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The changing face of Roman society.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Kevin Wilkinson

The changing face of Roman society, 3rd-2nd cent. BCE Wealth  Sources; the roman treasury o Success in war always followed by taking booty  Shared with the notorious general and his troops o Part of the booty would go into the city's public fund (treasury)  Housed in the temple of Saturn o Rome also profited on placing large indemnities in the cities they conquered  Did this with Carthage after the Punic wars, and also the various states in the eastern Greek states o By middle of 2nd century, Rome had become incredibly rich in terms of state and private wealth  Building boom (example of cato's temple of Victoria virgo, founded 193 BCE) o In the middle republican period o When triumphous generals came home, they would often conduct the construction of a temple dedicated to a god/goddess to thank them o Other monumental buildings were centered around the forum o  Aristocrats and generals built giant mansions for themselves  Large agricultural estates (latifundia) o Rome had a habit of confiscating land from those who they had conquered o With the farmland that Rome required, it was often split between the same aristocrats o By the 2nd century, in addition to their city mansions, the richest people of Rome owned various estates throughout Italy o Countryside transformed from small independently owned farms to large agricultural business ventures o Traditional small farmers struggled to compete in this environment  Influx of slaves (the first slave revolt, 136-132 BCE) o During Rome's rapid expansion, the slave population ballooned o Many were captives from wars o Others were part of human trafficking, based on the eastern Mediterranean o This influx allowed roman aristocrats to operate their latifundia o Had one serious drawback for the elite: they lived in fear that their slaves would revolt  More than one major slave revolt o First slave revolt (136-132 BCE)  Broke out on the island of Sicily  Led by a charismatic Syrian slave who raided estates, freed other rural slaves to serve his army, declared himself king  Began by invading the city of Enna  Massacred a bunch of free citizens  His success inspired other slaves in Sicily to revolt  Roman army intervened, but lost  Eventually engulfed much of the island of Sicily, and took four years for the roman army to subdue it. o Allowed for a boom in productivity, wealth and luxury but also increased social instability Growing Cultural Diversity  Influx of non-Romans o Slave population brought over a whole array of different languages and customs o A bunch of foreign free people also moved to Rome during the 3rd and 2nd centuries o Rome continued policy's of granting roman citizenship to some Italian cities and individuals o Local elites usually moved to Rome to get involved in Rome's political and economic life o Non-citizens also came to Rome to persuade business activities o By the 1st century BCE, Rome would have well established ethnic communities - Greek, Syrian, Jewish etc.  Influence of Greek culture o The earliest Latin playwrights, (Plautus and Terrance) would take Greek plays and translate them to latin o The flourishing of Latin poetry came after the roman poetic system was adapted to Greek models o In art, some of the most esquisite roman pieces were replicas of Greek works of art  Sculpture of the three graces o Greek philosophy was also popular in intellectual circles  Adoption o
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