband his legions and return home.
Caesar defied the senate's order. On the night of January 10, 49 B.C., he took his army across the Rubicon River in Italy, the southern limit of the area he commanded. He marched his army swiftly toward Rome, and Pompey fled. Caesar's troops defeated Pompey's armies in Greece, Asia, Spain, and Egypt. In 46 B.C., Caesar returned to Rome, where he had the support of the army and the masses. That same year, the senate appointed him dictator. In 44 B.C., he was named dictator for life.
What is a triumvirate?
a group of three rulers.
What were Julius Caesar's reforms?
He granted Roman citizenship to many people in the provinces. He expanded the senate, adding friends and supporters from Italy and other regions. Caesar also helped the poor by creating jobs, especially through the construction of new public buildings. He started colonies where people without land could own property, and he increased pay for soldiers.
Many nobles and senators expressed concern over Caesar's growing power, success, and popularity. Some feared losing their influence. Others considered him a tyrant. A number of important senators, led by Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius, plotted his assassination. On March 15, 44 B.C., they stabbed him to death in the senate chamber.
Who was the Second Triumvirate?
After Caesar's death, civil war broke out again and destroyed what was left of the Roman Republic. Three of Caesar's supporters banded together to crush the assassins. Caesar's 18-year-old grandnephew and adopted son Octavian (ahk•TAY•vee•uhn) joined with an experienced general named Mark Antony and a powerful politician named Lepidus. In 43 B.C., they took control of Rome .
Who was Augustus?
Octavius and Mark Antony became rivals. While leading troops against Rome's enemies in Anatolia, Mark Antony met Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. He fell in love with her and followed her to Egypt. Octavian accused Antony of plotting to rule Rome from Egypt, and another civil war erupted. Octavian defeated the combined forces of Antony and Cleopatra at the naval battle of Actium in 31 B.C. Later, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide.
While he restored some aspects of the republic, Octavian became the unchallenged ruler of Rome. Eventually he accepted the title of Augustus (aw•GUHS•tuhs), or "exalted one." He also kept the title imperator, or "supreme military commander," a term from which emperor is derived. Rome was now an empire ruled by one man.
What was the Pax Romana?
Rome was at the peak of its power from the beginning of Augustus's rule in 27 B.C. to A.D. 180. For 207 years, peace reigned throughout the empire, except for some fighting with tribes along the borders. This period of peace and prosperity is known as the "Roman peace."
During this time, the Roman Empire included more than 3 million square miles. Its population numbered between 60 and 80 million people. About 1 million people lived in the city of Rome itself.
A Sound Government The Romans held their vast empire together in part through efficient government and able rulers. Augustus was Rome's ablest emperor. He stabilized the frontier, glorified Rome with splendid public buildings, and created a system of government that survived for centuries. He set up a civil service. That is, he paid workers to manage the affairs of government, such as the grain supply, tax collection, and the postal system. Although the senate still functioned, civil servants drawn from plebeians and even former slaves actually administered the empire.
After Augustus died in A.D. 14, the system of government that he established maintained the empire's stability. This
Who was Rome's ablest emperor, known by efficient government, building splendid public buildings, and created civil service?
Agriculture and Trade Agriculture was the most important industry in the empire. All else depended on it. About 90 percent of the people were engaged in farming. Most Romans survived on the produce from their local area. Additional food (when needed) and luxury items for the rich were obtained through trade. In Augustus's time, a silver coin called a denarius was in use throughout the empire. Having common coinage made trade between different parts of the empire much easier.
Rome had a vast trading network. Ships from the east traveled the Mediterranean protected by the Roman navy. Cities such as Corinth in Greece, Ephesus in Anatolia, and Antioch on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean grew wealthy. Rome also traded with China and India.
A complex network of roads linked the empire to such far-flung places as Persia and southern Russia. These roads were originally built by the Roman army for military purposes. Trade also brought Roman ways to the provinces and beyond.
What is gravitas?
Throughout its history, Rome emphasized the values of discipline, strength, and loyalty. A person with these qualities was said to have this important virtue. The Romans were a practical people. They honored strength more than beauty, power more than grace, and usefulness more than elegance.
Slaves and Captivity Slavery was a significant part of Roman life. It was widespread and important to the economy. The Romans made more use of slaves than any previous civilization. Numbers of slaves may have reached as high as one-third of the total population. Most slaves were conquered peoples brought back by victorious Roman armies and included men, women, and children. Children born to slaves also became slaves. Slaves could be bought and sold. According to Roman law, slaves were the property of their owners. They could be punished, rewarded, set free, or put to death as their masters saw fit.
