Outline of Ancient Roman Civilization

This outline of basic facts and events goes from early Roman settlements and the expulsion of the king in 509 BC to the fall(s) of Rome in the fifth century AD. This post looks as history, philosophy, literature, and the early church. A study on poet Ovid is included at bottom of post.

 If you’re in a hurry, use the crtl-f search to find your term.

At the end, there is a Conclusion section that asks the Western world to remember some things.

Let’s get started with the outline.

Royal Rome

I.  Introduction

A.  Time

1.  Settlement of Rome

2.  Expulsion of king (509)

II.  Greeks, Phoenicians, and Etruscans (800-500)

A.  Location

1.  Settled in Italy, Spain and N. Africa

B.  Wars

1.  Three mutually weak

C.  Rome

1.  Fills vacuum

III.  Roman Kingdom (800-509)

A.  Creation of the City-state (800-575)

1.  Nucleus of villages

a.   Villages and settlements of Sabines, Apennines, Latins

2.  Archaeology

a.  In 600 evidence such as burials sites, paved streets, sanctuaries and other buildings

b.  Etruscanized Rome

B.  Political Expansion (700-509)

1.  King

a.  Elected since warrior

b.  Levy taxes and draft men

c.  Roman concept of highest executive power, imperium behind this king

1)  Right to issue commands

2)  Enforce them by fines, arrests and corporal and even punishment

2.  Senate

a.  Advisory body of men of authority

b.  Traditionally, 100 rich men

c.  Eventually grows to 300 and stays there for most of history

3.  Curiate Assembly

a.  Freemen grouped into 30 wards or curiae

b.  Majority wards carry the vote

c.  Agenda set by king

d.  Lacks independent voice

e.  Called on to listen and approve

C.  Classes

1.  Aristocrats or patricians

a.  Derived power and wealth from land

b.  Grouped into clans (gentes)

c.  Powerful through marriage ties

d.  Subordinate to state (?)

e.  A few incompetent and unlucky, so poor

2.  Plebeians

a.  Common folk

b.  A few competent and shrewd, so rich

c.  Class tension present but not disruptive

D.  End of the Kingdom (509)

1.  Expulsion

a.  Patricians expel last Etruscan king and establish republic

Early Republic

I.  Introduction

A.  Time

1.  Expulsion of king (509)

2.  First Punic War (264)

II.  Government

A.  Two Consuls

1.  Who

a.  Senate class– the rich

2.  What

a.  Combine supremacy and limitation

b.  Imperium in administrative command of army and execution of law

c.  Represents Senate and Assembly, limited by law

d.  Subject to other’s vetoes

e.  Accepts Senate’s advice because of their vulnerability after brief term of office; they join the senate, so they better ask

f.  Dictator was specially appointed for six months during serious crisis

3.  When

a.  Each year and for only one year

4.  How

a.  Nominated by Senators and elected by Assembly

5.  Proconsul

a.  Created in 325 to extend term in office while serving in the field

B.  Senate

1.  Who

a.  More than three hundred members of rich landowners

b.  Endowed with prestige due to money and family positions

2.  What

a.  Possess no executive powers

b.  Advise elected magistrates on domestic and foreign policy

c.  Control finance religion and legislative proposals

3.  When

a.  For life, after working their way through magistracies

4.  How

a.  Censors them asked to join

b.  After working their way through magistracies or public offices

C.  Centuriate Assembly

1.  Who

a.  Plebeians or Plebs, commoners

b.  Yet still weighted by well-to-do

c.  100 (theoretically) fighting men classified according to weapons, armor, and equipment

1)  Since self-provision of weapons, they were organized according to wealth

2)  “Fighting men” is important for leverage later on in class struggle

2.  What

a.  Enact laws

b.  Declare war and peace

c.  Conduct trials

3.  When

a.  Did not meet frequently

4.  How

a.  Voting

D.  Military tribunes (444)

1.  Who

a.  Three, later six, senators

2.  What

a.  Consular powers sometimes replaced consulship

E.  Magistrates

1.  Two Censors (443)

a.  From senate class

b.  Sell state contracts for temple maintenance, roads

c.  Draw up lists of citizens for taxes and conscription

d.  Set roll of Senate

e.  Can expel Senators on grounds of undue luxury, immorality or incapacity

f.  For eighteen months every four (or five) years

g.  Elected by Senate

2.  Quaestors

a.  Two assistants to Consuls

b.  Financial officials

c.  Eventually increases to eight by 264

3.  Praetor (366)

a.  Urban defense

b.  They were generals during wars by continuing terms of outgoing consuls

c.  Judicial function

d.  Hold imperium

4.  Lictors and scribes

a.  Serve major magistrates

b.  Lictors accompany Consuls

1)  They carry a bound bundle of rods (symbolizing beatings but after trials)

2)  An ax (symbolizing death penalty)

III.  Patrons and Clients

A.  Roman Phenomenon

1.  Commoners serve aristocrats

a.  Commoners were clients to the rich

b.  Commoners do them favors, and rich help them financially

c.  Assembly under control of rich

2.  Illusory democracy

a.  Gulf between fact (aristocracy) and appearance (democracy)

IV.  Class Struggle

A.  Patricians vs. Plebeians

1.  Causes

a.  Political power with Patricians (main reason)

b.  Plebeians fell into debt, becoming serfs or sold into slavery

c.  Marriage between classes forbidden, so no hope for Plebs to gain political power

d.  Greeks lived near Aventine Hill outside city and were already filled with democratic ideals; Plebs sometimes migrated there

2.  Leverage

a.  Secession

1)  A few times Plebs migrate to Aventine Hill away from city

2)  Form (almost) two nations

3)  Wars wage in Italy, and Plebs make up much of army

3.  Tribune of Plebs (494)

a.  From leaders who secured economic independence during wars

b.  Protect commoners in taxes, conscription, arrest, and takeover by creditor

c.  Veto any unjust action of gov’t

d.  Protect leaders against patrician violence

4.  Tribal Assembly (471)

a.  Plebs

b.  Extralegal voice

c.  Pass laws to protect themselves

d.  Outside law, but expressed will and intent

e.  Advisable for state to accept them, generally

5.  Twelve Tables (450)

a.  Special council of ten patricians (decemviri) codify special laws that last for centuries

b.  All free citizens possess rights and duties to state

c.  Will and contracts provide freedom for individual decision and economic activity

d.  Women and children had legal means to secure emancipation from father’s powers

f.  Death penalty for patron who cheated client

g.  Plebs press for admittance into magistracies, even directly with consuls at times

B.  Results

1.  Military Tribunes

a.  Serve on them

2.  Licinian-Sextian Law (367)

a.  Pleb can hold one consul office

3.  Censor (351)

a.  One Pleb was Censor

4.  Praetor (337)

a.  One Pleb was praetor

5.  Ogulian Law (300)

a.  This law opens major priesthoods

6.  Hortensian Law (287)

a.  After violent struggle in 287

b.  Removes patrum auctoritas

c.  Gives full power of the laws of the Tribal Assembly

d.  This does not require approval of senate

7.  Nobiles

a.  At first glance it appears that aristocracy gives way to plebs

b.  Only a small group of rich patricians and plebs ever hold office

c.  Significant distinction is no longer patrician-pleb but nobiles-everyone else

V.  Roman Conquest of Italy (509-265)

A.  Wars and Conquests

1.  Etruscans driven from Latium (509)

a.  Coalition of Romans, Latins, and Italians expel Etruscans

b.  Latium is along Tiber, east and west

c.  Stronghold of Veii raids Roman territory throughout fifth century

2.  Fall of Veii (392)

a.  Powerful Etruscan city only 12 miles north on Tiber River

b.  This long siege of two years makes Rome pay its soldiers who are away from farms a long time

3.  Invasion from Gaul (387)

a.  Gauls come from N and devastate Rome

b.  R recovers and builds five and a half mile wall

4.  Defeat of Latins (338)

a.  Latins engage in war of independence because they resent Roman control over area

b.  Romans treat defeated Latins with respect

1)  No destruction of cities

2)  Some nearest Rome receive citizenship

3)  Rights of self-government

4)  Recruit troops into army

5)  Roman citizenship if they move to Rome

6)  This gives conquered stake in Roman future success

5.  Defeat of Samnites (295)

a.  Tough mountaineers of the southern Apennines

6.  Defeat of Pyrrhus (275)

a.  Greek who rules city of Epirus

b.  Best general of his time with disciplined army and a new weapon:  twenty elephants

c.  So-called “Pyrrhic victory” forces him to withdraw to Sicily

B.  Result

1.  Master of Italy (265)

a.  They control everything in the south and north up to Po River

b.  South puts them in contact with Greeks

Middle Republic

I.  Introduction

A.  Time

1.  First Punic Wars (264)

2.  End of Roman Wars in Spain (133) or

3.  Tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus (133)

II.  Wars and Conquests

A.  Punic Wars

1.  First Punic War (264-241)

a.  Carthaginians

1)  N. Africa, SW Spain, Corsica, and Sardinia

2)  Powerful economically

b.  Cause

1)  Hiero, king of Sicily, attacked Messana, Northeast tip of Sicily

2)  Carthaginians aid Messana, and Rome scared of their presence so close

c.  Naval Strategy

1)  Rome navy weak, so they built 20 triremes

2)  100 heavier quinqeremes (each oar pulled by five men) and keep building

3)  Crews trained in mock-up land ships

4)  Corvus (crow)

a)  Gangway held upright until next to enemy ship

b)  Lowered

c)  Soldiers poured into ship

5)  Rome attacks Carthage

a)  Suffer damage in waves of storms

b)  600 warships, 1,000 transports

d.  Recuperation

1)  Treasury close to exhaustion

2)  In 241 Senate borrows money from itself to build ships

3)  Omit corvus

e.  Victory

1)  Equally exhausted, surrender

2)  Sicily to Rome in 241

3)  Pay indemnity of 3,200 talents over next ten years

2.  Interlude (241-218)

a.  Southern Gaul (France)

