The Roman Forum, Rome, Italy.
Photographer: Hans E C Johansson, 2004.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Our world is in a constant process of changing and evolution. Nations rise and fall in a few decades, their egemony dictated by economy, war, great people and sheer destiny.
The roman civilization was the most advanced, in terms of science, society and military organization. Under the lead of real legends like Julius Caesar, Rome managed to expand its borders and culture, eventually reaching the limits of Asia (which was then considered the end of the world).
(Source: 2007 roman-empire.info)
Two thousand years ago, the world was ruled by Rome. From England to Africa and from Syria to Spain, one in every four people on earth lived and died under Roman law. As with many cultures, a person’s quality of life depended in many ways on their rank within the social structure.
Two Romans living at the same time in the same city could have very different lives:
For wealthy Romans, life was good. They lived in beautiful houses – often on the hills outside Rome, away from the noise and the smell. They enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle with luxurious furnishings, surrounded by servants and slaves to cater to their every desire. Many would hold exclusive dinner parties and serve their guests the exotic dishes of the day.
Poorer Romans, however, could only dream of such a life. Sweating it out in the city, they lived in shabby, squalid houses that could collapse or burn at any moment. If times were hard, they might abandon newborn babies to the streets, hoping that someone else would take them in as a servant or slave. Poor in wealth but strong in numbers, they were the Roman mob, who relaxed in front of the popular entertainment of the time – chariot races between opposing teams, or gladiators fighting for their life, fame and fortune.
Although their lives may have been different, they did have some things in common. In any Roman family life, the head of the household was a man. Although his wife looked after the household, he controlled it. He alone could own property. Only he decided the fate of his children and who they would marry.
(© 2006 Devillier Donegan Enterprises)
Ancient Rome, the homeland of Roman civilization, which, from its beginnings as a settlement of Latin peasants on the banks of the River Tiber around 1000 bc, grew to be the centre of the greatest empire of the ancient world. From about 500 to 300 bc, Roman ways quickly began to dominate the whole of Italy and the Mediterranean fringe and, from about 200 bc to the late 5th century ad, Rome controlled vast territories in Europe, Africa, and Asia. They shared a way of life that, while allowing a great many regional differences, gave to many peoples a common culture that was distinctively Roman.
(Source: Wikipedia, The Free encyclopedia)
Roman history can be divided into three major periods: (1) the monarchy, traditionally founded in connection with the legend of Romulus and Remus (753 B.C.E.), (2) the Roman Republic, established in 509 B.C.E.; and (3) the Roman Empire, which sought to bring peace and order to the faltering Republic in 27 B.C.E., and which lasted until its western lands began to fall to Germanic invaders from the north in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries C.E.
During the later period of the Roman Republic Rome gained control over the Hellenistic empires surrounding the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Although Rome was unable to extend her control as far eastward as the Persians and the Greeks had, the western part of the empire eventually took in Spain, Gaul (modern France), southern Germany, and southern Britain. Each of the Hellenistic empires was subdivided into Roman provinces in the second and first centuries B.C.E. The formation of Syria as a Roman province brought Palestine under Roman control in 63.
The vast extension of Roman power over the whole Mediterranean region put an immense strain on the Roman Republic. New tax revenues and interest created an expanded economy, a higher standard of living, and a new wealthy class at Rome. But it also brought political corruption, social dislocation, and moral decline. Political bribery was common; abused slaves on the countryside plantations revolted and were often joined by the oppressed poor. Traditional Roman respect for family gave way to childless marriages, divorce, adultery, prostitution, and pederasty. Exploits abroad created instability at home; a highly centralized, stronger role seemed necessary, and eventually the Romans looked more and more to the military.
