The Emperors of Rome Professor Will Adams Valencia College Fall 2011
The beginnings of empire • As the Roman territory expanded in the 1st century BC, more riches flowed into the country from all over the world. • A new wealthy class emerged, building mansions and vast estates called latifundia. • They forced people captured in war to work on the latifundia.
The beginnings of empire• The use of slave labor hurt small farmers, who were unable to produce food as cheaply as the latifundia.• To make matters worse, huge quantities of grain were pouring into Rome from other parts of the empire, lowering the price of grain.• Many Roman farmers were forced into debt and forced to sell their land.
The beginnings of empire • Thousands of poor farmers poured into the city of Rome itself, looking for jobs. • They joined a restless class of unemployed, angry people, and riots began to break out.
The beginnings of empire• Two brothers, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus were plebian tribunes who tried to reform the Roman government.• Tiberius called on the state to break up the latifundia and give the land to the farmers.• Gaius wanted to use tax money to buy grain for the poor.
The beginnings of empire • The Senate saw them as a threat. • Tiberius was clubbed to death with 300 of his supporters in the Forum. • Gaius led a riot when he was failed to win a third term. • A consul sent in a group of soldiers to slaughter Gaius followers. • Upon seeing this, Gaius ordered a slave to kill him.
The beginnings of empire• Unable to resolve these issues, and growing increasingly violent, Rome plunged into a series of civil wars.• At issue was who should hold power - the Senate, which wanted to govern as it had in the past, or popular political leaders who wanted to weaken the Senate and enact reforms.• In the midst of this conflict, slave uprisings broke out in Rome, and different areas of the empire began to revolt.• Rome was in peril.
The beginnings of empire• In 58 BC, a popular Roman military leader named Julius Caesar set out with his army to restore order.
The beginnings of empire• First, he launched a nine-year war to conquer Gaul, the area now called France and Belgium.• Then, Caesar swept around the Mediterranean, suppressing the rising rebellions. He returned to Rome victorious, with the announcement: “Veni, vidi, vici!” (I came, I saw, I conquered!)• He then forced the Senate to name him Dictator, and was, in fact, an absolute ruler.
The beginnings of empire• Caesar immediately set out to repair the Empire.• He launched a program to put jobless people to work on building projects for the public good (called public works jobs)• He granted Roman citizenship to more people in the Empire.• He also introduced the Julian calendar, which is still the basis for our calendar today.• The month of July is named in his honor.
The beginnings of empire • While on his conquests, Caesar went as far as Egypt, where he met the embattled Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. • He helped her to re- secure her throne, they subsequently had a child named Caesarian, and he set her up as Queen of Egypt & an ally of Rome.
The beginnings of empire• Meanwhile, the Senate was still in place, but was totally powerless.• Caesars enemies feared he would declare himself king, and plotted against him.• Also, Caesars relationship with Cleopatra worried the Romans.• Many feared this Egyptian would soon be Queen of Rome.
The beginnings of empire • On March 15, 44 BC (known as The Ides of March), a group of senators led by Caesars friend Marcus Brutus murdered him on the Senate floor. • That day, Caesar took his seat in the Senate. • The Senator Cimber approached him to ask a question, and all the conspirators crowded around Caesar.
The beginnings of empire• The Senator Cimber grabbed him by the shoulders and Caesar yelled his last words: This is violence!• Then, one of the Casca brothers stabbed him just below the throat and Caesar fell, drawing his gown over his head as the Senators stabbed him.• He said nothing.• There was no “Et tu Brute?"
The beginnings of empire• After Caesars death, his grand-nephew (and adopted son & heir) Octavian and his friend Marc Antony tracked down the murderers, defeated their armies, and killed them.• Following that, Marc Antonys armies travelled as far as Egypt.• He fell in love with Cleopatra and they married, even though he was already married (to Octavians sister, Octavia.)
The beginnings of empire • After a short time, Octavian waged war on Marc Antony, and defeated him in the naval Battle of Actium in 31 BC, after which Antony and Cleopatra both committed suicide. • Apparently, Cleopatra provoked Antonys suicide by pretending to be dead. • He fell on his sword when he was told. • Cleopatra tried to negotiate with Octavian, and when she was unsuccessful, she had a servant smuggle an asp in a basket of figs into her room. • She let it bite her and died.
