ESSENTIAL QUESTION 1 How did Rome begin?
Rome began near the center of what is now Italy. From about 700 to 500 B.C., the Italian peninsula was home to three groups—the Latins, the Greeks, and the Etruscans. The Latins built the original settlement of Rome on a series of hills along the Tiber River. These settlers are considered to be the first Romans.
The Geography of Rome As the settlement of Rome grew, it benefited from a favorable environment. The region experienced cool, rainy winters that created acres of productive farmland. Meanwhile, Rome’s location near the Apennines Mountain range protected it from harsh weather. It also kept the settlement safe from easy foreign invasion. In addition, the nearby Tiber River enabled the Romans to engage in a busy and prosperous trade network throughout Italy, and later throughout the Mediterranean Sea.
A Kingdom Emerges Historians believe that sometime during the eighth century B.C., Rome became a kingdom. For the next several centuries, a series of kings ruled over the growing Roman civilization. Many of these kings were related to the Etruscans, a powerful group from northern Italy that had a great impact on Roman culture. The last king to rule Rome was Tarquin the Proud. He often ruled with a harsh hand. As a result, the Romans rose up in 510 B.C. and drove Tarquin from power. They refused to live under the rule of a king again. Instead, they decided to base their government largely on the will of the people.
ESSENTIAL QUESTION 1 How did Rome begin? Answer- Rome began as a settlement on a series of hills along the River.
ESSENTIAL QUESTION 2 Why did Rome change from a republic to an empire?
From Republic to Empire
The Romans established a form of government known as a republic republic. In a republic, power rests with citizens, who vote to select their leaders. For the next 500 years, the Romans operated under a political system that serves as a model for many of today’s democratic nations.
The Roman Republic The Romans created a government in which average citizens had a voice. To be sure, the wealthy and members of noble families wielded great influence in the Roman Republic. What’s more, Roman women had few rights. Even so, all free-born males enjoyed the right to vote. The Romans also created laws that protected basic liberties. In addition, they worked to limit the power that one person could hold. At the head of the government were two leaders known as consuls. However, their power was limited. They could rule only for one year, and the Roman lawmaking body, the Senate, acted as a check to the consuls’ power.
Roman Forum The political center of Rome was known as the Forum—the ruins of which still stand.
In addition to their government, the Romans prided themselves on their powerful and well-organized army. And they used that army to expand their territory. The Romans eventually conquered all of what is modern-day Italy as well as other nearby lands. During a series of wars between 264 and 146 B.C. B.C., Roman forces defeated a powerful North African civilization known as Carthage. (These wars were known as the Punic Wars.) The victory gave the Romans control over much of the Mediterranean Sea.
Decline of the Republic As the Roman Republic grew larger and more populated, the task of maintaining order and stability became increasingly difficult. In addition, tensions arose between the different classes in Roman society. Eventually, Rome fell into a civil war, which is a conflict between different groups within a country.
In 45 B.C. B.C., a powerful Roman general named Julius Caesar brought order to Rome and named himself sole ruler. This brought an end to the Roman Republic. In 44 B.C. B.C., political opponents of Caesar killed him. A bloody power struggle followed. Caesar’s adopted son Octavian emerged as the winner and unchallenged ruler of Rome. He took the title Augustus (aw•GUHS•tuhs), or “divine one.” His rule began an era of great growth for Rome as the empire reached the greatest extent of its size and influence.
Rome Becomes an Empire Under Augustus, Rome became an empire. An empire empire is a group of different cultures or territories led by a single allpowerful ruler. The ruler of an empire is known as the emperor emperor. Augustus was a careful and brilliant leader. He used his power to create a strong government. The Senate continued to represent citizens’ interests, but it now had little power. During his rule, a long period of peace and prosperity began. It is known as the Pax Romana, or “Roman Peace.”
Augustus died in A.D. A.D. 14, but the policies he began enabled Rome to grow and become stronger. By the second century A.D. A.D., the Roman Empire reached its largest size. It ruled over two million square miles. Tied together by more than 50,000 miles of roads, the empire extended from Spain in the west to Mesopotamia in the east. It took in lands from Britain in the north to the Sahara in the south. Approximately 60 million people lived under Roman rule. They included Celts, Germans, North Africans, Greeks, Syrians, Jews, and Egyptians.
ESSENTIAL QUESTION 2 Why did Rome change from a republic to an empire? Answer- As Rome became larger and more populated, it became difﬁcult to govern under a republic
ESSENTIAL QUESTION 3 How did Christianity grow so powerful
THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY
At the height of its power, Rome was indeed a strong and influential empire. But it couldn’t control everything. One thing that Roman leaders could not contain was the spread of a new religion known as Christianity Christianity. From its emergence during the Roman Empire, Christianity would become one of the dominant religions in history and retain its great influence through today.
Jesus and His Teachings Christianity is the religion based on the teachings of Jesus, who is believed by Christians to be the son of God. Jesus was born in the Roman province of Judea sometime around 6 to 4 B.C. B.C. He was a member of a group known as the Jews. They practiced a religion known as Judaism. Many of Jesus’ teachings contained ideas from Judaism, including the belief in a single god. Jesus encouraged people to love God as well as their neighbors, and even to love their enemies. He also taught that God had created a kingdom in heaven for all people who followed his teachings.
Jesus began his teachings as a young adult. He achieved a great following. This troubled many Roman leaders. They viewed him as a threat to their own power and authority. Eventually, authorities arrested Jesus and put him to death.According to Christian belief, Jesus rose from the dead and went to heaven. His followers continued to spread his teachings across the Roman Empire. Those who became Christians did so at great risk. They believed in a single god, and so refused to worship Roman gods. For that reason, Roman officials imprisoned and killed many Christians. Nonetheless, Christianity continued to spread throughout the empire.
While Christianity grew stronger, the Roman Empire itself eventually grew weaker. In the next lesson, you’ll read about the forces that led to the fall of Rome.
ESSENTIAL QUESTION 3 How did Christianity grow so powerful? Answer- Its messages about love and the kingdom of heaven appealed to people.