History 104A, October 5: Dear Pres. Bush, the Younger: The US is not Rome!
Well, the numbers look a little smaller today. I don't know if
that's because of the exam and people decided to drop or because they
figured they needed a break. Those that were not here to get their
exam back, you can drop next time. I'm just kidding. Those of you
who were not here to get your exam back, you'll have to follow me to
my office because that's where it is. In going through Connie's
transcript yesterday, I realized that I screwed up in one area. I
said that the she wolf had nine tits. She only had seven. I don't
know -- I apologize for that. I did change it. It could have been
wishful thinking, I'm not sure, but whatever. And there are seven
hills to Rome, not nine. For whatever that's worth, minor stuff, but
I don't like -- sometimes talking without notes, I talk too fast and
forget what I'm saying, so I'm glad they're there at least to read and
generally not too many mistakes.
Rome was founded in 753. I identified, I guess, pretty strongly
an anti-Roman bias developing the concept in my mind that Rome was two
faced in the context of the way we often use it, meaning they say one
thing and mean something else. And I went on to talk about the
foundation of Rome based on war and rape at least even historically.
It is true that the Romans were war-like, perhaps the most war-like
people in the sense of training and development and organization.
Well, I shouldn't say since but certainly similar to the Spartans.
Coexisting, if we start in the area in 753, I mean there were some
settlements found in the seven hills that go back to about 1,000. The
Italian peninsula does not have a lot of great ports. It isn't like
Greece where you've got all these built-in ports; and therefore,
basically it's looking like a peninsula siting there, so you would
think that they would be directing more to the sea, but they were
really land wolves not sea foxes, if you will.
Rome had phenomenal agricultural land far better than anything in
Greece. And so the Roman society was a conservative, basically land
society. It was similar to Sparta in that sense. And of course we're
going to get into, in a little while, the conflict the land power,
Rome, had with the sea power, Carthage. Carthage, as we indicated,
coming from the settlement of the Phoenician; therefore, being sea
oriented. So once again, the theme of sea power versus land power is
going to play away. Although it is mountainous, it is easy to move
through Italy. It wasn't that the mountains made it difficult to
cross from one area to the other. And the Alps did not really serve
as a barrier and protect the peninsula by any means. And for that
matter, neither did the sea with seafaring nations or city states like
the Greeks settle, also all along the coast here and the Carthageans
who settled here along Sicily and later Spain and France.
Rome was subject to invasions and it did have diverse peoples,
different culture, different languages, not like the Greek area where
you had Greeks who spoke Greek, same language, and anybody who didn't
speak it was outside the area called barbarians.
Perhaps the most fascinating group of people for me -- I guess
it's the mystery. The Minoans were a bit mysterious too. A bit north
of the City of Rome as we know it were a group of people known as a
Etruscans. We don't know where they came from. Their language still
has not been translated. They're another one of those mystery peoples
of Europe. We're not even sure when they got there. If they came
around the time of Rome, there were in there. Somewhere between the
sixth, seventh century, they began to solidify the air. There's no
doubt that they had a influence on the Roman development of
civilization, and even more so, they actually conquered Rome or the
area around Rome for a while and a Etruscan kings actually ruled Rome
a few hundred or so years after its founding. And the date that is
traditionally given, 753 BCE.
The Etruscans were phenomenal jewelry makers. They were able the
make little earrings and necklaces with these little beads and
intricate detail of gold. And perhaps that's one of the more
interesting things to see about the Etruscans. They also made these
massive statues. And they were famous in ancient history in many ways
because they were one of the few societies that really showed absolute
affection, interaction, and perhaps what we might call liberty for
women. The Etruscan women were always at the side of the men in the
sculptors and elsewhere on the tombs. They were buried with their
husbands. I'm not sure whether I'd want that or not. Just kidding.
They were shown leaning and resting. And by the way, it was
interesting the Romans did pick up that tendency to eat basically,
what's the word when you're reclining, basically, sort of laying down
eating. I can't do that. I don't know how people can lay down and
eat. It's like trying to sit down on the floor and eat like the
Japanese do. Do any of you lay down and eat?
THE PROFESSOR: You must be an Etruscan not a Swede. Sorry, I
get off into these weird things with my mind wondering how people can
do certain things, I guess.
And so to some extent, Roman women certainly were more involved
in society, maybe not at the beginning, but later on then certainly
any other of the early civilizations. And as I indicated, Roman
matrons, if you will, were very active in the political process. We
say most of the time behind the scenes, but often directly in front of
the scenes as well. We did not have any Roman women emperors like we
had in Egypt with the pharaohs, but we certainly had Roman women who
made the emperor and pushed their own children to become emperors and
of course were very much involved in eliminating rivals, using one of
the continuous elements of Roman women throughout history, right up
through the middle ages and perhaps even today for all I know --
poison. The Roman women were great at mixing poisons and that was
just part of whatever.
