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Onto this turbulent scene emerged Gaius Julius Caesar , from an aristocratic family of limited wealth.

Origins of Rome

His aunt Julia was Marius' wife, [49] and Caesar identified with the populares. To achieve power, Caesar reconciled the two most powerful men in Rome: Marcus Licinius Crassus , who had financed much of his earlier career, and Crassus' rival, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus anglicized as Pompey , to whom he married his daughter.

He formed them into a new informal alliance including himself, the First Triumvirate "three men". This satisfied the interests of all three: Crassus, the richest man in Rome, became richer and ultimately achieved high military command; Pompey exerted more influence in the Senate; and Caesar obtained the consulship and military command in Gaul. The Triumvirate disintegrated at Crassus' death. Crassus had acted as mediator between Caesar and Pompey, and, without him, the two generals manoeuvred against each other for power.

Caesar conquered Gaul , obtaining immense wealth, respect in Rome and the loyalty of battle-hardened legions. He also became a clear menace to Pompey and was loathed by many optimates. Confident that Caesar could be stopped by legal means, Pompey's party tried to strip Caesar of his legions, a prelude to Caesar's trial, impoverishment, and exile. Pompey and his party fled from Italy, pursued by Caesar. The Battle of Pharsalus was a brilliant victory for Caesar and in this and other campaigns he destroyed all of the optimates' leaders: Metellus Scipio , Cato the Younger , and Pompey's son, Gnaeus Pompeius.

Caesar was now pre-eminent over Rome, attracting the bitter enmity of many aristocrats. He was granted many offices and honours. In just five years, he held four consulships, two ordinary dictatorships, and two special dictatorships: one for ten years and another for perpetuity. Caesar's assassination caused political and social turmoil in Rome; without the dictator's leadership, the city was ruled by his friend and colleague, Mark Antony. Soon afterward, Octavius , whom Caesar adopted through his will, arrived in Rome. Octavian historians regard Octavius as Octavian due to the Roman naming conventions tried to align himself with the Caesarian faction.

This alliance would last for five years. Upon its formation, — senators were executed, and their property was confiscated, due to their supposed support for the Liberatores. The Second Triumvirate was marked by the proscriptions of many senators and equites : after a revolt led by Antony's brother Lucius Antonius , more than senators and equites involved were executed on the anniversary of the Ides of March , although Lucius was spared. However, Lucius was pardoned, perhaps because his sister Julia had intervened for him.

The Triumvirate divided the Empire among the triumvirs: Lepidus was given charge of Africa , Antony, the eastern provinces, and Octavian remained in Italia and controlled Hispania and Gaul. Antony's affair with Cleopatra was seen as an act of treason, since she was queen of another country.

Additionally, Antony adopted a lifestyle considered too extravagant and Hellenistic for a Roman statesman. Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide. Now Egypt was conquered by the Roman Empire, and for the Romans, a new era had begun. In that year, he took the name Augustus. Officially, the government was republican, but Augustus assumed absolute powers. The Julio-Claudian dynasty was established by Augustus. The dynasty is so-called due to the gens Julia , family of Augustus, and the gens Claudia , family of Tiberius.

The Julio-Claudians started the destruction of republican values, but on the other hand, they boosted Rome's status as the central power in the world. This dynasty instituted imperial tradition in Rome [62] and frustrated any attempt to reestablish a Republic. Augustus gathered almost all the republican powers under his official title, princeps : he had powers of consul, princeps senatus , aedile , censor and tribune —including tribunician sacrosanctity.

With this title he not only boasted his familial link to deified Julius Caesar, but the use of Imperator signified a permanent link to the Roman tradition of victory. He also diminished the Senatorial class influence in politics by boosting the equestrian class.

The senators lost their right to rule certain provinces, like Egypt; since the governor of that province was directly nominated by the emperor. The creation of the Praetorian Guard and his reforms in the military, creating a standing army with a fixed size of 28 legions, ensured his total control over the army. This peace and richness that was granted by the agrarian province of Egypt [66] led the people and the nobles of Rome to support Augustus increasing his strength in political affairs. His generals were responsible for the field command; gaining such commanders as Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa , Nero Claudius Drusus and Germanicus much respect from the populace and the legions.