An empire emerges• The Senate appointed Octavian sole consul, but he is commonly known as the first Roman Emperor.• He conquered huge chunks of new territory, and under his rule the empire stretched from Syria to Spain, and from Egypt to the Danube River.• He never called himself Emperor, but Princeps, meaning "First Citizen.“• He was so loved by the Romans that the Senate gave him the title Augustus, or "Revered One.“• He is known as Caesar Augustus.
An empire emerges • The reign of Caesar Augustus starts a period known as the Pax Romana, or "Roman Peace.“ • This period lasted about 200 years, but cost the Romans the powers of the Senate and the Assemblies. • Emperor Augustus died in 14 AD, and for the next 54 years, relatives of Julius Caesar ruled the empire. • These emperors were all- powerful, and some greatly abused their power.
An empire emerges• Following Augustus’s death, Tiberius, his adopted son, becomes Emperor of Rome and ruled from 14 - 37 AD.• He was an adequate but disliked ruler.• He was unpopular with the Roman people because he spent little money on public games, yet he was a good administrator and economist.
An empire emerges • Then came Caligula, whose name means “Little Boots”, who was the brutal and insane nephew of the Emperor Tiberius. • It is said that he appointed his horse consul of Rome. • He murdered his wife and baby daughter by bashing her head against a wall. • Caligula was murdered by his own guards in 41 AD.
An empire emerges • Emperor Caligula was succeeded by the Emperor Claudius, who was intelligent and ruled wisely until 54 AD. • Under his rule, Rome conquered Britain. • It is thought his wife Agrippina poisoned him with mushrooms when Claudius considered giving the throne to a son by a different woman.
An Empire Emerges• Emperor Claudius was disastrously followed by the Emperor Nero, who was also thought to be nearly insane.• He wanted to rebuild the areas of Rome where the poor lived, so he took a vacation to the countryside.• While he was gone, a massive fire broke out in that area, killing many and destroying their homes.• The Emperor then blamed a tiny group called Christians for the fires, and threw them to the lions of the Coliseum.• The people of Rome, however, blamed Nero, and he killed himself rather than face assassination in 68 AD.
An empire emerges• Following Nero’s death, Rome devolves into a state of civil war again until 69 AD, when the Emperor Vespasian assumes control until 79 AD.• As Emperor, he granted citizenship to non- Italians, stabilized government spending, replenished the treasury, and built roads.• He is probably most famous for initiating the Coliseum’s construction.• He is probably most infamous for sacking Jerusalem, destroying the Temple, and dispersing the Jews in 70 AD
An empire emerges• After his father’s death, Vespasian’s son, Titus, assumes control of the Empire in 79 AD, the same year that Mt. Vesuvius erupts and buries the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.• Despite the disaster, Emperor Titus was known as “the light of the world” during his reign, in recognition of his administration and completion of his father’s Coliseum project.• Titus was mysteriously killed in 81 AD.
An empire emerges • After his death, Titus’s brother, Domitian, assumes control of the empire. • The Empire was becoming somewhat unstable after Titus passed away, so a strong leader was needed. • As a leader, Domitian filled that role, ruling with an iron fist to reassert control, persecuting both Jews & Christians throughout the Empire. • He was known as a “Holy terror” during his authoritative reign. • He was eventually murdered by members of his household in 96 AD.
An empire emerges• After Domitian’s retirement, the Senate and the army played a more active role in the selection of the emperor, which resulted in the appointment of the Emperor Nerva in 96 AD, who ruled until 98 AD.• When he was elected by the Senate, Nerva was already elderly, and passed away in office.• Between 96 CE and 180 CE, the Romans handled the problem of succession by having each emperor select a younger colleague to train as a successor.• Resulted in almost a century of stability
An empire emerges • Following Nerva’s death, the Senate elected the Emperor Trajan to lead Rome. • Born in Spain, he was the first Roman Emperor of non-Italian origin & was a great ruler. • He was able to extend Rome’s territory to its greatest size during his reign. • Wisely, Trajan was mindful to keep the Senate informed about his campaigns, and waited for their approval before signing treaties.