A There's a series that's on HBO right now that's called Rome. And
I watched it a couple of nights ago. And it's dealing with this right
now how influential the women were in politics. And I guess just the
family in general.
THE PROFESSOR: I don't get HBO. There was one that was on, I
think I was mentioning it earlier. There was one on, I can't remember
Showtime or some station, probably the history charges, but it dealt
with the Roman period that nobody's interested in, which was about
200-300 CEAD. And it just dealt with the wars. It really didn't deal
with the culture. That sounds good if they were actually touching on
A The history channel had a Rome week. If you only got one night
of it -- it had like the life of the people in the army, the life of
the family, everything.
THE PROFESSOR: I must have missed that. I taped about three of
them and they all dealt with the general and the battles around the
A There was a lot more than that.
THE PROFESSOR: More than that. In any case, we're identifying
Rome. And I pointed out, Rome certainly has been a fashion nation as
far as history is concerned. And as I also identify, many people do
identify the United States and its history with Rome. And of course
we play on that same theme. Are we declining because, like Rome
declined, because we're willing to have a supreme court justice who
believes in gay rights. That's one of the conservative criticisms of
the new nominee, Harriet Miers. That threw me for a while.
But the sense of that development of Rome, in a sense, perhaps of
the war-like element that I was mentioning -- let me go back to
The Etruscans also contributed one of the most important things
to the existence of Rome and that is aqueducts. The aqueducts were
those, well, first they were actually what do you call them, stones,
rocks with pipes, clay pipes that brought water into the cities. They
brought it down from the mountains. And when you have the city as
Rome was with a million, some say almost 2 million people, the fact is
that you need a lot of water. That water flowed because of the
aqueducts which, by the way, are still standing in parts of the area
of Rome. While of course they don't use them anymore, I might, now in
case I forget, one of the arguments for the fall and decline of Rome
were the pipes that used to bring the water in were made with clay
that had loads of lead in it. When there were lead on clay pipes, it
gets into the pipes of men. When it gets into male pipes, it creates
impotency and destroys sperm. And so they say that that lead from the
water destroyed Rome. Of course, again, the pipes have been flowing
for 1,000 years. But then again, perhaps that explains why many of
the Roman legions and others were made up of foreigners because they
had clean types.
The aqueducts later were reinforced and developed by the Romans
for one of their invention s -- I'm doing this a little out of context
but as long as it pops into my mind. Romans invented concrete. And
the aqueducts and many other buildings were reinforced with concrete.
The aqueducts were also built with an Etruscan invention, the arch.
That whole arch that was more or less the true arch was able to
support the weight and development that weight better. There is a
whole room, it's a large room at the metropolitan museum of art in New
York dedicated to Etruscan forgeries. Because of the mysteries of the
Etruscans and because there was a lot of wealth in selling Etruscan
goods, many people 50-100 years ago began to create falsified Etruscan
statues, jewelry, and artifacts. And it was a big business. Two of
the sculptures there, which I had originally seen and thought they
were real before I found out they were phony, were these massive,
beautiful, Etruscan soldiers and they are weren't real.
During the early period of Rome, again, what we had were
basically farmer soldiers perhaps similar to the minutemen of the
early American nation or pre-nation, if you will. The Romans, as I
said, had a military cult, if you will. And perhaps part of that was
the need for the defense in this open territory. The Romans enjoyed
war. And often defended themselves, much like America defended itself
against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. One of the issues that
appeared in the American history recently was something that we didn't
do quite as blatantly in what people might call our imperialism or
not. We used a preemptive strike. We took over Iraq before Iraq
could hit us. And that usually has not been part of American history.
Perhaps it's the best way to go. Certainly the Israelis use it quite
often. But the argument is that it was against American tradition, by
using the war before we need to go to war. The Romans continue to use
preemptive strikes. And they use that as an excuse by saying they
were being attacked and therefore, they moved into areas to prevent
further destruction. Again, as I deal with there are some
similarities in the sense of the expansion, the ideas.
