The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum Today
• Forum was the political, judicial, economic, and religious
center of the Republic—emerged in the 7th c. BCE and
abandoned by the 4th c. CE
Hannibal & the Punic Wars 264-201 BCE
• Rome and the powerful citystate of Carthage fought a series
of 3 wars over control of the
Mediterranean trade routes
Legendary general Hannibal
attempted a surprise attack on
Rome in the Second Punic War
by crossing the Alps with a herd
of unfortunate war elephants
• Rome defeated Hannibal at the
Battle of Zama but Carthage
remained a regional competitor
until the Romans completely
destroyed the city in the 3rd war
(149-146 BCE) and sold off its
inhabitants as slaves
• After Rome defeated Carthage in 146 BCE, it seemed no
Mediterranean force could stop the Romans
• Victory over Carthage gave Rome a taste of imperialism—wealth
from plunder, slaves for cheap labor, new farm lands, control of
trade routes, provinces for taxation, glory for generals (who
could resist all of this?)
• Rome then launched a series of wars on the Eastern
• One by one, Macedonia, Greece, and parts of Asia Minor
(Turkey) surrendered and became Roman provinces
• Other regions, like Egypt, allied with Rome
Rome’s Early
Road System
Roman Roads:
The Appian Way
*Oldest and most important of
the Roman roads
*”queen road”
*321 BCE completed
*Connected Rome to Brandisi—
part of the route to Greece
*”All roads lead to Rome”
Imperial Roman
Road System
**Much like Darius
I’s Royal Road, the
Romans’ masterful
engineers created a
highway system
that connected the
entire empire
**Fast, efficient
helped bring Rome
into its golden age
of peace and
prosperity (Pax
The Decline of the
• Roman imperialism brought with it a set of growing
problems that weakened the Republic:
1. Growing gap between rich and poor
2. Rise of slave agriculture and the decline of
free peasant farmers (became landless urban poor)
3. Breakdown in military order
4. Greed and self-interest replaced virtues such
as simplicity, hard work, and devotion to Rome
5. Corruption
The Gracchi Brothers—
tribunes acting for the people
• Tiberius Gracchus represented interests of Rome’s lower class--served as tribune.
• Called for the redistribution of state lands to displaced
peasants, laws against corruption, extension of voting rights
• He was assassinated in 133 B.C.
• His brother Gaius Gracchus continued his brother’s reforms
(assassinated in 121 B.C.)
• Attempted reforms—demonstrate how serious the social
problems were in Rome
Slave Revolts
• Rome faced a series of slave revolts
between 135-71 BCE
• Slaves--1/3 of the population
• Rebellion led by the gladiator
Spartacus was the most serious
• General Crassus put down revolt in
71 BCE—lined the Appian Way with
6,000 crucified slaves
Military Upheaval
• Old system: citizen-soldiers showed allegiance to
the Republic—loyal and patriotic
• New order: generals promised soldiers land and
other rewards for good service---allegiance given to
powerful commanders who used the army as they
saw fit—dangerous situation for the Republic
General Marius:
Professional Army
• General in the Roman army.
• Marius transformed Rome’s
army into a professional
military with the best training
and equipment
• Civil War breaks out in Rome
and Marius seizes Rome in 87
B.C.E. as a dictator. He
recruited a private army from
landless residents to support
The Dictatorship of
the First
 Julius Caesar (Marius’ nephew—
elected consul in 60 B.C.E.)
 Crassus (wealthy citizen—made
governor of Syria where he was killed)
 Pompey—(popular general—waged a
civil war against Caesar—lost & was
assassinated in 47 B.C.E.)
Julius Caesar
Conquers Gaul
*58-50 B.C.E.
*Caesar’s military genius
is displayed
*Wrote the book The
Gallic Wars—
himself as the greatest
living Roman
*“Veni, vidi, vici” – “I
came, I saw, I
Julius Caesar
• In 47 BCE he seized power in Rome and was made dictator. A short time
later, in 44 BCE he was given the title dictator for life.
• His soldiers were loyal to him, not to Rome
• Gave public land to the poor, started a job program, granted citizenship to
more people in the provinces
• He increased the Senate to 900 members and then packed it with
supporters of his reforms.
• Caesar’s most lasting reform was the introduction of the Julian Calendar
based on Egyptian knowledge – 365 day/year calendar—July named after
• Popularity breeds contempt
Beware the Ides
of March!
Caesar is assassinated on March 15 44 B.C.E.
by members of the Senate led by Cassius
and his friend Brutus—”Et tu Brute?”—
stabbed over 20 times
The Second
43-31 B.C.E.
