Ancient Rome Encore Learning 303-Fall 2013 Instructor: Tom Wukitsch Classical Rome: Archeology, Ancient History, and Classics Unit 1: Approaching the Subject Chotomies and furcations


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Ancient Rome

Encore Learning 303-Fall 2013


Tom Wukitsch

Classical Rome: Archeology, Ancient History, and Classics
Unit 1: Approaching the Subject
Chotomies and furcations (cuttings and forkings)

Di- and tri- and poly-chotomies

Bi- and tri- and multi-furcations

Science and liberal arts

Science and philosophy

Hard and soft science

(Scientific method requres testable prediction)

Archeology and anthropology

Artifacts and people

Historical and contemporary anthropology

Scientific and social anthropology

Observation and (moral) judgement

Judgement and action (Action advocates are more

Scientific -- they assume their actions will have

predictable results)

Archeology and paleontology

Artifacts and classification of "old things that exist"

Archeology and Geology

(Ground down and ground up)

Italian Geology

Volcanism and seismicity

Stone: Tuffs, lavas, marbles, travertine

Pozulana ash sands

Brick and pottery clays

Archeology and history (and "classics")

Artifacts and written records (and "classics")

History and mythology

Real and imagined roots

Roots of Rome and of us (and of U.S.)

Origins and results

Roman results and modern results

(Roman roots and modern roots)
Basic Rome City Topography
Traditionally Rome is said to be founded on seven hills, but the history and

the topography of Rome is a bit more complicated than that.

Seven Hills of Rome: The hills are not all separated, muddling the definitions somewhat. Most of the hills are high ridges, cut by natural streams flowing from the higher ground in to the Tiber River flood plain. The Forum is in the low land between the Capitoline and Esquiline Hills. The Colosseum is in the lowland bulge between the Esquiline and Caelian Hills. The Circus Maximus is betweeen the Palatine and Aventine Hills.

Palatine Hill (Palatium) The central hill and where the city of Rome was founded by Romulus according to legend. The myth is corroborated by archaeological finds from the iron age (10th century BCE) of huts and primitive defensive walls around the hill. The Palatine remained the center of power throughout the history of Rome, first as the residential area of choice of the most wealthy patricians, later as the residence of the emperors. The word palace stems from the name palatinus. (The word “palatinus” is thought to refer to the stakes [pali] driven into the ground to form the defensive wall. Roman foot-soldiers each carried two stakes to form the defensive walls of their overnight encampments. An english cognate is “palisade”.)

Capitoline Hill (Capitolium) This hill is very steep and soon became the fortified stronghold of Rome. When the Gauls sacked Rome in 390 BCE, only the Capitol held out. Later it became the religious centre, due to the presence of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus Optimus Maximus (Best and Greatest). The Capitoline Hill has two summits, the Capitoline proper to the south and the Arx to the north, with the Asylum on the lower ridge between them. The church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli and the modern Vittoriano (Victor Emanuel Monument) now occupy the Arx. The Asylum is now the Piazza di Campidoglio.

Quirinal Hill (Quirinalis) The Quirinal is the northernmost of four spurs of the high ground east of the Tiber that lay within the limits of Republican Rome. It rose above the Campus Martius and was attached to the Capitoline Hill by a low ridge. The hill is named after the ancient god Quirinus, a member of the earliest Capitoline Triad. (Quirinus is probably an adjective meaning "wielder of the spear" (Quiris). Other suggested etymologies are: (i) from the Sabine town Cures; (2) from curia, i.e. he was the god of the Roman state as represented by the thirty curies. Some sources explain Quirinus as the oak-god (quercus), and Quirites as the men of the oaken spear – accprding to Roman myth, an oak grove stood on the Quirinal Hill.)
Viminal Hill (Viminalis) The Viminal is a smaller ridge between the Quirinal Hill and the Esquiline Hill. According to Livy, the hill first became part of the city of Rome, along with the Quirinal Hill, during the reign of Servius Tullius, Rome' sixth king, in the 6th century BC.
Esquiline Hill (Esquiliae) The Esquiline is one of the largest hills, between the Viminal Hill and the Caelian Hill. Various parts of the Esquiline Hill have separate names. The Cispian Hill (Cispius) is a small ridge just north of the Esquiline and the western side is called Fagutal (Fagutalis) and the southern side Oppian (Oppius). The Esquiline Hill was connected to the Palatine Hill via a ridge called the Velia, which was all but leveled in late antiquity.
Caelian Hill (Caelius) The Caelian Hill is the southernmost of the four large spurs. It stretches from the area of San Giovanni in Laterano to the Colosseum. It had two high points, referred to as the Larger Caelian (Caelius maior), to the west, and the Smaller Caelian (Caelius minor), to the north.

