Enclosing the West: The Early Roman Empire and Its

advertisement
Enclosing the West: The Early
Roman Empire and Its
Neighbors, 31 B.C.E.-235 C.E.
The West
CHAPTER 5
Imperial Authority: Augustus
and After
• Behind the façade of a restored Republican
tradition, Octavian (Augustus) created a Roman
version of the Hellenic monarchy
• Princeps (First Citizen) - all-powerful, but
unobtrusive political position
• Augustus’ heirs adopted the title Imperator,
instead of Princeps
• Principle of hereditary monarchy staved off
political instability
The Nature of Imperial Power
• Defense and expansion of imperial territory
• Administration of justice and provision of good
government, through public infrastructure
• Pontifex Maximus: supervision of religious
worship
• Symbol of unity and embodiment of the empire the cult of the emperor focused the allegiance of
the empire’s diverse population
The Agents of Control
• The Senate - legislative arm of imperial rule
• Public service and honor obtained via the
Senate harnessed the Roman aristocracy and
provincial élite to the imperial system
• The Army - enforced peace, defended
borders and conquered new lands
• Military support was crucial to the
emperor’s position and power
The City of Rome
• A monument to the authority of the emperor
and to the power of the senatorial élite
• The Forum was the physical, political and
religious center of the city and the empire
• Public works and buildings displayed
imperial might
• Majority of the city’s population lived in
impoverished slums
Conquest and Administration
• Conquest fueled the Roman economy
• Empire managed by a provincial system evolution of an administrative-military class
• Imperial
governors
supervised
the
administration of the provinces by city
councilors
• Provincial government collected taxes,
defended frontiers and administered justice
The Provincial Cities
• The civitas (city and surrounding land) was the
basic unit of imperial government
• Cities served as economic, legal and cultural
centers
• Each city modeled itself physically and politically
on Rome
• Each province had a unique legal and
administrative system - the Law of the Province
The Countryside
• Land ownership in the countryside was the
key to prosperity in the imperial system
• Conditions for the peasantry varied across
the empire
• Legal system favored large, wealthy
property owners over the rural poor
• Agricultural productivity was very high
Revolts Against Rome
• Revolt of Arminius (9 C.E.): the only successful
rebellion, led to the linguistic divide between
Germanic and Romance languages in Europe
• Enduring tribal allegiance fueled revolts in Britain
and Gaul, but only for a few generations
• Religious identity fueled revolts in Judea and
allowed Jews to resist assimilation
Forces of Romanization
• Roman Army - bound together men from all
provinces with a common culture, language and
identity
• Uniformity of Roman Law across provinces
• 212 C.E. - the Antonine Decree granted
citizenship to all free inhabitants of the empire,
eliminating the distinction between conquerors
and conquered
Frontier Zones: Civilization and
Barbarians
• Physical and cultural demarcation along the
empire’s frontiers
• Heavily fortified borders represented limits
of Roman authority and civilization
• Romans defined their own identity, and
justified their conquests, by viewing all who
lived beyond the frontiers as barbarians
Rome and the Parthian
Empire
• Parthian Empire, stretching from the
Euphrates to the Indus, was the greatest
rival to Rome
• Majority of emperors favored diplomacy
over conflict with Parthia
• Commercial ties between Rome and Parthia
favored an exchange of ideas and
technologies between the two empires
Roman Encounters with
Germanic Peoples
• The Germans posed the greatest threat to
Rome
• Never conquered or assimilated
• Trade and cultural contacts spread Roman
ideas and values into Germanic tribes
• By the end of the second century C.E.,
Rome could no longer withstand the tide of
Germanic invaders
Roman Encounters with
Asians and Africans
• Rome had commercial, but not diplomatic, ties
with imperial China
• Demand for spices and other luxury items
extended Roman trade networks as far east as
Thailand and Java
• Roman explorers ventured into sub-Saharan
Africa, and commercial links may have existed
between Rome and African peoples
• Sub-Saharan Africa remained a place of myth and
fantasy in Roman thought
The Upper and Lower Classes
• Social hierarchy of the Republic endured
• Three
aristocratic
orders:
senators,
equestrians and city councilors
• Plebeians - poor, but free, citizens
• “Bread and circuses” - free grain and
entertainment used to contain plebeian
unrest
Slaves and Freedmen
• As much as 35 to 40 percent of the population of
Italy were slaves ca. 30 B.C.E.
• Ownership of slaves conveyed social status
• Violence underpinned the institution of slavery
• Freedmen (slaves who had obtained liberty)
constituted an ambitious minority of the
population
• Economic importance of slavery declined in
second century C.E.
Women in the Roman Empire
• Women of senatorial and equestrian rank
possessed great freedom
• The wives, mothers and other female
relatives of the emperor could wield great,
but unofficial, power
• Female infanticide remained common
Literature and the Empire
• The new imperial system influenced literary
styles
• Virgil encapsulated the potential and the
threat of imperial government in the Aeneid
• Rhetoricians and historians analyzed
imperial government
• Advances in geography and astronomy,
especially in the works of Claudius Ptolemy
Religious Life
• Roman religion was polytheistic and public
• Syncretism spread a shared religious
experience across the empire
• After the destruction of the Second Temple,
Rabbinic Judaism evolved
• Rise of Christianity: appeal to marginalized
groups,
assimilation
with
classical
philosophy, intolerance of other religions
Rome Shapes the West
• Boundaries of Roman Empire defined the
geographical heart of the West
• Rome transmitted Hellenistic and classical
ideas into Europe
• The cultural uniformity achieved within the
Roman empire, between ca. 30 B.C.E. and
220 C.E., formed the foundation of Western
civilization
Download
Related flashcards

Roman law

41 cards

Ancient Roman religion

21 cards

Ancient Roman religion

23 cards

Roman law

47 cards

Create Flashcards