An empire emerges• The Emperor was very popular with the public because he greatly increased Rome’s wealth through conquest & spent large sums on building aqueducts, temples and public baths• Today his body is entombed beneath his column in the Roman Forum.• His reign ended with his death in 117 AD.
An empire emerges • Following Trajan’s death, the Senate elected the Emperor Hadrian, who then ruled from 117 – 138 AD. • Like Trajan before him, Hadrian was also born in Spain. • To help protect the boundaries of the empire, he built Hadrians Wall from sea-to-sea in Britain.
An empire emerges• After Hadrian’s death, Antonius ruled as Emperor from 138 CE – 161 AD.• He was later assigned the honorific “Pius” in recognition of his just and honest nature.• Due to his skillful management, the Roman Empire reached its peak under his guidance• Historically, he ruled during the final few years of tranquility in Rome.• As a result, his death is associated by many with the end of the Pax Romana.
An empire emerges • The Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who succeeded Antonius Pius, was the most well-educated Roman Emperor. • Apparently, he preferred studying & writing philosophy – such as his work Meditations – to fighting wars. • Unfortunately for him, during his reign, Rome was forced to fight constantly against foreign invaders, such as the Germanic Goths, and the Asian Huns.
An empire in decline• The start of Marcus Aurelius insane son, Commodus’s, reign from 180 – 192 AD, signals the beginning of the Empire’s end.• Quite probably mentally disturbed, Commodus was a terrible, vain man who fought in the gladiatorial contests of the Coliseum.• He is said to have fought in over 1,000 gladiatorial contests, often dressed as Hercules.• For his amusement, wounded soldiers or amputees would often be brought into the arena for him to kill.
An empire in decline • Once, the citizens of Rome who were missing their feet through some accident were tied together, and Commodus clubbed them to death while pretending he was a giant. • For each appearance in the arena, he charged the city of Rome a huge fee. • He was later poisoned by his mistress, but he vomited the poison up. • Finally, Commodus then strangled as he bathed by his wrestling partner.
An empire in decline• For the next 300 years, Europe • Power passed to Septimius’ witnessed the decline of the Empire. son, Caracalla (211-217 AD), a cruel• After Commodus died, the throne man who murdered his brother to was up for auction. gain the throne• From 192 – 193 AD, several men • Additionally, he was a poor leader tried to gain power by buying the who raised the armies’ loyalty of different Roman armies. wages, bribed barbarians to stay• The Emperor Septimius away from Rome & increased taxes Severus, who ruled from 193 – 211 so much that the currency lost its AD was a weak military value. commander who catered to the • Following that, Rome descends into army to hold his power a state of military anarchy during• He let the men go soft by allowing which there were plagues, constant their families to travel with wars, skyrocketing taxes, 100 them, (which slowed them claimants for the role of Emperor & down), and also admitted a abandonment of a cash economy barbarians to the army. in favor of the barter system until 284 AD.
An empire in decline• The Emperor Diocletian attempted to provide some semblance of order during his reign from 284 – 305 AD.• His solution for the unwieldy Empire was to divide it into Eastern & Western halves, with each half ruled by its own Emperor & Caesar (co-ruler).• This four-man arrangement was called a tetrarchy.• The Emperor Constantine ruled with 3 others from 305 – 324 AD, and alone from 324 – 337 AD.
The end of An empire • In 312 AD, Emperor Constantine had a religious vision while preparing for battle, during which he reported seeing a giant cross projected into the sky. • Upon witnessing this, he foreswore his pagan beliefs & became a Christian. • Later, he would pass the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, which granted religious toleration across the Empire. • As the Western Empire collapsed, he moved to Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, Turkey), and made it the capital city of the Empire.
The end of An empire• The Emperor Romulus Augustulus was the last Roman Emperor.• He was deposed (removed from the throne) in 476 AD.• This date marks the end of the Roman Empire, and the beginning of the Medieval Period, or Middle Ages, in European history.
The end of An empire • In conclusion: The Roman Emperors were variously good, bad, intelligent, insan e, honorable, and murderous. • The end of the Roman Empire concluded an age of culture and learning, and ushered in the Middle Ages. • What happened until then? • Youll see.