Ancient Rome Essay Research Paper Ancient RomeWord

Ancient Rome Essay, Research Paper Ancient RomeWord Count: 4378 The Romans have had almost every type of government there is. They’ve had a kingdom, a republic, a dictatorship, and an empire. Their democracy would be the

Ancient Rome Essay, Research Paper

Ancient RomeWord Count: 4378

The Romans have had almost every type of government there is. They’ve had a

kingdom, a republic, a dictatorship, and an empire. Their democracy would be the

basis for most modern democracies. The people have always been involved with and

loved their government, no matter what kind it was. They loved being involved in

the government, and making decisions concerning everyone. In general, the Romans

were very power-hungry. This might be explained by the myth that they are

descended from Romulus, who’s father was Mars, the god of war. Their government

loving tendencies have caused many, many civil wars. After type of government,

the change has been made with a civil war. There have also been many civil wars

between rulers. But it all boils down to wanting to be involved in government.

When the Greeks finally entered Troy after ten long years of siege, a man named

Aeneas escaped the city with his father, Anchises, and his son, Ascanius. They

went to Mt. Ida, where they were to meet Aeneas’ wife, Creusa, but she never

showed up. Saddened, Aeneas acquired a boat and sailed around the Mediterranean.

He bounced around from Asia Minor to Greece to Crete looking for a place to

found a new Troy, but he couldn’t find a satisfactory place. As told by Homer in

the Aeneid, Aeneas was cared for by the gods. Venus, in particular, was very

worried about him. She asked Jupiter, king of the gods about him, and he said

this: “Since you are so consumed with anxiety for Aeneas, I shall turn forward

far The hidden pages of fate and speak of the future. He shall conduct a great

campaign for you. And conquer all Italy and its haughty peoples. He shall impose

laws on his own people. And build walled cities for them; the third summer Shall

see him rule in Latium, the third winter Of warfare see the Rutulians [an

Italian tribe] subdued. But his son Ascanius… It is he who shall consolidate

your power-For thirty years with all their turning months; Then shall he move

his capital from Lavinium To Alba Longa, which he shall fortify To the

uttermost; and there a line of kings… Shall reign and reign till Ilia [Rhea

Silvia], a priestess Of royal blood, bear twins begotten by Mars; And one of

these, Romulus, fostered by a she-wolf, And joyfully wearing her tawny hide,

shall rule And found a city for Mars, a new city, And call his people Romans,

after his name. For them I see no measure nor date, I grant themDominion without

end. Yes, even Juno…Even she will mend her ways and vie with me In cherishing

the Romans, the master-race, The wearers of the Toga. So it is willed.”(Nardo

13) Finally, he wound up at the mouth of the Tiber River in Italy. He went

inland up the river, which was a miracle in itself, because the river is very

swift. He found Latium, ruled by King Latinus, and married his daughter,

Lavinia. With King Latinus’ permission, Aeneas and Lavinia founded a city called

Lavinium, where they ruled side by side for many years. When Aeneas died, his

son Ascanius took over. Ascanius founded a new city, which he called Alba Longa,

and made it his capital. Now we advance four centuries. The king of Alba Longa

is Numitor. He had a jealous brother named Amulius, who seized the throne and

drove out Numitor. To prevent Numitor’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, from having

children who could claim the throne, Amulius made her a celibate priestess.

While she was a priestess, Mars, the god of war, came and visited her and she

had twin boys named Remus and Romulus (Burrell 7). When Amulius found out about

the twins, he was furious. He ordered Rhea imprisoned and the boys drowned on

the Tiber. The slave who was ordered to drown them felt pity for them, and

instead sent them down the river in a basket. When they landed, a she-wolf found

them and nursed them because her cubs had just been killed and she was still

fertile. Romulus and Remus were found by a shepherd named Faustulus, who took

them home to his wife to raise them. As they grew up, being sons of Mars, they

turned out to be very athletic and natural leaders, especially of the local

boys. When the boys grew up, they heard the story of Numitor and Amulius. With

their local friends, they attacked Alba Longa, killed Amulius, restored their

grandfather to the throne, and freed their mother. After restoring Numitor to

the throne, the boys decided to found a city on one of the seven hills near

where their basket wasfound by the wolf. This was a natural spot for a city.

Accounts Livy, “Not without good reason did gods and men choose this spot as the

site of a city, with its bracing hills, its [spacious] river by means of which

the produce of inland countries may be brought down and inland supplies

obtained; a sea near enough for all useful purposes, but not so near as to be

exposed to danger from foreign fleets; a district in the very center of Italy,

in a word, a position singularly adapted by a nature for the growth of a city.”