The maximum extent of the Roman Empire
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
What was daily life in the Greco-Roman world like? Generally speaking, safe travel became possible as it had never been possible before, but with it came the spread of disease. Physicians and healers of all sorts were in great demand. There were many advantages of city life, but at the same time the problem of feeding the increasing urban populations was never adequately solved and famine was an ever-recurring possibility. War was prevalent until the Augustan peace in 27 B.C.E.; thereafter it was confined largely to securing the frontiers--an exception being the wars with the Jews in 66-70 C.E. The practice of enslaving conquered populations was common, and slaves made up a sizable proportion of the population, especially in Rome. It should be realized that though slaves were often abused on some of the plantations, loyal slaves were sometimes given their freedom while those who became secretaries, domestics, tutors, or financial overseers could occasionally accumulate enough money to purchase freedom. The emperor's slaves held especially influential and powerful positions in government. Still, slaves were chattel and their legal rights were limited. There were no great political movements to abolish the institution.
Below the slave on the social ladder were the free poor who could barely subsist from day to day. The vast wealth of the empire was controlled by a few aristocrats, who often gained honor and status with their public works and philanthropic deeds, but the gap between rich and poor remained great.
(Written by Dennis Duling of Canisius College and was published in his 2nd edition of Norman Perrin and Dennis Duling, The New Testament: An Introduction, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,1982.
A gap of 2,000 years may seem to have put the Romans at a safe distance from our own lives and experience, but modern Europe with its Union is unthinkable without the Roman Empire. It is part of the story of how we came to be what we are.
The Romans are important as a conscious model, for good or ill, to successive generations. Why do they have such a powerful hold on our imaginations? What attracts us to them, or repulses us? What do they have in common with us, and what makes them different?
A century ago, for imperialist Britain (and for other European states with imperial ambitions), the Roman Empire represented a success story. Rome's story of conquest, at least in Europe and around the Mediterranean, was imitated, but never matched, by leaders from Charlemagne to Napoleon. The dream that one could not only conquer, but in so doing create a Pax Romana, a vast area of peace, prosperity and unity of ideas, was a genuine inspiration.
One of the most astonishing features of the Roman Empire is the sheer diversity of the geographical and cultural landscapes it controlled. It was a European empire in the sense that it controlled most of the territory of the member states of the present EU, except part of Germany and Scandinavia.
We are left with a paradox. The Roman Empire set up and spread many of the structures on which the civilisation of modern Europe depends; and through history it provided a continuous model to imitate. Yet many of the values on which it depended are the antithesis of contemporary value-systems. It retains its hold on our imaginations now, not because it was admirable, but because despite all its failings, it held together such diverse landscape for so long.
By Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill,
'Roman Empire: The Paradox of Power"
Which nation is like the Roman Empire?
Which nation has garrisoned its troops all over the world?
Who are like the Romans?
Some are; some are like the Roman Senators of the fifth century, one of the most rapacious and ruthless ruling classes that ever held power.
Roman Senators were selfish and self-absorbed, determined to hoard the huge wealth of the empire and determined to promote empire to enhance their wealth even further. The common people lost all power and were lucky if they had enough to eat (they were the humiliores, literally the humble, as opposed to the honestiores, the honored).
The Roman Empire fell because it was bankrupted by its leaders.
Both Romans and now some have had the misfortune of being ruled by a Selfish Class. Rome fell because of it. Will we replay the Fall of Rome?
What the Senators didn't realize was that the fall of Rome was only the beginning of a process that would end with almost all of their families gone, their riches dispersed, and Italy plunged into chaos for hundreds of years. The Senate did continue to meet for another sixty years, but except for its one pivotal moment in 476, the Senate had not exercised any power for many hundreds of years, having handed it over to the strongmen who called themselves Emperor, and now King.
The latter years of the Roman Empire are a catalog of disasters brought on by incompetent governments ruled over by incompetent autocrats, and it looks like we're following down the same road.
(By Douglas C.Smyth in roman-empire-america-now.com)
Outlines of Roman History
by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L.
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: American Book Company (1901)
The Private Life of the Romans
by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston
Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932)
Huge archive of pictures from Rome
Images from archaeological remains from ancient Rome
© Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe
Pictures from the Empire
Photos of sites from the Roman empire