Aventine Hill (Aventinus) The Aventine Hill is to the south and the last of the seven hills. It is detached from the other hills, and separated from the Palatine Hill by the valley of the Circus Maximus. The Aventine was traditionally the territory of the plebeians, who had their main temples and sanctuaries there. It is also where Remus, the twin brother of Romulus, is said to have set up his rival emcampment.

Outside the ancient city limits were other hills, that would later be incorporated into the city as it grew.

Pincian Hill (Pincius) The Pincian Hill is to the north of the Quirinal Hill, overlooking the Campus Martius. The Pincian was the location mostly of gardens, and was referred to as the Collis Hortolorum, the hill of gardens. There is still a park today with a beautiful view over the Piazza del Popolo.

Across the Tiber were other hills:

Janiculum (Janiculum) The Janiculum is a tall, elongated ridge, oriented mostly north-south. In the earliest time the Janiculum was the northern border of Rome, with Etruscan territory on the other side. In times of war a flag would be planted on the hill to signal to the enemy that Rome was ready. The name is after Janus, the two-faced god, who in this aspect, faced inward and outward.
Vatican Hill (Vaticanus) The Vatican Hill is a parallel to the Janiculum, further north. It overlooked a flat area to the north, the Vatican Fields, where the Basilica of Saint Peter, the Vatican State and the Castel Sant'Angelo now stand
Where there are hills, there are valleys:
The Velabrum is the area between the Palatine and the Capitoline hills.
Between the Aventine and the Palatine is a depression, where the Circus Maximus was later built.
Where the Velabrum and the Circus Maximus meets, between the Capitoline, Palatine and Aventine hills was the first harbour and marketplace of Rome, the Forum Boarium.
The Forum Romanum is in the valley between the Palatine, the Capitoline and the Esquiline hills.
On the other side of the Velia is the area of the Colosseum, where there was a small lake before the construction of the Colosseum. This area is between the Esquiline, Palatine and Caelian hills.

The Field of Mars (Campus Martius) was a large plain just north of the archaic city, surrounded by the Capitoline, Esquiline and Pincian hills to the east and by the Tiber on the other sides. The army would convene in the Campus Martius before war and military commanders were elected there, as no military activities were allowed with the sacred city limit, the pomerium.

The Walls of Rome

Jim Tice and Allan Ceen
Department of Architecture, Pennsylvania State University
Department of Architecture, University of Oregon

Posted: April 15, 2005

The wall circuits of Rome provide a frame of reference for the city both as a measure of its growth and prosperity and also as a testament to the vicissitudes of a great city, its image of itself and the practical needs for security during times of travail and even during times of peace.

Earliest Walls

The wall circuits of Rome (recinto) can be thought of as roughly concentric in nature, emanating out from the city’s pre-historic core at, or near, the ancient Roman Forum. The encircling hills and enfolding valleys helped to define these human lines of demarcation whereby natural rifts in the landscape were exploited to establish lines of defense. 

The Republican Wall Circuit

The oldest wall circuit is a matter of conjecture but certainly would have encircled the city’s earliest settlements which would include the Capitoline and Palatine hills.

