Thesis: Roman Identity

Pages: 5 (1477 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Urban Studies  ·  Buy This Paper

Roman Urbanization

Why was Urbanization an Important Element for the Construction of a Roman Identity?

The challenges of nation and empire building have been a fascination of western civilization since before the industrial revolution, which marked a period of massive alterations in the development of urban centers for trade and commerce in such societies. Yet, it must also be made clear that the development of urban centers occurred in the model society, for much of Western development, i.e. Rome. Roman identity was in fact, largely based on the functional and fundamental development that made urbanization in building a culture possible. It is in fact fair to say that the development of Roman identity was fundamentally dependant on urbanization, as the city state was the most essential authority on developed life and connecting large city states as well as creating architecture that would support dense populations spurned not only actual development but conquest.

Though Rome itself developed very gradually and was not the product of massive early planning standards the large colonial cities were much closer to the "ideal" of the organized urban center and it was the dream of many developer, public and private to repurpose large chunks of Rome itself, to build structures that were more planned and logical, rather than simply conforming to the space available. Where planning became possible Zanker point out is was done well and followed to the letter, his examples include the Campus Martius, which was in fact a small city in and of itself, built on a grip, (see, p. 26) and the large public building erected by emperors both in and around Rome.

As cities began to become larger and buildings began to be able to support such populations the needs from the countryside and broader supporting regions became much greater, roads, communication and infrastructure building became essential aspects of Roman urban and rural life and more resources were required from every outpost of the empire. This emphasis also resulted in greater development of outpost city states, some of which developed in a more organized fashion than the city of Rome itself, as they were erected in relatively short periods of time via detailed plans. Examples include; Ostia, Antium, Tarracina, Miniturnae and Pyrgi,. Al of the above examples began as Roman colonies, along Roman roads, in a relatively straight line, and then developed into urban centers as the needs of the mother city and others grew to meet dense populations and public infrastructure. (Zanker, 2000, pp. 26-27)

Paul Zanker points out in his extensive chapter on urbanization the massive influence that urban development has on the identity of Rome, most specifically with state sponsored and private development of public spaces, i.e. For the use of all. Zanker stresses that Roman urbanization (of the city itself) was not a rapid process and was in fact very slow and gradual, which marked the rather disorganized fashion that it developed (with regard to city planning) but that each subsequent ruler or developer used what he had to develop public spaces that met the needs of the massive Roman population. Zanker also points out that though all development was not ideal, the ideal of Roman development existed as a part of the identity of the city state and the empire and that as colonies became more influential, needed and urbanized they marked what would be considered closer to the "ideal" developed urban center, as they were planned in accordance to the needs of the local and distant supported populations and were nor sprawling (as Rome was) from the beginning. (p. 26) the colonial development Zanker points out, listed above, all developed under three basic premises, one that the city itself lies on a large Roman road, often at a principle axis of the road, that the main road traveling through the city goes past a Capitolium, or the center of regional government (though not a fully developed Forum as this was only in Rome) and that the community gathering place resides right in front of this Capitolium. (pp. 27-28) According to Zanker this basic city planning premise was followed by most if not all later developed cities, even in the outposts where such building was possible. Public works frequently developed as a response to Roman conquest, as successful generals and other high ranking veterans received preferential "retirement" benefits often in the form of land and housing, and these core settlements, such as Aosta, a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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