1)  Conquer there by 220

b.  Minor municipalities

1)  Conquer minor municipalities on Adriatic engaging in pirate activity

3.  Second Punic War (218-201)

a.  Hannibal (245-183)

1)  Only 25 years old

2)  Marches through Pyrenees and Alps in 218 towards Rome

3)  Rome has good navy

4)  Carth cavalry & elephants

5)  Series of brilliant victories by Hannibal

6)  In one battle Romans lose 80k men

b.  Rome

1)  Hannibal in sight of Rome, but cannot besiege it

2)  Moves to toe of Italy

3)  Meanwhile Rome attack Carthage itself in 204

c.  Result

1)  Secure peace treaty in 203 with proviso that Hannibal leave Italy

d.  Broken Peace in 202

1)  Rome has superior cavalry this time

2)  For Numidians joined them

e.  Victory over Carthaginians

1)  Surrenders in 201

2)  Treaty is harsh

3)  Carth must pay 10k talents over 50 yrs

4)  Surrender all elephants and all but 10 warships

f.  Hannibal returns

1)  Tries to set up more democratic rule

2)  Rome suspicious of him

3)  Chase him out until he commits suicide rather than surrender to Rome

B.  Macedonian Wars

1.  First Macedonian War (215-205)

a.  Cause

1)  Philip V contracts alliance with Hannibal

2)  Attacks Rome along Dalmatian coast (W Adriatic)

3)  Italians remain loyal

4)  Rome fight on stubbornly

b.  Result

1)  Compromise peace in 205

2.  Second Macedonian War (200-196)

a.  Cause

1)  Philip V expands eastward and threatens Rhodes and Pergamum in 201

2)  They appeal to Rome for help

b.  Result

1)  Philip V defeated

2)  Must pay 1,000 talents

3)  Give up all but five warships

4)  But allowed to stay in power in Macedonia

5)  In order to bar expansion of barbarians of Balkans and Antiochus III of Seleucid dynasty

C.  Revolt of Roman Women (195)

1.  Oppian Law (205)

a.  In heat of Second Punic War

b.  No woman can possess more than a half an ounce of gold

c.  Nor can they wear a party-colored garment

d.  Nor can they ride in a carriage within a mile of town, except for religious festival

2.  Demonstrations

a.  Crowds of women block the roads to the Forum

b.  They beg men as they come down to Forum to restore their former liberties during new wealth flowing into cities as a result of conquests

c.  More crowds gather at tribune’s doors to block tribunates who veto repeal

d.  Finally, men relent and restore old liberties

D.  More Wars and Conquests

1.  War with Antiochus III (192-188)

a.  Cause

1)  Power vacuum left by Philip V

2)  Antiochus III from Syria fills it and threatens Pergamum and other states

b.  Result

1)  Antiochus yields all but ten warships, all elephants

2)  Pays 15k talents (largest ever exacted)

3)  Gives up Asia Minor

2.  Third Macedonian War (171-167)

a.  Cause

1)  Philip’s V son, Perseus, stirs up trouble in Pergamum

b.  Result

1)  Loses war

2)  Macedonia divided into four republics

3)  Greece left alone and declared “free”

3.  Third Punic War (149-46)

a.  Cause

1)  Carthage getting too prosperous and powerful

2)  Rome wishes to check this

b.  Result

1)  Rome besieges Carthage

2)  After long struggle, Carthage falls

3)  City leveled

4)  Salt sprinkled symbolically on it

4.  Destruction of Corinth (146)

a.  Cause

1)  Greece chafes under indirect Roman control

2)  Achaean league revolts in desperation

b.  Result

1)  Rome dissolves Achaean league

2)  Destroys Corinth as an object lesson

5.  Roman Wars in Spain (154-133)

a.  This is an ugly war

b.  Romans consider Iberians as barbarians

c.  Thus, they commit atrocities and break treaties

d.  In 134 key city of Numantia is taken

e.  Rome annexes Spain

III.  Aftermath of Warfare and Conquests

A.  Hellenistic Culture in Rome

1.  Religion

a.  Romans identify their gods with Greek equivalents

2.  Education

a.  Before Greeks, regular people fathers teach son at home, as best they can

b.  Practical and moral

c.  Learn Twelve Tables

d.  Homer’s Odyssey

1)  Livius Andronicus (3rd C. B.C.), liberated Greek slave, translates Odyssey into Latin

2)  It becomes a primer

e.  Greeks teach literature, language, and philosophy, and humanitas (humanities, where humans are at center)

f.  Educated Romans expected to be bilingual

g.  Boys of upper classes study rhetoric for political reasons

h.  Girls receive an education equivalent to that of boys, though for older girls evidence is sparse

B.  Slaves

1.  Numbers

a.  Not all slaves were Greeks

b.  Freeing of slaves fairly common

c.  End of Republic, 35 to 40 percent of Italy were slaves

2.  Basis of economy

a.  This becomes the basis of the economy and society in 2nd C. B.C.

b.  From first war with Carthage (264) to conquest of Spain (133), 250k Prisoners of War

3.  Revolts

a.  In Sicily (134) keeps island in turmoil for two years

b.  Spartacus (73) produces an army of 70k

1)  An army of 70k

2)  They defeat legions many times and overrun southern Italy

3)  Eventually crushed and 6k survivors crucified along road

C.  Constitutional Crisis

1.  Land

a.  Before wars, most farmers own land and self-supporting

1)  Labor of clients, tenants and day laborers

b.  After war, veterans find land swallowed up

1)  They work as tenants or hired hands

c.  Land was cheap and wealth flows in during conquests

d.  Slaves provide cheap labor

2.  Haves and have-nots

a.  Bifurcation between rich and poor, landed and landless, privileged and deprived

b.  How do they deal with disgruntled masses?

IV.  Literature

A.  Drama

1.  Background

a.  Result of importation from Greece

b.  Performed at public religious ceremonies

c.  Ceremonies instituted by state

d.  Livius Andronicus presents first play at Ludi Romani in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus

2.  Social context

a.  Noble families control politics

b.  Themes deal not only with heroes of yesteryear but of the deeds illustrious ancestors

c.  Nobility does not permitted direct, personal attacks

B.  Plautus (255/50-184)

1.  Life

a.  Full name is unclear

b.  Born is Sarsina, in N. Italy, not fully Hellenized

c.  Free citizen, not a slave or freedman

2.  Works

a.  Writes ca. 130 plays and was an immense success

C.  Terence (?195-159)

1.  Life

a.  He is a slave from Carthage

b.  His patron is Scipio Aemilianus who favors Greek culture and Roman cultural renewal possible thru Greek culture

c.  Scipio believes Greek culture would enable Romans leaders to escape from provincialism

2.  Works

a.  He uses conventional characters and plots to work out cultural ideas

b.  Hence he was not as popular as Plautus; indeed, many walk out when they hear of a gladiator show starting up

c.  Interested in psychological understanding of characters

Later Republic

I.  Introduction

A.  Timeframe

1.  End of wars and conqests (133)

2.  Beginning of Augustan Age (31)

II.  Solutions to Constitutional Crisis

A.  Tiberius Gracchus (163-133)

1.  Policies

a.  Elected tribune in 133

b.  Some of wealthiest help craft bill, believing that it would be moderate, to relieve crisis

c.  Maximum land holdings reduced to 300 acres

d.  The rest turned over to poor in small plots

2.  Blockage and victory

a.  Marcus Octavius, member of tribune, vetoes this measure in alliance with senators

b.  Land bill passes by voting M. Octavius out of office, an unconstitutional step

c.  Assembly votes magistrate out of office, passes a law opposed by Senate and vetoed by tribune

