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Enclosing the West: The Early Roman Empire and Its Neighbors, 31 B.C.E.-235 C.E. The West CHAPTER 5.

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Presentation on theme: "Enclosing the West: The Early Roman Empire and Its Neighbors, 31 B.C.E.-235 C.E. The West CHAPTER 5."— Presentation transcript:

1 Enclosing the West: The Early Roman Empire and Its Neighbors, 31 B.C.E.-235 C.E. The West CHAPTER 5

2 Imperial Authority: Augustus and After Behind the façade of a restored Republican tradition, Octavian (Augustus) created a Roman version of the Hellenic monarchy Princeps (First Citizen) - all-powerful, but unobtrusive political position Augustus’ heirs adopted the title Imperator, instead of Princeps Principle of hereditary monarchy staved off political instability

3 The Nature of Imperial Power Defense and expansion of imperial territory Administration of justice and provision of good government, through public infrastructure Pontifex Maximus: supervision of religious worship Symbol of unity and embodiment of the empire - the cult of the emperor focused the allegiance of the empire’s diverse population

4 The Agents of Control The Senate - legislative arm of imperial rule Public service and honor obtained via the Senate harnessed the Roman aristocracy and provincial élite to the imperial system The Army - enforced peace, defended borders and conquered new lands Military support was crucial to the emperor’s position and power

5 The City of Rome A monument to the authority of the emperor and to the power of the senatorial élite The Forum was the physical, political and religious center of the city and the empire Public works and buildings displayed imperial might Majority of the city’s population lived in impoverished slums

6 Conquest and Administration Conquest fueled the Roman economy Empire managed by a provincial system - evolution of an administrative-military class Imperial governors supervised the administration of the provinces by city councilors Provincial government collected taxes, defended frontiers and administered justice

7 The Provincial Cities The civitas (city and surrounding land) was the basic unit of imperial government Cities served as economic, legal and cultural centers Each city modeled itself physically and politically on Rome Each province had a unique legal and administrative system - the Law of the Province

8 The Countryside Land ownership in the countryside was the key to prosperity in the imperial system Conditions for the peasantry varied across the empire Legal system favored large, wealthy property owners over the rural poor Agricultural productivity was very high

9 Revolts Against Rome Revolt of Arminius (9 C.E.): the only successful rebellion, led to the linguistic divide between Germanic and Romance languages in Europe Enduring tribal allegiance fueled revolts in Britain and Gaul, but only for a few generations Religious identity fueled revolts in Judea and allowed Jews to resist assimilation

10 Forces of Romanization Roman Army - bound together men from all provinces with a common culture, language and identity Uniformity of Roman Law across provinces 212 C.E. - the Antonine Decree granted citizenship to all free inhabitants of the empire, eliminating the distinction between conquerors and conquered

11 Frontier Zones: Civilization and Barbarians Physical and cultural demarcation along the empire’s frontiers Heavily fortified borders represented limits of Roman authority and civilization Romans defined their own identity, and justified their conquests, by viewing all who lived beyond the frontiers as barbarians

12 Rome and the Parthian Empire Parthian Empire, stretching from the Euphrates to the Indus, was the greatest rival to Rome Majority of emperors favored diplomacy over conflict with Parthia Commercial ties between Rome and Parthia favored an exchange of ideas and technologies between the two empires

13 Roman Encounters with Germanic Peoples The Germans posed the greatest threat to Rome Never conquered or assimilated Trade and cultural contacts spread Roman ideas and values into Germanic tribes By the end of the second century C.E., Rome could no longer withstand the tide of Germanic invaders

14 Roman Encounters with Asians and Africans Rome had commercial, but not diplomatic, ties with imperial China Demand for spices and other luxury items extended Roman trade networks as far east as Thailand and Java Roman explorers ventured into sub-Saharan Africa, and commercial links may have existed between Rome and African peoples Sub-Saharan Africa remained a place of myth and fantasy in Roman thought

15 The Upper and Lower Classes Social hierarchy of the Republic endured Three aristocratic orders: senators, equestrians and city councilors Plebeians - poor, but free, citizens “Bread and circuses” - free grain and entertainment used to contain plebeian unrest

16 Slaves and Freedmen As much as 35 to 40 percent of the population of Italy were slaves ca. 30 B.C.E. Ownership of slaves conveyed social status Violence underpinned the institution of slavery Freedmen (slaves who had obtained liberty) constituted an ambitious minority of the population Economic importance of slavery declined in second century C.E.

17 Women in the Roman Empire Women of senatorial and equestrian rank possessed great freedom The wives, mothers and other female relatives of the emperor could wield great, but unofficial, power Female infanticide remained common

18 Literature and the Empire The new imperial system influenced literary styles Virgil encapsulated the potential and the threat of imperial government in the Aeneid Rhetoricians and historians analyzed imperial government Advances in geography and astronomy, especially in the works of Claudius Ptolemy

19 Religious Life Roman religion was polytheistic and public Syncretism spread a shared religious experience across the empire After the destruction of the Second Temple, Rabbinic Judaism evolved Rise of Christianity: appeal to marginalized groups, assimilation with classical philosophy, intolerance of other religions

20 Rome Shapes the West Boundaries of Roman Empire defined the geographical heart of the West Rome transmitted Hellenistic and classical ideas into Europe The cultural uniformity achieved within the Roman empire, between ca. 30 B.C.E. and 220 C.E., formed the foundation of Western civilization


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