Early Roman history from 753 to the latin war

beorna

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
17,473
-
Nearly everybody knows the story about the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus in 753. Romulus and Remus are said to be the sons of Mars and the daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa and the descendents of Aeneas and Ascanius (Iulus).
Especially from Livus we are well informed about the early Roman history. We have a list of early kings starting with Romulus and Titus Tatius and continuing with Numa Pompilius, Tullius Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius and Tarquinius Superbus.
We know about the fall of Tarquinius Superbus, after his son Sextus raped the Roman daughter of Collatinus and about the first two consules Brutus and Collatinus.
We know about the fights of the Roman against the Etruscans, about Latinians, Sabinians, Aequians and Volscians in the next decades and we know about the social conflicts in Rome with the secessio plebis in 494 and 449 and the twelve-table-law.
In the 4th century we hear about the destruction of Veji, the fight against the gauls, the samnites and the Latinians.

It is a very detailled story and it shows the way of Rome from a small village to the dominating town in Latium.

i told you above, that we know all this by mainly Livius, but as well from Polybius, Varro. the Roman history writing unfortunatelly started during the 2nd century BC, so what did they really know about their history.

I allways show this at the 12-table-law, table III, 6: TERTIIS NUNDINIS PARTIS SECANTO. SI PLUS MINUSVE
SECUERUNT, SE FRAUDE ESTO.

On the third day they shall cut into peaces. If somebody gets more, he shall not blamed for.

The Romans of later times didn't understand it. They even thought, that the debtor was cut into peaces. But they argued, that this was never done. The truth was, that the creditors sold the goods of the debtor and got copper bars for it, because coins didn't exist. The copper bars were cut into peaces. The Romans of later times had forgotten this.

It is said, that Roman was founded in 753, by Romulus and Remus, descendents of Aeneas, after his exile from Troy. we have no evidence for this. If we look, that in the medieval even other European tribe tried to link themselves with ancient Greek heroes, it is probably a created myth.

We know that the first archaeological relicts on the Palatin are from the 11th or 10th century. There is no evidence for a foundation of Rome in 753 and for the existence of the early Roman kings. Clear is the great Etruscian influence on the Romans, so probably in the 7th century they unified the several settlements on the hills and formed a Roman community.

Rome in the beginning seem to be just one village among several other. The myth about the destruction of Alba Longa make it possible, that this was a competing town and that Alba Longa was probably the leading town in Latium. we can't say if it was destroyed by Tullus Hostilius, but it seems, that the Latinians still were independent from Rome. During 498 and 493 the Romans fought against the Latinians again, especially Lavinium and tusculum. A Foedus Cassianum shall have been made, but nowadays this contract is dated around the time of 370.

When the etruscian Tarquinians were expelled from Rome, the citizens installed two consules, Brutus and Collatinus. In the older literature it is often described as the fight against a foreign occupator. But Brutus was the nephew of Tarquinius superbus and Collatinus, who's full name was L. Tarquinus Collatinus doesn't support a Roman uprise against an etruscan occupator. All we can say is, that there was an uprise of parts of the nobility against the king. These upriser didn't install the well known roman institution. The reported consuls didn't exist. The kings were succeeded by a praetor maximus/praitor maximus or magister populi. It was as well not an annual office. Under the praetor maximus were the magister or tribuni militum and the magister or tribuni celerum. Perhaps by the lex sacrata in 494 or even later, the tribuni militum were taken from the plebs and now called tribuni plebis. In 444 three tribuni militum detached the magister populi/praetor maximus, later, since 367/6 two consules detached the tribuni and the praetor became responsible for the jurisdiction. One of these consuls was chosen from the plebs. The former tribuni plebis now became those tribuni plebis we know later.

The importance of the plebs rose with the military importance of them. This is comparable with greece. More and more were the romans depending on the soldiers from the plebs instead of noble lone fighters. But the power was for long times in the hands of the patrizii. The power layed in the senate and the comitia curiata, where the patrizii were responsible for the decisions. The noble families in the beginning were as well responsible for the roman foreign politics. We can see this in the story about the fabii, who were defeated by Etruscians in 479 and lost their importance for a while. The fight against the Latin competitors and the Etruscians in the North, especially Veji, but as well against the Aequi, Sabines and Volsci was important for the history in the 5th and 4th century. especially the victory against Veji brought Rome in a dominant position. This was desturbed by the gaulic raids in the first quarter of the 4th century, especially during the sack of Rome in 388/7. fortunately suffered the surrounding cities as well and Rome could go on with its expansive politics.

erhaps a word to the citizens. Livius and Dionysos give us some census from that early dates.Between 508 and 459 the population was around 104.000 and 150.000. if we imagine, that Rome in the beginning had between 600 and 1000 sq.km, this would be a too high number. Even if we take the 193 centuriae of Servius Tullius and the 80.000 inhabitants it is far too high.
 

Labienus

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
6,479
Montreal, Canada
Early Roman history, and early Republican Rome is very fascinating IMO and often overlooked. I especially like the Conflict of the orders between Patricians and Plebeians. Sadly, not many accounts of this conflict survived.
 

beorna

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
17,473
-
Yes, indeed. I think it is remarkable, that the conflict between plebs and patricii, which should be responsible for the 12-table-law, cannot be supported with this law.
 

pixi666

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
2,534
The Great Indoors
Early Rome just doesn't interest me very much. Anything before the war with Pyrrhus is just not that interesting to me.
 

beorna

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
17,473
-
I find especially that early time interesting, because we know so little about it. But just my oppinion.:)