xiv Introduction aggrandizement and at the expense of political stability. Ultimately this led to a series of destructive civil wars and rule not by a senatorial aristocracy but instead by an imperial autocrat. Rome began as a village of mud huts. The Romans were one of many peoples, such as the Oscans and Umbrians, who spoke Italic languages and dominated central Italy. Tradition places the origins of the city in the eighth century BCE, and archaeologically speaking the hills of Rome were occu- pied at least that early. Early Roman historians, such as Fabius Pictor (active in the third century BCE), a historian who used earlier sources, believed that this was the period in which Roman history began. By the sixth century BCE Rome was under the control of the Etruscans, a federation of cities that by 500 BCE ruled Italy from the Campania region to the Po River. The liter- ary record reflects this period of Etruscan suzerainty as well. Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita (From the Founding of the City, ca. first century BCE), dis- cusses the reign of Rome’s early kings, at least several of whom were Etruscan. The last king, Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud), was ousted in 509 BCE, and a republic was instituted instead. Removal of one king, however, was part of a larger process, for by 396 BCE the Romans had taken control of most Etruscan territories. Key to their success was incorpo- rating the people they conquered. Livy recounts a number of instances in which the Romans brought non- Romans within their community. One of the most famous is the “Rape of the Sabine Women” in which wily Romans duped the Sabines out of their wives and daughters at a banquet, but the Romans also invited anyone with- out a home to their city. This approach to citizenship and community is one reason that Rome was able to topple not only the Etruscans but also other Italic peoples. One consequence of this policy of inclusion was that Rome was able to call upon manpower reserves even when suffering defeats that would have ended, permanently, the ambitions of most other peoples. The issue of citizenship—from the Social War to the attempt of Julius Caesar to make senators of non-Romans to the extension of citizenship to all within the Roman Empire by Emperor Caracalla in 212 CE—is a theme that runs throughout the course of Roman history. Republican government centered upon the Senate, a body of noble states- men from whose ranks two were chosen annually—the consuls—to carry out some of the duties of the old kings, chiefly leading armies. This office lent to consuls imperium, the power to command. Early in Rome’s history there was a struggle between the patricians, the city’s ruling class, and the plebeians, or most everyone else. In 494 BCE the plebeians formed their own organization with special officers, the tribunes of the plebs, who had the power of veto. These officers were sacrosanct, and the plebeians pledged their lives to protect them. In 450 BCE the Twelve Tables were promul- gated, which set down for the first time the customary laws that until then
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