1)  Tiberius passes an even harsher bill

d.  This is an Athenian democracy

3.  Financial Backing

a.  About to redistribute land, but out of funds

b.  Coincidentally he secures from people a declaration from treasury of Pergamum

c.  This had been willed to Rome by last king there

d.  This challenges Senate’s control over new wealth

4.  Senatorial reaction

a.  Tiberius’ senatorial allies desert him

b.  Conservatives senators and clients rush into Assembly armed with clubs and legs of chairs

c.  Kill Tiberius and 300 others

d.  Bodies thrown into Tiber

B.  Gaius Gracchus (154-121)

1.  Broad support

a.  Stabilizes grain prices in Rome by building granaries to guarantee adequate supply

b.  All tribunes support him in 123, and a recent law permits re-election of members

c.  Equestrians get right to collect taxes in Asian Minor

d.  Equestrians can compose juries which tried accused governor

e.  Equestrians are a political unit that can be exploited against senate

2.  Support diminishes

a.  Offer of Roman citizenship for Italians is rejected because they did not wish to share Roman citizenship

b.  Senate seizes on this difference to drive a wedge

c.  Gaius is not elected to tribune in 122, leaving him vulnerable to enemies

3.  Crackdown

a.  One hostile Consul provokes an incident that leads to violence

b.  Martial law is declared to make sure no harm comes to Roman republic

c.  Gaius and 3,000 supporters are killed

4.  Result

a.  Commoners keep nothing, tough they fight in wars to make Rome free

b.  Challenge to oligarchic rule, though oligarchy gets it back

C.  New Class and Politicians

1.  Equestrians

a.  Financiers emerge as a solid class, able to challenge senators

b.  Hold state contracts, which senators forbidden to hold due to corruption

2.  Optimates vs. Populares

a.  Populares include idealistic reformers, ruthless equestrians, and discontented aristocrats

b.  Optimates endorse senatorial privileges

c.  Populares endorse Gracchan reforms, but otherwise diverge in views

III.  Marius (157-86) and Sulla (138-78)

A.  Identity

1.  Claudius Marius (157-86)

a.  novus homo (new man)

b.  Wealthy equestrian, he was born in town of Arpinum (same as Cicero) and an outsider

c.  First in family to reach consulship

2.  Lucius Cornelius Sulla (138-78)

a.  He is from an old but impoverished family

b.  This makes him hungry for greatness

B.  Military

1.  Victories

a.  They defeat Jugurtha, king of Numidia (111-105)

b.  Sulla defeats Italian allies when they revolt (90-88)

2.  Rivalry

a.  Mithridates in Asia Minor (87-85)

1)  80k Italians had been killed in uprising

2)  In victory he made Grk upper classes in East stay loyal after they pay 20k talents

3)  He had sacked Athens for joining Mithridates, but left it undestroyed

b.  Marius had vied for control over army for war with Mithridates

c.  He gets it with popular and equestrian support

d.  Sulla marches on Rome, defending rights of Senate and his own interests

1)  Marius and allies flee

e.  During Sulla’s absence Marius and Cinna (the consul with Sulla) cracks down on Senate with bloody massacre

3.  Cinna (consul 87-84)

a.  Marius dies in 86, soon after election to seventh consulship

C.  Return of Sulla (dictator 84-79)

1.  Revenge

a.  Sulla returns with a score to settle with Populares

b.  Cinna raises army

c.  Sulla wins

d.  Inscribing names of Populares on whitened tablets in Forum, putting bounty on their head

1)  40 senators

2)  1,600 equestrians, some whose only crime was to have wealth and property

3)  Thousands die

2.  Reforms

a.  Adds 300 new senators including equestrians and wealthier Italians

b.  Senate is placed on juries

c.  Public provision of grain abolished

d.  Tribunes curtailed

e.  Senate has veto power of all legislation

f.  Resigns dictatorship and retires (79)

IV.  Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44)

A.  Life

1.  Early life

a.  From high, connected, but obscure patrician family

b.  Well-rounded education

2.  Political life

a.  Affiliated with the populares through his aunt, wife of Marius, and his wife Cornelia, daughter of Cinna

b.  Advances in politics

c.  Military leadership

d.  Member of first triumvirate (60-59)

1)  Through conservative opposition

2)  This compels him into collaboration with Crassus (115-53) & Pompey (106-48)

e.  Caesar conquers Gaul (58-50), finally at Alesia

3.  Opposition

a.  In gang warfare in Rome, Pompey was chosen sole consul to quash rebellion

b.  Crassus dies in a war in Parthia so that Pompey could gain ascent as Caesar had done

c.  Senate persuades Pompey to turn against Caesar and meet him in war

4.  Rise to power

a.  Pompey’s Italian troops surrender en masse

b.  Senate and Pompey flee Rome so quickly they take not treasury

c.  Caesar defeats Pompey at Pharsalus on August 9 48 B.C., 40k vs. 22k

d.  Pompey flees to Egypt

e.  After mopping up Pompey and his generals, Caesar returns to Rome in 45

B.  Dictator

1.  In 46 he had made himself dictator for ten years

2.  In 44 for life

C.  Reforms

1.  Royal treatment

a.  Put his image on coin, reserved to kings and gods

b.  Close to an official cult of him established, with Anthony as head

2.  Government

a.  Adds 900 to Senate

b.  Number of offices increases with his nominees

3.  Land laws

a.  Caesar uses Pompey’s army and forces legislation of Pompey’s land laws and other legislation

b.  Pompey’s land law was to resettle war veterans

4.  Practical changes

a.  Any irrational policy was changed with little regard for past convention, e.g., calendar, adding July

D.  Death (March 15, 44 B.C.)

1.  After dismissing his bodyguard, Brutus and Cassius Longinus murder him with dagger blows March 15, 44

V.  Anthony and Octavian

A.  Identity

1.  Mark Anthony (ca. 82-30)

a.  Serves under Julius Caesar in Gaul

b.  Second in command in Rome during Caesar’s absence

c.  Begins affair with Cleopatra in 41 at Tarsus

d.  Marries Octavian’s sister, Octavia, since his wife, Fulvia dies in 40

2.  Gaius “Julius Caesar” Octavian (63 B.C.-A.D. 14)

a.  Grand-nephew of Julius Caesar

b.  Caesar leaves him three-quarters of his estate

B.  Second Triumvirate

1.  Second Triumvirate

a.  Anthony gets East, Octavian West

b.  The two were Second Triumvirate along with M. Aemilius Lepidus, governor of Transalpine Gaul and Farther Spain

c.  This one is official

d.  The two defeat Republican army commandeered by Brutus and Cassius at Philippi in 42

C.  Cicero (106-43)

1.  Opposes Anthony

a.  Opposes him early on

b.  Encourages Octavian to compete with Anthony

2.  Death (December 7, 43)

a.  Caught on Appian Way on Dec 7, 43, beheaded, nailed to rostra

b.  Fulvia, Anthony’s wife, pierces tongue with bodkin

c.  Symbol of frightful end of Republic

D.  Actium, western Greece

1.  Defeat of Anthony

a.  Octavian destroys Anthony’s navy in 31

b.  Anthony killed himself in 30

VI.  Literature and Philosophy

A.  Gracchi and Sulla (133-78)

1.  Oratory

a.  Bitter conflicts over minds of people

2.  History writing

a.  Rejects dry annalistic chronicles

b.  Inserts political debates

c.  Some appeal even to wider audience by including miraculous elements and tragic pathos, etc

3.  Autobiography emerges

a.  Aristocrats make commentaries about accomplishments

B.  Age of Caesar (78-44)

1.  Main Features

a.  Crisis in the Republic makes old moral and political values crumble

b.  Republic is crumbing, so do values

c.  Individual is identified with every horizon of existence

2.  Many genres and scholarship flourish, thanks to Cicero

a.  Oratory

b.  Philosophy

c.  Antiquarianism

d.  Linguistics

e.  Biography

f.  History writing

C.  Cicero (106-43)

1.  Life

a.  Wealthy equestrian family

b.  Studies philosophy and rhetoric in Rome

c.  Fights in a war (Social War in 89)

d.  Studies in Rhodes from 79-77

e.  Marries Terentia and gives birth to Tullia in 76 and Marcys in 65

1)  Divorces her in 45 to marry young ward Publilia in 46

f.  In 75 he is quaestor in Sicily

g.  In 70 he undertakes prosecution of Verres, ex-governor of Sicily, and establishes himself as Rome’s leading orator

h.  He is consul in 63

i.  Slain on 7 December 43 by Anthony’s assassins

2.  Stoicism, but eclectic


God(s): Cicero is a mild skeptic with Stoic leanings

“We hold sure the conviction first that God is a living being, and second that nothing surpasses him in the whole of nature; and in my view nothing so aptly accords with these preconceived convictions as the conclusion that the universe first and foremost is alive and divine, for nothing more outstanding can exist.” (The Nature of Gods 2.45)

“It therefore follows that the universe is alive, and endowed with consciousness, intelligence, and reason; and the logical conclusion from this is that the universe is God.” (ibid. 2.46)

“Nothing, however, is more outstanding than God, and hence the universe must be governed by him.  So God is obedient or subject to no nature; therefore he himself governs all nature.” (ibid. 2.77)

Politics:  Republic of Rome is best

“Now since gods exist . . . , they must inevitably be alive; and not only alive, but also endowed with reason, united with each other in what we may call civic harmony and fellowship, ruling the universe as a single unit, as if it were some shared state and city.  From this it follows that they possess the same rational faculty as is possessed by the human race, that gods and men alike subscribe to the same truth and same notion of law which recommends what is right and rejects what is wrong.  What we gather from this is that both wisdom and intelligence have passed from the gods to human beings; this accounts for the fact that our ancestors established customs of deifying and publicly enshrining as deities Mind, Faith, Virtue, and Concord . . . .” (ibid. 2.79)

