• The Italian peninsula
is centrally located in
the Mediterranean
Sea, and the city of
Rome sits toward the
center of Italy.
• This location would
benefit the Romans
as they expanded—
first within Italy and
then into the lands
bordering the
• Because of its geography, Italy
proved much easier to unify
than Greece.
• Unlike Greece:
• Italy is not broken up into small,
isolated valleys.
• The Apennine Mountains, which
run down the length of the Italian
peninsula, are less rugged than
the mountains of Greece.
• Italy has broad, fertile plains in
the north and the west. These
plains supported the growing
• The ancestors of the Romans, the Latins migrated into Italy about
800 B.C.
• The Latins settled along the Tiber River in small scattered villages
• Greek colonists to the south and Etruscans in the north shared the
peninsula and contributed engineering and religious ideas to Roman
• Legend held Rome was founded by twin brothers, Romulus and
Remus, the sons of a Latin woman and
the god Mars, giving Romans divine
• 509 B.C., Romans
rejected Etruscan king
(monarchy) and
established a republic.
• Power rests with the
citizens who have the
right to vote for their
• In Rome, citizenship
with voting rights was
granted only to freeborn male citizens.
In 509 B.C., the Romans drove out the Etruscan rulers and
established a republic.
A republic: from the Latin Laws were made by 300 landres publica, “that which
holding, upper-class
belongs to the people,”
patricians who made up the
where people chose some
of the officials.
The Romans felt a republic would prevent too much power
from going to any one individual.
• Struggle For Power:
Class Conflict.
• Patricians – Wealthy
landowners who held
most of the power:
inherited power and social
• Plebeians (Plebs) –
common farmers, artisans
and merchants who made
up the majority of the
population: can vote, but
can’t rule.
• Tribunes – elected
representatives who
protect plebeians’ political
• The Roman Republic – A
“Balanced” Government.
• Rome elected two consuls – one to
lead army, one to direct
• Senate – chosen from patricians
(Roman upper class), make foreign
and domestic policy.
• Popular assemblies elect tribunes,
make laws for plebeians
• Dictators – leaders appointed
briefly in times of crisis (appt. by
consuls and senate).
• In the early republic, the most powerful governing body was
the senate. Originally, its 300 members were all patricians,
or members of the landholding upper class. Senators, who
served for life, strongly influenced the republic’s laws
• Each year, the senators nominated two
consuls from the patrician class.
• Their job was to supervise the business of
government and command the armies.
• Consuls, however, could serve only one
term. They were also expected to approve
each other’s decisions.
• By limiting their time in office and making
them responsible to each other, Rome had
a system of checks on the power of
• In the event of war, the
senate might choose a
dictator, or ruler who
has complete control
over a government.
Each Roman dictator
was granted power to
rule for six months.
After that time, he had
to give up power.
• Romans particularly admired
Cincinnatus as a model
• Cincinnatus organized an
army, led the Romans to
victory over the attacking
enemy, attended victory
celebrations, and returned to
his farmlands—all within 15
• At first, all government
officials were patricians.
Plebeians (plih bee
unz), the farmers,
merchants, artisans,
and traders who made
up the bulk of the
population, had little
influence. The efforts of
the plebeians to gain
power shaped politics in
the early republic
• In time, the plebeians gained
the right to elect their own
officials, called tribunes, to
protect their interests.
• The tribunes could veto, or
block, those laws that they
felt were harmful to
• Little by little, plebeians
forced the senate to choose
plebeians as consuls,
appoint plebeians to other
high offices, and finally to
open the senate itself to
• Another breakthrough for the
plebeians came in 450 B.C.,
when the government oversaw
the inscription of the laws of
Rome on 12 tablets, which were
set up in the Forum, Rome’s
marketplace. Plebeians had
protested that citizens could not
know what the laws were
because they were not written
• The Laws of the Twelve
Tables made it possible
for the first time for
plebeians to appeal a
judgment handed down
by a patrician judge.
• The family was the basic unit of Roman society.
• Under Roman law, the male head of the household had
absolute authority.
• Women could own property and run businesses, but most
worked at home.
• Children were educated. The wealthy often hired Greek tutors.
• Roman women played a larger
role in society than did Greek
• They could own property, and, in later
Roman times, women from all classes ran a
variety of businesses, from small shops to
major shipyards.
