The Roman Policy of “Bread and Circuses”

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Question Number One

There were several problems created through the Roman policy of “Bread and Circuses.” As Rome’s political system evolved, Rome’s armies’ expanded the Roman power across Italy. After getting rid of their Etruscan rulers, Romans gained power over central Italy. By about 270 B.C., Rome occupied all of Italy. Rome’s success was partly because of its efficient, well-disciplined army. The Roman armies were made up of citizen-soldiers who fought without any pay, and supplied their own weapons. The basic unit was called the Roman legion. The Roman legion was made up of about 5,000 men. The Roman soldiers had a series of great victories. Young soldiers who showed courage, got praise and gifts, but those who fled from battle, were put to death. People had to acknowledge Roman leadership, pay taxes, and supply soldiers for the Roman army. Rome treated the defeated enemies with justice, because in return they got to keep their own customs, local government, and money. Only a few of the conquered people were ever granted full citizenship from Rome. Most of them became partial citizens, who were allowed to marry Romans and carry on trade through the growing city on the Tiber. Rome fought three wars against Carthage between 264 B.C. and 164 B.C. Those wars were called the Punic Wars. In the first Punic war, Rome defeated Carthage, which forced it to surrender Sicily, Corsica, and Sardina. Carthage had tensions about seeking revenge, and 23 years later, Carthage lead by Hannibal, sought revenge. Hannibal dedicated his life to destructing Rome. Hannibal was selected to be the leader of the Carthaginian army, and had a force of troops from North Africa, and Europe. During 218 B.C., Hannibal set out from Spain and led his troops and war elephants into Italy. In the Second Punic War, the Romans sent an army to attack Carthage. Carthage gave up all its land except for the land in Africa. For the Romans, the most important result of the Second Punic War was that they were now masters of the western Mediterranean. Hannibal fled to the East, but once Romans tracked him down, he took poison, rather than surrendering to his enemy. In the Third Punic War, Hannibal was dead and Rome still saw Carthage as a rival because of the destruction that Hannibal’s army had brought to Italy. In the end, the survivors of the city that Rome had attacked, were either killed or sold into slavery. Rome had a series of wars that brought Macedonia, parts of Asia Minor, and Greece under its rule, while other regions including Egypt, had allied with Rome. The widespread of slave labor hurt small farmers, because they were unable to produce food as cheaply as the wealthy families could. Many farmers fell in debt, which resulted in them being forced to sell their land. The landless farmers then went to Rome in search for jobs. Tiberius called on the state to tribute land to poor farmers, and Gaius, who was elected tribune 10 years later than Tiberius was, went for a wider range of reforms, including the use of public funds to buy grain for the poor who were hungry. The reforms of Tiberius and Gaius angered the senate, and were seen as a threat to its power. The killing of Tiberius, Gaius, and their followers, showed how the republic was unable to resolve its problems in peace. Over the next 200 years, Rome became involved in a series of civil wars. The senate wanted to govern the same way they have in the past, but the political leaders wanted to weaken the senate. The series of civil wars in Rome were about whether the senate or political leaders should have power. These wars caused slave uprisings and revolts against Roman allies, as well as transforming old legions of citizen soldiers into more organized armies. All Romans, rich and poor, enjoyed entertainments at the Circus Maximus, (shown in the first picture.) The Circus Maximus was built in 326 B.C., in Rome, with a purpose of controlling the city’s mobs. The...
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