Slaves worked both in the city and on the farm. Many were treated cruelly and worked at hard labor all day long. Some-strong, healthy males-were forced to become gladiators, or professional fighters, who fought to the death in public contests. Other slaves, particularly those who worked in wealthy households, were better treated. Occasionally, slaves would rebel. None of the slave revolts succeeded. More than a million slaves lost their lives attempting to gain their freedom.
The earliest Romans worshiped powerful spirits or divine forces, called numina, that they thought resided in everything around them. Closely related to these spirits were the Lares (LAIR-eez), who were the guardian spirits of each family. They gave names to these powerful gods and goddesses and honored them through various rituals, hoping to gain favor and avoid misfortune.
In Rome, government and religion were linked. The deities were symbols of the state. Romans were expected to honor them not only in private rituals at shrines in their homes but also in public worship ceremonies conducted by priests in temples. Among the most important Roman gods and goddesses were Jupiter, father of the gods; Juno, his wife, who watched over women; and Minerva, goddess of wisdom and of the arts and crafts. During the empire, worship of the emperor also became part of the official religion of Rome.
To distract and control the masses of Romans, the government provided free games, races, mock battles, and gladiator contests. By A.D. 250, there were 150 holidays a year. On these days of celebration, the Colosseum, a huge arena that could hold 50,000, would fill with the rich and the poor alike. The spectacles they watched combined bravery and cruelty, honor and violence. In the animal shows, wild creatures brought from distant lands, such as tigers, lions, and bears, fought to the death. In other contests, gladiators engaged in combat with animals or with each other, often until one of them was killed.
During this time of Pax Romana, another activity slowly emerged in the Roman Empire-the practice of a new religion known as Christianity. The early followers of this new faith would meet with much brutality and hardship for their beliefs. But their religion would endure and spread throughout the empire, and eventually become one of the dominant faiths of the world.
Roman power spread to Judea, the home of the Jews, around 63 B.C. At first the Jewish kingdom remained independent, at least in name. Rome then took control of the Jewish kingdom in A.D. 6 and made it a province of the empire. A number of Jews, however, believed that they would once again be free. According to biblical tradition, God had promised that a savior known as the Messiah would arrive and restore the kingdom of the Jews. Roughly two decades after the beginning of Roman rule, many believed that such a savior had arrived.
Jesus of Nazareth Although the exact date is uncertain, historians believe that sometime around 6 to 4 B.C., a Jew named Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea. Jesus was raised in the village of Nazareth in northern Palestine. He was baptized by a prophet known as John the Baptist. As a young man, he took up the trade of carpentry.
At the age of 30, Jesus began his public ministry. For the next three years, he preached, taught, did good works, and reportedly performed miracles. His teachings contained many ideas from Jewish tradition, such as monotheism, or belief in only one god, and the principles of the Ten Commandments. Jesus emphasized God's personal relationship to each human being. He stressed the importance of people's love for God, their neighbors, their enemies, and even themselves. He also taught that God would end wickedness in the world and would establish an eternal kingdom after death for people who sincerely repented their sins. (Refer to pages 286-287 for more about Christianity.)
A Growing Movement Historical records of the time mention very little about Jesus. The main source of information about his teachings are the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament of the Bible. Some of the Gospels are thought to have been written by one or more of Jesus' disciples, or pupils. These 12 men later came to be called apostles .
Jesus' Death Jesus' growing popularity concerned both Roman and Jewish leaders. When Jesus visited Jerusalem about A.D. 29, enthusiastic crowds greeted him as the Messiah, or king-the one whom the Bible had said would come to rescue the Jews. The chief priests of the Jews, however, denied that Jesus was the Messiah. They said his teachings were blasphemy, or contempt for God. The Roman governor Pontius Pilate accused Jesus of defying the authority of Rome. Pilate arrested Jesus and sentenced him to be crucified, or nailed to a large wooden cross to die.
After Jesus' death, his body was placed in a tomb. According to the Gospels, three days later his body was gone, and a living Jesus began appearing to his followers. The Gospels go on to say that then he ascended into heaven. The apostles were more convinced than ever that Jesus was the Messiah. It was from this belief that Jesus came to be referred to as Jesus Christ. Christos is a Greek word meaning "messiah" or "savior." The name Christianity was derived from "Christ."