(Nardo, 12) The two boys couldn’t decide between themselves which hill to start

on, so they decided that whoever saw a vulture first could pick. Remus saw the

first vulture and five others, and Romulus saw twelve. Remus had rightfully won,

but Romulus claimed he should pick since he saw more vultures. He borrowed a

plow and team, and plowed a furrow around the Palatine hill. He told his brother

that was where the city would be, and if Remus crossed the line, he would be

killed. Contemptuous Remus immediately crossed the line, and Romulus killed him.

Romulus later said he regretted killing his brother, but life goes on. He built

his city on the Palatine Hill, and called it Rome. When Romulus founded Rome in

753 BC, he made himself the king. Being a brand new city, it had very few

people. Romulus built up the population by allowing anybody who wanted to live

there, including criminals who flocked to the city. This caused a shortage of

women. To get some, the Romans hosted athletic games and invited their

neighbors, the Sabines. While they were at the games, some of the Romans sneaked

off and stole the Sabine women (Burrell 14-15). Realizing what had happened, the

Sabines prepared their army. Expecting this, the Romans were ready and the two

forces lined up preparing to fight. Surprisingly, some of the women ran into the

no-man’s-land in between the armies. This is what their leader said: “We were

just daughters a short while ago, now we are both wives and daughters. We did

not choose our husbands – they chose us. We want this fighting to stop. If it

goes ahead, many will be slain. When our fathers are dead, we shall be orphans,

but if our husbands die, we shall be widows. We lose either way.” (Burrell,

14-15) Surprisingly, the two armies listened and put down their weapons. Since

anyone was allowed to reside, Rome had great diversity in its people. There were

three main ethnic groups: the Romans, who were first generation, the Sabines,

and the Latins, who Romulus is descended from. The Sabines lived in the

mountains east of the Tiber and north of the Latins. Later on, another group of

people called the Etruscans started moving in. They were unique in that their

language had no relation to any other known language, the only one like that.

Romulus established a government with a king, who was imperium, “Over all

persons and in all causes supreme” (Adcock 6). Romulus chose one hundred fathers

to form the Senate. These people and their descendants are known as Patricians,

from the Latin word pater, meaning father. He divided the people into three

tribes, mentioned above, and each tribe was divided into smaller curiae. The

succession of kings wasn’t hereditary. The previous king appointed someone, and

that person had to show the good will of heaven. Once king he had to keep the

pax deorum, Latin for peace of the gods. Romulus created an army that was to

have three thousand infantry and three hundred horsemen, one-third from each

tribe. This was a national guard, with people keeping their day jobs. When

Romulus died in 717 BC, the two main tribes, the Romans and the Sabines,

couldn’t decide how to pick a king. Finally it was decided that the Romans would

pick a Sabine king. They picked Numa Pompilius. This is what Plutarch had to say

about him: “He banished all luxury and softness from his own home, and… in

private he devoted himself not to amusement… but to the worship of he immortal

gods.” (Nardo 19) One of Pompilius’ notable achievements was rearranging the

calendar so it had twelve months instead of ten. The third king, Tullus

Hostilius, was a war monger. He believed his subjects would grow soft if they

weren’t engaged in a war. Conquering neighboring people, including Alba Longa,

he extended Rome’s rule out to twelve miles. Supposedly the gods got angry with

him and killed him with a lightning bolt (Burrell, 12). The fourth king, Ancus

Martius, was a Sabine. He extended Rome’s boundary to the sea and built the Pons

Sublicus, the firstbridge across the Tiber. He also captured the Janiculum hill

on the far bank. The fifth king, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, was the first

Etruscan king. He got the throne when he persuaded Martius to send his sons

away. He was an architect king. He built the capitol temple, drained the marsh

between the Paletine and Aventine Hills, built the Cloaca Maxima, or great

sewer, and designed the Circus Maximus. The sixth king was Servius Tullius,

another Etruscan. He divided the citizens into five social classes, from richest

to poorest. All but the poorest had to provide soldiers. The seventh, and final,

king was Tarquinius Superbus. He was a bad king. He got the throne by marrying

Tullius’ daughter, Tullia. He then pushed Tullius down a flight of stairs. He

sent men to finish him off, but Tullia ran over her father with a cisium, Latin

for a light, two-wheeled carriage. As king, he paid absolutely no attention to

what the people wanted. According to Asimov, when he was off at war withthe

Volscians, the Senate voted to exile him, and he wasn’t let back into the city.

