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Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
From Republic to Empire
• Main Idea / Reading Focus
• Problems in the Late Republic
• Rome Becomes an Empire
• Map: The Roman Empire
• The Pax Romana
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
From Republic to Empire
Main Idea
Governmental and social problems led to the end of the Roman
Republic and the creation of a new form of government.
Reading Focus
• What problems did leaders face in the late Roman Republic?
• How did Rome become an empire?
• What helped tie the Roman empire together during the Pax
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
Problems in the Late Republic
By the mid-100s BC, Rome had no rival anywhere in the
Mediterranean world. However, the responsibilities of running their
vast holdings stretched the Roman political system to its limits.
Social Unrest
• Revolution began
in political, social
• Tensions grew
between classes of
Roman society
• Gracchi brothers
tried to resolve
• Tribune Tiberius
Gracchus noted
mistreatment of
• Many reduced to
• Tiberius, brother
Gaius tried to help
Public Land
• Gracchi tried to
redistribute public
land to farmers
• Had public support,
but Senate feared
Gracchi trying to
reduce its power
• Senate urged mobs
to kill brothers
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
The Military in Politics
• 107 BC, social unrest reached new level
• General Gaius Marius elected consul
– Eliminated property restrictions
– Accepted anyone who wanted to join army
• Armies, private forces devoted to general
– Poor hoped to share plunder at end of war
– Ruthless generals realized loyalty of troops could be used as
political tool
Section 2
Rome and Early Christianity
Social and Civil Wars
The Social War
• Rome’s Italian allies had been
trying to obtain Roman
• Senate wanted to maintain
monopoly on power, refused
Civil War
• Social War revealed talent of
General Lucius Cornelius Sulla
• Sulla became consul, 88 BC;
after consulship ended, Marius
tried to prevent Sulla from
taking military command
• 90 BC, Social War broke out
• Italian rebels were defeated, but
Senate agreed to give them
• Sulla marched on Rome, won
civil war, became dictator
• Carried out program of reforms
to protect power of Senate
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
What challenges faced Rome in the late
Answer(s): slave revolts, social unrest, the Social
War, and a civil war in which Sulla became
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
Rome Becomes an Empire
Sulla paved the way for major changes in Rome’s government. The
end of the Republic resulted from the ambitions of a few individuals.
The First Triumvirate
• Julius Caesar, Gnaeus
Pompey, Licinius Crassus
helped bring end to Republic
End of Triumvirate
• Crassus died; Pompey,
Caesar fought civil war
• Caesar, Pompey successful
military commanders
• Caesar defeated Pompey,
took full control of Rome,
became dictator for life, 44 BC
• Crassus one of wealthiest
people in Rome
• Caesar brought many changes
to Rome, popular reforms
• 60 BC, the three took over
Roman state, ruled as First
• Senate feared he would
destroy Roman Republic,
murdered him, Ides of March
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
The Second Triumvirate
• Caesar’s murder did not save the Republic
• 43 BC, Second Triumvirate took power—Caesar’s adopted son,
Octavian; loyal officer Marc Antony; high priest Lepidus
• Lepidus pushed aside; Antony, Octavian agreed to govern half the
empire each, Octavian in west, Antony in East
Civil War
• Civil war between Octavian, Antony broke out
• Octavian defeated Antony and his ally, Egypt’s Queen Cleopatra
• Cleopatra, Antony committed suicide; Octavian alone controlled
• Republic effectively dead; new period in Roman history beginning
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
From Octavian to Augustus
Octavian Takes Power
• Octavian faced task of restoring
order in empire
• Had no intention of establishing
dictatorship when he took
• Octavian careful to avoid title of
king or emperor
• Called himself princeps, “first
• Government called Principate
New Political Order
• Octavian decided it impossible
to return Rome to republican
form of government
• Created new political order,
known today as the empire
New Title
• 27 BC, Senate gave Octavian
title Augustus, “the revered
• Title a religious honor; able to
wear laurel and oak leaf crown
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
The Augustan Age
