Friday, March 5, 2010

What's so "ancient" about Rome?

What’s so ancient about Rome? Could it be their way of communication between one another? Maybe it is their war strategies? How about their ancient buildings, coliseums, or architecture in general? Do you think Rome is ancient because of the way people dressed or the way they contemplated about certain things? In fact, Rome is ancient because of all these factors. Times have changed and the world has progressed. Rome has been a city for over 2000 years. The old ways of the Roman are outdated and obsolete. Their old laws are completely archaic. However, several traditions of the Romans have been revived. The Romans gave humans today a great platform to work with. What makes the city of Rome truly ancient is the system of laws they practiced.
Roman law began around the year 450 BC. Three kinds of government, monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, were all found united in the commonwealth of Rome. (Thatcher) The primitive government of Rome was composed, with some political skill, of an elective king, a council of nobles, and a general assembly of the people. (Gibbon Chap. 44) There were three branches of Roman law that are attributed to three individuals. The laws of marriage, the education of children, and the authority of parents, which may seem to draw their origin from nature itself, are ascribed to the untutored wisdom of Romulus. The law of nations and of religious worship, which Numa introduced, was derived from his nocturnal converse with the nymph Egeria. The civil law is attributed to the experience of Servius. He balanced the rights and fortunes of the seven classes of citizens; and guarded, by fifty new regulations, the observance of contracts and the punishment of crimes. (Gibbon Chap. 44) Every Roman had to abide by the rules. If not, severe consequences were coming their way. According to the Twelve Tables, "there are eight kinds of punishment: fine, fetters, flogging, retaliation in kind, civil disgrace, banishment, slavery, death.”
Roman law, in actuality, seems utterly outmoded when looking at the Twelve Tables. According to table IV, any child dreadfully deformed shall be killed. Table IV stated, "if a father surrenders his son for sale three times, the son shall be free”.XI. Marriage shall not take place between a patrician and a plebeian.(XI. 1 The Twelve Tables) This is another piece of evidence of why Roman law is ancient. People of all social classes intertwine and get married. It is allowed. No person shall hold meetings in the City at night. (VII 26 The Twelve Tables) People have rights to freedom of speech and they are free to hold meetings if they want to. Roman law did not offer many freedoms. This is what makes Rome so ancient. These laws are, in a sense, ridiculous to people of today but were taken seriously in the time of the Romans. These laws should be frowned upon for being cruel and outdated.
Rome is also ancient because of the way women were treated. In 2010, women can obtain political office positions, own land and homes, be independent and do not need constant guardianship. Roman law suppressed women greatly. Roman ancestors saw fit that females, by reason of levity of disposition, shall remain in guardianship, even when they have attained their majority. (V 1.The Twelve Tables) Women must not tear cheeks or hold chorus of `Alas!' on account of a funeral (X.4 The Twelve Tables) The fact that women were untrustworthy, or men were capable of hurting woman could be drawn up from these laws. Women could’ve been seen as vulnerable to men. According to Livy, Lucretia was supposedly raped by Caesar Augustus’ son. So we have seen evidence of this before.
Rome is ancient mainly because of their laws, but it still has contributed adequately to the world as we know it today.


Gibbon, Edward. "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter 44". Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. 3/5/10.

"The Twelve Tables" 2009. Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. 3/5/10.

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