Exploring Ancient Rome: From City to Empire and Beyond
This article provides an overview of the rise and expansion of Ancient Rome from a city-state to a vast empire. It covers the beautification of Rome under Augustus, the exploitative behavior of Roman elite in the provinces, changes to the political structures of ancient cities under Roman rule, and the importance of political innovation. It also provides a brief description of several key figures, including Julius Caesar, Freud, Claudius, and Seneca.
Table of Contents
- Rome under Augustus: A City Transformed
- Exploitation in the Provinces: From Salamis to Massilia
- Political Structures Under Roman Rule
- The Importance of Political Innovation: Claudius’ Speech to the Senate
- Seneca’s “On Clemency” and the Proper Exercise of Power
- Agricola and Rome’s Expansion in Britain
Rome under Augustus: A City Transformed
Q: What is the significance of Virgil in portraying the city of Carthage according to the text?
A: According to the text, Virgil’s portrayal of Carthage in his work, Aeneid, served as a reminder of the city that Augustus would enhance. Augustus transformed Rome from a modest city-state to a grand metropolis that befitted the dignity of the empire.
Q: What was the idealization of Roman values in 20th century Italy?
A: The Italian Fascists in the 20th century took up the idealization of Roman values, known as Romanità, as a means of promoting their ideology. Mussolini, in particular, modelled himself after Julius Caesar.
Exploitation in the Provinces: From Salamis to Massilia
Q: How did the relations between Rome and its provinces change from the late Republic to the early empire?
A: Roman governors often abused their positions and failed to regulate their behavior in the late Republic. This was exemplified by the siege of the city of Salamis on Cyprus by Brutus and the siege of Massilia by Caesar. However, from Augustus onwards, the empire generally maintained peace in the provinces with the help of emperors who ensured safeguards against such excesses by Roman officials.
Q: What changes did Roman rule bring to the political structures of ancient cities?
A: Roman rule transformed councils to be more like the Roman Senate. Additionally, Augustus introduced improved procedures for censuses that covered both Roman citizens and the rest of the population to record their property.
Political Structures Under Roman Rule
Q: What was the extent of the Roman empire?
A: The Roman empire was vast, stretching from Iberia in the west to Syria in the east, and from Africa in the south to the English Channel in the north.
Q: How was the world, centered on Rome, made intelligible?
A: The extent of the Roman empire was made intelligible through images, such as a great map displayed publicly in a portico at Rome, and the words of writers like Strabo, who described the world centered on Rome.
The Importance of Political Innovation: Claudius’ Speech to the Senate
Q: What was the main lesson that Roman political thought offered, according to Claudius’ speech to the Senate?
A: In his speech to the Senate, Claudius argued that the main lesson that Roman political thought had to offer was the value of political change and novelty. He emphasized that new men had always been freely absorbed into the Roman body politic, and the constitution itself had always been in flux.
Q: How did Tacitus characterize Claudius’ proposal?
A: Tacitus included a paraphrase of Claudius’ speech, finished with his own telling flourish: “This proposal, too, will grow old, and that which we defend today with precedents, shall one day be counted as a precedent itself.”
Seneca’s “On Clemency” and the Proper Exercise of Power
Q: What was the purpose of Seneca’s “On Clemency”?
A: Seneca’s “On Clemency,” addressed to the new emperor Nero, urged him to exercise his limitless power with mildness and restraint, just as Augustus had done. The main purpose of the treatise was to advocate for the proper exercise of power.
Q: What did Seneca argue about the emperor’s power?
A: Seneca argued that it was right and necessary for the emperor’s power to be absolute as he was the animate soul of the body politic.
Agricola and Rome’s Expansion in Britain
Q: Who was Julius Agricola?
A: Julius Agricola was one of Rome’s foremost generals, who had a notably successful governorship of the remote province of Britain.
Q: What was Tacitus’ Agricola about?
A: Tacitus’ Agricola is a biography of Julius Agricola and is taken up with an account of Roman rule in Britain, from the initial conquest of the southern part of the island under Claudius to the campaigns of Agricola in northern England and Scotland.
Ancient Rome was a complex and fascinating society that transformed from a city-state to a vast empire. Rome’s expansion brought changes to the political structures of ancient cities, transformed the provinces, and required new forms of governance and innovation. Through the figures of Augustus, Claudius, Seneca, and Agricola, we can see how Rome’s past was characterized by both political continuity and change.