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Ancient Rome and Early Christianity


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Title: Ancient Rome and Early Christianity

Ancient Rome and Early Christianity
  • 509 BCE to 476 CE

Italian Peninsula (The Boot of Europe)
  • Alps Mountains in the North.
  • Apennines running north to south along the
  • Tiber and Po Rivers.

Legend of the Foundation of the Roman Civilization
  • Romulus and Remus.
  • Both thrown into the Tiber River by their uncle.
  • Found by a shewolf and nursed until they were
    found by a sheepherder and his wife.
  • Romulus built Rome in 753 BCE.
  • The way it really happened.

Foundation of Early Rome
  • Neolithic Revolution arrives on the Italian
    Peninsula around 1000 BCE.
  • Between 2000-1000 BCE, there were groups of
    Indo-Europeans that settled on the Italian
  • By 900 BCE, one of these groups, the Etruscans
    ruled the northern part of the peninsula.

Foundations (Cont)
  • The Etruscans brought with them the Greek
    alphabet and were able to quickly dominate the
    other groups of people that inhabited the Italian
  • The Etruscans were skilled artists and painters.
    Much of what we know of them comes from their
  • The Etruscan society was divided up into two
    social groups aristocrats and the lower class.

Foundations (Cont)
  • The Etruscan upper class treated others as
    virtual slaves.
  • By the 600s BCE, a family of wealthy Etruscans
    called the Tarquins took control.
  • They helped the people of the town of Rome, which
    had been built in 753 BCE, to build with brick,
    lay out streets, and drain the swamps that
    surrounded the city.
  • They also taught the Romans their religion.

Foundations (Cont)
  • With the help of the Tarquins, Rome became one of
    the wealthiest cities in the region.
  • However, by 534 BCE, a king named Tarquin II took
    control. He was an extremely cruel leader.
  • In 509 BCE, the Romans drove the Tarquins out of
    Rome and declared the new region, res publica or

Roman Republic
  • Under the Etruscan rule, Roman society had been
    divided into two groups
  • Patricians - wealthy, landowning aristocrats
  • Plebeians - wealthy, non-aristocratic
    townspeople, merchants, small farmers, etc..
  • Both groups had the right to vote, serve in the
    military and both paid taxes to the government.
    However, only patricians could hold public office.

Republican Government
  • The government of the republic was organized into
    both executive and legislative branches.
  • At first, the legislative branch consisted of two
    branches the Senate and the Assembly of
    Centuries. The Senate outranked the Assembly of
    Centuries and the 300 members served for life.

Republican Government (Cont)
  • The executive branch was headed by two patricians
    elected by the Senate.
  • Consuls
  • Served one year terms
  • Veto power
  • Consuls appointed other government officials.
  • Only a dictator could overrule the consuls.
  • Dictators were only appointed during crisis.

Plebeian Demands of 494 BCE
  • The plebeians wanted a bigger voice in the
  • In 494 BCE, the plebeians refused to serve in the
    military until their demands for representation
    in the government was made.
  • The patricians agreed to the demands of the

Plebeian Victories
  • As a result of their threatened strike, the
    plebeians won the following concessions from the
  • Representation by tribunes.
  • Slavery by debts was abolished.
  • Plebeians and patricians could marry.
  • The creation of the Twelve Tables. A written
    code of Roman laws that were place din the Forum.

Roman Life
  • Religion
  • Roman religion was based on Etruscan deities and
    Greek gods and goddesses.
  • During the 500 years of the Roman Republic, the
    Roman actually preserved much of the Greek
  • Romans changed the names of the Greek gods and
    goddesses to better reflect Roman ideals.

Roman Life (Cont)
  • The real power in the Roman Republic rests in the
    hands of the Senate.
  • The backbone of the republic was the
    citizen-farmer of Rome. These were the people
    that manned the Roman armies and gave Rome the
    power to expand.
  • The basic unit of Roman society was the family.

Roman Life (Cont)
  • The oldest living male member of the family was
    the absolute head of the household.
  • The oldest male owned all property, controlled
    the education of the sons, and conducted the
    familys religion ceremonies.
  • The oldest male had the power to sell family
    members into slavery or even kill them.
  • Women had few legal rights under the law.

Roman Republic - Expansion and Crisis
  • 500 - 27 BCE

Roman Republic - Expansion
  • From 500 to 300 BCE, the Roman Republic faced
    threats from the other groups on the Italian
    Peninsula. One by one, the Romans were able to
    either conquer or force these groups to submit to
  • The toughest challenge came from the Greeks that
    inhabited the southern part of the peninsula.
    Pyrrhic Victory 275 BCE.

