Don’t Do as the Romans Do for Long
The Land and the People
• The people of Roman managed to do what no others before them had been able to do: they ruled the entire known world under a single administration for an extended period of time.
• They brought their concepts of law and justice to the rest of the world. • Rome was a military state that maintained a strong military presence in the lands they conquered. They devoted a great deal of thought to military strategy, technology, administration and law in order to sustain the empire they built.
• Romans had a slight inferiority complex where the Greeks were concerned. They borrowed much of their culture from the
Greeks and modified it to suit their own needs. This is especially true in the areas of art, architecture, philosophy and religion.
• In short, Italy was a multicultural landscape that came to be dominated by the small village of Rome.
• Italy is a peninsula that juts out into the
Mediterranean just west of Greece. Italy has few mineral resources and even fewer usable harbors, but it does have a lot of fertile land. The Romans were essentially an agrarian people.
• Italy is also easily accessible to Europe from the north. There were no buffer civilizations to help protect the Romans from invaders, so conflict was fairly constant for them.
Don’t Know Much and We Know Why
• We know very little about the early people of Italy.
• We do know that they were nomadic herdsmen and that they were technologically superior, having full use of bronze, horses and wheeled carts.
• They were warlike and included a variety of ethnic groups including the Sabines, the Umbrians and the
• Between 800 and 700 BC, the Greeks and Etruscans began to move into Italy.
• The origin of the Etruscans is a mystery, though archaeologists suspect that they come from the eastern Mediterranean, possibly Asia Minor.
• They brought civilization and urbanization to Italy.
• They settled in the area between the Appenine mountain range and the Tyrrhenian Sea, and their civilization stretched from the Arno River in the north to the Tiber River in the center of the Italian peninsula. There’s that People Mixing Again
• The Latins, who later became the Romans, lived in a small village on the Tiber River, so they had lots of contact with the neighboring Etruscans.
• Etruscan language, ideas, religion and civilization had a huge impact on the development of Roman civilization and culture.
• The Etruscans lived in fortified city-states that formed small confederacies. They were ruled by a monarch, but later oligarchies took over.
• They were largely agrarian but had a strong military that they used to dominate those peoples that surrounded them
• These people were used for labor in Etruscan agrarian enterprises. The Legend of Romulus and Remus
• According to Roman legend, Rome was founded by
• King Numitor of Alba Longa was deposed by his brother Amulius. Numitor’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, was a Vestal Virgin, that is, a priestess of the goddess Vesta. Although she was forbidden to marry, she fell in love with Mars and had twin sons.
• Amulius was afraid that the boys would grow up and overthrow him, so he had the infants placed in a trough and set adrift in the Tiber River
• The trough washed ashore and the boys were rescued by a she-wolf who fed them with her own milk. • They were found by Faustulus, a shepherd, who adopted and raised them. The boys were named
Remus and Romulus.
Sibling Rivalry. Lots of it.
• As teens, the boys became involved in a group of warlike shepherds. • When Remus was captured and brought before Numitor for judgment, he was recognized. The two boys overthrew
Amulius and restored their grandfather to power.
• The pair decided to build their own town on the site where the she- wolf had nursed them, and Romulus began to build the walls.
• Remus made fun of the walls and said they weren’t tall enough, so Romulus killed him and went on