Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Founding of Rome

The Founding of Rome
The Founding of Rome is very much told through myth.
 Traces found by archaeologists of early settlements of the Palatine Hill date back to about 750 B.C.E. 
This ties in very closely to the established legend that Rome was founded in April of 753 B.C.E., which was traditionally celebrated in Rome with the festival of Parilia. 
Two founding legends exist - Romulus and Remus and Aeneas.
 Rather than contradict each other, the tale of Aeneas adds to that of Romulus and Remus.
Romulus and Remus with "mom"

Romulus and Remus
King Numitor of Alba Longa was overthrown by his younger brother Amulius. To do away with any further possible pretenders to his throne, Amulius murdered Numitor's sons and forced Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, to become a vestal virgin. (Vestal virgins were priestesses to the goddess Vesta and were expected to never marry, under penalty of death). 
However Mars, the god of war, fell in love with Rhea Silvia and married her. As a result of this Rhea Silvia had twins, Romulus and Remus.
 A furious King Amulius had Rhea Silvia thrown into the Tiber River where she was caught beneath the waves by a river god who married her.

The twins were set adrift on the river in a reed basket. They floated downstream until the basket was caught in the branches of a fig tree. This was where they were found by a she-wolf who nursed them (wolves are sacred to Mars) until a shepherd found them.

Another version of the same story tells of the shepherd finding them and taking them to his wife, who had just lost her own child and who cared for them.

As the two boys had grown to men in the care of the couple, they were told of their true origins. True to their heroic status they raised an army and marched on the city of Alba Longa. Amulius was killed in battle and Numitor was restored to his throne. 
The twins decided to start a new city close to where they had been washed ashore, caught by the fig tree. The twins disputed which hill their city should be built on, Romulus favouring the Palatine, Remus choosing another (possibly the Aventine).
 Taking the looking at omens and trying to understand the will of the gods, Remus on his hill saw six birds, Romulus saw twelve. So it was decided that Romulus’ choice was the right one and he and his followers took to building their city on Palatine Hill.
 After an awful argument and fight, Remus was killed by his twin brother Romulus.

Aeneas runs out of Troy with his family
If the tale of Romulus and Remus appears the more popular Roman myth today, then the tale of Aeneas was perhaps even more popular in the days of the Roman Empire. Written by the Roman poet Virgil, the Aeneid became the national epic of the Roman Empire and the most famous poem of the Roman era.

Aeneas was said to have been a hero fighting the Greeks in the Trojan War. The son of Venus and a mortal father, he escaped as the great city of Troy was sacked. After quite a journey, he landed in Latium through which the Tiber River flows. Aeneas married the daughter of King Latinus, only to anger King Turnus of Rutuli who himself had his eye on her. As usual in ancient tales, there ensued a war for the princess between Turnus and Aeneas, who was by then supported by King Tarchon of the Etruscans.

Naturally Aeneas, son of Venus, was triumphant.

The sack of Troy is dated to around 1220 BC. To fill the years from Aeneas to Romulus the Romans therefore were required to produce a string of fictional Kings to make the tale work. This was done across all the generations with some ease from Ascanius, son of Aeneas to Numitor, grandfather of Romulus and Remus.
Neolithic Rome

Historical Background (What REALLY Happened)

The tribe of people known as the Latins settled in the wider area of Rome around 1000 BC. Though those early settlements were not anything like a city. They kept pigs, herded sheep, goats, cattle and lived in primitive, round huts.

So how could such simple beginnings ever lead to a city of power which would rule the world? The rise of Rome was certainly not certain, but it had many advantages right from the start. Rome lies only a few miles from the sea with all its possibilities of trade. It lies central to the Italian peninsula, which in turn lies central to the entire Mediterranean Sea. Italy is guarded by the Alps to the North and by the sea all around.

