Wk 5 notes



·        752-509 BC, Monarchy (the Imperium, or Royal Rome)

·        509-287, Early Republic

o   499 Twelve Tables

o   388 Latin League dissolved, Roman citizenship extended

·        287-133, Middle Republic

o   264-146, three Public Wars

o   197 defeat of Macedonians

o   146 destruction of Carthage in 3rd Punic War

·        133-31, Late Republic

o   133-121 reform movement of the Gracchi

o   107-78 era of generals Marius and Sulla

o   73-71 Spartacus slave rebellion

o   66-62 Pompey’s eastern campaigns

o   63 BC Cicero serves as council

o   58-51 Caesar’s conquest of Gaul

o   44 BC assassination of Julius Caesar

o   31 Octavian defeats Mark Antony at Actium


What about the location of Rome contributed to its rise in the Royal period (753-509 BCE), how was it ruled, and what relationship did it have with neighboring peoples?


Two founding myths: funded by Trojans after Trojan war; founded by Romulus and Remus.  Farming village one of hills of Rome (7 hills) as early as 1000 BC, clearly a large town/small city by 700s BC. 


a) Rome in Italy....  SO...  Italy a central location in Mediterranean, both between east and west and Europe/Africa...  valuable metal resources and farm land (esp in Sicily) and valuable strategic/trade location...   LOTs of different ethnic groups in Italy circa 1000 BC...  Greeks in South, Etruscans in North, Sabines, Samnites, Campians, Lucanians...   ROME was in a region known as LATIUM...


Rome had good location:  central to rest of Italian peninsula,  on rich farmland on strategic high point overseeing the Tibur River, which gave it access to sea (15 miles) for trade but safe from pirates (etc).


Contact with Greek culture in South vimp to Rome’s history.  Also influence of wealthy, urbanized Utruscan culture to the North...


b)  Rome was a MONARCHY ruled by an Etruscan dynasty, the Tarquins (Lucius Tarquinus Priscus first elected Tarquin king; grandson Lucius Tarquinus Superbus was last king).


King’s power called IMPERIUM.  Power over military, chief judge, chief priest of the temple of main gods (polytheistic religion).


King advised by SENATE made up of council of elders (patres), drawn from PATRICIANS, the 136  most important aristocratic families.  Senate exercised oversight of king, and actually limited his power. 


Patricians had exclusive right to serve in Senate, exclusive right to serve as priests of state temples.  NO intermarriage with commoners.


Commoners = PLEBEIANS, free men from all levels of wealth/occupations, but not members of Patrician families.  Plebeians did have rights as citizens.


Patricians and plebeians as citizens participated in CURIATE ASSEMBLY (all belonged to one of 30 curias, probably had origin in military...).  Assembly could make laws, but Senate had to approve them. 

That meant that the Patricians had ultimate control over the legislative process as well as controlling the courts, the military, the cults, etc.


Foreigners could become citizens of Rome after 550 BC, so that Rome could use them for its army (under King Servius Tulius). Which at that point in time adopted Greek hoplite warfare tactics.  That was important because Rome was frequently AT WAR with its neighbors.


How and why did the system of government in the Roman Republic change in the period 509-287 BCE?

Roman myth/tradition said that Patricians rose up vs King in 509 BC after Tarquinus Superbus’s son raped Lucria, wife of a Roman nobleman—Romans then declared that they would never again life under the rule of a king—would be a REPUBLIC, (res publica—a “public thing,” meaning a commonwealth, vs res privata, the personal rule of a king) that would protect the LIBERTY of its citizens (freedom from arbitrary power of ruler and also citizen participation in public life).  Ideal = rule of the PEOPLE, not of one man.  But NOT about “equality”!  Not all = citizens, and not all citizens equal... 


PUBLIC VALUES critical to Roman society---fides = faithfulness family and friends and bond of one’s word;  piety = correct religious practice; virtue= honesty (etc); “way of the elders,” honor of those traditions and ideas that have been passed along by generations.  Roman public values intertwined with religion, family, social relations (e.g., patron-client relations), and politics.


INSTITUTIONS:  “mixed constitution” that balanced executive, judicial and legislative power and balanced power of plebeians and patricians.


EXECUTIVE =elected, unpaid magistrates (so only wealthy could afford to run and serve).  Power of magistrates limited by annual elections;  always 2-3 people in each post to limit power of individuals. 


Kind of check and balance. 

