Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Ancient Roman Society Facts

Ancient Roman Society
Just as Roman citizens were divided into groups, so, too, was Roman society.
A person's family and amount of wealth determined his or her class.
The Roman upper class was made up of wealthy patricians and wealthy plebeians. This class enjoyed the best Rome had to offer. Its members held jobs as government officials. Members of the upper class lived in large homes with many rooms, and their needs were taken care of by slaves.

A large family of Rome's upper class might have owned 500 or more slaves.

The Roman lower classes were made up of all other citizens, ranging from the fairly wealthy to the very poor. Soldiers, farmers, merchants, and craftworkers all belonged to these groups. Unlike the very rich, these Romans lived in apartment-style dwellings. In some cases, entire families lived in one room.

As in other ancient civilizations, slaves were at the bottom of society. In Rome they were not counted as Roman citizens and were not as well protected by Roman law as Roman citizens were. They did have more rights than enslaved peoples in other parts of the world, however. Many were freed upon their owner's death or were given the chance to buy their freedom. Even so, living conditions for slaves depended completely on their owners.

In all classes, men ruled Roman households. Women did help make household decisions and often gave advice to their husbands. They were also allowed to own property. However, women took no direct part in government decision making.
How was Roman society divided?

During this time, a strong rivalry developed between Rome and Carthage. Carthage was a city-state in northern Africa founded by the Phoenicians. Between 264 B.C. and 146 B.C., Rome fought three wars with Carthage. These wars are called the Punic (PYOOnik) Wars, from the Roman word for Phoenician Punicus.

One reason the wars started was because both Rome and Carthage wanted to control sea trade in the western Mediterranean. After a long fight Rome won the first Punic War. In the second Punic War, the city of Rome itself was threatened. Led by a general named Hannibal, Carthage's army marched on Rome. Starting in what is now Spain, Hannibal led his soldiers and war elephants over high, snow-covered mountains into Italy. A Roman historian wrote about Hannibal,


No work could tire his body or his spirit. Heat and cold were the same to him.... He was always the first into battle and the last to leave.

Although tired, the soldiers of Carthage surprised the Romans with sudden and violent attacks. They fought so fiercely that they nearly defeated Rome. Then a Roman general named Scipio (SIH»pee»oh) made a clever move. He left the Italian peninsula and attacked lands in northern Africa that were under the control of Carthage.

Hannibal was forced to return to Africa to defend his home city. In 202 B.C. Hannibal lost an important battle in the town of Zama near Carthage, and Carthage had to give up.

In 146 B.C. the third and final Punic War left the city of Carthage in ruins. The Romans destroyed the entire city and sold many Carthaginians into slavery.

By this time Greece, Macedonia, and parts of southwestern Asia were also under Roman control. The Romans divided the land they now ruled into provinces. A Roman governor ruled each province. The people had to pay taxes to Rome, and some of them were taken there as slaves.

What lands did Rome conquer between 500 B.C. and 146 B.C.?

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