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Ancient Rome
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ancient Rome was originally an Italic settlement dating

from the 8th century BC that grew into the city of Rome Ancient Rome
and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over Roma
which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the
empire developed. The Roman empire expanded to 753 BC476 AD
become one of the largest empires in the ancient world,
though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to
90 million inhabitants (roughly 20% of the world's
population[1]) and covering 5.0 million square kilometres
Sentus Populusque Rmnus
at its height in AD 117.[2]

In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state

evolved from a monarchy to a classical republic and then
to an increasingly autocratic empire. Through conquest
and assimilation, it came to dominate the Mediterranean
region and then Western Europe, Asia Minor, North
Africa, and parts of Northern and Eastern Europe. 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

government, law, politics, engineering, art, literature,
architecture, technology, warfare, religion, language and Territories of the Roman civilization:
Roman Republic
society. Rome professionalised and expanded its military
and created a system of government called res publica, Roman Empire
the inspiration for modern republics[3][4][5] such as the Western Roman Empire
United States and France. It achieved impressive Eastern Roman Empire
technological and architectural feats, such as the
construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and Capital Rome
roads, as well as the construction of large monuments,
palaces, and public facilities. Languages Latin

Government Kingdom (753

By the end of the Republic (27 BC), Rome had BC-509 BC)
conquered the lands around the Mediterranean and Republic (509 BC-
beyond: its domain extended from the Atlantic to Arabia 27 BC)
and from the mouth of the Rhine to North Africa. The Empire (27
Roman Empire emerged with the end of the Republic BC-476 AD)
and the dictatorship of Augustus Caesar. 721 years of

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Roman-Persian Wars started in 92 BC with their first war Historical era Ancient history
against Parthia. It would become the longest conflict in Founding of
human history, and have major lasting effects and Rome 753 BC
consequences for both empires. Under Trajan, the Overthrow of
Empire reached its territorial peak. Republican mores Tarquin the
and traditions started to decline during the imperial Proud 509 BC
period, with civil wars becoming a prelude common to Octavian
the rise of a new emperor.[6][7][8] Splinter states, such as proclaimed
the Palmyrene Empire, would temporarily divide the Augustus 27 BC
Empire during the crisis of the 3rd century. Fall of Rome 476 AD

Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the
empire broke up into independent kingdoms in the 5th century. This splintering is a landmark
historians use to divide the ancient period of universal history from the pre-medieval "Dark Ages"
of Europe.

1 Founding myth
2 Kingdom
3 Republic
3.1 Punic Wars
4 Late Republic
4.1 Marius and Sulla
4.2 Caesar and the First Triumvirate
4.3 Octavian and the Second Triumvirate
5 Empire the Principate
5.1 Julio-Claudian dynasty
5.1.1 Augustus
5.1.2 From Tiberius to Nero
5.2 Flavian dynasty
5.2.1 Vespasian
5.2.2 Titus and Domitian
5.3 NervaAntonine dynasty
5.3.1 Trajan
5.3.2 From Hadrian to Commodus
5.4 Severan dynasty
5.4.1 Septimius Severus
5.4.2 From Caracalla to Alexander Severus
5.5 Crisis of the Third Century
6 Empire the Dominate
6.1 Diocletian

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6.2 Constantine and Christianity

7 Fall of the Western Roman Empire
8 Society
8.1 Class structure
8.2 Family
8.3 Education
8.4 Government
8.5 Law
8.6 Economy
8.7 Military
9 Culture
9.1 Language
9.2 Religion
9.3 Art, music and literature
9.4 Cuisine
9.5 Games and recreation
10 Technology
11 Legacy
12 Historiography
12.1 In Roman times
12.2 In modern times
13 See also
14 Notes
15 References
16 Further reading
17 External links

Founding myth
According to the founding myth of Rome, the city was founded on 21 April 753 BC by twin
brothers Romulus and Remus, who descended from the Trojan prince Aeneas[9] and who were
grandsons of the Latin King, Numitor of Alba Longa. King Numitor was deposed from his throne
by his brother, Amulius, while Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, gave birth to the twins.[10][11]
Because Rhea Silvia was raped and impregnated by Mars, the Roman god of war, the twins were
considered half-divine.

The new king, Amulius, feared Romulus and Remus would take back the throne, so he ordered
them to be drowned.[11] 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.[12][13]

The twins then founded their own city, but Romulus killed Remus in a quarrel over the location of

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the Roman Kingdom, though some sources state the quarrel was
about who was going to rule or give his name to the city.[14]
Romulus became the source of the city's name.[15] In order to
attract people to the city, Rome became a sanctuary for the
indigent, exiled, and unwanted. This caused a problem for
Rome, which had a large workforce but was bereft of women.
Romulus traveled to the neighboring towns and tribes and
attempted to secure marriage rights, but as Rome was so full of
According to legend, Rome was undesirables they all refused. Legend says that the Latins
founded in 753 BC by Romulus invited the Sabines to a festival and stole their unmarried
and Remus, who were raised by a maidens, leading to the integration of the Latins and the
she-wolf. Sabines.[16]

Another legend, recorded by Greek historian Dionysius of

Halicarnassus, says that Prince Aeneas led a group of Trojans on a sea voyage to found a new Troy,
since the original was destroyed in the outcome of the Trojan War. 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 did not 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 place to
settle. They named the settlement after the woman who torched their ships.[17]

The Roman poet Virgil recounted this legend in his classical epic poem the Aeneid. In the Aeneid,
the Trojan prince Aeneas is destined by the gods in his enterprise of founding a new Troy. In the
epic, the women also refused to go back to the sea, but they were not left on the Tiber. After
reaching Italy, Aeneas, who wanted to marry Lavinia, was forced to wage war with her former
suitor, Turnus. According to the poem, the Alban kings were descended from Aeneas, and thus
Romulus, the founder of Rome, was his descendant.

