rome Essay

Rome Essay

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Rome, History of. The accounts of the regal period have come down overlaid with such a mass of myth and legend that few can be verified ;Roman historians of later times, lacking authentic records, relied on fabrications of a patriotic nature. Following this period, when a republic was established, Rome became a world power and emerged as an empire with extensive boundaries. The Legendary Period of the Kings (753-510 BC) Rome was said to have been founded by Latin colonists from Alba Longa, a nearby city in ancient Latium. The legendary date of the founding was 753 BC ;it was ascribed to Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of Rhea Silvia, a vestal virgin and the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Later legend carried the ancestry of the Romans back to the Trojans and their leader Aeneas, whose son Ascanius, or Iulus, was the founder and the first king of Alba Longa. The tales concerning Romulus's rule, notably the rape of the Sabine women and the war with the Sabines under the leader Titus Tatius, point to an early infiltration of Sabine peoples or to a union of Latin and Sabine elements at the beginning. The three tribes, the Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres, that appear in the legend of Romulus as the parts of the new commonwealth suggest that Rome arose from the amalgamation of three stocks, thought to be Latin, Sabine, and Etruscan. The seven kings of the regal period and the dates traditionally assigned to their reigns are as follows: Romulus, from 753 to 715 BC ;Numa Pompilius, from 715 to 676 or 672 BC, to whom was attributed the introduction of many religious customs ;Tullus Hostilius, from 673 to 641 BC, a warlike king, who destroyed Alba Longa and fought against the Sabines ;Ancus Marcius, from 641 to 616 BC, said to have built the port of Ostia and to have captured many Latin towns, transferring their inhabitants to Rome ;Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, from 616 to 578 BC, celebrated both for his military exploits against neighboring peoples and for his construction of public buildings at Rome ;Servius Tullius, from 578 to 534 BC, famed for his new constitution and for the enlargement of the boundaries of the city ;and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, from 534 to 510 BC, the seventh and last king, whose tyrannical rule was overthrown when his son ravished Lucretia, the wife of a kinsman. Tarquinius was banished, and attempts by Etruscan or Latin cities to reinstate him on the throne at Rome were unavailing. Although the names, dates, and events of the regal period are considered as belonging to the realm of fiction and myth rather than to that of factual history, certain facts seem well attested: the existence of an early rule by kings ;the growth of the city and its struggles with neighboring peoples ;the conquest of Rome by Etruria and the establishment of a dynasty of Etruscan princes, symbolized by the rule of the Tarquins ;the overthrow of this alien control ;and the abolition of the kingship. The existence of certain social and political conditions may also be accepted, such as the division of the inhabitants, exclusive of slaves, from the beginning into two orders: the patricians, who alone possessed political rights and constituted the populus, or people ;and their dependents, known as clients or the plebs, who had originally no political existence. The rex, or king, chosen by the Senate (senatus), or Council of Elders, from the ranks of the patricians, held office for life, called out the populus for war, and led the army in person ;he was preceded by officers, known as lictors, who bore the fasces, the symbols of power and punishment, and was the supreme judge in all civil and criminal suits. The senatus gave its advice only when the king chose to consult it, but the elders (patres) possessed great moral authority, inasmuch as their tenure was for life. Originally only patricians could bear arms in defense of the state. At some stage in the regal period an important military reform occurred, usually designated as the Servian reform of the constitution, because it was ascribed to Servius Tullius. As the plebs could by this time acquire property and wealth, it was decided that all property holders, both patrician and plebian, must serve in the army, and each took a rank in accordance with his wealth. This arrangement, although initially military, paved the way for the great political struggle between the patricians and the plebs in the early centuries of the Republic. The Republic On the overthrow of Tarquinius Superbus a republic was established. Conquest of Italy (510-264 BC) In place of the king, two chief executives were chosen annually by the whole body of citizens. These were known as praetors, or leaders, but later received the title of consuls. The participation of a colleague in the exercise of supreme power and the limitation of the tenure to one year prevented the chief magistrate from becoming autocratic. The character of the Senate was altered by the enrollment of plebeian members, known as conscripti, and hence the official designation of the senators thereafter was patres conscripti (conscript fathers). As yet, only patricians were eligible for the magistracies, and the discontent of the plebs led to a violent struggle between the two orders and the gradual removal of the social and political disabilities under which the plebs had labored. In 494 BC a secession of plebeian soldiers led to the institution of the tribuni plebis, who were elected annually as protectors of the plebs ;they had the power to veto the acts of patrician magistrates, and thus served as the leaders of the plebs in the struggles with the patricians. The appointment of the decemvirate, a commission of ten men, in 451 BC resulted in the drawing up of a famous code of laws. In 445 BC, under the Canuleian law, marriages between patricians and members of the plebs were declared legally valid. By