Augustus intended to extend the Roman Empire to the whole known world, and in his reign, Rome conquered Cantabria , Aquitania , Raetia , Dalmatia , Illyricum and Pannonia. Poets like Virgil , Horace , Ovid and Rufus developed a rich literature, and were close friends of Augustus. Along with Maecenas , he stimulated patriotic poems, as Virgil's epic Aeneid and also historiographical works, like those of Livy. The works of this literary age lasted through Roman times, and are classics. Augustus also continued the shifts on the calendar promoted by Caesar , and the month of August is named after him.

Influenced by his wife, Livia Drusilla , Augustus appointed her son from another marriage, Tiberius , as his heir. The Senate agreed with the succession, and granted to Tiberius the same titles and honors once granted to Augustus: the title of princeps and Pater patriae , and the Civic Crown. The male line of the Julio-Claudians was limited to Tiberius' nephew Claudius , his grandson Tiberius Gemellus and his grand-nephew Caligula.

As Gemellus was still a child, Caligula was chosen to rule the Empire. He was a popular leader in the first half of his reign, but became a crude and insane tyrant in his years controlling government. Claudius conquered Lycia and Thrace ; his most important deed was the beginning of the conquest of Britannia. Nero sent his general, Suetonius Paulinus , to invade modern-day Wales , where he encountered stiff resistance.

The Celts in modern-day Wales were independent, tough and resistant to tax collectors and fought Paulinus, as he battled his way across from East to West. It took him a long time to reach the North West coast and in 60 AD he finally crossed the Menai Strait to the sacred island of Mona modern-day Anglesey , the last stronghold of the Druids.

While Paulinus and his troops were massacring Druids in Mona, the tribes of modern-day East Anglia staged a revolt led by queen Boadicea of the Iceni. Nero is widely known as the first persecutor of Christians and for the Great Fire of Rome , rumoured to have been started by the emperor himself. Never very stable, he allowed his advisers to run the government while he slid into debauchery, excess, and madness.

He was married three times, and had numerous affairs with both men and women, and, according to some rumors, even his mother. Deserted by the Praetorian Guards and condemned to death by the senate, Nero killed himself. The Flavians were the second dynasty to rule Rome. After the turmoil in the Year of the Four Emperors , Titus Flavius Vespasianus anglicized as Vespasian took control of the Empire and established a new dynasty.

Under the Flavians, Rome continued its expansion, and the state remained secure. The most significant military campaign undertaken during the Flavian period, was the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 by Titus. The destruction of the city was the culmination of the Roman campaign in Judea following the Jewish uprising of The Second Temple was completely demolished, after which Titus's soldiers proclaimed him imperator in honor of the victory. Jerusalem was sacked and much of the population killed or dispersed.

Josephus claims that 1,, people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish. Many fled to areas around the Mediterranean. Titus reportedly refused to accept a wreath of victory, as there is "no merit in vanquishing people forsaken by their own God". Vespasian was a general under Claudius and Nero. Buildings once destroyed by the Great Fire of Rome were rebuilt, and he revitalized the Capitol. Vespasian also started the construction of the Flavian Amphitheater, more commonly known as the Colosseum.

Vespasian sent legions to defend the eastern frontier in Cappadocia , extended the occupation in Britannia modern-day England , Wales and southern Scotland and reformed the tax system. He finished the Flavian Amphitheater, which was constructed with war spoils from the First Jewish-Roman War, and promoted games celebrating the victory over the Jews that lasted for a hundred days.

These games included gladiatorial combats , chariot races and a sensational mock naval battle on the flooded grounds of the Colosseum. As emperor, Domitian assumed totalitarian characteristics, [98] thought he could be a new Augustus , and tried to make a personal cult of himself. Domitian ruled for fifteen years, and his reign was marked by his attempts to compare himself to the gods.

He constructed at least two temples in honour of Jupiter, the supreme deity in Roman religion. He also liked to be called " Dominus et Deus " "Master and God". During their rule, Rome reached its territorial and economical apogee. The criteria for choosing an emperor were the qualities of the candidate and no longer ties of kinship; additionally, there were no civil wars or military defeats in this period. Following Domitian's murder, the Senate rapidly appointed Nerva to hold imperial dignity. This was the first time that senators chose the emperor since Octavian was honored with the titles of princeps and Augustus.

