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Ancient Rome

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Ancient Rome

Roman Kingdom
753 BC509 BC

Roman Republic
508 BC27 BC
Roman Empire
27 BC onwards

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Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew out of a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea, it became one of the largest empires in the ancient world.[1]

In its centuries of existence, Roman civilization shifted from a monarchy to an oligarchic republic to an increasingly autocratic empire. It came to dominate South-Western Europe, South-Eastern Europe/Balkans and the Mediterranean region through conquest and assimilation.

Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire, including Italy, Hispania, Gaul, Britannia and Africa broke up into independent kingdoms in the 5th century AD.

The Eastern Roman Empire, which was governed from Constantinople, comprising Greece, the Balkans, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, survived this crisis. Despite the later loss of Syria and Egypt to the Arab Islamic Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire would live on for another millennium, until its last remains were finally annexed by the emerging Turkish Ottoman Empire. This eastern, Christian, medieval stage of the Empire is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians.

Roman civilization is often grouped into "classical antiquity" with ancient Greece, a civilization that inspired much of the culture of ancient Rome. Ancient Rome contributed greatly to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology, religion, and language in the Western world, and its history continues to have a major influence on the world today.


Legend and history

Founding and Roman Kingdom

According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC by Romulus and Remus, who were raised by a she-wolf.

According to one legend, Rome was founded on April 21, 753 BC by twin brothers descended from the Trojan prince Aeneas.[2] Romulus and Remus were the grandsons of the Latin King, Numitor of Alba Longa. The King was ejected from his throne by his cruel brother Amulius while Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, gave birth.[3][4] Rhea Silvia was a Vestal Virgin who was raped by Mars, making the twins half-divine.

The new king feared that Romulus and Remus would take back the throne, so they were to be drowned.[4] A she-wolf (or a shepherd's wife in some accounts) saved and raised them, and when they were old enough, they returned the throne of Alba Longa to Numitor.[5][6]

The twins then founded their own city, but Romulus killed Remus in a quarrel over which one of them was to reign as the King of Rome, though some sources state the quarrel was about who was going to give their name to the city.[7] Romulus became the source of the city's name.[8] As the city was bereft of women, legend says that the Latins invited the Sabines to a festival and stole their unmarried maidens, leading to the integration of the Latins and the Sabines.[9]

Another legend recorded by Greek historian Dionysius says that Prince Aenas led a group of Trojans on a sea voyage. After a long time in rough seas, they landed at the banks of the Tiber River. Not long after they landed, the men wanted to take to the sea again, but the women who were traveling with them didn't want to leave. One woman, named Roma, suggested that the women burn the ships out at sea to prevent them from leaving. At first, the men were angry with Roma, but they soon realized that they were in the ideal location to settle. They named the settlement after the woman who torched their ships.[10]

The city of Rome grew from settlements around a ford on the river Tiber, a crossroads of traffic and trade.[11] According to archaeological evidence, the village of Rome was probably founded sometime in the 8th century BC, though it may go back as far as the 10th century BC, by members of the Latin tribe of Italy, on the top of the Palatine Hill.[12][13]

The Etruscans, who had previously settled to the north in Etruria, seem to have established political control in the region by the late 7th century BC, forming the aristocratic and monarchial elite. The Etruscans apparently lost power in the area by the late 6th century BC, and at this point, the original Latin and Sabine tribes reinvented their government by creating a republic, with much greater restraints on the ability of rulers to exercise power.[14]

Roman tradition, as well as archaeological evidence, points to a complex within the Forum Romanum as the seat of power for the king and the beginnings of the religious center there as well. Numa Pompilius was the second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus. He began Rome's great building projects with his royal palace the Regia and the complex of the Vestal virgins.


According to tradition and later writers such as Livy, the Roman Republic was established around 509 BC, when the last of the seven kings of Rome, Tarquin the Proud, was deposed, and a system based on annually elected magistrates and various representative assemblies was established.[15] A constitution set a series of checks and balances, and a separation of powers. The most important magistrates were the two consuls, who together exercised executive authority in the form of imperium, or military command.[16] The consuls had to work with the senate, which was initially an advisory council of the ranking nobility, or patricians, but grew in size and power over time.[17]

Other magistracies in the Republic include praetors, aediles, and quaestors.[18] The magistracies were originally restricted to patricians, but were later opened to common people, or plebeians.[19] Republican voting assemblies included the comitia centuriata (centuriate assembly), which voted on matters of war and peace and elected men to the most important offices, and the comitia tributa (tribal assembly), which elected less important offices.[20]

The Romans gradually subdued the other peoples on the Italian peninsula, including the Etruscans.[21] The last threat to Roman hegemony in Italy came when Tarentum, a major Greek colony, enlisted the aid of Pyrrhus of Epirus in 281 BC, but this effort failed as well.[22][23] The Romans secured their conquests by founding Roman colonies in strategic areas, establishing stable control over the region.[24] In the second half of the 3rd century BC, Rome clashed with Carthage in the first of three Punic Wars. These wars resulted in Rome's first overseas conquests, of Sicily and Hispania, and the rise of Rome as a significant imperial power.[25][26] After defeating the Macedonian and Seleucid Empires in the 2nd century BC, the Romans became the dominant people of the Mediterranean Sea.[27][28]

Gaius Marius, a Roman general and politician who dramatically reformed the Roman military

Foreign dominance led to internal strife. Senators became rich at the provinces' expense, but soldiers, who were mostly small-scale farmers, were away from home longer and could not maintain their land, and the increased reliance on foreign slaves and the growth of latifundia reduced the availability of paid work.[29][30]

Income from war booty, mercantilism in the new provinces, and tax farming created new economic opportunities for the wealthy, forming a new class of merchants, the equestrians.[31] The lex Claudia forbade members of the Senate from engaging in commerce, so while the equestrians could theoretically join the Senate, they were severely restricted in terms of political power.[11][32] The Senate squabbled perpetually, repeatedly blocking important land reforms and refusing to give the equestrian class a larger say in the government.

Violent gangs of the urban unemployed, controlled by rival Senators, intimidated the electorate through violence. The situation came to a head in the late 2nd century BC under the Gracchi brothers, a pair of tribunes who attempted to pass land reform legislation that would redistribute the major patrician landholdings among the plebeians. Both brothers were killed, but the Senate passed some of their reforms in an attempt to placate the growing unrest of the plebeian and equestrian classes.

The denial of Roman citizenship to allied Italian cities led to the Social War of 91–88 BC.[33] The military reforms of Gaius Marius resulted in soldiers often having more loyalty to their commander than to the city, and a powerful general could hold the city and Senate ransom.[34] This led to civil war between Marius and his protegé Sulla, and culminated in Sulla's dictatorship of 81–79 BC.[35]

In the mid-1st century BC, three men, Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, formed a secret pact—the First Triumvirate—to control the Republic. After Caesar's conquest of Gaul, a stand-off between Caesar and the Senate led to civil war, with Pompey leading the Senate's forces. Caesar emerged victorious, and was made dictator for life.[36]

In 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by senators who opposed Caesar's assumption of absolute power and wanted to restore constitutional government, but in the aftermath a Second Triumvirate, consisting of Caesar's designated heir, Octavian, and his former supporters, Mark Antony and Lepidus, took power.[37][38] However, this alliance soon descended into a struggle for dominance. Lepidus was exiled, and when Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra of Egypt at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, he became the undisputed ruler of Rome.[39]


With his enemies defeated, Octavian took the name Augustus and assumed almost absolute power, retaining only a pretense of the Republican form of government.[40] His designated successor, Tiberius, took power without serious opposition, establishing the Julio-Claudian dynasty, which lasted until the death of Nero in 68.[41] The territorial expansion of what was now the Roman Empire continued, and the state remained secure,[42] despite a series of emperors widely viewed as depraved and corrupt (for example, Caligula is argued by some to have been insane and Nero had a reputation for cruelty and being more interested in his private concerns than the affairs of the state[43]). Their rule was followed by the Flavian dynasty.[44] During the reign of the "Five Good Emperors" (96–180), the Empire reached its territorial, economic, and cultural zenith.[45] The state was secure from both internal and external threats, and the Empire prospered during the Pax Romana ("Roman Peace").[46][47] With the conquest of Dacia during the reign of Trajan, the Empire reached the peak of its territorial expansion; Rome's dominion now spanned 2.5 million square miles (6.5 million km²).[48] The Antonine Plague that swept through the Empire in 165–180 AD killed an estimated five million people.[49]

The Roman Empire at its greatest extent under Trajan in AD 117.