the Licinian-Sextian laws, passed in 367 BC, it was provided that one of the two consuls should thenceforth be plebeian. The other magistracies were gradually opened to the plebs: in 356 BC the dictatorship, an extraordinary magistracy, the incumbent of which was appointed in times of great danger ;in 350 BC, the censorship ;in 337 BC, the praetorship ;and in 300 BC, the pontifical and augural colleges. These political changes gave rise to a new aristocracy, composed of patrician and wealthy plebeian families, and admission to the Senate became almost the hereditary privilege of these families. The Senate, which had originally possessed little administrative power, became a powerful governing body, dealing with matters of war and peace, foreign alliances, the founding of colonies, and the handling of the state finances. The rise of this new nobilitas brought to an end the struggles between the two orders, but the position of the poorer plebeian families was not improved, and the marked contrast between the conditions of the rich and the poor led to struggles in the later Republic between the aristocratic party and the popular party. The external history of Rome during this period was chiefly military. Rome had acquired the leadership of Latium before the close of the regal period. Assisted by their allies, the Romans fought wars against the Etruscans, the Volscians, and the Aequians. The military policy of Rome became more aggressive in the 60 years between 449 and 390 BC. The defeat of the Romans at Allia and the capture and burning of Rome by the Gauls under the leadership of the chieftain Brennus in 390 BC were great disasters, but their effect was temporary. The capture of the Etruscan city of Veii in 396 BC by the soldier and statesman Marcus Furius Camillus spelled the beginning of the end for Etruscan independence. Other Etruscan cities hastened to make peace, and by the middle of the 4th century BC all southern Etruria was kept in check by Roman garrisons and denationalized by an influx of Roman colonists. Victories over the Volscians, the Latins, and the Hernicans gave the Romans control of central Italy and brought them into conflict with the Samnites of southern Italy, who were defeated in a series of three wars, extending from 343 to 290 BC. A revolt of the Latins and Volscians was put down, and in 338 BC the Latin League, a long-established confederation of the cities of Latium, was dissolved. A powerful coalition was at this time formed against Rome, consisting of Etruscans, Umbrians, and Gauls in the north, and of Lucanians, Bruttians, and Samnites in the south ;this coalition endangered the power of Rome, but the northern confederacy was defeated in 283 BC and the southern states soon after. The Greek colony of Tarentum (now Taranto), incurring the hostility of Rome, invited Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, to cross over from Greece and aid the Greek cities of southern Italy against Rome. His campaigns in Italy and on the island of Sicily from 280 to 276 BC were unsuccessful and he returned to Greece. During the next ten years the Romans completed their subjugation of southern Italy and thus gained control of the entire peninsula as far north as the Arno and Rubicon rivers. A World Power (264-133 BC) In 264 BC, 11 years after the victory over Pyrrhus, Rome engaged with Carthage in a struggle for the control of the Mediterranean Sea. Carthage at this time was the foremost maritime power in the world, ruling as absolutely in the central and western Mediterranean as did Rome on the Italian Peninsula. Punic Wars The First Punic War (see PUNIC WARS) was waged mainly for the possession of Sicily and was marked by the emergence of Rome as a great naval power. Having gained the support of Hiero II, king of Syracuse, the Romans took Agrigentum (now Agrigento), and at Mylae in 260 BC, with their first naval armament under the consul Gaius Duilius, they defeated a great Carthaginian fleet. The transfer of the war to Africa resulted in the defeat and capture of the Roman general Marcus Atilius Regulus. After several naval disasters, the Romans won a great naval victory in 242 BC off the Aegates Islands, west of Sicily. The war ended in the following year with the cession to the Romans of the Carthaginian part of Sicily, which was made into a Roman province ;this was Rome's first foreign possession. Sardinia and Corsica were taken from Carthage and annexed as provinces soon after. Finding Rome an equal match at sea, Carthage prepared for a resumption of hostilities by acquiring a foothold in Spain. Under the leadership of the great general Hamilcar, who conceived the project of making Spain a military base, Carthage occupied the peninsula as far as the Tagus River ;Hamilcar's son-in-law Hasdrubal continued the work of subjugation until his death in 221 BC ;and finally Hamilcar's son Hannibal extended the conquests of Carthage up to the Iberus (now Ebro) River. The Second Punic War began in 218 BC. Hannibal crossed the Alps with an enormous force, descending on Italy from the north, and defeated the Romans in a series of battles ;he then continued to ravage most of southern Italy for years. He was recalled to Africa to face Scipio Africanus, who had invaded Carthage. Scipio decisively defeated Hannibal at Zama in 202 BC, and Carthage was compelled to give up its navy, cede Spain and its Mediterranean islands, and pay a huge indemnity. Rome was thus left in complete control of the western Mediterranean. The Romans now became more harsh in their treatment of the Italian communities under their domination, and the Greek cities of southern Italy, which had sided with Hannibal, were made colonies. Meanwhile Rome was extending its power northward. During 201-196 BC the Celts of the Po Valley were subjugated, and their territory was Latinized, but they themselves were declared incapable of acquiring Roman citizenship. The interior of Corsica and Sardinia was subdued, and Spain, where the wars were troublesome, was held by military occupation, a practice that gave rise to the first Roman standing armies. Macedonian Wars Fifty years after becoming the foremost power of the west by defeating the Carthaginians at Zama, Rome had also become the mightiest state in the east, first by conquering Hannibal's ally Philip V, king of Macedonia ;Philip's ambition to dominate the Aegean Sea drew Rome into the Second Macedonian War (200-197 BC), which ended with his defeat. Next came the liberation of Greece, which, with the alliance that followed, enabled Rome to proceed against Antiochus III, king of Syria, who was defeated by the Romans at Magnesia in 190 BC and obliged to surrender his possessions in Europe and Asia Minor. Western Greece, however, continued to give trouble, and Philip's son and successor, Perseus (212?