The Servian walls were erected by Servius Tullius, a 6th century B.C. king, who ruled Rome well before the Republic. In his time some defense work was built, probably a ditch and stockade or wall, known as the Agger in the modern train station area to the northeast where there was no natural barrier. Using some of Servius' circuit, the Republican walls were built after the Gallic invasion of 390 B.C.. This wall circuit stretches across the Tiber and encompasses the city’s famous seven hills: Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Celian, Aventine and Palatine. It grew in response to political, religious and residential centers but was tempered by topography which again was exploited to provide for natural lines of defense. Three of the original seven hills of Rome were free standing (Palatine, Aventine, Capitoline) while the remaining four are spurs of a plateau, which is why the Agger noted above continued to serve as a defensive trench, to separate them from the rest of the level countryside east of the city.

The city’s public and religious institutions locate within this circuit and were served by a sophisticated infrastructure of aqueducts and consular roads. These regional arteries pierced the walls at strategic locations that provided check points, customs houses and related practical and honorific functions.

Vasi's Porta del Popolo

Aurelian Wall Circuit:

Rome soon outgrew the Republican walls and became so powerful a force in Italy and the Mediterranean that it felt no need for city walls until the late 4th century A.D. when the Barbarian pressure from the east began to threaten the empire. By the time of the late Empire the city had grown to the enormous size of over one million inhabitants.
The city had spilled over into the Campus Martius within the fold of the Tiber and generally moved outward from the epicenter of the forum. The area of the city tripled in the process.

Boundaries for the wall were established as before by taking the natural topography into account. Whenever possible earlier built features were incorporated into the circuit such as the Acqua Marcia and Acqua Claudia aqueducts. Even the famous pyramid tomb of Caius Cestius which as a place of burial, as we know, would originally have been outside the Republican walls, became an ersatz feature in the new defensive circuit.

Later Wall Circuits

With the splitting of the Empire by Constantine into an Eastern and Western half in the 4th century A.D., coupled with the ravages of Barbarian attacks from the 5th century on, the city shrank to an area well within the Aurelian walls, largely abandoning the seven hills with the populace shifting to the low lying areas near the Tiber because the cutting of the aqueducts deprived them of the only other source of water.

Consequently the city center relocated in the Campus Martius where river and well water were available. While the medieval city shrank to a population of little over 10,000, an expansion of the walls by Leo IV (847-855) to include St Peter's resulted in the creation of the only really defensible part of Rome called Borgo or the Leonine City, anchored by Castel S.Angelo (a fortified transformation of the 2nd century Tomb of Hadrian) on the east and St. Peter’s basilica on the west. At the beginning of the 15th century the city's population was a mere 20,000. Compared to other urban centers such as Florence, Milan or Naples, Rome was a sleepy backwater whose pretensions of being "caput mundi" had faded ignominiously into moldering ruins, broken infrastructure and uninhabited fields.

Vasi's Porta San Paolo

In the Renaissance the Popes moved their residence to Borgo from the indefensible Lateran area. Nicolas V (1447-1455) expanded the Borgo walls to include the Vatican hill; Paul III (1534-1549) converted them into bastioned walls capable of resisting cannon fire; Pius IV (1559-1565) doubled the urban area of Borgo and enclosed this area with a wall anchored on the newly bastioned Castel S. Angelo. Urban VIII (1623-1644) linked the Borgo with Trastevere by building a bastioned wall along the ridge of the Gianiculum hill. Paul III's ambitious project to shorten the Aurelian wall and to convert it into a bastioned circuit was short-lived: only two short sections of this were built, one between Porta Appia and Porta Ostiense, and one on the Aventine hill.