The period between 193 and 235 was dominated by the Severan dynasty, and saw several incompetent rulers, such as Elagabalus.[50] This and the increasing influence of the army on imperial succession led to a long period of imperial collapse and external invasions known as the Crisis of the Third Century.[51][52] The crisis was ended by the more competent rule of Diocletian, who in 293 divided the Empire into an eastern and western half ruled by a tetrarchy of two co-emperors and their two junior colleagues.[53] The various co-rulers of the Empire competed and fought for supremacy for more than half a century. On May 11, 330, Emperor Constantine I firmly established Byzantium as the capital of the Roman Empire and renamed it Constantinople.[54] The Empire was permanently divided into the Eastern Roman Empire (later known as the Byzantine Empire) and the Western Roman Empire in 395.[55]

The Western Empire was constantly harassed by barbarian invasions, and the gradual decline of the western Empire continued over the centuries.[56] In the 4th century, the westward migration of the Huns caused the Visigoths to seek refuge within the borders of the Roman Empire.[57] In 410, the Visigoths, under the leadership of Alaric I, sacked the city of Rome itself.[58] The Vandals invaded Roman provinces in Gaul, Hispania, and northern Africa, and in 455 sacked Rome.[59] On September 4, 476, the Germanic chief Odoacer forced the last Roman emperor in the west, Romulus Augustus, to abdicate.[60] Having lasted for approximately 1200 years, the rule of Rome in the West came to an end.[61]

The Eastern Empire would suffer a similar fate, though not as drastic. Justinian managed to briefly reconquer Northern Africa and Italy, but Byzantine possessions in the West were reduced to southern Italy and Sicily within a few years after Justinian's death.[62] In the east, partially resulting from the destructive Plague of Justinian, the Byzantines were threatened by the rise of Islam, whose followers rapidly conquered territories in Syria and Egypt and soon presented a direct threat to Constantinople.[63][64] The Byzantines, however, managed to stop Islamic expansion into their lands during the 8th century, and beginning in the 9th century reclaimed parts of the conquered lands.[11][65] In 1000 AD the Eastern Empire was at its height: Basileios II reconquered Bulgaria and Armenia, culture and trade flourished.[66] However, soon after the expansion was abruptly stopped in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert. This finally led the empire into a dramatic decline. Several centuries of internal strife and Turkic invasions ultimately paved the way for Emperor Alexius I Comnenus to send a call for help to the West in 1095.[63] The West responded with the Crusades, eventually resulting in the Sack of Constantinople by participants in the Fourth Crusade. The conquest of Constantinople in 1204 would see the fragmentation of what little remained of the empire into successor states, the ultimate victor being that of Nicaea.[67] After the recapture of Constantinople by imperial forces, the empire was little more than a Greek state confined to the Aegean coast. The Eastern Empire came to an end when Mehmed II conquered Constantinople on May 29, 1453.[68]


The imperial city of Rome was the largest urban center of its time, with a population of about one million people (about the size of London in the early 19th century, when London was the largest city in the world), with some high-end estimates of 14 million and low-end estimates of 450,000.[69][70][71] The public spaces in Rome resounded with such a din of hooves and clatter of iron chariot wheels that Julius Caesar had once proposed a ban on chariot traffic during the day. Historical estimates indicate that around 20 percent of the population under jurisdiction of ancient Rome (25–40%, depending on the standards used, in Roman Italy)[72] lived in innumerable urban centers, with population of 10,000 and more and several military settlements, a very high rate of urbanization by pre-industrial standards. Most of these centers had a forum and temples and similar style buildings, on a smaller scale, to those found in Rome.

Class structure

Area under Roman control      Roman Republic      Roman Empire      Western Empire      Eastern Empire      Inheriting countries of the Byzantine Empire

Roman society is largely viewed as hierarchical, with slaves (servi) at the bottom, freedmen (liberti) above them, and free-born citizens (cives) at the top. Free citizens were themselves also divided by class. The broadest, and earliest, division was between the patricians, who could trace their ancestry to one of the 100 Patriarchs at the founding of the city, and the plebeians, who could not. This became less important in the later Republic, as some plebeian families became wealthy and entered politics, and some patrician families fell on hard times. Anyone, patrician or plebeian, who could count a consul as his ancestor was a noble (nobilis); a man who was the first of his family to hold the consulship, such as Marius or Cicero, was known as a novus homo ("new man") and ennobled his descendants. Patrician ancestry, however, still conferred considerable prestige, and many religious offices remained restricted to patricians.

A class division originally based on military service became more important. Membership of these classes was determined periodically by the Censors, according to property. The wealthiest were the Senatorial class, who dominated politics and command of the army. Next came the equestrians (equites, sometimes translated "knights"), originally those who could afford a warhorse, who formed a powerful mercantile class. Several further classes, originally based on what military equipment their members could afford, followed, with the proletarii, citizens who had no property at all, at the bottom. Before the reforms of Marius they were ineligible for military service and are often described as being just barely above freed slaves in terms of wealth and prestige.

Voting power in the Republic was dependent on class. Citizens were enrolled in voting "tribes", but the tribes of the richer classes had fewer members than the poorer ones, all the proletarii being enrolled in a single tribe. Voting was done in class order and stopped as soon as a majority of the tribes had been reached, so the poorer classes were often unable even to cast their votes.

Allied foreign cities were often given the Latin Right, an intermediary level between full citizens and foreigners (peregrini), which gave their citizens rights under Roman law and allowed their leading magistrates to become full Roman citizens. While there were varying degrees of Latin rights, the main division was between those cum suffragio ("with vote"; enrolled in a Roman tribe and able to take part in the comitia tributa) and sine suffragio ("without vote"; unable to take part in Roman politics). Some of Rome's Italian allies were given full citizenship after the Social War of 91–88 BC, and full Roman citizenship was extended to all free-born men in the Empire by Caracalla in 212. Women shared some basic rights with their male counterparts, but were not fully regarded as citizens and were thus not allowed to vote or participate in politics.


A group portrait depicted on glass, dating from c.250 A.D., showing a mother, son and daughter. It was once considered to be a depiction of the family of Valentinian III.

The basic units of Roman society were households and families.[73] Households included the head (usually the father) of the household, pater familias (father of the family), his wife, children, and other relatives. In the upper classes, slaves and servants were also part of the household.[73] The head of the household had great power (patria potestas, "father's power") over those living with him: He could force marriage (usually for money) and divorce, sell his children into slavery, claim his dependents' property as his own, and even had the right to punish or kill family members (though this last right apparently ceased to be exercised after the 1st century BC).[74]

Patria potestas even extended over adult sons with their own households: A man was not considered a paterfamilias, nor could he truly hold property, while his own father lived.[74][75] During the early period of Rome's history, a daughter, when she married, fell under the control (manus) of the paterfamilias of her husband's household, although by the late Republic this fell out of fashion, as a woman could choose to continue recognizing her father's family as her true family.[76] However, as Romans reckoned descent through the male line, any children she had would belong to her husband's family.[77]

Little affection was shown for the children of Rome. Unwanted children might be sold as slaves; the mother or an elderly relative brought up both boys and girls; children might wait on tables for the family, but were forbidden to participate in the conversation.A Greek nurse usually taught the children Latin and Greek; the father, the boys how to swim and ride, although he sometimes hired a slave to teach them instead. At seven a boy began his education.Having no school building, classes were held on a rooftop (if dark, the boy had to carry a lantern to school). Wax-covered boards were used because paper, papyrus, and parchment were too expensive—or he could just write in the sand. A loaf of bread to be eaten was also carried. Of course, rich boys had their materials carried by a slave.[78]

Groups of related households formed a family (gens). Families were based on blood ties or adoption, but were also political and economic alliances. Especially during the Roman Republic, some powerful families, or Gentes Maiores, came to dominate political life.

Ancient Roman marriage was often regarded more as a financial and political alliance than as a romantic association, especially in the upper classes. Fathers usually began seeking husbands for their daughters when they reached an age between twelve and fourteen. The husband was almost always older than the bride. While upper class girls married very young, there is evidence that lower class women often married in their late teens or early twenties.


In the early Republic, there were no public schools, so boys were taught to read and write by their parents, or by educated slaves, called paedagogi, usually of Greek origin.[79][80][81] The primary aim of education during this period was to train young men in agriculture, warfare, Roman traditions, and public affairs.[11] Young boys learned much about civic life by accompanying their fathers to religious and political functions, including the Senate for the sons of nobles.[11] The sons of nobles were apprenticed to a prominent political figure at the age of 16, and campaigned with the army from the age of 17 (this system would still be in use among some noble families well into the imperial era).[11] Educational practices were modified following the conquest of the Hellenistic kingdoms in the 3rd century BC and the resulting Greek influence, although it should be noted that Roman educational practices were still significantly different from Greek ones.[11][82] If their parents could afford it, boys and some girls at the age of 7 were sent to a private school outside the home called a ludus, where a teacher (called a litterator or a magister ludi, and often of Greek origin) taught them basic reading, writing, arithmetic, and sometimes Greek, until the age of 11.[11][81][83] Beginning at age 12, students went to secondary schools, where the teacher (now called a grammaticus) taught them about Greek and Roman literature.[11][11] At the age of 16, some students went on to rhetoric school (where the teacher, almost always Greek, was called a rhetor).[11][11] Education at this level prepared students for legal careers, and required that the students memorize the laws of Rome.[11] Pupils went to school every day, except religious festivals and market days. There were also summer holidays.


Initially, Rome was ruled by kings, who were elected from each of Rome's major tribes in turn.[84] The exact nature of the king's power is uncertain. He may have held near-absolute power, or may also have merely been the chief executive of the Senate and the people. At least in military matters, the king's authority (Imperium) was likely absolute. He was also the head of the state religion. In addition to the authority of the King, there were three administrative assemblies: the Senate, which acted as an advisory body for the King; the Comitia Curiata, which could endorse and ratify laws suggested by the King; and the Comitia Calata, which was an assembly of the priestly college which could assemble the people in order to bear witness to certain acts, hear proclamations, and declare the feast and holiday schedule for the next month.