Nerva had a noble ancestry, and he had served as an advisor to Nero and the Flavians. His rule restored many of the liberties once assumed by Domitian [] and started the last golden era of Rome. Trajan was born in a non-patrician family from Hispania Baetica modern-day Andalusia and his preeminence emerged in the army, under Domitian. He is the second of the Five Good Emperors , the first being Nerva. Trajan was greeted by the people of Rome with enthusiasm, which he justified by governing well and without the bloodiness that had marked Domitian's reign.

He freed many people who had been unjustly imprisoned by Domitian and returned private property that Domitian had confiscated; a process begun by Nerva before his death. Trajan conquered Dacia roughly modern-day Romania and Moldova , and defeated the king Decebalus , who had defeated Domitian's forces. In the First Dacian War — , the defeated Dacia became a client kingdom; in the Second Dacian War — , Trajan completely devastated the enemy's resistance and annexed Dacia to the Empire.

Trajan also annexed the client state of Nabatea to form the province of Arabia Petraea , which included the lands of southern Syria and northwestern Arabia. His main architect was Apollodorus of Damascus ; Apollodorus made the project of the Forum and of the Column, and also reformed the Pantheon. Trajan's triumphal arches in Ancona and Beneventum are other constructions projected by him. Trajan's final war was against Parthia. When Parthia appointed a king for Armenia who was unacceptable to Rome Parthia and Rome shared dominance over Armenia , he declared war.

He probably wanted to be the first Roman leader to conquer Parthia, and repeat the glory of Alexander the Great , conqueror of Asia, whom Trajan next followed in the clash of Greek-Romans and the Persian cultures. In Trajan turned south into the core of Parthian hegemony, took the Northern Mesopotamian cities of Nisibis and Batnae , organized a province of Mesopotamia , and issued coins announcing that Armenia and Mesopotamia was under the authority of the Roman people.

In , his illness grew and he died of edema. He nominated Hadrian as his heir. Under Trajan's leadership the Roman Empire reached the peak of its territorial expansion; Rome's dominion now spanned 2,, square miles 6,, square kilometres. Many Romans emigrated to Hispania modern-day Spain and Portugal and stayed for generations, in some cases intermarrying with Iberians ; one of these families produced the emperor Hadrian. Hadrian's army crushed a revolt in Mauretania and the Bar Kokhba revolt in Judea.

This was the last large-scale Jewish revolt against the Romans and was destroyed with massive repercussions in Judea. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed. Hadrian renamed the province of Judea " Provincia Syria Palaestina ," after one of Judea's most hated enemies. A famous philhellenist , Hadrian promoted culture, specially the Greek. He also forbade torture and humanized the laws. Hadrian built many aqueducts, baths, libraries and theaters; additionally, he traveled nearly every single province in the Empire to check the military and infrastructural conditions.

Antoninus made few initial changes when he became emperor, leaving intact as far as possible the arrangements instituted by Hadrian. Antoninus expanded Roman Britannia by invading what is now southern Scotland and building the Antonine Wall. He was a stoic philosopher and wrote the Meditations. He defeated barbarian tribes in the Marcomannic Wars as well as the Parthian Empire.

From Nerva to Marcus Aurelius, the empire achieved an unprecedented happy and glorious status. The powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. All the citizens enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth. The image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence.

The Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the emperors all the executive powers of government.

History Summarized: Julius Caesar and the Fall of the Republic

Commodus , son of Marcus Aurelius, became emperor after his father's death. He is not counted as one of the Five Good Emperors. Firstly, this was due to his direct kinship with the latter emperor; in addition, he was passive in comparison with his predecessors, who were frequently leading their armies in person. Commodus usually took part on gladiatorial combats, which often symbolized brutality and roughness.

He killed many citizens, and his reign was the beginning of Roman decadence , as stated Cassius Dio : " Rome has transformed from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust. Pertinax, a member of the senate who had been one of Marcus Aurelius's right hand men, was the choice of Laetus, and he ruled vigorously and judiciously. Laetus soon became jealous and instigated Pertinax's murder by the Praetorian Guard, who then auctioned the empire to the highest bidder, Didius Julianus, for 25, sesterces per man.

The legions of three frontier provinces— Britannia , Pannonia Superior , and Syria —resented being excluded from the "donative" and replied by declaring their individual generals to be emperor. Lucius Septimius Severus Geta, the Pannonian commander, bribed the opposing forces, pardoned the Praetorian Guards and installed himself as emperor.