The city of Rome grew from settlements around a ford on the river Tiber, a crossroads of traffic and
trade.[12] According to archaeological evidence, the village of Rome was probably founded some
time 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.[18][19]

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 an aristocratic and monarchical elite. The

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Etruscans apparently lost power 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.[20]

Roman tradition and archaeological evidence point to a

complex within the Forum Romanum as the seat of power for
Etruscan painting; dancer and
the king and the beginnings of the religious center there as well.
musicians, Tomb of the
Numa Pompilius the second king of Rome, succeeding
Leopards, in Tarquinia, Italy.
Romulus, began Rome's 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,[21] when the last of the
seven kings of Rome, Tarquin the Proud, was deposed by Lucius
Junius Brutus and a system based on annually elected magistrates and
various representative assemblies was established.[22] 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 such as imperium, or military
command.[23] 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.[24]
This bust from the
Other magistrates of the Republic include tribunes, quaestors, aediles, Capitoline Museums is
praetors and censors.[25] The magistracies were originally restricted to traditionally identified as
patricians, but were later opened to common people, or plebeians.[26] a portrait of Lucius
Republican voting assemblies included the comitia centuriata Junius Brutus, Roman
(centuriate assembly), which voted on matters of war and peace and bronze sculpture, 4th to
elected men to the most important offices, and the comitia tributa late 3rd centuries BC.
(tribal assembly), which elected less important offices.[27]

In the 4th century BC, Rome had come under attack by the Gauls, who now extended their power
in the Italian peninsula beyond the Po Valley and through Etruria. On 16 July 390 BC, a Gallic
army under the leadership of a tribal chieftain named Brennus, met the Romans on the banks of the
Allia River just ten miles north of Rome. Brennus defeated the Romans, and the Gauls marched
directly to Rome. Most Romans had fled the city, but some barricaded themselves upon the
Capitoline Hill for a last stand. The Gauls looted and burned the city, then laid siege to the
Capitoline Hill. The siege lasted seven months, the Gauls then agreed to give the Romans peace in
exchange for 1,000 pounds (450 kg) of gold.[28] (According to later legend, the Roman supervising
the weighing noticed that the Gauls were using false scales. The Romans then took up arms and

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defeated the Gauls; their victorious general Camillus

remarked "With iron, not with gold, Rome buys her

The Romans gradually subdued the other peoples on

the Italian peninsula, including the Etruscans.[30]
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.[31][32] The Romans secured their
conquests by founding Roman colonies in strategic
areas, thereby establishing stable control over the
region of Italy they had conquered.[33]

Punic Wars

In the 3rd century BC Rome faced a new and

formidable opponent: Carthage. Carthage was a rich, Italy in 400 BC.
flourishing Phoenician city-state that intended to
dominate the Mediterranean area. The two cities were allies in the
times of Pyrrhus, who was a menace to both, but with Rome's
hegemony in mainland Italy and the Carthaginian thalassocracy,
these cities became the two major powers in the Western
Mediterranean and their contention over the Mediterranean led to

The First Punic War began in 264 BC, when the city of Messana
asked for Carthage's help in their conflicts with Hiero II of The Temple of Hercules
Syracuse. After the Carthaginian intercession, Messana asked Victor, Rome, built in the mid
Rome to expel the Carthaginians. Rome entered this war because 2nd century BC, most likely
Syracuse and Messana were too close to the newly conquered by Lucius Mummius
Greek cities of Southern Italy and Carthage was now able to make Achaicus, Roman commander
an offensive through Roman territory; along with this, Rome could in the Achaean War that
extend its domain over Sicily.[36] destroyed Corinth

Although the Romans had experience in land battles, to defeat this

new enemy, naval battles were necessary. Carthage was a maritime power, and the Roman lack of
ships and naval experience would make the path to the victory a long and difficult one for the
Roman Republic. Despite this, after more than 20 years of war, Rome defeated Carthage and a
peace treaty was signed. Among the reasons for the Second Punic War[37] was the subsequent war
reparations Carthage acquiesced to at the end of the First Punic War.[38]

The Second Punic War is famous for its brilliant generals: on the Punic side Hannibal and
Hasdrubal; on the Roman, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus and

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Publius Cornelius Scipio. Rome fought this war simultaneously

with the First Macedonian War.

The war began with the audacious invasion of Hispania by

Hannibal, the Carthaginian general who had led operations on
Sicily in the First Punic War. Hannibal, son of Hamilcar Barca,
rapidly marched through Hispania to the Italian Alps, causing
panic among Rome's Italian allies. The best way found to defeat
Hannibal's purpose of causing the Italians to abandon Rome was to The Temple of Portunus,
delay the Carthaginians with a guerrilla war of attrition, a strategy Rome, built between 120-80
propounded by Quintus Fabius Maximus, who would be BC
nicknamed Cunctator ("delayer" in Latin), and whose strategy
would be forever after known as Fabian. Due to this, Hannibal's
goal was unachieved: he could not bring enough Italian cities to
revolt against Rome and replenish his diminishing army, and he
thus lacked the machines and manpower to besiege Rome.

Still, Hannibal's invasion lasted over 16 years, ravaging Italy.

Finally, when the Romans perceived that Hannibal's supplies were
running out, they sent Scipio, who had defeated Hannibal's brother
Hasdrubal in Spain, to invade the unprotected Carthaginian
hinterland and force Hannibal to return to defend Carthage itself.
The result was the ending of the Second Punic War by the
famously decisive Battle of Zama in October 202 BC, which gave
to Scipio his agnomen Africanus. At great cost, Rome had made
significant gains: the conquest of Hispania by Scipio, and of
Syracuse, the last Greek realm in Sicily, by Marcellus.

More than a half century after these events, Carthage was

Roman bronze bust of Scipio
humiliated and Rome was no more concerned about the African
Africanus the Elder from the
menace. The Republic's focus now was only to the Hellenistic
kingdoms of Greece and revolts in Hispania. However, Carthage, Naples National
after having paid the war indemnity, felt that its commitments and Archaeological Museum (Inv.
submission to Rome had ceased, a vision not shared by the Roman No. 5634),
Senate. When in 151 BC Numidia invaded Carthage, Carthage dated mid 1st century BC[34]
asked for Roman intercession. Ambassadors were sent to Excavated from the Villa of
Carthage, among them was Marcus Porcius Cato, who after seeing the Papyri at Herculaneum by
that Carthage could make a comeback and regain its importance, Karl Jakob Weber,
ended all his speeches, no matter what the subject was, by saying: 1750-65.[35]
"Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam" ("Furthermore, I
think that Carthage must be destroyed").

As Carthage fought with Numidia without Roman consent, the Third Punic war began when Rome
declared war against Carthage in 149 BC. Carthage resisted well at the first strike, with the
participation of all the inhabitants of the city. However, Carthage could not withstand the attack of

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Scipio Aemilianus, who entirely destroyed the city and its walls, enslaved and sold all the citizens
and gained control of that region, which became the province of Africa. Thus ended the Punic War

All these wars resulted in Rome's first overseas conquests, of Sicily, Hispania and Africa and the
rise of Rome as a significant imperial power and began the end of democracy.[39][40]

Late Republic
After defeating the Macedonian and Seleucid Empires in the 2nd century BC, the Romans became
the dominant people of the Mediterranean Sea.[41][42] The conquest of the Hellenistic kingdoms
brought the Roman and Greek cultures in closer contact and the Roman elite, once rural, became a
luxurious and cosmopolitan one. At this time Rome was a consolidated empire in the military
view and had no major enemies.