For much more on the walls of Rome, see: This page on the walls is part of a much larger Internet site that deals with aspects of Rome. See:
For a map of Rome with dots on which you can click to see images from the 18th century until now of Rome’s gates, walls, bridges, and hills, see: See links on that same web page for many more images of Rome past and present.
Sources for Early Roman History

© 1999 Christopher S. Mackay
Literary Sources
The Roman literary tradition begins in the late third century BC. This means that, for the period from the mid-third century on, the Roman historical tradition was written by contemporaries -- although not necessarily honest ones. Even for the earlier period, events that involved Greeks (e.g., the war with Pyrrhus) would have been written about by Greek historians. The Roman literary tradition did, however, write about the earlier period. Before discussing the development of that tradition, it is necessary to speak of a major influence on early Roman historians, the annales maximi.
Annales Maximi

"Annales" comes from the Latin adjective meaning "annual" and refers to a year-by-year account. The annales maximi were a register of annual events kept by the pontifex maximus, who was the head of the Roman board of priests called pontifices (sing., pontifex). These accounts are not preserved for us, though ancient references give us some notion about them.

Every year the pontifex maximus kept a whitewashed board by his official residence, the Regia, in the forum. This board had the name of the eponymous magistrates at the top (eponymous really means "the name on the top" and the years were named in the annales after the Consuls, whose names were at the top), and apparently also listed the lower magistrates. The board served as a form of official register, and whenever something happened that was considered worth recording, it was listed under that date. The kinds of events that it contained included eclipses, famines, the beginning and end of wars, and triumphs (official victory celebrations). It apparently did not list the passage of laws or of decrees of the senate.
When this record began to be kept is unknown; it ceased to be kept around 130 BC, when, presumably, literary history made it superfluous. Apparently, the information on the yearly boards was preserved permanently (one presumes that the boards were copied down onto a more manageable format rather than being kept intact). At some point the information contained in this way was published in 80 books and this record purported to preserve events going back to the very foundation of the city (seemingly the Republic began around the eleventh book). It is not known whether the material kept on the boards was in some way reworked when it was entered in the permanent record.

At some point the events for the period before the record began to be kept must have been created. On what basis this was done is unknown. There was an ancient tradition that at the sack of Rome by the Gauls all earlier records were lost and that therefore the earlier history of the city was unreliable, but the sack seems not to have been all that destructive and the idea of the loss of earlier records was just a later supposition. After all, if there was no contemporary notice to that effect, how would anyone have known later that such a loss had taken place? It is sometimes assumed that the list of magistrates called the fasti (see below) must also have perished at this time, but the Athenian list of archons survived the much greater destruction of Athens carried out by Xerxes in 480 BC. Whatever survives in such circumstances is, of course, just luck.

In the middle ages a number of annalistic records were kept in European monasteries, and a sample from one such list, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, may give some flavor of the annales maximi.
"Year 793. In this year fearsome omens came over the land of the Northumbrians, and frightened that people terribly. These were great bolts of lightning and fire-breathing dragons seen flying in the air. These tokens were soon followed by a great hunger. And a little afterwards in the same year, on the 8th of June, a fearsome horde of heathens destroyed God's church on the island of Landisfarne through plunder and murder."
Roman Literary History
The Roman literary tradition begins in the late third century BC with Q. Fabius Pictor. This literary tradition was eventually superceded by the Augustan historian Livy, whose work was based on that of his predecessors. Livy so surpassed the earlier historians (in literary quality at least) that their works are lost apart from a few quotations preserved in other authors. These quotations and other references are sufficient to give some notion of the development of this tradition. The annalistic tradition is preserved not only in Livy but also in the Greek authors Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Diodorus Siculus.

Although he did not achieve any great political or military distinction himself, Q. Fabius Pictor was a senator of the highest patrician nobility. At the end of the war with Hannibal he published a history of Rome in Greek, presumably intended to explain Rome to the Greek world. There was no literary Latin language at this time, and the very idea of writing history was derived from the Greeks. He treated the earliest history at some length, explained the following period (the early Republic presumably) more briefly and then expanded the account as he approached his own time. He used the Olympiad dating system, and narrated events in a year-by-year manner. This manner of annual narration is called the annalistic tradition and historians who adopt it are called annalists.