Roman Legions - Might of Rome
  • The strength of Rome was in its armies or
  • Each legion was 6000 men strong.
  • It was quicker than the Greek phalanx.
  • Roman soldiers were well trained. Deserters were
    punished by death.

Roman Legions (Cont)
  • The ranks of the Roman legions were made up of
    the citizen farmers.
  • Romans would even allow conquered peoples the
    opportunity to serve in the legions.
  • Romans set up military colonies throughout the
    Italian Peninsula to protect key points and
    cities. To connect these colonies, the Romans
    build roads.

Punic Wars
  • In 264 BCE, the city of Carthage attempted to
    seize the waterway between Sicily and the Italian
    Peninsula. This area is called the Straits of

Punic Wars (Cont)
  • The Roman legions were able to quickly defeat the
    Carthaginians on the Island of Sicily.
  • Carthage then attacked Rome with its powerful
  • Romes power was in its legions. This gave
    Carthage an advantage against Rome.

Punic Wars (Cont)
  • During the early stages of the war, a
    Carthaginian warship was beached during a storm.
    The Romans captured it and made copies.
  • It allowed the Romans to use its superior legions
    on the seas and Carthage was defeated in 241 BCE.
  • Rome required Carthage to pay an indemnity for
    the damages.

Punic Wars (Cont)
  • In 221 BCE, a Carthaginian general named Hannibal
    was put in command of the Carthaginian armies in
  • In 219 BCE, he had taken one of Romes colonies.

Punic Wars (Cont)
Punic Wars (Cont)
  • Hannibal set his sights on Rome.
  • Leading 40,000 soldiers and 40 battle elephants,
    he marched towards Rome, crossing Gaul and
    natural obstacles.
  • The Romans felt comfortable in the fact that
    Hannibal was a long way off and that Rome was
    protected by the obstacles that lay in Hannibals

Punic Wars (Cont)
  • Hannibal continued to march towards Rome. His
    armies crossed over the Alps in the middle of
    winter and surprised the Romans by making it into
    the northern part of the peninsula. Over half his
    armies died on the march.
  • Roman legions were sent to stop Hannibal. All
    were destroyed and the Carthaginians continued to
    advance on Rome.

Punic Wars (Cont)
  • When Hannibal and his armies arrived outside
    Rome, they were not strong enough to attack the
    city itself.
  • Hannibal then moved his armies into the southern
    part of the Italian Peninsula and attacked
    smaller cities and towns.
  • In 216 BCE, the Romans met Hannibal on the
    battlefield at Cannae.

Punic Wars (Cont)
  • Hannibal and his armies were vastly outnumbered.
  • When the Romans attacked, Hannibal sprung his
    trap. The Romans were completely routed off the
    battlefield by the outnumbered Carthaginians.
  • Dont kill the Romans - Hamstring them.

Punic Wars (Cont)
  • For the next 14 years, Hannibal and his armies
    attacked and plundered cities and towns in
    southern Italy.
  • In 202 BCE, a Roman general named Scipio attacked
    Carthage. Hannibal was summoned home to protect
    the city.
  • Scipio defeats Hannibal at the Battle of Zama.

Punic Wars (Cont)
  • As a result of losing, Carthage had to give most
    of its warships to Rome and pay another
  • Hannibal was hunted by the Romans and finally
    committed suicide in Asia Minor as the Romans
    were about to capture him.
  • For the next 50 years, Carthage rebuilt.

Punic Wars (Cont)
  • The Romans continued to fear Carthage.
  • Cato, a Roman senator, ended all of his speeches
    with the statement, Carthago delenda est
    (Carthage must be destroyed).
  • Hannibal had left a mark on the psyche of the

Punic Wars (Cont)
  • In 146 BCE, Rome attacked Carthage, burned it to
    the ground and sold all of its citizens into
    slavery. Legend also states that the Romans
    plowed salt into the ground so nothing would
  • This victory gave Rome control over the Western
    Mediterranean region. Then they turned their
    attention to Greece.

Crisis in the Roman Republic
  • Unemployment
  • Overcrowding in the cities.
  • Slavery
  • Rising crime rate.
  • Traffic congestion
  • Deepening class struggle

Crisis (Cont)
  • From the period 230-130 BCE, the Romans expanded
    their borders in the Eastern Mediterranean region
    as well.
  • As Rome expanded, the social conditions within
    the republic began to deteriorate.
  • Throughout the Italian Peninsula and the
    conquered territories, wealthy Romans began to
    seize lands.

