Text 2. Rome and the Christians



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Text 2. Rome and the Christians



Read the text and do the tasks that follow.

The Christians did not act like other Romans, and this made some Romans suspicious. Christians kept to themselves – almost like a secret club. Since they did not worship Roman gods, Christians no longer went to public festivals or took part in the life of their communities.

Christianity was a new invention, so Romans saw Christians as troublemakers.

Some Christian ideas, too, seemed shocking. Wealth and private property, for example, were very important measures of status in the Roman social hierarchy. Yet the Christians taught that money and earthly pleasures were not important at all, and that property should be shared.

The Romans considered their government and their religion to be closely linked, while the Christians saw religion and government as separate. Also, Romans believed that their gods protected them and their empire. Romans feared the failure of Christians to honor Roman gods would harm the empire.

For the most part, the Roman state ignored the early Christians.

Before A.D. 64, most of the persecution suffered by the Christians came at the hands of other Jews. The Roman government would not get involved in these conflicts.

The Romans generally did not try to change the differing religious beliefs of the people in the empire. And Christians leaders such as Paul taught Christians to obey Roman laws.

By A.D. 100, Roman law stated that anyone who admitted to being a Christian must be killed. However, this policy was seldom enforced. In general, the Roman emperor let officials in the provinces decide how Christians should be treated. But these officials were often unsure as to what to do. In fact, written records indicate that many Roman officials had little experience in dealing with Christians.

Romans did not generally seek out Christians for punishment. In fact, Christian settlements existed in North Africa for 100 years before the first Christian was executed.

Still, Christians were at times treated cruelly.

By the early 200s, the Roman Empire was facing serious problems. Many Romans believed their troubles were a sign that the gods were angry. So in A.D. 250, Emperor Decius ordered all citizens to worship the Roman gods and make public sacrifices.

Decius believed that these offerings would please the gods and ease the troubles in the empire. The Christians, however, refused to follow his orders. Decius then ordered his soldiers to execute all Christians who refused.

Some Christians chose death. These martyrs,people who chose to die rather than give up their religious beliefs, became important symbols for the church. Their courage inspired other Christians and created new converts.

The most violent and systematic persecution of Christians started around A.D. 300 during the reign of the emperor Diocletian.

The wave of persecution that had begun under Diocletian and continued until A.D. 311. The next year, however, a new emperor came to power and the official Roman position toward Christianity began to change.

In A.D. 312, Rome witnessed a struggle for power. One army leader fighting to become emperor was named Constantine.

According to Christian historians, before Constantine went into battle, he saw a vision of a cross with the sun behind it. Although Constantine was not a Christian, the vision convinced him that his men would win if they fought under the sign of Christ. He ordered his soldiers to paint a Christian symbol called a chi-rho on their shields.

Constantine’s men won the battle, and that year Constantine became emperor. At the beginning of his rule, perhaps as little as 10 per cent of the empire’s population was Christian. But with support, Christianity became the main religion in the Roman Empire.

Constantine was not baptized a Christian until shortly before his death in A.D. 337. Nevertheless, he promoted Christianity throughout his reign. In A.D. 313, he issued an order that allowed Romans the freedom to follow any religion they wanted to. This act ended the official persecution of Christians. He also contributed vast sums of money to repair churches that had been damaged earlier. He even gave church leaders money to build new churches.

Constantine took an active interest in the operations of the Christian church. He held meetings with church leaders to settle disputes among Christian leaders.

In earlier times Christians had believed that religion and government should be separate. Now, Constantine’s decisions on behalf of the church had the power of the Roman Empire behind them. He even persecuted church members who opposed his views. Constantine feared that conflicts about worship would displease God and bring misfortune to the empire. Just as earlier emperors persecuted Christians for fear of displeasing Roman gods, Constantine now persecuted Romans for fear of displeasing the Christian god.

Constantine’s interest in Christianity helped to strengthen the religion. At the same time, the relationship between Constantine and the church brought up an issue that is still the subject of debate today – how much the church should be separated form the state.

By the end of the A.D. 300s, church leaders felt powerful enough to give orders to emperors – or even to punish them. For example, in A.D. 390, Christian leaders punished Emperor Theodosius for ordering the massacre of a rebellious village. Bishop Ambrose of Milan threatened Theodosius with excommunication, or banning from the church, until he repented of his actions.

The fact that a Roman emperor would consider excommunication a punishment shows how powerful the church had become.

Just as Roman leaders had persecuted Christians when they were in power, now some fanatical Christians persecuted pagans, people who were neither Christians nor Jews. These Christians burned pagan temples. Then, in A.D. 391, Theodosius outlawed all pagan religions.

