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Lecture 4

Lecture 4 Roman Expansion in Italy and War with Pyrrhus

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University of Toronto St. George
Glenn Wilkinson

Lecture 4 (September 18) Roman Expansion in Italy and War with Pyrrhus 1. Narrow oligarchy and the “Struggle of the Orders” – from last lecture a. patricians and plebeians b. establishment of the Plebeian Council c. Tribune of the Plebs 2. Roman expansion in central Italy a. Latin Federation b. 4 century expansion – example of Veii c. The “Latin War” (341-338 B.C.) 3. Excursus: The Hellenistic Kingdoms 4. War with King Pyrrhus of Epirus Factors Guaranteeing Elite Rule 1. candidates for office came exclusively from the top – families that possessed the most land, wealth, and political clout (everyone else was barred from running) 2. only a current magistrate could call a meeting of the assemblies – he controlled the agenda completely (regular citizens could only vote yes/no, A/B) 3. lower class citizens often could not attend – distance, necessity to make money 4. pressure on lower classes to conform to elite opinions - political system build to protect their own interests - very narrow oligarchy in the place of monarchy – system caused social unrest - early republican “Struggle of the Orders” Struggle of the Orders - patricians vs. plebs - patricians – families that totally dominated the republic - patrician status was strictly hereditary – no matter how the family climbed socially, if not patrician to begin with they could not become a patrician - plebeians – majority of the Roman citizens, uncertain if there was a land owning requirement - as a whole, plebs were much poorer – but also families who gained considerable wealth and prestige - within a decade of the republic (which was 509 B.C.) – plebs attempted to force the patricians to accept a constitutional reform to include more influence - plebs went on strike – Roman army was a citizen army (most of the eligible male citizens, because the patricians were the officers and generals) - tactic was effective – in 494 B.C. the plebs gained the right to have their own voting body – the Plebeian Council - Plebeian Council • third voting council • set up like the tribal assembly, but no patricians allowed • patricians would sometimes stand in the wings and heckled • business transacted – right to vote for ten magistrates of their own • magistrate – Tribune of the Plebs - tribune • annual office • had to be a plebeian • main job was to defend the plebs against exploitation • officially sacrosanct – any attempt to inflict physical harm was punishable by death • right to convene a meeting of the senate (only two others could do this – consul and praetor) • eventually managed to gain the power of veto – very important • theoretically could stop any piece of legislation passing through the voting assemblies – therefore very important - concession – usually allowing plebeian candidates into high office – over time - plebeians mainly won – by the end of the 4 century B.C. - became typical for one patrician and one plebeian consul holding office at a time - only a small percentage of wealthy and powerful plebeians held office – only a slightly broader oligarchy of patricians and plebeians that dominated - after holding office, the plebeian magistrate became a senator as well Roman Expansion in Central Italy - Rome as a regular city-state – non-aggression pacts, and minor skirmishes - began to grow in the early Republic - by the end of the monarchy – was the largest city in Latium - leadership position in a federation of Latin cities at the beginning of the Republic - sanctuary of Lavinium – all cities, as a symbol of their federation - 5 century B.C. – Latin cities came under attack – under the leadership of Rome, they successfully drove the Sabines and others back to the hills – showed the strength of their alliance - 4 century B.C. – major expansion of Rome – large segment of the Roman male population went on yearly campaigns - Veii (Etruscan city) – across the Tiber river - conquest of Veii took place around 396 B.C. – reportedly a large chunk of the army
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