Mary Beard’s Ultimate Rome: Empire Without Limit episode 3: In the third episode Mary takes an in-depth look at the question of identity and citizenship within the Roman Empire. What did it mean to be, or to become, Roman, and how did the very different parts of the empire react to Roman rule?
In the beautifully preserved cities of Algeria, incomers and locals mixed to create flourishing communities with a distinct ‘more Roman than Rome’ frontier identity. Mary follows the trail of one such African Roman from his native land all the way to Britain, where he served as governor – proof that for all the brutality of conquest, there were opportunities too. Here in Britain another picture emerges, of resistance, hybrid culture and incipient British identity. In York and Newcastle, Mary finds the remains of Romans, but not as we might imagine them – a rich African lady, officers from central Europe and a camp follower from Syria.
Mary Beard’s Ultimate Rome: Empire Without Limit episode 3
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity it included large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and the city of Rome as sole capital (27 BC – 286 AD). Although fragmented briefly during the military crisis, the empire was forcibly reassembled, then ruled by multiple emperors who shared rule over the Western Roman Empire (based in Milan and later in Ravenna) and over the Eastern Roman Empire (based in Nicomedia and later in Constantinople).
Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when the imperial insignia were sent to Constantinople (Byzantium – Ancient Greek: Βυζάντιον, Byzántion), following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, conventionally marks the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
The predecessor state of the Roman Empire, the Roman Republic (which had replaced Rome’s monarchy in the 6th century BC) became severely destabilized in a series of civil wars and political conflicts. In the mid-1st century BC Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator and then assassinated in 44 BC. Civil wars and proscriptions continued, culminating in the victory of Octavian, Caesar’s adopted son, over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.