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The Roman Empire and the Pax Romana

Roman Empire and Roman Religions

Feb 15, 2017



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The Roman Empireand thePax Romana

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Octavian/Augustus31BCE – 14CE

• Became the dictator over Rome with supreme power over everything after his defeat of Marc Antony.

• The Senate dubbed him “Augustus” or “Exalted One” and declared him princeps (First Citizen).

• He ruled Rome for 44 years. He was Rome’s first emperor.

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Augustus CaesarAugustus Caesar established the Roman

Empire as he laid out the foundation for a stable government:• Civil service (to enforce laws)• High level jobs were open to men of talent (not

social class)• Rule by law• A common coinage (easier trade)• Secure travel and trade throughout the Empire.• Allegiance of cities/provinces by allowing a

large measure of self-government

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Augustus CaesarWe saw what Augustus accomplished, so what did he

fail to do?!?!?!? Provide for the peaceful succession of Emperors

Romans did not accept the idea of dynastic power (passing from father to son). This often led to intrigue and violence after the death of an emperor.

Not all successors were great rulers. In fact, the empire had several very weak and incompetent leaders. However, a few good leaders did stand out:Hadrian – codified Roman law, wall across Britain

to hold back attackersMarcus Aurelius – Considered a philosopher-king

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Hadrian’s WallRoman Emperor Hadrian had Roman soldiers

build a wall across Britain to keep invaders out. Because of wet conditions and lack of

oxygen in the soil, many items were left intact. (leather, tablets, clothing, tents, boots)

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Pax Romana = Roman PeaceThe Roman Empire enjoyed 200 years of peace and

prosperity known as the Pax Romana under imperial rule beginning with Augustus and ending

with Marcus Aurelius.

Roman Empire stretched from the Euphrates River in the east to Britain in the west. This area was

about the size of the United States.

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Pax Romana

• During this time, The Roman Empire brought peace, order, unity, and prosperity to lands under imperial rule

• The Empire expanded and solidified, particularly in the Near East (Palestine/Jerusalem)

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Economic Impact

• Established uniform system of money, which helped to expand trade throughout the empire.

• Safe travel and trade was guaranteed on Roman roads which were built and protected by Roman legions.

• During this time, the empire was prosperous and stable.

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Social & Political Impacts• SOCIAL

• Returned stability to social classes after years of civil war

• Increased emphasis on the family.• POLITICAL

• Creation of a civil service (government workers) which stretched across the empire.

• Developed a uniform rule of law after a merger of civil law and the Law of Nations.

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Quick CheckWhat were the economic impacts of the 200 years of Peace?a. Expanded trade, uniform system of money, safe travelsb. Expanded trade, increased slave power, tax increasesc. Expanded trade, uniform system of money, Plebeians

revoltd. Expanded trade, increased treasury from wars, uniform

system of money

What is the name for the 200 years of peace in Rome?a. Peace Pactb. Pax Romanac. Tempus Figitd. Pax Caesaria

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Roman Religion

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Early Roman ReligionRoman mythology, like Greek mythology, was

based upon a polytheistic religion that was central to culture, politics, and art. Symbols

and images found in literature, art and architecture!

~Based on Greek Polytheistic religion~Explained natural phenomena (thunder,

earthquakes, floods), human characteristics (jealousy, anger, love), and life events

(marriage, birth, death, war)

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Jupiter (Greek - Zeus)

• King of the gods• God of thunder and

lightning• Uses Thunderbolts as

his weapon• Womanizer – married

his own sister• Most powerful Jupiter is so named

because it is so big – it is the “King of Planets”

Music is Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity”

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Juno (Greek - Hera)

• Queen of the gods• Goddess of marriage

and jealousy• Wife/sister of Jupiter• The peacock and

geese are symbols

No planet, but there is an asteroid named after her plus a city in Alaska

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Venus (Aphrodite – Greek)

• Goddess of beauty and love

• Mother of Cupid (Eros)

Venus is so named because it is the brightest and most easily seen planet

Gustav Holst’s “Venus, Bringer of Peace”

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Minerva (Athena -Greek)

• Goddess of battle, wisdom and the home

• Daughter of Jupiter and Titan – she popped out of his head after he swallowed the pregnant Titan

Minerva was a tiny robot designed by the Japanese to land on an asteroid, but got lost in space.