The tables were turned. Now Christians forced their views on the pagans. In response, the pagans begged the Christians not to punish them for their beliefs. This was the same plea that the early Christians had once made to the pagans. This pattern – majority forcing its views on the minority – has been repeated throughout history.

By the end of the A.D. 300s, the new faith had become a well-organized and powerful community with churches, priests, and bishops throughout the empire. In fact, Christianity was gaining power and members as the Roman Empire was declining.

 

Word Check

Ex. 1.Word extension

1. suspicious – mistrustful;

2. to harm – to hurt, to damage;

3. to seek out – to look for, to try to find;

4. an offering – a public sacrifice;

5. a vision – power of seeing or imagining; smth. seen by the mind’s eye or the power of imagination;

6. to baptize – to accept smb. as a member of the Christian church and give him a name (names);

7. to settle disputes – to make (to decide) an argument (in addition to the family name);

8. on behalf of – in the interest of;

9. to bring up – to call attention to, introduce;

10. massacre – cruel killing of large number of (defendless) people;

11. to repent (of) – to think with regret or sorrow of; wish one had not dome (smth.);

12. plea – request;

13. to turn tables on smb. – to gain a position of superiority after having been defeated.

Ex. 2.Match the words in column A with their definitions in column B.

A 1) the failure 2) hierarchy 3) martyrs   4) a chi-rho 5) excommunication 6) pagans B a) organization with grades of authority for lowest to highest b) neglect c) people who chose to die rather than give up their religious beliefs d) people who were neither Christians or Jews e) a Christian symbol f) banning from the church

Ex. 3.Complete the sentences, use the words and expression from the text.

1. The Christians did not act like other Romans, and this made some Romans … .

2. Wealth and private property, for example, were very important measures of status in the Roman social … .

3. Romans feared the … of Christians to honor Roman gods would … the empire.

4. Roman did not generally … Christians for punishment.

5. … most Christians lived in peace until A.D. 200s.

6. Decius believed that these … would please the gods and … the troubles in the empire.

7. These … became important symbols for the church.

8. Before Constantine went into battle, he saw a … of a cross with the sun behind it.

9. He ordered his soldiers to paint a Christian symbol called a … on their shields.

10. Constantine was not … a Christian until shortly before his death in A.D. 337.

11. He held meetings with church leaders … among Christian leaders.

12. Constantine’s decisions … the church had the power of the Roman Empire behind him.

13. The relationship between Constantine and the church … an issue that is still the subject of debate today.

14. Bishop Ambrose of Milan threatened Theodosius with … until he … his actions.

15. This was the same … that the early Christians had once made to the … .

_______________________________________________________________

Word for reference: plea, pagans, repented of, excommunication, suspicious, hierarchy, failure, harm, seek out, offerings, martyrs, vision, chi-rho, brought up, baptized, to settle disputes, on behalf of.

Comprehension

Ex. 1.Answer the following questions.

1. Why did Romans see Christians as troublemakers?

2. What did Roman law state by A.D. 100?

3. Overall, most Christians lived in peace until the A.D. 200s, didn’t they?

4. Why and how did Decius and other emperors persecute the early Christians?

5. How did Constantine help Christianity become the main religion in the empire?

Ex. 2.Speak on the following points:

1. Rome’s early response to Christianity;

2. Roman law and early Christians;

3. the attack on Christianity;

4. the Rise of Christianity.

Text 3. The Decline of Rome

Read the text and do the tasks that follow.

The Pax Romana had been a 200-year period of peace and great achievements for Rome. But the Pax Romana ended in A.D. 180 when Emperor Marcus Aurelius died. He was succeeded by his 19-year-old son Commodus, who proved to be an unpopular and wicked ruler. He was finally killed in A.D. 193. This was the beginning of a period when military leaders fought for power and the empire began to decline.

Even worse times were ahead. In the next 50 years, 25 different emperors ruled Rome. Some ruled only a few months. All but one were killed.

Political upset was only of the many problems troubling the empire. The economy was a disaster. Prices were out of control.

At the same time, the empire was under attack from outside forces. Tribes from northern Europe overran the borders.

To pay for the empire’s defense, the government raised taxes. Many people left their farms and jobs because they could no longer pay the high taxes that Rome demanded.

Warfare left much of the empire in ruins. There wasn’t enough food to go around. Trade was disrupted. Poverty and unemployment increased. With unrest inside and threats form outside, the empire badly needed strong leadership.