After his reign, the people vowed never to have a king again, and a law was made

where anybody who even talked about having a king back was executed. A senator

named Brutus said, “I swear, and you, o gods, I call to witness that I will

drive [away]… Tarquinius Superbus, together with his wicked wife and his whole

family, with fire and sword and every means in my power, and I will not [allow]

them or anyone else to reign in Rome.” (Nardo 25) Republic is English for the

Latin Res Publica, meaning the public thing. A republic is “a country governed

by the elected representatives of the people” (Encarta “Republic”). Instead of a

president or king, the Republic has two praetors, later known as consuls, who

were elected annually. The one exception was emergency dictators, who served for

six months and six months only. The Senators served for life. The object of the

Republic was to give the people a voice in the government, and to keep just one

person from having all the power. Noting the Greek government, the Romans

created the Centuriate Assembly of citizens. This was an assembly where citizens

discussed and voted on important issues. Many of the members were Patricians,

but there were a few Plebs, or commoners too poor to own land. Only free Roman

adult men who owned weapons were citizens. Not long after the Republic was

formed, the Patricians closed off immigration of new patriarchal families. In

the early years of the Republic, the Patricians often made laws unfair to the

Plebs. Only Patricians could become consul, thesenate was almost all Patricians,

and the Patricians controlled the Plebs in the Assembly by giving the Plebs

financial aid, who in turn voted the way they were told. Public Officials

weren’t paid, so only wealthy people could afford to serve on a regular basis.

One time, the Plebs refused to serve in the army until they got their way. As

Livy said, “The Patricians dreaded the Plebians [who were striking]…. How long

could it be supposed that the multitude which had seceded would remain inactive?

And what would be the consequence if in the meantime a foreign war should break

out? No glimpse of hope could they see left except in concord between the

citizens, which must be re-established in the state on any terms.” (Nardo 28) In

494 BC, the Patricians gave up and allowed the striking Plebs their own council,

called the Popular Assembly, which excluded Patricians. This assembly couldn’t

make laws, but they elected ten tribunes each year who had the power of veto.

The Patricians pronounced the validity of decisions made by the assembly. As the

Republic grew older, it became more complicated. The Assembly had to elect

officials to help. They elected eight praetors, or court judges, four aediles,

whomanaged public streets and buildings, two censores, who took censuses,

admitted new senators and collected taxes, and twenty five quaestores, or

financial officers. In 450 BC, the Plebs demanded that the laws of Rome be

written down so that the praetors couldn’t twist the law in their favor. They

were written down on the Twelve Tables. An example of a law from the Twelve

Tables was, “If plaintiff summons defendant to court, he shall go. If he does

not go, plaintiff shall call witness [to this]. Then only shall he take the

defendant [to court] by force.” (Nardo 28-29) The Tribunes of the Plebs

protected the Plebs from unjustness, and the Plebs protected them by threatening

to strike. As time went on, Patrician control over Plebians gradually decreased,

until in 366 BC, the Plebs were allowed to become consul. Soon it became a

custom to elect one Pleb and one Patrician (Nardo 28). In 287 BC, the Popular

Assembly gained the right to make laws. Rome was ever expanding. In 496 BC, Rome

conquered Latium. In 449 BC, the Sabines fell, and in 396 BC, the Etruscans.

Instead of trying to oppress conquered tribes and peoples, Rome absorbed them,

integrating them into their culture. This made them much easier to control,

because they felt like they belonged to Rome. This is what Cicero had to say

about it: “Every citizen of a corporate town [one annexed by Rome] has, I take

it, two fatherlands, that of which he is a native, and that of which he is a

citizen. I will never deny my allegiance to my native town, only I will never

forget that Rome is my greater fatherland, and that my native town is but a

portion of Rome.” (Nardo 31) The Senators of Rome also felt great loyalty

towards the city. In 390 BC, raiders from Gaul invaded the city. Some of the

Senators stayed in the city. Livy tells what happened: “[The Senators

sat]…without fear or concern…. The Gauls, for a great while, stood wondering

at the strangeness of the sight, not daring to approach of touch them, taking

them for an assembly of superior beings. But then one [Gaul], bolder than the

rest, drew near to one elderly senator, and… gently stroked [the Senator's]