Along with this development was the influence of the Greeks who were settling southern Italy, founding cities like Cumea and Tarentum and bringing advanced civilization to the country. From the Greeks the Romans learned skills such as reading and writing, even their religion is almost entirely taken from Greek mythology.

If the Greeks settled to the south of them, then the Roman had the Etruscans to the north. Etruria was predominantly an urban society, drawing its considerable wealth from sea trade. The extravagant Etruscans were generally seen by the more hardy Romans to be fancy and weak. While being distinctly unique in their own right, the Etruscans too owed much of their culture to the Greeks.

At around 650 to 600 B.C.E. the Etruscans crossed the Tiber and occupied Latium. It is through this that the settlement on the Palatine Hill was brought together with the settlements on surrounding hills, either in an attempt to fend off the invaders, or by the Etruscan king who sought to rule through a structure of city states. It is at this point that the first known, rather than mythical, kings emerge.

Finally, take these notes into your notebook or on Notability:

What do legends tell us about these Roman kings?



*Abandoned as a baby into the Tiber River

*Raised by a she-wolf

*Adopted by a shepherd

*Killed his twin brother Remus

*Built Rome, named it for himself

*Rome’s second king

*Brought peace to Rome

*Founded the Roman religion (based on Greek gods and goddesses)

What was the government of Rome like under the early kings?

*Kings advised by the Senate
*Kings were elders from Rome’s leading families
*Decisions voted on by citizens’ assembly
*Government and religion closely connected
*King was chief priest (Pontifex Maximus)

How was Roman civilization influenced by the Etruscans?

*Etruscan civilization was more advanced
*Romans adopted Etruscan alphabet, new building techniques like the arch
*Etruscans were builders of temples, arenas, and sewer systems
*Etruscan women had far more rights than other women

Describe the geography of Rome:

*Built on several hills on the Tiber River, which flows into the Mediterranean
*Centered on the Italian peninsula, which sticks out into the Mediterranean
*Close enough to the coast for trade, but inland enough for protection
An early view of Rome as a small village
How was the geography of Rome advantageous?



*Hills helped to protect Rome from enemy attacks

*15 miles from the sea keeps Rome safe from naval attacks

*Tiber River good for trade within Italy, and connects Rome to the sea

*Central location of Italy in the Mediterranean makes an easy trip to Greece, Spain, Northern Africa

Rome Vocabulary

Please click on any vocab word for more information! 

1. amphitheater:
a round arena where games, shows, or fights are held in the center
The massive and well-preserved Roman amphitheater of Verona, in Northern Italy, is still used for concerts and operas
Typical entertainment in the amphitheater involved killing, both of animals and people. 
Amphitheaters like the Colosseum of Rome were extremely complex engineering masterpieces and were built all over the Roman Empire

2. aqueduct:
a bridge-like structure used to carry water from a distant source

Roman aqueducts carried drinking water from mountain springs to major cities, much like aqueducts today. 

Aqueducts were built with a constant downward slope, so the water was always flowing in the right direction.

This Roman aqueduct in Istanbul, Turkey still stands despite the creation of modern roads directly under it.

This famous aqueduct at Pont du Gard in Southern France is still standing after 2,000 years.

Notice that the Romans mastered bridge-building techniques way before there were bridge units in Science class!

3. assassinate:
to kill someone for political reasons

This coin celebrates the assassination of Julius Caesar - It shows Brutus, one of the killers, and daggers
The famous Roman general and dictator Julius Caesar was murdered by some Senators on March 15, 44 B.C. 
Julius Caesar wanted more and more power for himself and his family, and was assassinated.
The assassination caused a major civil war in Rome that lasted more than a decade.
Both artists and writers, like William Shakespeare, were inspired to use the assassination as a subject for their work.

