Early Rome and Its Culture

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Information about Early Rome and Its Culture

Published on January 17, 2008

Author: Doride

Source: authorstream.com

Early Rome and Its Culture:  Early Rome and Its Culture By 500 B.C. When was Rome founded?:  When was Rome founded? The Imperial Romans celebrated April 21, 753 B.C. as the date of the founding. Most modern scholars now hold it to be somewhere around 625 B.C., even though the site had been continuously occupied at least since 1300 B.C. The villages scattered on the fabled seven hills would have been united and the process of urbanization significantly underway. Around this time houses of tufa blocks and stone walls, with roofs of terracotta tiles. The Forum was filled, provided with a permanent drain (Cloaca Maxima), and paved over, becoming the center of the new city. “That ain’t the way I heard it!”:  “That ain’t the way I heard it!” The Popular Version Of Roman Origins Let’s begin with the story many ancient Romans believed…:  Let’s begin with the story many ancient Romans believed… It all began with Aeneas, Trojan hero who escaped the fall of Troy. After years of wandering he settles in Latium, where he joined the Greek hero Evander and won the heart and hand of Lavinia, daughter of Latinus, king of the Latins. Aeneas founds a city named Lavinium and his son, Ascanius, founds Alba Longa as its first king. The twelfth king of Alba Longa was Numitor (Etruscan lucky 12). Aeneas carries his family from burning Troy, Detail: Adam Elsheimer, Burning of Troy (1600) Let’s begin with the story many ancient Romans believed…:  Let’s begin with the story many ancient Romans believed… Numitor is overthrown by his brother Amulius, and he forces Numitor’s beloved daughter, Rhea Silva to join the Vestal Virgins. Mars, god of war, raped and impregnated her and she bore twin sons, Romulus and Remus. Amulius was furious and ordered their death. He imprisoned poor Rhea Silva and ordered the twins killed. His servants placed them in a basket and set them afloat on the Tiber River. …the story continues…:  …the story continues… The basket floats for awhile, and then the waters recede. A she-wolf hears the children crying and suckles them. A shepherd named Faustulus finds them with the wolf and carries them home to his wife, Larentia, who raises them. They grow up as shepherds and herdsmen and grew up to lead rival followings. One day their followers got in a snit over the interpretation of an omen. The twins show off with taunting, then fisticuffs, and Romulus kills Remus. Romulus builds his city with exiles and criminals from throughout Italy, but no women answer his summons. Rape of the Sabine Women.:  Rape of the Sabine Women. Lacking wives, Romans trick the men of a nearby hill community of Sabines (say-bynes) to bring wives and daughters to a progressive dinner party. At a prescribed moment the Romans grab a woman and carry her off to their house. The Sabines cry foul, but the Romans persist, and war results. The war is a stalemate and ends in reconciliation of the two groups and a joint rule of Romulus and the Sabine Titus Tatius. The story is a fascinating combination of Etruscan, Latin, Greek, Roman, (and perhaps even Ancient Near East!) traditions. What we make of the story:  What we make of the story The story contains eponymous elements: Romulus, Lavinium, Latinus. This is an origin myth. Rome is a glorious amalgam of misfits: Aeneas, Romulus and Remus, criminals and exiles. Speaks of inclusion. A miraculous origin bespeaks destiny. Revenge of the Trojans! Watch out Greeks! Watch out kings! The chronology of the kings is improbable: 33 year average reigns in the ancient world? (Augustus reigned 43 years, a long one) But there is the real story. The Latins:  The Latins We’ve got to return to the Latins to begin to understand Rome’s founding.. Latium was a land bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea on the west, roughly the Tiber river on the north, The Apennine Mountains on the east, and the Liris River on the south. It was roughly 1600 square miles, roughly the size of Butler County, Kansas. There was only one seaport, Antium, and it wasn’t that great. The Tiber was not navigable, flooded in the spring and was mosquito-infested and dried to a trickle in the summer. It became Latium when the Indo-European speaking people from the north invaded and intermarried with the locals, about 1000 BC. Simple, honest folk:  Simple, honest folk The Latins were relatively backward living in round huts of wattle-and-daub, having little iron, and living in clan groups of herders and farmers. Their kings ruled over something called a pagus made up of a group of related clans, helped by council of elders and an assembly of men who were to defend the community and to tend the religious duties. They were considered to simple, honest people who were the first to settle the “seven hills of Rome,” because the hills were the only healthful places to live. Slide11:  The Seven Hills of Rome Aventinus (Aventine) Caelius (Caelian) Capitolium (Capitoline) Esquiliae (Esquiline) Palatium (Palatine) Quirinalis (Quirinal) Viminalis (Viminal) Latin villages on the site of Rome:  Latin villages on the site of Rome The Aventine Hill of Rome had already been inhabited for centuries. It overlooked an island…the only way to cross the Tiber when the river flowed normally. In the 900s BC a Latin colony was established on the Palatine Hill. By 700 