English 230

                                      The Roman Empire: Some Dates, Persons, and Events

                                 [Authors/texts we've read in bold brackets near their dates]


Greek Background‑‑


1200‑1000 BCE: Probable date of "Troy's Fall" and Mycenean Rule

1000‑800 BCE: Homeric singers [Odyssey and Homeric Hymns]

800‑500 BCE: Hellene city‑states & colonies [Archilochus, Sappho]

500‑400 BCE: Athens and Sparta defeat Persians, become imperial  powers & fight Peloponesian Wars [tragedies and comedies]


Roman Origins‑‑"in myth" and as historians reconstruct it

"Shortly after Trojan War, Aeneas, Trojan refugee founds Lavinium  in Italy.  Son, Iulus, founds Alba on site of Rome. Generations  later, a decendant Alban ruler's daughter raped by Mars‑‑sons=  Romulus & Remus. Romulus builds the walls of Rome and kills Remus  after Remus vaults the city pallisade."


600‑500 BCE: Latin speaking tribes move to Italian peninsula,  competing with dominant Etruscan civilization, as well as Volscan  and Sabine tribes (Sabine loan words in Latin: lupus/wolf;  bos/ox; scrofa/sow; popina/cookshop; rufus/red‑haired)

Share power with Etruscans & Carthagenian influence (Mod. Libya).

**Tarquinius (Etruscan tyrant)= 1st named ruler of peoples @ Rome

**Servius Tullius (Roman) successor, standardizes coinage and  divides Romans in 5 social classes by wealth as measure of  ability to arm warriors (the comitia centuriata).


510 BCE**Tarquinius (another E. of same name) expelled by Latin  aristos under circumstances recorded in mythic history.   Consolidation of Roman power begins under a Rex or king (like  Athenian Basileus or head Archon; plus patres or "fathers" who head the gentes  or great families (sing. gens)‑‑a paterfamilias has the power of  life and death over wife, children, and slaves.


500‑400 BCE: class struggles between patricians of old aristo  families and plebians of newer families: plebians rebel until  471, Lex publilia, patricians accept pleb institutions and  officers.

451‑450: patricians reorganize laws and legislature around the  "12 tables" of written laws‑‑prohibits intermarriage pleb/pat.

Colonial expansion and battles with Gauls who occupy North Italy

390 BCE: Gauls destroy Roman legions; Rome occupied for plunder.


366‑338: Rome fighting tribes & buying others off w/ 1/2  citizenship (no voting rights but commercial rights).  Senate  takes shape w/ 300 life‑time appointees to make laws and balance  power of the Rex.  Romans worship Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Vesta,  and Mars (Zeus, Hera, Athena, no equivalent, and Ares in Greek).

264‑41: 1st Punic War‑‑Carthage forced from Italy, pays tribute

228: Corinth admits Rome to Isthmian Games; Romans become  accepted among the Hellenic city‑states.


The Defeat of Carthage and the Occupation of Greece: 

237‑25: Carthagenians under Hamilcar Barca move into Spain.   By order of succession, Hamilcar's son, Hannibal (only age 9 in 237) was made to swear eternal hatred  of Rome.  Son‑in‑law, Hasdrubal, founds Carthago Nova (Cartagena)

226‑5: "Ebro Treaty" formed by Carthage and Rome‑‑Carthagenians cannot cross the Ebro but they can have Spain.  (Does this anticipate the later Moorish conquest border until the expulsion of the Moors from Spain with the Moors' defeat in Granada in 1492?)

218‑201: 2nd Punic War: Hannibal picks off Roman colonies,  heading North; crosses Alps w/elephants & invades North Italy.

Opponents: Fabius (called "Cunctator" or "Delayer" for his successful  strategy which costs Hannibal's army momentum and allowed smaller Roman force  to avoid destruction‑‑(This "delaying" strategy later was deployed by the Russian genaral Kutuzov vs. Napoleon in 1812 CE); and the Roman general in Africa, Scipio  (called "Africanus" or "The African" for victories there)

209 BCE: Scipio captures Cartagena & Tunis.

202 BCE: Battle of Zama‑‑Scipio lets Hannibal's elephants charge  through prepared openings in Roman ranks, eliminating their threat to his forces.  Successive outflanking  maneuvers end when Roman cavalry falls on rear of Carthagenian  army (20,000 Carth. dead to 1200 Roman dead).  Exit Hannibal.

