Rome Republic

The area shown in green is what the Roman Empire controlled at it’s height.(CC)

Why Rome?
Legend says Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus. They were abandoned at birth and thrown into the Tiber River. Later on, a wolf found them and took care of them for some time. Eventually a shepherd found the boys and adopted them. When they grew up, they decided to build a city in honor of the wolf that rescued and took care of them. Eventually they found the perfect spot to build the city, but they had some disagreements about what to do, so later on Romulus killed Remus. Romulus built the city himself and named it Rome after him. This is a legend; in reality, Rome was probably originated as a small village that grew in power with trade and eventually became the city of Rome we know of today. Rome was in a perfect geographic location to flourish, with the Tiber River running through Rome that provided transportation, access to the Mediterranean Sea for water and food. The Swiss Alps were to the north of Rome and protected Rome from invasion from the north. Rome’s location is on a peninsula which also promoted them to become great sailors and traders. Rome grew in power in time, and eventually became one of the biggest empires the world has ever seen. But their huge size in the end lead to aid their downfall.

Connections to Greece
The Romans had many aspects of their society that they took from the Greeks. The Romans took the idea of having a democracy from the Greeks. They used this idea but changed it because they had too large of population to use a Greek direct democracy, so instead they modified it to a representative democracy. In the beginning the Romans also worshipped many Greek gods, yet another enduring impact of Greece on Rome. The Romans used many of the Greek’s inventions such as the pillar. The greek’s invented the pillar, to allow for wide open spaces inside buildings. The Romans also dressed like Greeks, used Greek warfare tactics and their shipbuilding designs.

At first Rome was ruled by kings, but one Roman king was very cruel and he was overthrown by nobles in 509 B.C. The nobles then created a representative democracy , but it was far from a modern democracy because the elected officials all came from a small group of rich and powerful people. Shortly after this, wars started and Rome shifted to be ruled by a dictator . After that the plebeians , or common people, demanded more say in the government and created their own council. The patricians , rich and powerful people, changed the government back to a representative democracy because they were afraid the plebeians would overthrow them, as there were so many plebeians and little patricians. Thus, the patricians changed the government so that the plebeians could have a say in how the government was run. There were three branches of the government which was why it was called a tripartite government:
  • Magistrates- The most powerful magistrates were the two Consuls. There were two so one wouldn’t have too much power and completely take over. One of the magistrates ruled the city and the economics. The other magistrate lead the army and controlled the soldiers. Both of the magistrates ruled for one year.
  • Senate-Made of people who served for life. The senate was made up of about 300 members, mostly patricians, but as time went on a few plebeians got in. They advised the Consuls. After magistrates held their term in office, they went to the senate, so while magistrates were in office they didn’t want to anger the senate and ruin their future jobs. This caused the senate to be one of the most influential and powerful branches of the Roman government.
  • Assemblies and tribunes- These branches represented the plebeians. Assembles elected the magistrates who ran the city. The tribunes were elected by the plebeians and a held a year in office. Their main role was to veto laws when necessary. "Veto" in Latin means "I forbid”. Vetoing is when one person/group in the government stops the actions/proposals of another person/group in the government in which they don't agree to. This allowed the different branches of the government from getting to powerful.

To keep the people in the government from gaining to much power, they created a system called checks and balances. One consul could block the actions of another member. Laws proposed by the Senate of Rome had to be approved by the magistrates and assemblies in order to become a law. In 450 B.C. Rome’s laws were first written on 12 bronze tablets. This was called civil law. These tablets were shown in the heart of Rome’s public meeting place called the Forum. The forum was the center of Rome and not only did it show the tablets, it was also a popular place for the citizens to meet, talk and do other activities, such as shop.

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A comparison of democracies made by Greg.
The Colosseum.(CC)

Life in Rome
A toga.(CC)

Rome generally had a great quality of life for it’s citizens but life was hard for some poorer people such as some of the farmers. Romans generally had enough to eat. They could eat what the Roman farmers grew such as wheat, millet or olives or imported food such as spices or olive oil. There were public bathhouses that could be heated when it got colder. Roman washed themselves with oils so unlike many other time periods, people could be and feel clean. There were also public toilets with a sewer system to improve the cleanliness of the city which prevented the spread of diseases . The Colosseum provided the citizens with entertainment. Gladiators and/or animals would fight to the death here as hundreds of people watched. Citizens wore loose fitting garments called togas, which were signs of Roman citizenship. The citizens of Rome could also feel safe as there huge and dominant army protected them.

