Course: Introduction to Roman History Instructor: Michel Cottier
2. Italy before Rome
"Admissions requirements for MA program at the Department of Classics, UofT: Successful completion of an
undergraduate program in Classics or a related field with a B+ average in the final year and the equivalent of AT
LEAST THREE and preferably FOUR full years of training in either Greek and Latin, and TWO full years of training
in the other."
Cf. CHAPTERS I and II of your textbook
DATES TO REMEMBER:
- Between 770 and 750: Euboean trading post on the island of Pithecusae.
- 753 BC: traditional date of Rome's founding by Romulus first king of the Romans.
- Around 750 BC: creation of the Greek alphabet.
- Around 750 BC: the Phoenicians founded Carthage.
- From 730-720 BC start of the Greek colonization in southern Italy and in Sicily.
- 509 BC: traditional date for the founding of the Republic after the expulsion of Tarquinius Superbus/Tarquin the
Proud, last king of Rome.
PLACES NAMES and OTHER GEOGRAPHICAL DETAILS TO BE ABLE TO LOCALIZE ON A MAP:
- IMAGE 1: The rivers Po, Arno and Tiber (map on p. 8 of your textbook)
- IMAGE 1: The island of Pithecusae (map on p. 8 of your textbook).
- IMAGE 2: The cities of Cumae; Neapolis (modern Naples); Tarentum; Rhegium; Messana; Syracuse; Carthage
(map on p. 83 of your textbook).
THE SITUATION IN ITALY (points to keep in mind):
- IMAGE 3: Central position occupied by Italy in the Mediterranean basin.
- IMAGE 4: Maritime orientation and navigable rivers (Po, Arno, Tiber, Liris and Volturnus) = easily accessible
country, open to external contacts.
- IMAGE 5: Both the Alps and the Apennine range could be hindrances to human and animal traffic, but they also
offered some protection against invaders.
- IMAGE 6: The richness of Etruria in metals (lead, zinc, copper, silver and tin) and its control over the iron mines on
the island of Elba will make this region interesting to conquer.
- IMAGE 7: The site of Rome according to Livy (59 BC-AD 17), From the Founding of Rome 5.54.4: "It is not
without good reason that gods and men chose this place to build our city: these hills with their pure air; this
convenient river by which crops may be floated down from the interior and foreign commodities brought up; a sea
handy to our needs, but far enough away to guard us from foreign fleets; our situation in the very center of Italy. All
these advantages shape this most favored of sites into a city destined for glory."
A too rosy picture as the valleys between the seven Roman hills and the plain along the river Tiber were malaria
prone during the summer.
IMAGE 7: However, it was an easy place to defend because both of the river and those seven hills (see map on p. 3
of your textbook).