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Northern Oklahoma College

The Roman Republic

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Ancient World History 1113
Dr. Jeremy Cook
21 November 2017
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The Roman society was a dominant republic that was founded in 753 B.C.E. The head been

culturally diverse due to their expansive trading network and central Mediterranean location.

“The Romans were greatly influenced by the Etruscans, who founded a dozen or so city-states in

central and northern Italy by the eighth century B.C.E.” (Lockard, pg.163). One of these trade

routes was along the silk road, connecting the Mediterranean to China. Aside from their main

influence, the Etruscans, the Romans were greatly influenced by the Greeks. In 509 B.C.E., a

republic was established by the Romans because of Greek influence. In the following three

centuries, a representative government was built on by the Romans. Though their political ideals

were adopted from the Greeks, much of their language was Latin. “Many modern English words

taken from Latin-such as senate, citizenship, suffrage, dictator, plebiscite, and even republic-

suggest the influence of the Romans on modern political life.” (Lockard, pg.165). Despite their

progress, the Romans did not maintain their republic.

Ironically, but not surprisingly, the growth of wealth and population was ultimately a

contributing factor to the downfall of the republic. “Indeed, imperial expansion provoked crises

that reshaped politics and undermined the Republic.” (Lockard, pg. 167). This was most likely

due to delusions of grandeur accumulated after the Final Punic War, in which Carthage city fell

to the Romans. Northwest Africa also became a copper, grain, and gold source. “Roman victory

encouraged additional imperial expansion, aimed either at punishing Carthage’s allies or at

restoring stability.” (Lockard, pg.166-167). Another hit to their democracy, was the lack of

control of their military leaders. The most notable is Julius Caesar. “One of these leaders, the

ambitious young Julius Caesar, completed the conquest of Europe from the Rhine River west to

the Atlantic, sent the first Roman forces into Britain.” (Lockard, pg. 167).
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Of his many brilliant moves, Caesar enlarged his power by shrinking that of his

companions. By enlarging the Senate to over nine hundred men, he weakened the power of the

individual vote. After which, he convinced the senate to name him as perpetual dictator. This

enraged the members of the senate enough to congregate in a conspiracy to murder Caesar in 44

B.C.E. The death of Julius Caesar sparked a civil war. This demolished any idea of a democracy

in Rome, or the alliances of neighboring cultures. Next to take the mantle as ruler of Rome was

the adopted son of Caesar. Mark Antony, lover of Egyptian ruler Cleopatra fell to Octavian who

went on as ruler of Rome. Octavian gained the armies of Cleopatra and Antony after their

suicide, thus handing control of Egypt to Rome. After control of Egypt was taken, Rome placed

heavy taxes and pushed agricultural production. The era after this period of time is known as the

Pax Romana.

The Pax Romana, in 180 C.E. is the period between Marcus Aurelius and Augustus in

Roman History. In this time, for two centuries, the Mediterranean world was under a single

power. The Mediterranean, or Roman Lake, experienced little challenge from Germanic peoples.

“Rome experienced few challenges from the Germanic peoples, who mostly remained east of the

Rhine and north of the Danube Parthian kingdom in Persia and Mesopotamia.” (Lockard,

pg.168). Despite these advancements by outsiders, trade was encouraged by prosperity and

population growth. “Great fleets of ships moved goods around the Mediterranean Sea, and trade

also flourished along the Silk Road between China and Rome.” (Lockard, pg.168). The Roman

political belief also had evolved throughout this time. Equality under the law was a wide belief.

Regardless of social status, Romans belief in equal punishment. “The Romans believed

that all people, regardless of wealth or position, were equal before the law, and they promoted

individual rather than family responsibility for one member’s misdeeds.” (Lockard, 168). Once
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again, this ideal was influenced by the Greek. “Roman law was influenced by the Greek Stoic

belief in eternal truths transcending particular cultures.” (Lockard, pg.168). Though equality was

a strong belief in court, men were the only gender to hold a political voice. This gave them

excessive power over children, slaves, and women. “A family’s oldest male had the power of life

and death over other family members and was even free to kill his children without fear of legal

problems.” (Lockard, pg. 170). Though aspects of repression were prevalent in Roman society,

women still enjoyed far more rights than many other surrounding societies. “Adult women also

enjoyed some legal rights, including possession of their own property, even if married.”

(Lockard, pg171).

While enjoying these freedoms, however, adultery and avoidance of marriage had

become problems by 17 B.C.E. by both genders. This occurred after Romans were free to choose

their own spouse. In response, a law had been issued that required men to marry, or be forced to

pay higher taxes. These taxes likely went towards the Romans immense outdoor arenas. Rome’s

Colosseum, for example held the title of the largest outdoor arena up to the twentieth century.

The Pantheon, a temple in Rome built for the Gods, forms a perfect circle and is a feat of

architectural innovation.

The Romans were great society that asserted dominance, even within their state. They

made numerous feats in agriculture, architecture, and in war. They were an ambitious people

who drove to expand in every available direction, conquering every territory possible. Though

somewhat misrepresented in modern day cinema, the Romans were not a society to be taken

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Lockard, A. Craig “Societies, Networks, and Transitions.” A Global History, 2015