One of the major differences I would say between Roman history
and American history, besides the system of government, is this
innovation. Americans have been extremely creative in innovative
means, technology and other factors. We create inventions, the
Edisons, the tinkerers, the New England tinkerers. The Romans, while
they develop some elements of technology, were more like many great
empires. They went in and they took it from other people. They were
re-engineered. That meant they built beautifully on other people's
creations. And that has been very typical of many societies. The
Soviet Union built on what they got externally. Japan has often been
used of building -- although obviously in recent years they've been
very procreative in development and technology and expansion. But in
the technological fields, the United States starts it out and they
have been surpassed by other nations that have built on that
traditionally. The Romans were great re-engineers. All roads lead to
Rome, as the story goes, but it was done basically because of the
power and strength of the empire.
In 507, according to your book, in 509, according to other books,
the Romans eliminated the monarchy that they had in the Etruscan
overlords. Under the leadership of the man named Brutus, which is no
relationship to the Brutus that deals with Popeye. Of course there
was Bruto and then Brutus. I don't know why there were two of them.
But the other Brutus, of course, historically, is the Brutus who may
be the son of Julius Ceasar, I don't know, although it's been claimed,
who helped assassinate Ceasar on the Ides of March, March 15, in 44
BCE. The first Brutus is identified as the founder of the Roman
republic. The second Brutus kills Ceasar to preserve the republic but
does not succeed.
Also in this early founding of the Roman republic, there is at
name that comes down to us historically, a man named Cincinnatus which
gives us our city Cincinnati. George Washington was known as the
Cincinnatus of America, of the early republic. Cincinnati was called
upon to help defend against Roman invaders or invaders to Rome, again
war. And given the powers of the dictator, the dictatorial powers in
Rome had to be handed back. And Cincinnatus didn't want to deal with
them either. Once the war was over, once the battles were won, he
turned back the power and returned to his farm to be, as many of our
early founders were, a citizen farmer, a minuteman who went to war
when necessary. George Washington turned down the title of king to
become the first president. And after two terms, decided to step
aside rather than be a permanent president believing that he had
served his country well and went back to his Mount Vernon to continue
his farming. And the tradition of only two terms for the American
president lasted until Franklin Delanor Roosevelt was elected a fourth
term. And after that, the United States Congress and the states
passed an amendment to the Constitution, fearful of somebody
dominating and dictating America and a lot of people disliking
Roosevelt anyway. And that was that now, our presidents can only
serve for two terms. There was a little mobility, but not a lot
during Reagan's administration to extend it so he could serve again.
He was 77 when he left the administration, so it didn't go very far.
The early Roman republic had the development of a city state
expanded out. It had to deal with certain internal problems. The
basic founders of Rome, the descendents of Romulus and Remus, the
descendant of the rape of the Sabine women, became the power of Rome.
And they were known as the patricians, a patrician class. We use the
word patrician in English to refer to upper class. However, the
people who they took over, the people who they conquered, the people
who they raped in the immediate area, become the working class. And
the term for these lower class underdogs was plebeians, meaning, the
term used for underclassmen freshman at West Point, plebeians. What
we have right after this founding of Rome is a conflict between the
patrician, wealthy, business class, wealthy farmers, who controlled
the Senate and whose followers of the patrician class become the two
councils. Rome had two councils elected by the patrician class. Rome
became a republic.
I need to clarify that the term republic simply means the absence
of monarchy. However, it also means representative government, but
you can have representative government today as we have it in a
monarchy. Yet similar again to the framers of our country, our
Constitution, the Roman patricians created a republic different than
the republic today here in the United States. We refer to our
republic as a democracy. We can argue back and forth whether it's a
true democracy. But when we elect representatives, we elect them
under the principle that they will govern "for" us, they will make
decisions based on our interests, that they will aid them, direct
them, and tell them how to make those decisions so they're governing
for us. The original framers of the Roman republic believed that the
Romans should be governed. The framers of our Constitution believe
that the American people should be governed. What does that mean? It
means that originally we elected people who knew better than us what
was good for us, that when we voted for somebody, it wasn't because
they were going to listen to us, it was because we were going to
listen to them. Again, something that's difficult perhaps for us to
understand based upon our own concept of what representative democracy
is about. That was the fundamental belief of the framers of our
Constitution. As I say, we've expanded into a different kind of a
republic. The framers of our Constitution attacked democracy. They
believed it was mobocracy, ruled by the masses. In the early American
republic, to participate, even to elect somebody that knew better than
you, you needed to own property, because it was believed that if you
owned property, you had a vested interest in the society. And that
existed through the American Constitution and basically in most states
until 1820. Thomas Paine, the great American revolutionary, once said
in his writings, If you need to own property to vote, a man has a
jackass and he's worth the jackass, $50. The State of Virginia
requires you to have $50 worth of property to vote, so you can vote.
