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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
IX. THE EARLY EMPIRE: THE WORLD UNDER ROMAN RULE, 31 B.C.-l80 A.D.
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APPEARANCE OF THE CITIES
Every municipality was a Rome in miniature. It had its forum and senate- house, its temples, theaters, and baths, its circus for racing, and its amphitheater for gladiatorial combats. Most of the municipalities enjoyed an abundant supply of water, and some had good sewer systems. The larger towns had well-paved, though narrow, streets. Pompeii, a small place of scarcely thirty thousand inhabitants, still exists to give us an idea of the appearance of one of these ancient cities. And what we find at Pompeii was repeated on a more splendid scale in hundreds of places from the Danube to the Nile, from Britain to Arabia.
The municipalities of Roman origin copied the government of Rome itself. Each city had a council, or senate, and a popular assembly which chose the magistrates. These officials were generally rich men; they received no salary, and in fact had to pay a large sum on entering office. Local politics excited the keenest interest. Many of the inscriptions found on the walls of Pompeii are election placards recommending particular candidates for office. Women sometimes took part in political contests. Distributions of grain, oil, and money were made to needy citizens, in imitation of the bad Roman practice. There were public banquets, imposing festivals, wild-beast hunts, and bloody contests of gladiators, like those at Rome.
SURVIVAL OF THE ROMAN MUNICIPAL SYSTEM
The busy, throbbing life in these countless centers of the Roman world has long since been stilled. The cities themselves, in many instances, have utterly disappeared. Yet the forms of municipal government, together with the Roman idea of a free, self-governing city, never wholly died out. Some of the most important cities which flourished in southern and western Europe during the later Middle Ages preserved clear traces of their ancient Roman origin.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy