Реферат: Rise Of Ancient Roman Empire Essay Research
Rise Of Ancient Roman Empire Essay, Research Paper
Rise of the ancient Roman Empire
Ancient Roman Empire Rome had a war god in its lineage and wolf milk in its
belly, implying that its citizens had a knack for warfare, which they would prove again
and again. Early in Rome’s history, the city was conquered by the Etruscans, the most
notable civilization in Italy before Rome’s rise to power. The Etruscans, who would
influence Roman civilization, had migrated to Italy from Asia Minor, probably in the 12th
century BC. Their distant past is a mystery, because their language has no relationship to
any other group of languages. Their Italian homeland, Etruria, consisted of a loose
confederation of city-states. They were noted for their metalworking and their fine
pottery. The Etruscans were at the height of their power during the 6th century BC. By
500 BC their civilization was in decline, and at about that time the Romans rose up and
claimed power in their city, establishing a republic.
A patrician class initially ruled Rome, but over time the Plebs, or common people,
gained influence. As late as 390 BC, when Greece and Persia were great powers in the
world, Rome was still so weak that it was sacked by the Gauls. However, during the 4th
and 3rd centuries BC, the Romans became masters of central and southern Italy. Roman
armies entered Greece, where they were both conquerors and conquered. They defeated
the Greek armies, but they were overawed by Greek culture and brought back to Rome a
taste for fine art and literature.
Rome’s most powerful rival was now the distant city of Carthage, ruler of north
Africa and the western Mediterranean. During the Punic Wars, Rome suffered the
humiliation of seeing a Carthaginian army on its soil for more than a decade. Neither
Rome nor Carthage, led by the great general Hannibal, could prevail. Finally, the
Carthaginians were forced to withdraw, and Rome chased them home to Africa. In 202
BC at the Battle of Zama, Rome defeated Carthage. The two nations lived in peace for a
few decades, then another Punic War erupted. Rome prevailed again, obliterating
During the next two centuries the Roman Empire expanded rapidly, gobbling up
many of the territories once ruled by Alexander the Great, including Greece, Asia Minor,
Syria, and Egypt. While venturing out to rule the Mediterranean world, Rome also
defined its own civilization and polity. Reluctantly, the city extended its prized
citizenship widely to other Italian towns and downward to social classes previously
In 60 BC a triumvirate (three-man executive board) consisting of Gaius Julius
Caesar, Pompey the Great, and Marcus Licinius Crassus led Rome. In 67 BC the
statesman and general Pompey the Great, who had fought the Marian party in Africa,
Sicily, and Spain, cleared the Mediterranean of pirates and was then put in charge of the
war against Mithridates. Meanwhile his rival Gaius Julius Caesar rose to prominence,
and his political ability had full scope during the absence of Pompey.
As leader of the popular party, Caesar strengthened his hold on the people by
avenging the injured names of Marius and Cinna, pleading for clemency to the children of
the proscribed, and bringing to justice Sulla’s corrupt followers. In Marcus Licinius
Crassus, a man of great wealth, Caesar found a tractable auxiliary.
Catiline’s conspiracy, in 63 BC, exposed and defeated by the famous orator and
statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero during his consulship, involved Caesar in the ill will in
which the middle classes held popular adventurers. Pompey returned from the east and
asked the Senate for the ratification of his measures in Asia and the bestowal of land on
his legionaries. His demands met with determined opposition, until Caesar, posing as his
friend, formed with him and Crassus the coalition known as the first triumvirate.
Caesar had come to power as a popular democratic leader. He was also a
magnificent general. During the next decade he fought the Gallic Wars, leading a Roman
army as far north as Britain. Caesar returned to a nation in turmoil. Ordered to halt his
army at the Rubicon River, he crossed in 49 BC and waged war for the control of Italy.
Successful there, he pursued his foes into Greece and Egypt. At Alexandria, his presence
resulted in one of the great tragedies in the history of scholarship: the burning of the great
Library of Alexandria, depository of almost 500,000 manuscripts. But Caesar had his
mind on love as well as war. Victorious, he established Cleopatra as queen of Egypt and
as his mistress.
