Ancient Rome
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Ancient Rome

Social and Historical Documents from the Early Republic to the Death of Augustus

Matthew Dillon, Lynda Garland

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eBook - ePub

Ancient Rome

Social and Historical Documents from the Early Republic to the Death of Augustus

Matthew Dillon, Lynda Garland

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About This Book

In this second edition, Ancient Rome presents an extensive range of material, from the early Republic to the death of Augustus, with two new chapters on the Second Triumvirate and The Age of Augustus. Dillon and Garland have also included more extensive late Republican and Augustan sources on social developments, as well as further information on the Gold Age of Roman literature.

Providing comprehensive coverage of all important documents pertaining to the Roman Republic and the Augustan age, Ancient Rome includes:

  • source material on political and military developments in the Roman Republic and Augustan age (509 BC – AD 14)

  • detailed chapters on social phenomena, such as Roman religion, slavery and freedmen, women and the family, and the public face of Rome

  • clear, precise translations of documents taken not only from historical sources but also from inscriptions, laws and decrees, epitaphs, graffiti, public speeches, poetry, private letters and drama

  • concise up-to-date bibliographies and commentaries for each document and chapter

  • a definitive collection of source material on the Roman Republic and early empire.

Students of ancient Rome and classical studies will find this new edition invaluable at all levels of study.

