Rome — from Republic to Empire
I placed this short history of Rome prior to the reading and notes for a reason: That two things might become appear obvious. First, as mentioned earlier, the Roman Empire had a lot more to do with the history of the early churches than you may have previously considered, and it had more to do with the historical development of the growing apostate churches. While secondly, that you should consider that both the book of Daniel and of the Revelation deal near exclusively with the destruction of Judaea and the fall of Jerusalem.
Legend has it that the city of Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus, 749 years prior to the birth of Jesus (if you believe in fairy tales). That accepted the year 1 AD, on our calendar, as the year of Jesus’ birth. (One Anno Domini – or 1 BCE: Before the Current Era (coined about a century ago but rarely used until the last thirty years or so). I grew up with, prefer and will continue to use BC and AD.) It seems that Jesus’ life was important enough to eventually realign the then newly started Julian calendar, yet no one had bothered to jot down the year and day of either his birth or death. As noted: Jesus’ birth year was listed by the earliest known non-biblical sources as 749 AU (Anno Urbis, Latin for “year of the city”). Unfortunately, they were incorrect. To most, Jesus was an obscure person borne to an insignificant family, in a small village, within a very poor country. Though heralded by prophecy and the heavenly host, it passed largely unnoticed to kings, scholars and commoners alike.
Modern theories (and some old ones too) correctly suggest, as the scriptures clearly state, that Jesus was born prior to the death of Herod the Great (in BC 4). With that noted, either theory offers at most a maximum error of about two and one-half, to three and one-half years. The birth of Christ is mentioned in two of the Gospels, and the text there could be easily written onto one side of a standard index card. Contrary to what is thought by some of our religious friends, it is apparent that it is not upon the birth of Jesus where we ought to place our emphasis, but rather on his teaching, his death and resurrection. The last was the only event of its kind recorded in human history. Thereby we are told to celebrate death and resurrection, but are nowhere told to celebrate His birth. That notion came along much later. As such, his birthdate remains obscured along with the date of his death, except to note that he died on the Jewish Passover, at or near to the end of the term of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, although the exact year remains unknown. His resurrection did not pass unnoticed. It has been celebrated weekly since.
Early on Rome was a republican system of city-states much as Greece had been prior to the Macedonian Empire. During this time and particularly for the 100 years preceding the forming of the empire, Rome began to systematically conquer their neighbors and adjacent countries, notably those from whom they perceived any sort or real or potential threat. As they had perfected the armies use and were the inventors or masters of the most advanced military machines of the day – siege towers, catapults, mangonels or trebuchets (a French word), and ships of war such as the quinqueremes (five oar sections), triremes (three sections), and the largest: the hexaremes as flagships. They subjugated or subdued all they encountered by land or sea. By the time of the Antonine emperors, Rome ruled most of Europe, to the north into Scandinavia, Macedonia and the Balkans, all of Asia Minor, the Mid-East, much of Mesopotamia and Persia, the bulk of the sub-continent of India, and the upper third of the African continent: in short – the then known colonized world, except for the Far East. As such, they controlled the entire Mediterranean world.
The consolidation of power began with the formation of the First Triumvirate (Latin: Triumvir) of Gaius Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Struggles for power ensued and other intrigues continued for several years during which Crassus and Pompey were eventually defeated. Pompey was Caesar’s son-in-law. When he was captured by the Parthians, Caesar sent word for them to dispatch his daughter’s husband – who was one of the remaining obstacles to his entering Rome and establishing a dictatorship.