He and his successors governed with the legions' support. The changes on coinage and military expenditures were the root of the financial crisis that marked the Crisis of the Third Century. Severus was enthroned after invading Rome and having Didius Julianus killed. His two other rivals, Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus , were both were hailed by other factions as Imperator.

Severus quickly subdued Niger in Byzantium and promised to Albinus the title of Caesar which meant he would be a co-emperor. Severus marched to Gaul and defeated Albinus. For these acts, Machiavelli said that Severus was "a ferocious lion and a clever fox" []. Severus attempted to revive totalitarianism and in an address to people and the Senate, he praised the severity and cruelty of Marius and Sulla, which worried the senators. He seized the cities of Nisibis , Babylon and Seleucia. Reaching Ctesiphon , the Parthian capital, he ordered plundering and his army slew and captured many people.

Albeit this military success, he failed in invading Hatra , a rich Arabian city. Severus killed his legate, as the latter was gaining respect from the legions; and his soldiers were hit by famine. After this disastrous campaign, he withdrew. To achieve this, he waged war against the Caledonians. After many casualties in the army due to the terrain and the barbarians' ambushes, Severus went himself to the field. Upon the death of Severus, his sons Caracalla and Geta were made emperors.

During their youth, their squabbles had divided Rome into two factions. In that same year Caracalla had his brother, a youth, assassinated in his mother's arms, and may have murdered 20, of Geta's followers. Like his father, Caracalla was warlike. He continued Severus' policy, and gained respect from the legions.

Caracalla was a cruel man, and was pursued by the guilt of his brother's murder. He ordered the death of people of his own circle, like his tutor, Cilo, and a friend of his father, Papinian. Knowing that the citizens of Alexandria disliked him and were speaking ill of his character, he served a banquet for its notable citizens, after which his soldiers killed all the guests.

From the security of the temple of Sarapis, he then directed an in-discriminant slaughter of Alexandria's people. A report that a soothsayer had predicted that the Praetorian prefect Macrinus and his son were to rule over the empire was dutifully sent to Caracalla.

But the report fell into the hands of Macrinus, who felt he must act or die. The incompetent Macrinus, assumed power, but soon removed himself from Rome to the east and Antioch. His brief reign ended in , when the youngster Bassianus, high priest of the temple of the Sun at Emesa, and supposedly illegitimate son of Caracalla, was declared Emperor by the disaffected soldiers of Macrinus. Bribes gained Bassianus support from the legionaries and they fought against Macrinus and his Praetorian guards. He adopted the name of Antoninus but history has named him after his Sun god Elagabalus , represented on Earth in the form of a large black stone.

Elagabalus was an incompetent and lascivious ruler, [38] who was well known for extreme extravagance, that offended all but his favorites. Cassius Dio , Herodian and the Historia Augusta have many accounts about his extravagance. He adopted his cousin, Alexander Severus , as Caesar, grew jealous, and attempted to assassinate him. The Praetorian guard preferred Alexander, murdered Elagabalus, dragged his mutilated corpse through the streets of Rome, and threw it into the Tiber.

Elagabalus was succeeded by his cousin Alexander Severus. Alexander waged war against many foes, like the revitalized Persia and Germanic peoples who invaded Gaul. A disastrous scenario emerged after the death of Alexander Severus : the Roman state was plagued by civil wars, external invasions , political chaos, pandemics and economic depression.

Emperors were no longer men linked with nobility; they usually were born in lower-classes of distant parts of the Empire. These men rose to prominence through military ranks, and became emperors through civil wars. There were 26 emperors in a year period, a signal of political instability. Maximinus Thrax was the first ruler of that time, governing for just three years. The population and the frontiers were abandoned, since the emperors were mostly concerned with defeating rivals and establishing their power.

The economy also suffered during that epoch. The massive military expenditures from the Severi caused a devaluation of Roman coins. Hyperinflation came at this time as well. The Plague of Cyprian broke out in and killed a huge portion of the population. Diocletian healed the empire from the crisis, by political and economic shifts. A new form of government was established: the Tetrarchy. The Empire was divided among four emperors, two in the West and two in the East. To adjust the economy, Diocletian made several tax reforms. Diocletian expelled the Persians who plundered Syria and conquered some barbarian tribes with Maximian.

