xiii In many cases we do not know when the Romans started or stopped using a particular artifact, but for the entries in this volume I attempt to give a chronological overview of each one. Most of those pictured date to the last centuries BCE and the first centuries CE. This places them squarely in that dynamic period when the old republic was transforming into an empire con- trolled by a single ruler. Some understanding of these traditional divisions of Roman history and the Roman Republic, which began in 509 BCE with the ouster of the last king, and of the Roman Empire, which began with the reign of Emperor Augustus—Julius Caesar’s adopted heir Octavian—is necessary to appreci- ate the world where these items were used and of the people who used them. The end of the Roman period, known as the fall of Rome, is not a topic ad- dressed within these pages. The Chronology section ends with the recon- quest of Emperor Justinian, but less because his reign signals any particular idea of the fall of Rome and more because few artifacts within this volume survived as objects in the daily lives of most Romans by this time. THE ROMAN REPUBLIC According to Roman legend, the history of Rome began with the founding of the city by Romulus. Rome, however, was one tiny village among many Italic settlements and in its earliest days was overshadowed by more power- ful neighbors, such as the Etruscans. From these obscure origins, Rome came to rule not only Italy but also the Mediterranean, Europe, parts of Southwest Asia, and North Africa. There are many reasons that Rome was successful, but several key developments within Roman culture stand out as particularly important. First, unlike most ancient peoples, the Romans de- veloped an abstract idea of citizenship, one that could and did incorporate non-Romans. Second, Rome had a policy of aggressive defense, which is to say that the Romans viewed their expansion as self-protection as much as conquest. Generals in such a system garnered great power over time and by the first century BCE began to exercise that power for their own INTRODUCTION
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