Several other annalists followed in the early second century. They too wrote in Greek, and little is known of them. In the mid second century, another senator, Cato the Elder (M. Porcius Cato), published a history in Latin, which now became the accepted language in which Romans composed history. Although Cato himself derided the content of earlier histories, which followed the annales maximi in listing events like eclipses and famines, his immediate (late second century) followers in composing Latin history seem to have adhered to the general framework of the annales: year-by-year accounts of the major events with little in the way of analysis. The writers of these Latin annals were often members of the highest nobility and seem to have anachronistically transferred into the history of the earliest period the concerns of their own day (e.g., agrarian legislation). Often these additions are obvious, but not always.
The First Century BC saw two divergent trends in writing history. Some overtly rejected the annalistic tradition. They abandoned its concentration on chronologically listing events and attempted some form of analysis of the reasons for those events. Some writers also expressed skepticism about the earliest historical tradition and began their work at a late date (e.g., the sack of Rome).

The annalistic tradition went on, but took a turn for the worse in terms of content. The later annalists were not senators who had person familiarity with the workings of the Roman state. Instead, history was written by "arm chair historians" who belonged to the landowning class and whose main aim in writing was entertainment. For patriotic purposes, they exaggerated Roman success. They also added false documents into their work, and generally twisted their narrative for dramatic reasons or to promote the importance of their own putative ancestors. Unfortunately, Livy often used these sources, and it is at times difficult to distinguish fact from fiction in his narrative.

Annalistic Treatment Of The Early Republic
A general trend perceptible throughout the development of the literary tradition is the expansion of the history of the early Republic. The earliest accounts have been compared to an hour glass: the earliest history (the kingdom) and recent history are treated at length and the intervening period rather less fully. Over time it was felt that this imbalance had to be rectified and the middle period filled out. Since little additional information was available, only fiction of one kind or another could provide the necessary material.
Given the paucity of reliable information for the early Republic, modern accounts must examine in detail the Roman lists of magistrates called the fasti. Fasti is a Latin word for "calendar," and in this sense refers to lists of the eponymous magistrates going back to the establishment of the Republic. Such lists are preserved in a number of authors and show a remarkable similarity of names. Unfortunately, the official form adopted for the fasti in the Augustan period is not exactly correct, being at least four and perhaps as many as nine years too long in the fourth century. In a limited number of other places there is also disagreement over the magistrates for specific years. Given the circumstances under which these lists had to have been kept over the centuries, such small disagreements are not surprising. The fundamental question is whether the lists are reliable for the first century of the Republic.
Objections To The Fasti
There are various a priori objections to the fasti as we have them:

The "Swedish" school (associated with an archaeologist, E. Gjersted) accepts the list as we have it, but rejects the association of the expulsion of the kings with the establishment of the Republic. Instead, the consulship was an eponymous office set up under the kingdom, and various reasons (mainly archaeological) are given for believing that the Republic was founded in the mid fifth century. There is basically no reason to believe this conception.

Others wish to see the consulship established only in 367, when the literary tradition says it was restored after having been replaced for many years by military tribunes with consular power, and argue that various other magistrates administered Rome following the expulsion of the kings. This argument is based on two main pieces of evidence.
The idea that the establishment of a Republic in one fell swoop is considered contrary to the parallel developments in Greece, where the ending of the monarchy (in Athens, for instance) seems to have been a drawn-out development in which the king's powers were first curtailed through the establishment of elective magistrates chosen from the aristocracy and only later abolished. The validity of this comparison is not known, and in any case if the process of abolishing monarchies in favor of oligarchies had already started in Etruria, then the Romans may well have had a model.
There is a vague reference to a "praetor maximus" in Livy. Praetor is the original term for consul, and maximus means "greatest." This is taken to mean that there was originally a board of unequal magistrates called praetors, not the pair of equal consuls in the literary tradition. This is a very slender reed upon which to base such a thoroughgoing re-interpretation, and in any case, the implications of the expression praetor maximus are not as clear cut as proponents of this theory assume.
There are also internal objections to the fasti:

Some argue that certain names are impossible given the literary tradition, especially Etruscan names (the literary tradition indicates a strong antipathy to the Etruscans in the early Republic). But clearly the literary tradition about the early Republic does not have sufficient authority to be taken as definitive in connection with such detail as the amount of Etruscan influence at any given moment. Arguments along these lines usually involve removing certain names from the fasti on the basis of preconceived notions of what should be on them. This is an illogical procedure.