A Way to Heaven:

Respect justice and do your duty.  That is important in the case of parents and relatives, and paramount in the case of one’s country.  That is the way of life which leads to heaven and to the company, here, of those who have already completed their lives. (Republic 6.16)


In the body a certain symmetrical shape of the limbs combined with a certain charm of coloring is described as beauty. (Tusc. Disput. 4.13)

Morals and Beauty:

The power of nature and reason is not insignificant in this too, that this one animal [man] alone perceives what order there is, what seemliness [decorum], what limits to words and deeds.  No other animal, therefore, perceives the beauty, the loveliness, and the congruence of the parts, of the [physical] things that sight perceives.  Nature and reason transfer this by analogy from the eyes to the mind, thinking that beauty, constancy and order should be preserved, and much more so, in one’s decisions and in one’s deeds. (On duties 1.14)

 D.  Lucretius (98-55)

1.  Life

a.  It is unclear where he was born, which social class he comes from, and when he died

b.  He associated with Cicero, Atticus, Marcus Brutus, and Gaius Cassius, top-level persons

2.  Works

a.  On Nature of Things

b.  In hexameter in six books

c.  1,100 to 1,500 lines, giving a total of 7,415

3.  Epicureanism (see Outline of Hellenistic Age)

a.  Potentially a dissolver of Roman moral traditions

b.  Pleasure as highest good

c.  Pursuit of tranquility

d.  Gods do not intervene in human affairs

e.  This disturbs governing class

f.  It was circulated among plebs by bad prose texts yet understandable by masses

g.  Universality of it is appealing, even to women

h.  However, even Cicero filters it to remove “dangerous” elements; maybe so did Lucretius


Fear in Religion:

And you, at any moment now, in fear

of hierophantic [priestly] threats, will seek to leave me.

For think of the endless fantasies your priests

devise, that can subvert all reasoned thought

and turn your life to terror and confusion!

Of course!  For if men saw that all their troubles

must one day end, somehow they’d find the strength

to stand against the hierophant and his threats.

But now they can’t stand ground nor make reply

for fear of eternal torment after death.

They do not know the nature of the soul–” (1.102-12)

The Nature of Things:

Nature– unqualified Being– has two forms

that make it up:  the atoms, and the void

where atoms are placed and travel varied paths.” (1.419-20)


For of itself all godhead must possess

immortal life and perfect peace and joy,

cut off from human affairs and sundered far.

Gods know no suffering, they know no dangers,

their self-engendered power needs naught [nothing] of us;

we cannot win their love or rouse their anger.” (2.649-51)

If you have grasped this well, you will see that nature,

free in a world no lords and masters rule,

does everything by herself, without the gods.

For, by the gods, those holy, tranquil hearts

that pass their days in peace, and live serene,

who now could rule the Infinite? . . .” (2.1090-95)

The Soul:

. . . I say the soul is subtly built

of infinitesimal atoms.


Mortality of the soul is our peace:

Now since, from jars badly cracked, you see

water leak out and liquids flow away,

since fog and smoke, too, scatter to the winds,

be sure that the soul disperses even faster

and dies more quickly, dissolving into atoms

once it has gone and left our human frame.” (3.434-39)

What Solves Many Problems:

This one thing, though, I see I can affirm:

in human nature, the problems that remain

insoluble by reason are so petty

that nothing prevents our living as gods should live.” (3.319-21)

E.  Catullus (98-55)

1.  Life

a.  Wealthy family from Verona, N. Italy

b.  Caesar was guest at their house

c.  Unknown when he arrives in Rome

d.  Affair with a Clodia, Lesbia of his poetry

1)  Prob. was half-sister of tribune Publius Clodius Pulcher

2)  Wife of Quintus Caecilius Metellus, consul in 60

3)  She has the intelligence, grace and beauty to captivate Catullus; he puts an idealized halo around her

e.  Politics and public life are foreign to him

2.  Works

a.  He writes 116 poems, totaling nearly 2,300 verses

b.  He is part of so-called neoteric poets who used innovations and styles and ethics that call into question old morality

c.  Literary activity no longer is drama and (early) epic, but lyric, personal, introverted poetry, expressing small events in private life

d.  Background to poems

1)  A small literary circle of neoterics united by the same tastes, language and an ideal of grace (lepos), charm (venustas), and urbanity (urbanitas)

2)  Lesbia stands out as powerful eros, whom Cicero described as dark figure

3)  He recriminates her for broken love pact

3.  Influence

a.  In his lifetime, poems circulated among his friends and achieved vast and immediate success among cultivated readers

b.  In Middle Ages, he is not very widely known, if at all

c.  In Romantic period (late eighteenth and into nineteenths centuries) they loved him

Age of Augustus

I.  Introduction

A.  Time

1.  Defeat of Anthony (31 B.C.)

2.  Death of Augustus (A.D. 14)

3. We cross the BC – AD divide

II.  Politics

A.  Policies in Rome

1.  Central Government

a.  In 28-27, he offers to restore Rome to Senate and People

b.  But they elect him imperium for ten years

c.  In this year rule of princeps (first citizen) begins

d.  Prestige surrounds great men and smoothes the way for people to accept their policies

e.  Purges Senate sometimes and filled it with hungry equestrians

f.  Police force set up for first time and permanent personal Bodyguard

2.  Title of Augustus in 27

a.  In 27 because of Octavian’s piety, valor, clemency, and justice senate confers on him Augustus

b.  Religious term connoting superhuman qualities

B.  Provinces and Cities

1.  Pax Romana

a.  Sound currency

b.  Permanent navy to eliminate piracy

c.  Simple tax structure

d.  East deifies him and institutes cult of Roma et Augustus

e.  Peace from foreign invasions

III.  Literature:  Golden Age

A.  Virgil (70-19 B.C.)

1.  Life

a.  Born in Mantua (?) to small landholders

b.  External events are lacking

c.  He seems not to have liked Rome

d.  Most of his time is spent toiling over poetry

2.  Works

a.  Bucolics (aka Eclogue in singular)

1)  Written ca. 41

2)  Indicates perilous events of great land confiscations after battle of Philippi to recompense veterans

3)  Describes dispossessed peasants

4)  Ten brief poems written in hexameters

5)  Poems range from 63 to 111 lines, totaling 829

6)  Modeled after Theocritus’ bucolics and idylls (fl. 280’s-260s)

b.  Georgics

1)  Written ca. 29

2)  Octavian returns victorious from East

3)  Stops by Virgil’s farm and has him read poems to him

4)  Didactic poem in four books of hexameter

5)  Each book contains slightly over 500 lines, totaling 2,188

6)  Didactic poem started by Greeks Aratus, Eratosthenes, and Nicander, all of 3rd and 2nd centuries

7)  Young Octavian

a)  Depicted as being able to save civilized world from disaster (1.500ff)

b)  Triumphant and bringer of peace (3.22ff)

c)  Drives back people from East (2.170ff; 4.560ff)

d)  Divine figure who watches over world (1.40ff)

c.  Aeneid

1)  From then on, poet absorbed by Aeneid

2)  It is not published until after his death

3)  Augustus follows work of poem with great interest

4)  Epic poem of 12 books in hexameter

5)  Books contain 700 to 950 lines each, totaling just under 10k 6)  Homer is its model; but Homer is oral, Aeneid is written

7)  Octavian is mentioned (1.257-96) through Jupiter’s prophecy

8)  Influence

a)  Sealed forever in Dante, Milton, and Tasso’s Jerusalem Liberated

B.  Horace (65-08 B.C.)

1.  Life

a.  B. Venosa, a Roman military colony

b.  Father a freedman, prob. a former public slave

c.  Father owns a small farm, then, moving to Rome, a collector in auction sales

d.  Horace given best education father could afford at school of grammarian Orbilius, who would apply lashes to persuade pupils to learn

e.  Caesar was murdered, Greek philosophers were in city, and H picks up idea of libertas

f.  Joins Brutus’ republican army and given command of legion with title of military tribune

g.  Defeat at Philippi (42) interrupts military career, so, like Archilochus, he throws away his shield

h.  Thanks to amnesty, he is able to return to Rome and is presented to Maecenas, Octavian’s minister of letters in 38

i.  Nine months later H is admitted to literary circle

j.  Prob. in 33, Maecenas presents him with a farm in Sabine country, which gives him finances to work peacefully

2.  Works

a.  Odes

1)  Collection of three books, totaling 88 poems, totaling 3,034 lines

2)  Some are short (1.38 is eight lines) and longer (3.4 has 80 lines) with a variety     of meters, Alcaic, and the Sapphic and Asclepiadic strophe

3)  Modeled after Greek lyric poet Alcaeus (b. before 620), but not a slave to him or other lyrics; they often boasted of own creative genius