BC there were ten villages within what would become the city of Rome, but no city yet. Seven of the ten villages were Latin (others Sabine) and they formed a religious league called the Septimontium,or the League of Seven Hills. In the last half of the 7th century BC, strong marauders seized the river crossing! They could have been Etruscans. The Overlords:  The Overlords The conquerers ruled the villages for perhaps a century. They united the villages under a common central king. At some point the king plowed the sacred furrow designating the sacred city area. The plow was drawn by a white bull and a white cow. No one was to cross the furrow. He picked up the plow to form the city gates. The kings made Rome a city-state and an upper class appeared (patricians) and a lower class (plebeians). Temple to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva was built on Capitoline Hill. These kings extended Rome to about 400 square miles (roughly the size of Geary County). Kingship is evident.:  Kingship is evident. The Roman tradition held that there were seven kings of Rome (four Latin/Sabine, two or three Etruscans). Archaelogical evidence supports kings as the first rulers and a shorter Etruscan dominance. Literary tradition holds that the later, Etruscan kings were tyrants in the Greek sense. This bespeaks the conflict between the Etruscans and the Romans that was brewing in the sixth century. How Roman kingship worked.:  How Roman kingship worked. When a king died, the community fathers (patres) took auspices, interpretation of signs from the gods, based on the flight patterns of birds. (favorable, auspicious; unfavorable, inauspicious) While awaiting the verdict, one of their own was appointed interrex for a five day term. This interrex appointed another, and so on in five day increments until they had a nominee to present to the comita curiata, the assembly of the populus, all adult arm-bearing men. Auspices were again taken, and if confirmatory the new king was approved by acclamation, each vowing their loyalty and obedience. The Roman king’s duties.:  The Roman king’s duties. Commander in chief and head of state. Both lawmaking and law enforcing functions except in civil (private) law, which was based on unwritten traditions. He was the high priest, or pontiff over the pantheon. This was deemed crucial for he was in charge of feasts that appropriately honored god, and he discerned their will. He was advised by the Senate, which had not yet reached its zenith of power. Made up mainly of patriarchs of the most powerful families, whose support the king needed. The Comitia Curiata i.:  The Comitia Curiata i. This was the assembly of armed men of Rome and the nucleus of the early Roman army. For purposes of military organization the “populace” was divided into three parts, a “tribus,” from which we get our word tribe. The tribes were named for the most powerful family in each area at that time: Luceres, Ramnes, and Tities. Later a fourth urban “tribe” was added from the annexed Quirinal. The Comitia Curiata ii.:  The Comitia Curiata ii. Each tribe was divided into ten curiae, but this became obsolete and was replaced by groups of 100 men called centuriae. Leaders of each tribe were called tribunes, leaders of each century were centurions. At the end of the 7th century, Romans had learned the secret of the hoplite phalanx from the Greeks and called their infantry the classis. Eventually in this period there were 35 tribes as rural populae were added, and there were 193 centuries (19,300 men). Early Roman Family Life.:  Early Roman Family Life. Father knows best. Family was closely related to country.:  Family was closely related to country. The Roman paterfamilias was the basis of the early roman state. Together, with other Roman families they made up the commonwealth, the Res Publica. The Latin word for country was patria, or father’s land, basis for the English word “patriot.” This strong family flavor was born in the early days of Roman monarchy, and survived throughout the Empire period. Roman “family” was broader than ours.:  Roman “family” was broader than ours. Romans thought of more than the “nuclear” family as the familia. The Roman household included agnates (blood or adopted through male line), affines (kin through marriage), cognates (mom, dad, uncles, aunts, siblings, siblings kids), clients (free dependents), liberti (freed slaves), and slaves. It also included the spirits of dead male ancestors called maiores (the greater; majors) Junius Brutus with busts of dad and grandpa. From first century. The state in miniature: dad rules.:  The state in miniature: dad rules. The Roman family was the state in miniature: the paterfamilias was owner, manager, lawmaker, and judge. He was subject only to the state, and unless he was proved insane his decisions would not be overruled. Nevertheless, he was expected to rule wisely, and it was his duty to consult the “family council:” adult males and the matriarch (his wife?) known as materfamilias. The matriarch served as vice-regent in his absence, but if he died another paterfamilias was identified. Paterfamilias determined if infants would live. Girls could exposed if pater perceived a surplus of available females. Unless deformed, boys rarely fell victim to infanticide. What was it like for women?:  What was it like for women? Women and children were always subject to some adult male; children had no official legal status. Woman could not buy or sell property