Finally, in A.D. 284, the army declared Diocletian emperor. Diocletian then ordered the persecution of Christians in the hope of making the gods look with favor upon the empire once again. However, he also used more direct means to restore order.

Diocletian introduced a number of major reforms. That is why his reign is called the “New Empire.”

In order to improve the economy, Diocletian issued the Edict on Prices. This edict,or command, told farmers and merchants how much they could charge for various items.

To fight off foreign threats, Diocletian increased the size of the army.

To run his huge empire more efficiently, he divided it into four regions. Each one had its own government and army. Although this new government was more efficient, it was also more costly. To pay for it, Diocletian created a new tax system and raised taxes.

In order to keep this new system running, the government had to make sure that its citizens worked hard and paid their taxes. Strict laws were passed to keep people on the job. Farmers could not leave their farms, and workers could not change or leave their jobs. Children had to work at the same job as their parents. Sons of soldiers had to enter the army.

Diocletian’s actions reestablished order, but they also brought about a harsher style of rule. The emperors who ruled during the Pax Romana had come from the Senate and were called “first citizen.” Beginning with Diocletian, emperors came from the army and were called dominus, or “master.”

Diocletian also tried to put an end to the civil wars which had troubled the empire. He divided the empire in two. Both the eastern and western portions had their own emperor. He set up a system to ensure that after each emperor’s reign, power would transfer peacefully to the next emperor.

However, when Diocletian retired in A.D. 305, his system did not work. Civil war broke out again, and military leaders fought for power for the seven years. Finally, in A.D. 312, Constantine became emperor of the western part of the empire. Twelve years later, Constantine took control of the entire empire.

He built a new capital for the empire.

He chose for his capital the ancient Greek city of Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople after himself. Constantinople had several advantages as a capital city. It was centrally located between Greece and Asia Minor, connecting Europe and Asia.

The location was also ideal for defense.

Constantine rebuilt the city, making it a magnificent capital. To decorate the new buildings, he brought statues and artwork from pagan temples in other cities. Constantinople was dedicated in A.D. 330, and it became the “new Rome.”

When Emperor Constantine died in A.D. 337. One of his nephews, Julian, became emperor in A.D. 361 and tried to restore the pagan religion. However, his effort failed, and by A.D. 400, Christianity became the official religion of the empire. During this period, the church continued to gain strength and support, but the once all-powerful empire was in decline.

By A.D. 400, the empire had permanently split into two parts. The Eastern Roman Empire, with Constantinople as its capital, was to last for another 1,000 years. The Western Roman Empire, with Rome as its capital, was nearing its end.

 

Word Check

Ex. 1.Find in the text words and expression which mean the following:

1. trouble;

2. the Golden Age;

3. condition of being at war; fighting;

4. order or command issued by authority, decree;

5. to break up;

6. disturbed conditions;

7. (conditions brought about by) good and firm government obedience to law, rules, authority;

8. to finish it;

9. to guarantee;

10. to devote with solemn ceremonies (to);

11. to break into parts, divide;

12. a man who has others working for him or under him.

Ex. 2.Complete the sentences, use the words and expression from the text.

1. … had been a 200-year period of peace and great achievements for Rome.

2. Political … was only of the many problems troubling the empire.

3. … left much of the empire in ruins.

4. In order to improve the economy, Diocletian issued … on Prices.

5. Trade was … .

6. With … inside and threats form outside, the empire badly needed strong leadership.

7. Diocletian’s actions reestablished … , but they also brought about a harsher style of life.

8. Diocletian also tried … to the civil wars which had troubled the empire.

9. He set up a system … that after each emperor’s reign, power would … peacefully to the next emperor.

10. Constantinople was … in A.D. 330, and it became the “new Rome.”

11. By A.D. 400, the empire … into two parts.

_______________________________________________________________

Word for reference: had split, dedicated, war fare, the Edict, disrupted, unrest, the Pax Romana, upset, order, to put an end to, to ensure, transfer.

Comprehension

Ex. 1.Answer the following questions:

1. What was the Pax Romana?

2. What problems did the Empire face after the Pax Romana.

3. Why was Diocletian’s reign called the “New Empire”?

4. What were the major accomplishments of Constantine?

Ex. 2. Speak on the following points:

1. the End of the Pax Romana;

2. the reign of Diocletian;

3. the reign of Constantine.

Text 4. The Fall Of Rome

Read the text and do the tasks that follow.

Rome did not fall as the result of single invasion. The pressures that brought it down had been weakening it for centuries. Since the time of the Pax Romana, the empire had been fighting off attacks from outsiders. Romans called the invaders barbarians,which meant people from beyond the Roman frontier.