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Early Republican Rome: 507–264 BC
The city of Rome, halfway down the western coast of Italy and some 15 kilometres inland, started its history as a few primitive huts on adjacent hills; the earliest archaeological remains belong to the foundations of dwellings on the Palatine dating to the middle of the eighth century BC. The city would eventually be built over and around the famous seven hills: the Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal and Viminal. Tradition and myth gave the city a founder, Romulus, but nearly everything about him is probably fictitious. For the Romans, he was the first of seven kings, before the Republic came into being in 509 BC with the overthrow of the last king, the Etruscan Tarquinius Superbus ‘the Proud’. Livy and Dionysius record much about these seven kings, who ruled over some 250 years, but the pre-regal and regal history of Rome is more or less lost except for the archaeological record. There was a tendency to ascribe Roman institutions and customs to these kings, as well as developments in the physical structure of the city (docs 1.1–2, 1.5, 2.3), though the idea of monarchy was hated throughout the Republic (doc. 1.10, 13.55).
By the sixth and fifth centuries BC, Rome was part of the wider Mediterranean world: Herodotus knows of Agylla, 30 kilometres from Rome (Hdt. 1.167), and calls the defeat of Tarentum by the Iapygians in 473 BC the worst ever suffered by the Greeks (7.170), while Aristotle referred to the sack of Rome by the Gauls in the fourth century BC (Plutarch Camillus 22). The inscription of Sostratus found at Gravisca, the port of Etrurian Tarquinia, dated to c. 500 BC (‘I am of Aeginetan Apollo. Sostratus … ’; LSAG2 p. 439), is evidence for Greeks trading on the Etruscan coast in the late sixth century, and this Sostratus is mentioned by Herodotus (4.152) as the archetypal profiteer: he may have been bringing Attic vases to Etruria. Athenian black-figure pottery dated to c. 570–560 BC has been found in the Roman forum, near the ‘Black Stone’ (lapis niger), on which there is an inscription in undecipherable Latin.
The standard abbreviation for the government of Rome was SPQR: ‘senatus populusque Romanus’ (the senate and people of Rome), and the state was known as res publica, literally ‘public affairs’, sometimes written as one word, respublica. The roles of the senate and people were seen as equally significant in the government of the city. As regards officials, Roman political life was highly competitive and underpinned by the principle of collegiality. From the expulsion of the kings, the tenure of magistracies was strictly annual, and supreme power was shared between two consuls (initially called praetors). It was the elected magistrates who convened the senate and assemblies, administered the law and finances, and commanded the armies and provinces. By the first century BC, the senior magistrates were the consuls, the supreme commanders of the army (docs 1.11–13) and the praetors, who were in charge of the administration of the law and, like the consuls, able to lead an army and convene the centuriate assembly. These senior magistrates possessed the powers of imperium (military command) and auspicium (the right to take auspices: see docs 3.45–50). Junior magistrates consisted of the quaestors (whose duties were primarily financial) and the aediles (two curule and two plebeian), who were in charge of the infrastructure of Rome as a city and the holding of games. In times of crisis in early Rome a single dictator could be appointed for a limited period of time, usually six months (doc. 1.14), and two censors with an 18-month term of office were regularly elected to deal with the census (the registration of citizens) and carry out other duties (docs 1.15–17).
The senate was essentially an advisory body to the magistrates, as it had been to the kings, and before Sulla consisted of some 300 members (though in early Rome there were considerably fewer); the number was then raised by Sulla to 600 and by Julius Caesar to 900. The senate’s numbers were kept up by the enrolment of elected magistrates, and hence as a body of ex-officials it possessed great influence over magistrates and people. However, the senate could not decide on war or peace, since it was the people, as the comitia tributa, ‘tribal assembly’ (in the comitium or forum), who voted for legislation and, as the comitia centuriata, ‘centuriate assembly’ (on the Campus Martius), for war or peace (doc. 1.59, cf. 1.20).
The people (the populus Romanus) had the constitutional rights of direct voting on legislation, electing magistrates, and making decisions on trials in the popular assembly (docs 1.20–21). Duties included military service (for those with the requisite economic status), paying the poll tax (up to 168 BC) and serving as jurors. Ten tribunes, who were also magistrates elected annually, represented the rights of the people and prevented them from exploitation (docs 1.23–24). Technically, therefore, the populus Romanus was sovereign, but of course only adult citizen males were members of assemblies (though these included freedmen). Polybius, writing in the mid-second century BC, saw the Roman constitution as a ‘mixed’ one and believed that the system of checks and balances between magistrates, senate and people was one of the factors in its successful working (doc. 1.59).
The forum was the centre of political life in Rome, as well as containing shops and businesses, while trials, gladiatorial and theatrical shows and the funeral orations of prominent citizens took place there. Political life revolved around the assemblies (held both in the forum and on the Campus Martius, the ‘Field of Mars’) and the senate house (the curia) in the forum, while important temples fronted onto the forum, where the residences of the pontifex maximus and Vestals were sited (docs 1.5–8).
Early Rome was dominated by two long-standing areas of conflict: the struggle between patricians and plebeians, the ‘Conflict of the Orders’, which lasted from 494 to 287 BC (docs 1.25–58), and Rome’s drive to become the dominant state in Italy (docs 1.27–28, 61–74). The plebeians, those who were not patricians (members of specific clans originally with responsibility for religious rites), increasingly gained access to magistracies and the priesthoods (docs 1.48–56) and by 300 BC the wealthy plebeian families had joined Rome’s political elite. As part of this conflict, the XII Tables were codified supposedly in response to popular agitation over the patricians’ control of the law (docs 1.32–43, 45). Within Italy, Rome was engaged in continuous wars with its Italic neighbours from its foundation. The Etruscan city of Veii, some 15 kilometres north of Rome, was finally taken in 396 BC (doc. 1.61); Latium, the area inhabited by the Latins, was conquered by 300 BC (docs 1.27, 63–65); and the Samnites, though fierce enemies of Rome from 343 to 290 BC (and again in the Social War, 91–89 BC), were effectively neutralised, along with the Greek cities of southern Italy, by 272 BC: Rome’s dominance over Italy was now complete.