without permission from her tutor, husband, or father. Marriage was actually “manus” (hand), a husband’s control over a wife. Some women were sold by the paterfamilias for a nominal fee into marriage, and some marriages were automatic after a couple lived together for a year without being apart for more than 3 days. Divorce was rare in early Rome, but her husband or her father could call for a divorce: attempted poisoning, adultery, lewd behavior, or drunkenness were common grounds. In some situations she could initiate divorce, but the husband always got custody of the children. The Name Game.:  The Name Game. All Roman citizens belonged to a family clan called a gens, the plural is gentes. With few exceptions everyone had three names in the following order: personal name, the gentilicium (clan name), and the cognomen (branch of the gens). Gentilicium was most important, and this is treated like a last name in indexing. Caesar’s full name was Gaius Julius Caesar. He was from the Caesar branch of the Julian line and as a child he might have been called “Guy” for Gaius. The Name Game continued.:  The Name Game continued. Oldest sons usually received their father’s personal name. Additional sons received a short list of family names (there were only about two dozen to choose from). Some received numerical names: Tertius for the third, Quintus for the fifth, Octavian for the eighth. Daughters got the feminine version of the Gentilicium. Caesar’s oldest was Julia. Multiple daughters were usually numbered, and clanned: Julia Prima, Julia Secunda, Julia Tertia. George Foreman would have loved it! Origin of gentility: Patricians.:  Origin of gentility: Patricians. Patrician families grew out of the families who monopolized the priesthoods of cults and thus became the kingmakers and advisers. It was about connections rather than wealth. It was not about ethnicity: Romans were more inclusive than Greeks (think of the civic myth). Romans were Latin, Sabine, and Etruscan. Early on, non-patricians (later called plebeian) enjoyed all the same rights as patricians except no member of their family could hold public priesthoods. Religious power was the big difference. The Religion of Early Rome.:  The Religion of Early Rome. From Mana-animistic Origins to Urbanized Syncretism. The Numina (singular: numen).:  The Numina (singular: numen). The early Romans had a strong belief in numina, life forces that inhabited some places, set-apart objects and animals, and the gods that are in relation to certain objects. Some of these life forces, or spirits, were friendly and some were hostile. All had to be placated with prayers and offerings. Some numina superintended various human activities, especially agriculture and specific aspects of agriculture, and war. Numina were believed to “grow” in power as devotion increased. A good relationship with the spirit was key, and the benefits were mutual. The worshipper received success in the endeavor, and the spirit increased in power, thus becoming more potent for the future needs of devotees. The purpose behind sacrifice.:  The purpose behind sacrifice. To make right their relationship with the spirits that presided over crucial activities of life, the Romans performed animal sacrifices. Sacrifice restored power to the spirits’ numina and life force to the soil, drained by the production of crops. For example, the annual spring festival, the fordicidia involved sacrificing a pregnant cow and burning the unborn calf. This was thought to transfer the proven fertility of the cow to the depleted soil. Sacrifice was also used to consecrate important sites, such as new villages, homes, and boundary markers. Prayer was used to direct the empowered spirits to the desired end, but prayers had to be worded precisely, thus formulae were developed. The old native spirits.:  The old native spirits. Janus – spirit of the door let in friends and kept out foes. Became god of beginnings—2nd century January named for him. Family prayers began with Janus and ended with Vesta. Vesta – spirit of the hearth. Her festival was July 9 and she had associated spirits: Penatea – spirit of the pantry. The Lares – spirits of the ancestors of the family that remained in the home as protectors. Lares familiaris was the founder of the family. The new anthropomorphic gods.:  The new anthropomorphic gods. Contact with the Greeks led to the rise of anthropomorphic gods that were worshipped by the Romans. Anthropomorphic gods had to have houses to dwell in and statues to embody them. Gods like Jupiter were “promoted” from tribal deities of agriculture to anthropomorphic gods of the city. A few gods like Hercules, had no parallel in Roman worship but were added to the pantheon. Hercules was the patron god of merchants. Roman values.:  Roman values. The Mos Maiorum (“way of the ancestors”), the four basic virtues. The Roman Virtues.:  The Roman Virtues. If you inculcate the values you receive honor and respect. Pietas – devotion and loyalty to family and parental authority. Extrapolated to the state. Fides – keeping one’s promises. Rulers who lacked this virtue allowed for rebellion. Gravitas – self-control, a stiff upper lip toward prosperity and failure alike. Virtus – virtue itself: know the difference between good and evil and choose the good; healthy habits, heroism in war; provide for family; honor the state. The Romans were conservative.:  The Romans were conservative.

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