Ancient Rome

Final Exam Review

Use this page to plan your review of the course material for the final exam.

To see this review sheet in PDF form instead, click here.
  For the date and time of the exam and other details, see the Exam page.

Description of the Exam

The exam will consist of different kinds of questions:

  • Identification and Impact: I’ll have a few terms and individuals and ask you to discuss what they mean/who they were and their impact or importance.
    • You’ll choose terms you’re most comfortable writing about from a selection (so if I ask for 5, there might be 10 to choose from).
    • All of the terms will come from this sheet.
    • Remember, the definition itself will only be half of this question — you must also be able to discuss in detail why it’s important.
  • Essays: I will ask you to write two essays having to do with overall themes of the course. You will need to provide an argument supported by three solid examples on a topic related to a major theme of the course.

There will be some kind of extra credit. The essays will count for most of the grade on the exam (around 60%).

Approach to Preparing

Make a list of the most important milestone events in the periods we’ve discussed.

  • CAUSES — Make sure you can identify the most important factors that helped cause these events — including long-term factors (“the environment”) and short-term factors (“the spark”)
  • LEGACIES — Make sure you can identify the legacies of the milestone event. How did it change the culture, society, etc.? What impact did it have on future milestones and events?
Using this review sheet
  • For each of the questions below, see whether you have a strong idea how to answer, an okay idea how to answer, or a weak sense of how to answer. Review from the books and your notes at least the “weak” ones.
  • Approach the questions below as a means of gauging topic to spend more time with in review, and as a guide to how you’ll express and illustrate what’s really important—the larger themes of the course.
  • Take note of the terms below and review ones you’re unfamiliar with.
  • Note that there is seldom one and only one answer to the kind of questions on this review sheet.
    • WHY almost always means “For what reasons…?”
    • HOW almost always means “In what ways…?”
Preparation for the essays
  • Try to come up with possible essay questions and map out in advance examples and interpretations that might pertain.
  • List the key topics that might relate to important periods of change, such as wars, movements, or reforms that changed everything.
  • Discussion groups can be helpful in comparing others’ interpretations of topics and ideas with your own.
  • In the essays you should be able to talk about, and use as examples, relevant primary source documents and assigned articles.
Concerning dates
  • I’m not going to ask you for exact dates but you should know the period in which a people are important or an event occurs, and which events occur before or after which other events. You’re best off if you know centuries (e.g., the war with Hannibal takes place in the 3rd century BCE).
  • At the very least you should know the period—whether a person, event, or concept is associated with
    • the Regal period (Founding of Rome up through the ejection of the Tarquins),
    • the Republic (Ejection of the Tarquins up through Octavian’s defeat of Antony at the Battle of Actium),
    • the Principate (Actium/Augustus up through the Third Century Crisis), or
    • the Dominate (Diocletian/Constantine through the fall of the western empire).
Early Rome
  • What kinds of sources do we have for early Roman history? Why are they problematic?
  • If the stories about the founding of Rome and the early kings are not reliable, why are they important?
  • What were some geographic factors in Rome’s history?
  • What do stories about early Rome tell us about Roman expectations of gender (male and female)? What were some of the Roman ideals regarding women?
  • What was the significance of the gens (clan name) in the formation of Roman society?
  • What was the effect of the coastal Italian community (the interchange of Etruscans, Latins, and Greeks)?
  • How did Romans tend to think about religion and the gods?
  • How does the ongoing early conflict with the tribal hill peoples affect Rome’s social and political development?
  • What do we know about the Etruscan city-states? Why do you think Etruscans were eventually eclipsed by the Romans?
  • How were government and society ordered in the three major eras of Roman history (regal, republic, principate)? What major changes and consistencies were there in government and society from one era to the next? Within each era?
  • TERMS: Lucretia – Apennine Mountains – Magna Graecia – haruspicia – numen – paterfamilias – cognomen – auctoritas – Vestal Virgins
The Roman Republic
  • Why (for what reasons) did the Romans eject their kings? How does this give insight into the Roman idea of the state?
  • What kinds of institutions and traditions carried over from the regal period to the Republic? How did this shape the Republic?
  • How was the Roman constitution a “hybrid” one (according to Polybius, for example)?
  • What was the significance of the Twelve Tables?
  • What role was played by religion in the Roman state?