Paul's Mission One man, the apostle Paul, had enormous influence on Christianity's development. Paul was a Jew who had never met Jesus and at first was an enemy of Christianity. While traveling to Damascus in Syria, he reportedly had a vision of Christ. He spent the rest of his life spreading and interpreting Christ's teachings.
The Pax Romana, which made travel and the exchange of ideas fairly safe, provided the ideal conditions for Christianity to spread. Common languages-Latin and Greek-allowed the message to be easily understood. Paul wrote influential letters, called Epistles, to groups of believers. In his teaching, Paul stressed that Jesus was the son of God who died for people's sins. He also declared that Christianity should welcome all converts, Jew or Gentile (non-Jew). It was this universality that enabled Christianity to become more than just a local religion.
Jewish Rebellion During the early years of Christianity, much Roman attention was focused on the land of Jesus' birth and on the Jews. In A.D. 66, a band of Jews rebelled against Rome. In A.D. 70, the Romans stormed Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple complex. All that remained was a western portion of the wall, which today is the holiest Jewish shrine. The Jewish fortress near Masada (see map at right) held out until A.D. 73. About a half million Jews were killed in the course of this rebellion.
The Jews made another attempt to break free of the Romans in A.D. 132. Another half-million Jews died in three years of fighting. Although the Jewish religion survived, the Jewish political state ceased to exist for more than 1,800 years. Most Jews were driven from their homeland into exile. This dispersal of the Jews is called the Diaspora .
Persecution of the Christians Christians also posed a problem for Roman rulers. The main reason was that they refused to worship Roman gods. This refusal was seen as opposition to Roman rule. Some Roman rulers also used Christians as scapegoats for political and economic troubles.
By the second century, as the Pax Romana began to crumble, persecution of the Christians intensified. Romans exiled, imprisoned, or executed Christians for refusing to worship Roman deities. Thousands were crucified, burned, or killed by wild animals in the circus arenas. Other Christians and even some non-Christians regarded persecuted Christians as martyrs. Martyrs were people willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of a belief or a cause.
A World Religion
Despite persecution of its followers, Christianity became a powerful force. By the late third century A.D., there were millions of Christians in the Roman Empire and beyond. The widespread appeal of Christianity was due to a variety of reasons. Christianity grew because it
• embraced all people-men and women, enslaved persons, the poor, and nobles;
• gave hope to the powerless;
• appealed to those who were repelled by the extravagances of imperial Rome;
• offered a personal relationship with a loving God;
• promised eternal life after death.
Scapegoats are groups or individuals that innocently bear the blame for others.
Why were the citizens of the Roman Empire so drawn to Christianity?
What is the Edict of Milan?
Constantine Accepts Christianity A critical moment in Christianity occurred in A.D. 312, when the Roman emperor Constantine was fighting three rivals for leadership of Rome. He had marched to the Tiber River at Rome to battle his chief rival. On the day before the battle at Milvian Bridge, Constantine prayed for divine help. He reported that he then saw an image of a cross-a symbol of Christianity. He ordered artisans to put the Christian symbol on his soldiers' shields. Constantine and his troops were victorious in battle. He credited his success to the help of the Christian God.
In the next year, A.D. 313, Constantine announced an end to the persecution of Christians. In the Edict of Milan, he declared Christianity to be one of the religions approved by the emperor. Christianity continued to gain strength. In 380, the emperor Theodosius made it the empire's official religion.
Early Christian Church By this time, Christians had given their religion a structure, much as the Roman Empire had a hierarchy. At the local level, a priest led each small group of Christians. A bishop , who was also a priest, supervised several local churches. The apostle Peter had traveled to Rome from Jerusalem and became the first bishop there. According to tradition, Jesus referred to Peter as the "rock" on which the Christian Church would be built. As a result, all priests and bishops traced their authority to him.
Eventually, every major city had its own bishop. However, later bishops of Rome claimed to be the heirs of Peter. These bishops said that Peter was the first pope , the father or head of the Christian Church. They said that whoever was bishop of Rome was also the leader of the whole Church. Also, as Rome was the capital of the empire, it seemed the logical choice to be the center of the Church.
What is the Nicene Creed?
