The Roman Empire

Subject: History
Type: Exploratory Essay
Pages: 7
Word count: 1917

The Roman Empire remains one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen. It was founded in Rome the year753 BC. It controlled over 2 million square miles from the river Rhine to Egypt and from Britain to Asia Minor. Romulus founded Rome. He was the first of the seven kings. Originally, Rome was known as Roma. In 509 BC, the last king of Rome was expelled, and senators from there ruled Rome. A constitution with laws was set up, and Rome becomes a republic. This paper attempts to discuss Rome’s expansion and territory. The economic, political and cultural aspects of Rome have also been discussed. Rome was a great civilization. 

The Early Republic

The power of the monarch was passed down to two elected magistrates called consuls. These two leaders were elated annually. They served as the commanders in chief of the Roman army. The magistrates were drawn from the Senate then elected by the entire Roman population. The Senate from which these two magistrates were drawn from was mainly consisted of patricians, who were the descendants of the prime Roman senators, who served during the reign of Romulus. The politics of that time were characterized by struggles between the patricians and the common people. These common people sometimes eventually achieved some political powers through years of franchises from the patricians. 

The first Roman law code was inscribed in 450 BC. This was done on 12 bronze tablets called the twelve tablets. It was displayed publicly on the Roman forum. The laws mainly constituted of issues regarding legal procedures, civil rights, and property rights. The laws also provided a basis for the future Roman civil law. By around 300 BC, the Senate was the basis of all real political powers. The Senate at that time was only made up by members of the patrician families and rich plebeian families. 

The Roman Law

There were many phases of legalistic development in the Roman Empire. During the Republic period, (753-31 BC) the civil law developed. This law was based on legislation or custom and was mostly applied to Roman citizens. During the middle of the 3rd century, however, the law of nations was established. This law was applied for the sake of the Romans themselves and the foreigners. This law was not as an upshot of legislation. It was developed by magistrates and governors who had the responsibility of overseeing justice where the foreigners were involved.

The Roman law originally assumed the principle of personality- meaning the law of the state that is applied only to the legal citizens. In the Roman Empire, foreigners had no rights. They were only protected by the nature of the treaties made between their countries and Rome. This was done to allow the privilege to the Roman citizens over the foreigners.

Disputes between provincials and other states were solved in the governor’s court.

By the end of the 3rd century CE, Roman citizenship was extended through the empire. This gave the foreigners living in the Roman Empire rights equal to the legal Roman citizens. Unlike before, foreigners could now not be taken like ownerless individuals by the legal Roman citizens.

Religion and Cultures in Rome

The religion of Rome had a rather practical approach. The religion of Rome was based on a mixture of rituals, taboos, traditions and superstitions, which had been collected over a long period. The religion was less spiritual than contractual.  However, with time, individuals started changing to the cults of the East, with Greek origin. 

Many of the Roman Gods and Goddesses were a mixture of several religious influences. A god example is a goddess, Diana. Originally, she was an old Latin goddess.  The center of worship of Rome was originally Alicia.  Servius Tullius later moved it to Rome. The Romans offered sacrifices to their gods. Prayer was however complicated due to the uncertainty of the natures of some gods.  Omens and superstitions were very important in Rome. For example during wars, emperors would refuse to march if the omens were bad ones. At the privacy of homes, the Roman families worshiped domestic gods. Festivals were organized and celebrated with the intention of appeasing the Gods. There was no single month in the Roman calendar that did not have festivals. 

Christianity was later introduced In Rome. The religion started taking the course after the death of Jesus Christ, during the reign of Pontius Pilate in Nazareth. After the death of Jesus, his teachings and ideologies were spread by his followers, with the most famous being Paul of Tarsus. For a long time, the Roman authorities were unsure of how to deal with this new cult. They considered Christianity a potential threat. The new Christians refused to perform Caesar worship, hence crushing with the state religion. This led to the great persecution of the Christians. 

During the reign of Constantine, Christianity was made the state religion. The emperor had inherited a tolerance approach to Christianity from his father before him. To mark this, he built a vast basilica church on the Vatican hill where St Paul is said to have been killed. However, the religion suffered great setbacks following the next emperors. It was in AD 380 that emperor Theodosius took the final step and made Christianity the official religion of the state. 

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Military and Economic Expansions in Rome

In the period of the early Republic, the Roman Empire grew exponentially in power and size. One of the first military heroes of Rome was Camillus, with whom Rome gained control of the whole of the Italian peninsula before 264 BC. After this, Rome fought a string of wars known as the Punic wars. These wars were against Carthage, a powerful city-state located in North Africa. Carthage was controlled by Hannibal and is regarded the greatest threat to the expansion of Rome. Hannibal was a military genius, and although Rome defeated him finally, it lost substantial resources in the wars.  

