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6. Roman Civilization

The Rome, its culture and history has huge impact in shaping the world. Let's have a look around Roman Civiliation


•    ROMAN HISTORY can be divided into three convenient periods or episodes.
•    The years 753-509 B.C. concern the years of Rome's origins.
•    By 509 B.C., Rome had established itself by pushing the Etruscans out of northern Italy. The era of the Roman Republic falls between 509 B.C. and the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.
•    Rome under the Republic consolidated its power both at home and abroad, especially during the Punic and Macedonian Wars.
•    The Republic is also the period when Rome developed its distinctive forms of law and government.
•    The period from 31 B.C. to A.D. 476 constitutes the era of the Roman Empire. It is this period that most people think of when they are reminded of the grandeur that was Rome.
•    The Augustus Caesar was greatest among all Roman kings.
•    During his leadership Rome was able to capture and control all of modern day France, Spain, Greece, Asia Minor, Palestine, North Africa and Great Britain.
•    During Roman Empire Christianity flourished.
•    The Romans established a "religion of culture," a religion that appealed to all Romans -- it literally surrounded them.
•    Around the 2nd century A.D., that this "religion of culture" was attacked by an outside force the Romans seemed to have misunderstood, and the result was by the end of the fourth century, a new "culture of religion."
•    As we all know, Rome eventually went into decline and then fell. The date usually assigned to the fall is A.D. 476.
•    Some historians have pointed to the growing incidence of barbarian invasions; others have hinted that the mixing of different peoples during waves of conquest may have forced the Romans to commit "racial suicide."
•    The Romans were known for their knack of killing off internal political rivals
•    Some historians have suggested that Rome's ultimate failure was due to the non-existence of a strong middle class.
•    The appearance and growth of Christianity also contributed to Rome's decline and eventual fall.
•    The Romans managed to maintain their world for more than one thousand years.
•    The Roman historian Titus Livius, or Livy (59 B.C.-A.D. 17) who admitted that: "The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you can find yourself and your country both examples and warnings; fine things to take as models, base things rotten through and through, to avoid."
•    By about 750 B.C. the Greeks had established about fifty city-states on the southern peninsula of Italy. To the north lived the tribes of the Etruscans.
•    It is not known how the Etruscans came to occupy the northern territory of Italy (Tuscany).
•    In many aspects, the culture of the Etruscans was very similar to that of Mycenae in Greece. Their cities, twelve in number, were autonomous like the city-states of Sumer and Archaic Greece
•    The cities were combined in a loose organization which historians have referred to as the Etruscan Confederacy.
•    Material objects found from archeological digs of Etruscan city-states illuminate the luxury and opulence of the Etruscan aristocracy.
•    As a people, the Etruscans played hard and worked hard.
•    The Romans adopted many Etruscan customs over the years. They used the Etruscan alphabet, which the Etruscans had borrowed from the Greeks.
•    The symbol of the Etruscan king's right to execute his subjects was a bundle of rods and an axe: the fasces (from which Mussolini created the Fascisti in the 20th century).
•    The Romans even adopted the Etruscan toga.
•    The vault and the arch were Etruscan in origin as were gladiatorial contests.
•    Etruscan power and influence over the city of Rome was indeed strong, trade was one of the reasons for this; the city began to grow.
•    By the mid-6th century, temples and public buildings could be found throughout the city. The Capitoline Hill became the religious center of the city and the Forum, formerly a cemetery, became a public meeting place, thus serving a similar role as the agora had at Athens.
•    It is unclear how and why the Romans ended the era of Etruscan superiority but somehow Rome managed to free itself from the kings to the north and establish their own unique culture.

•    The early Roman history dates from 509 B.C., when the Etruscan kings succumbed to Rome – it is an uneven mixture of fact and myth.
•    In the words of Livy- "Events before Rome was born have come down to us in old tales with more of the charm of poetry than of sound historical record, and such traditions I propose neither to affirm nor refute."
•    It can be said the Livy's history is a moral tale, told to countless generations of Roman citizens.
•    According to Roman legend, the Romans expelled the Etruscan king Tarquin the Proud  from Rome around 509 B.C. and founded the Roman Republic.
•    In the following years, the Romans fought numerous wars with their neighbors on the Italian peninsula. They became tenacious soldiers, Stoic soldiers, a Roman trait.
•    War was much of diplomacy and the Romans quickly showed their excellence in that art. They knew the viability of alliances and provided leadership for their allies.
•    With the Etruscan monarchy at an end, the dignity of the Senate and the Curiate Assembly (both created during the Etruscan Confederacy) was restored.
•    Among the most powerful families it was decided that extraordinary powers be given to two men, who would eventually be called consuls, this has been done so to prevent tyranny.
•    Both consuls possessed the highest military and civil authority in the state. They could only serve for one year at a time.
•    Much later was it agreed that there be at least a ten year interval for consuls terms so as to prevent "unbridled ambition."
•    Rome's founding also coincided with war.
•    One of the earliest wars was with two tribes, the Aequi and the Volsci. From this war arose the Roman legend of Cincinnatus.
•    When the Aequi launched an invasion, the Romans called on Cincinnatus to become dictator, and he was given ultimate powers for a specified period of time.
•    The Roman officials found Cincinnatus working his farm. He listened to the appeal of the officials, dropped his plow, and accepted the office offered to him.
•    According to legend, fifteen days later, and after he had defeated the Aequi, Cincinnatus returned to his farm, picked up his plow, and continued to plow his fields.
•    Cincinnatus was the ideal Roman citizen -- a man of simplicity who places his duty to Rome before personal interest or wealth.


Contributions of Rome

"All roads lead to Rome." This quote holds much truth as what Rome has left to Western Civilization is brought to light. The Roman made countless contributions to Western Civilization, but a few are the most significant of all.

•    Rome, the most important civilization to the Western World, left a great legacy, paving the road for the spread of Christianity, forming the basis for republic, and allowing for a widespread diffusion of culture.

•    The Roman Republic left a form of government similar to the democracy of Greece but with the ability to govern large bodies of people.


•    Rome's magnificent size and its unified nature allowed for the spreading of ideas throughout Western Civilization. Because of this unification of Rome, information moved like it had never before.

•    Rome expanded on the ideas of the past and bettered them, so should the people of this world expand and elaborate on Rome's genius.

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