Ancient Rome Article: The Roman Empire
With each stab into Julius Caesars, the life of the Roman Republic went further and further away. His death marked the end of Rome as a republic. With the republic done, Rome now saw the beginning of Rome being led by Emperors for the next 500 years. During this time period, Rome was by far the most powerful empire. It wasn’t even close. Rome was truly dominant.
The biggest difference between the Roman republic and the Roman Empire is in the leadership. During the Roman Empire, essentially a dictator ruled Rome. These dictator’s were called emperors. The Roman Empire had many emperors during its 500 years as an empire. Some were good, some were bad. Below, you will read about five emperors of Rome. Based on what you are told in the article, you will decide if they are “good” or “bad” emperor’s by filling in the line with asterisks.
1. Caesars Augustus is not only famous for being the first emperor of Rome, but also for many things he did as emperor. Coming into power as the first emperor, he used his power to bring order and stability to Rome. He also centralized the government, which meant he brought it all to one central place. He improved the economy, created a fire department, and police department. Can believe they didn’t have a fire dept. or police dept. before Augustus? Things must have been out of control. Augustus controlled a very powerful army, which enabled him to expand the borders of the Roman Empire. During Augustus reign, he ushered in the Pax Romana, which was 200 years of peace and prosperity. Augustus started that. So, good or bad? You decide.
2. Emperor Caligula was very cruel and mentally unstable. A perfect example of Caligula’s craziness was that he declared himself a god and tried to make his horse a senator. You can tell right there that Caligula was a little off. Who tries to make their horse a senator? Caligula also stole many pieces of famous art. This one might be an easy call.
3. Claudius came along and had a big task of cleaning up after Caligula. He first started out to return the art work stolen by Caligula. He then worked hard to improve conditions in Rome overall for his people. He granted citizenship to more people in the empire, which essentially caused the empire to grow even more and become even more powerful. He also improved laws. (this is the last 2 blanks before #4) So, what do you think about Claudius? Make your decision.
4. Emperor Nero indeed had something off in his brain. He poisoned his step brother and killed his wife and mother. Though he visited Pompeii quite often, Nero was a mad man. After his death, civil war broke out.
5. Marcus Aurelius, like Augustus, made Rome better. He lowered taxes, helped the poor, and even sold his own jewels and property to help with the famine. What leader nowadays would do that? Probably not many. Marcus Aurelius also founded hospitals, orphanages, and schools. Again, this might be an easy, but still you must decided, good or bad?
Government and Law
Rome developed a set of laws, which actually served as a model for today. Here are some of them: 1. All free people have equal rights before the law. 2. Innocent until proven guilty. 3. Accused people should be allowed to face their accusers and defend themselves. 4. Judges interpret the law and make decisions. 5. People have rights that no government can take away. Sound familiar? Those are all done in our country today.
In addition to laws, emperor’s and military, the people of Rome had a lot of fun. Due to the pleasant climate, many things were done outside. Here are some things people did for fun: watched plays, celebrated holidays, and watched sporting events. It was the sporting events that were the most popular. The most famous athletic arena was the Colosseum. It could hold 50,000 people. Who fought there? The Gladiator, which was a professional fighter. Some facts about gladiators: slave, criminal, fought animals, fought to the death. However, it was always “lights out” for the losing gladiator. If they fought bravely, the emperor might show mercy and spare his life.