Foreign dominance led to internal strife. Senators became rich at the

provinces' expense; 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.[43][44]

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, called the equestrians.[45] 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 political power.[45][46] The Senate squabbled perpetually, Gaius Marius, a Roman
repeatedly blocked important land reforms and refused to give the general and politician
equestrian class a larger say in the government. who dramatically
reformed the Roman
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 and the Senate passed reforms
reversing the Gracchi brother's actions.[47] This led to the growing divide of the plebeian groups
(populares) and equestrian classes (optimates).

Marius and Sulla

Gaius Marius, a novus homo, who started his political career with the help of the powerful Metelli
family soon become a leader of the Republic, holding the first of his seven consulships (an
unprecedented number) in 107 BC by arguing that his former patron Quintus Caecilius Metellus

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Numidicus was not able to defeat and capture the Numidian king Jugurtha. Marius then started his
military reform: in his recruitment to fight Jugurtha, he levied very poor (an innovation) and many
landless men entered the army; this was the seed of securing loyalty of the army to the General in

At this time, Marius began his quarrel with Lucius Cornelius Sulla: Marius, who wanted to capture
Jugurtha, asked Bocchus, son-in-law of Jugurtha, to hand him over. As Marius failed, Sulla, a
general of Marius at that time, in a dangerous enterprise, went himself to Bocchus and convinced
Bocchus to hand Jugurtha over to him. This was very provocative to Marius, since many of his
enemies were encouraging Sulla to oppose Marius. Despite this, Marius was elected for five
consecutive consulships from 104 to 100 BC, as Rome needed a military leader to defeat the
Cimbri and the Teutones, who were threatening Rome.

After Marius's retirement, Rome had a brief peace, during which the
Italian socii ("allies" in Latin) requested Roman citizenship and voting
rights. The reformist Marcus Livius Drusus supported their legal
process but was assassinated, and the socii revolted against the
Romans in the Social War. At one point both consuls were killed;
Marius was appointed to command the army together with Lucius
Julius Caesar and Sulla.[48]

By the end of the Social War, Marius and Sulla were the premier
military men in Rome and their partisans were in conflict, both sides
jostling for power. In 88 BC, Sulla was elected for his first consulship
and his first assignment was to defeat Mithridates VI of Pontus, whose
intentions were to conquer the Eastern part of the Roman territories.
However, Marius's partisans managed his installation to the military Lucius Cornelius Sulla's
command, defying Sulla and the Senate, and this caused Sulla's wrath. head.
To consolidate his own power, Sulla conducted a surprising and illegal
action: he marched to Rome with his legions, killing all those who showed support to Marius's
cause and impaling their heads in the Roman Forum. In the following year, 87 BC, Marius, who
had fled at Sulla's march, returned to Rome while Sulla was campaigning in Greece. He seized
power along with the consul Lucius Cornelius Cinna and killed the other consul, Gnaeus Octavius,
achieving his seventh consulship. In an attempt to raise Sulla's anger, Marius and Cinna revenged
their partisans by conducting a massacre.[48][49]

Marius died in 86 BC, due to age and poor health, just a few months after seizing power. Cinna
exercised absolute power until his death in 84 BC. Sulla after returning from his Eastern
campaigns, had a free path to reestablish his own power. In 83 BC he made his second march in
Rome and began a time of terror: thousands of nobles, knights and senators were executed. Sulla
also held two dictatorships and one more consulship, which began the crisis and decline of Roman

Caesar and the First Triumvirate

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In the mid-1st century BC, Roman politics were restless. Political

divisions in Rome became identified with two groupings, populares
(who hoped for the support of the people) and optimates (the "best",
who wanted to maintain exclusive aristocratic control). Sulla
overthrew all populist leaders and his constitutional reforms removed
powers (such as those of the tribune of the plebs) that had supported
populist approaches. Meanwhile, social and economic stresses
continued to build; Rome had become a metropolis with a super-rich
aristocracy, debt-ridden aspirants, and a large proletariat often of
impoverished farmers. The latter groups supported the Catilinarian
conspiracy a resounding failure, since the consul Marcus Tullius
Cicero quickly arrested and executed the main leaders of the

Onto this turbulent scene emerged Gaius Julius Caesar, from an

Bust of Caesar from the aristocratic family of limited wealth. His aunt Julia was Marius'
Naples National wife,[50] and Caesar identified with the populares. To achieve power,
Archaeological Museum. Caesar reconciled the two most powerful men in Rome: Marcus
Licinius Crassus, who had financed much of his earlier career, and
Crassus' rival, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (anglicized as Pompey), to
whom he married his daughter. He formed them into a new informal alliance including himself, the
First Triumvirate ("three men"). This satisfied the interests of all three: Crassus, the richest man in
Rome, became richer and ultimately achieved high military command; Pompey exerted more
influence in the Senate; and Caesar obtained the consulship and military command in Gaul.[51] So
long as they could agree, the three were in effect the rulers of Rome.

In 54 BC, Caesar's daughter, Pompey's wife, died in childbirth, unraveling one link in the alliance.
In 53 BC, Crassus invaded Parthia and was killed in the Battle of Carrhae. The Triumvirate
disintegrated at Crassus' death. Crassus had acted as mediator between Caesar and Pompey, and,
without him, the two generals manoeuvred against each other for power. Caesar conquered Gaul,
obtaining immense wealth, respect in Rome and the loyalty of battle-hardened legions. He also
became a clear menace to Pompey and was loathed by many optimates. Confident that Caesar
could be stopped by legal means, Pompey's party tried to strip Caesar of his legions, a prelude to
Caesar's trial, impoverishment, and exile.