 Octavian Augustus (age 18—
grandnephew of Caesar and his heir
rather than son by Cleopatra)
 Marc Antony (experienced general—
Caesar’s favorite)
 Marcus Lepidus (powerful politician)
The Second Triumvirate:
Octavian, Mark Antony,
Marcus Lepidus
Antony & Cleopatra
• While in Egypt, Mark Antony began a romantic relationship with
Cleopatra (the mother of Caesar’s child Caesarian)
• Antony wanted Cleopatra for Egypt’s wealth, and Cleopatra
wanted Antony for his Roman armies
• The two soon married and had 3 kids (2 were twins)
• This marriage outraged Octavian---Antony was already married
to his sister Octavia
• Rumors spread that Antony & Cleopatra planned to form an
• Greed and ambition pitted the two men against each other
• Antony & Cleopatra  defeated by Octavian Augustus in 31
B.C.E. at the naval battle of Actium
Defeat at Actium—
Doomed Lovers
Commit Suicide
Antony falls on his sword
Deadly asp used by
Cleopatra to commit
Emperor Augustus
31 BCE – 14 CE
Octavian Augustus:
Rome’s First Emperor
Augustus was a master at
using art for propaganda
purposes—this statue
represents Augustus in the
process of giving a formal
speech---Bacchus is at his
feet—he is no longer a
general who needs to win
victories through battle—he
convinces people through
speeches—peace in
exchange for absolute
Octavian becomes Augustus
• The senate gave the triumphant Octavian the title
of Augustus, or Exalted One at the demands of
angry plebian mob
• Augustus exercised absolute power but didn’t refer
to himself as “king” ( used the title “princeps”
meaning “first citizen” instead)
• Under Augustus, who ruled from 31 BCE to 14 CE,
the 500-year-old Roman Republic came to an end—
but Augustus was careful to still keep some of the
old trappings of the Republic in tact, esp. the
• New age had dawned--Augustus' reign laid
foundations of a regime that lasted until the
Empire’s decline
Pax Romana
Pax Romana, Age of
Peace, lasted 207
years! Rome is at its
height of power.
Ara Pacis — ALTAR OF
commissioned by Augustus
to glorify his reign of peace
and prosperity—symbolic
relief sculptures represent
the benefits of the Pax
The Greatest Extent
of the Roman
Empire – 14 CE
Provides Basis for
• Stabilized the frontier regions
• Laws were passed giving citizens more rights
• Romans were the first people to take a census
• Civil service founded—paid employees to manage the affairs of
the government
• A professional army of 150,000 formed, divided into large
groups called legions (5,000 each)
Augustus: Provides
Basis for Stable Empire
• Roads were built connecting
ever corner of the empire
• New government buildings—
glorify Rome—public baths,
libraries, temples, basilicas
• Agriculture became most
important industry—90% -basis for supporting the huge
empire (latifundia =
• Aqueducts---example of
Roman engineering and
building skills
• 14 aqueducts stretching
over 250 miles--brought 50
gallons of water daily into
Rome for each inhabitant
The Five Good
Emperors 96-180 CE
• Five Good Emperors—kept the empire stable, followed
Augustus’ model and reforms, promoted Pax Romana
• Emperors like Trajan and Hadrian continued to expand
the empire and keep it prosperous (despite increasing
revolts in the far provinces—Germany, Austria, Great
• Flourishing in literature, arts, philosophy, science,
• Marcus Aurelius (last Good Emperor)—philosopher
emperor— a Stoic--wrote the Meditations  discusses
good gov’t , service, duty
Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius ca. 180 CE
The Long Decline:
Instability at Borders
• Diocletian (284-305 CE) divided the Empire into Eastern and
Western halves and shared power with a co-Augustus in an
attempt at stabilization.
Constantine the Great
• Constantine the Great (306-337 CE) brought
the Empire back under a single imperial rule
and tried to further unite it through his
recognition of Christianity in 313 CE.
• Converted Rome into a Christian city by
building large churches near the borders
• Created a Christian capital in the East in 324
CE by founding Constantinople and calling it
the 'new Rome’
• Constantine's three sons divided the
territories among themselves after their
father's death in 337 CE while Christianity
continued to flourish and gain power
• Vandals successfully sacked Rome in 455 CE
Triumphal Arch of Constantine 315 CE
• Triumph arch—another
unique form of Roman
propaganda celebrating
a ruler’s victory over an
enemy of Rome
• Placed at one of the
main gates into the city
• Comparing the arch’s
recycled 2nd c. CE
sculptural reliefs with
the 4th c. reliefs offers a
telling example of
Rome’s declining culture
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