Ancient sources: family history and heroic tales had a long oral tradition in early Rome. However, there was also documentary evidence from the earliest period of the Republic in the Fasti (the list of consuls for each year), and historians use, as their chronological framework, lists of the consuls, triumphs, military campaigns, alliances, colonies, public works, natural disasters and other such archival material. Cicero (de orat. 2.52) suggests that there was an official chronicle called the Annales Maximi kept by the pontifex maximus which listed all important events in a certain year and continued from the earliest times down to c. 120 BC (P. Mucius Scaevola). In addition state documents were kept in the temple of Saturn on the Capitol and pontifical colleges kept their own records.
Fragments of the XII Tables, the law-code compiled in 451/0 BC, survive from quotations in later writers; while the XII Tables might have regulated existing legal practices (rather than reforming them), they are a very valuable source for law and society in the mid-fifth century and were later seen as the basis of all Roman law.
Antiquarians: antiquarianism of language or customs became a popular study in the first century BC. M. Terentius Varro (116–27 BC) is said to have written 490 books (or more). Six of his 25 books De lingua latina (On the Latin Language) are extant; his Antiquities are lost, but his work was highly significant as a source for later writers: Pliny the Elder, for example, in his 37 books of Natural History, relied on his account. Another noted antiquarian was Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who is a very valuable source for the constitution and customs of early Rome. A Greek historian, he lived in Rome in the time of Augustus as a teacher of rhetoric and published his 20 books of Roman Antiquities (down to the beginning of the first Punic War) 22 years after Augustus’ assumption of power. The first 11 books (to 441 BC) survive. As an outsider, Dionysius describes much in Roman society which is otherwise not mentioned, but he is concerned with showing Rome as essentially a Greek city and emphasising its intrinsic virtues, and his work is full of lengthy rhetorical speeches. Gellius’ Attic Nights (Gellius was born c. AD 125) is a series of short notes which he put together for his children and contains useful citations from earlier works now lost. Macrobius used him extensively: his Saturnalia is in the form of a series of dialogues which took place before and during the Saturnalia of perhaps AD 383 and contains nostalgic reminiscences of Rome’s pagan past.
The main historian of early Rome is Titus Livius (59 BC–AD 17). His Ad urbe condita (From the Foundation of the City) consisted of 142 books from Rome’s origins to 9 BC. Only books 1–10 and 21–45 survive (with some fragments); books 11–20 are lost, and this leaves a gap in the history for the period 293–264 BC. The Epitome of Livy (early third century AD) gives summaries of books 37–40 and 48–55, and the Periochae (fourth century AD) summaries of all books except 136 and 137. Livy used literary sources almost exclusively, seldom bothering to consult archival records. In books 31–145 he mainly followed Polybius’ account with a few additions from later writers such as Valerius Antias and Claudius Quadrigarius; he tended, though not exclusively, to follow one author for various sections of his work. Livy sees a grave moral decline in his own time, compared with the virtues that enabled Rome to defeat Hannibal, and his aim in his writing is ostensibly a moral one (preface 10). From 318 BC, Livy can be supplemented by Diodorus (down to 302) and the Fasti. Polybius (c. 200–c. 118), in Rome from 167 until 146, was a close companion of Scipio Aemilianus and wrote a history of Rome’s speedy rise to power from the end of the First Punic War down to 167. His summary of Rome’s constitution, supposedly at the time of the Second Punic War, is central to any discussion of Rome’s early government (doc. 1.59).
Despite Cicero’s eulogy of Rome’s location (doc. 1.4), the site grew from small beginnings, and Strabo sees the Romans as having later made the best of its disadvantages (doc. 1.2). The Tiber, Italy’s major river, begins in the Apennines, Italy’s mountain ‘backbone’, and flows 400 kilometres to the sea. It was navigable by sea-going vessels from its mouth to Rome (doc. 1.1), and the city increasingly relied upon it for supplies.
Rome had an inaugurated boundary, the pomerium, consecrated by religion (docs 1.3, 3.17). There was a wall, ascribed to the sixth king, Servius Tullius (doc. 1.2), but actually dating to the fourth century BC, 11 kilometres in circumference, embracing all the hills except the Palatine, which had its own defences; the Servian Wall enclosed about 400 hectares, but Rome quickly outgrew this, and by the late Republican period the city sprawled significantly outside the wall, a testimony to Roman power and military confidence.
1.1 Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 3.44.1–4: The Tiber
At 1.37.1–5 Dionysius praises the natural advantages of Italy in bearing crops and timber and in raising cattle, as well as its climate. Tradition had it that Ancus Marcius (the fourth king of Rome: 640–617 BC) developed a trading post at the mouth of the Tiber at Ostia. There was no harbour as such there in the Republican period and, as Dionysius notes, sea-going vessels went through the mouth of the Tiber at Ostia and were assisted on their way to Rome.
1 The River Tiber, descending from the Apennine Mountains and flowing close to Rome, discharges itself on harbourless and continuous shores which the Tyrrhenian Sea has made, but it gave slight advantages to Rome, not worth mentioning, because of the lack of a trading post (emporion) at its outlet, where goods brought by sea and down river from the interior could be received and exchanged with the merchants. However, as it was adequate for river boats of good size as far as its source, and as far as Rome itself for large sea-going merchant ships, Ancus Marcius decided to construct a sea-port at its outlet, making use of the river’s mouth itself as a harbour. 2 For the Tiber broadens considerably when it unites with the sea and forms great bays, such as those of the greatest seaports; and, what anyone might marvel at, its mouth is not blocked by sandbanks heaped up by the sea, as happens to many of even the largest rivers … and it discharges itself through its one genuine mouth, repelling the ocean’s breakers, despite the violence of the prevailing westerly wind. 3 As a result oared ships of any size and merchant ships of up to 3,000 measures (bushels) enter through the mouth of the river and are brought to Rome by rowing or by being dragged with towing-lines, while the larger ones ride at anchor off the mouth, where they are unloaded and loaded by river boats. 4 On the elbow of land between the river and the sea the king built a city, which he named ‘Ostia’ from its position, or as we should say ‘thyra’ or door, thus making Rome not only an inland city but a seaport, and gave it a taste of good things from across the seas.
1.2 Strabo Geography 5.3.7: The city of Rome
Compare the eulogistic picture of Rome’s situation given by Cicero (doc. 1.4). Titus Tatius was the Sabine king who attacked Rome after the ‘rape of the Sabine women’ and who afterwards formed a joint community with Romulus. ‘Servius’ wall’ in fact dates to after the conquest of Veii (perhaps to 378 BC).
In the interior, the first city above Ostia is Rome, and this is the only city which lies on the Tiber; concerning this city of Rome, I have already stated (5.3.2) tha...

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