To avoid this fate, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River and invaded Rome in 49 BC. Pompey and his
party fled from Italy, pursued by Caesar. The Battle of Pharsalus was a brilliant victory for Caesar
and in this and other campaigns he destroyed all of the optimates' leaders: Metellus Scipio, Cato the
Younger, and Pompey's son, Gnaeus Pompeius. Pompey was murdered in Egypt in 48 BC. Caesar
was now pre-eminent over Rome, attracting the bitter enmity of many aristocrats. He was granted
many offices and honours. In just five years, he held four consulships, two ordinary dictatorships,
and two special dictatorships: one for ten years and another for perpetuity. He was murdered in
44 BC, on the Ides of March by the Liberatores.[52]

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Octavian and the Second Triumvirate

Caesar's assassination caused political and social turmoil in

Rome; without the dictator's leadership, the city was ruled by
his friend and colleague, Mark Antony. Soon afterward,
Octavius, whom Caesar adopted through his will, arrived in
Rome. Octavian (historians regard Octavius as Octavian due to
the Roman naming conventions) tried to align himself with the
Caesarian faction. In 43 BC, along with Antony and Marcus
Aemilius Lepidus, Caesar's best friend,[53] he legally
established the Second Triumvirate. This alliance would last for The Battle of Actium, by Laureys
five years. Upon its formation, 130300 senators were a Castro, painted 1672, National
executed, and their property was confiscated, due to their Maritime Museum, London.
supposed support for the Liberatores.[54]

In 42 BC, the Senate deified Caesar as Divus Iulius; Octavian thus became Divi filius,[55] the son of
the deified. In the same year, Octavian and Antony defeated both Caesar's assassins and the leaders
of the Liberatores, Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, in the Battle of Philippi.

The Second Triumvirate was marked by the proscriptions of many senators and equites: after a
revolt led by Antony's brother Lucius Antonius, more than 300 senators and equites involved were
executed on the anniversary of the Ides of March, although Lucius was spared.[56] The Triumvirate
proscribed several important men, including Cicero, whom Antony hated;[57] Quintus Tullius
Cicero, the younger brother of the orator; and Lucius Julius Caesar, cousin and friend of the
acclaimed general, for his support of Cicero. However, Lucius was pardoned, perhaps because his
sister Julia had intervened for him.[58]

The Triumvirate divided the Empire among the triumvirs: Lepidus was given charge of Africa,
Antony, the eastern provinces, and Octavian remained in Italia and controlled Hispania and Gaul.

The Second Triumvirate expired in 38 BC but was renewed for five more years. However, the
relationship between Octavian and Antony had deteriorated, and Lepidus was forced to retire in
36 BC after betraying Octavian in Sicily. By the end of the Triumvirate, Antony was living in
Egypt, an independent and rich kingdom ruled by Antony's lover, Cleopatra VII. Antony's affair
with Cleopatra was seen as an act of treason, since she was queen of another country. Additionally,
Antony adopted a lifestyle considered too extravagant and Hellenistic for a Roman statesman.[59]

Following Antony's Donations of Alexandria, which gave to Cleopatra the title of "Queen of
Kings", and to Antony's and Cleopatra's children the regal titles to the newly conquered Eastern
territories, war between Octavian and Antony broke out. Octavian annihilated Egyptian forces in
the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide. Now Egypt was
conquered by the Roman Empire, and for the Romans, a new era had begun.

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Empire the Principate

In 27 BC and at the age of 36, Octavian was the sole Roman leader. In that year, he took the name
Augustus. That event is usually taken by historians as the beginning of Roman Empire although
Rome was an "imperial" state since 146 BC, when Carthage was razed by Scipio Aemilianus and
Greece was conquered by Lucius Mummius. Officially, the government was republican, but
Augustus assumed absolute powers.[60][61] His reform of the government brought about a
two-century period colloquially referred to by Romans as the Pax Romana.

Julio-Claudian dynasty

The Julio-Claudian dynasty was established by Augustus. The emperors of this dynasty were:
Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. The dynasty is so-called due to the gens Julia,
family of Augustus, and the gens Claudia, family of Tiberius. The Julio-Claudians started the
destruction of republican values, but on the other hand, they boosted Rome's status as the central
power in the world.[62]

While Caligula and Nero are usually remembered as dysfunctional emperors in popular culture,
Augustus and Claudius are remembered as emperors who were successful in politics and the
military. This dynasty instituted imperial tradition in Rome[63] and frustrated any attempt to
reestablish a Republic.[64]


Augustus gathered almost all the republican powers under his official title, princeps: he had powers
of consul, princeps senatus, aedile, censor and tribune including tribunician sacrosanctity.[65]
This was the base of an emperor's power. Augustus also styled himself as Imperator Gaius Julius
Caesar divi filius, "Commander Gaius Julius Caesar, son of the deified one". With this title he not
only boasted his familial link to deified Julius Caesar, but the use of Imperator signified a
permanent link to the Roman tradition of victory.

He also diminished the Senatorial class influence in politics by boosting the equestrian class. The
senators lost their right to rule certain provinces, like Egypt; since the governor of that province
was directly nominated by the emperor. The creation of the Praetorian Guard and his reforms in the
military, creating a standing army with a fixed size of 28 legions, ensured his total control over the

Compared with the Second Triumvirate's epoch, Augustus' reign as princeps was very peaceful.
This peace and richness (that was granted by the agrarian province of Egypt)[67] led the people and
the nobles of Rome to support Augustus increasing his strength in political affairs.[68]

In military activity, Augustus was absent at battles. His generals were responsible for the field
command; gaining such commanders as Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Nero Claudius Drusus and

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Germanicus much respect from the populace and the legions. Augustus
intended to extend the Roman Empire to the whole known world, and
in his reign, Rome conquered Cantabria Aquitania, Raetia, Dalmatia,
Illyricum and Pannonia.[69]

Under Augustus's reign, Roman literature grew steadily in what is

known as the Golden Age of Latin Literature. Poets like Virgil,
Horace, Ovid and Rufus developed a rich literature, and were close
friends of Augustus. Along with Maecenas, he stimulated patriotic
poems, as Virgil's epic Aeneid and also historiographical works, like
those of Livy. The works of this literary age lasted through Roman
times, and are classics.

Augustus also continued the shifts on the calendar promoted by The Augustus of Prima
Caesar, and the month of August is named after him.[70] Augustus Porta, 1st century AD,
brought a peaceful and thriving era to Rome, known as Pax Augusta or depicting Augustus, the
Pax Romana. Augustus died in 14 AD, but the empire's glory first Roman emperor
continued after his era.