At first most people in Rome were polytheistic who worshiped many different gods including some Greek gods. In this time romans were persecuted and unwanted but this eventually changed. Although Romans have been practicing Polytheism for hundreds of years, a new religion based on the life of Jesus Christ called Christianity was taking hold in the Roman Empire. In 312 A.D., a emperor named Constantine was preparing for battle when he had a dream and vision of a cross. He then promised that if he won the battle he would convert to Christianity. He won the battle, took over a city and named the city Constantinople after himself and converted to Christianity. Because he converted, many of his subjects and his citizens converted to. This was the start of Christianity becoming the main religion of the Roman Empire. With time, Christianity became more dominant which dramatically effected future time periods such as the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

A Roman Statue

The Romans were most well known for their great statues. They made their statues as realistic as possible while the Greeks made their statues as visually appealing as possible. The romans were also well known for their mosaics and frescoes. The Romans were not well known for their paintings but they still were somewhat realistic with realistic shades of color. Roman artists have attempted depth and perspective with results that were not as realistic as in the Renaissance.

A Roman aqueduct.(CC)

The Romans were also very creative and innovative people, they came up with many inventions such as the:
  • Aqueduct- An artificial channel made for moving water and used during Rome's height and
    modern times.
  • Concrete- The Romans invented this remarkable building material made out of materials such as water, rocks and sand. Since concrete is so durable, many of the Romans' structures are still standing today. Even today we still use concrete.
  • Roads- These were made in the Roman Empire so their armies could travel quickly throughout the empire with no obstructions. We use roads today for basically the same reason, so we can travel quickly and with no obstructions. Many roads lasted longer than two thousand years. "All roads lead to Rome!"
  • Arches- Arches were structures that could hold up great weights while leaving a open space under the structure. This allowed for the Romans to make great bridges and tunnels. In today’s modern world we still use the arch that hasn’t changed much over all these years.
A Roman road that has lasted to modern times.(CC)

  • Sewers- The Romans had a complex sewer system to keep their cities clean and safe. Even though modern sewers have changed we still use the same basic design.

The spread of Rome and Cultural Diffusion
Rome eventually became a powerhouse and almost all Christian after Constantine’s battle. With this power the Romans expanded their empire, therefore conquering many different villages and settlements with their own unique culture. The Romans conquered the land and the original people were part of the Roman empire and were subject to cultural diffusion. Cultural diffusion is when native culture is lost/or mixed with another culture coming into contact with them . These settlements changed from having a unique different culture to a blended Roman culture. This happened all over Europe which caused many different villages to become Christian and united under the Romans. In these conquered villages Roman roads developed, roman bathhouses were built and found as far north as England! Roman art such as mosaics were also being made in these native settlements. Another example of cultural diffusion in this situation is warfare tactics. They original people living there saw the Romans’ successful warfare tactics and organization so when they needed to fight, they fought like the Romans. Now a village from North Africa has the same exposure to Roman culture as a village in Southern England. With most of Europe Christian, the Church’s power increased which lead to it’s domination over European society during the Middle Ages.

How do the Romans impact the modern world?
Rome has had a huge impact on the the modern world. They had the first representative democracy, which gave power to the people. Many countries, such as the U.S.A., have a representative democracy directly modeled after Rome’s government. The Romans have also had various inventions (shown above) that have changed a little over the years, and we still use them today. Our world would not be the same without aqueducts, concrete, roads, arches, sewers, socks, calendar, and the clock. The Romans have introduced the government we have and the many inventions that we take for granted every day.

The End
The Roman empire started falling apart around 476 A.D . The Roman empire became too huge for it’s own good, so therefore their armies couldn’t defend it well. The Roman empire got attacked by various groups called the “barbarians” that would eventually take over and destroy Rome. The Romans also had troubles that weakened them from the inside. The main one being a corrupt government. The senate gained too much power and officials constantly fought to get the top spot. These causes made the government ineffective and not capable of making good choices. Some of the rich were also drinking poisoned water from lead pipes, leading to death.The fall of Rome along with a few other things caused the Middle ages which came next.

-Greg, June 2013
-Sanchari, December 2013
-Jing, March 2014