Chapter 6, Ancient Rome and Early Christianity

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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?
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.
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.

Making Inferences
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.
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.
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.
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.
VIRGIL, Aeneid

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.”

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