Rome and the Roman Empire

                          Rome and the Roman Empire

                            by Alexander Moiseev



    The accounts of the regal period have come down overlaid  with  such  a
mass of myth and legend that few statements can be accepted as factual;  the
Roman historians of  later  times,  lacking  authentic  records,  relied  on
fabrications of a patriotic records, relied on fabrications of  a  patriotic
                The Legendary Period of the kings(753-510 BC)
    Rome was said to have been founded by Latin colonists from Alba  Longa,
a nearby city in ancient Latium. The legendary date of the founding was  753
BC; it was ascribed to Romulus and Remus, the twin sons of  Rhea  Silvia,  a
vestal virgin and the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Later  legend
carried the ancestry of the Romans back to  the  Trojans  and  their  leader
Aeneas, whose son Ascanius, or lulus, was the founder and the first king  of
Alba Longa. The tales concerning Romulus’s rule, notably  the  rape  of  the
Sabine women and the war with the Sabines under  the  leader  Titus  Tatius,
point to an early infiltration of Sabine peoples or to a union of Latin  and
Sabine elements at the beginning. The three  tribes,  the  Ramnes,  Titieus,
and Luceres, that appear in the legend of Romulus as the parts  of  the  new
commonwealth suggest that Rome arose from the amalgamation of three  stocks,
thought to be Latin, Sabine, and Etruscan.
    The seven kings  of  the  regal  period  and  the  dates  traditionally
assigned to their regns are as follows: Romulus, from 753 to  715  BC;  Numa
Pompilius,  from  715  to  676  or  672  BC,  to  whom  was  attributed  the
introduction of many religious customs; Tullus Hostilius, from  673  to  641
BC, a warlike  king,  who  destroyed  Alba  Longa  and  fought  against  the
Sabines; Ancus Marcius, from 641 to 616 BC, said to have built the  port  of
Astia and to have captured many Latin towns, transferring their  inhabitants
to Rome; Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, from 616 to 578 BC, celebrated both  for
his military exploits against neighboring peoples and for  his  construction
of public buildings at Rome; Servius Tullius, from 578 to 534 BC, famed  for
his new constitution and for the enlargement of the boundaries of the  city;
and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, from 534 to 510  BC,  the  seventh  and  the
last king, whose  tyrannical  rule  was  overthrow  when  his  son  ravished
Lucretia, the wife of a kinsman. Tarquinius was banished,  and  attempts  by
Etruscan or Latin cities to  reinstate  him  on  the  throne  at  Rome  were
    Although  the  names,  dates,  and  events  of  the  regal  period  are
considered as belonging to the regal of fiction  and  myth  rather  than  to
that of factual history, certain facts seem well attested: the existence  of
an early rule by kings; the growth  of  the  city  and  its  struggles  with
neighboring peoples; the conquest of Rome by Etruria and  the  establishment
of a dynasty of Etruscan princes, symbolized by the rule  of  the  Tarquins;
the overthrow of this alien control; and the abolition of the kingship.  The
existence of certain social and political conditions may also  be  accepted,
such as the division of the beginning into two orders: the  patricians,  who
alone possessed political rights and constituted  the  populus,  or  people;
and their dependents, known as clients or the plebs, who had  originally  no
political existence. The rex, or king, chosen  by  the  Senate(senatus),  or
Council of Elders, from the ranks of the patricians, held office  for  life,
called out the populus for war, and led the army in person; he was  preceded
by officers, known as lictors, who bore the faces, the symbols of power  and
punishment, and was the supreme judge in all civil and criminal  suits.  The
senatus gave its advice only when the king chose  to  consult  it,  but  the
elders(patres) possessed great moral authority,  inasmuch  as  their  tenure
was for life. Originally only patricians could bear arms in defense  of  the
state. At some stage in  the  regal  period  an  important  military  reform
occurred, usually designated as the  Servian  reform  of  the  constitution,
because it was decided that all property and  wealth,  it  was  ascribed  to
Servius Tullius. As the plebs  could  by  this  time  acquire  property  and
wealth, it was  decided  that  all  property  holders,  both  patrician  and
plebian, must serve in army, and each took a rank  in  accordance  with  his
wealth. This arrangement, although initially military,  paved  the  way  for
the great political struggle between the patricians and  the  plebs  in  the
early centuries of the Republic.