The most serious objection to the fasti involves the presence in the first half century of the Republic of the names of plebeian gentes. The literary tradition is unanimous that in the beginning only patricians were allowed to be consuls. What then of these plebeians?
"Plebeians" in the Early Fasti
The first step in assessing the meaning of the presence of plebeian names in the early fasti is to determine who exactly is a plebeian. This decision is based on the fact that in the later period members of these gentes held positions reserved for plebeians. But it is a well-known fact that some gentes had both patrician and plebeian families (the Claudii Pulchri and Claudii Nerones were patrician but the Claudii Marcelli were plebeian). Also, it is known that in the late Republic certain plebeian families began to use the cognomens of earlier patrician families from which they did not directly descend (e.g., the plebeian Sempronii of the late Republic revived the cognomen Atratinus of the earlier and already extinct patrician Sempronii). Hence, it is possible that the names in the early fasti belong to families that were patrician at the time and survive in the later period only as plebeians.

Another way around this apparent contradiction is to argue that the literary tradition is not entirely correct. In the beginning the consulship was not restricted to patricians and only in the later fifth century did this conception arise. In the period 509-483 21% of the consuls have been calculated as being plebeian, while in 427-401 only one consul seems to be plebeian (1%). In effect, the patricians seized control of the consulship and then claimed that this situation went back to the beginning of the Republic. This solution is an attempt to interpret the fasti on the basis that they are fundamentally correct and then to interpret the literary tradition in light of inferences derived from the fasti.

Evidence In Favor Of The Fasti
The major argument in favor of the fasti's overall accuracy is provided by the very names in them. If the fasti were fabrications drawn up at some later date, one would expect them to contain lists of gentes prominent at the time of fabrication. The early fasti do list gentes later prominent, like the Fabii, Cornelii, Claudii and Julii. But they also list gentes that either reached the consulship again only in the late Republic, long after the fasti were established (e.g., the Tullii) or never were prominent in later politics at all (e.g., the Larcii). Among the last group one sub-set is particularly important: gentes which, like the Fabii, Cornelii and Claudii, gave their names to Servian rural tribes (e.g., Horatii, Lemonii, Menenii and Romilii). This strongly suggests that they were prominent in the late Regal period. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that they should have had some prominence in the early Republic. Furthermore, while the connection between the names of the gentes and those of the tribes is obvious enough, the Roman literary tradition seems not to have made any association between the two, and hence there is no reason to think that the consuls' names were fabricated on the basis of those of the tribes. Some tribal names like the Scaptia have no correspondence in the fasti, and presumably the gentes from which their names were derived had already sunk into oblivion by the time of the start of the Republic. The distribution of consuls from gentes giving their names to tribes is by no means even as one might expect if the consuls were made up on the basis of tribal names. For instance, while the Menenii provide a large number of consuls, there is only one Romilius and one Lemonius.

All told, the evidence of the names indicates that the list contains elements which are very hard to explain if they were later fabrications and which other evidence suggests ought to have been prominent in the early Republic. If this is so, then despite the few inevitable disagreements over various points of detail, the fasti should be taken as giving an accurate list of the magistrates going back to the establishment of the Republic.

Annalistic tradition: E. Badian, "The Early Historians," in T.A. Dorey (ed.), Latin Historians (1966)
Interpretations of the fasti: R.T. Ridley, "Fastenkritik, a Stocktaking," Athenaeum 58 (1980) 264- 98.

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