THE ROMAN REPUBLIC AND EMPIRE

 

Rome's values vs. Greece's values:  The Romans were practical, pragmatic, emphasized doing one's duty, patriotic, stern, more brutal, more warlike, family oriented, less hedonistic.  The Greeks were more philosophical, creative, theoretical, individualistic, artistic, lovers of pleasure.  Examples of education, Olympics vs. Circus Maximus/Colosseum.  U.S. vs. Europe analogy.

 

*Cato the Elder (234-149 b.c.):  Epitomized the old Roman Republican virtues and weaknesses.  Was incorruptible, performed his duty, stern towards family yet lived with them on family farm, hated luxury, Greek culture as corrupting.

*Etruscans:  Older, somewhat mysterious, neighboring civilization to the north of Rome which heavily influenced Rome's culture.  Gladiatorial combat, masonry arch, and the triumphal procession taken from them.

 

The legendary founding of the city in *753 b.c.:  Romulus, Remus, and the she-wolf.

 

The Republic (509-27 b.c.):  Administered a much larger area in Italy and elsewhere than Athens ever did.  Would gradually accept conquered outsiders as citizens, starting as allies first.

 

Senate:  Had prestige of being composed of ex-magistrates, members sat for life and permanently constituted as a body.  Held the most power practically.  Controlled the finances.  The *patrician class dominated it.

 

Assembly of Tribes:  All adult males voted in, but could only say "yes" or "no" to legislation.  Voted as tribes.  Chose 20 Quaestors (finance), 4 Aediles (fire, festivals, cared for city), and 10 Tribunes.  Same with Assembly of Centuries, but which instead chose 2 consuls, 8 Praetors, 2 censors.  Elected each year, immediate reelections barred for consuls.

 

Tribunes:  Ten men given power to veto legislation in order to protect the average people (Plebeians).

 

Censors:  Elder statesmen, elected for 18 months once every five years.  Could add or delete Senators, inspected/prosecuted morals cases, assigned state contracts.

 

Consuls:  Chief magistrates, leaders of army in field.  Could veto each other.  Dictator:  Had absolute power, but limited to six months term only.

 

The Roman Republic's class conflicts:  *Patricians (rich landowners) vs. Plebeians (average people).  Army had previously been farmers turning to fight when called on by the government.  Second Punic War (218-201 b.c.) vs. Carthage and other victories undermined this class, increased the number of slaves, unemployed men drift from farms to Rome, loot from wars enrich small elite.

 

Tiberius (163-133 b.c.) and Gaius Gracchus (153-121 b.c.):  As tribunes, attempted to implement various reforms against Patrician class, killed with followers.

 

Gaius Marius (157-86 b.c.):  Successful consul/general, repeatedly reelected as consul unconstitutionally, started the process of professionalizing the Roman army, which had serious consequences.

 

*Cicero (106-43 b.c.):  Brilliant public speaker, writer, elected consul in 63 b.c.  Stood for old Republic, opposed one-man rule, wanted Senatorial control, pro-Pompey.  Executed by Mark Antony.

 

*Julius Caesar (c. 102-44 b.c.):  Brilliant general, orator, politician, propagandist through writings, a Patrician who got the support of the plebeians.  Became dictator for life after beating Pompey and the Parthians killed Crassus.  (First Triumvirate ends).  Assassinated for ending the Republic, etc.

 

*Augustus (Octavian) (63 b.c.-A.D. 14; r. 27 b.c.-A.D. 14):  First emperor, successfully beat Mark Anthony, avenged death of great uncle Julius against Brutus and Cassius in battle.  Concealed absolute rule with facade of republic's continuance:  Princeps, "first citizen."  Highly capable ruler, main reason why Rome perceived as talented in governmental administration since Republic often corrupt, incompetent with foreign possessions.

 

ROMAN RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY:

 

Paganism:  The Olympian gods ceased to be believed in by educated people, and average people seek more emotionally-satisfying mystery cults from the East.

 

Isis/Serapis/Osiris:  Mystery religion from Egypt.

 

Cybele (The Great Mother) and Attis:  Originated in Phrygia, another fertility cult, self-castration ritual.

 

Mithraism:  manly faith (supposedly) from Persia, appealed to Roman soldiers, major rival to Christianity in A.D. 200's.

 

(Christianity and Judaism, which also were Roman religions, dealt with next week).

 

*Epicureanism:  Guiding principle of hedonism (carefully maximizing pleasures as the purpose of life).  Founded by Epicurus (341-270 b.c.).  Materialistic, skeptical of all religion and gods.

 

*Stoicism:  Emphasized the austere performance of duty, appealed to Roman values more than other philosophies.  Determinism (fate, no free will ultimately) advocated by it.  Founded by Zeno the Stoic (c. 335?-263? b.c.).  Emphasizes freeing self from desires, changing one's attitude since world not under one's control.  Expounded by Epictetus (c. A.D. 60-110) and Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. A.D. 161-180).  Beginning of equality under law concept.

 

*Neoplatonism:  More of a religion than a philosophy, a further development of Plato's thought.  Plotinus (c. A.D. 204-270) very mystical, felt ultimate reality unknowable except perhaps by mystical insight.  Seek union with God/god by mystical experience.  Doctrine of reincarnation/transmigration of souls, try to purify soul to escape painful cycle.