From Tiberius to Nero

The Julio-Claudians continued to rule Rome after Augustus' death and remained in power until the
death of Nero in 68 AD.[71] Augustus' favorites for succeeding him were already dead in his
senescence: his nephew Marcellus died in 23 BC, his friend and military commander Agrippa in
12 BC and his grandson Gaius Caesar in 4 AD. Influenced by his wife, Livia Drusilla, Augustus
appointed her son from another marriage, Tiberius, as his heir.[72]

The Senate agreed with the succession, and granted to Tiberius the same titles and honors once
granted to Augustus: the title of princeps and Pater patriae, and the Civic Crown. However,
Tiberius was not an enthusiast of political affairs: after agreement with the Senate, he retired to
Capri in 26 AD,[73] and left control of the city of Rome in the hands of the praetorian prefect
Sejanus (until 31 AD) and Macro (from 31 to 37 AD). Tiberius was regarded as an evil and
melancholic man, who may have ordered the murder of his relatives, the popular general
Germanicus in 19 AD,[74] and his own son Drusus Julius Caesar in 23 AD.[74]

Tiberius died (or was killed)[74] in 37 AD. The male line of the Julio-Claudians was limited to
Tiberius' nephew Claudius, his grandson Tiberius Gemellus and his grand-nephew Caligula. As
Gemellus was still a child, Caligula was chosen to rule the Empire. He was a popular leader in the
first half of his reign, but became a crude and insane tyrant in his years controlling government.
[75][76] Suetonius states that he committed incest with his sisters, killed some men just for

amusement and nominated a horse for a consulship.[77]

The Praetorian Guard murdered Caligula four years after the death of Tiberius,[78] and, with belated

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support from the senators, proclaimed his uncle

Claudius as the new emperor.[79] Claudius was not
as authoritarian as Tiberius and Caligula. Claudius
conquered Lycia and Thrace; his most important
deed was the beginning of the conquest of

Claudius was poisoned by his wife, Agrippina the

Younger in 54 AD.[81] His heir was Nero, son of
Agrippina and her former husband, since Claudius'
Extent of the Roman Empire under Augustus. son Britannicus had not reached manhood upon his
The yellow legend represents the extent of the father's death. Nero is widely known as the first
Republic in 31 BC, the shades of green persecutor of Christians and for the Great Fire of
represent gradually conquered territories Rome, rumoured to have been started by the emperor
under the reign of Augustus, and pink areas himself.[82][83] Nero faced many revolts during his
on the map represent client states; however, reign, like the Pisonian conspiracy and the First
areas under Roman control shown here were Jewish-Roman War. Although Nero defeated these
subject to change even during Augustus' rebels, he could not overthrow the revolt led by
reign, especially in Germania.
Servius Sulpicius Galba. The Senate soon declared
Nero a public enemy, and he committed suicide.[84]

Flavian dynasty

The Flavians were the second dynasty to rule Rome.[85] By 68 AD, year of Nero's death, there was
no chance of return to the old and traditional Roman Republic, thus a new emperor had to rise.
After the turmoil in the Year of the Four Emperors, Titus Flavius Vespasianus (anglicized as
Vespasian) took control of the Empire and established a new dynasty. Under the Flavians, Rome
continued its expansion, and the state remained secure.[86][87]


Vespasian was a general under Claudius and Nero. He fought as a commander in the First
Jewish-Roman War along with his son Titus. Following the turmoil of the Year of the Four
Emperors, in 69 AD, four emperors were enthroned: Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and, lastly, Vespasian,
who crushed Vitellius' forces and became emperor.[88]

He reconstructed many buildings which were uncompleted, like a statue of Apollo and the temple
of Divus Claudius ("the deified Claudius"), both initiated by Nero. Buildings once destroyed by the
Great Fire of Rome were rebuilt, and he revitalized the Capitol. Vespasian also started the
construction of the Flavian Amphitheater, more commonly known as the Colosseum.[89]

The historians Josephus and Pliny the Elder wrote their works during Vespasian's reign. Vespasian
was Josephus' sponsor and Pliny dedicated his Naturalis Historia to Titus, son of Vespasian.

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Vespasian sent legions to defend the eastern frontier in Cappadocia,

extended the occupation in Britain and reformed the tax system. He
died in 79 AD.

Titus and Domitian

Titus had a short-lived rule; he was emperor from 7981 AD. He

finished the Flavian Amphitheater, which was constructed with war
spoils from the First Jewish-Roman War, and promoted games
celebrating the victory over the Jews that lasted for a hundred days.
These games included gladiatorial combats, chariot races and a
Bust of Vespasian,
sensational mock naval battle on the flooded grounds of the
founder of the Flavian
Titus constructed a line of roads and fortifications on the borders of
modern-day Germany; and his general Gnaeus Julius Agricola conquered much of Britain,
extending the Roman world to as far as Scotland. On the other hand, his failed war against Dacia
was a humiliating defeat.[92]

Titus died of fever in 81 AD, and was succeeded by his brother Domitian. As emperor, Domitian
assumed totalitarian characteristics,[93] thought he could be a new Augustus, and tried to make a
personal cult of himself.

Domitian ruled for fifteen years, and his reign was marked by his attempts to compare himself to
the gods. He constructed at least two temples in honour of Jupiter, the supreme deity in Roman
religion. He also liked to be called "Dominus et Deus" ("Master and God").[94] The nobles disliked
his rule, and he was murdered by a conspiracy in 96 AD.

NervaAntonine dynasty

The rule of the The NervaAntonine dynasty from 96 AD to

192 AD was the rule of the emperors Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian,
Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus, and
Commodus. During their rule, Rome reached its territorial and
economical apogee.[95] This was a time of peace for Rome. The
criteria for choosing an emperor were the qualities of the
candidate and no longer ties of kinship; additionally, there were
no civil wars or military defeats in this period. The Roman Empire reached its
greatest extent under Trajan in
Following Domitian's murder, the Senate rapidly appointed AD 117.
Nerva to hold imperial dignity. This was the first time that
senators chose the emperor since Octavian was honored with
the titles of princeps and Augustus. Nerva had a noble ancestry, and he had served as an advisor to
Nero and the Flavians. His rule restored many of the liberties once assumed by Domitian[96] and

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started the last golden era of Rome.


Nerva died in 98 AD and his successor and heir was the general
Trajan. Trajan was born in a non-patrician family from Hispania
and his preeminence emerged in the army, under Domitian. He
is the second of the Five Good Emperors, the first being Nerva.