Representation of a sitting of the Roman Senate: Cicero attacks Catilina, from a 19th century fresco

The class struggles of the Roman Republic resulted in an unusual mixture of democracy and oligarchy. The word republic comes from the Latin res publica which literally translates to public business. Roman laws traditionally could only be passed by a vote of the Popular assembly (Comitia Tributa). Likewise, candidates for public positions had to run for election by the people. However, the Roman Senate represented an oligarchic institution, which acted as an advisory body. In the Republic, the Senate held great authority (auctoritas), but no actual legislative power; it was technically only an advisory council. However, as the Senators were individually very influential, it was difficult to accomplish anything against the collective will of the Senate. New Senators were chosen from among the most accomplished patricians by Censors (Censura), who could also remove a Senator from his office if he was found "morally corrupt"; a charge that could include bribery or, as under Cato the Elder, embracing one's wife in public. Later, under the reforms of the dictator Sulla, Quaestors were made automatic members of the Senate, though most of his reforms did not survive.

The Republic had no fixed bureaucracy, and collected taxes through the practice of tax farming. Government positions such as quaestor, aedile, or praefect were funded from the office-holder's private finances. In order to prevent any citizen from gaining too much power, new magistrates were elected annually and had to share power with a colleague. For example, under normal conditions, the highest authority was held by two consuls. In an emergency, a temporary dictator could be appointed. Throughout the Republic, the administrative system was revised several times to comply with new demands. In the end, it proved inefficient for controlling the ever-expanding dominion of Rome, contributing to the establishment of the Roman Empire.

In the early Empire, the pretense of a republican form of government was maintained. The Roman Emperor was portrayed as only a princeps, or "first citizen", and the Senate gained legislative power and all legal authority previously held by the popular assemblies. However, the rule of the emperors became increasingly autocratic over time, and the Senate was reduced to an advisory body appointed by the emperor. The Empire did not inherit a set bureaucracy from the Republic, since the Republic did not have any permanent governmental structures apart from the Senate. The Emperor appointed assistants and advisers, but the state lacked many institutions, such as a centrally planned budget. Some historians have cited this as a significant reason for the decline of the Roman Empire.


The roots of the legal principles and practices of the ancient Romans may be traced to the law of the twelve tables (from 449 BC) to the codification of Emperor Justinian I (around 530 AD). Roman law as preserved in Justinian's codes continued into the Byzantine Empire, and formed the basis of similar codifications in continental Western Europe. Roman law continued, in a broader sense, to be applied throughout most of Europe until the end of the 17th century.

The major divisions of the law of ancient Rome, as contained within the Justinian and Theodosian law codes, consisted of Ius Civile, Ius Gentium, and Ius Naturale. The Ius Civile ("Citizen law") was the body of common laws that applied to Roman citizens.[85] The Praetores Urbani (sg. Praetor Urbanus) were the individuals who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens. The Ius Gentium ("Law of nations") was the body of common laws that applied to foreigners, and their dealings with Roman citizens.[73] The Praetores Peregrini (sg. Praetor Peregrinus) were the individuals who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens and foreigners. Ius Naturale encompassed natural law, the body of laws that were considered common to all being.


Night view of the Trajan's Market which was built by Apollodorus of Damascus

Ancient Rome commanded a vast area of land, with tremendous natural and human resources. As such, Rome's economy remained focused on farming and trade. Agricultural free trade changed the Italian landscape, and by the 1st century BC, vast grape and olive estates had supplanted the yeoman farmers, who were unable to match the imported grain price. The annexation of Egypt, Sicily and Tunisia in North Africa provided a continuous supply of grains. In turn, olive oil and wine were Italy's main exports. Two-tier crop rotation was practiced, but farm productivity was overall low, around 1 ton per hectare.

Industrial and manufacturing activities were smaller. The largest such activities were the mining and quarrying of stones, which provided basic construction materials for the buildings of that period. In manufacturing, production was on a relatively small scale, and generally consisted of workshops and small factories that employed at most dozens of workers. However, some brick factories employed hundreds of workers.

The economy of the early Republic was largely based on smallholding and paid labor. However, foreign wars and conquests made slaves increasingly cheap and plentiful, and by the late Republic, the economy was largely dependent on slave labor for both skilled and unskilled work. Slaves are estimated to have constituted around 20% of the Roman Empire's population at this time and 40% in the city of Rome. Only in the Roman Empire, when the conquests stopped and the prices of slaves increased, did hired labor become more economical than slave ownership.

Although barter was used in ancient Rome, and often used in tax collection, Rome had a very developed coinage system, with brass, bronze, and precious metal coins in circulation throughout the Empire and beyond—some have even been discovered in India. Before the 3rd century BC, copper was traded by weight, measured in unmarked lumps, across central Italy. The original copper coins (as) had a face value of one Roman pound of copper, but weighed less. Thus, Roman money's utility as a unit of exchange consistently exceeded its intrinsic value as metal. After Nero began debasing the silver denarius, its legal value was an estimated one-third greater than its intrinsic.

Horses were too expensive, and other pack animals too slow, for mass trade on the Roman roads, which connected military posts rather than markets, and were rarely designed for wheels. As a result, there was little transport of commodities between Roman regions until the rise of Roman maritime trade in the 2nd century BC. During that period, a trading vessel took less than a month to complete a trip from Gades to Alexandria via Ostia, spanning the entire length of the Mediterranean.[48] Transport by sea was around 60 times cheaper than by land, so the volume for such trips was much larger.

Some economists like Peter Temin consider the Roman Empire a market economy, similar in its degree of capitalistic practices to 17th century Netherlands and 18th century England.[86]


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This article is part of the series on:
Military of ancient Rome (portal)
753 BC – AD 476
Structural history
Roman army (unit types and ranks, legions, auxiliaries, generals)
Roman navy (fleets, admirals)
Campaign history
Lists of wars and battles
Decorations and punishments
Technological history
Military engineering (castra, siege engines, arches, roads)
Personal equipment
Political history
Strategy and tactics
Infantry tactics
Frontiers and fortifications (limes, Hadrian's Wall)
Modern replica of lorica segmentata type armor

The early Roman army (c. 500 BC) was, like those of other contemporary city-states influenced by Greek civilization, a citizen militia which practiced hoplite tactics. It was small (the population of free males of military age was then about 9,000) and organized in five classes (in parallel to the comitia centuriata, the body of citizens organized politically), with three providing hoplites and two providing light infantry. The early Roman army was tactically limited and its stance during this period was essentially defensive.[87] By the 3rd century BC, the Romans abandoned the hoplite formation in favor of a more flexible system in which smaller groups of 120 (or in some cases 60) men called maniples could maneuver more independently on the battlefield. Thirty maniples arranged in three lines with supporting troops constituted a legion, totaling between 4,000 and 5,000 men. The early Republican legion consisted of five sections, each of which was equipped differently and had different places in formation: the three lines of manipular heavy infantry (hastati, principes and triarii), a force of light infantry (velites), and the cavalry (equites). With the new organization came a new orientation toward the offensive and a much more aggressive posture toward adjoining city-states.[88]

At nominal full strength, an early Republican legion would have included 3,600 to 4,800 heavy infantry, several hundred light infantry and several hundred cavalrymen, for a total of 4,000 to 5,000 men.[89] Legions were often significantly understrength from recruitment failures or following periods of active service due to accidents, battle casualties, disease and desertion. During the Civil War, Pompey's legions in the east were at full strength because recently recruited, while Caesar's legions were in many cases well below nominal strength after long active service in Gaul. This pattern also held true for auxiliary forces.[90]

Until the late Republican period, the typical legionary was a property-owning citizen farmer from a rural area (an adsiduus) who served for particular (often annual) campaigns,[91] and who supplied his own equipment and, in the case of equites, his own mount. Harris suggests that down to 200 BC, the average rural farmer (who survived) might participate in six or seven campaigns. Freedmen and slaves (wherever resident) and urban citizens did not serve except in rare emergencies.[92] After 200 BC, economic conditions in rural areas deteriorated as manpower needs increased, so that the property qualifications for service were gradually reduced. Beginning with Gaius Marius in 107 BC, citizens without property and some urban-dwelling citizens (proletarii) were enlisted and provided with equipment, although most legionaries continued to come from rural areas. Terms of service became continuous and long—up to twenty years if emergencies required it although Brunt argues that six or seven years was more typical.[93] Beginning in the 3rd century BC, legionaries were paid stipendium (amounts are disputed but Caesar famously "doubled" payments to his troops to 225 denarii a year), could anticipate booty and donatives (distributions of plunder by commanders) from successful campaigns and, beginning at the time of Marius, often were granted allotments of land upon retirement.[94] Cavalry and light infantry attached to a legion (the auxilia) were often recruited in the areas where the legion served. Caesar formed a legion, the Fifth Alaudae, from non-citizens in Transalpine Gaul to serve in his campaigns in Gaul.[95] By the time of Caesar Augustus, the ideal of the citizen-soldier had been abandoned and the legions had become fully professional. Legionaries were paid 900 sesterces a year and could expect a payment of 12,000 sesterces on retirement.[96]

At the end of the Civil War, Augustus reorganized Roman military forces, discharging soldiers and disbanding legions. He retained 28 legions, distributed through the provinces of the Empire.[97] During the Principate, the tactical organization of the Army continued to evolve. The auxilia remained independent cohorts, and legionary troops often operated as groups of cohorts rather than as full legions. A new versatile type of unit, the cohortes equitatae, combining cavalry and legionaries in a single formation could be stationed at garrisons or outposts, could fight on their own as balanced small forces or could combine with other similar units as a larger legion-sized force. This increase in organizational flexibility over time helped ensure the long-term success of Roman military forces.[98]