Over a period of about 300 years, many barbarian tribes made their way south into the Roman Empire.

The Romans looked down on the barbarians as uncivilized partly because they were different from Romans. They did not share Roman ideas about government and culture. Yet the barbarian tribes had their own government systems, including elected assemblies, and their own cultural values.

In the A.D. 200s, the Romans’ internal troubles allowed barbarian invasions to reach the heart of the empire. Diocletian and the emperors who followed him fought the invaders to make the frontiers of the empire secure.

As the invasions continued, the empire needed more soldiers to defend itself.

To relieve the pressure of barbarian attacks, some Roman emperors tried to “buy off” the invaders. These emperors gave the tribes land to live on, and they hired barbarians to serve in the army. By the A.D. 200s, the frontier of the empire was no longer a clear-cut boundary between the barbarians and the Roman world. The barbarians were gradually becoming part of the empire.

In the late A.D. 300s, pressure from the barbarians was growing. In A.D. 378, the Visigoths, who had settled in the eastern part of the empire, revolted against the Romans. They killed the leader of the eastern part of the empire, Emperor Valens, and defeated his army. Then, encouraged by their victory, the Visigoths marched into Rome in A.D. 410.

The success of the invasions showed the weakness of the Roman army. Gradually, the emperors were losing control of their territories. In the early A.D. 400s, the barbarians overran and looted Britain, Gaul, Spain, and North Africa.

Historians use the year A.D. 476 to mark the fall of Rome. Unlike Rome, Constantinople withstood barbarian attacks. The eastern part of the Roman Empire remained intact for another thousand years.

As the Roman empire grew weaker under the pressure of barbarian attacks, Christianity grew stronger. During the A.D. 300s and 400s, even barbarian tribes such as the Goths, Vandals, and Franks had converted to Christianity.

Nevertheless, some Romans blamed the empire’s many problems on the widespread growth of Christianity.

Pagan Romans were upset and angered to see the empire decline under Christian leadership. They blamed the decline on the fact that the Romans had abandoned their pagan gods. In past centuries, the pagans argued, Romans had made sacrifices to the pagan gods, and the empire had gotten stronger. Now Romans were no longer allowed to make these pagan sacrifices. The Christian god, they said, did absolutely nothing to protect the empire.

This charge against Christianity was so serious that a church leader named St. Augustine felt he needed to respond. In the early A.D. 400s, he spent 13 years writing a book called The City of God. This book, consisting of 22 volumes, explained what Christians believed to be the role of God in human history.

In The City of God, St. Augustine argued that the decline of Rome taught an important lesson. Cities such as Rome, like all worldly things, break down, he wrote. But the city of God, which for St. Augustine represented the Christian faith and its believers would last forever.

When the Roman Empire finally fell in the west, the church did not fall with it. In fact, Christianity continued to grow and increase its influence in the centuries that followed.

 

Word Check

Ex. 1.Match the words in column A with their derivatives in column B.

A 1) barbarians 2) to look down 3) to relieve   4) to revolt 5) to loot 6) to abandon 7) charge 8) to argue B a) to give reasons in support of b) people from beyond the Roman frontier, uncivilized or uncultured (people) c) to take away goods (private property) unlawfully and by force (e.g. by soldiers in time of war) d) to consider oneself superior to, show false contempt for e) to lessen or remove (pain, preassure) f) to rise in rebellion g) to give up h) statement that a person has done wrong

Ex. 2. Complete the following sentences, use the words and expressions from the text.

1. Romans called the invaders … which meant people from beyond the Roman … .

2. The Romans … on the barbarians as uncivilized.

3. … the pressure of barbarian attacks, some Roman emperors tried to “…” the invaders.

4. In A.D. 378, the Visigoths, who had settled in the eastern part of the empire … against the Romans.

5. In the early A.D. 400s, the barbarians … and … Britain, Gaul, Spain, and North Africa.

6. They blamed the decline on the fact that the Romans … their pagan gods.

7. In past centuries, the pagans … Romans had made … to the pagan gods, and the empire had gotten stronger.

8. This … against Christianity was so serious that a church leader named St. Augustine felt he needed to respond.

_______________________________________________________________

Words for reference: charge, argued, sacrifices, had abandoned, barbarous, frontier, looked down, to relieve, “buy off”, overrun, looted, revolted.

Comprehension

Ex. 1. Answer the following questions.