Trajan was greeted by the people of Rome with enthusiasm,

which he justified by governing well and without the bloodiness
that had marked Domitian's reign. He freed many people who
had been unjustly imprisoned by Domitian and returned private
property that Domitian had confiscated; a process begun by
Nerva before his death.[97]

Trajan conquered Dacia, and defeated the king Decebalus, who

had defeated Domitian's forces. In the First Dacian War
(101102), the defeated Dacia became a client kingdom; in the
Second Dacian War (105106), Trajan completely devastated The Justice of Trajan (fragment)
the enemy's resistance and annexed Dacia to the Empire. Trajan by Eugne Delacroix.
also annexed the client state of Nabatea to form the province of
Arabia Petraea, which included the lands of southern Syria and
northwestern Arabia.[98]

He erected many buildings that survive to this day, such as Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Market and
Trajan's Column. His main architect was Apollodorus of Damascus; Apollodorus made the project
of the Forum and of the Column, and also reformed the Pantheon. Trajan's triumphal arches in
Ancona and Beneventum are other constructions projected by him. In the Second Dacian War,
Apollodorus made a great bridge over the Danube for Trajan.[99]

Trajan's final war was against Parthia. When Parthia appointed a king for Armenia who was
unacceptable to Rome (Parthia and Rome shared dominance over Armenia), he declared war. He
probably wanted to be the first Roman leader to conquer Parthia, and repeat the glory of Alexander
the Great, conqueror of Asia, whom Trajan next followed in the clash of Greek-Romans and the
Persian cultures.[100] In 113 he marched to Armenia and deposed the local king. In 115 Trajan
turned south into the core of Parthian hegemony, took the Northern Mesopotamian cities of Nisibis
and Batnae, organized a province of Mesopotamia (116), and issued coins announcing that Armenia
and Mesopotamia was under the authority of the Roman people.[101]

In that same year, he captured Seleucia and the Parthian capital Ctesiphon. After defeating a
Parthian revolt and a Jewish revolt, he withdrew due to health issues. In 117, his illness grew and
he died of edema. He nominated Hadrian as his heir. Under Trajan's leadership the Roman Empire
reached the peak of its territorial expansion; Rome's dominion now spanned 2,500,000 square miles

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(6,474,970 square kilometres).[102]

From Hadrian to Commodus

The prosperity brought by Nerva and Trajan continued in the reigns

of subsequent emperors, from Hadrian to Marcus Aurelius. Hadrian
withdrew all the troops stationed in Parthia and Mesopotamia,
abandoning Trajan's conquests. Although facing another revolt in
Judea, Hadrian's government was very peaceful, since he avoided
wars: he constructed fortifications and walls, like the famous
Hadrian's Wall between Roman Britain and the barbarians of
modern-day Scotland.

A famous philhellenist, Hadrian promoted culture, specially the Marble bust of Trajan
Greek. He also forbade torture and humanized the laws.
Hadrian built many aqueducts, baths, libraries and theaters;
additionally, he traveled nearly every single province in the
Empire to check the military and infrastructural

After Hadrian's death at 138, his successor Antoninus Pius

built temples, theaters, and mausoleums, promoted the arts
and sciences, and bestowed honours and financial rewards
upon the teachers of rhetoric and philosophy. Antoninus
made few initial changes when he became emperor, leaving The Pantheon, Rome, built during the
intact as far as possible the arrangements instituted by reign of Hadrian, which still contains
Hadrian. Antoninus expanded the Roman Britain by the largest unreinforced concrete
invading southern Scotland and building the Antonine dome in the world
Wall.[104] He also continued Hadrian's policy of
humanizing the laws. He died in 161 AD.

Marcus Aurelius, known as the Philosopher, was the last of the Five Good Emperors. He was a
stoic philosopher and wrote the Meditations. He defeated barbarian tribes in the Marcomannic Wars
as well as the Parthian Empire.[105] His co-emperor, Lucius Verus died in 169 AD, probably victim
of the Antonine Plague, a pandemic that killed nearly five million people through the Empire in
165180 AD.[106]

From Nerva to Marcus Aurelius, the empire achieved an unprecedented happy and glorious status.
The powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces.
All the citizens enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth. The image of a free constitution was
preserved with decent reverence. The Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority,
and devolved on the emperors all the executive powers of government. The Five Good Emperors'
rule is considered the golden era of the Empire.[107]

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Commodus, son of Marcus Aurelius, became emperor after his father's death. He is not counted as
one of the Five Good Emperors. Firstly, this was due to his direct kinship with the latter emperor; in
addition, he was passive in comparison with his predecessors, who were frequently leading their
armies in person. Commodus usually took part on gladiatorial combats, which often symbolized
brutality and roughness. He killed many citizens, and his reign was the beginning of Roman
decadence, as stated Cassius Dio: "(Rome has transformed) from a kingdom of gold to one of iron
and rust."[108]

Severan dynasty

Commodus was killed by a conspiracy involving Quintus Aemilius Laetus and his wife Marcia in
late 192 AD. The following year is known as the Year of the Five Emperors, during which Helvius
Pertinax, Didius Julianus, Pescennius Niger, Clodius Albinus and Septimius Severus held the
imperial dignity. Pertinax, a member of the senate who had been one of Marcus Aurelius's right
hand men, was the choice of Laetus, and he ruled vigorously and judiciously. Laetus soon became
jealous and instigated Pertinax's murder by the Praetorian Guard, who then auctioned the empire to
the highest bidder, Didius Julianus, for 25,000 sesterces per man.[109] The people of Rome were
appalled and appealed to the frontier legions to save them. The legions of three frontier provinces
Britain, Pannonia Superior, and Syriaresented being excluded from the "donative" and replied
by declaring their individual generals to be emperor. Lucius Septimius Severus Geta, the Pannonian
commander, bribed the opposing forces, pardoned the Praetorian Guards and installed himself as
emperor. He and his successors governed with the legions' support. The changes on coinage and
military expenditures were the root of the financial crisis that marked the Crisis of the Third

Septimius Severus

Severus was enthroned after invading Rome and having Didius

Julianus killed. His two other rivals, Pescennius Niger and Clodius
Albinus, were both were hailed by other factions as Imperator.
Severus quickly subdued Niger in Byzantium and promised to
Albinus the title of Caesar (which meant he would be a
co-emperor).[110] However, Severus betrayed Albinus by blaming
him for a plot against his life. Severus marched to Gaul and
defeated Albinus. For these acts, Machiavelli said that Severus
was "a ferocious lion and a clever fox"[111]

Severus attempted to revive totalitarianism and in an address to The Severan Tondo, c. 199,
people and the Senate, he praised the severity and cruelty of Severus, Julia Domna,
Marius and Sulla, which worried the senators.[112] When Parthia Caracalla and Geta, whose
invaded Roman territory, Severus waged war against that country. face is erased.
He seized the cities of Nisibis, Babylon and Seleucia. Reaching
Ctesiphon, the Parthian capital, he ordered plundering and his

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army slew and captured many people. Albeit this military success, he failed in invading Hatra, a
rich Arabian city. Severus killed his legate, as the latter was gaining respect from the legions; and
his soldiers were hit by famine. After this disastrous campaign, he withdrew.[113]

Severus also intended to vanquish the whole of Britain. To achieve this, he waged war against the
Caledonians. After many casualties in the army due to the terrain and the barbarians' ambushes,
Severus went himself to the field. However, he became ill and died in 211 AD, at the age of 65.