4)  Published in 23 B.C. after working on it for about seven years

5)  Themes and Characteristics

a)  Philosophical meditation of life, particularly Epicurean

b)  Brevity of life, meaning one should take joy of moment without pursuit of vanity

c)  Laborious achievement of wisdom, autarkeia (self-sufficiency) freed from excesses and filled with tranquility

d)  Civic themes, such as celebration of events, people, myths of Augustan regime, and Romanitas

e)  Moralistic, seeking to stem tide of moral decline after civil war

f)  One quarter can be classified as erotic, though ironically detached from passion; Love is analyzed as a ritual of action which is conventionalized and predictable: serenades, meetings, oaths, fallings-out, gentlemanly life, banquets.

g)  Hymns

h)  Landscape

i)  Friendship

b.  Satires

1)  Roman invention

2)  Commentary on social life

3)  Horace is against moral breakdown, so is a moral conservative

c.  Influence

1)  Middle Ages appreciates his works, and best known and most important behind Virgil; over 1,000 medieval quotation from his Satires and Epistles

2)  Renaissance poets deeply appreciate him too

3)  France of Louis XIV sees Boileau composes Horatian Satires, Epistles, and Art Poétique

4)  In Romanticism, Horace suffers decline

C.  Ovid (43 B.C.-A.D. 17/18)

1.  Life

a.  B. in Sulmo (Mod. Sulmona) about 90 miles E and N of Rome.

b.  From an equestrian, wealthy family

c.  Educated first in Sulmo, then in Rome to study rhetoric and public speaking, acceptable for a man of his family status, and essential for politics and law

d.  Poetic interest from a youth, but his father on his poetry:

My Father kept telling me over and over: “Even Homer left little worth leaving to his heirs.  Why do you bother your head with this poetry stuff?”

e. In his career after education, he ran for public office reluctantly (his brother ran enthusiastically but dies when only 20 yrs old).

f.  Poet: after holding a minor office or two, he found that life in the “wordy forum” was not for him and gave it up happily; he began reading his poetry in pubic

g.  Banishment from Rome in A.D. 8, when Metamorphoses was so nearly finished that copies were circulated among his friends

h.  To Tomis, a Greek colony founded in 7th C. B.C., site of modern Constanza in Romania; it was barren, uncivilized; feared attacks; cold winters; no one spoke Latin, few Greek.

i.  Reason: lèse-majesté or impairing the dignity of the nation; that is, acting against the person, authority or policy of Head of State

1)  Augustus had been in power 40 yrs and Rome was thriving

2)  Moral climate declining: divorce easy to obtain, adultery was common, family seemed to have lost coherence

3)  A.D. 9 Augustus passes legislation designed to promote marriage and procreation and adultery a capital crime

4) Official: Art of Love undermined Roman morality by teaching women how to deceive their husbands, but this was published 7 yrs before.

5) Satirized Golden Age?  “Present age is golden because everything has its price, even love” (Ars 2.777-78).

6) Adultery?  This is unknowable but it is probable that he happened upon the crime of adultery which he did not report out of fear, so he got embroiled in it; but this was no crime, only a mistake; so his failure to report a crime was convenient excuse.

j.  No Recall: even though Aug died, successors never recalled him despite appeals

2.  Works

a.  Metamorphosis

b.  Written between A.D. 2 and 8

c.  “Epic” poem is fifteen books

d.  Shortest is 628 lines, longest 968, totaling nearly 12k in hexameters

See below for a detailed study on Ovid.

IV.  Art and Architecture

A.  Architecture

1.  Arch Four types

2.  Pantheon

B.  Sculpture

1.  Phase 1 (3rd to 1st c. B.C.)

a.  Stern and resolute, slightly idealistic, more so than 2nd phase

2.  Phase 2 (1st c. B.C.)

a.  Slightly more realistic than Phase 1

b.  Reflects upheavals of the times

3.  Phase 3 (Augustan Age)

a.  Idealism of his reign; Greek model

C.  Paintings and Mosaics

1.  Many scenes (myths, landscape)

2.  Same as in mosaics

Growth of Imperialism

I.  Introduction

A.  Time:  All dates are A.D.

1.  Death of Augustus (14)

2.  Decline of Imperialism (284)

II.  Politics

A.  Emperors

1.  Julio-Claudian Dynasty

a.  Tiberius (14-37)

b.  Gaius (Caligula) (37-41)

c.  Claudius (41-54)

d.  Nero (54-68)

e.  Civil War (69)

1)  Insurrection by Julius Vindex put down in 68

2)  Galba leads insurrection and proclaims himself emperor

3)  Nero kills himself

4)  Nymphidius Sabinus rises up, but his revolt is suppressed

5)  On Jan. 15 praetorian guard kills Galba because of his austerity and meanness

6)  Legions in East proclaim Vespasian emperor, in West Vitellius is proclaimed in 69

7)  At Battle of Cremona, Vitellius is defeated and Vesapsian is sole emperor

2.  Flavian Dynasty

a.  Vespasian 69-79)

b.  Titus (79-81)

c.  Domitian (81-96)

3.  Antonine Emperors

a.  Nerva (96-98)

b.  Trajan (98-117)

c.  Hadrian (117-138)

d.  Antoninus Pius (138-161)

e.  Marcus Aurelius (161-180)

d.  Commodus (181-193)

B.  Absolutism

1.  Augustus

a.  Because he was formally over a “Republic,” he cannot choose his heir

b.  Tiberius receives indirect designation as heir from lavish treatment and imperial power

2.  Julio-Claudian Dynasty

a.  After Tiberius, all emperors descended from either Augustus or his wife, Livia

b.  Established by military when stammering, lame, and frightened Claudius, was dragged from behind curtain

c.  Assassination of Domitian ends Flavians

3.  Antonine Emperors

a.  None of them has sons until Aurelius

b.  They adopt an able senator

4.  Analysis

a.  Augustan settlement enlists active cooperation from upper classes via the Senate

b.  Senate’s power was illusory because elections were controlled by Emperors

c.  Power degenerated to assent mostly, with sporadic opposition

d.  Later European kings will use this

C.  Class Structure and Economy:


James Malcolm Arlandson, Women, Class, and Society in Early Christianity: Models from Luke-Acts (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997)

1.  Urban

a.  Emperor

b.  Senators and equestrians, decurions

c.  Large landowners

d.  Large merchants and traders

e.  Religionists

f.  Retainers

g.  Petty merchants and traders

h.  Artisans (owners and workers)

i.  Day laborers

j.  Slaves

2.  Rural

a.  Medium landowners

b.  Small landowners

c.  Tenants

d.  Day laborers

e.  Slaves

3. Unclean and Degraded and Expendables

III.  Growth of Christianity

A.  Saul / Paul

1. Born in Tarsus on S Coast of Asia Minor (mod. Western Turkey)

2. Trained under R. Gamaliel, Pharisee

3. Saul witnessed Stephen’s stoning

4. Saul is on mission to arrest Christians

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh [= natural abilities and background], I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law [= Torah], a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. (Phil 3:4-6)

Epistle to Philippians continued:

            But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him [= “in” is key], not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law [= Torah], but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Phil. 3:7-9)

5. On Road to Damascus, sees, hears risen Jesus, converts

6. Now “Paul,” and retreats from public life

7. Then defends Christians and preaches

8. Big Decision: Should gentile converts keep Jewish law and be circumcised?

a. Paul’s answer: Justification by grace through faith in Christ

9. Paul fosters break with “Judaizers” = Law-observing Jewish Christians, e.g., James (half) bro of Jesus

10. Paul at Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15)

11. Enemy of some Jewish leaders and Roman authorities in city-states

12. Arrested, then what happens?

B.  Organization

1.  Rites

a.  Simple and appealing to masses

b.  Agape feast, provided by the rich

c.  Eucharist

d.  Baptism

2.  Salvation

a.  Promise of eternal life

b.  Personal, heart-felt experience

3.  Church hierarchy

a.  Elders (presbytery) and deacons

4.  Bishops

a.  Age of imperialism

b.  Oversees ceremonies of worship and sacraments

c.  Administered church’s property

d.  Coordinated Christian belief and policy with fellow bishops in other cities

e.  Bishop in city eventually have pre-eminence over province

D.  Relations with State

1.  Moral Stand

a.  Always suspect because of worship of God, not Caesars

b.  Reject pagan gods

c.  Stay apart from civic life (mostly)

2.  Persecution

a.  Ostracism socially and economically

b.  Sporadic imperial persecution, but only in scattered localities

E.  Emergence of Catholicism

1.  “Catholic” literally means “universal”

a.  Be baptized, accept eucharist, and believe Jesus is Lord

2.  Heretics

a.  This forces church leaders to formulate doctrines

b.  This forces church to shore up power-base

3.  Authority

a.  By end of second century, bishops are the authority

b.  Converts must believe in a creed

c.  Accept canon of Scripture

d.  Accept authority of bishop, who can exclude those who do not accept it

4.  Rome

a.  Largest city and largest Christian community

b.  Peter and Paul said to have been martyred there

c.  Therefore later bishops claim supremacy

IV.  Decline of Imperialism (193-284)

A.  Emperors (a selection)

1.  Septimus Severus (193-211)

2.  Alexander Severus (222-235)

3.  Decius (249-251)

4.  Valerian (253-260)

5.  Gallienus (253-268)

6.  Claudius II Gothicus (268-270)

7.  Aurelian (270-275)

B.  Foreign Threats

1.  German invasions from north

2.  Persia to the east

C.  Economy and Social Changes

1.  Population

a.  Declines in numbers

b.  Recurrent plagues

2.  Commerce

a.  Trade hampered by deteriorated roads

b.  Coinage not to be trusted

3.  Military

a.  Large military has to be supported

4.  Class structure

a.  Legal screws systematically turned against poorer classes

b.  No recourse against oppression

D.  Barracks Emperors (235-284)

1.  Army

a.  Army makes or breaks leaders depending on a defeat or victory or overly harsh discipline or rival generals