New Imperial Government
• Augustus head of state more than 40 years, made smooth transition to new
imperial government with power divided between him and Senate
• Most financial, administrative matters under Augustus’s control
Foreign Affairs
• Started program to bring peace to west, particularly to Gaul, Spain
• Began series of conquests that pushed border eastward to Danube River
• Also took special care of Rome itself
• Created police force, fire brigades; stockpiled food, water
• Began building program; presided over moral, religious reforms
• Great period of cultural creativity; great writers like Horace, Ovid, Virgil
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
Julio-Claudians and Flavians
Augustus died AD 14, empire ruled by Caesar’s relatives for 54 years
Julio-Claudian Emperors’ abilities varied widely
Tiberius a good soldier, competent administrator
Caligula, brutal, mentally unstable; appointed favorite horse as
• AD 68, last of Julio-Claudians, Nero committed suicide
• Following Nero’s death, civil wars
raged in Rome
• Four military leaders claimed
throne in turn
• Last, Vespasian reestablished
order, as did reigns of two sons
• Stability returned under Flavians
The Good Emperors
• AD 96, new line of emperors
established—Good Emperors
• Five rulers governed Rome for
almost a century
• From provinces different than
Rome, continued opening Roman
imperial society
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
The Good Emperors
Empire grew tremendously under Good
• Reached limits of expansion under Trajan
• Added what are now Romania, Armenia,
Mesopotamia, and the Sinai Peninsula
• Successor Hadrian thought empire too large
– Withdrew from almost all eastern additions
– Built defensive fortifications to guard against invasions
– Built wall 73 miles long in northern Britain
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
How did Rome grow and change after it
became an empire?
Answer(s): The Roman Empire reached the limits
of its territorial expansion and made developments
in building, government, and culture.
Section 2
Rome and Early Christianity
The Pax Romana
The period from the beginning of August’s reign in 27 BC until the death
of the last of the Good Emperors in AD 180 is often called the Pax
Romana—the Roman Peace. This era was characterized by stable
government, a strong legal system, widespread trade, and peace.
• Roman government strongest
unifying force in empire
• Maintained order, enforced laws,
defended frontiers
• Aristocracy participated, but
emperors made all important
• Empire divided into provinces ruled
by governors appointed from Rome
• Provincial government fair, efficient
• Government in Rome kept close
check on governors
• Any citizen could appeal unfair
treatment directly to emperor
Empire brought uniformity to the cities of the Mediterranean world,
which were governed in imitation of Rome.
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
Legal System
• Roman law unified the empire
• Laws specified what could, could not be done; penalties for breaking law
• Same laws applied to everyone in empire, wherever they lived
• Agriculture remained primary occupation throughout Pax Romana
• Most farms, independent with little, no surplus to sell
• Tenant farmers began to replace slaves on large farms
• Manufacturing increased throughout empire
• Italy, Gaul, Spain—artisans made cheap pottery, textiles
• Fine glassware made in eastern cities like Alexandria
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
Opportunities for Trade
• Italy imported grain, meat, raw materials from provinces
• Merchants brought silks, linens, glassware, jewelry, furniture from Asia
• Rome, Alexandria became commercial centers
• Commercial activity possible because of empire’s location around
Mediterranean and extensive road network
• Ultimately about 50,000 miles of roads bound empire together
Military and Merchant Routes
• Most roads built, maintained for military purposes
• Cheaper to transport grain by ship from one end of Mediterranean to other
than to send it overland; most goods went by sea
Rome and Early Christianity
Section 2
How did government, law, and trade tie the
Roman people together?
Answer(s): The Roman government was the strongest
unifying force, maintaining order, enforcing the laws, and
defending the frontiers. Roman law provided stability and,
with few exceptions, the same laws applied to everyone in
the empire. Trade provided opportunities for commerce
between people in different parts of the empire.