The Foundation of Western Politics, Government and Law
Blog for This Unit
Modern Day Italy
The Italian People
Introduction To Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome is one of the foundational civilizations of the western world. It is through the achievements of The Ancient Romans that civic and common law are institutionalized in The Americas and Europe. Roman architecture, in addition, is still prevalent as well as Roman engineering techniques. The Romans bound its empire through a superb governmental structure which blended pragmatism, militancy, and toleration ,well ahead of its time. Moreover, Rome was instrumental in transmitting and institutionalizing Greek ideas throughout the conquered Roman territories, which was composed of Europe, large parts of Asia and Africa . Roman history is a fascinating source of evolving politics in the ancient world. It is no wonder that senators, governors, presidents, and future leaders of the world continue to study the history of The Roman Republic and Empire.
The Geography of Italy
Italian countryside of the north.
Italian geography is composed of large mountains, hills, and flat lands. Italy has two main mountain regions: The Alps which border with present day Switzerland, and The Apennines mountain ridge that runs across Italy like a backbone. Italy has some flat land which allowed farming to flourish. Five seas surround Italy: The Ligurian Sea, The Adriatic Sea, The Mediterranean Sea, and The Tyrrhenian Sea, and The Ionian Sea. The climate of Italy is temperate and mild.
Below are links that further describe the geography of Italy.
The Mythical Origins of Rome
The history of the Romans first originates in myth. It is a history that is mysterious and shrouded. The Romans believed that their lineage originated from The Trojan survivor, Aeneas. Then the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, children of Mars and cared for by a she-wolf will become the mythological ancestors of The Roman people the symbol of Rome.
During the sack of Troy by the Mycenaean Greeks, Aeneas with his father leads a band of Trojans to escape the burning city of Troy. They set sail and eventually land in Italy. Aeneas then unites the different Latin tribes and brings some stability to Italy. Aeneas is regarded as one of the mythological ancestors of The Romans.
If you wish to learn more about Aeneas click below.
Romulus and Remus
Sons of Mars and descendants of Aeneas, Romulus and Remus were cared for by a she-wolf. The boys grew up to be shepherds and both were known for their cleverness. Upon founding the future city of Rome, Romulus was destined to be its first king, Remus, being jealous, attacked Romulus. In the fight between these twins, Romulus kills Remus and the city the brothers founded was named "Rome."
To discover more about Romulus and Remus click below.
Great Figures of Roman History
The history of The Roman Republic and Roman Empire are filled with monumental individuals. These great figures of Roman history are responsible for cultivating civic virtue, such as the case of Cincinattus. Roman genius for pragmatic leadership came through the way of Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Ironically, these two famous generals were going to become bitter rivals, especially through the rise of Sulla's career. Roman history is composed of a complicated mosaic of virtue, power, and dark pragmatism.
Roman civic virtue is exemplified through Cincinattus. Starting as a plebeian farmer with roughly four acres of land, Cincinattus was chosen to be a Roman dictator through times of need. With having absolute power of the Roman military during times of crisis, Cincinattus, defended Rome from different enemy invaders. After each successful campaign he surrendered his power back to the senate. Anytime Cincinattus was asked to give his service to Rome he would do so without hesitation. Cincinattus is a paragon of Roman virtue. For more information on Cincinattus look below.
Gaius Marius was instrumental in reorganizing the Roman military. He changed the manipular formation of the military into a structure of cohorts. In addition, he allowed landless Romans to join the Roman military. Before only Romans who owned land could serve as legionaries. He was elected Roman consul seven times through his career. He is noted as being one of the saviors of the Roman Republic by defeating several barbarian hordes, notably the Teutones, Ambroni, and Cimbri. The change from republic to empire was in part triggered by the reforms of Marius.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGct_5HjpPs (The Marian Reforms)
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Roman military genius was encompassed in Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Known simply as Sulla he was important in restructuring Roman power to more of a balance between the Roman Senate and the tribunes. He never lost a battle and was described as being as cunning as a fox and as courageous as a lion. When he held power as a Roman dictator he followed the example of Cincinattus and resigned as soon as he restored order to the Republic.
Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus
Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus were two brothers who sought to reform the plight of the poor and landless plebeians. At this time there was much unrest between patricians and plebeians. Their ideas of reform were controversial and revolutionary, angering many patricians and senators. For example, they wished to redistribute land to the poor and have the state purchase the equipment for the military, greatly benefiting the Roman poor who served in the military. The reforms of The Gracchus brothers were early inceptions of socialism. Tiberius was killed in a riot and Gaius committed suicide before his attackers could seize him. The deaths of the Gracchus brothers were a portent to the fall of The Republic.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wODHnZ77iE&feature=related Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSjll8mHEGw&feature=related Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQqNY8aHPL4&feature=related Part 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyp0TBGZsfM&feature=related Part 4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P8CqEa5NF0&feature=related Part 5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xz_ciMj4J0 Part 6
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlLCToH4lAg Part 7
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQL3EFow1IQ Part 8
The Enemies of Rome
Throughout the history of Rome, warfare, had been a constant. Both the history of The Republic and that of The Empire had been forged and tempered by its enemies. The enemies of Rome indirectly created a civilization that was both strengthened and made more efficient by the hammering of war. The enemies of Rome are myriad. Some were military geniuses that feared the growing power of Rome. Others were marginalized people who felt that the structure of Roman government, politics, and culture was becoming a dehumanizing force. Some were people in search of food and running from a force more savage and destructive than Rome.
Considered one of the greatest of military geniuses, Hannibal Barca, humiliated the Roman military several times during The Second Punic War. He waged war against the Romans using elephants and guerilla style tactics. The military tactics displayed by Hannibal are still studied to this day. Hannibal became an enemy of Rome after The First Punic War when Rome and Carthage fought for control of The Mediterranean Sea.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuigRCQuwwY (Battles B.C.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvKaQDwqicE (Origins of Hannibal)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7E-8CL4n-I (From The BBC Movie)
Spartacus was a Thracian who became a leader of the slave rebellion in The Third Servile War. It is believed that he was once a Roman legionary who was sold into slavery and then became a gladiator. Spartacus' uprising is symbolic of the oppression many of the lower classes especially slaves felt in The Roman Republic. Spartacus' rebellion was put down by Crassus in 71 B.C. Spartacus was killed in the conflict. Six-thousand of his followers were captured and then crucified and placed along The Appian Way as a grim reminder of what happens when one revolts against Rome. Spartacus' example has been influential to many who have suffered oppression.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8h_v_our_Q (I am Spartacus)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOWZpu8vS0c&feature=related (the crucifixion)
Roman government was a unique tripartite government with blend of "checks and balance" systems not allowing one part of government from becoming more powerful than another. The three parts were called: the magistrates, which the consuls were a part of; the Senate; and Assembly, which tribunes were a part of. The magistrates had the power to decide in judicial hearings. The consuls which were a type of magistrate had powers to of war. In addition, consuls had the power of "veto" and had to concur with each other to get anything accomplished. The Assembly held the interests of the plebeians. The tribunes had the power to "veto" any law being created by the Senate. The Senate had control of the finances of Rome and advised the consuls. The senators were a mix of patricians and plebeians and served for life.
The Legacy of Rome
Roman Science and Engineering
Roman Medicine/ Galen
Roman Art and Architecture
Roman Language and Literature
Latin The Language of Rome
Latin Literature, Virgil, and Ovid