A Single Voice As Christianity grew, disagreements about beliefs developed among its followers. Church leaders called any belief that appeared to contradict the basic teachings a heresy. Dispute over beliefs became intense. In an attempt to end conflicts, Church leaders tried to set a single, official standard of belief. These beliefs were compiled in the New Testament, which contained the four Gospels, the Epistles of Paul, and other documents. The New Testament was added to the Hebrew Bible, which Christians called the Old Testament. In A.D. 325, Constantine moved to solidify further the teachings of Christianity. He called Church leaders to Nicaea in Anatolia. There they wrote the Nicene Creed, which defined the basic beliefs of the Church.
The Fathers of the Church Also influential in defining Church teachings were several early writers and scholars who have been called the Fathers of the Church. One of the most important was Augustine, who became bishop of the city of Hippo in North Africa in 396. Augustine taught that humans needed the grace of God to be saved. He further taught that people could not receive God's grace unless they belonged to the Church and received the sacraments.
One of Augustine's most famous books is The City of God. It was written after Rome was plundered in the fifth century. Augustine wrote that the fate of cities such as Rome was not important because the heavenly city, the city of God, could never be destroyed:
A Century of Crisis
Historians generally agree that the end of the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 161-180) marked the end of two centuries of peace and prosperity known as the Pax Romana. The rulers that followed in the next century had little or no idea of how to deal with the giant empire and its growing problems. As a result, Rome began to decline.
Rome's Economy Weakens During the third century A.D., several factors prompted the weakening of Rome's economy. Hostile tribes outside the boundaries of the empire and pirates on the Mediterranean Sea disrupted trade. Having reached their limit of expansion, the Romans lacked new sources of gold and silver. Desperate for revenue, the government raised taxes. It also started minting coins that contained less and less silver. It hoped to create more money with the same amount of precious metal. However, the economy soon suffered from inflation , a drastic drop in the value of money coupled with a rise in prices.
Agriculture faced equally serious problems. Harvests in Italy and western Europe became increasingly meager because overworked soil had lost its fertility. What's more, years of war had destroyed much farmland. Eventually, serious food shortages and disease spread, and the population declined.
Military and Political Turmoil By the third century A.D., the Roman military was also in disarray. Over time, Roman soldiers in general had become less disciplined and loyal. They gave their allegiance not to Rome but to their commanders, who fought among themselves for the throne. To defend against the increasing threats to the empire, the government began to recruit mercenaries , foreign soldiers who fought for money. While mercenaries would accept lower pay than Romans, they felt little sense of loyalty to the empire.
Feelings of loyalty eventually weakened among average citizens as well. In the past, Romans cared so deeply about their republic that they willingly sacrificed their lives for it. Conditions in the later centuries of the empire caused citizens to lose their sense of patriotism. They became indifferent to the empire's fate.
Diocletian Reforms the Empire In A.D. 284, Diocletian , a strong-willed army leader, became the new emperor. He ruled with an iron fist and severely limited personal freedoms. Nonetheless, he restored order to the empire and increased its strength. Diocletian doubled the size of the Roman army and sought to control inflation by setting fixed prices for goods. To restore the prestige of the office of emperor, he claimed descent from the ancient Roman gods and created elaborate ceremonies to present himself in a godlike aura.
Diocletian believed that the empire had grown too large and too complex for one ruler. In perhaps his most significant reform, he divided the empire into the Greek-speaking East (Greece, Anatolia, Syria, and Egypt) and the Latin-speaking West (Italy, Gaul, Britain, and Spain). He took the eastern half for himself and appointed a co-ruler for the West. While Diocletian shared authority, he kept overall control. His half of the empire, the East, included most of the empire's great cities and trade centers and was far wealthier than the West.
Because of ill health, Diocletian retired in A.D. 305. However, his plans for orderly succession failed. Civil war broke out immediately. By 311, four rivals were competing for power. Among them was an ambitious young commander named Constantine, the same Constantine who would later end the persecution of Christians.
Constantine gained control of the western part of the empire in A.D. 312 and continued many of the social and economic policies. of Diocletian. In 324 Constantine also secured control of the East, thus restoring the concept of a single ruler.
In A.D. 330, Constantine took a step that would have great consequence for the empire. He moved the capital from Rome to the Greek city of Byzantium (bih•ZAN•tshee•uhm), in what is now Turkey. The new capital stood on the Bosporus Strait, strategically located for trade and defense purposes on a crossroads between West and East.
