Download Unit 8, Part 1: Geography and Rise of The Roman Empire

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Unit 8, Part 1: Geography and Rise of
• Italian Peninsula – looks like a boot; juts out into
the Mediterranean Sea
• 2 major mountain ranges
• Alps – To the north (Europe’s highest
• Apennines – run length of the peninsula
• Some of the mountains, such as Mount Vesuvius,
are volcanic.
• Not much flat land
• Hills cover where there aren’t mountains. Cities
built on hills are easier to defend.
• Climate – warm, dry summers and mild, rainy
winters. Similar to California. Able to grow wide
variety of crops like grains, citrus fruits, grapes,
and olives.
• Rome’s early history is a mystery
because no written records exist.
• Roman leaders wanted their city to
have glorious past, so they told
legends about great heroes and
kings who built the city.
• Aeneas – According to Virgil’s epic
poem the Aeneid, the Trojan hero
Aeneas carried his father from the
burning city of Troy before it fell to
the Greek. After traveling around
the Mediterranean, he and his
followers finally settled in Italy.
• Romulus and Remus – Descendants of
Aeneas and founders of Rome. As babies,
these twins were put in a basket and thrown
into the Tiber River. A wolf rescued them
and raised them for many years. A shepherd
found the boys and adopted them. After they
grew up, Romulus and Remus decided to
build a city to mark the spot where the wolf
had rescued them. While planning the city,
Remus mocked one of his brother’s ideas. In
a fit of anger, Romulus killed Remus. He
then built the city and named it Rome after
• Romulus –Took the throne as first king of
Rome in 753 BC (give or take 100 years).
Romulus and Remus
• Roman records list 7 kings who ruled the
• Etruscan Kings - The last 3 kings were
Etruscans, members of a people who lived
north of Rome and where there before it was
founded. They made great contributions to
Roman society.
Built huge temples
Built Rome’s first sewer.
Romans may have learned their alphabet and
numbers from the Etruscans.
• Last Roman king was cruel and had many
people killed, including his own advisors.
Finally, a group of nobles rose up, overthrew
him, and created a new government.
• A Republic – people elect leaders to
govern them. Each year the Romans
elected officials to rule the city. These
officials had many powers but only stayed
in power for one year so as to keep any
one person from becoming too powerful.
• Not a democracy! Almost all officials
came from a small group of wealthy and
powerful men who held all the power,
with others having little to say in how the
republic was run.
• Shortly after republic was created, Rome
fell into a 50 year period of war with other
people of the region. Though they won
most of these wars, they lost several
battles, and many people were killed and
property destroyed.
• During particularly difficult wars,
Romans chose dictators, rulers with
almost absolute power, to lead the
city. To keep them from abusing their
power, dictators could only stay in
power for 6 months then had to give
up power.
• Cincinnatus – most famous dictator of
this period. A farmer who was chosen
to defend the city against a powerful
enemy, whom he quickly defeated and
then immediately resigned and
returned to his farm. Considered an
ideal leader because he didn’t want
power and was loyal to the republic.
(Cincinnati, Ohio is named after him.)
• Within Rome, society was divided into two groups
• Patricians – nobles, or wealthiest people. Only
patricians could be elected to office, so they held all
the political power.
• Plebeians – common people; peasants, craftspeople,
traders, and other workers. Some, especially traders,
were quite wealthy. Although most of the population
were plebeians, they couldn’t take part in government.
They began to call for changes because they wanted
more of a say in how the city was run.
• In 494 BC the plebeians formed a council and elected
their own officials, which frightened patricians as they
feared Rome would fall apart if the 2 groups didn’t
cooperate. The patricians decided to change to a
tripartite, or 3 part government.
TRIPARTITE - Magistrates
1st Part
• Magistrates, or elected officials
• Consuls - 2 most powerful; elected for one
year; ran city and lead the army. There were
2 so that no one person could be too
• Below the consuls were many different
types of magistrates, all elected for 1 year,
each with his own duties and powers. Some
were judges, others managed finances,
organized games and festivals, etc.
2nd Part
• Roman Senate – council of wealthy and
powerful Romans that advised the city’s leaders.
• Originally created to advise Rome’s kings,
then advised consuls
• 300 members who held offices for life
• Mostly patricians, but over time wealthy
plebeians became senators
• Because magistrates often became senators after completing
their terms in office, most didn’t want to anger the Senate and
risk their future jobs.
• As time passed, Senate became more powerful, gained great
influence over the magistrates, and took control of finances.
TRIPARTITE – Assemblies & Tribunes
3rd Part
• 2 branches: Assemblies & Tribunes
• Assemblies
• Both patricians and plebeians took part
• Primary job to elect the magistrates
who ran the city
• Tribunes – elected by plebeians
• Could veto, or prohibit, actions by other officials. Veto
means “I forbid” in Latin, the Roman’s language.
Ability to veto made tribunes very powerful.
• Remained in office 1 year so wouldn’t abuse power
• Checks and balances – methods to balance
power and keep any one part of a
government from becoming stronger or
more influential than the others.
• For example, one consul could block the
actions of the others. Also, laws proposed by
the Senate had to be approved by
magistrates and ratified by assemblies.
• When officials worked together, the
government was strong and efficient. Could
also complicate government when officials
disagreed. The same is true with our checks
and balances today.
Overview of the Roman Republic Government
• Upper class
• Landowners
• Supervise
government business
• Command armies
• 1 year
• Supervise
government business
• Command armies
• 1 year
• 300
• Make laws
• For life
• Lower class
• Protect interests of
• Veto laws
• Absolute power
• No more than 6 mo.
• At first, laws weren’t written down, so the
only people who knew all the laws were the
patricians who made them. Many people
were unhappy about being punished for
breaking laws they didn’t even know existed.
As a result, they called for laws to be written
down and made accessible to everybody.
• Rome’s first written code of law was
produced in 450 BC on 12 bronze tables, or
tablets. These were displayed in the Forum,
Rome’s public meeting place. Because of
how they were displayed, they were called
the Law of the Twelve Tables. People looked
to these as a symbol of their rights as Roman
• Means “public place”
• Heart of Rome and center of life
• Most important temples and government
buildings were located there.
• Popular place for citizens to meet to talk about
issues of the day, shop, chat, and gossip.
• Located in center of Rome between Palantine
Hill where the richest people lived and the
Capitoline Hill where the grandest temples
• Leaders would use the Forum as a speaking
area to deliver speeches to the crowds.
• Public ceremonies often held there.
Reconstructed Forum
• Gladiator fights sometimes held there.
• Usually packed with people.