E.  Brief Restoration

1.  Strong imperialism (260-284)

a.  Invaders repelled

b.  Unity of empire holds up

V.  Philosophy

A.  Stoicism

1.  Time

a.  Through 3rd century

2.  Popularity

a.  Popular among intellectuals because sternness and ethics suited Romans

3.  Seneca (?4 B.C. to 65 A.D.)

a.  Rank

1)  Eventually a senator

b.  Tenets

1)  God is universe, or God is separate: confusion

2)  Conscience is a spiritual force, a voice, to guide person ethically

3)  Free will

4)  Sense of sin; man is necessarily a sinner

5)  Equality of all humans and mutual love, even slaves

6)  Man can redeem himself through reason



“We do not need to lift our hands to heaven or beg the sexton for nearer access to the idol’s ear, as if he could hear us more clearly; god is near you, with you, inside you.  Yes . . . there is a holy spirit abiding within us who observes our good deeds and bad and watches us,  He treats us according as we treat him.  No man is good without god.  Could any man rise above fortune without his help?  In every man ‘indwells a god, what god we know not.'” (Letter 41)

Humankind and Happiness:

The sole good of man, therefore, is what is solely man’s, for our question does not concern the good but the good of man.  If nothing but reason is peculiarly man’s, then reason is his sole good and balances all the rest. (ibid. 210)

A good man . . . has full piety towards the gods.  Whatever happens to him he will bear with serenity because he knows it has happened by the divine law which governs the universe.  That being the case, he will have only one sole good, to wit, the honorable; this involves obedience to the gods, not flaring up at sudden contretemps or deploring one’s lot, but accepting fate patiently and fulfilling its commands. (ibid. 212)

What is the happy life?  Self-sufficiency and abiding tranquillity.  This is the gift of greatness of soul, the gift of constancy which perseveres in a course judged right.  How can these be attained?  By surveying truth in its entirety, by safeguarding in every action order, measure, decorum, a will that is without malice and benign, focused undeviatingly upon reason, at once amiable and admirable. (ibid.)

Our principle, you remember, is ‘life according to nature.’ (ibid.)

4. Epictetus (A.D. ?55-135?)



“If a person could be persuaded of this principle as he ought, that we are all first of all children of God, and that God is the father of gods and men, I think that he would never conceive a single abject or ignoble thought about himself.” (I.3.1)

“So a wise and good man, after examining all these things [whether or not the gods exist], submits his mind to him who administers the universe, as good citizens submit to the laws of the state.” (I.12.7)

How to Be Happy

Do not ask things to happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go smoothly. (Handbook 8)

Sickness is an impediment to the body, but not to the faculty of choice, unless that faculty wishes it to be one.  Lameness is an impediment to one’s leg, but not to the faculty of choice.  And say the same to yourself with regard to everything that befalls you, for you will find it to be an impediment to something else, but not to yourself. (ibid. 9)

Remember that what is insulting is not the person who abuses or hits you, but the judgment that these things are insulting.  So when someone irritates you, realize that it is your own opinion that has irritated you.  Try, therefore, in the first place, not to be carried away by the impression, for if you once again gain time and respite, you will find it easier to control yourself. (ibid. 20)

If someone handed over your body to anyone he met along the way, you would be angry.  But are you not ashamed that you hand over your judgment to anyone who happens to come along, so that, if he abuses you, it is disturbed and confused? (ibid. 28)

Remember that you are an actor in a play, which is as the author wants it to be:  short, if he wants it to be short; long, if he wants it to be long.  If he wants you to act a poor man, a cripple, a public official, or a private person, see that you act it with skill.  For it is your job to act well the part that is assigned to you; but to choose, it is another’s. (ibid. 17)

5.  Marcus Aurelius (121-180)

a.  Emperor (161-180)

b.  Tenets

1)  Cosmos is in flux and transient

2)  Nothing new under sun

3)  Pantheism: Universe is body of things we see and is Destiny

4)  Self-inspection, Meditations

5)  Bond of all humans elevated to love, for humans share in Universe

4.  Christianity

a.  Causes Stoicism’s demise (or curtailment)

Marcus Aurelius:

Humankind and the Universe

“Always remember the following:  what nature of the Whole is; what my own nature [is]; the relation of this nature to that; what kind of part it is of what kind of Whole; and that no man can hinder your saying and doing at all times what is in accordance with that Nature whereof you are a part.” (II.9)

“Always think of the Universe as one living creature, embracing one being and one soul; how all is absorbed into consciousnee of this living creature; how it compasses all things with a single purpose, and how all things work together to cause all that comes to pass, and their wonderful web texture.” (IV.40)

How to Live and Be Happy

“A man’s joy is to do what is proper to man, and man’s proper work is kindness to his fellow man, disdain of the movements of the senses, to discern plausible imaginations, to meditate on Universal Nature and the works of her hands.” (VIII.26)

“Pain is an evil, either to the body, in which case let the body say that it is so, or to the soul.  But it is in the soul’s power to preserve its own quiet and calm, and not to judge pain to be an evil; for every judgment, impulse, desire, or aversion is within, and nothing evil makes its way up to this.” (VIII.28)

“Wipe out impressions by continually saying to yourself, it is in my power not to allow any wickedness to be in this soul of mine, any appetite or disturbance at all, but seing what is the character of them I employ each according to its worth.  Remember this power as Nature requires.” (VIII.29)

“Speak both in the senate and to every man of whatever rank with propriety, without affectation.  Use words that ring true.” (VIII.30)

“You must plan your life, one action at a time, and be content if each acquires its own end as best it can; and that it should acquire its end, no one at all can prevent you.  ‘But some external obstacle will be in the way.’  None to prevent action with justice, temperance, and due reflection.  ‘But some other activity will be hindered.’ Still, by meeting the actual obstacle with resignation and good-temperedly altering your course to what is granted you, a new action is at once substituted, which will fit into the plan of which we are speaking.” (VIII.32)

“Accept without pride, relinquish without a struggle.” (VIII.33)

B.  Neoplatonism

1.  Plotinus (205-269/70)

a.  Life

1)  In Alexandria studies under Ammonius Saccas, the teacher of Christian scholar Origen

b.  Tenets

1)  Governing power of universe is pure intellect

a)  Yet transcendentally divine

b)  Called One, denoting perfect absoluteness

2)  Below it is Mind, a rational principle of cosmos

3)  Soul was source of action

4)  Other subsidiary beings

5)  Human soul can rise to union with the One

2.  Influence

a.  Favorite pagan creed of intellectuals, such as senators

b.  Even St. Augustine come to Christianity through it


The One

“In general then, The One is the first existent.”

“Because what the soul seeks is The One and it would look upon the source of all reality, namely the Good and the One, it must not withdraw from the primal realm and sink down to the lowest realm.  Rather it must withdraw from sense objects, of the lowest existence, and turn to those of the highest.”


“Almost everyone declares that the symmetry of parts towards each other and towards a whole with, besides, a certain charm of color, constitutes the beauty recognized by the eye; that in visible things . . . universally, the beautiful thing is essentially symmetrical, patterned.”  (Enn. I.6.1)

“…Can we doubt that beauty is something more than symmetry, that symmetry itself owes its beauty to a remoter principle?” (I.6.1)

“This, then, is how the material thing become beautiful– by communicating in the thought (Reason, Logos) that flows from the Divine” (I.6.2)

And the Soul includes a faculty peculiarly addressed to Beauty” (I.6.3)


Thought = Reason/Logos

Soul (Virtuous, beautiful)

Body/Object (symmetrical, patterned, “charming” colors)

Humankind and Happiness:

“If mere Being is insufficient, if happiness demands fullness of life, and exists, therefore, where nothing is lacking of all that belongs to the idea of life, then happiness can exist only in being fully alive.

“And such a one will possess not merely the good, but the Supreme Good if, that is to say, in the realm of existents the Supreme Good can be no other than the authentically living, no other than Life in its greatest plenitude, life in which the good is present as something essential, not as something brought in from without [outside], a life needing no foreign substance called in from a foreign realm to establish it in good.” 1.4.3)

“It has been said more than once that the perfect life and the true life, the essential life, is in the Intellectual Nature beyond this sphere, and that all other forms of life are incomplete, are phantoms of life . . . .” (ibid.)