With Byzantium as its capital, the center of power in the empire shifted from Rome to the east. Soon the new capital stood protected by massive walls and filled with imperial buildings modeled after those in Rome. The city eventually took a new name— Constantinople (KAHN•stan•tuhn•OH•puhl), or the city of Constantine. After Constantine's death, the empire would again be divided. The East would survive; the West would fall.
What caused the fall of the Roman Empire?
Political (political office seen as burden,civil war and unrest, moving of capital to Byzantine), Social (decline in interest and confidence in empire, corruption, gap between rich and poor, decline in population due to disease and food shortage), Economic (poor harvests, disruption of trade, no more war plunder, gold and silver drain, crushing tax burden, Military (threat from Northern European tribes, low funds for defense, problems recruiting Roman citizens led to recruitment of non-Romans, decline of patriotism and loyalty in soldiers). Immediate cause: Invasion by Germanic tribes and Huns.
Germanic Invasions Since the days of Julius Caesar, Germanic peoples had gathered on the northern borders of the empire and coexisted in relative peace with Rome. Around A.D. 370, all that changed when a fierce group of Mongol nomads from central Asia, the Huns, moved into the region and began destroying all in their path.
In an effort to flee from the Huns, the various Germanic people pushed into Roman lands. (Romans called all invaders "barbarians," a term that they used to refer to non-Romans.) They kept moving through the Roman provinces of Gaul, Spain, and North Africa. The Western Empire was unable to field an army to stop them. In 410, hordes of Germans overran Rome itself and plundered it for three days.
Attila the Hun Meanwhile, the Huns, who were indirectly responsible for the Germanic assault on the empire, became a direct threat. In 444, they united for the first time under a powerful chieftain named Attila (AT•uhl•uh). With his 100,000 soldiers, Attila terrorized both halves of the empire. In the East, his armies attacked and plundered 70 cities. (They failed, however, to scale the high walls of Constantinople.)
The Huns then swept into the West. In A.D. 452, Attila's forces advanced against Rome, but bouts of famine and disease kept them from conquering the city. Although the Huns were no longer a threat to the empire after Attila's death in 453, the Germanic invasions continued.
An Empire No More The last Roman emperor, a 14-year-old boy named Romulus Augustulus, was ousted by German forces in 476. After that, no emperor even pretended to rule Rome and its western provinces. Roman power in the western half of the empire had disappeared.
The eastern half of the empire, which came to be called the Byzantine Empire, not only survived but flourished. It preserved the great heritage of Greek and Roman culture for another 1,000 years. (See Chapter 11.) The Byzantine emperors ruled from Constantinople and saw themselves as heirs to the power of Augustus Caesar. The empire endured until 1453, when it fell to the Ottoman Turks.
Even though Rome's political power in the West ended, its cultural influence did not. Its ideas, customs, and institutions influenced the development of Western civilization-and still do so today.
What is Greco-Roman culture?
Under the Roman Empire, hundreds of territories were knitted into a single state. Each Roman province and city was governed in the same way. The Romans were proud of their unique ability to rule, but they acknowledged Greek leadership in the fields of art, architecture, literature, and philosophy.
By the second century B.C., Romans had conquered Greece and had come to greatly admire Greek culture. Educated Romans learned the Greek language. As Horace, a Roman poet, said, "Greece, once overcome, overcame her wild conqueror." The mixing of elements of Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman culture produced a new culture, called Greco-Roman culture . This is also often called classical civilization.
Roman artists, philosophers, and writers did not merely copy their Greek and Hellenistic models. They adapted them for their own purposes and created a style of their own. Roman art and literature came to convey the Roman ideals of strength, permanence, and solidity.
What is Pompeii?
In addition, Romans excelled at the art of painting. Most wealthy Romans had bright, large murals, called frescoes, painted directly on their walls. Few have survived. The best examples of Roman painting are found in the Roman town of Pompeii and date from as early as the second century B.C. In A.D. 79, nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted, covering Pompeii in a thick layer of ash and killing about 2,000 residents. The ash acted to preserve many buildings and works of art.
What is stoicism?
Romans borrowed much of their philosophy from the Greeks. Stoicism, the philosophy of the Greek teacher Zeno, was especially influential. Stoicism encouraged virtue, duty, moderation, and endurance.
