Rome

Geography Of Ancient Rome

Geography-Physical environment and how it may influence an economy and culture.

The early civilization, known as Ancient Rome, began in present-day Italy.  Located on a peninsula in southern Europe, it extends into the Mediterranean Sea. This peninsula is shaped like a high-heeled boot.  Two major mountain ranges cover most of this land. The Alps are in the north, and the Apennines are in the south. Among this hilly, rugged land are several volcanoes such as, Mt. Vesuvius. Areas of fertile flatlands can be found throughout this region.  Along with a mild climate, this area is used to farm such crops as grains, grapes, olives, and citrus fruits. The Tiber River, along with several other rivers, is used to provide fresh water for the country.

Economy Of Ancient Rome

Economy – How a civilization makes money through the buying and selling of goods and services.

The land of Ancient Rome that is not mountains is hilly with very little flat land. Therefore, many of the cities were built atop these hills. This made for excellent defense against enemies. Farming was possible on the hills of Ancient Rome because of the mild climate.  Crops such as grains, grapes, olives, and citrus fruits were raised. The surplus of crops led to the development of other jobs such as artisans, builders, and other specialized workers. Surplus crops were also sold by sea traders to such places as Greece, Spain, northern Africa, and kingdoms of Asia. These merchants would then buy and sell other items, such as meats, vegetables, cloth, sandals, and pottery. Ancient Romans even traded for books made on Egyptian papyrus.  Maritime trading advanced Ancient Rome’s economy.

Achievements Of Ancient Rome

Achievements-The lasting contributions of a civilization.

The land of Ancient Rome was very mountainous and hilly. Therefore, sturdy roads were needed to move people and supplies from one area to another. The Ancient Romans constructed roads of long-lasting materials that could withstand heavy traffic and exposure to weather. These roads connected large areas of the country. The Ancient Romans also created aqueducts, channels that carried fresh water from the mountains to the cities. These aqueducts, like many other buildings in Ancient Rome, were made with concrete, a mixture of sand or gravel and cement. Concrete made the structures very strong. The Ancient Romans also created vaults, a series of arches, to support the roof of buildings.

 

The Ancient Romans sought knowledge in order to improve their lives. They loved to learn about new things and tell stories. They also loved to argue in order to find deeper meanings.  The story of the Trojan War hero, Aeneas, tells how Ancient Rome was formed with a group of people called the Latins.

Social Classes Of Ancient Rome

Social Class-How a civilization is divided into classes that have different roles, responsibilities and privileges.

Ancient Romans had a strong belief in values such as justice, honesty, valor, and loyalty. These values would be the hallmark of Ancient Roman society. Much of society was divided into two groups; the patricians, wealthy leaders and the plebeians, common people such as artisans, traders, and farmers. The majority of the people were plebeians. Slaves were also a part of Ancient Roman society. These slaves were often educated and many held highly skilled professions such as teachers and doctors.  

The Forum was Rome’s public meeting place and was where all types of activities took place.

It was the center of Rome and all roads began here, and distances were measured from here. Shops, markets, government buildings, as well as temples were found at or near the Forum. It was here that shoppers and other citizens would gather to discuss all types of interests and issues.

Religion Of Ancient Rome

Religion – A belief system that influences the development of a civilization. 

Ancient Romans were very practical people. Because of this, the Ancient Romans did not want to offend any god, or goddess, or any religion. Therefore, they were polytheistic, or worshipped numerous gods and practiced numerous religions. Ancient Romans would include other gods, and rituals from people they met and conquered. Many Romans took on the Olympian gods of Greece. Soon the Greek gods of mythology had Roman names.

The Ancient Romans allowed citizens and non-citizens living within their borders to practice their religions because they felt it was easier to rule someone who was able to keep their belief system than someone who was forced to change. The only exception would come when Roman officials began to believe that Christianity was causing political problems.  But, even with Christianity, the Romans only placed limits on where and when Christians could meet.

Government in Ancient Rome Part 1

Government- How a civilization creates an organized way of leadership.

The Ancient Romans formed a republic where the people elected leaders to govern themselves. In the beginning, only the wealthy patricians could hold power.  However, it did not take long before the plebeians, or common people, began to want to have a say in their government. The republic was reformed to include a tripartite, three-part,  government. Each part had its own rights and responsibilities. The first part of the tripartite was the two magistrates. To guarantee against corruption, the two magistrates shared the power and  performed the duties of ruling the country. Their term of office was only a year long. The second part of the tripartite was the Senate. The Senate was made up of wealthy, powerful Romans who kept their positions for life. The Senate’s responsibility was to advise the leaders. The third part of the tripartite was divided into two different branches. One of the branches was the assembly, which had the responsibility of electing the magistrates. The  assembly was made up of both patricians and plebeians. The second branch was the tribune. Only plebeians could serve on the tribune. It held the power to veto, which means “I forbid” in Latin. This allowed the tribune to vote down any law or action taken by any other part of the government and made the tribune very powerful.

 

Government Part 2: Laws & Heroes in Ancient Rome

Government and Laws – A set of rules of conduct set up by an authority, custom or agreement.

To make sure that everyone was treated equally and fairly, the Romans wrote down their laws for everyone to see. Because the  laws were written on 12 bronze tables or tablets, they became known as the Law of Twelve Tables. The laws were then displayed in Rome’s Forum, or public meeting place, for everyone to see. Therefore, everyone could know the laws.

What kind of laws did the Romans have? One law written stated that “Marriage shall not take place between a patrician and a plebeian.” In other words, a rich person could not marry a poor person. Another law about lying stated that, “whoever is convicted of speaking false witness shall be flung from Tarpeian Rock.” Ouch! Tarpeian Rock is 80 feet tall. That’s like falling off an eight-story building!

Another part of Roman law was the census, or population count. The Roman’s used the census to regulate taxes. Therefore, as the population of Rome grew the more taxes and money the government had to spend.

Ancient Rome is known for its many great heroes who became famous for a number of reasons. Some were military heroes, such as Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. Scipio, known for his great bravery, is also known for defeating Hannibal and his elephants at the final battle of the Second Punic War. Julius Caesar is perhaps the best known Roman. Besides being a military hero, Julius Caesar made himself dictator of Rome and led the country to grow in size and strength. He also created the calendar we use today, naming one of the months after himself, July. Like Julius (his uncle), Augustus further expanded Rome. He ruled in a period called Pax Romana, when Romans enjoyed an era of relative peace and prosperity. Under his leadership, a network of roads and a postal system were created. He also instated official police and firefighting services.