Friday, July 12, 2013

Early History of Rome (753-264)

Early history (753-509)
According to tradition, Mars fathered twin sons Romulus and Remus. On their mother’s side the twins were descendants of Aeneas a prince of Troy. As infants they were ordered to be drowned but were saved and raised by a female wolf. Later they argued violently about where to start a new city. Romulus murdered his brother, started his new city on April 21, 753 BC, named it Rome after himself, and located it on the southern bank of the Tiber River about 19 miles (30 km) from the Mediterranean Sea.

Romulus invited men of any social rank to populate his city. Mostly marginal men responded. Later, to provide these men with wives, he invited neighboring tribes like the Sabines to a feast. Afterward the men of Rome kept the marriageable Sabine women for themselves.

Romans belonged to the Latin ethnic group. The geocultural province of Latinia takes its name from this group.

To the south and north of Rome lived people of different ethnic groups. Hellenians started many cities in Latinia between 750 and 550. These included Syracuse on Sicily and cities as far north as Naples.

In today’s Tuscany, north of Rome, lived the Etruscans. At first the Etruscans dominated the Romans and placed their men on Rome’s throne. As they advanced south, however, the Etruscans eventually came into competition with the Hellenians there. This competition drained Etruscan society of its vitality. This allowed the Romans to free themselves of Etruscan control.

The Roman Republic and Latinia (509-264)
In 509, once again in control of their own affairs, the Romans made their municipal state a republic. This republic was governed by the rich men of the Senate and representatives of freeborn men meeting in assemblies. Later Roman tradition (after 80 BC) would refer to this government with great piety as the Senate and People of Rome (in Latin, abbreviated SPQR).

With the Etruscans no longer controlling the area around Rome, Rome and other municipal states in the area fought with one another to see who would rule instead. By 396, Rome had established its power over the people and lands of the Tiber River valley from just east of Rome to the sea.

In 390, uncontrolled Celts from Alpinia advanced south, defeated the Roman army sent to stop them, looted Rome, burned it to the ground, then withdrew. That was it. The Romans who experienced that humiliating and destructive defeat resolved never to let it happen again.

By 338, at the end of hostilities with other Latin tribes, these willful Romans controlled land and peoples along coastal Latinia from just north of the Tiber south to Naples (about 140 miles or 225 km). By 290, at the end of hostilities with ethnic Samnites, the Romans controlled central Latinia. By 272, they controlled the whole Latinian peninsula south of the Arno River (in today’s Tuscany).

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.