1. Who were barbarians that invaded the Roman Empire?

2. What drew them to the empire?

3. Why did the Romans look down on the barbarians?

4. In what way did some emperors try to relieve the pressure of barbarian attacks?

5. What year do historians use to make the fall of Rome?

6. Why did St. Augustine write the “City of God”?

Ex. 2. Speak on the following points:

1. Barbarian invasions;

2. growth of the church;

Translation

 

Ex. 1. Translate the text into Russian.

The Causes of the Fall

Why did empire fall? Historians do not have one answer. Still, these factors played an important part:

· Christianity Christians were more devoted to their faith and to the church than to the Roman state.

· Economic decline In the last century of the empire, both the army and the government kept growing. In addition, Romans continued to import luxury items from distant lands. The Roman economy was not strong enough to support such activities.

· Growth of governmentThe large government kept demanding more of the people. Eventually, people saw no reason to support the emperor over the barbarians. In fact, some Romans, particularly poor Romans, would rather have barbarian rulers because they were not as harsh as Roman rulers.

· Decline in the work force A high death rate among Romans and a decrease in the number of slaves meant that the empire had fewer workers and fewer soldiers.

· Moral decline For centuries, the Romans had been proud of their military strength. During the Pax Romana period, though, many Romans took more interest in leisure activities than they did in protecting the empire from invaders. When the empire needed the Romans’ military skills again, these skills were no longer sharp. The Romans didn’t want to join the army.

· Military defeat The Roman army was no longer strong enough to defeat the barbarians and lost battle after battle.

 

Ex. 2.Translate the text into English.

Христианство

Христианство (от греч. christos – помазанник) – религия, возникшая в I в. до н.э. в восточных провинциях Римской империи. Христианство сложилось на основе иудейских радикальных сект и течений (зелотов, эссенов и пр.), ставших промежуточными между иудаизмом и ранним христианством. Важную роль в формировании учения христиан сыграла греко-римская философия и религия Востока. Христианство возникло как религиозный протест угнетенных слоев населения против существующих порядков и против рабовладения в целом. Провозгласив абстрактное равенство всех людей (в виде равенство всех перед богом), христианство обещало им спасение от всех бед в потустороннем мире. Успеху христианства способствовало учение о бессмертии души и загробной расплате. Первые общины, признавшие мессией и сыном божьим проповедника из Галилеи Иисуса, появились в Палестине, Эфесе, Смирне, Пергаме, Сардах, а также в Александрии. Все они отличались простотой организации. До начала II в. н.э. единого вероучения еще не было.

Изменение в христианской идеологии наступили во II – III вв., когда в результате кризиса рабовладельчества в общины христиан стали вступать и богатые люди. В середине II в. из числа зажиточных христиан избирались (позже назначались) епископы и дьяконы (диаконы), в обязанности которых входил присмотр за общественным имуществом и всеми хозяйственными делами общины. Постепенно из этого демократического института образовался монарший епископат. Церковная организация стала четко делиться на клир (духовенство) и мирян. Тогда же возникло и монашество. Поскольку христианская церковь стала представлять значительную политическую силу в Римской империи, императоры рассматривали ее как возможную соперницу и жестоко преследовали христиан. Гонения на них зафиксированы в годы правления императоров Деция, Валериана и Диоклетиана. Император Константин провозгласил христианство разрешенной религией. В 325 году был созван первый Вселенский собор представителей христианского духовенства в Никее (Никейский собор), на котором был выработан «символ веры» и оформлен союз между властью императора и церковью. Император Феодосий II (2-я половина VI в.) издал приказ о закрытии всех языческих храмов. Так христианство из преследуемой религии превратилось в государственную, освятив те социальные порядки и обычаи, которые вызывали негодование и ненависть у первых христиан.

Discussion

1. How were Judaism and early Christianity alike and how were they different?

2. How did the Jewish and Christian religion beliefs differ from the Romans?

3. Why did tension grow between Jews and Christians?

4. How did Christianity grow between A.D. 64 and A.D. 400?

5. What was the attitude of Romans towards the early Christians?

6. How did Constantine help Christianity become the main religion in the empire?

7. Why did the Roman Empire begin to decline?

8. What were the major accomplish meant of Christianity?

9. Who were the barbarians?

Summary

Summarize the information from Unit 5 and be ready to speak on the following points.

1. The early Christians.

2. Rome’s early response.

3. The rise of Christianity.

4. The decline of Rome.

5. The fall of Rome.


Unit VI

THE MIDDLE AGES

 

Preview

1. What is the approximate classification of the Middle Ages?

2. What new social system emerged during this period?

3. How long did this period last in different parts of the world?

 



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