chin and touched his long beard; the Senator with his staff struck him a severe

blow on the head; upon which the barbarian drew his sword and slew him. This was

the introduction to the slaughter.” (Nardo 32) The Romans didn’t look kindly

upon failures. After the consul Varro lost fifty thousand soldiers in battle

with Hannibal’s army, he was ejected from office. According to Nardo, the only

reason he wasn’t executed was that he fought along side the army, and didn’t

desert (45). In the Punic wars against Carthage, Rome had to develop naval

technology. After Carthage was defeated, Roman merchants adopted ships to do

their trading, making them more and more wealthy. Eventually, these wealthy

merchants formed a new class, called the ‘equestrian order’. This new class

competed with the patricians for power in the government. The citizens began

splitting into two parties. The Imperialists, led by General Scipio Africanus,

wanted to continue expanding eastward. The Conservatives, led by Senator Cato

the Elder, wanted to settle down and stop expanding. As time went on, the

Imperialists increasingly prevailed. By the second century BC, the government

became more and more imperialistic, to the point that theywould attack anything

with the smallest excuse. In 192 BC, the Seleucid king Antiochus III took over a

few freed Greek cities. Rome invaded, conquered everything, and drove Antiochus

III to Asia Minor. The Roman army chased him, and conquered the territories he

had in Asia Minor. Gaius Julius Caesar was born on July 13, 100 BC to a

prestigious Roman family. His uncle was Gaius Marius, the consul andleader of

the agrarian reform movement. In 82 BC, Lucius Cornelius Sulla attacked the city

and made himself dictator. Because Sulla was an enemy of Marius, he ordered

Caesar to divorce his wife, Cornelia. Caesar refused, and fled the city until

Sulla resigned in 78 BC. Caesar started his reign in a triumvirate, with

himself, Pompey the Great, and Marcus Licinius Crassus. According to Nardo, this

was just a dictatorship of three. They ruled the Republic with terror, using the

army and their henchmen as muscle.(77-78) The only person who continually voiced

his opposition to the triumvirate was the famous orator, Cicero. The triumvirate

chased him into hiding. In 58 BC, Caesar et al.’s term ended, but they kept

power. Caesar boosted hispopularity by conquering Gaul and Britain. In 53 BC,

Crassus died in battle in Asia, leaving a triumvirate of two. While Caesar was

away in Britain, the senators tried to pit him against Pompey by naming Caesar a

public enemy and Pompey protector of the state. The senators were hoping that

the two would get rid of each other. Caesar was ordered to disband his army, but

he instead marched on Rome. He was just bringing his soldiers home, but it was

taken as an invasion (Nardo 83-84). In 48 BC, Caesar crossed to Greece, where

Pompey had escaped to. Pompey escaped to Egypt, where he sought shelter with

King Ptolemy XIII. Ptolemy’s advisors warned him against the wrath of Caesar, so

he killed Pompey and sent Caesar his head. In 46 BC, Caesar was named the ten

year dictator of the state. He promptly renamed himself dictator for life. On

March 15, 44 BC, a group of senators who decided that Caesar was a danger to the

Republic. Led by Brutus and Cassius, they attacked Caesar in the senate

chambers. Ironically, his body fell at the feet of the statue of Pompey, after

suffering twenty three knifewounds. Immediately after Caesar’s death, the senate

outlawed the dictatorship. After Caesar’s death, his adopted grandson, Octavian,

formed the second triumvirate with Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus.

Antony ruled the east, Octavian the west and Italy, and Lepidus ruled Africa.

The second triumvirate was constituted by an act of state to reconstitute the

state. They were given five years, but this was later extended. The three

crushed all of their opponents, including Brutus, Cassius, and Cicero. Battling

against Sextus Pompeius, Octavian summoned Lepidus to Italy to help him. Upon

arriving, Lepidus tried to seize Sicily, and was subsequently kicked out of the

triumvirate. Mark Antony fell in love with Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, who was

rumored to be a former lover of Caesar. Together they ruled the eastern Empire

for many years. With the growing support of the Roman people, Octavian declared

war on Antony, to secure power for himself. The two forces, Octavian’s navy

commanded by Marcus Agrippa, and Antony and Cleopatra’s navy, met at the battle

of Actium on September 2, 31 BC. Agrippa, a very capable general and a good

friend of Octavian, commanded 260 light ships, while Antony commanded 220 heavy

ships (Encarta “Actium”). The battle raged on for a very long time, and was

beginning to look like a stalemate, when the Egyptian fleet withdrew. Agrippa’s

fleet crushed the remnants of Antony’s fleet, who survived and escaped back to

Egypt with Cleopatra. Antony received a false rumor and killed himself by

falling on his sword. Upon hearing of his suicide, Cleopatra killed herself with

an asp, which was a symbol of the eye of Ra, the Egyptian sun god (Gibson).