The Emperor Gallienus (253–268 AD) began a reorganization that created the final military structure of the late Empire. Withdrawing some legionaries from the fixed bases on the border, Gallienus created mobile forces (the Comitatenses or field armies) and stationed them behind and at some distance from the borders as a strategic reserve. The border troops (limitanei) stationed at fixed bases continued to be the first line of defense. The basic unit of the field army was the "regiment", legiones or auxilia for infantry and vexellationes for cavalry. Evidence suggests that nominal strengths may have been 1,200 men for infantry regiments and 600 for cavalry, although many records show lower actual troop levels (800 and 400). Many infantry and cavalry regiments operated in pairs under the command of a comes. In addition to Roman troops, the field armies included regiments of "barbarians" recruited from allied tribes and known as foederati. By 400 AD, foederati regiments had become permanently established units of the Roman army, paid and equipped by the Empire, led by a Roman tribune and used just as Roman units were used. In addition to the foederati, the Empire also used groups of barbarians to fight along with the legions as "allies" without integration into the field armies. Under the command of the senior Roman general present, they were led at lower levels by their own officers.[99]

Drawing of a Roman ballista

Military leadership evolved greatly over the course of the history of Rome. Under the monarchy, the hoplite armies would have been led by the kings of Rome. During the early and middle Roman Republic, military forces were under the command of one of the two elected consuls for the year. During the later Republic, members of the Roman Senatorial elite, as part of the normal sequence of elected public offices known as the cursus honorum, would have served first as quaestor (often posted as deputies to field commanders), then as praetor. Following the end of a term as praetor or consul, a Senator might be appointed by the Senate as a propraetor or proconsul (depending on the highest office previously held) to govern a foreign province. More junior officers (down to but not including the level of centurion) were selected by their commanders from their own clientelae or those recommended by political allies among the Senatorial elite.[100] Under Augustus, whose most important political priority was to place the military under a permanent and unitary command, the Emperor was the legal commander of each legion but exercised that command through a legatus (legate) he appointed from the Senatorial elite. In a province with a single legion, the legate would command the legion (legatus legionis) and also serve as provincial governor, while in a province with more than one legion, each legion would be commanded by a legate and the legates would be commanded by the provincial governor (also a legate but of higher rank).[101] During the later stages of the Imperial period (beginning perhaps with Diocletian), the Augustan model was abandoned. Provincial governors were stripped of military authority, and command of the armies in a group of provinces was given to generals (duces) appointed by the Emperor. These were no longer members of the Roman elite but men who came up through the ranks and had seen much practical soldiering. With increasing frequency, these men attempted (sometimes successfully) to usurp the positions of the Emperors who had appointed them. Decreased resources, increasing political chaos and civil war eventually left the Western Empire vulnerable to attack and takeover by neighboring barbarian peoples.[102]

Comparatively less is known about the Roman navy than the Roman army. Prior to the middle of the 3rd century BC, officials known as duumviri navales commanded a fleet of twenty ships used mainly to control piracy. This fleet was given up in 278 AD and replaced by allied forces. The First Punic War required that Rome build large fleets, and it did so largely with the assistance of and financing from allies. This reliance on allies continued to the end of the Roman Republic. The quinquireme was the main warship on both sides of the Punic Wars and remained the mainstay of Roman naval forces until replaced by the time of Caesar Augustus by lighter and more maneuverable vessels. As compared with a trireme, the quinquireme permitted the use of a mix of experienced and inexperienced crewmen (an advantage for a primarily land-based power), and its lesser maneuverability permitted the Romans to adopt and perfect boarding tactics using a troop of approximately 40 marines in lieu of the ram. Ships were commanded by a navarch, a rank equivalent to a centurion, who were usually not citizens. Potter suggests that because the fleet was dominated by non-Romans, the navy was considered non-Roman and allowed to atrophy in times of peace.[103]

Available information suggests that by the time of the late Empire (350 AD), the Roman navy comprised a number of fleets including both warships and merchant vessels for transportation and supply. Warships were oared sailing galleys with three to five banks of oarsmen. Fleet bases included such ports as Ravenna, Arles, Aquilea, Misenum and the mouth of the Somme River in the West and Alexandria and Rhodes in the East. Flotillas of small river craft (classes) were part of the limitanei (border troops) during this period, based at fortified river harbors along the Rhine and the Danube. The fact that prominent generals commanded both armies and fleets suggests that naval forces were treated as auxiliaries to the army and not as an independent service. The details of command structure and fleet strengths during this period are not well known although it is known that fleets were commanded by prefects.[104]


Life in ancient Rome revolved around the city of Rome, located on seven hills. The city had a vast number of monumental structures like the Colosseum, the Forum of Trajan and the Pantheon. It had fountains with fresh drinking-water supplied by hundreds of miles of aqueducts, theatres, gymnasiums, bath complexes complete with libraries and shops, marketplaces, and functional sewers. Throughout the territory under the control of ancient Rome, residential architecture ranged from very modest houses to country villas. In the capital city of Rome, there were imperial residences on the elegant Palatine Hill, from which the word palace is derived. The low Plebian and middle Equestrian classes lived in the city center, packed into apartments, or Insulae which were almost like modern ghettos. These areas, often built by upper class landlords for the rental incomes collected, were often centred upon collegia or taberna. These people, provided by a free supply of grain, and entertained by gladatorial games, were enrolled as clients of patrons amongst the upper class Patricians, whose assistance they sought and whose interests they upheld.


The poor ate vegetables, fish, salt, and olive oil. Little meat was eaten: in fact, some who had to eat meat complained of it as a hardship. Usually, no breakfast was eaten and, for lunch, leftovers were used. For the rich, dinner was served before four in the afternoon and lasted from three to four hours. Hands were washed between courses. One emperor served twenty-two courses at his dinner parties. If guests were invited to dinner, slaves were sent to bring them on time, as the water clocks did not always agree. Women, having sent their gowns in advance, were already dressed in the home of the hostess. When guests asked for their slippers, they were ready to depart.


The native language of the Romans was Latin, an Italic language the grammar of which relies little on word order, conveying meaning through a system of affixes attached to word stems.[105] Its alphabet was based on the Etruscan alphabet, which was in turn based on the Greek alphabet.[106] Although surviving Latin literature consists almost entirely of Classical Latin, an artificial and highly stylized and polished literary language from the 1st century BC, the actual spoken language of the Roman Empire was Vulgar Latin, which significantly differed from Classical Latin in grammar and vocabulary, and eventually in pronunciation.[107]

While Latin remained the main written language of the Roman Empire, Greek came to be the language spoken by the well-educated elite, as most of the literature studied by Romans was written in Greek. In the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which later became the Byzantine Empire, Latin was never able to replace Greek, and after the death of Justinian, Greek became the official language of the Byzantine government.[108] The expansion of the Roman Empire spread Latin throughout Europe, and over time Vulgar Latin evolved and dialectized in different locations, gradually shifting into a number of distinct Romance languages.


Archaic Roman religion, at least concerning the gods, was made up not of written narratives, but rather of complex interrelations between gods and humans.[109] Unlike in Greek mythology, the gods were not personified, but were vaguely-defined sacred spirits called numina. Romans also believed that every person, place or thing had its own genius, or divine soul. During the Roman Republic, Roman religion was organized under a strict system of priestly offices, which were held by men of senatorial rank. The College of Pontifices was uppermost body in this hierarchy, and its chief priest, the Pontifex Maximus, was the head of the state religion. Flamens took care of the cults of various gods, while augurs were trusted with taking the auspices. The sacred king took on the religious responsibilities of the deposed kings. In the Roman empire, emperors were held to be gods, and the formalized imperial cult became increasingly prominent.

As contact with the Greeks increased, the old Roman gods became increasingly associated with Greek gods.[110] Thus, Jupiter was perceived to be the same deity as Zeus, Mars became associated with Ares, and Neptune with Poseidon. The Roman gods also assumed the attributes and mythologies of these Greek gods. Under the empire, the Romans absorbed the mythologies of their conquered subjects, often leading to situations in which the temples and priests of traditional Italian deities existed side by side with those of foreign gods.[111] Beginning with Emperor Nero, Roman official policy towards Christianity was negative, and at some points, simply being a Christian could be punishable by death. Under Emperor Diocletian, the persecution of Christians reached its peak. However, it became an officially supported religion in the Roman state under Constantine I and became dominant. All religions except Christianity were prohibited in 391 AD by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I.[112]

Art, music and literature

Roman painting styles show Greek influences, and surviving examples are primarily frescoes used to adorn the walls and ceilings of country villas, though Roman literature includes mentions of paintings on wood, ivory, and other materials.[113][114] Several examples of Roman painting have been found at Pompeii, and from these art historians divide the history of Roman painting into four periods. The first style of Roman painting was practiced from the early 2nd century BC to the early- or mid-1st century BC. It was mainly composed of imitations of marble and masonry, though sometimes including depictions of mythological characters. The second style of Roman painting began during the early 1st century BC, and attempted to depict realistically three-dimensional architectural features and landscapes. The third style occurred during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), and rejected the realism of the second style in favor of simple ornamentation. A small architectural scene, landscape, or abstract design was placed in the center with a monochrome background. The fourth style, which began in the 1st century AD, depicted scenes from mythology, while retaining architectural details and abstract patterns.[113][114]

Portrait sculpture during the period utilized youthful and classical proportions, evolving later into a mixture of realism and idealism. During the Antonine and Severan periods, more ornate hair and bearding became prevalent, created with deeper cutting and drilling. Advancements were also made in relief sculptures, usually depicting Roman victories.

