Roman Empire

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Roman Empire:

Roman Empire Presented by- Simran Natasha


Introduction The Roman Empire was the post-Republican phase of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean. The term is used to describe the Roman state during and after the time of the first emperor, Augustus.

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Emperor The powers of an emperor existed, in theory at least, by virtue of his " tribunician powers“ and his " proconsular powers“. In theory, the tribunician powers made the emperor's person and office sacrosanct, and gave the emperor authority over Rome's civil government, including the power to preside over & to control the Senate. The proconsular powers gave him authority over the Roman army. He was also given powers that, under the republic, had been reserved for the Senate and the assemblies, including the right to declare war, to ratify treaties, and to negotiate with foreign leaders.

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The emperor controlled the religious institutions, since, as emperor, he was always Pontifex Maximus and a member of each of the four major priesthoods. The main support of an emperor's power and authority was the military. Being paid by the imperial treasury, the legionaries also swore an annual military oath of loyalty towards him, called the Sacramentum .


Senate While the Roman assemblies continued to meet after the founding of the empire, their powers were all transferred to the Roman Senate, and so senatorial decrees acquired the full force of law. In theory, the emperor and the senate were two equal branches of government, but the actual authority of the senate was negligible and it was largely a vehicle through which the emperor disguised his autocratic powers under a cloak of republicanism. Still prestigious and respected, the Senate was largely a glorified rubber stamp institution which had been stripped of most of its powers, and was largely at the emperor's mercy.

Senators & Equestrians:

Senators & Equestrians No emperor could rule the empire without the Senatorial order and the Equestrian order. Most of the more important posts and offices of the government were reserved for the members of these two aristocratic orders. It was from among their ranks that the provincial governors, legion commanders, and similar officials were chosen.

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Senatorial order The son of a senator was expected to follow the Cursus honorum {career ladder} & the more prestigious positions were restricted to senators only. A senator also had to be wealthy; one of the basic requirements was the wealth of about 100 kg of gold, a figure which would later be raised with the passing of centuries. Equestrian order Below the Senatorial order was the Equestrian order. The requirements and posts reserved for this class, while perhaps not so prestigious, were still very important. Some of the more vital posts, like the governorship of Aegyptus , were even forbidden to the members of the Senatorial order and available only to equestrians.

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Legions During and after the civil war, Octavian reduced the huge number of the legions (over 60) to a much more manageable and affordable size (28). Several legions, particularly those with doubtful loyalties, were simply disbanded. Other legions were amalgamated, a fact suggested by the title Gemina (Twin). In AD 9, Germanic tribes wiped out three full legions in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. This disastrous event reduced the number of the legions to 25. The total of the legions would later be increased again and for the next 300 years always be a little above or below 30. Augustus also created the Praetorian Guard: nine cohorts ostensibly to maintain the public peace which were garrisoned in Italy. Better paid than the legionaries, the Praetorians also served less time; instead of serving the standard 25 years of the legionaries, they retired after 16 years of service.


Auxilia While the Auxilia are not as famous as the legionaries, they were of major importance. Unlike the legionaries, the Auxilia were recruited from among the non-citizens. Organized in smaller units of roughly cohort strength, they were paid less than the legionaries, and after 25 years of service were rewarded with Roman citizenship, also extended to their sons. According to Tacitus there were roughly as many auxiliaries as there were legionaries. Since at this time there were 25 legions of around 5,000 men each, the auxilia thus amounted to around 125,000 men, implying approximately 250 auxiliary regiments.


Navy The Roman Navy not only aided in the supply and transport of the legions, but also helped in the protection of the frontiers in the rivers Rhine and Danube. Another of its duties was the protection of the very important maritime trade routes against the threat of pirates. Therefore it patrolled the whole of the Mediterranean, parts of the North Atlantic (coasts of Hispania, Gaul, and Britannia), and had also a naval presence in the Black Sea. Nevertheless the army was considered the senior and more prestigious branch.

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Navy Auxilia Legion

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As the empire expanded, and came to include people from a variety of cultures, the worship of an ever increasing number of deities was tolerated and accepted. The imperial government, and the Romans in general, tended to be very tolerant towards most religions and cults, so long as they did not cause trouble. This could easily be accepted by other faiths as Roman liturgy and ceremonies were frequently tailored to fit local culture and identity. An individual could attend to both the Roman Gods representing his Roman identity and his own personal faith, which was considered part of his personal identity. There were periodic persecutions of various religions at various points in time, most notably that of Christians.


