Roman History Week 1

These notes are compiled from my own and other friends. They run in synch with the CLAS202 course at University of Waterloo Winter 2008.




1) Week 1 Notes

2) Week 2 Notes

3) Week 3 Notes

4) Week 4 Notes

5) Week 5 Notes

6) Week 6 Notes


Ancient Roman Society

When? 8th century BC- 5th century AD

Where? Bit problematic- Rome, Italy, Mediterranean and beyond

Mediterranean unity- is small and almost all land locked-called “our sea”

Climate- has similar vegetation, geology- mountains, ore,stone

Dominant influence on climate- Sahara desert- mild, wet winters and hot dry summers

The climate conditions life- ex: courtyard house- around open court, forum- plaza located in open air- ppl of all classes. Also Mediterranean triad- grain, olives, grapes 

Italy- surrounded on 3 sides by the Mediterranean. Appennines- mountains down the back spine of Italy, roads run north-south and the rivers run east-west. The rivers were obstacles for the roads.

Chief rivers: Po in the N and Tiber

They used natural resources- had fertile soil but poor in metals-this leads to need for import. 

Rome- located in Latium (home of Latin ppl and Latin language), built on 7 hills and protected by inland location, Tiber river.

Defences- 1) Capitoline Hill

2) strong army- used manpower to compensate for other things

3) city wall 

Sources for the study of Roman society:

  1. Literary sources- ancient authors, composed of latin’greek on papyrus rolls (only survives in dry climates)- also written on parchment (animal skin)- copies by monks in the middle ages, much of this did survive the dark age- includes history, poetry, philosophy, letters, speeches
  2. Arts/Artifacts- sculpture, paintings showing the daily life, also shown on murals. Excavations has also shown tools of everyday life.
  3. Inscriptions- things that were carved on stone ex: dedications, records and graffiti (these are the most original source)
  4. Coins- images that were shown on them important- but also the propaganda messages seen on them.
  5. Administrative records- non-literary, talks about taxes, military, private business- on wooden tablets.

    Early Italy- Urnfield culture- central Europe in 1200 BC- looked at cemeteries of cremation urns- shows they used bronze and then iron later- the use of iron is a lot harder-civilized then bronze b/c it must be forged- this also creates need for black smith.

    Villanovans- In Italy this is what the urnfield culture was referred to (both northern and southern group). Urns were covered with helmets- this suggests warriors, belief in after life??? seems so b/c they were buried with goods. Went from hut urns to real huts (used twigs/mud referred to as wattle and dwab) 

    Greeks in Italy- 8th century BC- to take advantage of the agriculture- shows alphabet, religion, poetry- they were cultivating olives/vines- they were called Magna Graecia 

    The Etruscans- lives in Etruria language unknown, but they did use the Greek alphabet. 12 tribes based on 12 cities known as the “Etruscan League”

    Relations with Villanovans?? No clear evidence, but the Etruscans seem more civilized-maybe they conquered them or assimilated with them?

    Cities-varied in size, houses- were mud brick, the dead- were buried, not cremated-they had rock cut family tombs. Tomb paintings- showed sports, music- represented their life?

    Pottery- called bucchero (black pottery)- they imported Greek painted vases.

    Metal work- fine objects in gold, bronze

    Shipping- were known as traders& pirates

    Sculptures- out of terracotta- shows an influence from Greece, Egypt

    Social organization- king elected by nobles, nobles provided magistrates, nobles had clients or dependents

    Religion- TRIAD- Juppiter, Juno, Minerva., soothsayers- ppl who made prophecies about the future

    War- they wanted to expand into Latium, Capania- they did capture Rome and inspired the Roman camp designs END TO IT ALL- disagreement in the League- Romans expelled them and they were overrun by Celts and Romans. 



    The Monarchy- actual foundation is difficult to reconstruct- there is not much evidence

    Foundation- traditional date- 753 BC but even the roman themselves were not sure, this becomes a compromised date

    Etruscans @ Rome- all the info. (in the previous note) about them fits in that in 600 BC the Romans were under Etruscan dominance b/c of all that the Etruscans brought to the culture.

    Romans had two legends about the foundation of Rome: 1) Aeneas- wasprince of Troy and flees after Trojan war and fled to Italy this gives Romans 1: a noble lineage and 2: a long pedigree b/c the war was in 1200 BC

    2) Rome was colony of Alba Longa- the king was overthrown by usurper who made the king’s daughter a virgin but she ended up having twins by god Mars, named Romulus and Remus- they were thrown into river but did survive- they grow up and kill usurper of Alba Longa and founded Rome there- they make a pomerirm (scared boundary)- Remus is killed when he jumps over this boundary, Romulus then becomes the 1st king of Rome.

    7 kings of Rome- 753-510Bc could be plausible but really isn’t, u never see 7 kings in the time span of 250 years, it is more plausible to say that this was created after the 7 hills in Rome

    Rape of the Sabines- R&R realize that they need women for civilization of Rome- they invite neighbours to events and then try to steal all the women- a war breaks out but it is the women who stop it b/c they enjoy being in Rome.

    Roman king (REX)- has 3 main functions: military leader, chief judge, religious leaders

    Lectors- attendants, accompanied the king- they would carry fasces which was rods and axes (protection), victory parade was called triumph, king had his face painted red for blood

    Ppl who were underneath king: nobility: patrician

                                  Others: plebians

                                  Clans: called gentes

    Senate- advises the king 

    Etruscan kings: ( these two are most important)

    1: Servius Tullius- he built wall around Rome (or was thought too) and reformed the military system- only landowners could be in army and have say in gov’t, only rich had horses and provided Rome with cavalry, creates 5 classes of foot soldiers (based on land) 1st class- 80 centuries, all other classes-90 centuries

2: last king- Tarquinius Superbus (meaning arrogant)- his son was raping women and this ends the monarchy- they are expelled in 510 BC (start of the early republic) and Brutus leads this revolt.