He adopted many behaviors of Eastern monarchs, like wearing pearls and golden sandals and robes. Anyone in the presence of the emperor had now to prostrate himself—a common act in the East, but never practiced in Rome before. In he and Galerius started the persecution and ordered the destruction of all the Christian churches and scripts and forbade Christian worship. His reign ended the traditional form of imperial rule, the Principate from princeps and started the Dominate from Dominus, "Master".

Constantine assumed the empire as a tetrarch in He conducted many wars against the other tetrarchs. Firstly he defeated Maxentius in In , he issued the Edict of Milan , which granted liberty for Christians to profess their religion. He was defeated by the Franks and the Alamanni during — In he defeated another tetrarch, Licinius , and controlled all the empire, as it was before Diocletian. To celebrate his victories and Christianity's relevance, he rebuilt Byzantium and renamed it Nova Roma "New Rome" ; but the city soon gained the informal name of Constantinople "City of Constantine".

The reign of Julian , who under the influence of his adviser Mardonius attempted to restore Classical Roman and Hellenistic religion , only briefly interrupted the succession of Christian emperors. Constantinople served as a new capital for the Empire. In fact, Rome had lost its central importance since the Crisis of the Third Century— Mediolanum was the western capital from to , until the reign of Honorius , when Ravenna was made capital, in the 5th century.

In the late 4th and 5th centuries the Western Empire entered a critical stage which terminated with the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The situation became more critical in , after the death of Stilicho , a general who tried to reunite the Empire and repel barbarian invasion in the early years of the 5th century. The professional field army collapsed. In , the Theodosian dynasty saw the Visigoths sack Rome. The Vandals conquered North Africa , the Visigoths claimed the southern part of Gaul , Gallaecia was taken by the Suebi , Britannia was abandoned by the central government, and the Empire suffered further from the invasions of Attila , chief of the Huns.

Unhappy with this, their chieftain Odoacer defeated and killed Orestes, invaded Ravenna and dethroned Romulus Augustus , son of Orestes. This event of , usually marks the end of Classical antiquity and beginning of the Middle Ages. Some historians consider him to be the last emperor of the Western Empire instead of Romulus Augustus. After some years of independence and nearly years as a great power, the rule of Rome in the West ended.

At the time many pagans argued that Christianity and the decline of traditional Roman religion were responsible; some rationalist thinkers of the modern era attribute the fall to a change from a martial to a more pacifist religion that lessened the number of available soldiers; while Christians such as Augustine of Hippo argued that the sinful nature of Roman society itself was to blame. The Eastern Empire had a different fate. It survived for almost years after the fall of its Western counterpart and became the most stable Christian realm during the Middle Ages.

During the 6th century, Justinian reconquered the Italian peninsula from the Ostrogoths , North Africa from the Vandals , and southern Hispania from the Visigoths. But within a few years of Justinian's death, Byzantine possessions in Italy were greatly reduced by the Lombards who settled in the peninsula. Its followers rapidly brought about the conquest of the Levant , the conquest of Armenia and the conquest of Egypt during the Arab—Byzantine wars , and soon presented a direct threat to Constantinople. The Byzantines, however, managed to stop further Islamic expansion into their lands during the 8th century and, beginning in the 9th century, reclaimed parts of the conquered lands.

The aftermath of this battle sent the empire into a protracted period of decline. Two decades of internal strife and Turkic invasions ultimately led Emperor Alexios I Komnenos to send a call for help to the Western European kingdoms in The conquest of Constantinople in fragmented what remained of the Empire into successor states; the ultimate victor was the Empire of Nicaea.

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The imperial city of Rome was the largest urban center in the empire, with a population variously estimated from , to close to one million. Most of those centers had a forum , temples, and other buildings similar to Rome's. Average life expectancy was about Roman law as preserved in Justinian's codes continued into the Byzantine Empire , and formed the basis of similar codifications in continental Western Europe. Roman law continued, in a broader sense, to be applied throughout most of Europe until the end of the 17th century. Praetor Urbanus were the people who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens.

The Ius Gentium "Law of nations" was the body of common laws that applied to foreigners, and their dealings with Roman citizens. Praetor Peregrinus were the people who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens and foreigners. Ius Naturale encompassed natural law, the body of laws that were considered common to all beings.

Roman society is largely viewed as hierarchical , with slaves servi at the bottom, freedmen liberti above them, and free-born citizens cives at the top. Free citizens were also divided by class. The broadest, and earliest, division was between the patricians , who could trace their ancestry to one of the Patriarchs at the founding of the city, and the plebeians , who could not.