“We say, rather, that while in some men it [happiness] is present as a mere portion of their total being– in those namely who have it potentially– there is, too, the man, already in possession of true felicity [happiness], who is this perfection realized, who has passed over into actual identification with it . . .  Once the man is a Proficient [trained, diligent, adept, divine mystic], the means of happiness, the way to good, are within, for nothing is good that lies outside him . . . .” (ibid. 1.4.4)

VI.  Literature:  The Silver Age

A.  Features

1.  End of Patronage

a.  Poets were disillusioned with patriotism of earlier poets

b.  Tiberius shows no interest in organizing patronage

c.  Seneca alone, under Nero, seeks to reestablish patronage, but short lived

2.  Anti-classical

a.  Interest in exotic and unusual themes

b.  Either expressionistic or gloomy

c.  Inner discomfort with society and culture that is changing rapidly

B.  Seneca (?4 B.C.-A.D. 65)

1.  Life

a.  B. in Spain to wealthy equestrian father, Seneca the elder

b.  In 31 he begins legal and political career

c.  Achieves oratorical fame

d.  Caligula accuses him of adultery in 41, in response to which Seneca is exiled to Corsica until 49 when Agrippa succeeds in securing his release

e.  He is tutor to future emperor Nero

f.  Seneca shares in Nero’s accession in 54

g.  Due to deterioration Seneca falls out of favor

h.  He is implicated in Pisonian conspiracy (April of 65), of which he may have known but not participated in

i.  Condemned to death by Nero, he commits suicide

j.  Stoic

2.  Work

a.  Nine tragedies of Greek subjects

b.  Apocolocyntosis is a Menippean satire on strange apotheosis of emperor

1)  Menippus (3rd c. B.C.) is Greek who satirized follies of men and philosophers in serio-comic style (cf. Lucian)

c. See above for a few excerpts from his philosophy.

C.  Juvenal (A.D. 50/60-127)

1.  Life

a.  Very little is known

b.  B. in Latium near Rome

c.  Family must have been prosperous since he got good rhetorical education

2.  Works

a.  Sixteen satires, in hexameters, subdivided into five books, perhaps by author himself (1-5; 6; 7-9; 10-12; 13-16)

b.  They total 3,869 lines

c.  A fragment was found in 1899 of 36 lines

d.  Characterized by indignity

e.  Rejection of Roman moral thought

f.  Invective of outcast

g.  Aggressive fury against all

h.  Misogyny

i.  Apparent democratism

j.  Sterile idealization of past of farmers contrasted with corrupt citizenry of present

Later Roman Empire

I.  Introduction

A.  Time

1.  Diocletian (284)

2.  Fall(s) of Rome (410, 455, and 476)

II. Growth of the Church in the Roman Empire

A. Diversity

B. Roman Empire filled with tribes, ethnicities, languages

C. Bishop of Rome not universal

III. Constantine (r. 312-337)

A. Sporadic / Systematic Persecution before 312

B. Edict of Milan permits Christianity (313)

When we, Constantine and Licinus, Emperors, met at Milan in conference . . . we declared that . . . it was right that Christians and all others should have freedom to follow the kind of religion they favored . . . . We therefore announce that, notwithstanding any provisions concerning the Christians in our former instructions, all who choose that religion are to be permitted to continue therein, without any let or hindrance, and are not to be in any way troubled or molested.

C.  Defeat of Rivals

1.  Continues persecuting Christians

2.  Five Augusti rise up

3.  During battle with rival Maxentius (312) in Italy

a.  Sees a vision of cross and words “by this conquer”

b.  Has another vision that men should place Chi Rho on shields

4.  Defeats last rival in 324

5.  Edict of Milan (313)

a.  Religious toleration Feb 313

b.  Tolerance (earlier, tolerance not observed)

d.  In gratitude, promotes Christianity

e.  Even attends Council of Nicaea in 325

6.  Autocracy

a.  He carries this to extreme

b.  Controls through decrees, consulting very few

c.  He lives in remote palace

d.  Visitors must prostrate and kiss the hem of robe, which is purple with gold thread

7.  Constantinople (330)

a.  New capitol of empire

b.  Founds it on May 11, 330

c.  Old Greek Byzantium

D.  Arianism

1.  Emperor is an Arian

2.  Athanasius (ca. 296-373) fights this heresy

3.  Council of Nicaea (325), doctrine disputed

4.  Council of Constantinople (391) doctrine of Trinity becomes official in 391

5.  Theodosius (r. 379-95)

a.  Christianity made official in Rome (395)

1)  In 395 Christianity proclaimed official religion of Rome

IV.  Politics

A.  Emperors (a selection)

1.  Diocletian (284-305)

2.  Constantine (306-337)

a. Sole emperor (324-337)

b. See above

3.  Constantius II (337-361)

4.  Julian the Apostate (361-363)

5.  Valentinian (364-375) (West)

6.  Valens (364-378) (in East, brother to Valentinian)

7.  Theodosius (379-395)

B.  Diocletian (r. 284-305)

1.  Identity

a.  B. in Illyria (former Yugoslavia)

b.  Rise through ranks of army

2.  Tetrarchy

a.  Diocletian:  Thrace, Asia, Egypt (Nicomedia)

b.  Maximian:  Italy, Africa, and Spain (Milan)

c.  Galerius:  former Danube frontier and Balkans

d.  Constantius:  Britain and Gaul

e.  Titles

1)  First two, Augusti

2)  Latter two, subordinate Caesars

3.  Military

a.  At its height, army is 500k

4.  Persecution of Christians (303-305)

a.  Burning of churches

C.  Empire of the West and East

1.  Agrarian West

a.  Harassment of “barbarians”

b.  The villa, fortified country estate

c.  Coloni, serfs or tenants who work on farm in service to upper classes

d.  Many cities shrink to tiny walled fortresses ruled by military commander and bishop

2.  Cultured East

a.  Constantinople is defensible

b.  Skill of emperors

c.  Navy allows prosperous trade

d.  Classical culture preserved

e.  Blend of classical culture, Christianity, Roman law, and eastern artistic influences

f.  Fall of Roman empire does NOT include east

II.  Fall of the Western Roman Empire

A.  Slaves

1.  Diminish due to lack of warfare

B.  Poor class

1.  No more democracy

a.  Even residue of democracy had long disappeared, which had protected poor

2.  Legal rights

a.  Legal rights whittled away to a vanishing point by Severan period (193-235)

b.  Long, slow process, not conscious or deliberate

c.  Dual penalty system; rich get let off; poor punished

d.  Flogging not supposed to be used on citizens but so used

e.  Torture traditionally reserved for slaves in court, but now applied to citizens

f.  Evidence given by poorer class carried less weight than propertied class

g.  Tort cases favored rich

C.  Decurions

1.  Identity

a.  Propertied class belonging to Council

2.  Public Liturgies

a.  Definition is service to city-state and compulsory contribution of money and time to civic affairs

b.  Lower section of propertied class

1)  More pressure put on it through service to city by spending money

c.  Marked decline in expenditure

D.  Defection and Revolts

1.  Defection

a.  From 2nd to 7th cent., desertion or appeal to the foreigners for help

1)  Vandals in 429 take N. Africa and people welcome them

2)  Their policies less extortionate

b.  Very few signs of resistance to barbarians by townspeople and farmers

2.  Revolts

a.  Number of revolts by peasants increase

b.  To no avail due to military machine

E.  Religion

1.  Debates

a.  Make the West less willing to resist Arab and Persian incursions in East and Egypt in 7th cent.

b.  Eventually in 1452 Constantinople fell to Ottoman Turks even after last Byzantine emperor submitted to Rome

2.  Number of Clerics

a.  From 320’s onwards a steady rise of clerics

b.  Perhaps hundreds of thousands

c.  “Idle mouths”

d.  We must not exaggerate, for church was always helping poor

F.  Taxes

1.  Increase: Many literary and legal documents refer to tax-collector

2.  Imperial military and bureaucracy: Difficult to maintain

H.  Invasions

1.  Sack of Rome by Visigoths (410)

2.  Sack of Rome by Vandals (455)

3.  Odoacer (ca. 434-493) (476)

a.  He deposes last western emperor, Romulus Augustulus

III.  Literature and Theology

A.  Augustine

1.  Life

a.  Born at Tagaste in N. Africa

b.  Raised in mixed unbeliever-believer house, father Patricius converted shortly before death (372); mother, Monica, devout but “bulldoggish” (won’t give up)  in prayer for son

c.  Catechumen since infancy but developed taste for high life:  promiscuity and theatre

d.  Mistress who bore a son, Adeodatus

e.  Excelled in education of the day, rhetoric (lawyering or speech-making) and philosophy

f.  Followed Manicheanism: from Mani an aristocratic Parthian, who traveled to India and settled in Persia

1)  Dualism, Light/Dark, God/Matter

2)  Man is imprisoned by matter, and Light or Good has to save him

3)  Jesus of gospels is but an instance of suffering of imprisoned Light

4)  Tried rational demonstration of wisdom, attractive to Aug

5)  Goal is second coming when elect are reunited with Light and matter, this creation is destroyed

g.  Abandoned this by influence Ambrose, bishop of Milan (ca. 386); problem of evil resolved

h.  Converted in late summer 386, by picking up and reading Rom. 13:13-14; see Confessions

i.  Ordained in 391 and Bishop of Hippo in 396

j.  Died while bishop of Hippo in N. Africa

k.  He is great transitional person between Later Roman empire and Early Middle Ages