Magistrates acted as judges.  AS city grew, # of magistrates grew.  But 2 Chief Magistrates.

2 chief magistrates [COUNCILS], each held IMPERIUM (power to rule by command), but could be vetoed by the other...  In an emergency, assembly and senate could appoint one council to be a dictator for a fixed term....


Also imp, 2 Censors (older men, 18 month term, conduct census that records your curia (property class) for military lists, but then also became list of citizens with right to vote (so if you were censored for bad behavior you lost that right...)


LEGISLATURE:  the Senate = 300 men (most times) who were former magistrates, served for life.  Controlled the budget (the purse), which meant that they controlled foreign policy, domestic state spending, etc.


CURIATE ASSEMBLY met at Forum, voting by curia favored the patriacians.  Power largely ceremonial.


CENTURIATE ASSEMBLY had the power to elect magistrates, vote on laws, treaties, war-peace.   Also court in cases of high crimes (treason, murder).  Election to centuriate assembly based upon property—among those on lists of military; dominated by the EQUESTRIANS (wealthy cavalrymen—need wealth to own horses and weapons).  Poor (proletarii) had no vote.


PLEBEIAN ASSEMBLY (Council) created in the 400s represented lower orders of citizens, at first had few real powers, in that its decisions applied only to plebes (not to patricians).  Most plebes were


PEASANTS and FARMERS, but also urban artisans merchants, shopkeepers...  Plebeian assembly annually elected 10 officials called TRIBUNES (speakers/”champions”)...  would be vimp later...


TRIBAL ASSEMBLY, also created in 400s, based on voting system that favored the Patricians and the wealthy plebeian landowners (the Equestrians).  Had power to elect lower magistrates, vote on laws, act as appeals court.  Because of political changes in 200s BC would become real legislative power in system. 


WHY political changes?  Because of social conflicts! 


Patricians dominated and monopolized government.  Equestrians (wealthy plebes) wanted a share of power, ordinary plebes wanted change in laws re. debt (which required temporary bondage), land redistribution (patricians controlled most farm land, hard for most plebes to support selves), and establishment of system of written laws that would protect their rights visa-vis the patricians.

In 400s, the Plebeians pushed again and again for rights (even literally left the city en-mass repeatedly).  Insisted on and won the right for the Tribunes to veto any act by magistrates/senate/centuriate assembly that harmed the Plebes. Patricians helped create Tribal Assembly in part as way of splitting off equestrians from other Plebes (in Tribal Assembly, Equestrians got power with the Patricians).  But poorer Plebes kept at demands...


Two Phases in the process: 1) concessions to the Equestrians/wealthy Plebes, e.g., Twelve Tables in 499 BC.  445 BC, marriage between patricians-plebeians legalized.  2) concessions to poorer plebeians, eg., 367 BC plebeians can serve as COUNCILs and get debt relief (also in 326 BC); 287, legal merging of Patricians and Plebeians made the TRIBAL COUNCIL the real ruling legislative body.


b) What changed?  Besides institutions of government, creation of new elite based upon wealth (not heredity, though lineage still vimp to Romans); greater degree of legal protection and legal equality for lower classes of citizens.


How did Romans organize their families and how was family life related to Roman social relations (e.g., the patron-client system), Roman religion, and Roman values (virtues)?


BIG idea here--family as basic social, political, and religious unit.  (families tied together by lineage as clans)


a) Paterfamilias (male head of household) had absolute power; women always legally inferior/dependant on men; fathers have "imperium" over children.


b) family and patronage:  father in family can be seen as model of patron-client relations, based on bonds of mutual obligation (fides) between superiors (patrons) and inferiors (clients).  Remember what  I said about patron-client relations in class--these were of critical importance to Roman political life, too...  Just as god father expected to protect family, good patron expected to provide work, food, legal aid (etc) to clients, esp. in times of crisis...  Patron-client relations were generational and passed on in families.


c) family and religion:  Public religious practice in Rome was a matter of state importance (violating religious "laws" was a major crime against the state), but Romans also had "private" religious practices (household religion) that focused on the family unit (e.g., the Lares, or spirits of ancestors).  The male head of household was the "priest" in family worship and responsible for the piety of all family members.


d) Family and virtues:  family life closely tied to most important Roman values/virtues.  e.g., father was expected to be model of manliness (similar to arete in Greece)--a disciplined, hard-working, self-controlled man who lived a simple life and had "gravitas."  Father also responsible for the "piety" of the family, and Romans were expected to be pious (properly devoted) towards their families as well as the gods and the republic.  That was intertwined with "fides" (fidelity)--acting in accord with your mutual obligations to your family, your patron (or clients), and the state.   If someone lived according to these principles--if they had virtue--the reward was "dignitas" (personal and public honor).