This became less important in the later Republic, as some plebeian families became wealthy and entered politics, and some patrician families fell economically. Anyone, patrician or plebeian, who could count a consul as his ancestor was a noble nobilis ; a man who was the first of his family to hold the consulship, such as Marius or Cicero , was known as a novus homo "new man" and ennobled his descendants.

Patrician ancestry, however, still conferred considerable prestige, and many religious offices remained restricted to patricians. A class division originally based on military service became more important. Membership of these classes was determined periodically by the Censors , according to property.

The wealthiest were the Senatorial class, who dominated politics and command of the army. Next came the equestrians equites , sometimes translated "knights" , originally those who could afford a warhorse, and who formed a powerful mercantile class.


  • As You Like It (Bantam Classics).
  • When was Julius Caesar Born?.
  • Roman festivals.
  • Military successes;
  • Section Roman Cults and Worship.
  • Lesson Plans All My Sons?
  • Ancient Rome - Facts, Location & Timeline - HISTORY.

Several further classes, originally based on the military equipment their members could afford, followed, with the proletarii , citizens who had no property at all, at the bottom. Before the reforms of Marius they were ineligible for military service and are often described as being just above freed slaves in wealth and prestige. Voting power in the Republic depended on class. Citizens were enrolled in voting "tribes", but the tribes of the richer classes had fewer members than the poorer ones, all the proletarii being enrolled in a single tribe.

Voting was done in class order, from top down, and stopped as soon as most of the tribes had been reached, so the poorer classes were often unable to cast their votes. Women shared some basic rights with their male counterparts, but were not fully regarded as citizens and were thus not allowed to vote or take part in politics.

At the same time the limited rights of women were gradually expanded due to emancipation and women reached freedom from paterfamilias , gained property rights and even had more juridical rights than their husbands, but still no voting rights, and were absent from politics. Allied foreign cities were often given the Latin Right , an intermediary level between full citizens and foreigners peregrini , which gave their citizens rights under Roman law and allowed their leading magistrates to become full Roman citizens.

While there were varying degrees of Latin rights, the main division was between those cum suffragio "with vote"; enrolled in a Roman tribe and able to take part in the comitia tributa and sine suffragio "without vote"; could not take part in Roman politics. In the early Republic, there were no public schools, so boys were taught to read and write by their parents, or by educated slaves , called paedagogi , usually of Greek origin.

Beginning at age 12, students went to secondary schools, where the teacher now called a grammaticus taught them about Greek and Roman literature. There were also summer holidays. Initially, Rome was ruled by kings , who were elected from each of Rome's major tribes in turn. He may have held near-absolute power, or may also have merely been the chief executive of the Senate and the people. At least in military matters, the king's authority Imperium was likely absolute. He was also the head of the state religion. In addition to the authority of the King, there were three administrative assemblies: the Senate , which acted as an advisory body for the King; the Comitia Curiata , which could endorse and ratify laws suggested by the King; and the Comitia Calata , which was an assembly of the priestly college that could assemble the people to bear witness to certain acts, hear proclamations, and declare the feast and holiday schedule for the next month.

The class struggles of the Roman Republic resulted in an unusual mixture of democracy and oligarchy. The word republic comes from the Latin res publica , which literally translates to "public business". Roman laws traditionally could only be passed by a vote of the Popular assembly Comitia Tributa. Likewise, candidates for public positions had to run for election by the people. However, the Roman Senate represented an oligarchic institution, which acted as an advisory body.

In the Republic, the Senate held actual authority auctoritas , but no real legislative power; it was technically only an advisory council. However, as the Senators were individually very influential, it was difficult to accomplish anything against the collective will of the Senate. New Senators were chosen from among the most accomplished patricians by Censors Censura , who could also remove a Senator from his office if he was found "morally corrupt"; a charge that could include bribery or, as under Cato the Elder , embracing one's wife in public.

Later, under the reforms of the dictator Sulla , Quaestors were made automatic members of the Senate, though most of his reforms did not survive. The Republic had no fixed bureaucracy , and collected taxes through the practice of tax farming. Government positions such as quaestor , aedile , or praefect were funded by the office-holder. To prevent any citizen from gaining too much power, new magistrates were elected annually and had to share power with a colleague.