2.  Works

a.  Prolific writer of theology, e.g., De Doctrina christiana, and On the Trinity

b.  Christian interpretation of history, City of God

1) Why did Rome fall after converting, and why do pagan miracles seem more powerful than Christian ones?)

c.  113 books and treatises, 200 letters, and 500 sermons


Spiritual Beauty:

“Hence, beauty is also used as applying to mental vision [that perceives spiritual beauty].” (On Seeing God 21)

” . . . those beautiful patterns, which through the medium of men’s souls are conveyed into their artistic hands, emanate from that Beauty which is above our souls . . . ” (Confessions 34.53)

Physical Beauty:


“Wherefore, considering carefully the parts of this very building, we cannot but be displeased because we see one doorway towards the side and another situated almost, but not exactly, in the middle.  In things constructed, a proportion of parts that is faulty, without compelling necessity, unquestionably seems to inflict, as it were, a kind of injury upon one’s gaze.  But the fact that three windows inside, one in the middle and two at the sides, pour light at equal intervals on the bathing place– how much that delights and enraptures us as we gaze attentively, is a thing already manifest, and need not to be shown to you in many words.  In their own terminology, architects themselves call this design; and they say that parts unsymmetrically placed are without design.  This is very general; it pervades all the arts and creations of man . . .” (De Ordine 2.11.32)

Beautiful Body (Image):

“What is beauty of the body?  A harmony of its parts with a certain pleasing color.” (Epistle III)

Humankind and Happiness:

“This, therefore, is the complete satisfaction of souls, that is, the happy life:  to know precisely and perfectly Him through whom you are led into the truth, the nature of the truth you enjoy, and the bond that connects you with the Supreme Measure.” (The Happy Life 35)  [Supreme Measure = Wisdom = the Son of God]

“Whoever possesses [enjoys] God . . . is happy.” (ibid. 11)


Roman civilization has taught us a lot. The American founders borrowed from it–the presidency, Senate and House of Representatives. Cicero taught them about natural law. It also taught them what not to do: Caesars, for example. One man cannot get too much power, so he needed checks and balances placed on him.

Wake up, Western world! Reclaim your good past, like original Christianity, and forget your bad past.

Live as free people.

ADDENDUM: Study on Ovid


Publius Ovidius Naso

Ovid’s Life:

Birth: 43 B.C. – A.D. 18; born in Sulmo (modern Sulmona) about 90 miles E and N of Rome.

Events: 1 year after assassination of Julius Caesar; less than 1 year before the execution of Cicero; and 12 years before battle of Actium (Anthony and Cleopatra vs. Octavian, later Augustus); in Ovid’s adulthood, Augustus brought peace and prosperity.

Family: He came from an aristocratic family: his father was an equestrian or knight, and there were only less than 1/10 of 1% in the entire empire; had to own ca. 175,000 times the wages of a common laborer;

Education: first in Sulmo, then in Rome to study rhetoric and public speaking, acceptable for a man of his family status, and essential for politics and law.

Poetic Interest: from a youth, but his father on his poetry:

My Father kept telling me over and over: “Even Homer left little worth leaving to his heirs.  Why do you bother your head with this poetry stuff?” He read from ancient writers.

Career: after education, he ran for public office reluctantly (his brother ran enthusiastically but dies when only 20 years old).

Poet: After holding a minor office or two, he found that life in the “wordy forum” was not for him and gave it up happily; he began reading his poetry in public.

Contemporaries: Lucretius (94-55 B.C.); Catullus (85-55? B.C.); Virgil (70-19 B.C.) finished the Eclogues and Georgics and was working on Aeneid; Horace (65-8 B.C.) had published his Satires and Epodes and was working on Odes; Propertius (50 B.C.? to A.D. 2?) was writing love elegies; as was Tibullus (55 B.C.- 19 B.C.).

Art and Politics: Augustus favored the arts as part of his attempt to rebuild Rome physically and spiritually after civil war; heroic stories and legends developed (Regulus)

Banishment: in A.D. 8, when Metamorphoses was so nearly finished that copies were circulated among his friends, Ovid was banished from Rome.

Place of Banishment: was Tomis, a Greek. colony founded in 7th C. B.C., site of modern Constanza in Romania; it was barren, uncivilized; feared attacks; cold winters; no one spoke Latin, few Greek.

Reason for Banishment: lèse-majesté or impairing the dignity of the nation; that is, acting against the person, authority or policy of Head of State (Augustus); Augustus had been in power 40 years and Rome was thriving; but moral climate declining: divorce easy to obtain, adultery was common, family seemed to have lost coherence; in A.D. 9 he passed legislation designed to promote marriage and procreation and adultery a capital crime

1) Official: Art of Love undermined Roman morality by teaching women how to deceive their husbands, but this was published 7 years before.

(2) Perhaps Included: Satire, i.e., Golden Age was a key theme for Augustus, his Peace of Augustus was a recreation of it; and Ovid satirized it: “present age is golden because everything has its price, even love” (Ars 2.777-78).

3) Second Official:  This is unknowable but it is probable that he happened upon the crime of adultery which he did not report out of fear, so he got embroiled in it; but this was no crime, only a mistake; so Why the exile?  Back to first two reasons: Augustus was rebuilding Rome morally, and Ovid’s poetry undermined this.  So his failure to report a crime was convenient excuse.

No Recall: even though Augustus died, successors never recalled him despite appeals

Ovid’s Poetry:

Amores: first published work, publication dates unknown; it means loves, but it is more complex; in singular amor means love or “Cupid” (god of love), but in plural it can mean girlfriends, love affairs or love poems.

Short poems between 18 and 106 lines, in first person, in elegiac couplets.

It has a lover-poet– conventional– who claims that he must write love elegies, not epics; he is transformed from a epic poet to an elegiac poet, thereby showing Ovid’s comedy and satire.

Heroides: or heroines, a collection of 15 verse letters addressed by women to men they love; each woman but one is character from myth.

Each letter expresses the feelings of a woman at a moment of great crisis in life; i.e., Penelope laments that Odysseus takes 20 years to return from Troy.

Ovid is breaking new ground, not working in an established tradition; a whole collection of elegiac letters, and on a single theme: a woman who has lost her man.

Medea: a tragedy, now lost; thought to be very successful.

Didactic Poetry: love elegy always had a didactic quality to it; characters inside the poems sometimes instruct others; but these poems are explicitly didactic,

Medicamina Faciei: a professor declares his purpose of instructing young women in the arts of beauty to attract men.

Ars Amatoria: (2 or 1 B.C. to A.D. 2); it has a serious tone to it, a scholarly treatise; it has technical knowledge not on the good life, but on love; not as Plato would define it, but art of seduction; it is more ambitious than Amores and Heroides, much longer and has to sustain one voice, not a collection of poems.

Poems from Exile: Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto: short elegiac couplets in first person of a speaker who claims to write of his own experience; a return to the poems of his youth

Ibis: an invective against an unknown enemy

Metamorphoses: (Transformations)

Influence on Ovid


The Greek authors were learned; myths were no longer the serious subjects which tortured Pindar and Aeschylus; when, for example, Theocritus presents myths, he aims to be pleasant and charming (e.g. boorish, oafish Cyclops falls in love with a sea nymph and tries to woo her);

Collective poems of transformations:

Ornithogonia of the poetess Boio (or poet Boios), dealing with transformations of men into birds; three other attested poems; O’s innovations include: (1) longer length (2) chronological framework, (3) metamorphosis is de-emphasized comparatively speaking; sometimes it is central, but more often it is subordinated to the more important subject of love


Ovid calls his maius opus, as does Vergil; similar motifs; he wants the readers to compare him with Vergil.


Ovid combines the two: collective poems and epic:


Detachable stories

Temporal setting varies, though there is a vague chronological framework from creation of world to founding of Rome to Augustan Rome (Ovid seems to go out of his way to break up continuity); too many characters for continuity; yet it is clear that he makes attempts at linkage;

Discontinuous style, his parentheses, asides are all designed to keep narrator’s voice and personality in foreground


Dactylic hexameter, the meter of epic

Extended similes

Traditional epic scenes (council of gods, battle between heroes)

Crammed with quotations from Aeneid

Outline: (very rough because of mixture)

Prologue (1.1-4)

Introduction: the Creation and Flood (1.5-451)

I. Gods (1.452-6.420)

II. Heroes and Heroines (6.421-11.193)

III. “Historical” Personages (11.194-15.870)

IV. Epilogue (15.871-79)

Function of Metamorphosis in the work:

More often than not metamorphosis was not an actual subject, but only touches on story or is a perfunctory addendum to larger theme of love.

Narrative technique: endless change and variation of mood, tone, subject and style

Underlying principle for form and structure: it is in constant flux, and its changeability defies detailed attempts to systematize it.

Transformation of usual function and meaning of Greco-Roman myth: e.g., avoidance of profound themes (contrast Greek tragedy and Aeneid)

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