From Caracalla to Alexander Severus

Upon the death of Severus, his sons Caracalla and Geta were
made emperors. During their youth, their squabbles had divided
Rome into two factions. In that same year Caracalla had his
brother, a youth, assassinated in his mother's arms, and may
have murdered 20,000 of Geta's followers. Like his father,
Caracalla was warlike. He continued Severus' policy, and
gained respect from the legions. Caracalla was a cruel man, and
was pursued by the guilt of his brother's murder. He ordered the
death of people of his own circle, like his tutor, Cilo, and a
friend of his father, Papinian.

Knowing that the citizens of Alexandria disliked him and were

speaking ill of his character, he served a banquet for its notable
citizens, after which his soldiers killed all the guests. From the Bust of Caracalla from the
security of the temple of Sarapis, he then directed an Pergamon Museum, Berlin
in-discriminant slaughter of Alexandria's people. [114][115] In
212, he issued the Edict of Caracalla, giving full Roman citizenship to all free men living in the
Empire, and at the same time raised the inheritance tax, levied only on Roman citizens, to ten
percent. A report that a soothsayer had predicted that the Praetorian prefect Macrinus and his son
were to rule over the empire was dutifully sent to Caracalla. But the report fell into the hands of
Macrinus, who felt he must act or die. Macrinus conspired to have Caracalla assassinated by one of
his soldiers during a pilgrimage to the Temple of the Moon in Carrhae, in 217 AD.

The incompetent Macrinus, assumed power, but soon removed himself from Rome to the east and
Antioch. His brief reign ended in 218, when the youngster Bassianus, high priest of the temple of
the Sun at Emesa, and supposedly illegitimate son of Caracalla, was declared Emperor by the
disaffected soldiers of Macrinus. Bribes gained Bassianus support from the legionaries and they
fought against Macrinus and his Praetorian guards. He adopted the name of Antoninus but history
has named him after his Sun god Elagabalus, represented on Earth in the form of a large black
stone. Elagabalus was an incompetent and lascivious ruler,[116] who was well known for extreme
extravagance, that offended all but his favorites. Cassius Dio, Herodian and the Historia Augusta
have many accounts about his extravagance. He adopted his cousin, Alexander Severus, as Caesar,
grew jealous, and attempted to assassinate him. The Praetorian guard preferred Alexander,
murdered Elagabalus, dragged his mutilated corpse through the streets of Rome, and threw it into

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the Tiber.

Elagabalus was succeeded by his cousin Alexander Severus. Alexander waged war against many
foes, like the revitalized Persia and German peoples who invaded Gaul. His losses made the
soldiers dissatisfied with the emperor, and some of them killed him during his German campaign,
in 235 AD.[117]

Crisis of the Third Century

A disastrous scenario emerged after the death

of Alexander Severus: the Roman state was
plagued by civil wars, external invasions,
political chaos, pandemics and economic
depression.[118][119] The old Roman values
had fallen, and Mithraism and Christianity
had begun to spread through the populace.
Emperors were no longer men linked with
nobility; they usually were born in lower-
classes of distant parts of the Empire. These
men rose to prominence through military The Roman Empire suffered internal schisms,
ranks, and became emperors through civil forming the Palmyrene Empire and the Gallic Empire.

There were 26 emperors in a 49-year period, a signal of political instability. Maximinus Thrax was
the first ruler of that time, governing for just three years. Others ruled just for a few months, like
Gordian I, Gordian II, Balbinus and Hostilian. The population and the frontiers were abandoned,
since the emperors were mostly concerned with defeating rivals and establishing their power.

The economy also suffered during that epoch. The massive military expenditures from the Severi
caused a devaluation of Roman coins. Hyperinflation came at this time as well. The Plague of
Cyprian broke out in 250 and killed a huge portion of the population.[120]

In 260 AD, the provinces of Syria Palaestina, Asia Minor and Egypt separated from the rest of the
Roman state to form the Palmyrene Empire, ruled by Queen Zenobia and centered on Palmyra. In
that same year the Gallic Empire was created by Postumus, retaining Britain and Gaul.[121] These
countries separated from Rome after the capture of emperor Valerian by the Sassanids of Persia, the
first Roman ruler to be captured by his enemies; it was a humiliating fact for the Romans.[120]

The crisis began to recede during the reigns of Claudius Gothicus (268270), who defeated the
Gothic invaders, and Aurelian (271275), who reconquered both the Gallic and Palmyrene
Empires.[122][123] The crisis was overcome during the reign of Diocletian.

Empire the Dominate

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In 284 AD, Diocletian was hailed as Imperator by the eastern

army. Diocletian healed the empire from the crisis, by political
and economic shifts. A new form of government was
established: the Tetrarchy. The Empire was divided among four
emperors, two in the West and two in the East. The first
tetrarchs were Diocletian (in the East), Maximian (in the West),
and two junior emperors, Galerius (in the East) and Flavius
Constantius (in the West). To adjust the economy, Diocletian
made several tax reforms.[124]

Diocletian expelled the Persians who plundered Syria and

conquered some barbarian tribes with Maximian. He adopted
A Roman follis depicting the
many behaviors of Eastern monarchs, like wearing pearls and
golden sandals and robes. Anyone in the presence of the profile of Diocletian
emperor had now to prostrate himself[125] a common act in
the East, but never practiced in Rome before. Diocletian did not use a disguised form of Republic,
as the other emperors since Augustus had done.[126]

Diocletian was also responsible for a significant Christian persecution. In 303 he and Galerius
started the persecution and ordered the destruction of all the Christian churches and scripts and
forbade Christian worship.[127]

Diocletian abdicated in 305 AD together with Maximian, thus, he was the first Roman emperor to
resign. His reign ended the traditional form of imperial rule, the Principate (from princeps) and
started the Dominate (from Dominus, "Master").