After the war was over, Octavian closed the Roman temple to Janus, the Roman god

of beginnings of wars. This showed that the world was at peace. In 28 BC,

Octavian and Agrippa became consuls. After one year, they turned the state over

to “the free decision of the Senate and People of Rome” (Adcock 74). The Senate

and people of Rome gave Octavian ten years of complete control. Octavian named

himself the princeps, which is Latin for emperor. He ran the Empire as a

monarchy, although it was disguised as a Republic. They still had a senate, but

senators only made it into office with Octavian’s approval. Those citizens who

weren’t fooled kept quiet, because Octavian kept things peaceful and governed

fairly. Octavian ended the Roman tradition of conquest, cutting the army from

seventy five to twenty eight legions. In 23 BC, Octavian gave up the consulate,

but the senate forced himto keep power over the provinces. In effect, he ran the

Empire from the background, while others were elected consul. These consuls had

power, but always did what Octavian said. On his death bed, Octavian was advised

to forgive his enemies. He responded with, “Yes father, but how can I? I have

[killed] them all” (Adcock 75). Octavian was almost eighty when he died in 14

AD. After Octavian came the Emperor Tiberius. His reign was non-eventful, and he

retired after plots against him were turned up.After Tiberius came Gaius, who

was better known as Caligula. During his reign, Caligula went crazy. According

to Burrell, anyone disagreeing with him was thrown to the lions in the Arena. He

also got the Senate to name his horse consul.(49) Everyone was thankful when he

was assassinated in 41 AD. Caligula was succeeded by several emperors who did

nothing governmentally, including Claudius and Nero. Around the second century

AD, the Empire began to crumble. Wave after wave of barbarian invaders,

especially the Huns, chipped away at the state. Eventually some of the provinces

had to be abandoned. At the end of the third century, Emperor Diocletian decided

the empire was two big, and split it in two. He ruled the east from Turkey, and

commissioned Maximian to rule the west from Milan. He called this form of

government the Dominate, from Latin dominus, meaning master. There were two

Augusti, who ruled the east and west, and under them there were two Caesars, who

were like vice-presidents. The two Caesars of the east and west were Constantine

and Galerius, respectively. Diocletian turned his empire into something like

afeudal system, where peasants were deprived of personal freedom and tied to the

soil. He renamed citizens to subjects. In 305, Diocletian and Maximian stepped

down as Augusti, resulting in civil wars between the old Caesars and new

Augusti. Eventually, Constantine the Great came out on top in 312. Constantine’s

troops made him emperor, and he ruled the entire Empire from Byzantium, which he

renamed Constantinople. Constantine was the first Christian ruler of the Empire.

Alaric of the Visgoths helped the emperor Theodosius crush a rebellion.

Unfortunately, Theodosius died before he could reward Alaric. The new emperor,

Honorius, cut Alaric off from Rome, which he resented deeply. Alaric took his

army to Constantinople, but found it too well guarded. He then led his army to

the city of Rome, where, in the fifth century, sacked it. The Empire continued

to fall to barbarians. The east and west sides of the Empire were in a virtual

state of war. In 429, Vandals conquered Africa. In 410, Britain fell. In 451,

the Huns took most of Europe. When Atilla the Hun came to Rome, Pope Leo was

able to convince him to spare the city. In 455, Vandals came and sacked Rome. In

the year 476 AD, the last emperor died, marking the fall of the Roman Empire,

one of the greatest ever. That last emperor’s name was, ironically, Romulus. The

Roman Kingdom, Republic, Empire, Dictatorship, and others have affected all of

us. The United States government in commonly known as a democracy, but it’s

actually a Republic, almost identical to the Roman one. The Roman government was

one of the most powerful ever, at one point ruling most of the civilized world.

It is almost certainly the best known. Ask anyone about Romulus and Remus, Gaius

Julius Caesar, Augustus, Caligula, Nero, Constantine; they’ll know who you’re

talking about. The term Caesar was used to mean ruler for thousands of years

after his death. Both the German word Kaiser as well as the Russian word Czar

are from the name Caesar and mean ruler. Today some three-fourths of the

countries are Republic, styled after the Romans. The Romans are probably the

most influential people of all-time.

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