Crisis (Cont)
  • Small farms were bought up by the wealthy Romans
    from farmers who fell behind in their taxes or
    were away serving in the roman legions.
  • These small farms were combined into huge estates
    called latifundias.
  • These latifundias also switched from subsistence
    to cash crops.

Crisis (Cont)
  • Labor for these huge estates came from the
    increasing numbers of slaves that Roman expansion
    had brought into the republic.
  • The most highly prized slaves were from Greece.
    These were the best educated and most artistic.
  • By 100 BCE, slaves formed about 30 of republics

Crisis (Cont)
  • As more slaves became available, many of the
    small farmers and their families were forced to
    move into the cities seeking employment.
  • Jobs were not available to them because most were
    uneducated and slaves had taken many of the jobs.
  • This created a new class of urban poor.

Crisis (Cont)
  • Realizing the dangers of the vast numbers of
    hungry and unemployed within the cities,
    politicians implemented bread and circuses.
    Keeping the people entertained and fed became a
    major priority for the republic.

Crisis (Cont)
  • The gap between the rich and poor became wider
    and Rome positioned legions throughout the
    republic to put down any rebellions.
  • In 133 BCE, a tribune named Tiberius Gracchus
    proposed limiting the sizes of the latifundias
    and giving land to the poor.
  • Members of the Senate opposed his ideas and had
    him assassinated doing street riots sponsored by
    the Senate.

Crisis (Cont)
  • 10 years later, Tiberius brother Gaius was also
    murdered in Senate backed riots because of his
    social reforms.
  • After the death of the Gracchi brothers, the
    generals took control of the republic.

Civil War 88 - 82 BCE
  • In 107 BCE, a Roman general named Marius became
    consul in Rome.
  • Marius opened the army ranks to the urban
  • His armies swore allegiance to him rather than

Civil War (Cont)
  • A rival general named Sulla struggled for control
    of Rome.
  • Sulla led the Senates armies against Marius and
    defeated Marius armies.

Struggle for Power
  • In 60 BCE, the 1st Triumvirate was formed by
    Julius Caesar, Cassius, and Pompey.
  • They wanted to restore the power of the republic.

Struggle for Power (Cont)
  • While serving as consul of Rome, Caesar realized
    that he needed military victories to advance his
    political career.
  • In 59 BCE, Caesar left Rome to take command of
    the roman legions in the province of Gaul.
  • He was able to defeat the Celts and expand the
    republic to the Rhine River in present day

Struggle for Power (Cont)
  • By 50 BCE, Caesar was being hailed as a hero by
    the Roman public and the triumvirate was falling
    apart. Cassisu had been killed in battle and
    Pompey grew increasingly jealous of Caesar.
  • In 49 BCE, Pompey urged the Senate to recall
    Caesar from Gaul.
  • Caesar was ordered to give up his armies and
    return to Rome.

Struggle for Power (Cont)
  • Caesar took 5000 loyal soldiers with him and
    marched towards Rome.
  • He crossed the Rubicon River with his legion.
    This was a direct violation of Roman law.
  • Caesar forced Pompey and his armies out of the
    Italian Peninsula and declared himself dictator
    for life in 45 BCE.

Julius Caesar
  • Caesar granted citizenship to many people from
    the provinces.
  • Appointed senators from the provinces that were
    loyal to him.
  • Set up public works programs.
  • Ordered landowners to hire more free laborers.
  • Continued to distribute free grain to the poor.
  • Instituted a new calendar based on 365 days.

Caesar (Cont)
  • Many people supported Caesar and his reforms.
    However, some saw him as a tyrant who wanted to
    become king.
  • Under Roman law, any person that wanted to become
    king could be executed with trial.
  • As Caesar was going to the Senate on March 15, 44
    BCE, Caesar was assassinated by a group of
    Senators who opposed him.

The End of the Roman Republic
  • After Caesar was assassinated, the 2nd
    Triumvirate was formed by Octavian, Marc Antony,
    and Marcus Lepidus.
  • This triumvirate was formed to avenge the
    assassination of Caesar.
  • The triumvirate did not last long. Lepidus was
    forced to retire and Marc Antony and Octavian
    struggled for control of Rome.

End of the Republic (Cont)
  • Marc Antony married Cleopatra and Octavian
    convinced the roman people that Antony planned to
    rule with Cleopatra as his Queen.
  • In 31 BCE, the forces of Octavian and Marc Antony
    and Cleopatra met at the Battle of Actium.
  • Within a year, both Antony and Cleopatra had
    committed suicide.