What allowed the Roman Republic to conquer a vast empire, what advantages came along with empire, and what social groups benefited most from Roman imperial expansion?


a) Although Roman's claimed that they only fought defensive wars, in fact they most often were the aggressors.  Their expansion was fueled by land hunger, the political necessity of  growing the economy (to keep the plebes under check), elite desire for increased wealth, and the generals' desire for glory....


Point--the Romans were skillful at diplomacy and made alliances with neighbors (the Latin League), who received (limited) rights as Roman citizens in return for their alliances.  Although Roman dissolved the league after rebellions in 340-338 BCE, other Latins remained citizens without a vote (same offer made to other Italian states).  Those alliances were key to Rome's dominance of Italy.


Point--Rome built a mighty army that was very well organized and disciplined.  Although it was made up of citizens, the soldiers also were paid (and later given land as well), so morale remained good.  The army was well-supplied, in part because of Rome's excellent road system.  And the army combined the best foreign technology and tactics with new Roman organizational principles (the system of the Legion). 


Citizen soldiers were dedicated and loyal to Rome (remember principle of fides!), and all Roman citizens understood that they must serve and expected that they would.  So, the manpower of citizen soldiers was a key to Rome's military success.


NOTE that what turned Rome into a real empire were its conquests in the 3 Punic wars vs Carthage (26-241 BCE; 218-201 BCE; 149-146 BCE).  Its victories ver Macedonia/the Greeks/Anatolia gave them dominance of the Greek world as well by 146 BCE.


b) Empire brought huge wealth, control over trade, and a huge amount of imported grain as well as goods and luxury goods, as well as SLAVES.  (Remember lecture on the Punic Wars!) The people who gained the most from this were the patricians, the equestrians, the generals, and the wealthiest merchants (these folks took the spils, the trade, and the new land).


c) For ordinary citizens, war brought a huge cost--conscription of men for 20 years into the army meant loss of labor; competition vs huge slave plantations (latifundia) hurt small farmers.   Poor farm families who could not pay their debts had to sell their land (to the wealthy), and Rome and other cities had growing populations of landless poor (Proletarii).


A big thing to remember here is that the 3rd Punic War signaled that the elites were less devoted to the commonwealth than they were to themselves--so key values of Roman society were breaking down....



In what sense did imperial conquests aggravate problems and tensions in Roman society and what new developments in Roman politics undermined the stability of republican rule?


Keep in mind that there were two inter-related political processes happening here


The first had to do with the politics of poverty.  The increase in peasant debt and landlessness (see question 4) meant that in the 100s a real social crisis was developing.  (It is often called an "agrarian crisis," since it was the result of changes in the organization of the agricultural economy.)  The results were clearest in the city of Rome, which was flooded by hundreds of thousands of poor people.


Poverty also hurt the Army:  you had to own property to have the right to serve in the army, so the more landless poor families, the fewer men who could serve in the army. 


Poverty therefore was a big political issue. Rome's political elites broke into two "camps"--those who wanted reforms that would give land to the poor and help those in debt; vs those who were against such reforms. 


This explains the story of the Gracchi.   The Tribune Tiberius Grachus in 133 BCE proposed that no one could own more than 320 acres of public land, and that all of the excess land would be redistributed from the rich to the poor.  This proposal, and other reform proposals, made Grachus very popular among Rome's poor (who saw him as their patron).  But the reforms threatened the wealthy landowners, most of who opposed it.  The enemies of Tiberius Grachus in the Senate murdered him and many of his followers.  A decade later, Gaius Grachus was elected Tribune and continued Tiberius' reforms--he distributed inexpensive grain to the plebes, and he also appointed commoners to the courts--which further alienated Patrician elites.  When Gaius proposed that "excess" land be given to non-Roman citizens in Italy, there was a backlash.  In 121 BCE he lost his bid to be reelected (for a third time) as tribune.  The Senate declared a state of emergency, reversed all of the reforms of the Gracchi, and murdered Gaius and his supporters.