The Punic wars gifted Spain with the Western Mediterranean, Spain and North Africa. After some time, Rome also spread east, defeating King Philip of Macedonia and making it a Roman province too. This conquest was led by Scorpio, a Roman general. King Philip had taken advice from Hannibal. Hannibal had advised him to attack Rome since Rome was weak after the Punic wars.  After Rome had defeated King Philip, Seleucid king, Antiochus iii thought that this was the perfect chance for him to attack Rome. So he started annoying the Greek friends of Rome. The roman authorities asked Scorpio to act again, and he did. The Syrian war took place, and the Seleucid king was defeated. 

Through the expansions, Rome gained great cultural growth as a society. They led to Rome’s adoption of Greek art, religion aspects, and theology. Economic gains were also significant as a result of the Roman expansions.  The more Rome expanded, the more powerful it became. It instituted taxes on the acquired provinces, increasing the revenue for more expansion. 

Politics in Rome

The most powerful people in the Roman political setup were patricians. They governed the city from the Senate. The Senate was the governing body of Rome and was voted into office by a council of Roman citizens, and the equities, once every year. The Senate was mainly made up of members of few ancient families such as Cornell, the July, and the Emilia. Most of the senate’s power was lost to the emperors, but the ancient families still regained their power.

 Romans had a thing about making their sons fine soldiers. Therefore, when a son of a patrician was entitled Roman citizenship, he was sent on his first military escapade. If he returned from battle, the son would almost automatically be introduced to politics. The first office for him to vie was that of the city councilor, then the secretary of the treasury. He would then be appointed as a judge and if he were aggressive, would be given a province to rule, or become a magistrate. In Rome, magistrates had the greatest powers.

Political leaders championed the rights of the common mean and therefore were in constant conflict with the nobles. This was, therefore, a dangerous office but a perfect course of success for an ambitious man.  Powerful families supported each other through intermarriages and financial assistance. Roman women were excluded in any political activities. Only the men voted. Women from the upper social class, however, had certain behind the scenes influence. They had the right to own property, control it and move around in public. 

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The Pax Romana

This term simply means Roman peace. It symbolizes a period of over 200 years whereby Rome enjoyed peace and sustainability, across the whole of the Roman Empire. This period was started with the rise of Augustus Caesar. The emperor targeted to guarantee law, security, and order all over the empire, even if it took separating it from the rest of the world. He aimed at defending and expanding the empire through military conquests and interventions.

After the death of Julius Caesar, Octavian, the young adopted son of Caesar hunted down his father’s killers and killed them. He defeated the other claimants of the throne and became the first emperor of Rome. The Senate afterward named him Augustus and granted him almost unlimited powers. The new emperor ushered with him a new era of prosperity and stability for Rome that lasted for over 200 years. 

Augustus chose to expand in all directions. Provinces that had earlier on been acquired were forced to pronounce allegiance to Rome. Augustus invaded Spain and Gaul and returned home a hero. To symbolize his success, the Senate put up an erection on the campus Martius the Altar of Augustan Peace.  It included sculptured reliefs, a religious fresco representing the royal families and a frieze portraying several Roman ethics; harmony, peace, duty, wealth, and decency.

Rome benefitted most from the Pax Romana. Augustus provided for protection against famine, flood, and possible fires. He oversaw the city’s water, roads, and grains supply. The police force of the city was enlarged for the sake of riots and curbing crime in the city. He ensured that traditional moral values were restored by rebuilding decaying moral temples. His reforms were reformed and enacted, for at that time, Augustus was the law. 

The Roman people appreciated and valued peace. To the people, he became a god, and this had the impact on the religion and culture. The imperial cult was born. This cult was resisted by some people, especially the Christians.  The emperors after Augustus followed his example and expanded the empire. For those who resisted, the cost of peace was high. However, in the 3rd century, invasions and plagues overwhelmed the empire. After the death of Marcus Aurelius, and the arrival of his successor, Emperor Commodus, in 180 CE, cracks began to appear and Pax Romana, after 200 years became an afterthought.

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The Roman Empire was one of the greatest civilizations of all time. Rome enjoyed a rich culture, effective political setups, and good economic basis. As in expanded its territories, some of the greatest wars in history took place. Rome was aggressive and ruthless. With the expansion, military geniuses’ like Scorpio were born. Great emperors such as Augustus also emerged. Rome boasts a rich history about religion. The spread of Christianity is much credited to Rome. Although some came to fall, it proved that the world could be controlled from one central position.

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