In literature, as in philosophy, the Romans found inspiration in the works of their Greek neighbors. While often following Greek forms and models, Roman writers promoted their own themes and ideas. The poet Virgil spent ten years writing the most famous work of Latin literature, the Aeneid (ih•NEE•ihd), the epic of the legendary Aeneas. Virgil modeled the Aeneid, written in praise of Rome and Roman virtues, after the Greek epics of Homer. Here he speaks of government as being Rome's most important contribution to civilization:
Romans, never forget that government is your medium! Be this your art:-to practice men in habit of peace, Generosity to the conquered, and firmness against aggressors.
While Virgil's writing carries all the weight and seriousness of the Roman character, the poet Ovid wrote light, witty poetry for enjoyment. In Amores, Ovid relates that he can only compose when he is in love: "When I was from Cupid's passions free, my Muse was mute and wrote no elegy."
Western civilization is generally seen as the heritage of ideas that spread to Europe and America from ancient Greece and Rome. Some historians observe, however, that Western civilization does not belong to any particular place-that it is the result of cultures coming together, interacting, and changing. Still, the legacy of Greece and Rome can be seen today.
The diagram below shows how ancient Greek and Roman ideas of government, philosophy, and literature can be traced across time. As with many cultural interactions, the links between the examples are not necessarily direct. Instead, the chart traces the evolution of an idea or theme over time.
• Theoretically, 40,000 people could attend the Greek Assembly-in practice, about 6,000 people attended.
• In 1215, King John of England granted the Magna Carta, which largely influenced subsequent democratic thought.
• In the 1970s, there were 40 democratic governments worldwide.
• In 2002, over 120 established and emerging democracies met to discuss their common issues.
The Legacy of Rome
The presence of Rome is still felt daily in the languages, the institutions, and the thought of the Western world.
The Latin Language Latin, the language of the Romans, remained the language of learning in the West long after the fall of Rome. It was the official language of the Roman Catholic Church into the 20th century.
Latin was adopted by different peoples and developed into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian. These languages are called Romance languages because of their common Roman heritage. Latin also influenced other languages. For example, more than half the words in English have a basis in Latin.
Master Builders Visitors from all over the empire marveled at the architecture of Rome. The arch, the dome, and concrete were combined to build spectacular structures, such as the Colosseum.
Arches also supported bridges and aqueducts . Aqueducts were designed by Roman engineers to bring water into cities and towns. When the water channel spanned a river or ravine, the aqueduct was lifted high up on arches.
The Colosseum was one of the greatest feats of Roman engineering and a model for the ages. The name comes from the Latin word colossus, meaning "gigantic." Its construction was started by the Emperor Vespasian and was completed by his sons, emperors Titus and Domitian. For centuries after its opening in A.D. 80, spectators, both rich and poor, cheered a variety of free, bloody spectacles-from gladiator fights to animal hunts.
Because Roman architectural forms were so practical, they have remained popular. Thomas Jefferson began a Roman revival in the United States in the 18th century. Many large public buildings, such as the U.S. Capitol and numerous state capitols, include Roman features.
Roman roads were also technological marvels. The army built a vast network of roads constructed of stone, concrete, and sand that connected Rome to all parts of the empire. Many lasted into the Middle Ages; some are still used.
Roman System of Law Rome's most lasting and widespread contribution was its law. Early Roman law dealt mostly with strengthening the rights of Roman citizens. As the empire grew, however, the Romans came to believe that laws should be fair and apply equally to all people, rich and poor. Slowly, judges began to recognize certain standards of justice. These standards were influenced largely by the teachings of Stoic philosophers and were based on common sense and practical ideas. Some of the most important principles of Roman law were:
• All persons had the right to equal treatment under the law.
• A person was considered innocent until proven guilty.
• The burden of proof rested with the accuser rather than the accused.
• A person should be punished only for actions, not thoughts.
• Any law that seemed unreasonable or grossly unfair could be set aside.
The principles of Roman law endured to form the basis of legal systems in many European countries and of places influenced by Europe, including the United States of America.
Rome's Enduring Influence By preserving and adding to Greek civilization, Rome strengthened the Western cultural tradition. The world would be a very different place had Rome not existed. Historian R. H. Barrow has stated that Rome never fell because it turned into something even greater-an idea-and achieved immortality.
As mighty as the Roman Empire had been, however, it was not the only great civilization of its time. Around the same period that Rome was developing its enduring culture, different but equally complex empires were emerging farther east. In India, the Mauryan and Gupta empires dominated the land, while the Han Empire ruled over China.
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