But then your jackass dies, and you can't vote, so who really voted,
you or the jackass? Of course many of our framers would say you were
a jackass as well, so it goes.
The top the Romans again, property was the foundation of the
society. And all soldiers came from the a property class.
Translation, you actually weren't put in the military originally in
the early Roman republic unless you came from somebody who really
owned land. Wouldn't it be nice if you couldn't be drafted today if
you didn't own property? Of course we don't have a draft so it's
irrelevant. Of course that creates a major problems when you think
about it. If you're continuously at war, when the hell are you going
to go back and work your land? And what happens to your land? Well,
it paid good dividends to the large property holders. Somehow they
got exempt -- surprise, surprise. And as the people and as the war
expanded and Romans took a lot of losses in their wars, like many
early farming societies, they produced a lot of children. They loved
children. They believed in family. They believed in patria, the
fatherland. And it was important for the fatherland to survive. And
so they loved producing kids. The Roman legions destroyed their
enemies often through numbers. What was often known as a pyrrhic
victory, the way they defeated the Greeks. They lost 100 times more
men, but they just kept coming. P-H-Y-R-I-C, I think, pyrrhic
victory. They just outnumbered the people. But sooner or later, the
patricians, the wealthy, began to buy up the farmland and they began
to create what we called to agribusiness.
And the Roman common people began to find that they were without
land and they began to enter the cities. Later on in the Roman
republic, the Romans found a solution for that, bread and circuses or
the dole, which we refer to as welfare for the people who came into
the city and were unemployed. They were given a handout. They were
given food, clothing and money to buy things with. And to keep them
busy since they had nothing to do during the day, they were
entertained at the hippodrome and at the coliseums. Translation,
horse races, chariot races, gladiator fights and also in places like
the coliseum itself they could flood them, the floor of those stadiums
and they would actually have sea battles. It sounds like a little
fun. And the people sit there and of course thumbs up, thumbs down,
you've seen that. We even have a whole planet that's based on the
Romans, the Romulans, for whatever that's worth.
In the fifth century, 400s, and third century, fourth century,
400s oops. Fifth century -- 300s BCE, plebeians repelled. They had
it. They wanted equal say. They did something that has historically
not generally been overly successful. And in this time in history it
was, something that has been known as a general strike. The plebeian
class, the working class, left the City of Rome. They marched out and
said, we ain't coming back. You people can eat your damn money until
we're given political rights. Two major general strikes brought on
the creation of plebeian assemblies, not one, but a number of
assemblies. Remember that the second house of the State of
California's government is called an assembly. Translation, what we
created were House of Representatives for the people. Candidly, they
didn't get very much power directly with it, meaning that the
patrician class aided them in getting elected. They bought them out.
They paid for them. They bribed them, and they continue to control
them. They did have at least one minor power that was elected by the
plebeians. And actually, generally, they elected a patrician, a John
F Kennedy to be a people's representative. And they got two tribunes.
The tribunes had the right to stand outside the door of the Senate
listening to the debate. And if they didn't like what they heard,
they yelled out "veto," meaning I forbid. The tribunes did have a
veto over any legislation that might be harmful, the plebeian class.
Obviously again, it was often got around.
That tradition of a veto, forgetting the way we see it in our
government and the president's ability to veto, carried over into the
education system throughout most of the world, except in the United
States. And perhaps we have a little better system in some ways.
European universities and universities established along the lines of
the European universities have a position elected by the students
called a rector. The rector is a full professor at the university who
the students trust to defend their rights. And the rectors at the
universities speak for the students, and in some cases have a
quote/unquote -- I'm exaggerating here -- a veto over the legislation
created by the faculty senates in the university systems. Have any of
you ever heard of the rector positions before? I say in the United
States it's a little different. We have created, in most
universities, a vice president or dean for students. And today, of
course, going beyond the dean of students, who's supposed to look out
for student interests, we have often, especially in public
institutions where they had school boards of some sort, we have
student representatives to the boards themselves. They do not have a
vote like at the Ohlone board, but they do have the right to speak for
the students and request that the board vote one way for the other and
perhaps even introduce issues to the board. Here at Ohlone our
student reps actually get paid the same amount of money as the board
members. And they actually also get, what's the word I'm looking
for -- they also get health insurance from the board. So if any of
you want a job that's really boring and you want to listen to our
board go on our hours, go on about nothing like which toilet paper to
buy, at least you can get health insurance, which you'll probably need
After the class wars in Rome, Rome began to expand out in their
self defense, building and expanding their boarders until they
controlled much of the area around Rome. And by the fourth -- third
century, they actually moved into southern Italy, defeating the Greek
cities. And as they encountered and moved into the Greek cities, they
loved the Greek culture. I'm not talking about some of the culture.