Latin literature was from its very inception influenced heavily by Greek authors. Some of the earliest extant works are of historical epics telling the early military history of Rome. As the Republic expanded, authors began to produce poetry, comedy, history, and tragedy.

Roman music was largely based on Greek music, and played an important part in many aspects of Roman life.[115] In the Roman military, musical instruments such as the tuba (a long trumpet) or the cornu (similar to a French horn) were used to give various commands, while the bucina (possibly a trumpet or horn) and the lituus (probably an elongated J-shaped instrument), were used in ceremonial capacities.[116] Music was used in the amphitheaters between fights and in the odea, and in these settings is known to have featured the cornu and the hydraulis (a type of water organ).[117] The majority of religious rituals featured musical performances, with tibiae (double pipes) at sacrifices, cymbals and Tambourines at orgiastic cults, and rattles and hymns across the spectrum.[118] Some music historians believe that music was used at almost all public ceremonies.[119] Music historians are not certain if Roman musicians made a significant contribution to the theory or practice of music.[115]

The graffiti, brothels, paintings, and sculptures found in Pompeii and Herculaneum suggest that the Romans had a very sex-saturated culture.[120]

Scholarly studies

Interest in studying ancient Rome arose during the Age of Enlightenment in France. Charles Montesquieu wrote a work Reflections on the Causes of the Grandeur and Declension of the Romans. The first major work was The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, which encompassed the period from the end of 2nd century to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. Like Montesquieu, Gibbon paid high tribute to the virtue of Roman citizens. Barthold Georg Niebuhr was a founder of the examination of ancient Roman history and wrote The Roman History, tracing the period until the First Punic war. Niebuhr made an attempt to determine the way the Roman tradition evolved. According to him, Romans, like other people, had an historical ethos which was preserved mainly in the noble families. During the Napoleonic period a work titled The History of Romans by Victor Duruy appeared. It highlighted the Caesarean period popular at the time. History of Rome, Roman constitutional law and Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, all by Theodor Mommsen, became very important milestones. Later the work Greatness and Decline of Rome by Guglielmo Ferrero was published. The Russian work Очерки по истории римского землевладения, преимущественно в эпоху Империи (The Outlines on Roman Landownership History, Mainly During the Empire) by Ivan Grevs contained information on the economy of Pomponius Atticus, one of the greatest landowners during the end of the Republic.

Games and activities

The youth of Rome had several forms of play and exercise, such as jumping, wrestling, boxing, and racing.[121] In the countryside, pastimes for the wealthy also included fishing and hunting.[122] The Romans also had several forms of ball playing, including one resembling handball.[121] Dice games, board games, and gamble games were extremely popular pastimes.[121] Women did not participate in these activities. For the wealthy, dinner parties presented an opportunity for entertainment, sometimes featuring music, dancing, and poetry readings.[123] Plebeians sometimes enjoyed similar parties through clubs or associations, although recreational dining usually meant patronizing taverns.[123] Children entertained themselves with toys and such games as leapfrog.[122][123]

A popular form of entertainment was gladiatorial combats. Gladiators fought either to the death, or to "first blood" with a variety of weapons and in a variety of different scenarios. These fights achieved their height of popularity under the emperor Claudius, who placed the final outcome of the combat firmly in the hands of the emperor with a hand gesture. Contrary to popular representations in film, several experts believe the gesture for death was not "thumbs down". Although no one is certain as to what the gestures were, some experts conclude that the emperor would signify "death" by holding a raised fist to the winning combatant and then extending his thumb upwards, while "mercy" was indicated by a raised fist with no extended thumb.[124] Animal shows were also popular with the Romans, where foreign animals were either displayed for the public or combined with gladiatorial combat. A prisoner or gladiator, armed or unarmed, was thrown into the arena and an animal was released.

The Circus Maximus, another popular site in Rome, was primarily used for horse and chariot racing, and when the Circus was flooded, there could be sea battles. It was also used for many other events.[125] The Circus could hold up to 385,000 people;[126] people all over Rome would visit it. Two temples, one with seven large eggs and one with seven dolphins, lay in the middle of the track of Circus Maximus, and whenever the racers made a lap, one of each would be removed. This was done to keep the spectators and the racers informed of the race statistics. Other than for sports, the Circus Maximus was also an area of marketing and gambling. Higher authorities, such as the emperor, also attended games in the Circus Maximus, as it was considered rude to avoid attendance. The higher authorities, knights, and many other people who were involved with the race, sat in reserved seats located above everyone else. It was also considered inappropriate for emperors to favour a particular team. The Circus Maximus was created in 600 BC and hosted the last horse-racing game in 549 AD, after a custom enduring over a millennium.


Ancient Rome boasted impressive technological feats, using many advancements that would be lost in the Middle Ages and not be rivaled again until the 19th and 20th centuries. Many practical Roman innovations were adopted from earlier Greek designs. Advancements were often divided and based on craft. Groups of artisans jealously guarded new technologies as trade secrets.

Roman engineering as well as Roman military engineering constituted a large portion of Rome's technological superiority and legacy, and contributed to the construction of hundreds of roads, bridges, aqueducts, baths, theaters and arenas. Many monuments, such as the Colosseum, Pont du Gard, and Pantheon, still remain as testaments to Roman engineering and culture.

The Romans were particularly renowned for their architecture, which is grouped with Greek traditions into "Classical architecture". Although there were many differences from Greek architecture, Rome borrowed heavily from Greece in adhering to strict, formulaic building designs and proportions. Aside from two new orders of columns, composite and Tuscan, and from the dome, which was derived from the Etruscan arch, Rome had relatively few architectural innovations until the end of the Republic.

The Appian Way (Via Appia), a road connecting the city of Rome to the southern parts of Italy, remains usable even today.

In the 1st century BC, Romans started to use concrete, widely. Concrete was invented in the late 3rd century BC. It was a powerful cement derived from pozzolana, and soon supplanted marble as the chief Roman building material and allowed many daring architectural schemata. Also in the 1st century BC, Vitruvius wrote De architectura, possibly the first complete treatise on architecture in history. In late 1st century BC, Rome also began to use glassblowing soon after its invention in Syria about 50 BC. Mosaics took the Empire by storm after samples were retrieved during Lucius Cornelius Sulla's campaigns in Greece. Article on history of Roman concrete

Concrete made possible the paved, durable Roman roads, many of which were still in use a thousand years after the fall of Rome. The construction of a vast and efficient travel network throughout the Empire dramatically increased Rome's power and influence. It was originally constructed to allow Roman legions to be rapidly deployed. But these highways also had enormous economic significance, solidifying Rome's role as a trading crossroads—the origin of the saying "all roads lead to Rome". The Roman government maintained way stations which provided refreshments to travelers at regular intervals along the roads, constructed bridges where necessary, and established a system of horse relays for couriers that allowed a dispatch to travel up to 800 kilometers (500 mi) in 24 hours.

Pont du Gard in France is a Roman aqueduct built in c. 19 BC. It is a World Heritage Site.

The Romans constructed numerous aqueducts to supply water to cities and industrial sites and to assist in their agriculture. The city of Rome was supplied by 11 aqueducts with a combined length of 350 kilometres (220 mi).[127] Most aqueducts were constructed below the surface, with only small portions above ground supported by arches. Sometimes, where depressions deeper than 50 metres (165 ft) had to be crossed, inverted siphons were used to force water uphill.[2] The Romans also made major advancements in sanitation. Romans were particularly famous for their public baths, called thermae, which were used for both hygienic and social purposes. Many Roman houses came to have flush toilets and indoor plumbing, and a complex sewer system, the Cloaca Maxima, was used to drain the local marshes and carry waste into the Tiber river. Some historians have speculated that the use of lead pipes in the sewer and plumbing systems led to widespread lead poisoning which contributed to the decline in birth rate and general decay of Roman society leading up to the fall of Rome. However, lead content would have been minimized because the flow of water from aqueducts could not be shut off; it ran continuously through public and private outlets into the drains, and only a small number of taps were in use.[128]