  • How did the Roman system attach the elite class firmly to the state? How did the nonelite gain a greater voice in the state?
  • In what ways was the Republic designed to favor the collective rule of the aristocracy over the rise of any one individual?
  • What role does the senate play? How does this change over the course of the Republic, and why?
  • What were the legacies of the conquest of Veii (396 BCE) and the sack of Rome (390 BCE)?
  • TERMS: consul – patrician – tribune of the plebs – dictator – SPQR – colonia – imperium – mos maiorum – collegiality – patron/client – cursus honorum – auspices – centuriate assembly – tribal assembly – citizen – Cincinnatus
Rome and Carthage
  • What issues—large and immediate—brought Rome into conflict with Carthage?
  • In what way does the First Punic War show Rome’s adaptability in crisis?
  • Why did Hannibal almost win the Second Punic War? What factors caused him to ultimately lose the war?
  • What was the significance of the siege and sack of Syracuse during the Second Punic War?
  • If Carthage was already beaten in the Second Punic War, why did the Third Punic War happen?
  • TERMS: trireme – Hannibal – Cannae – Sack of Syracuse – Fabius Maximus – Scipio Africanus – “Carthago delenda est”
Republic and Empire
  • Why did the Romans abandon hoplite warfare? How was their new manipular legion more effective?
  • What factors made Rome able to become the master of Italy in the middle Republic?
  • What are the secrets to Rome’s success in dominating the entire Mediterranean world?
  • How did Rome deal with the Eastern Mediterranean differently from how they had dealt with the Western Med?
  • How did the Romans view the Greeks?
  • How did Roman dominion affect the Mediterranean World?
  • What problems did the acquisition of empire create for Rome?
  • How did client kingdoms fit into Rome’s empire?
  • What role did slaves and ex-slaves play in Roman society?
  • What were the limitations of Roman religion in Rome’s efforts to export its culture? What was the result?
  • TERMS: municipia – province – proconsul – equestrian order – senatorial order – publicani – freedman – Mithridates
Fall of the Republic
  • Why did Rome have so much trouble adjusting politically and militarily to having an empire?
  • Why do I say that the crises with the Gracchi were not a beginning of the Republic’s downfall, but a culmination?
  • What factors were involved in the collapse of the Republic?
  • How does Marius pave the way for Sulla’s terrible actions?
  • What issues were involved in the Social War (Rome against the Italians) in the late Republic?
  • What’s the relevance of Catiline’s conspiracy? Of Cicero’s handling of it?
  • How were the two “triumvirates” similar and different?
  • How did the warlords of the late Republic—Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, Antony, Octavian—attempt to stabilize the state in their own ways?
  • Why is there debate about when the Republic ends? When would you date the end of the Republic and why?
  • What role does Egypt play in the last stages of the fall of the Republic, and why?
  • What challenges does Augustus face after his defeat of Antony?
  • TERMS: ager publicus – Gracchi – Marius – Sulla – Pompey – Caesar – Clodius – maius imperium – proscription
The Principate
  • Given that Romans rejected kings and even the word rex, why did they accept the one-man rule of Augustus and his successors? Was the principate different from monarchy? How?
  • How was Augustus a different kind of ruler from his adoptive father, Caesar?
  • What accomplishments relate to Augustus being called a refounder of Rome?
  • As discussed in class, what were the constituencies of the princeps?
  • What difficulties were involved in succession under the principate? What key factors in succession develop in the principate?
  • What factors help bring about a surge in Latin literature and culture under Augustus?
  • What was the significance of the Year of Four Emperors (69 CE) and the resulting principate of Vespasian?
  • What role did female members of the imperial family play in society and succession? How has the role of women changed since the early Republic?
  • What role was played by the army in principate society? How was the army of the principate different from the army of the early republic?
  • How does the economy of the empire develop during the early principate?
  • What’s the significance of Hadrian’s approach to empire?
  • Why would someone argue that Rome’s golden age ends with Marcus Aurelius?
  • TERMS: princeps – Augustus – second settlement – Vespasian – praetorian guard – stoicism – Five Good Emperors
Crisis and Dominate
  • What was the significance of Caracalla’s citizenship law?
  • What were the causes and effects of the third century crisis? How was this crisis resolved? How was imperial rule different afterwards?
  • What institutional and political factors were important for holding the empire together? What social and cultural factors were important?
  • How does Christianization affect the Roman world?
  • What factors bring about the destabilization and fall of the western empire? Why does the eastern empire remain stable and survive?
  • TERMS: currency debasement – monotheism – Sol Invictus – Julian the apostate – Arianism – Diocletian – Council of Nicaea – dominate – five patriarchs