149‑46 BCE: 3rd Punic War‑‑Carthage razed to the ground.

Cato the Elder (234‑149), senator, renowned for ending all his senatorial speeches with some variation on the conclusion, "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam" ("Furthermore, Carthage must be destroyed").  Cato was also famous for proverbs, especially on writing simply: rem tene, verba sequentur (keep to the subject; words will follow--not a bad idea when you are strating to write a paper); his proverbs were popularly collected (with spurious additions) in the text known as Catonis disticha (ca. C3-4 CE).



200 BCE: Greek city states ask Rome to aid Greeks vs. Philip of Macedon--not ultimately a successful alliance, one empire against another with the atomistic Greek states trapped between them.



154 BCE: the date Calpurnius Piso, an aristo, names as the year  modesty died in Rome‑‑imperial conquests result in a massive influx of foreign ideas, capital,  people, styles, food, and general influence changes Rome.

146 BCE: Roman troops sack Corinth, loot its art for Rome

By 133 BCE: most educated Romans are bilingual (Greek/Latin),  Odyssey and Iliad are translated into Latin, lyrics of Sappho and  others spread among young Roman aristos and spark Latin lyrics  and satires, stoicism and epicurianism become "Latinized."

 133‑31 BCE: Republic falls, dictators & oligarchies. Dictators are appointed by aristos as better than chaos.

88‑82: Civil Wars  [84‑54 Catullus]

82‑79: Sulla's dictatorship

77 BCE: The Imperium of Pompey (Gnaius Pompeius)

73‑71 BCE: Spartacus leads slave revolt [Horace & Virgil born]

64‑63 BCE: Pompey captures Jerusalem, annexes Syria as colony

<<A period of instability in the Roman Republic (i.e., the Senate still had more independent power, no dynastic rulers)

58 BCE: Julius Caesar begins conquest of Gaul (Mod. France)

48 BCE: Caesar made dictator for 10 years; Pompey flees to Egypt,  murdered; Caesar winters in Egypt with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.

46 BCE: Caesar returns to Rome; Cato the Younger commits suicide  symbolic of the end of hopes for restoration of the Republic

44 BCE: 15 March (The Ides of March) Caesar murdered in the  Senate by Brutus, Cassius, and other aristo conspirators who  feared his popularity with the masses & the armies. [Ovid born]

41‑31 BCE Civil War: Mark Antony, M. Aemilius Lepidus, Gaius  Octavius (C's adopted son & heir) form the First Triumvirate (3‑ man rule).  Octavian, later Emperor Augustus Caesar, defeats all,  incl. Mark Antony and ally Cleopatra in sea battle at Actium (September 2, 31  BCE). 


<<Beginning of Imperial Rome>>


27 BCE‑284 CE: the Principate (rule by a prince or princeps & Senate)‑‑ Octavian (AKA Caesar Augustus, Caesar's nephew and heir) says, "By the common consent of all men I received  absolute control of affairs."


The Early Emperors (the weird, the barbarian/weird, and the good)


"Julio‑Claudian" line‑‑(starts sober, gets very strange)


Augustus (27 BCE‑14 CE: AKA Octavian, heir of Julius Caesar)  [most productive work of Virgil, Horace, and Ovid; Ovid exiled by  Augustus for unknown reasons to Black Sea in 8 CE]

Tiberius (14‑37)

Gaius (37‑41: Caligula/"Little Boots," nickname)

Claudius I (41‑54: Robert Graves' hero in "I, Claudius")

Nero (54‑68: Christian persecutions after Great Fire, 64 BCE)


"Flavian" line‑‑(many Romanized Gauls, murders, coups)


Galba (68‑69)

Otho (69)

Vitellius (69)

Vespasian (69‑79)

Titus (79‑81: destruction of Pompeii by Vesuvius, 70 CE)