See also


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  95. ^ Goldsworthy, Caesar, pp. 391.
  96. ^ Karl Christ, The Romans, University of California Press (Berkeley, 1984)[ISBN 0-520-04566-1], pp. 74-76 .
  97. ^ Christopher S. Mackay, Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History, Cambridge University Press, (Cambridge, U.K. 2004), pp. 249-250. Mackay points out that the number of legions (not necessarily the number of legionaries) grew to 30 by 125 AD and 33 during the Severan period (200–235 AD).
  98. ^ Goldsworthy, ‘’The Roman Army’’, p.36-37.
  99. ^ Hugh Elton, Warfare in Roman Europe AD 350-425, Oxford University Press (Oxford 1996)[ISBN 0-19-815241-8] pp. 89-96.
  100. ^ T. Correy Brennan, "Power and Process Under the Republican 'Constitution'," in Harriet I. Flower, editor, The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge U.K. 2004) [ISBN 0-521-00390-3], Chapter 2; Potter, pp. 66-88; Goldsworthy, The Roman Army, pp. 121-125. Julius Caesar's most talented, effective and reliable subordinate in Gaul, Titus Labienus, was recommended to him by Pompey. Goldsworthy, The Roman Army, p. 124.
  101. ^ Mackay, pp. 245-252.
  102. ^ MacKay, pp. 295-296 and Chapters 23-24.
  103. ^ This paragraph is based upon Potter, pp. 76-78.
  104. ^ This discussion is based upon Elton, pp. 97-99 and 100-101.
  105. ^ Latin Online: Series Introduction by Winfred P. Lehmann and Jonathan Slocum. Linguistics Research Center. The University of Texas at Austin. Written 2007-2-15. Retrieved 2007-4-1.
  106. ^ The Latin Alphabet by J. B. Calvert. University of Denver. Written 1999-8-8. Retrieved 2007-4-1.
  107. ^ Classical Latin Supplement. page 2. Retrieved 2007-4-2.
  108. ^ Adkins, 1998. page 203.
  109. ^ Matyszak, 2003. page 24.
  110. ^ Willis, 2000. page 168.
  111. ^ Willis, 2000. page 166.
  112. ^ Theodosius I (379-395 AD) by David Woods. De Imperatoribus Romanis. Written 1999-2-2. Retrieved 2007-4-4.
  113. ^ a b Adkins, 1998. pages 350-352.
  114. ^ a b Roman Painting from Timeline of Art History. Department of Greek and Roman Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Written 2004-10. Retrieved 2007-4-22.
  115. ^ a b Chronology: Ancient and Medieval: Ancient Rome. iClassics. Excerpt from A History of Western Music, Fifth Edition by Donald Jay Grout and Claude V. Palisca. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.: 1960. Retrieved 2007-4-22.
  116. ^ Adkins, 1998. page 89.
  117. ^ Adkins, 1998. page 349-350.
  118. ^ Adkins, 1998. page 300.
  119. ^ Chronology: Ancient and Medieval: Ancient Rome. iClassics. Excerpt from A History of Western Music, Fifth Edition by Donald Jay Grout and Claude V. Palisca. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.: 1960.
  120. ^ Grant, 2005. pages 130-134.
  121. ^ a b c Casson, 1998. pages 98-108.
  122. ^ a b Daily Life: Entertainment. SPQR Online. Written 1998. Retrieved 2007-4-22.
  123. ^ a b c Adkins, 1998. page 350.
  124. ^ The Gladiator and the Thumb. Encyclopedia Romana. University of Chicago. Retrieved 2007-4-24.
  125. ^ Circus Maximus. Encyclopedia Romana. University of Chicago. Retrieved 2007-4-19.
  126. ^ Athena Review I,4: Romans on the Rhône: Arles
  127. ^ Frontinus
  128. ^ Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply by A.T. Hodge (1992)


  • Adkins, Lesley; Roy Adkins (1998). Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512332-8.  
  • Casson, Lionel (1998). Everyday Life in Ancient Rome. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-5992-1.  
  • Dio, Cassius. "Dio's Rome, Volume V., Books 61-76 (CE 54-211)". Retrieved 2006-12-17.  
  • Duiker, William; Jackson Spielvogel (2001). World History (Third edition ed.). Wadsworth. ISBN 0-534-57168-9.  
  • Durant, Will (1944). The Story of Civilization, Volume III: Caesar and Christ. Simon and Schuster, Inc..  
  • Elton, Hugh (1996). Warfare in Roman Europe AD350-425. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-815241-8.  
  • Flower (editor), Harriet I. (2004). The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-00390-3.  
  • Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian Keith (2003). The Complete Roman Army. London: Thames and Hudson, Ltd.. ISBN 0-500-05124-0.  
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian Keith (1996). The Roman Army at War 100BC-AD200. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-815057-1.  
  • Grant, Michael (2005). Cities of Vesuvius: Pompeii and Herculaneum. London: Phoenix Press. ISBN 1-89880-045-6.  
  • Haywood, Richard (1971). The Ancient World. David McKay Company, Inc..  
  • Keegan, John (1993). A History of Warfare. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-58801-0.  
  • Livy. The Rise of Rome, Books 1-5, translated from Latin by T.J. Luce, 1998. Oxford World's Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-282296-9.
  • Mackay, Christopher S. (2004). Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80918-5.  
  • Matyszak, Philip (2003). Chronicle of the Roman Republic. London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd.. ISBN 0-500-05121-6.  
  • O'Connell, Robert (1989). Of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505359-1.  
  • Scarre, Chris (September 1995). The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-051329-9.  
  • Scullard, H. H. (1982). From the Gracchi to Nero. (5th edition). Routledge. ISBN 0-415-02527-3.  
  • Werner, Paul (1978). Life in Rome in Ancient Times. translated by David Macrae. Geneva: Editions Minerva S.A..  
  • Willis, Roy (2000). World Mythology: The Illustrated Guide. Collingwood, Victoria: Ken Fin Books. ISBN 1-86458-089-5.  

Further reading

  • Cowell, Frank Richard. Life in Ancient Rome. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1961 (paperback, ISBN 0-399-50328-5).
  • Gabucci, Ada. Rome (Dictionaries of Civilizations; 2). Berkekely: University of California Press, 2007 (paperback, ISBN 0520252659).
  • Wyke, Maria. Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema, and History. New York; London: Routledge, 1997 (hardcover, ISBN 0-415-90613-X, paperback, ISBN 0-415-91614-8).

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Rome/Colosseo article)

From Wikitravel

Europe : Italy : Central Italy : Lazio : Rome : Colosseo
The Colosseum
The Colosseum

The Colosseo district is the heart of ancient Rome. It has the Colosseum, the Forum, and the Capitoline Museum.

Get in

Via dei Fori Imperiali cuts through the centre of the Rome/Colosseo district, connecting Piazza Venezia with the Colosseum. It is well served by buses, although if you are into serious sightseeing you are likely to want to walk instead as the Roman Forum is on your right for most of the journey. After the Colosseum, the road becomes Via Labicana and takes you close to San Giovanni. Buses serving Via dei Fori Imperiali include No. 60, from Via Nazionale and beyond (beware, this is an express bus with limited stops), No. 75, which connects Termini Station with Aventino- Testaccio and No. 85, which connects Piazza San Silvestro in the Modern Center (close to the Trevi Fountain) with San Giovanni. The Colosseum has a metro stop on Line B, two stops from Termini toward EUR.

  • Arch of Constantine. located a short walk west of the Colosseum, this well-preserved monumental arch was erected (sometime soon after 315) to commemorate the victory of Constantine, the first Christian emperor, over his rival Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312. In general design, the Arch of Constantine imitates the century-earlier Arch of Septimius Severus (nearby in the Forum) - the quality of its sculptural decoration, however, betrays the slow degradation that Classical Roman sculpture had experienced in the 3rd century AD. Free to view.  edit
  • Colosseum, Piazzale del Colosseo / Via dei Fori Imperiali, +39 06 700 4261. open daily October-January 15 9AM-3PM, January 16-February 15 9AM-4PM, February 16-March 17 9AM-4.30PM, March 18-April 16 9AM-5PM, April 17-September 9AM-7PM,. Known properly as the Flavian Amphitheatre, this most famous of Roman landmarks takes its name from the giant statue of the emperor Nero that once stood near this location. Originally capable of seating some 50,000 spectators for animal fights and gladiatorial combats, the amphitheatre was a project started by the Emperor Vespasian in 72 and completed by his son Domitian sometime in the 80s. The Colosseum when completed measured 48 m high, 188 m in length, and 156 m in width. The wooden arena floor was 86 m by 54 m, and covered by sand. Expect a long queue and an even longer wait. You can skip the queue if you decide to take a tour, but if you don't want a tour, you can STILL skip the queue. If you walk across the street to the Roman Forum, you can buy various one or three day passes which allows you to bypass it. There are lots of people offering tours in English just outside the entrance to the Colosseum. Inside you can take a tour (English, Spanish, or German) every 30 minutes or so for an additional fee of €4.5 per person. The tours are given by knowledgeable archeologists, but they don't take you to any areas you couldn't visit on your own. Admission.  edit
Colosseo in the night-time
Colosseo in the night-time
  • Palatine Hill, (Right next to the Roman Forum). contains the ruins of several large villas that belonged to wealthy Roman families. You can buy a combined ticket for the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum here, avoiding the long lines at the Colosseum.  edit
  • Piazza del Campidoglio. On top of the Capitol hill. The piazza was designed by Michelangelo. The Capitoline Museum is housed in the palaces flanking the piazza. You can walk behind the palaces and to a wonderful viewpoint which overlooks the entire Forum.  edit
  • Piazza Venezia, (at the opposite end of Via dei Fori Imperiali to the Colosseum). More of an enormous traffic circle than a piazza, but a good central location. The centerpiece is the enormous Vittorio Emanuele Monument (aka the Wedding Cake or the Typewriter) with the Capitoline hill next door. Mussolini used to harangue Romans from the first floor balcony of Palazzo Venezia (see under Museums), to the west of the square.  edit
  • San Clemente, Via Labicana 95, walk round church for entrance (A short walk from the Colosseum), +39 06 70 45 10 18, [1]. A great little cathedral to visit, lovingly looked after by Irish Dominicans. There is an excavated older church below the medieval church you enter and a pagan temple below that. The only place in Rome to hear the underground river that flows beneath the city.  edit
  • San Stefano Rotondo, 7 Via di Santo Stefano Rotondo (From behind the Colosseum take Via Claudia almost to the top. Turn left and you are there.). Dating from the 5th Century this is believed to be the largest round church in the world. The national church of Hungary in Rome and dedicated to St. Stephen. Charles Dickens described its wall paintings of martyrdom and butchery as ‘hideous”. A good starting point to visit the attractions of the Celio Hill (see Rome/Aventino-Testaccio)  edit
    St. Peter's Chains, San Pietro in Vincoli
    St. Peter's Chains, San Pietro in Vincoli
  • San Pietro in Vincoli, Piazza San Pietro in Vincoli, 4A, +39 06 48 82 865. Daily 7AM-12.30PM/3.30PM-6PM. The chains that held St. Peter are displayed in a case before the altar. Also contains the impressive statue of Moses by Michelangelo. It's close to the Colosseum, but a little hard to find. Take the steps opposite the Colosseum on Via dei Fori Imperiali, cross the road at the top and seek directions. Also reachable through steps to the right leading off Via Cavour.  edit
  • Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Piazza del Campidoglio 4. Ballroom-like church which crowns part of the Capitoline Hill. Don't be fooled by the plain stone exterior.  edit
  • Trajan's Markets (Mercati di Traiano), (enter from Via IV Novembre, which leads off from Piazza Venezia). On the other side of the Via dei Fori Imperiali to the Roman Forum. Well-preserved market area that doubled as a way of stopping the Quirinal Hill from collapsing. Below in the Forum is Trajan's Column, built in 113 with reliefs depicting the Emperor Trajan's vistories in battle.  edit
  • Mamertine Prison (San Pietro in Carcere), (underneath the Capitoline Hill behind the Victor Emmanuel Monument). Leaders of Rome's defeated enemies were imprisoned here where they either died of starvation or strangulation. According to legend, St. Peter was imprisoned here.  edit
The Roman Forum
The Roman Forum
The Temple of Saturn in the Forum
The Temple of Saturn in the Forum
The Arch of Septimius Severus
The Arch of Septimius Severus