For example, under normal conditions, the highest authority was held by two consuls. In an emergency, a temporary dictator could be appointed. Throughout the Republic, the administrative system was revised several times to comply with new demands. In the end, it proved inefficient for controlling the ever-expanding dominion of Rome, contributing to the establishment of the Roman Empire.

The Romans: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire

In the early Empire, the pretense of a republican form of government was maintained. The Roman Emperor was portrayed as only a princeps , or "first citizen", and the Senate gained legislative power and all legal authority previously held by the popular assemblies. However, the rule of the Emperors became increasingly autocratic , and the Senate was reduced to an advisory body appointed by the Emperor.

The Empire did not inherit a set bureaucracy from the Republic, since the Republic did not have any permanent governmental structures apart from the Senate. The Emperor appointed assistants and advisers, but the state lacked many institutions, such as a centrally planned budget. Some historians have cited this as a significant reason for the decline of the Roman Empire.

The early Roman army c. It was small the population of free men of military age was then about 9, and organized in five classes in parallel to the comitia centuriata , the body of citizens organized politically , with three providing hoplites and two providing light infantry. The early Roman army was tactically limited and its stance during this period was essentially defensive. By the 3rd century BC, the Romans abandoned the hoplite formation in favor of a more flexible system in which smaller groups of or sometimes 60 men called maniples could maneuver more independently on the battlefield.

Thirty maniples arranged in three lines with supporting troops constituted a legion , totalling between 4, and 5, men. The early Republican legion consisted of five sections, each of which was equipped differently and had different places in formation: the three lines of manipular heavy infantry hastati , principes and triarii , a force of light infantry velites , and the cavalry equites.

With the new organization came a new orientation toward the offensive and a much more aggressive posture toward adjoining city-states. At nominal full strength, an early Republican legion included 4, to 5, men: 3, to 4, heavy infantry, several hundred light infantry, and several hundred cavalrymen. During the Civil War, Pompey's legions in the east were at full strength because they were recently recruited, while Caesar's legions were often well below nominal strength after long active service in Gaul.

This pattern also held true for auxiliary forces. Until the late Republican period, the typical legionary was a property-owning citizen farmer from a rural area an adsiduus who served for particular often annual campaigns, [] and who supplied his own equipment and, in the case of equites , his own mount. Freedmen and slaves wherever resident and urban citizens did not serve except in rare emergencies. Terms of service became continuous and long—up to twenty years if emergencies required although six- or seven-year terms were more typical.

Beginning in the 3rd century BC, legionaries were paid stipendium amounts are disputed but Caesar famously "doubled" payments to his troops to denarii a year , could anticipate booty and donatives distributions of plunder by commanders from successful campaigns and, beginning at the time of Marius, often were granted allotments of land upon retirement. Cicero said [23] that Numa Pompilius , the semi-legendary second king of Rome , established mercatus in conjunction with religious festivals to facilitate trade, since people had already gathered in great numbers.

Roman festivals - Wikipedia

In early times, these mercatus may have played a role in wholesale trade, but as commerce in Rome became more sophisticated, by the late Republic they seem to have become retail fairs specialized for the holiday market. The Sigillaria attached to the Saturnalia may have been a mercatus in this sense. Others may have existed. The English word "fair" derives from Latin feria. By the outset of the nineteenth century and particularly in response to the carnage of the latter years of the French revolution, the term Roman holiday had taken on sinister aspects, implying an event that occasions enjoyment or profit at the expense, or derived from the suffering, of others, as in this passage from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage —18 by George Gordon, Lord Byron:.

There were his young barbarians all at play, There was their Dacian mother—he their sire, Butchered to make a Roman holiday. More benignly, the phrase was used as the title of a romantic movie set in Rome, Roman Holiday. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about ancient Roman holidays. Marcus Aurelius head covered sacrificing at the Temple of Jupiter. For the think tank, see Mercatus Center. August 1, Susan Ratcliffe, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, , Roman festivals and games ludi. Ancient Rome topics.

Outline Timeline. Foundation Kingdom overthrow Republic. Categories : Ancient Roman festivals. Hidden categories: Use mdy dates from June Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. This demonstrated the hospitality being offered to the gods to thank or appease them. It was celebrated from B. Sacrificial banquets in which several deities six or twelve were installed on dining couches or chairs in a consecrated place.