Domitian (81‑96: liked to be called dominus et deus, master &  god; assassinated in 96 CE after years of state terror) [Juvenal]


The "Five Good Emperors"‑‑smooth succession, rebuilding of Rome,  extension of imperial power with relatively peaceful effects


Nerva (96‑98)

Trajan (98‑117)

Hadrian (117‑38: built defensive wall across Britain; defeated  rebellion of Jews under Ben‑Cochbar in 131)

Antonius Pius (138‑61)

Marcus Aurelius (161‑80)

and dozens more between 180 and 476 CE including schizmatic  emperors of small parts of the empire like Gaul, Milan, Syria,  the Danube, Egypt, and gradually the Eastern Empire centered at  the old capital of Byzantium.  Finally, things snapped  (see below).


324 CE: Constantine attributes his victory over Licinius, who  persecuted Christians, to the god of the Christians whose sign he  made over his troops' shields before the decisive Battle of  Milvian Bridge. The Emperor becomes a Christian, rebuilds  Byzantium as his new capital around Christian cathedrals, and  renames it Constantinople, the first Christian capital city.

325 CE: Constantine presides over the Council of Nicea, bringing  together Christian bishops from across the Empire to resolve  doctrinal differences (source "Nicean Creed" or pledge of faith).

376 CE: Visigoths flee the Huns (Atilla) across the Danube and  are allowed to settle since the Romans can't defeat them.

410 CE: Visigoths capture Rome

31 December 406 CE: Vandals & Suebi cross Rhine into Gaul

439 CE: Vandals capture Carthage, 1st German state (!)

476 CE: Ostrogoths and other refugees from Huns enter Rome;  Odoacer, leader of the Ostrogoths, becomes emperor.  Theodoric,  successor, jailed young Roman advisor named Boethius for treason.   Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy is "Medieval" philosophy, trying to bridge between pagan contemplations betwen a godless "Fortune" and Christian divine Providence or foreknowledge (English 240).

<<Almost 1000 years of relative confusion in the fragmentary Western Roman Empire colonies (Britania, Gaul, Iberia, etc.) and internal struggle plus increasing resistance between Constantinople's Eastern Roman Empire and the rising Islamic caliphate which becomes the Ottoman Empire.

1453 CE: Constantinople falls to Ottoman Turks.  End of the Eastern Roman Empire.  Greek-speaking scholars flee the Turks into Western Europe and bring with them the ability to read and interpret Plato, Aristotle, and the rest of the Greek cultural inheritance.  The Renaissance begins in Italy and spreads within 100 years to France, Germany, England, Scandinavia, etc.  The world changes.


Political History and Structure:


City population = patricians (old families w/lands and money) and plebians (new money or poor people)


Early (C6)‑‑ Patrician are members of the comitia centuriata governed by...

Pontifex maximus ("king")

Rex sacrorum or sacrificulus (elected magistrate in charge of divine sacrifices)

2 Praetores (later "consuls"‑‑elected by comitia centuriata &  rule the state for 1 year [later 3‑9 years])

2 Quaestores (assist praetores and manage treasury)


In emergencies, one of the two praetores or consuls could appoint a dictator who because supreme head of state for a period of 6 months.  The dictator appointed a magister equitan or commander of cavalry (also for 6 months).


In 443 B.C.E. the office of censor was created to take the census of the city's population.  The post gradually acquired prestige and powers until it oversaw all aspects of civil life.


Also in the 5th century, the plebians served only in the Senate and the patricians could become Senators as well as magistrates (consuls, quaestores, etc.). 


Around 449 the plebians forced the patricians to accept two new officers to counter the power of Senate and magistrates:


               10 Tribunes (tribuni plebis) who had veto power over  magistrates.

               2 Aediles who kept the archives of the plebians at the temple of Ceres.


After 332, the government stabilized somewhat.  The Senate was fixed at 300 members chosen from among plebians and patricians by the censors.  But because the censors were patricians they tended to choose patricians, and increasingly they chose former magistrates.  Tribunes and aediles were from the top of the plebians and began to act as magistrates in their own right.


Family types: nobiles (there has been a consul in the family)

              homines novi ("new men," no senator in the family)