• Those who made their fortunes earned
respect by supporting the arts or paying for
public festivals.
• However, most women worked at home,
raising their families, spinning, and weaving
• Over the centuries, Roman women
gained greater freedom and
• Patrician women went to the public baths,
dined out, and attended the theater or other
forms of public entertainment with their
• Both girls and boys from the upper and lower classes, all learned to
read and write.
• By the later years of the republic, many wealthy Romans would hire
private tutors, often Greeks, to supervise the education of their
• Under their guidance, children memorized major events and
developments in Roman history. Rhetoric was an important subject
for boys who wanted to pursue political careers.
• Roman religion develops out of Greek and Etruscan
• The Romans believed in numerous gods and
goddesses, many of whom they adapted from Greek
Mythology and Religion.
• Throughout Rome, dozens of
temples housed statues of the
• In front of these temples,
Romans took part in ritual
activities such as worshipping
the gods and asking for divine
• The Roman calendar was full of feasts and other celebrations
to honor the gods and goddesses and to ensure divine favor for
the city. As loyal citizens, most Romans joined in these
festivals, which inspired a sense of community
• As Rome’s political and
social systems evolved at
home, its armies expanded
Roman power across Italy.
• Roman armies conquered
first the Etruscans and then
the Greek city-states in the
• By about 270 B.C., Rome
controlled most of the
Italian peninsula
• Rome’s success was due to
skillful diplomacy and to its
loyal, well-trained army.
• All citizens were required to serve
• The basic military unit was the
legion, each of which included
about 5,000 men.
• As in Greece, Roman armies
consisted of citizen-soldiers
who originally fought without
being paid and had to supply
their own weapons
• Eventually, they received
a small stipend, or
payment, but their main
compensation was always
a share of the spoils of
victory. Roman citizens
often made good soldiers
because they were
brought up to value
loyalty, courage, and
respect for authority.
• To ensure success, Roman commanders mixed rewards with
harsh punishment. Young soldiers who showed courage in
action won praise and gifts. If a unit fled from battle, however,
one out of every ten men from the disgraced unit was put to
• Rome generally
treated its defeated
enemies with justice.
Conquered peoples
had to acknowledge
Roman leadership,
pay taxes, and supply
soldiers for the
Roman army. In
return, Rome let them
keep their own
customs, money, and
local government.
• To a few privileged groups among
the conquered people, Rome gave
the highly prized right of full
• Others became partial citizens,
who were allowed to marry
Romans and carry on trade in
• As a result of such generous
policies, most conquered lands
remained loyal to Rome even in
troubled times.
• To protect its conquests,
Rome posted soldiers
throughout the land.
• It also built a network of
all-weather military
roads to link distant
territories to Rome.
• As trade and travel
increased, local peoples
incorporated Latin into
their languages and
adopted many Roman
customs and beliefs.
Slowly, Italy began to
unite under Roman rule.
• When Octavian came to
power in 31 B.C., he ended
the Roman republic and
made Rome an empire
• Rome added many
conquered lands to the
republic and gained control
of important trade routes
• Roman civilization spread to
faraway lands
• Romans also borrowed ideas
from other cultures
• The blending of Greek,
Hellenistic, and Roman cultures
is called Greco-Roman
• Roman artists, architects,
and writers borrowed ideas
from these different cultures
• The Romans used Greek
statues in their homes and
public buildings
• Romans adapted the realistic
Hellenistic style
• Statues should every detail of a
subject, even warts and veins
• Roman builders used Greek
• However Roman buildings
were mighty and grand rather
than simple and elegant
• Many Romans spoke Greek
and used Greek writing
• Still, the greatest Roman
writers such as Virgil,
Horace, and Livy used the
Roman language of Latin for
• Romans were practical
• They built excellent roads,
bridges, harbors, and
aqueducts, or bridge-like
stone structures that brought
water from the hills to the
• The Romans did little
scientific investigation
• They did, however, put
science to practical use
• The used geography to
make maps and medical
knowledge to improve
public health
• The Romans also developed
an important system of law
• Under this system, people were
innocent until proved guilty
• Decisions were based on
• Roman law influenced the
modern legal systems of the
Americas and Europe

Ancient Rome - Collier High School