Goddesses took part on chairs sellisternia like Roman matrons it was initially intended to restore concord between the gods and the Roman People. Another variant marked the birth of a noble child - set up in the atrium to Juno Lucina, Hercules and a couch for Pilumnus and Picumnus divine protectors of mothers after birth. Lectisternia developed from Greek banquets between men and gods theoxeny.

Supplications A ritual to beg for help in times of trouble or give thanks for a victory or success. A truly ancient ritual in which Roman men would wear wreaths and carry laurel branches. They were accompanied around all the cult sites of the city by their wives and children to supplicate the gods they prostrated themselves at each shrine.

Incense and wine were offered to each god. Matronae knelt on the ground and swept it with their hair. During the empire supplications acquired an association with the Imperial cult, supplication extended the ritual of praefatio to all Rome's gods and was celebrated by all citizens present. Was closely linked to ritual action it was often formulated as imperatives i. Prayer was performative and mistakes could not be corrected, unlike incorrect actions, which could through a piaculum expiatory sacrifice.

Once uttered they had their effect for good or ill which is why they were read from texts.

Origins of Rome

Gestures could be ambiguous, words could not. Great care was taken over the correct names of the deities involved, the beneficiaries and the exact effect desired. This was particularly important in rites designed to force a deity to provide a service, prayer was not to provide metaphysical or spiritual basis for the ritual, nor to explain it; it was simply to express it in words. Some rituals included hymns carmena sometimes sung to a musical accompaniment e.

Hymns are not strictly prayers but rather works of art to please the gods, they could be addressed to several at once, prayers could not. They were contracts with the deity, settlement of which was conditional on the god bringing about the desired outcome. Official vows sometimes fell on fixed dates e. After the reign of Tiberius vows for the health of the emperor and his family were made on 3rd January by many social groups, this also happened in coloniae, municipia, and foreign peregrini cities of the empire. The Censors took vows every five years Consuls and legati leaving Rome on campaign made vows for victory and safe return.

Many examples of private vows exist against the hazards of life. Vows made in the name of the Roman People had to be ratified by the Senate otherwise they only bound the author of the vow. A special vow for dire times existed known as a uer sacrum consecrated spring This consecrated all animals born in the spring of the year when the desired outcome occurred e. Vows could be annulled e. Titus' vow of 3rd Jan 81 A. The new emperor could be commended to the gods on his accession pending the next 3rd January.


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The exact terms of votive contracts were carefully checked and recorded. Public vows were recorded in the records of magistrates and priests and announced in public. Private vows were recorded on tablets sometimes posted at cult sites or at the foot of the cult statue of the relevant god. Bakker, J. Dumezil, G. Catullus - The poems of Catullus, St. Sacrifices in Roman religion David Stell [Severinus]. All rights reserved. The theology behind the rituals can be observed in: The name of the deity The epithets applied to the deity Objects surrounding the image of the deity Any ritual actions performed around it.

There were three different categories used in public sacrifice defined by aspects of the celebrant's behaviour:- A] The Ritus Romanus - According to myth it was established by Aeneas Head covered when sacrificing except to Saturn Sacrifices are preceded by a preliminary ritual to cause a particular type of division of the victim.

Plant offerings brought along in baskets Liquids in jugs Incense in small boxes Vegetables - unknown if or how prepared Festus in his De uerborum significatione p. Lindsay also mentions Far - a wheat variety Polenta - boiled barley flour Leavened bread Dried figs Meat - beef or lamb Cheeses Mutton Alica - boiled grain Sesame seeds Oil Scaly fish - except for squatum Mola salsa - salted flour used constantly in public sacrifices and prepared by the Vestals at Lupercalia 15th Feb , Vestalia 9th June , and the Ides of September 13th.

It is not known if this was used outside Rome. Once these preparations were complete a procession moved to the altar of the deity to be honoured. Ritual dismissal of intruders e. Sacrifice began to flute music Preface praefatio - Ritual washing of hands by celebrant and those offering the sacrifice.

This in some way represents the identity of the celebrant and thus the community involved. Wine represents divine sovereignty. Most sources don't identify the gods honoured by the praefatio. Cato says that it was Jupiter, Janus and Vesta. The immolatio : consecrating the offering After the praefatio a herald calls for silence [ favete linguis ] The celebrant moved on to the immolatio of the victim In the Roman rite Celebrant covers his head with his toga, the celebrant pours a little wine on the victims brow from a patera and the back with mola salsa.