The Roman Empire

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Novi Homines

Novi Homines
During the last centuries B.C.E. Rome became a power not only recognized in Italy but in the Mediterranean world. The Roman Empire was one of the largest in world history. A common saying "All Roads Lead to Rome" alludes to this central center of technology, literature, and architecture. Rome became a great empire for many reasons: great rulers, great armies, a suitable location, and notable achievements from visionary builders. Rome's greatness grew out of its imperial program of conquering others and establishing colonies. This military expansion at once brought great material benefit to the Roman state and guaranteed wealth for Rome, the imperial city. Rome becomes a cosmopolitan capital where high living and material wealth become synonymous with personal importance and success. The Roman Triumph, especially in the Republican era was the crowning achievement of a Roman General. The procession of the Roman army, allowed within the city gates for this special event, captured leaders and slaves, and any treasure looted on campaign, was a grand spectacle of enormous proportions. Consuls, Praetors or Dictators were originally the only magistrates allowed to receive a Triumph, as they were the only officials with the authority to command a large enough force to deserve the honor. The honor was very important in Roman culture. Some people were borne into honorable families, usually politicians, and some had to gain respect honor and political nobility. Cato, Marius and Cicero were New Men, which ment that their ancestors did not

Cicero, we should remember, came from Arpinum, a country town 70 miles from Rome. Although the Tulli were among the leading families of Arpinum, Cicero had none of the ancestry that was so important to laucnhing a political career in Rome. It counted for very little that Marius also hailed from Arpinum. The Tulli were conservative and probably on the other side of most local issues as well as the great Roman ones of the day. Cicero's father, for example, opposed the use of the secret ballot in Arpinum.
In any event, Cicero spent a great deal of time seeking reliable alliances in the fluid politics of Rome. The Optimates essentially rebuffed him; Hortensius, Lucullus, and even Catalus looked down on Cicero as a new man, and were jealous of his success and his talents. Catiline, we might remember, called him an interloper in Roman politics and called Cicero's paltry ancestry to account.

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