I.Rome’s Creation of a Mediterranean Empire, 753 b.c.e.–330 c.e. A.Geography and Resources
1.Italy and Sicily are at a crossroads of the Mediterranean and serve as a link between Africa and Europe. Rome is at a crossroads of the Italian peninsula. 2.Italy’s natural resources included navigable rivers, forests, iron, a mild climate, and enough arable land to support a large population of farmers whose surplus product and labor could be exploited by the Roman state. B.A Republic of Farmers, 753–31 b.c.e.
1.Rome was inhabited at least as early as 1000 b.c.e. According to legend it was ruled by seven kings between 753 b.c.e. and 507 b.c.e. Kingship was eliminated in 507 b.c.e. when representatives of the senatorial class of large landholders overthrew the last king and established a republic. 2.The centers of political power were the two consuls and the Senate. In practice, the Senate made laws and governed. 3.The Roman family consisted of several generations living under the absolute authority of the oldest living male, the paterfamilias. 4.Society was hierarchical. Families and individuals were tied together by patron/client relationships that institutionalized inequality and gave both sides of the relationship reason to cooperate and to support the status quo. 5.Roman women had relatively more freedom than Greek women, but their legal status was still that of a child, subordinate to the paterfamilias of her own or her husband’s family. Eventually procedures evolved which made it possible for some women to become independent after the death of their fathers. 6.Romans worshiped a large number of supernatural spirits as well as major gods such as Jupiter and Mars. Proper performance of ritual ensured that the gods continued to favor the Roman state. C.Expansion in Italy and the Mediterranean
1.Rome began to expand, at first slowly and then very rapidly in the third and second centuries b.c.e. until it became a huge Mediterranean empire. Possible explanations for this expansion include greed, aggressiveness, the need for consuls to prove themselves as military commanders during their single year in office, and a constant fear of being attacked. 2.During the first stage of expansion, Rome conquered the rest of Italy (by 290 b.c.e.). Rome won the support of the people of Italy by granting them Roman citizenship. As citizens, these people then had to provide soldiers for the military. 3.In the next stages of expansion, Rome first defeated Carthage to gain control over the western Mediterranean and Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain (264–202 b.c.e.). Next, between 200 and 30 b.c.e., Rome defeated the Hellenistic kingdoms to take over the lands of the Eastern Mediterranean. Between 59 and 51 b.c.e., Gaius Julius Caesar conquered the Celts of Gaul. 4.The Romans used local elite groups to administer and tax the various provinces of their rapidly expanding and far-flung empire. A Roman governor, who served a single one-year term in office, supervised the local administrators. This system was inadequate and prone to corruption. D.The Failure of the Republic
1.As Rome expanded, the social and economic bases of the Roman republic in Italy were undermined. While men from independent farming families were forced to devote their time to military service, large landowners bought up their land to create great estates called latifundia. This meant both a decline in Rome’s source of soldiers and a decline in food production, as latifundia owners preferred to grow cash crops like grapes rather than staple crops such as wheat. 2.Since slave labor was cheap in an expanding empire, Italian peasants, driven off the land and not employed by the latifundia, drifted into the cities where they formed a fractious unemployed underclass....