                                The Republic

    On the overthrow of Tarquininus Superbus a republic was established.
                        Conquest of Italy(510-264 BC)
    In place of the king, two chief executives were chosen annually by  the
whole body of citizens. These were known as praetors, or leaders, but  later
received the title of consuls. The  participation  of  a  colleague  in  the
exercise of supreme power and the limitation  of  the  tenure  to  one  year
prevented the chief magistrate from becoming autocratic.  The  character  of
the Senate was altered by the  enrollment  of  plebeian  members,  known  as
conscreipti, and hence the official designation of the  senators  thereafter
was patres conscripti(conscript  fathers).  As  yet,  only  patricians  were
aligible for the magistracies, and the discontent of  the  plebs  led  to  a
violent struggle between the two orders  and  the  gradual  removal  of  the
social and political disabilities under which the plebs had labored.
    In 494 BC a secession of plebian soldiers led to the institution of the
tribuni plebis, who were elected annually as protectors of the  plebs;  they
had the power to veto the acts of patrician magistrates, and thus served  as
the leaders  of  the  plebs  in  the  struggles  with  the  patricians.  The
appointment of the decemvirate, a commission of a famous code  of  laws.  In
445 BC, under the Canuleian law, marriages between  patricians  and  members
of the plebs were declared legally  valid.  By  the  Licinian-Sextian  laws,
passed in 367 BC, it was  provided  that  one  of  the  two  consuls  should
thenceforth be plebeian. The other magistracies  were  gradually  apened  to
the plebs: in 356 BC, the dictatorship,  an  extraordinary  magistracy,  the
incumbent of which was appointed in times of great danger; in  350  BC,  the
censorship; in 337 BC, the praetorship; and in 300 BC,  the  pontifical  and
augural colleges.
                          A World Power(264-133 BC)
    In 264 BC, 11 years after the victory over Pyrrhus, Rome  engaged  with
Carthage in a struggle for the control of the  Mediterranean  Sea.  Carthage
at this time was the  foremost  maritime  power  in  the  world,  ruling  as
absolutely in the central and western  Mediterranean  as  did  Rome  on  the
Italian Peninsula.

                                 The Empire

    Ceasar’s assassination by Republican nobles on March  15,  44  BC,  was
followed by Cicero’s attempt to restore  the  old  Republican  constitution,
but Mark Antony, who had been appointed consul with Marcus Aemilius  Lepidus
and Caesar’s grandnephew, the youthful Octavian, later Rmperor Augustus,  to
form the second triumvirate.
    Octavian received the title of Augustus in 27  BC  and  began  the  new
regime  by  an  apparent  restoration  of  the  Republic,  with  himself  as
princeps, or chief citizen.
    During the last 80 years of the Western  Roman  Empire  the  provinces,
drained by taxes levied for the support of  the  army  and  the  bureacracy,
were visited by internal war  and  by  barbarian  invasions.  At  first  the
policy  of   conciliating   the   invader   with   military   commands   and
administrative  offices  succeded.  Gradually,   however,   the   barbarians
estublished in the east began to aim at conquest in the west, and Alaric  I,
king of the Visigoths, first occupied illyricum, whence he  ravaged  Greece.
In 410 he captured and sacked Rome, but  died  soon  after.  His  successor,
Ataulf(r. 410-15), drew off the Visigoths to Gaul, and in 419  a  succeeding
king,  Wallia,  received  formal  permission  from  Honorius  to  settle  in
southwestern Gaul, where at Toulouse he founded the  Visigothic  dynasty.The
last Western Roman  emperor,  Romulus  Augustulus,  was  overthrown  by  the
mercenary Herulian  leader  Odoacer(c.435-93),who  was  proclaimed  king  of
Italy by his troops. The history of Rome would subsequently merge with  that
of the papacy, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papal States, and Italy.  For  the
history of the Eastern Empire from the time of Theodosius the Great.


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