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History - Highlights of Rome

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The Etruscans were established during the ninth century B.C.E. and they dominated throughout most of central Italy. They are believed to have either originated in a non-Indo-European people who came from Italy by Sea from Asia Minor or through a rapid growth of a resident iron-using people in northern Italy. The Etruscans organized the less-advanced and disparate Italic people into a Etruscan-dominated city-state. Rome became one of the cities controlled by the Etruscan people when the city was not yet developed politically or culturally. The Etruscan people brought an effective political system that was ruled by powerful kings, an aristocracy of landholding nobles, and a military organization that was superior to any ever experienced by the Italic people. Their cultural influence on unsophisticated Romans was strong. Much of the area surrounding the city became stronger through Etruscan engineering skill, marsh drainage, and agricultural technology. Their religious influence included many Easter elements of worship such as numerous gods and goddesses, powerful priesthoods, rituals, and sacrifices to please gods. Not only did the Etruscan religion influence the Romans, but their funeral customs were utilized as well. Women in the Etruscan society were prominent and free to appear in public banquets with their husbands and share in the pleasure of life equally.

The Law of the Twelve Tables was designed as one of the concessions to plebeian interest in the field of law. Often the Roman unwritten customary laws suited patrician interests, therefore the plebeians demanded that it be documented for all to see. Their demands resulted in dozen of tables of bronze being inscribed and set up publicly in the Forum. This code of the Twelve Tables was the first landmark development in the long history of Roman law.

After 270 B.C.E Rome only had one major rival for dominance over the western Mediterranean and that was the city-state Carthage. The city of Carthage was not only independent and a commercial power in the western Mediterranean, but also wealthier than their rival Rome. The Carthage Empire had a magnificent navy and controlled the northern coast of Africa, Sardinia, Corsica, western Sicily, and much of Spain. Much of the population was forced into agriculture service or into the army and navy. Prior to the First Punic war Rome and Carthage hadn't had conflict. In 264 B.C.E. the First Punic War began. Some Italian mercenaries were opposed by Carthaginian forces in the city of Messana, on the northern tip of Sicily, and this prompted the Roman Senate to send an army to aid the mercenaries; creating a war between Carthage and Rome. The war was costly for both sides. Roman ground forces were able to control Sicily, but the Carthaginian navy was unmatched. Rome did not have a need for a navy during their conquest of Italy. However, Roman engineers developed new vessels with a crow, a boarding bridge at the top of the bow that lowered to create the naval battle into a land battle. Rome although weaker was able to defeat the Carthaginian navy, and invade the African coast. Although Rome suffered great naval losses of over 500 ships they still claimed victory. Carthage asked for peace in 241 B.C.E. Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were annexed and Rome began regulating and taxing their overseas empire. Shocked by the defeat the Carthage concentrated on building its empire in Spain. By Rome's desire to prevent this, the most difficult war in Roman history began. The Second Punic war began when Hannibal, a young Carthaginian general, attacked Saguntum, a Spanish town claim by Rome as an ally. Hannibal, after three years of major battles, defeated the Romans. Hannibal's forces didn't match those of the Romans, but his brilliance as a commander was obvious. At the battle of Cannae, Hannibal won his greatest victory and killed or captured almost the entire Roman forces.

Hannibal was a young Carthaginian general who started the Second Punic War with Rome. He was able to lead an army of 40,000 men, 9,000 cavalry troops and a detachment of African elephants i the Alps and attack the Romans in Italy. Although this cost him nearly half of his men he was able to defeat the Romans over three major battles in three years. Hannibal's forces numbers never matched those of the Romans, but through his brilliance as a commander he was successful. At the battle of Cannae in 216 B.C.E. Hannibal's greatest victory was one when he surrounded an army of 80,000 Romans with only 50,000 Carthaginians; killing or capturing almost the entire Roman army. Eventually the Romans produced General Scipio who could match Hannibal in military strategy and was bold enough to invade Africa. Hannibal, after 15 years on Italian soil was asked to return home. Hannibal clashed with Scipio's legions at Zama, where the Carthaginians were defeated. The power of Carthage was broken forever when a harsh treaty was imposed and Carthage was forced to pay a huge war indemnity, disarm their forces, and turn Spain over to the Romans. Hannibal fled to the Seleucid Empire, where he tried to encourage an anti-Roman sentiment, and then eventually committed suicide to avoid Roman capture.

Tiberius, at the age of 29, was an ambitious young aristocrat that was elected tribune in 133 BC.E. Noticing Rome's serious social and economic problems, and the slipping of traditional Roman values and customs; Tiberius sought to stop this decline by restoring the backbone of the old Roman society, the small landowner. He proposed to the Trial Assembly an act limiting the hold of public land to 320 acres per male citizen, plus 160 acres for each of two grown up sons. Much of the public land would still be held by present occupants and their heirs, but the rest would be taken back and granted to the poor in small plots of 9 to 18 acres. The recipients would pay a small rent and couldn't sell their holdings. When the Tribal Assembly wouldn't adopt his proposal, opposing senator persuaded one of the other tribunes to veto the measure through claims that a tribune who opposed the will of the people had no right to his office. After the Senate claimed, unconstitutional step and having the assembly depose the tribune in question Tiberius's bill was passed. Tiberius wanting to ensure this reform was implemented violated custom by standing for reelection in the Tribal Assembly after his 1-year term. He also sought to make himself; the Senate disagreed and instead had partisans of the Senate murder Tiberius and 300 of his followers.

Gaius Marius consul was elected in 107 B.C.E by the Roman commercial class and common people. His election was a result of the Roman commercial class and common people believing that the Senate was neglecting and incompetent in directing Rome's foreign affairs, specifically when Numidia was attacked and

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