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12 Tables of Roman Law In the history of governments, the Twelve Tables occupy a special place. At once, they are the basis of the Roman Republic, the basis of Roman Law for centuries, and the germ of the idea that evolved into humanism, the philosophy of John Locke, and the Declaration if Independence. We're talking about, of course, the protection of certain rights. By about the 6th century B.C., Roman people (who weren't slaves) could be divided into two classes: patricians and plebeians. The former were wealthy, landowning citizens who had money and power and wealth and the right to vote. The latter were none of the above (or very little) but were not slaves. Since the patricians made up most of the ruling class and made the laws, they tended to make laws to protect their own interests. If the interests of the plebeians got in the way, then the laws came first--at least that's what the patricians thought. The plebeians had other ideas. They wanted certain basic rights, and they were willing to cause civil disturbances to get it. They even threatened to secede, in 494. By this time, the sheer numbers of the plebeian class made the patricians sit up in their governing chairs and take notice. The result was the Twelve Tables. The Tables themselves, which were finalized in the mid-5th century, were pieces of stone with writing carved into them. The main benefit of having laws written down was that the lawmakers and lawenforcers couldn't change them to suit their whims. Once a law was made public (and carving it into stone was about as public as it got), the law was known to everyone. This also had the benefit for the lawmakers and law-enforcers of ruling out a lawbreaker's protestation that he or she didn't know that what he or she was doing was against the law. If a law was made public, then it was everyone's responsibility to know and obey. Specifically, of the fragments of the Twelve Tables we have remaining, here are some points of interest: Table I mandates that when a person is accused of something, both accused and accuser must be present at a hearing or trial on the matter. Also, if both parties don't show up for a court date, the judge is free to rule in favor of the party that did show up. Table III gives debtors 30 days to pay off a debt. After that, a creditor is free to seize the debtor and make him or her a prisoner. Table IV makes a man's will binding. Table VIII lists specific punishments for certain crimes. It also says that if a person fails to show up as a trial witness, then that person will never again be allowed to be a witness. Most importantly, it says that a person shown to have lied in court will be put to death. Table IX specifies capital punishment for judges who have taken bribes and for people who have committed treason. It's also interesting to note that Table XI prohibits marriages between plebeians and patricians. So, even though the plebeians got some very important rights through the Twelve Tables, they couldn't marry into the upper class. The ruling class had to keep the other hand, after all. More examples of Roman laws: VI. 2 Marriage by `usage' (usus): If a man and woman live together continuously for a year, they are considered to be married; the woman legally is treated as the man's daughter. VIII. 1 "If any person has sung or composed against another person a SONG (carmen) such as was causing slander or insult.... he shall be clubbed to death." VIII. 2 "If a person has maimed another's limb, let there be retaliation in kind, unless he agrees to make compensation with him." (Lex talionis) VIII. 21 "If a patron shall defraud his client, he must be solemnly forfeited (`killed')." VIII. 23 "Whoever is convicted of speaking false witness shall be flung from the Tarpeian Rock." VIII. 26 "No person shall hold meetings in the City at night." IX. 3 "The penalty shall be capital punishment for a judge or arbiter legally appointed who has been found guilty of receiving a bribe for giving a decision." IX. 6 "Putting to death... of any man who has not been convicted, whosoever he might be, is forbidden." X. 4 "Women must not tear cheeks or hold chorus of `Alas!' on account of a funeral." Roman Coliseum The Colosseum, (the Flavian Amphitheatre) is one of Rome's most famous buildings and enduring monuments to the culture of the ancient Romans. Construction was initiated by the Emperor Vespasian around 72 AD. His son Titus reigned over its completion and the official opening ceremonies, about 8 years later, in 80 AD. It was built near the site of Nero's Domus Aurea "Golden House". This is significant in that his successor, Vespasian wanted to erase the memory of Nero's extravagant reign from the minds of Romans. It got its popular name, the Colosseum, because of Nero's colossus (120 ft. high) statue of himself, which was nearby. The huge theater was originally built encompassing four floors. The first three had arched entrances, while the fourth floor utilized rectangular doorways. The floors each measured between 10,5-13,9 meters (32-42 feet) in height. The total height of the construction was approximately 48 meters (144 feet). The arena measured 79 x 45 meters (237-135 feet), and consisted of wood and sand. (The word "arena" is derived from the Latin arena, which means "sand.") Nets along the sides protected the audience. The Colosseum had a total spectator capacity of 45,000-55,000. The Amphitheater is built of travertine outside, and of tufa and brick in the interior. The main pedestals were built of marble blocks weighing 5 metric tons (11,000 pounds.) Initially the huge marble blocks were held together by metal-pins. However, the pins were soon carried off by thieves, and had to be replaced by mortar. The total amount of marble needed for the construction measured approximately 100,000 cubic meters. It was carried by 200 ox-pulled carts, which supplied a sufficient flow of needed materials. There were no less than 76 numbered entrances and 4 additional entrances reserved for the Emperor, other VIP's and the gladiators. The Colosseum was designed for easy crowd dispersal; the entire audience could exit the building in five minutes. The interior was divided into three parts: the arena, the podium, and the cavea. Now more than two-thirds of the original building has been removed and the rows of the seats in the cavea are missing. It is very similar to other amphitheaters except this one is much bigger. The audience, upon entering, climbed sloping ramps to their seats, according to gender and social class. Obviously, the higher one's social