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Rome History

LEWIS KIIRU BRM/2018/85530
According to legend, Ancient Rome was founded by the two
brothers, and demigods, Romulus and Remus, on 21 April 753 BCE.
The legend claims that in an argument over who would rule the city
(or, in another version, where the city would be located) Romulus
killed Remus and named the city after himself. This story of the
founding of Rome is the best known but it is not the only one.
Still other theories concerning the name of the famous city suggest it
came from Rumon, the ancient name for the Tiber River, and was
simply a place name given to the small trading center established on
its banks or that the name derived from an Etruscan word which
could have designated one of their settlements.
Early Rome
Originally a small town on the banks of the Tiber, Rome grew in size
and strength, early on, through trade. The location of the city
provided merchants with an easily navigable waterway on which to
traffic their goods. The city was ruled by seven kings, from Romulus
to Tarquin, as it grew in size and power. Greek culture and
civilization, which came to Rome via Greek colonies to the south,
provided the early Romans with a model on which to build their own
culture. From the Greeks they borrowed literacy and religion as well
as the fundamentals of architecture.
The Etruscans, to the north, provided a model for trade and urban
luxury. Etruria was also well situated for trade and the early Romans
either learned the skills of trade from Etruscan example or were
taught directly by the Etruscans who made incursions into the area
around Rome sometime between 650 and 600 BCE (although their
influence was felt much earlier). The extent of the role the Etruscan
civilization played in the development of Roman culture and
society is debated but there seems little doubt they had a significant
impact at an early stage. Republic Around 600B.C., an Etruscan
became the king of Rome. In the decades that followed, Rome grew
from a collection of hilltop villages to a city that covered 500 square
miles. The last king of Rome was Tarquin the Proud. A harsh tyrant,
he was driven from power in 509.B.C. The Romans declared they
would never again be ruled by a king. Instead, they established a
republic, from the Latin phrase res publica, which means “public
affairs”. A republic is 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 to only free-born male
Patricians Plebeians. In the early republic, different groups of
Romans struggled for power. One group was the patricians, the
wealthy land owners who held most of the power. The other
important group was the Plebeians, the common farmers, artisans
and merchants who made up majority of the population.
The Patricians inherited their power and social status. They
claimed that their ancestry gave them the authority to make laws for
Rome. 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. An important victory for the plebeians was
to force the creation of a written law code. With laws unwritten,
patricians officials often interpreted the law to suit themselves. In
451B.C., a group of ten officials began writing down Rome’s law. The
laws were carved out in twelve tablets, or tables, and hung in the
Forum. They became the basis for latter Roman law. The twelve
tables established the idea that free citizens had a right to protection
of the law. Power Four hundred years after the founding of the
republic, Rome sought to expand it’s territories through trade and
conquest. Roman power grew slowly but steadily as the legions
battled for control of the Italian peninsula. By the fourth century B.C,
the Romans dominated central Italy. Eventually they defeated the
Etruscans to the north and the Greek city states to the south. By 265
B.C., the Romans were masters of nearly all Italy.
Rome had different laws and treatment for different parts of its
conquered territory. The neighbouring Latins on the Tiber became
full citizens of Rome. In territories further from Rome, conquered
people enjoyed all the rights of Roman citizenship except the vote.
All other conquered groups fell into a third category, allies of Rome.
Rome did not interfere with its allies, as long as they supplied troops
for the Roman army and did not take treaties or friendships with
other state. This lenient policy towards defeated enemies helped
Rome to succeed in building a long-lasting empire. For more than
two centuries the Roman Empire had spread far beyond Italy.
Rome’s Commercial Network Rome’s location gave it easy
access to the riches of the land ringing the Mediterranean Sea.
Roman merchants moved by land and sea. They traded Roman wine
and olive oil for a variety of foods, raw materials, and manufactured
goods from other lands. Rome was at its peak of its power from the
beginning of Augustus’s rule in 27B.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 was known as Pax
Romana-“Roman Peace”.