In 47 BC he won the battle of Zela and sent home the most famous words ever
uttered by a triumphant warrior, “Veni, vidi, vici”-”I came, I saw, I conquered.” Caesar
returned to Rome, where his presence led to both admiration and envy. In the presence of
such a man, the old ideal of the Roman republic seemed to fade the triumvirate in 59 BC
fulfilled its compact. Caesar obtained the consulship and the satisfaction of Pompey’s
demands, conciliated the equestrians, many of whom were wealthy members of the
mercantile class, at the expense of the Senate, and had enacted an agrarian law enabling
him to reward the troops. His crowning success, however, was his obtaining for five
years the military command of Cisalpine Gaul, Illyricum, and late of Transalpine Gaul,
where he could gain glory by military conquests, and from which he could watch every
political move in Italy.
The triumvirs renewed their alliance, and Caesar procured his command in Gaul
for five years more. Pompey and Crassus were elected consuls for the year 55 BC, and in
the following year Pompey received as his province the two Spains, with Africa, while
Crassus received Syria. The death of Crassus in 53 BC brought Pompey into direct
conflict with Caesar. Rome, in the absence of efficient government, was in turmoil until
the Senate induced Pompey to remain in Italy, and it elected him sole consul for the year
52 BC and made him its champion against Caesar.
The Senate, wishing to terminate Caesar’s military command and defeat his
second stand for the consulship in 49 BC, demanded Caesar’s disbanding of his legions,
and his presence in Rome at the time of the election, or his continued command and his
renunciation of claims to the consulship. Negotiations failed to solve the deadlock, and
in 49 BC Caesar with his legions boldly crossed the Rubicon River, the southern
boundary of his province, and advanced on the city, which began a civil war that
continued for five years. Pompey and the leading members of the aristocracy withdrew to
Greece, allowing Caesar to enter Rome in triumph.
Caesar’s victory, unlike those of the other generals who had marched on Rome,
was not followed by a reign of terror; neither proscriptions nor confiscations took place.
A policy of economic and administrative reforms was put into effect, in an attempt to
overcome corruption and restore prosperity to Rome. Continuing the war against
Pompey, Caesar hurried to Spain, where he was victorious over the powerful armies of
Pompey’s legates. Returning to Rome, having meanwhile been appointed dictator in his
absence, he almost immediately renounced that post and was elected consul.
Early in 48 BC he crossed into Greece and dealt Pompey a crushing blow at
Pharsalus. Pompey was killed soon after in Egypt, but the Pompeian cause struggled on
until 45 BC, when it collapsed at Munda in Spain, and Caesar was made dictator for life.
Caesar was then assassinated in 44 BC by a group of senators led by Gaius Cassius
Longinus and Decimus Junius Brutus. The empire he had founded, with its autocratic
tendencies, would last long after his death.
Caesar?s death was followed by Cicero’s attempt to restore the old Republican
constitution, but Mark Antony, who had been appointed consul with Caesar, now, at the
head of 17 legions, combined forces with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Caesar’s
grandnephew, the youthful Octavian, later Emperor Augustus, to form the second
triumvirate. The triumvirs began operations by proscribing and assassinating their
opponents, including Cicero. A stand made at Philippi by Marcus Junius Brutus and
Gaius Cassius, two of Caesar’s assassins, was crushed by Octavian and Antony, and
subsequently the triumvirs divided the control of the empire, Octavian taking Italy and the
west, Antony the east, and Lepidus Africa.
Antony, going to the east, was captivated by the charms of Cleopatra, queen of
Egypt and formerly mistress of Caesar, and with her planned an eastern empire. Lepidus,
summoned to Sicily by Octavian to assist in the war against Sextus Pompeius, son of
Pompey the Great, attempted to seize Sicily for himself and was deprived of his province
and his position in the triumvirate. The death of Sextus Pompeius, after the destruction
of his fleet in the Mediterranean, left Octavian, who had been sagaciously strengthening
his position in the west, with only Antony as rival.
After the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and the subsequent suicide of both Antony
and Cleopatra, the victorious Octavian became, in 29 BC, master of the east also and the
undisputed ruler of the entire Roman Empire. In spite of the series of disastrous civil
wars, during the last years of the Republic a remarkable development of literary activity
took place. This period, known as the Ciceronian period, extended from about 70 to 43
BC and forms the first part of the so-called Golden Age of Rome’s literary development.
The remainder of the Golden Age, extending from 43 BC to AD 14, is known as
the Augustan period. Caesar and Cicero brought Latin prose to its peak of achievement,
and Marcus Terentius Varro was the greatest scholar of the age. The poetry of the period
is best represented by the work of Gaius Valerius Catullus and Lucretius.