-166? BC), fought the Romans in the Third (and final) Macedonian War, which terminated in the utter rout of his armies and his capture at Pydna in 168 BC by the general Lucius Aemilius Paullus (229?-160? BC). Macedonia was made a Roman province in 146 BC, and in that year a revolt of the Achaean League in Greece resulted in the capture and destruction of Corinth. Also in 146 BC came the end of the Third Punic War, which had begun three years earlier. Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Minor captured and destroyed Carthage, thus bringing to an end the Carthaginian empire, whose territory became the Roman province of Africa. A series of Spanish campaigns ended with the capture of Numantia in 133 BC. In the same year Attalus III of Pergamum died and bequeathed his client kingdom to its protector, Rome ;shortly after, this territory was formed into the province of Asia. Thus in 131 years Rome had developed from a land power controlling only the Italian peninsula to a world empire. From Syria to Spain the Mediterranean was now dominated by Rome, but Roman authority was better established in the west than in the east. During this period the Romans made great cultural advances. Brought into contact with the Greeks, first in southern Italy and Sicily, and later through Roman expansion to the east, they adopted much from the older civilization in art, literature, philosophy, and religion. Roman literature began in 240 BC with the translation and adaptation of Greek epic and dramatic poetry, and the various Greek schools of philosophy were formally introduced into Rome in 155 BC. Internal Conflict (133-27 BC) With the establishment of external supremacy, Rome's internal troubles began. Several extremely wealthy plebeian families combined with the old patrician families to exclude all but themselves from the higher magistracies and the Senate ;they were called optimates. This aristocratic ruling class had become selfish, arrogant, and addicted to luxury, losing the high standards of morality and integrity of their forebears. The gradual extinction of the peasant farmers, caused by the growth of large estates, a system of slave labor, and the devastation of the country by war, led to the development of a city rabble incapable of elevated political sentiment. Conflicts between the aristocratic party and the popular party were inevitable. The attempts of the people's tribunes Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and his brother Gaius Sempronius Gracchus to alleviate the economic distress and help the poorer citizens by agrarian and corn laws resulted in riots in which both brothers met their deaths, Tiberius in 133 BC and Gaius in 121 BC. The expansion of Rome's territory continued. In Africa the overthrow, in 106 BC, of Jugurtha, king of Numidia, by the consul Gaius Marius with the assistance of Lucius Cornelius Sulla increased the military renown of the Republic, as did the defeat of the Cimbri and the Teutones in southern Gaul and northern Italy by Marius after his return from Africa. The Italian communities, the allies of Rome, had felt their burdens increase as their privileges waned, and they demanded their share of the conquests they had helped to achieve. The tribune Marcus Livius Drusus attempted to conciliate the poor citizens by agrarian and corn laws and to satisfy the Italian armies by promise of Roman citizenship. He was assassinated in 91 BC. The following year the Italian armies rose in revolt, their purpose being to erect a new Italian state governed on the lines of the Roman constitution. This war, which lasted from 90 to 88 BC, is known as the Social War, or the Marsian War, from the important part played in it by the Marsians. The Italians were finally defeated but were granted full citizenship by the Romans. The internal troubles continued ;a conflict broke out between Marius, the spokesman and idol of the popular party, and Sulla, the leader of the aristocracy. A war with Mithridates VI, king of Pontus, threw the two leaders into rivalry as to which should command the expeditionary force. With the legions he had commanded in the Social War, Sulla marched on Rome from the south, for the first time bringing Roman legions into the city. The subsequent flight of Marius and the execution of the tribune Publius Sulpicius Rufus (circa 124-88 BC) left Sulla free to impose arbitrary measures, and, after the consular elections had confirmed him in his command, he set out against Mithridates in 87 BC. In Sulla's absence Lucius Cornelius Cinna, a leader of the popular party and a bitter opponent of Sulla, attempted to carry out the reforms originally proposed by Sulpicius, but he was driven from Rome. He rallied the legions in Campania around him and, joined by the veteran Marius, who had returned from Africa, entered Rome and was recognized as consul, as was Marius, the latter serving for the seventh time. Shortly thereafter, following a brutally vindictive massacre of senators and patricians, Marius died ;Cinna remained in power until Sulla, returning from Asia with 40,000 troops in 83 BC, defeated the popular party. As a result of the example set by Sulla, the Republican constitution was thenceforth at the mercy of the
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