Rome: Geography & the Roman Republic
The Land and Peoples of Italy
Italy is a peninsula that is about 750 miles long and about 120 miles wide. It is divided down the middle by a mountain range, the Apennines. These mountains are not as rugged as the mountains of Greece, however. The mountains of Italy did not isolate communities from each other like the Greek mountains did. Italy also had more land for farming than Greece, so it could support a large population.
Rome was located on the Tiber River. This gave it access to the sea but it was far enough inland to be safe from pirates. It was built on seven hills, so it could be easily defended. It was located on a place in the Tiber River that could easily be crossed, so it became a natural crossing point for people traveling north to south.
Indo-European peoples moved into Italy during the period from about 1500 to 1000 BCE. Little is known about these groups but one group lived in Latium and spoke Latin. These people were herders and farmers. About 800 BCE, other people began to move to Italy. The two most important groups were the Greeks and the Etruscans. Many Greeks came to Italy during the age of Greek colonization from 750-550 BCE. They settled in southern Italy and islands such as Sicily. The Greeks had a big impact on Rome. The Romans imitated Greek sculpture, architecture, literature and alphabet. The Romans also learned how to grow olives and grapes from the Greeks.
The Etruscans also influenced the Romans. The Etruscans lived north of Rome and after 650 BCE controlled Rome and most of Latium. They changed Rome from a village to a city. The Romans adopted the Etruscans’ clothing-the toga and short cloak. The organization of the Roman army was also modeled after the Etruscans.
1. In what ways did the Greeks influence the Romans?
2. In what ways did the Etruscans influence the Romans?
The Roman Republic
In 509 BCE, the Romans overthrew the last Etruscan king and formed a republic. A republic is a form of government in which the leader is not a monarch and certain citizens have the right to elect their officials. For the next two hundred years, Rome was almost continually at war. By 340 BCE, Rome had crushed the Latin states in Latium. During the next fifty years, the Romans were at war with people from the Apennines. Rome was again victorious. Soon, the Romans were at war with the Greek cities in southern Italy. By 267 BCE, they had defeated the Greeks. By 264 BCE the Romans had defeated the Etruscans to the north of Rome. The Romans now had control of almost all of Italy.
To rule Italy, the Romans formed the Roman confederation. Rome allowed some people, especially the Latins to become citizens of Rome. Most other surrounding communities were made allies. They were free to run their own affairs, but they had to provide soldiers for the Roman army. The Romans made it clear that only allies could become citizens. This gave the conquered people a stake in Rome’s success.
Rome was very...