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Apollo (Apollo - Greek)

• God of music, poetry, prophesy, truth, light, medicine, healing and archery

• Sun God in some myths (drive his chariot with the sun across the sky)

• Son of Jupiter and LetoApollo asteroids are near-earth asteroids

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Diana (Artemis – Greek)

• Apollo’s Twin sister• Goddess of the hunt and

wild things• Moon Goddess

The Artemis navigation satellite

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Neptune (Poseidon-Greek)

• God of the Sea and earthquakes

• Trident is weapon• Jupiter’s brother• Considered 2nd most

powerfulNeptune is so named because the blue looks like water

Music is Gustav Holst’s “Neptune, the Mystic”

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Pluto (Hades – Greek)

• God of the Underworld and Wealth

• King of the dead but he is not Death

• Jupiter’s brother• Has a helmet that makes the

wearer invisible• Persephone (Spring) is his

wife• NOT EVIL! (but he is

unpitying)• Considered 3rd most


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Roman Gods



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Quick CheckMatch them up…1. Jupiter A. God of the Underworld 2. Juno B. God of the Sea3. Diana C. God of Thunder4. Apollo D. Goddess of Marriage5. Neptune E. Goddess of the Hunt6. Venus F. God of music, prophesy7. Minerva G. Goddess of battle8. Pluto H. Goddess of love

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The followers of Jesus Christ spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, bringing it into conflict with Roman polytheism and eventually

changing Western civilization.

Interesting tidbit: SYMBOL - Greek Word for fish: “ichthys”. These initials represent the expression: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Savior.“ In Greek, Iesous Christos theou hyios soter.

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The Gospels• The New Testament, contains accounts of

the life and teachings of Jesus, as well as writings of early Christians.

• The story of the life of Jesus is mostly contained in the first four books (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) aka The Gospels written long after Jesus had died.

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Christian Origins

• Following Jesus’ death, the apostles spread Jesus’ message and established Christian communities.• First only taught among the Jews of Judea.• Christianity had its roots in Judaism

• For a time, Christianity remained a sect of Judaism• Was led by Jesus of Nazareth, who was

proclaimed the Messiah (“Anointed One”)• Conflicted with polytheistic beliefs of

Roman Empire.

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Spread of Christianity

• Carried by the Apostles “person sent forth” (followers of Jesus) throughout the Roman Empire. It is believed that Peter established Christianity in Rome

• The most famous Apostle was Paul• Had never seen Jesus and actually

persecuted Christians; He had a vision and converted

• He spread the teachings of Jesus beyond Jewish communities to gentiles (non-Jews).

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Consequently, the spread of Christianity was slowed by this persecution.


Rome’s tolerant attitude toward religion did not extend to Christianity. Officials believed Christians to be

disloyal as they did not make sacrifices to the emperor and honor the Roman Gods.

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• When Christians met in secret to avoid persecution, rumors spread they were engaged in evil practices.

• Roman rulers like Nero used Christians as scapegoats blaming them for economic and social problems.

• Thousands of Christians became martyrs.• Both Peter and Paul were killed in Rome

during the reign of Nero.Persecution: to be harassed or punished

or made to suffer for ones beliefs

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Why Christianity had appeal…

Despite attacks, Christianity spread• Jesus welcomed all people…the message

was popular with the peeps!• Christian missionaries added philosophical

ideas of Plato and others to their teachings which appealed to educated Romans

• Early documents written in Greek or Latin.• Martyrs – willingness to die for beliefs

• People were inspired by Martyrs

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Essential Beliefs• Monotheistic • Jesus as both Son and incarnation of God

(as affirmed by the Nicene Creed)• Life after death• Christian doctrine established by early

councils• New Testament – life and teachings of Jesus

as well as writings of early Christians• Church recognition of all who believe• All peeps equal before God!

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End of PersecutionCE 313

• Edict of Milan• A letter signed by emperors Constantine

(E) and Licinius (W) that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire.

• This meant that Christianity was no longer illegal.

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Christianity• Constantine legalized Christianity,

converted himself and was its greatest patron.

• He supported the spread of the religion and the building of great churches.• Christianity later became the official state


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Impact of Church of Rome in late Roman Empire

• The Church became a source of moral authority. (i.e. what is right/wrong)

• Loyalty to the Church became more important than loyalty to the Emperor.

• The Church became the main unifying force of Western Europe.• It will remain this way until Reformation in

the early 16th Century!

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Quick Check

The roots of Christianity lie in what other major religious tradition?

a. Roman polytheismb. Buddhismc. Hinduismd. Judaism

Later Christians determined that Jesus was both God and _____________.

a. King of all the godsb. Just a man without divinityc. The Son of Godd. The Holy Spirit