4. citizens’ assembly:
all citizens of the Roman Republic gathered together to elect their leaders
On a preserved wall of Pompeii, the Roman town buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, political graffiti is still readable.
During the Roman Republic, citizens elected leaders based on speeches, promises, and a lot of money--much like today!
This Roman coin has the image of a man casting his vote during an election
5. consul:
one of the two executive leaders of the Roman Republic, advised by the senate

The Romans elected two top leaders, the consuls, so that no one man could become too powerful.
The consuls were military and political leaders and were also elected from the Senate

This chart shows a basic breakdown of the government of the ancient Roman Republic

6. dictator:
one person with absolute power over the government (only allowed during times of emergency)

7. forum:
the central place of a Roman city, designed for politics and business

The ancient Roman forum was the center of the religious and political life of the city
Today, the Roman forum is a collection of ruins that only give a hint of how impressive it must have looked 2,000 years ago

8. Latin:
the language spoken by the ancient Romans

The Romans left large inscriptions on many of their buildings - like this one announcing who built the Pantheon in Rome
Some phrases in Latin are still used today - especially in Science and the study of Law

Can you tell which English words have these Latin ones as their roots?

Much of what we know about the ancient Romans comes from studying their writings

9. omen:
a sign from the gods about the future

Ancient Roman priests tried to interpret the will of the gods by seeing omens, usually in the movements of birds

Much of the Roman beliefs in omens comes from the earlier civilization of the Etruscans

Religion was a major part of Roman political life, and priests played an extremely important role in society

Another way Roman priests interpreted the will of the gods was through augury, the practice of sacrificing animals and examining the innards. This model of an animal liver explains the different parts and their meanings.

Eagles and vultures were especially meaningful to the Romans

The legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, argued over the meanings of two omens and so disagreed about where to locate the city. Eventually, they fight and Romulus kills his brother - that's how important omens were.

10. patrician:
a member of the upper class of ancient Rome

Roman patrician men were allowed to wear the toga with a purple border

Roman patrician families often had lavish houses called villas for vacations from the city - like this one in Pompeii
Patrician families often threw dinner parties that featured lots of food and wine, music, and entertainment

For most of its history, the patricians dominated all of the Roman government

Even patrician women experienced lavish lifestyles, including high quality clothes, slaves, and social events

Pompeii and the Roman Villa 1 of 3

Pompeii and the Roman Villa 2 of 3

Pompeii and the Roman Villa 3 of 3

11. Pax Romana:
Latin for "Roman Peace," this was when Rome was at its most powerful (for 200 years from 27 B.C. until 180 A.D.)

During the Pax Romana, the Romans conquered all of the land around the Mediterranean Sea


12. plebeian:
a member of the middle or lower classes of ancient Rome (mostly shopkeepers, artisans, merchants, soldiers, and peasants)

Plebeians were the normal "folks" who did most of the work

Most plebeians in the early republic were poor farmers and had very few rights

Most plebeians lived in crowded, multi-story apartment blocks in the city of Rome

This well-preserved street in ancient Ostia, outside of Rome, shows the remains of Roman apartments

13. republic:
a system of government in which citizens elect leaders to make decisions for them

The Roman Republic was highly organized, but most power was in the hands of the patricians

The symbol of the Roman Republic was the eagle, a symbol of the god Jupiter, and the initials 'SPQR' which stood for "The Senate and People of Rome." Notice that the Senate comes first, then the people.

The Roman Republic consisted of many offices and the citizens voted for their leaders.



14. senate:
a group of the most important men who made laws, and the most powerful part of the Roman Republic

The Roman Senate consisted of the most important men of Rome, and passed all of the laws of the Republic
Senators would make speeches and try to convince others to vote for or against certain laws
The Senate House in Rome was the sacred place where the Senate would meet for official business
The ruins of the Senate House in the Roman forum are a popular tourist attraction today

15. tribune:
elected leaders who represented the plebeians, and had the power to stop any action of the senate

Tiberius Gracchus was an important tribune in the early days of the Republic

Brothers Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus were eventually murdered because they pushed for more plebeian rights