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HIST301: Greece, the Roman Republic, and the Roman Empire

Unit 6: Italy and the Roman Republic (509–287 BCE)   Like the Greeks, the people of the Italian peninsula were influenced by sustained social, political, and economic interactions between various regional cultures. Greek settlers had colonized parts of coastal Italy in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. By the mid-7th century BCE, the Etruscan people had established control over the central-western portion of the Italian peninsula, and the Latin and Sabine tribes had also established city-states in the same area. Archaeological evidence indicates that the community of Rome was established by the Latins around the 8th century BCE and was later conquered by the Etruscans when the Etruscans established their control over the region in the 7th century BCE. Near the end of the 6th century BCE, the Latin people successfully challenged Etruscan rule and reorganized the Roman city-state as a republic. In the centuries that followed its foundation, this republic’s political system evolved under pressure from constant tension between an entrenched aristocratic elite (the Patricians) and the common people (the Plebeians), an historical development known to historians as the Struggle of the Orders. This struggle only ended in 287 BCE when the Plebeians won the right to make laws binding upon the entire Roman state. By this time, Rome was dominated by nobility, comprised of Patricians and a select number of Plebeian families whose members had held the highest executive office (Consul) and entered into the Roman Senate. In this unit, you will examine the various cultures that inhabited the Italian peninsula before the formation of the Roman Republic, the foundation of the Roman Republic, and the development of the Roman political system during the Struggle of the Orders (509–287 BCE). 

Unit 6 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 12.75 hours.
 
Subunit 6.1: 0.5 hours
Subunit 6.2: 2 hours
Subunit 6.3: 3 hours
Subunit 6.4: 4.25 hours
Subunit 6.5: 3 hours

Unit6 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- define the organization, economic basis, and cultural practices of pre-Roman societies; - identify the political, social, and historical importance of the Etruscan civilization to Roman culture; - analyze the historical developments that resulted in the foundation of the Roman Republic; - identify the causes of the Struggle of the Orders and its impact on the development of the Roman political system; and - analyze and interpret primary source documents from the period of classical antiquity using historical research methods.

6.1 Greek Colonization   - Reading: The 1911 Classic Encyclopedia’s “Magna Graecia” Link: The 1911 Classic Encyclopedia’s “Magna Graecia” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text and all embedded links for a brief description of Magna Graecia, a group of ancient Greek cities along the coast of southern Italy. The foundation of these colonies is discussed in subunit 2.3.3. From the very beginning of Roman civilization, Greek culture exercised a tremendous influence. Remember that the people of this region were known to the Romans as Graeci.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.2 Etruscan Civilization   - Reading: University of Colorado: Department of History’s “Etruscan Civilization” Link: University of Colorado: Department of History’s “Etruscan Civilization” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this article, which provides a brief overview of the Etruscans, the most powerful nation in pre-Roman Italy.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Fordham University’s Ancient History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “Reports of the Etruscans, c. 430 BCE–10 CE” Link: Fordham University’s Ancient History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of “Reports of the Etruscans, c. 430 BCE–10 CE” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this text. The first excerpt from Herodotus’s The Histories (see units 3 and 4 above) states that the Etruscans emigrated from Lydia, a region on the eastern coast of ancient Turkey; however, despite the specificity of Herodotus’s account, archaeologists remain skeptical of it. The second and third excerpts by Roman historian Livy (59 BCE–17 CE) describe Etruscan culture.
     
    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.2.1 Etruscan Political and Economic Power   - Reading: The International World History Project: R. A. Guisepi’s “Etruscan Organization Link: The International World History Project: R. A. Guisepi’s “Etruscan Organization (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text for a description of the social, political, and economic structure of the Etruscan civilization.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.2.2 Etruscan Gender Roles and Social Mores   - Reading: The Stoa Consortium: Mary R. Lefkowitz and Maureen B. Fant’s Women’s Life in Greece & Rome: Theopompus’s “A Greek Historian’s Account of the Behavior of Etruscan Women” Link: The Stoa Consortium: Mary R. Lefkowitz and Maureen B. Fant’s Women’s Life in Greece & Rome: Theopompus’s “A Greek Historian’s Account of the Behavior of Etruscan Women (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text and all embedded links. In this excerpt, Greek historian Theopompus (c. 350 BCE) discusses the personal habits of Etruscan men and women. He describes Etruscan women as “expert drinkers and very attractive” and says that both men and women were sexually promiscuous. Theopompus concludes that the “barbarian” Etruscans had a very different sense of personal propriety and morality than did the civilized Greeks.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.2.3 Regional Conflicts   - Reading: The International World History Project: R. A. Guisepi’s “Etruscans: Expansion and Dominion” Link: The International World History Project: R. A. Guisepi’s “Etruscans: Expansion and Dominion (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text, which uses archaeological evidence and original sources, such as the works of Roman orator Cato (c. 160 BCE), to describe Etruscan expansion in the Mediterranean.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

6.2.4 Declining Fortunes in the 6th Century BCE   - Reading: The International World History Project: R. A. Guisepi’s “Etruscans: Crisis and Decline” Link: The International World History Project: R. A. Guisepi’s “Etruscans: Crisis and Decline (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text for a discussion of the events that led to the downfall of the Etruscan civilization. Pay special attention to how the breakdown of trade networks accelerated their decline.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
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6.3 Early Rome   6.3.1 The Founding of Rome   - Reading: Taylor & Francis Books: Antony Kamm’s “The Origin of Rome” Link: Taylor & Francis Books: Antony Kamm’s “The Origin of Rome (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text and all embedded links for a description of the legends of the foundation of Rome and the three key figures in these accounts: Aeneas, Romulus, and Remus.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
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  • Reading: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Bernadotte Perrin’s translation of Plutarch’s “Romulus” Link: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Bernadotte Perrin’s translation of Plutarch’s “Romulus” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this biography using the navigation arrows or sidebar to advance through the pages. The Greek philosopher Plutarch (c. 100 CE) examined the life of the legendary Roman king and Rome’s founder, Romulus. This biography is a legendary rather than a historical account of Rome’s foundation, but through such legends and traditions we can detect the shared values and morals of the Romans.
     