status, the better their seating arrangement would be. For example, women (excepting spouses and perhaps imperial family) and the poor, stood or sat on wooden benches in the fourth tier. For inclement or very hot weather conditions, an enormous, colored awning (velarium) could be stretched overhead to protect the crowd. A wooden floor covered subterranean chambers where the gladiators and animals were kept waiting to perform. There is some debate over the idea that the Colosseum was occasionally flooded for mock naval battles. There were canals in place that could have been used for this purpose but the brick used in construction was not the same type of material that they normally used in water resistant materials. The Colosseum was the Empire's primary stage for gladiatorial combat for nearly 4 centuries. In a show of Rome's wealth and extravagance, during the opening ceremonies in 80 AD, 100 days of the games were held. Roman Aqueducts The great and highly advanced Roman waterway system known as the Aqueducts, are among the greatest achievements in the ancient world. The running water, indoor plumbing and sewer system carrying away disease from the population within the Empire wasn't surpassed in capability until very modern times. The Aqueducts, being the most visible and glorious piece of the ancient water system, stand as a testament to Roman engineering. Some of these ancient structures are still in use today in various capacities. The aqueducts were built from a combination of stone, brick and the special volcanic cement pozzuolana. While their visible remains leave a definite impression, the great bulk of the Roman waterway system ran below ground. Channels bored through rock, or dug below the surface carried water where it was convenient and possible. Of the approximately 260 miles in the aqueduct system, only 30 miles consisted of the visible, mammoth arched structures. The aqueducts were built only to carry the flow of water in areas where digging, burrowing, or surface grades presented problems, such as valleys. The entire system relied upon various gradients and the use of gravity to maintain a continuous flow; and the engineering at the time was remarkable. Without the aqueducts it would've been impossible to maintain the flow of water at the proper grades required. When water reached Rome it flowed into enormous cisterns (castella) maintained on the highest ground. These large reservoirs held the water supply for the city and were connected to a vast network of lead pipes. Everything from public fountains, baths and private villas could tap into the network, sometimes provided a fee was paid. The water system was as politically motivated as any other massive public works project. Providing additional sources of incoming flow, feeding the baths or simply providing water access to more of the populace could grant great prestige. Maintenance of the water system was a continuous task, and the Romans assigned a Curator Aquarum to oversee this undertaking. Paid laborers, slaves and the legions all had parts in building parts of the water system. The Curator Aquarum maintained the aqueducts of Rome, while similar curators oversaw those in the provinces. The legions however, when building new colonies or forts, were responsible for providing their own water supply. Just as they were the great road builders of the Empire, they most assuredly took part in the aqueduct construction of outlying areas. 11 separate aqueducts supplied the city of Rome and were built over a span of 500 years. The first, the Aqua Appia, was built in conjunction with the great southern road the Via Appia in 312 BC. Aqua Novus stretched the farthest from the city, reaching approximately 59 miles away. At its largest extant, nearly 200 cities within the empire were supplied buy aqueducts, far surpassing the capability of any civilization before or after for nearly another 2 millennia. The last Roman aqueduct built was the Aqua Alexandrina built in 226 AD. In the waning days of the western empire, invading Germanic tribes cut the supply of water into Rome and only the Aqua Virgo, which ran completely underground, continued to deliver water. During the middle ages, a couple of the lines were restored, but full access to running water wasn't re-established until the Renaissance. At the height of the ancient city's population of approximately 1,000,000 inhabitants, the water system was capable of delivering up to 1 cubic meter of water per person in the city, more than what is commonly available in most cities today. Gladiators and games Wealthy Romans often sponsored gladiator events and gave away food, money and gifts to the people in order to gain popularity. Some of the events used to celebrate a triumph, festival or accomplishment were: gladiator fights, animal hunts, mock sea battles, executions, races and plays. Roman politicians realized that offering free entertainment and food to the people was a great way to keep the masses happy and controllable. Competition and skill played much less of a role in arena events whose main function was to provide spectators with the enjoyment of viewing the agonizing deaths of people pronounced guilty of capital offenses. Unlike gladiators who trained in schools to fight successfully; criminals/captives were sent out to almost certain deaths. They received no training or defensive equipment. If a man killed one opponent and survived his fight, he immediately faced another opponent, and then another, until he grew exhausted and was in turn slain. These spectacles were executions. Some arena events involved wild animals. For executions, the unfortunate men were placed without weapons and sometimes were tied up as well, in an arena with hungry animals such as lions or panthers. In the wild animal “hunts,” men with weapons but no protective clothing were matched with animals. Seldom did the “hunters” leave the arena alive. Sometimes animal was pitted against animal – bears chained to bulls, or lions set upon elephants. Sometimes the animals were herded into the arena and shot by archers in the stands. The Roman world was quite inventive in the ways of cruelty and devised many different methods for slaughtering men and animals. The popularity of gladiatorial matches, executions, and wild animal “hunts” increased in the imperial period, when they began to be supported lavishly with public and imperial funds. In the 100 days of spectacles, which accompanied the opening or the Coliseum in A.D. 80, 9000 animals were killed. At Trajan’s games of A.D. 108, over 10,000 gladiators fought and 11,000 animals were killed.