The Roman Forum (Italian, Foro Romano) [2] If stones could talk: these hallowed ruins were the most powerful seat of government in the world. The Forum is much less crowded than the Colosseum and, from a historical perspective, much more interesting. Free admission, except for an audio guide, which is highly recommended. To stand in the political, legal and religious centre of the whole Roman Empire brings shivers down one's spine. It is the best way of imagining the splendour and glory of ancient Rome.

Located in a small valley between the Capitoline and Palatine hills, access to the Forum is by foot only, from an entrance on the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Wheelchair access is available for most of the Forum but be aware that the path is often bumpy due to it containing original stones from the ancient Roman period. The Forum is often less crowded than the neighboring Colliseum, but holds even more history. Open Mo-Sa 9AM-6PM (summer), 9AM-3PM (winter), Sundays 9AM-1PM year-round. Admission is €12, and the ticket is valid for two days and includes entrance to the Colosseum and Palatine Hill as well.

Tip: It is possible to hire an audioguide for €4 from a small booth just above the Arch of Titus near the Coliseum. These audioguides contain an audio jack meaning that two people can easily share one.

  • the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina (Tempio di Antonio e Faustina) - built in 141 AD and dedicated to the empress Faustina; after her husband emperor Antoninus Pius died in 161 AD the temple was rededicated to the couple.
  • the Basilica Aemilia - completed in 179 BC
  • the Curia (Senate House) - the 4th rebuilding of the meeting place for the Roman Senate, once converted into a church during the Middle Ages, but now restored since the 1930s
  • the Lapis Niger (Black Stone)
  • the Arch of Septimius Severus (Arco di Settimio Severo) - erected in 203
  • the Temple of Saturn (Tempio di Saturno)
  • the Temple of Julius Caesar (Tempio di Giulio Cesare) - finished in 29 BC, marks the spot of Caesar's spontaneous cremation and Mark Antony's funeral speech, made famous by Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar ("Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears....")
  • the Temple of Castor and Pollux
  • the Arch of Titus - built in 81 AD by the emperor Domition in dedication to his brother Titus, who died earlier that year and reigned as emperor from 79-81, overseeing the opening of the Colosseum in 80 and the eruption of Mt Vesuvius the previous year.
  • Tabularium, Foro Romano. The remains of the ancient Roman archives, where Cicero and Seneca did research. Visible from the Forum and accessible through the Capitoline Museum.  edit

Traveling tip

When visiting the Colosseum in late spring, summer, or early fall, it is not unusual to see long lines at the entrance, where the admission fee is €12. The ticket is valid for two days and includes admission to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill as well as the Colosseum.

It is possible to purchase an admission to the Palatino (or the Forum Romanum) for the same 14 dollars which also provides direct access to the Colosseum via an automated entrance.

Colosseum interior
Colosseum interior

The ticket for the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill (one ticket for all three sites) can be ordered online and printed at home at [3]. The ticket is valid for two days. Please notice that, even with the printed tickets you do have to stand in the line for the Colosseum, since there is a security check first. This line goes quite fast and isn't nearly as long as the line in the Colosseum for the ticket office. When you have passed the security check, you can walk right to the ticket barriers. People who bought the ticket at the Colosseum have a small (metro style) ticket with a magnetic band. Your printed tickets won't fit in the machine. Therefore, make sure you use a barrier with a member of staff attending to it, they can scan your ticket with a hand scanner and let you pass. If no staff member is at the ticket barriers, go the the reservations office at the right, near the barrier.

If you already have a ticket (from the Colosseum or Roman Forum or printed at home) and want to visit the Palatine Hill, make sure you don't stand in line at the entrance at Via di San Gregorio. The entrance near the Arch of Titus is closed. The line at the entrance is for people without a ticket. If you have a ticket, enter the entrance building at the right side of the line. People with small tickets issued at the Colosseum can use the automated ticket barrier at the right side in the building, people who have home printed tickets should use the entrance on the left in the building, right after the ticket office. There is a member of staff with a hand scanner who can scan your ticket.

Near the Arch of Titus at the entrance to the Roman Forum, you might be approached by young, native-English speakers (often students) offering you free guided tours of the Forum. This is not a scam and is done as a way for tour companies to promote their other tours (i.e. at the end of the free tour, the guide hands out a brochure telling you about other tours around town that do cost). Even if you're not interested in the other tours, take the free one and you'll learn a lot about the most important archaeological site in the city.

Colossus of Constantine, Capitoline Museum
Colossus of Constantine, Capitoline Museum
  • Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museums), Piazza del Campidoglio, 06-6710-2071 (), [4]. open Tu-Su 9AM-7PM. Admission to both museums €6. . The two museums are located on opposite sides of the Piazza del Campidoglio, It is recommended to book tickets online [5] Ordinary €6,50 (+ €1,50 for exhibitions), Concessions €4,50 (+ €1,50 for exhibitions) Free entry on the last Sun of each month.  edit
    • Museo Capitolino (Capitoline Museum). Built in the 17th century to a design based on an architectural sketch by Michelangelo. Highlights include the ancient Colossus of Constantine statue (for which the Colosseum was named), The Dying Gaul, a magnificent marble sculpture that copies a bronze Greek original of the 3rd century BC and the Capitoline Venus. It also contains the remarkable original gilt bronze equestrian statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius (the one in the piazza is a replica).  edit
    • Palazzo dei Conservatori (Palace of the Conservators). Also based on a Michelangelo architectural plan, this compact gallery is well endowed in classical sculpture and paintings. Highlights include the small 1st century BC bronze Lo Spinario, a Greek statue of a little boy picking a thorn from his foot; the Lupa Capitolina (Capitoline Wolf), a rare Etruscan bronze statue probably dating from the 5th century BC; and (in the entrance courtyard), the massive head, hands, foot and kneecap from a colossal statue of Constantine the Great. The palace also contains a Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery) with paintings mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries - highlights include: Caravaggio's Fortune-Teller and his curious John the Baptist; The Holy Family, by Dosso Dossi; Romulus and Remus, by Rubens; and Titian's Baptism of Christ.  edit
  • Palazzo Venezia, V. del Plebiscito, 118, +39 06 6780131. Tu-Su 8:30AM-7:30PM, ticket sales end 6:30PM. In the very heart of the city center, the building was for centuries ago the seat of the Venice embassy. Today it houses a museum and art galleries. €4.00, €2.00 for EU citizens aged 18-25.  edit
  • Archeo Art, Via del Teatro di Marcello. Not far from the bottom of the Campidoglio steps. This shop sells beautiful reproductions of ancient sculptures; not the tacky kitsch sold by many of the street vendors, but museum quality miniatures that look incredibly close to the real things. Not cheap, but definitely unique and classy souvenirs. Also stocks reproductions of ancient Roman arms and armour, including full centurion outfits!  edit


Many places in this area are aimed at tourists and as a result don't have to offer high-quality food to do well. The best lunch spot near the Colosseum, if you like pizza, is Pizza Forum, at the end of the first block heading up the narrow Via San Giovanni in Laterano from the Colosseum (in the opposite direction of the Roman Forum and city centre). At Pizza Forum you will get huge, delicious woodfire oven pizzas starting at about five euro each.

