Рефераты. Rome and the Roman Empire

Rome and the Roman Empire

Rome and the Roman Empire

by Alexander Moiseev



The accounts of the regal period have come down overlaid with such a

mass of myth and legend that few statements can be accepted as factual; the

Roman historians of later times, lacking authentic records, relied on

fabrications of a patriotic records, relied on fabrications of a patriotic


The Legendary Period of the kings(753-510 BC)

Rome was said to have been founded by Latin colonists from Alba Longa,

a nearby city in ancient Latium. The legendary date of the founding was 753

BC; it was ascribed to Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of Rhea Silvia, a

vestal virgin and the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Later legend

carried the ancestry of the Romans back to the Trojans and their leader

Aeneas, whose son Ascanius, or lulus, was the founder and the first king of

Alba Longa. The tales concerning Romulus’s rule, notably the rape of the

Sabine women and the war with the Sabines under the leader Titus Tatius,

point to an early infiltration of Sabine peoples or to a union of Latin and

Sabine elements at the beginning. The three tribes, the Ramnes, Titieus,

and Luceres, that appear in the legend of Romulus as the parts of the new

commonwealth suggest that Rome arose from the amalgamation of three stocks,

thought to be Latin, Sabine, and Etruscan.

The seven kings of the regal period and the dates traditionally

assigned to their regns are as follows: Romulus, from 753 to 715 BC; Numa

Pompilius, from 715 to 676 or 672 BC, to whom was attributed the

introduction of many religious customs; Tullus Hostilius, from 673 to 641

BC, a warlike king, who destroyed Alba Longa and fought against the

Sabines; Ancus Marcius, from 641 to 616 BC, said to have built the port of

Astia and to have captured many Latin towns, transferring their inhabitants

to Rome; Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, from 616 to 578 BC, celebrated both for

his military exploits against neighboring peoples and for his construction

of public buildings at Rome; Servius Tullius, from 578 to 534 BC, famed for

his new constitution and for the enlargement of the boundaries of the city;

and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, from 534 to 510 BC, the seventh and the

last king, whose tyrannical rule was overthrow when his son ravished

Lucretia, the wife of a kinsman. Tarquinius was banished, and attempts by

Etruscan or Latin cities to reinstate him on the throne at Rome were


Although the names, dates, and events of the regal period are

considered as belonging to the regal of fiction and myth rather than to

that of factual history, certain facts seem well attested: the existence of

an early rule by kings; the growth of the city and its struggles with

neighboring peoples; the conquest of Rome by Etruria and the establishment

of a dynasty of Etruscan princes, symbolized by the rule of the Tarquins;

the overthrow of this alien control; and the abolition of the kingship. The

existence of certain social and political conditions may also be accepted,

such as the division of the beginning into two orders: the patricians, who

alone possessed political rights and constituted the populus, or people;

and their dependents, known as clients or the plebs, who had originally no

political existence. The rex, or king, chosen by the Senate(senatus), or

Council of Elders, from the ranks of the patricians, held office for life,

called out the populus for war, and led the army in person; he was preceded

by officers, known as lictors, who bore the faces, the symbols of power and

punishment, and was the supreme judge in all civil and criminal suits. The

senatus gave its advice only when the king chose to consult it, but the

elders(patres) possessed great moral authority, inasmuch as their tenure

was for life. Originally only patricians could bear arms in defense of the

state. At some stage in the regal period an important military reform

occurred, usually designated as the Servian reform of the constitution,

because it was decided that all property and wealth, it was ascribed to

Servius Tullius. As the plebs could by this time acquire property and

wealth, it was decided that all property holders, both patrician and

plebian, must serve in army, and each took a rank in accordance with his

wealth. This arrangement, although initially military, paved the way for

the great political struggle between the patricians and the plebs in the

early centuries of the Republic.

The Republic

On the overthrow of Tarquininus Superbus a republic was established.

Conquest of Italy(510-264 BC)

In place of the king, two chief executives were chosen annually by the

whole body of citizens. These were known as praetors, or leaders, but later

received the title of consuls. The participation of a colleague in the

exercise of supreme power and the limitation of the tenure to one year

prevented the chief magistrate from becoming autocratic. The character of

the Senate was altered by the enrollment of plebeian members, known as

conscreipti, and hence the official designation of the senators thereafter

was patres conscripti(conscript fathers). As yet, only patricians were

aligible for the magistracies, and the discontent of the plebs led to a

violent struggle between the two orders and the gradual removal of the

social and political disabilities under which the plebs had labored.

In 494 BC a secession of plebian soldiers led to the institution of the

tribuni plebis, who were elected annually as protectors of the plebs; they

had the power to veto the acts of patrician magistrates, and thus served as

the leaders of the plebs in the struggles with the patricians. The

appointment of the decemvirate, a commission of a famous code of laws. In

445 BC, under the Canuleian law, marriages between patricians and members

of the plebs were declared legally valid. By the Licinian-Sextian laws,

passed in 367 BC, it was provided that one of the two consuls should

thenceforth be plebeian. The other magistracies were gradually apened to

the plebs: in 356 BC, the dictatorship, an extraordinary magistracy, the

incumbent of which was appointed in times of great danger; in 350 BC, the

censorship; in 337 BC, the praetorship; and in 300 BC, the pontifical and

augural colleges.

A World Power(264-133 BC)

In 264 BC, 11 years after the victory over Pyrrhus, Rome engaged with

Carthage in a struggle for the control of the Mediterranean Sea. Carthage

at this time was the foremost maritime power in the world, ruling as

absolutely in the central and western Mediterranean as did Rome on the

Italian Peninsula.

The Empire

Ceasar’s assassination by Republican nobles on March 15, 44 BC, was

followed by Cicero’s attempt to restore the old Republican constitution,

but Mark Antony, who had been appointed consul with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus

and Caesar’s grandnephew, the youthful Octavian, later Rmperor Augustus, to

form the second triumvirate.

Octavian received the title of Augustus in 27 BC and began the new

regime by an apparent restoration of the Republic, with himself as

princeps, or chief citizen.

During the last 80 years of the Western Roman Empire the provinces,

drained by taxes levied for the support of the army and the bureacracy,

were visited by internal war and by barbarian invasions. At first the

policy of conciliating the invader with military commands and

administrative offices succeded. Gradually, however, the barbarians

estublished in the east began to aim at conquest in the west, and Alaric I,

king of the Visigoths, first occupied illyricum, whence he ravaged Greece.

In 410 he captured and sacked Rome, but died soon after. His successor,

Ataulf(r. 410-15), drew off the Visigoths to Gaul, and in 419 a succeeding

king, Wallia, received formal permission from Honorius to settle in

southwestern Gaul, where at Toulouse he founded the Visigothic dynasty.The

last Western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was overthrown by the

mercenary Herulian leader Odoacer(c.435-93),who was proclaimed king of

Italy by his troops. The history of Rome would subsequently merge with that

of the papacy, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papal States, and Italy. For the

history of the Eastern Empire from the time of Theodosius the Great.

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