Besides the fact that it was a product of a social crisis, there are three really important things to keep in mind about the Gracchi story:  1) Tiberius and Gaius acted as political bullies, and used support from the masses to push around the Patrician senators and to break tradition by running for reelection as Tribune---this was a big change in how politics was "done" in Rome; 2) the killings of Tiberius and Gaius were the first cases of political murder in Rome--the idea that you could kill your political rivals, even if they had very high posts like tribune, would be a big change in how politics was "done"; 3) Roman politics now became divided by political "parties" or factions--the pro-reform Popularies who wanted to give the poor land and debt relief, and the anti-reform Optimates who wanted to preserve the status of the elites.


The second dynamic had to do with the politics of the army.   When Rome faced invasion from Germanic tribes in Gaul, and when Rome was defeated in Numidia (in Africa), the result was a srt of "military crisis."  Romans elected an army general, Gaius Marius, as the new Tribune in 107 BCE.  Marius then instituted army reforms that ended the requirement that soldiers be landowning citizens.  Now the army would  be made up mostly of landless men who were full-time sldiers.  That meant, in practice, that Marius has become their Patron and they were his Clients.  For example, Marius the Patron bullied the Senate into giving soldiers land in Africa and Gaul when they retired; the soldiers, his Clients, voted over and over again to keep Marius in power.  Creating a Patron-Client relationship between a political leader and the army had huge implications for politics--now the army became a major force in politics.  Now an army general, as the leader of the republic, put himself above the Senate and set himself up as patron to the army and the poor.  That was a serious threat to the Republic... 


This process could also be seen in the rise to power of General Sulla (Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felis).  Rome fought a series of bloody and difficult wars at the turn of the first century BCE--Sulla had become famous in the Mithradites War in Anatolia, and then in the "Social Wars" of 91-89 BCE  (a sort of civil war, in which non-Roman Italians demanded equal citizenship rights and rebelled, causing great damage to the agricultural economy).  Sulla was a Patrician and an Optimate, and he resented and opposed the rule Marius (a commoner and a Populare).  Sulla led his "client-army" in a civil war against Marius' client-army in the year 83 BCE.  So now generals were using their client armies to battle one another for personal power, which completely violated the old republican principle that one's main loyalty must always be to Rome and its republic.


When Sulla won that civil war, he punished his enemies, seized their land, stripped their families of all their rights, executed his enemies and their sons--all steps that grossly violated Roman laws and traditions.  Sulla made himself a Senator and strengthened the powers of the Patricians in the Senate while weakening the tribune.  He enacted other reforms that strengthened the privileges of the Patricians (that was the goal of the Optimates!).  The ways that Sulla did this were every bit as destructive to the Republic as were Marius' reforms. 


That is because, in both cases, men were using power for their own personal gain and the advantage of one social group, instead of using power for the good of the commonwealth.  This--like the use of murder and violence as political tools, and the cynical manipulation of the masses and the army through client-patron relations--was a major threat to the Republic, which was in danger of disappearing and becoming a dictatorship or a monarchy.


The story of Generals Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus follow a similar pattern.  Pompey manipulated the Senate, the Army, and the crowds of poor to secure personal power in the 70s and 60s BCE.  Gaius Julius Caesar used the same methods to rise in power in the 60s BCE.


In the year 60 BCE, Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus formed an alliance (a "triumvirate") to informally rule Rome.  Technically, the Senate still had power, but they used the army and wealthy supporters to bully the Senate.  (Their wealthy supporters were promised and received spoils from the generals' victories in Asia, Africa, and Gaul.)  The triumvirate divided up key government posts between themselves. 


But when Crassus died in battle, Pompey turned on Caesar and convinced the Senate to remove Caesar from his military command.  Instead, Caesar marched his army on Rome (which you did not do!), crushed the Senate's army, then chased Pompey all the way to Greece, where Caesar defeated him totally in 45 BCE.


Caesar now ruled alone--he got the Senate to declare him  "Dictator for Life."  Julius Caesar was, in fact, an excellent patron to Rome:  he enacted debt reform, launched a huge public building program, extended citizenship to people in northern Italy, etc.  But the big point is that he used power as it was his power, and not the power of the republic--he made Rome into a "private thing" (vs a res publica).  For defenders of the republic, it seemed the Caesar was making himself a king, and so republicans in the Senate (led by Brutus) assassinated Caesar in 44 BCE.


The murder of Julius Caesar began a new round of civil war, this time between Caesar's favorite general Marc Antony, and Caesar's adopted son Octavian.  Octavian's victory in the  year 31 BCE would be the final death blow to the republic.