  • Ulpia, Overlooking the West end of Trajan's Market, Mercati Trianei (Go down the steps near Largo Magnanapoli where Via Nazionale and Via IV Novembre join. Turn left on Via Sant Eufemia. It is on your left (the North side) just before the road dead ends.). In such a delightful location actually overlooking the ruins of Trajan's market and facing the Foro Di Augustus you might expect that the food could be second rate but Ulpia does not disappoint. Both food and service are good and, combined with the atmosphere and location it makes a memorable meal. A wide choice of menu items and a varied wine list and you can eat inside if the weather is too cold to enjoy the terrace over Trajan's Market. The inside has heavy Roman decorations. Lunch, including a bottle of good wine €35.  edit
  • Il Gelatone, Via dei Serpenti 28 (near the Colosseo).  edit


If touring the ancient sites of Rome is wearing you out and you're dying for an afternoon beer, head to Shamrock, a quiet Irish pub in a little laneway just off the right side of bottom of Via Cavour, which is a busy street that is more or less parallel to the Via dei Fori Imperiali, Mussolini's thoroughfare that links Piazza Venezia with the Colosseum.

  • Cafè Cafè, Via dei Santi Quattro 44, 06 7008743 (). Cozy and quite cheap, this tea room is very close to the Colosseo, and it's ideal to have nice meeting with friends or a more intimate date. Very good sweets and tea, the choice is also good. Open all day and after dinner.  edit.
  • Enoteca Cavour, Via Cavour 313 (towards the bottom of Via Cavour, near the Forum), [6]. Closed Sundays. Great wine bar with a selection of wines by the glass and hundreds of bottles to choose from. Wooden decor, paper tablecloths and wines stored overhead. Good food too.  edit


BEFORE ADDING A HOSTEL, HOTEL, OR ACCOMMODATION AGENCY ENTRY HERE: 1. Include enough information to make the entry useful when PRINTED OUT. 2. Include direct telephone numbers and web address. 3. INCLUDE expected range of PRICES for a single room (one person) and for a double (two persons). 4. State where the bathroom (toilet and bath or shower) is: in the room or communal? 5. Remove useless verbiage such as "nice", "cheap", "close to" and "near" 6. Only include "comfortable", or "friendly" if you as a paying guest felt that during a stay. 7. Only add one listing per hotel/hostel IF YOU FAIL TO ADHERE TO THESE GUIDELINES YOUR ENTRY WILL BE DELETED SUBJECT TO OTHER USERS DISCRETION DUE TO EXCESSIVE PROBLEMS WITH SPAMMING AND USELESS LISTINGS ON OUR ROME GUIDES

  • Aenea Superior Inn Rome – Via Urbana, 156 - Cap: 00184, Rome, Italy. [7]. Telephone +39 348 4067222 • Fax +39 06 4891634. Fifteen bedrooms divided in twin, double and triple. All the accommodations of this guest house come with air conditioning, private bath, internet wi-fi and satellite TV. At the Aenea Superior Inn Rome the breakfast is included and can be served directly in the guests’ rooms. From 120 euros.
  • Antica Residenza Monti, Via dei Serpenti 15, +39 06 4815736, [8]. Short let apartments are available in this guest house in Monti district. It's possible to choose between an apartment with two rooms, and a studio apartment with one room, both are self catering with kitchens. 120/140 euros per day.  edit
  • Hotel Adas Rome, Via Cavour 233, +39 06 4741432, [9]. This two-star hotel has single, double, triple and quadruple rooms with private bath. From €70 for a double..  edit
  • Hotel Ivanhoe Rome, Via De' Ciancaleoni, 49 (Via Urbana 50), +39 06 486813 (fax: +39 06 4828761), [10]. Cozy two star hotel offering 24 rooms – single, double and triple - hidden in a little side street. Located above the Roman Forums and next the Colosseum. From €70 for double rooms.  edit
  • Hotel Labelle Rome, Via Cavour, 310, +39 06 6794750 (fax: +39 06 69940367), [11]. A family run two star hotel. At the bottom of Via Cavour, close to the Forum. From €88 for double rooms.  edit
  • YWCA Foyer di Roma, Via C. Balbo 4, +39 06 4880460 (). Youth Hostel is four blocks from Termini on the Via C. Balbo. Rooms are spotless, bathrooms are extremely clean, and towels and linens are changed once a day. Internet for €1 per hour. Fridge on every floor. Continental breakfast included in room rate. €26 per person per night for a bed in a 4-person room. €31 for a double, €47 for a private room. You have to be female to reserve a room; however, men can stay if accompanied by a woman..  edit
  • Intown Luxury House Rome, Via Bocca di Leone, 7 (Rome city center), +39 0669380200, [12]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Choice of rooms: single, deluxe double, junior suite and terraced junior suite. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, LCD tv sets with Sky satellite channels, hi-speed Internet connection, safe, minibar and direct telephone line. Bathrooms are fitted with marble and Jacuzzi tubs and/or showers. 290. (41.9044,12.4809) edit
  • Hotel Lancelot, Via Capo D'Africa 47 (in the built-up area behind the Colosseum, close to San Clemente church), [13]. Cosy hotel in an interesting area. For a three-day stay or more half-board is offered. €120 single, €180 double.  edit
  • Hotel Richmond, Largo Corrado Ricci 36 (At the bottom of Via Cavour..), +39 06 69941256, [14]. A three-star hotel with in single, double, triple, quadruple rooms, and suites. The average price for a double is around €175..  edit
  • Hotel Forum, Via Tor de' Conti, 25-30 (close to where Via Cavour joins Via dei Fori Imperiali), [15]. Grossly overpriced hotel close to the Forum. But it does have a roof garden restaurant with great views! €300+ for double or twin.  edit
  • Torre Colonna Guest House, Via delle Tre Cannelle 18, +39 06 62289543, [16]. The Torre Colonna is a guest house hosted in an medieval tower, 100 meters away from Piazza Venezia. The five bedrooms with private bath are divided in double, twin, triple and family. Rates go form 230 to 300 euros..  edit
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Database error article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:


Ancient Rome


Ancient Rome

  1. The civilization associated with Rome from the 9th century BC to the 12th century AD and the Roman Empire centered on it

Simple English

File:Roman Empire
The Roman Empire at its greatest extent under Trajan in AD 117.

}}      Roman Empire      Western Empire      Eastern Empire ]] Ancient Rome is the name for a civilization which began as a small farming community in the 10th century BC Italy. It grew to become the greatest empire in the ancient world.[1] It started as a monarchy, then became a republic, then an empire.

The Roman Empire was so big that there were difficulties ruling a territory which stretched from Britain to the Middle East. The Empire was divided by Diocletian into two parts in 293 AD. The permanent division into the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire came a century later, in 395 AD.

The Western Empire fell because of the Germanic tribe, the Visigoths in 476 AD. In the 5th century AD the western part of the empire split up into separate kingdoms. The eastern Roman Empire kept together as the Byzantine Empire. That was finally conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.


Culture of ancient Rome

For the main article, see Culture of ancient Rome

Roman culture spread to Western Europe and the area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Its history continues to have a major influence on the world today. For example, their ideas about laws, government, art, literature, and language were important to the development of European culture. The Roman language, Latin, slowly evolved becoming modern French, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian, and influenced many other languages like English.

Some famous people from Ancient Rome were: Julius Caesar, Claudius, Nero, Augustus and Pontius Pilate.


Beginning with Emperor Nero in the first century AD, Roman official policy towards Christianity was negative, and at some points, simply being a Christian could be punishable by death. Under Emperor Diocletian, the persecution of Christians reached its peak. However, it became an officially supported religion in the Roman state under Diocletian's successor, Constantine I. With the signing of the Edict of Milan in 313, it quickly became dominant. All religions except Christianity were prohibited in 391 AD by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I.[2]

The Eastern Empire

The Byzantines were threatened by the rise of Islam, whose followers rapidly conquered the territories of Syria, Armenia and Egypt and soon presented a direct threat to Constantinople.[3][4] In the following century, the Arabs also captured southern Italy and Sicily.[5]

The Byzantines, however, managed to stop further Islamic expansion into their lands during the 8th century and, beginning in the 9th century, reclaimed parts of the conquered lands.[6] In 1000 AD, the Eastern Empire was at its height: Basileios II reconquered Bulgaria and Armenia, culture and trade flourished.[7] However, the expansion was abruptly stopped in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert. This finally put the empire into decline. Several centuries of internal strife and Turkic invasions ultimately paved the way for Emperor Alexius I Comnenus to send a call for help to the West in 1095.[3]

The West responded with the Crusades, eventually resulting in the Sack of Constantinople by participants in the Fourth Crusade. The conquest of Constantinople in 1204 fragmented what little remained of the Empire into successor states, the ultimate victor being Nicaea.[8] After the recapture of Constantinople by Imperial forces, the empire was little more than a Greek state confined to the Aegean coast. The Eastern Empire came to an end when Mehmed II conquered Constantinople on 29 May 1453.[9]

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Other websites


  1. Chris Scarre 1995. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome Penguin, London.
  2. Theodosius I (379-395 AD) by David Woods. De Imperatoribus Romanis. Written 1999-2-2. Retrieved 2007-4-4.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Byzantine Empire by Richard Hooker. Washington State University. Written 1999-6-6. Retrieved 2007-4-8.
  4. Bray, R.S. (2004). Armies of Pestilence. Cambridge: Clarke. p. 26. ISBN 9780227172407.,M1. 
  5. Kreutz, Barbara M. (1996). Before the Normans: southern Italy in the ninth and tenth centuries. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0812215878. 
  6. Duiker, 2001. page 349.
  7. Basil II (CE 976-1025) by Catherine Holmes. De Imperatoribus Romanis. Written 2003-4-1. Retrieved 2007-3-22.
  8. Gibbon, Edward. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Chapter 61. Retrieved 2007-4-11.
  9. Mehmet II by Korkut Ozgen. Retrieved 2007-4-3.
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