Portal:Ancient Rome
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Portal:Ancient Rome

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In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom (753 BC-509 BC), Roman Republic (509 BC-27 BC) and Roman Empire (27 BC-476 AD) until the fall of the western empire. The civilisation began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, traditionally dated to 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The civilization was led and ruled by the Romans, alternately considered an ethnic group or a nationality. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants (roughly 20% of the world's population at the time) and covering 5 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles) at its height in AD 117.

In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state evolved from an elective monarchy to a democratic classical republic and then to an increasingly autocratic semi-elective military dictatorship during the Empire. Through conquest, cultural, and linguistic assimilation, at its height it controlled the North African coast, Egypt, Southern Europe, and most of Western Europe, the Balkans, Crimea and much of the Middle East, including Anatolia, Levant and parts of Mesopotamia and Arabia. It is often grouped into classical antiquity together with ancient Greece, and their similar cultures and societies are known as the Greco-Roman world.

Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern language, religion, society, technology, law, politics, government, warfare, art, literature, architecture and engineering. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called res publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France. It achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and roads, as well as the construction of large monuments, palaces, and public facilities.

The Punic Wars with Carthage were decisive in establishing Rome as a world power. In this series of wars, Rome gained control of the strategic islands of Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily; took Hispania (modern Spain and Portugal); and destroyed the city of Carthage in 146 BC, giving Rome supremacy in the Mediterranean. By the end of the Republic (27 BC), Rome had conquered the lands around the Mediterranean and beyond: its domain extended from the Atlantic to Arabia and from the mouth of the Rhine to North Africa. The Roman Empire emerged with the end of the Republic and the dictatorship of Augustus. Seven-hundred and twenty-one years of Roman-Persian Wars started in 92 BC with the first struggle against Parthia. It would become the longest conflict in human history, and have major lasting effects and consequences for both empires.

Under Trajan, the Empire reached its territorial peak. It stretched from the entire Mediterranean Basin to the beaches of the North Sea in the north, to the shores of the Red and Caspian Seas in the East. Republican mores and traditions started to decline during the imperial period, with civil wars becoming a prelude common to the rise of a new emperor. Splinter states, such as the Palmyrene Empire, would temporarily divide the Empire during the crisis of the 3rd century before some stability was restored in the Tetrarchy phase of imperial rule.

Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire broke up into independent barbarian kingdoms in the 5th century. The eastern part of the empire remained a power through the Middle Ages until its fall in 1453 AD. (Full article...)

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The Roman emperors were the rulers of the Roman Empire dating from the granting of the title of Augustus to Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus by the Roman Senate in 27 BC, after major roles played by the populist dictator and military leader Julius Caesar. Augustus maintained a facade of Republican rule, rejecting monarchical titles but calling himself princeps senatus (first man of the council) and princeps civitatis (first citizen of the state). The title of Augustus was conferred on his successors to the imperial position. The style of government instituted by Augustus is called the Principate and continued until reforms by Diocletian. The modern word 'emperor' derives from the title imperator, which was granted by an army to a successful general; during the initial phase of the empire, the title was generally used only by the princeps. For example, Augustus' official name was Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus.

The territory under command of the emperor had developed under the period of the Roman Republic as it invaded and occupied much of Europe and portions of northern Africa and western Asia. Under the republic, regions of the empire were ruled by provincial governors answerable to and authorised by the Senate and People of Rome. During the republic, the chief magistrates of Rome were two consuls elected each year; consuls continued to be elected in the imperial period, but their authority was subservient to that of the emperor, and the election was controlled by the emperor. (Full article...)
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Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus (c. 12 February AD 41 - 11 February AD 55), usually called Britannicus, was the son of Roman emperor Claudius and his third wife Valeria Messalina. For a time he was considered his father's heir, but that changed after his mother's downfall in 48, when it was revealed she had engaged in a bigamous marriage without Claudius' knowledge. The next year, his father married Agrippina the Younger, Claudius' fourth and final marriage. Their marriage was followed by the adoption of Agrippina's son, Lucius Domitius, whose name became Nero as a result. His step-brother would later be married to his sister Octavia, and soon eclipsed him as Claudius' heir. Following his father's death in October 54, Nero became emperor. The sudden death of Britannicus shortly before his fourteenth birthday is reported by all extant sources as being the result of poisoning on Nero's orders--as Claudius' natural son, he represented a threat to Nero's claim to the throne. (Full article...)

Did you know?

  • ...That When Caesar's troops hesitated to leave their ships for fear of the Britons, the aquilifer of the tenth legion threw himself overboard and, carrying the eagle, advanced alone against the enemy?
  • ...That the most well paid athlete in human history, Gaius Appuleius Diocles, was an illiterate Roman Chariot racer, and earned the equivalent of $15 Billion US Dollars.

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The Roman Forum (Latin: Forum Romanum) was a rectangular forum at the heart of the city of Ancient Rome. The Forum was used for military triumphs, elections, criminal trials, gladiatorial matches, and as a meeting- and business-place. The Forum survives today in ruins, and is the oldest structure in the modern city of Rome.

The Roman Forum (Latin: Forum Romanum) was a rectangular forum at the heart of the city of Ancient Rome. The Forum was used for military triumphs, elections, criminal trials, gladiatorial matches, and as a meeting- and business-place. The Forum survives today in ruins, and is the oldest structure in the modern city of Rome.

Photo credit: Howard Hudson

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