Languages The language of Rome before its expansion was Latin, and this became the empire's official language. By the time of the imperial period Latin began evolving into two languages: the 'high' written Classical Latin and the 'low' spoken Vulgar Latin. While Classical Latin remained relatively stable, even through the Middle Ages, Vulgar Latin as with any spoken language was fluid and evolving. Vulgar Latin became the lingua franca in the western provinces, later evolving into the modern Romance languages: Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, etc. Greek and Classical Latin were the languages of literature, scholarship, and education.


Culture Life in the Roman Empire revolved around the city of Rome, and its famed seven hills. Throughout the territry under Rome's control, residential archoitecture ranged from very modest houses to country villas. Most Roman towns and cities had a forum and temples, as did the city of Rom itself. Aqueducts were built to bring water to urbean centres and wine & oil were imported from abroad. Landlords generally resided in cities and their estates were left in the care of farm managers. To stimulate a higher labour productivity, many landlords freed a large numbers of slaves.

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Many aspects of Roman culture were taken from the Greeks. In architecture and sculpture, the difference between Greek models and Roman paintings are apparent. The chief Roman contributions to architecture were the arch and the dome. The centre of the early social structure was the family, which was not only marked by blood relations but also by the legally constructed relation of patria potestas . The Pater familias was the absolute head of the family. Slavery & slaves were part of the social order; there were slave markets where they could be bought and sold.

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The city of Rome had a place called the Campus Martius (Field of Mars), which was a sort of drill ground for Roman soldiers. Later, the Campus became Rome's track and field playground. In the campus, the youth assembled to play & exercise. Riding, throwing, and swimming were also preferred physical activities. In the countryside, pastimes also included fishing and hunting. Board games played in Rome included Dice, Roman Chess, Roman Checkers, Tic-tac-toe & Tabula, predecessors of backgammon. There were several other activities to keep people engaged like chariot races, musical and theatrical performances.


Education Romans adapted a number of Greek educational precepts to their own system. Home was often the learning centre, where children were taught Roman law, customs, and physical training to prepare the boys for eventual recruitment into the Roman army. Conforming to discipline was a point of great emphasis. Girls generally received instruction from their mothers in the art of spinning, weaving, and sewing. Education nominally began at the age of six. During the next six to seven years, both boys and girls were taught the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. From the age of twelve, they would be learning Latin, Greek, grammar and literature, followed by training for public speaking. Oratory was an art to be practised and learnt, and good orators commanded respect. To become an effective orator was one of the objectives of education & learning. In some cases, services of gifted slaves were utilized for imparting education.

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Currency A Roman aureus struck under Augustus, c. AD 13–14; the reverse shows Tiberius riding on a quadriga , celebrating the fifteenth renewal of his tribunal power. The imperial government was, as all governments, interested in the issue and control of the currency in circulation. To mint coins was a political act: the image of the ruling emperor appeared on most issues, and coins were a means of showing his image throughout the empire. Legally only the emperor and the Senate had the authority to mint coins inside the empire. However the authority of the Senate was mainly in name only. In general, the imperial government issued gold and silver coins while the Senate issued bronze coins marked by the legend Senatus Consulto "by decree of the Senate". However, bronze coinage could be struck without this legend. Some Greek cities were allowed to mint bronze and certain silver coins, which today are known as Greek Imperials (also Roman Colonials or Roman Provincials ). The imperial mints were under the control of a chief financial minister, and the provincial mints were under the control of the imperial provincial procurators. The Senatorial mints were governed by officials of the Senatorial treasury.


Legacy Several states claimed to be the Roman Empire's successors after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire, an attempt to resurrect the Empire in the West, was established in 800 when Pope Leo III crowned Frankish King Charlemagne as Roman Emperor on Christmas Day, though the empire and the imperial office did not become formalised for some decades. After the fall of Constantinople, the Russian Tsardom , as inheritor of the Byzantine Empire's Orthodox Christian tradition, counted itself the Third Rome (Constantinople having been the second). These concepts are known as Translatio imperii .

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When the Ottomans, who based their state on the Byzantine model, took Constantinople in 1453, Mehmed II established his capital there and claimed to sit on the throne of the Roman Empire. He even went so far as to launch an invasion of Italy with the purpose of "re-uniting the Empire", although Papal and Neapolitan armies stopped his march on Rome at Otranto in 1480. Constantinople was not officially renamed Istanbul until 28 March 1930. The Roman Empire's territorial legacy of controlling the Italian peninsula would serve as an influence to Italian nationalism and the unification of Italy in 1861.

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T H A N K Y O U !

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