Class Notes (837,696)
Canada (510,399)
Classics (1,714)
CLA233H1 (160)

Lecture #1 (Sept. 11) - The Historical Beginnings of Roman Society

10 Pages
Unlock Document

Rob Mc Cutcheon

Lecture #1a – Roman Culture and Society  Culture: the distinctive ideas, customs, social behaviour, products, or way of life of a particular nation, society, people, or period  There are two types of culture o Material (physical) o Non – material (language, holidays, traditions, etc.)  Each type of culture helps to mold and shape the other o Material culture is reflected by non-material and vice versa  Society: the state or condition of living in company with other people; the system of customs and organization adopted by a group of people for harmonious coexistence or mutual benefit  Culture and society are clearly interconnected, but what is the difference between the two?  Sociology defines ‘society’ as a group of people who share a common culture and typically occupy the same geographic location and see themselves as a distinct identity  Most societies are made up of many different cultures o The cultures combine to form a ‘superculture’ – that is, a society  Culture is the subjective process of coming to recognize oneself as a member of a particular group  Society is monolithic, culture is not  Other definitions of culture: o The cultivation or development of the mind, faculties, manners, etc. (improvement by education and training) o Refinement of mind, taste and manners (artistic and intellectual development)  ‘being cultured’  The culture of the elite society defines what makes someone ‘cultured’  Typically, a very narrow subset of Roman culture and society is studied o The daily life and culture of the rich, political, and influential members of society  This occurs for two reasons: 1. ‘The streetlight bias’  A police officer finds a drunken man searching for his keys under a streetlight. The police officer helps him, but after 5 minutes of searching they still have not found the keys. The officer asks the man if he is certain that this is where he has dropped the keys and the man replies, “No, I dropped them in the park, but there is more light here.” 1  More ‘light’ is shed on the wealthy – we know more about their lives than the lives of other Romans, so it is much easier to study 2. The elite society represents the ideal that other Romans try to emulate  The elite gain interest and notice from the other citizens who not only strive to copy the elite but also write about them, further preserving their lives  This can still be seen in modern society – names that the elite choose for their children become popular among the middle and lower class after about 10 years  Many different cultures form Roman society, and even these cultures shifted and changed over time  The goal of this course is to examine Roman culture beyond the realm of just the elite  We will examine what it means to be Roman: o Within different time periods; o Based on your gender; o Based on class, etc. 2 Lecture # 1b – The Historical Origins of Roman Society  In this course we will largely focus on society between BCE– 100CE  The Pagan religion preceded Christianity in Rome  Rome is located approximately halfway through Italy along the west coast o Found in the region of Latium (where people spoke Latin)  Latin was spoken across a relatively small geographic area in 100 BCE  North of Latium is Etruria (modern Tuscany) – home of the Etruscans  There are no accurate written historical records until 200 BCE o There are however mythic records dating from 100 BCE  Rome was characterized by Seven Hills o Quirinal, Viminal, Aventine, Esquiline, Caeline, Capitoline, Palatine  Queen Victoria Always Eats Cold Cherry Pie Iron Age/Villanovan/Latium Culture  1000 BCE– 750BCE  In this time period, cremating became more a more popular practise o Urns could be found in mass ‘shaft graves’  Romans lived on the hills of Rome, the area in between was unoccupied (it would have been marshy swamps) o Good for trade and defense o Close to the river Tiber  Hut urns – may have reflected the living accommodations at the time o Small treasures (daggers, brooches, etc.) would have been placed in these urns along with the remains  Palatine Huts – remnants of huts uncovered on the Palatine hill o Post holes discovered at level dating from 1000 BCE  It would have taken a lot of fuel (wood) to cremate a body – this would indicate: o A more advanced, stratisfied society o The emergence of an elite culture – only the important/wealthy could have afforded to be cremated  During this time period, the Romans began to produce goods specifically for burial for the first time 3 Orientalizing Period  Romans were beginning to be influenced by eastern cultures o Most of the influence came from the Greeks and the Etruscans  Larger tombs indicated social stratification o Wealth more concentrated in the hands of the few  The Greeks began to colonize the south of Italy (Magna Graecia) o Greek customs such as the symposium and other displays of wealth demanded conspicuous consumption  the spending of money on and the acquiring of luxury goods and services to publicly display economic power  Thus the question arose as to how extravagant the Romans needed to be? o Led to inner competition  Honour and prestige were very important within Greek culture o Would be earned through symposiums and gift-giving  The earliest known Greek writing was found on pottery in Italy  The Etruscans in the North began to influence the Greeks as well  Very little is known about their origins o Did they immigrate? Were they natives to Italy? nd  The Etruscan language died out in the 2 century BCE o All we know is basic words and names  They built their cities on hills and enclosed with walls  The Etruscans had a vibrant material culture but a very small literary culture  Paintings on Etruscan tombs depict feasts o Dating from approximately 600BCE o The practice of reclining while eating – the slaves would remain standing o Dark skin marks a man, light/white skin represents a woman  Men would work outside and get tan, woman would remain inside working in the household and therefore remain pale o In Greek feasting, women would not have been present  The Etruscans also influenced the Roman religious practises of augury and divination o Augury: interpreting the will of the gods by studying birds o Divination: understanding the future by interpreting signs, omens and events  Wrestling was used to commemorate/celebrate the dead  Despite this influence, Etruria did not conquer Rome outright o Lots of horizontal mobility between cities  Etruria was not unified – it was comprised of many separate cities  Political changes in Rome were not necessarily a result of Etruscan influence 4  The Romans began to use Etruscan as a byword for ‘Archaic’ or ‘old’  IMPORTANT NOTE: the Romans did not directly imitate the Greek and Etruscan cultures. They took what they liked and gave it a ‘Roman Twist’. Roman Origins th th  According to tradition, Rome was founded during the 7 and 6 centuries BCE by Romulus o He was the first of seven kings  During this time, the Romans drained and dammed the area between the hills, making it habitable o The Romans begin to increase their population and expand their territory  There is no historical proof that the first 4 kings existed, but there may be some truth to the later 3 o The last 3 may have been Etruscan  The king would rule and would be advised by a council of elders o However there is no archaeological evidence to prove this  In 510 BCEthe kingship was abolished and the Republic was established  The Seven Kings were: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, Tarquinius Superbus o Roman Noodles, Toss And Turn; Serve Them.  Each of the names was representative of the type of king that ruled o Ex. A lot of wars were fought during the reign of Tullus Hostilius  The Romans hated the last king (Superbus = proud, arrogant), so they exiled him and established the Republic  The Republic was a limited form of democracy that was governed by 2 consuls to combat the belief that sole rule corrupted o The consuls rule was limited to 1 year, but while in power retained powers similar to that of the king  After their term had been served, the former consuls still retained a degree of political power – they would typically become governors and travel to colonized cities  The throwing out of the kings and the establishment of Republic created a class struggle: the patricians vs. the plebs o These classes were only formed of free Roman citizen men (ie. Not slaves/women/children)  Patricians: all those who had access to powerful political and religious offices (patres = fathers)  Plebians: formed by the rest of society  This would have been a political struggle, NOT an economic struggle 5 o There may have been some overlap between economic status and class, but the distinction was not clear  There would have been certain plebs who were more wealthy than certain patricians  The origin of this division between classes is unknown
More Less

Related notes for CLA233H1

Log In


Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.