Agriculture and Trade Agriculture was the most important
industry in the empire. About 90% of the people were engaged in
farming. During this time, the Roman Empire included more than 3
million square miles. Its population numbered between 60 and 80
million people. In Augustin’s time, a silver coin called a denarius was
used throughout the empire, meanwhile having a vast trading
network. Ships from the east travelled the Mediterranean protected
by the Roman navy. Cities such as Corinth in Greece, Ephesus in
Anatolia, and Antioch on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean
grew wealthy. Rome also did trade with China and India
A complex network of roads linked the empire to such far flung
places as Persia and Southern Russia. These roads were originally
built by the Roman army for military purposes. Trade also brought
Roman ways to the provinces and beyond.
Rome the start, the Romans showed a talent for borrowing and
improving upon the skills and concepts of other cultures. The
Kingdom of Rome grew rapidly from a trading town to a prosperous
city between the 8th and 6th centuries BCE. When the last of the
seven kings of Rome, Tarquin the Proud, was deposed in 509 BCE, his
rival for power, Lucius Junius Brutus, reformed the system of
government and established the Roman Republic.
War & Expansion
Though the city owed its prosperity to trade in the early years, it was
the Roman warfare which would make it a powerful force in the
ancient world. The wars with the North African city of Carthage
(known as the Punic Wars, 264-146 BCE) consolidated Rome's power
and helped the city grow in wealth and prestige. Rome and Carthage
were rivals in trade in the Western Mediterranean and, with
Carthage defeated, Rome held almost absolute dominance over the
region; though there were still incursions by pirates which prevented
complete Roman control of the sea.
Foreign policy and expansion
The Romans did not set out any deliberate plan to build an empire.
Instead, Rome expanded as it came into conflict with surrounding
city-states, kingdoms, and empires and had to create ways to
incorporate these new territories and populations. The Romans did
not try to turn everyone they conquered into a Roman. For the most
part, cities and regions that came under Roman control were allowed
to maintain their existing cultural and political institutions. The only
major requirement that Rome imposed on its defeated enemies was
that they provide soldiers for military campaigns. In the ancient
world, military victory usually meant a share of the loot taken from
the conquered, so participating on the winning side of a conflict
offered incentives to Rome’s new allies.
In order to manage the new territories that came under their
influence, the Romans created formal provinces and appointed
former political officeholders to manage them. Given the distance
between most provinces and Rome, these governors often had
considerable power and flexibility in dealing with local issues. The
Romans tried to create a balance between giving governors enough
power to control their provinces and preventing governors from
becoming so powerful that they could challenge Rome’s authority.
Economic development
Roads were a way to extend Roman military and economic power;
they made the movement of both soldiers and goods easier and
faster. The Romans also minted coins as their influence spread, and
in 211 BCE they introduced a small silver coin called a denarius,
which became the standard unit of currency for much of the Roman
A standardized currency facilitated trade across the growing Roman
world. Coins could be exchanged for any goods or services and were
easy to transport. Currency made it easier to relocate and direct
resources, and this in turn encouraged more economic interactions.
The combination of fighting piracy, building roads, minting coins, and
extending military protection over an increasingly large area created
many opportunities for economic interactions and growth.
Urban development of Rome
Even as the empire expanded, all important political decisions for the
empire were still made in Rome, and the city itself grew and changed
with its empire. An increasingly large urban population required the
development of sanitation systems to maintain a minimum level of
public health. The Romans had developed a sewer system early in
the city’s history. The first aqueduct—a structure to deliver water to
the city over long distances—was built in 312 BCE, as was the first
road, the Via Appia.
The ability to collect taxes in currency, growth of economic
production and trade, and military victories all provided funds for
building projects in Rome. Besides roads, aqueducts, and sewers, the
Romans built temples and political buildings. Victorious generals
would dedicate temples to particular gods, and they paid for these
temples with the loot they captured on campaign.
Rome became the most powerful state in the world by the first
century BCE through a combination of military power, political
flexibility, economic expansion, and more than a bit of good luck.
This expansion changed the Mediterranean world and also changed
Rome itself. New institutions, such as provincial government, were
created to deal with the management of empire; culture was
transformed as outside influences, especially from Greece, came into
fashion in Rome; and the city itself was physically transformed by the
influx of loot and people brought by successes abroad.
Mark, J. J. (2009, September 02). Ancient Rome. Ancient History
Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Rome/
“World History” Written by McDougal Littell, Patterns Of Interactions
, Oklahoma Edition