    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum”

    Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” (HTML)

    Instructions: Spend a few minutes reflecting on this question about Plutarch’s biography of Romulus: What does this biography tell us about Roman religion and morality?

    Now, share your thoughts on the discussion forum by clicking the link above and creating a (free) account, if you have not already done so. Also, take some time to read responses other students have shared and leave any comments you have on their feedback.

    Sharing your thoughts on the discussion forum should take approximately 30 minutes.

6.3.2 Rome’s Neighbors in Italy   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Ancient People of Italy” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Ancient People of Italy” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read this article, which describes the ancient tribes of Italy, including the Etruscans, Latins, Samnites, Lucanians, and others.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.

6.4 The Roman Republic   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Roman Republic” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Roman Republic” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read this article for an overview of the history of the Roman Republic.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.

6.4.1 The Birth of the Roman Republic   - Reading: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Benjamin Oliver Foster’s translation of Titus Livius’ (Livy) “The History of Rome: Book 1: Chapters 49–60” Link: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Benjamin Oliver Foster’s translation of Titus Livius’ (Livy) The History of Rome: Book 1: Chapters 49–60” (HTML)
Instructions: Read Chapters 49–60 in The History of Rome, Book 1 in which the Roman historian Livy (c. 20 BCE) recounts the overthrow of the last Etruscan king of Rome and the foundation of the Republic under the leadership of Brutus.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 45 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Spend a few minutes reflecting on these questions about this excerpt from Livy’s The History of Rome:
     
    What actions by this last king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, resulted in his overthrow? What do these traditions concerning the founding of the Roman Republic, as related by Livy, tell us about Roman concepts of government?
     
    Now, share your thoughts on the discussion forum by clicking the link above and creating a (free) account, if you have not already done so. Also, take some time to read responses other students have shared and leave any comments you have on their feedback.
     
    Sharing your thoughts on the discussion forum should take approximately 30 minutes.

6.4.2 The Struggle of the Orders   - Reading: University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare: Professor Elizabeth Mazurek’s “The Early Roman Republic: The Struggle of the Orders” Link: University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare: Professor Elizabeth Mazurek’s “The Early Roman Republic: The Struggle of the Orders” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this overview of the Struggle of the Orders and the Roman Constitution.

 Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 15
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/). It is
attributed to Elizabeth Mazurek, and the original version can be
found
[here](http://ocw.nd.edu/classics/history-of-ancient-rome/eduCommons/classics/history-of-ancient-rome/lectures-1/the-early-roman-republic-the-struggle-of-the).
  • Reading: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: D. Spillan’s translation of Titus Livius’ (Livy) “The History of Rome, Book 2 Link: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: D. Spillan’s translation of Titus Livius’ (Livy) The History of Rome, Book 2 (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read all of The History of Rome, Book 2 in which the Roman historian Livy (c. 20 BCE) chronicles the successful defense of Rome by the Romans from attacks by their former Etruscan overlords and the first secession of the Plebeians, or common people, in 494 BCE when Rome was under threat from surrounding warlike tribes. According to Livy, what were the grievances of the common people against the Patrician nobility? How was this secession crisis resolved? Through these secessions over time during this Struggle of the Orders the Plebeians were able to achieve political equality with the Patricians.
     
    Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 3 hours.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

6.5 The Roman Constitution   - Reading: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Evelyn S. Shuckburgh’s translation of Polybius’s Histories: “Book 6” Link: Tufts University’s Perseus Project: Evelyn S. Shuckburgh’s translation of Polybius’s Histories: “Book 6” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read all of Book 6 in Polybius’s Histories. The Greek historian Polybius (c. 150 BCE) belonged to a prominent family that was active in the Achaean League (see subunit 5.3.4). He came to Rome as a young hostage and became the friend and associate of a number of prominent Romans. In this book, Polybius provides his Greek readers with an analysis of the Roman political system, which he credits for Rome’s success as a world power. Polybius’s description of the Roman political system strongly influenced the framers of the United States Constitution.
 
Historians have pointed out that Polybius here made no mention of the patron-client system, which was an important aspect of the Roman political process. Wealthy Romans as patrons provided legal and financial aid to their less affluent neighbors, who, as clients, in return supported their patron with their votes in the Roman assemblies in the election of magistrates or the passage of legislation.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  • Activity: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST301 Discussion Forum” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Spend a few minutes reflecting on this question about Book 6 of Polybius’s Histories: Can you see any similarities between the political system depicted by Polybius and the United States Constitution?
     
    Now, share your thoughts on the discussion forum by clicking the link above and creating a (free) account, if you have not already done so. Also, take some time to read responses other students have shared and leave any comments you have on their feedback.
     
    Sharing your thoughts on the discussion forum should take approximately 30 minutes.