I'm talking about the art and the Gods. They identified many of their
Gods and adapted the Greek Gods and gave their Gods very similar
attributes. So as we know, Jupiter became Zeus or the Zeus, Greek,
Jupiter, the Roman. Juno a God of the Earth for the Roman, the mother
God became very much identified with the same characteristics of Hera.
Now, in some sense, this worked because it brought the Greeks into
Roman society. The Romans and something the Greeks did not.
As they expand out because of the diverse population, one of
their brilliant elements and one of the great workings of the creation
of Rome was the absorption of all peoples giving them citizenship.
Citizenship became by the later on in Rome, anyone who was conquered
was given a form of citizenship; but in early Rome, it was a little
more difficult to be a citizen. And they did something that we used
to do and I'm sure if we still do it. People who served in the armed
forces, as the numbers began to decline of Romans, they introduced
other peoples into the armed forces. After they served 26 years, they
were given Roman citizenship -- 26 years. Can you imagine surviving
in the military 26 years, being alive, literally, in the Roman
battles? Always amazing. Ours was basically a two year service with
the draft; or during World War II, people were brought in sometimes.
I don't know if that's still the process. I think it is if you serve.
In any case, the Romans brought these people in, adapted their
culture, and brought in holidays and Gods to make part of the Roman
pantheon of Gods. And so it made the people feel more a part of the
society even more than the Persian empire who had allowed them to have
a certain sense of self-rule.
There was a danger that later appeared in Rome. As they brought
in these barbarians using the Greek word, they didn't necessarily use
it. As they allowed them to become part of the Roman legions and they
trained them, these foreigners went home and taught their people the
Roman techniques of battle and were able, at times, to create real
dangers to the Roman legions. In fact, one of the biggest dangers
took place in the early years of -- well, not the early years, but in
about 14 AD under Augustus, when one of the German Roman legionnaires,
a leader who the Romans respected, unified the German tribes and
defeated the Roman legions through all kinds of sneaky attacks. And
actually, with the emergence of Germany as an independent nation 150
years ago in the 1870s, they built a major -- I think it was an
85-foot statue to this individual whose name slipped my mind. It
begins with an A. It will come to me for his greatness of attacking
Rome. There was that specific danger.
Once the Romans had destroyed or controlled the peninsula of
Italy, then the boot needed to kick Sicily. And that, in a sense,
created the conflict that was to take place that we know as the Punic
wars, between the sea faring Carthage and the land based Romans. The
first Punic war broke out in 264 BCE. The wars lasted for over a
century, off and on, until 146 BCE. There were three of them
specifically we date.
And during the first one, the Romans were having tremendous
difficult defeating the Carthageans because the Carthageans controlled
the sea. However, the Romans decided that they could defeat the
Carthageans by turning the sea battles into land battles. What they
did was, they created these boarding ramps on the ships. They dropped
platforms. And the Romans would come up to the ships and the Roman
legions would go fight on board the ships; in other words, landing
parties on the ship. And so in 24l BCE, mainly the Carthageans were
defeated, but it was mainly around Sicily. Rome really got control of
Sicily, even though they had deceived Carthage. It did not go very
far. Carthage did continue to control the area around Tunischur,
which is Tunis is the modern city.
The next war is more famous for many of you because of the
individual who led the battles for the Carthageans, a man named
Hannibal Lectur, no just Hannibal, the son of the king of Carthage.
Carthage still controlled much of this area in Spain, decided to go
across to Spain, his legions, and using and barges, brought across a
fair number of elephants. Elephants in north Africa was used sort of
as tanks. It sort of reminds me of --
The Carthageans who let the elephants go ahead in battle. The
fears, the noise, the tusks, if they had them, would certainly
frighten many of the people that they encountered. And Hannibal's
concept was to go down into Italy and hit them, rather than from the
sea, in this case, from the land. And we all know that he brought his
elephants across the Alps. And they did that by creating large
trails. And the way they did that, interestingly, was to build fires
in the rocks. They would find crevasses in the rocks and the fires
would create explosions, and they were able to flatten out the rocks.
They moved through Italy and defeated the Roman legions. But the
Roman continued using something known as Fabian tactics. They burned
the land. They scorched the land. They destroyed supply lines.
Hannibal was far from home. He needed food. If there was no food
here, he was running into trouble. The Romans protected themselves
behind their walls. And so for 10 years Hannibal and his forces
wandered in Italy not able to encounter major Roman legions. And
we'll pick up on Hannibal and whatever on Wednesday.