Constantine and Christianity

Constantine assumed the empire as a tetrarch in 306. He

conducted many wars against the other tetrarchs. Firstly he
defeated Maxentius in 312. In 313, he issued the Edict of
Milan, which granted liberty for Christians to profess their
religion.[128] Constantine was converted to Christianity,
enforcing the Christian faith. He began the Christianization
of the Empire and of Europe a process concluded by the
Catholic Church in the Middle Ages.
The Aula Palatina of Trier, Germany
He was defeated by the Franks and the Alamanni during (then part of the Roman province of
306308. In 324 he defeated another tetrarch, Licinius, and Gallia Belgica), a Christian basilica
controlled all the empire, as it was before Diocletian. To built during the reign of Constantine I
celebrate his victories and Christianity's relevance, he (r. 306-337 AD)
rebuilt Byzantium and renamed it Nova Roma ("New

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Rome"); but the city soon gained the informal name of Constantinople ("City of Constantine").
[129][130] The city served as a new capital for the Empire. In fact, Rome had lost its central
importance since the Crisis of the Third Century-Mediolanum was the western capital from 286 to
330, until the reign of Honorius, when Ravenna was made capital, in the 5th century.[131] Between
290 and 330, half a dozen new capitals had been established by the members of the Tetrarchy,
officially or not: Antioch, Nicomedia, Thessalonike, Sirmium, Milan, and Trier.[132]

Constantine's administrative and monetary reforms, that reunited the Empire under one emperor,
and rebuilt the city of Byzantium changed the high period of the ancient world.

Fall of the Western Roman

In the late 4th and 5th centuries the Western
Empire entered a critical stage which
terminated with the fall of the Western Roman
Empire.[133] Under the last emperors of the
Constantinian dynasty and the Valentinian
dynasty, Rome lost decisive battles against
the Sasanian Empire and Germanic
barbarians: in 363, emperor Julian the
Apostate was killed in the Battle of Samarra, Germanic and Hunnic invasions of the Roman
against the Persians and the Battle of Empire, 100500 AD.
Adrianople cost the life of emperor Valens
(364378); the victorious Goths were never expelled from the Empire nor assimilated.[134] The
next emperor, Theodosius I (379395), gave even more force to the Christian faith, and after his
death, the Empire was divided into the Eastern Roman Empire, ruled by Arcadius and the Western
Roman Empire, commanded by Honorius, both of which were Theodosius' sons.

The situation became more critical in 408, after the death of Stilicho, a general who tried to reunite
the Empire and repel barbarian invasion in the early years of the 5th century. The professional field
army collapsed. In 410, the Theodosian dynasty saw the Visigoths sack Rome.[135] During the 5th
century, the Western Empire experienced a significant reduction of its territory. The Vandals
conquered North Africa, the Visigoths claimed Gaul, Hispania was taken by the Suebi, Britain was
abandoned by the central government, and the Empire suffered further from the invasions of Attila,
chief of the Huns.[136][137][138][139][140][141]

General Orestes refused to meet the demands of the barbarian "allies" who now formed the army,
and tried to expel them from Italy. Unhappy with this, their chieftain Odoacer defeated and killed
Orestes, invaded Ravenna and dethroned Romulus Augustus, son of Orestes. This event of 476,
usually marks the end of Classical antiquity and beginning of the Middle Ages.[142][143]

After some 1200 years of independence and nearly 700 years as a great power, the rule of Rome in

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the West ended.[144] Various reasons for Rome's fall have been proposed ever since, including loss
of Republicanism, moral decay, military tyranny, class war, slavery, economic stagnation,
environmental change, disease, the decline of the Roman race, as well as the inevitable ebb and
flow that all civilizations experience. At the time many pagans argued that Christianity and the
decline of traditional Roman religion were responsible; some rationalist thinkers of the modern era
attribute the fall to a change from a martial to a more pacifist religion that lessened the number of
available soldiers; while Christians such as Augustine of Hippo argued that the sinful nature of
Roman society itself was to blame.[145]

The Eastern Empire had a different fate. It survived for almost 1000 years after the fall of its
Western counterpart and became the most stable Christian realm during the Middle Ages. During
the 6th century, Justinian reconquered Northern Africa and Italy. But within a few years of
Justinian's death, Byzantine possessions in Italy were greatly reduced by the Lombards who settled
in the peninsula.[146] In the east, partially due to the weakening effect of the Plague of Justinian, the
Byzantines were threatened by the rise of Islam. Its followers rapidly brought about the conquest of
Syria, the conquest of Armenia and the conquest of Egypt during the Byzantine-Arab Wars, and
soon presented a direct threat to Constantinople.[147][148] In the following century, the Arabs also
captured southern Italy and Sicily.[149] On the west, Slavic populations were also able to penetrate
deep into the Balkans.

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. [147][150] In
1000 AD, the Eastern Empire was at its height: Basil II reconquered Bulgaria and Armenia, and
culture and trade flourished.[151] However, soon after, this expansion was abruptly stopped in 1071
with the Byzantine defeat in the Battle of Manzikert. The aftermath of this battle sent the empire
into a protracted period of decline. Two decades of internal strife and Turkic invasions ultimately
led Emperor Alexios I Komnenos to send a call for help to the Western European kingdoms in

The West responded with the Crusades, eventually resulting in the Sack of Constantinople by
participants of the Fourth Crusade. The conquest of Constantinople in 1204 fragmented what
remained of the Empire into successor states; the ultimate victor was the Empire of Nicaea.[152]
After the recapture of Constantinople by Imperial forces, the Empire was little more than a Greek
state confined to the Aegean coast. The Byzantine Empire collapsed when Mehmed the Conqueror
conquered Constantinople on 29 May, 1453.[153]

The imperial city of Rome was the largest urban center in the empire, with a population variously
estimated from 450,000 to close to one million.[154][155][156] 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 show that around 20 percent of the
population under jurisdiction of ancient Rome (2540%, depending on the standards used, in

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Roman Italy)[157] 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 those centers had a forum,
temples, and other buildings similar to Rome's.

Class structure
The Roman Forum, the political,
Roman society is largely viewed as hierarchical, with slaves economic, cultural, and religious
(servi) at the bottom, freedmen (liberti) above them, and center of the city during the Republic
free-born citizens (cives) at the top. Free citizens were also and later Empire.
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 economically. 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 Patrician Torlonia bust of
the army. Next came the equestrians (equites, sometimes translated Cato the Elder, 1st century BC
"knights"), originally those who could afford a warhorse, and who
formed a powerful mercantile class. Several further classes,
originally based on the 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 above freed slaves in
wealth and prestige.

Voting power in the Republic depended 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, from top down, and stopped as soon as most of the
tribes had been reached, so the poorer classes were often unable to cast their votes.

Women shared some basic rights with their male counterparts, but were not fully regarded as
citizens and were thus not allowed to vote or take part in politics. At the same time the limited
rights of women were gradually expanded (due to emancipation) and women reached freedom from

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paterfamilias, gained property rights and even had more juridical

rights than their husbands, but still no voting rights, and were
absent from politics.[158]

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"; could not take part in Roman politics). Some of
Rome's Italian allies were given full citizenship after the Social
War of 9188 BC, and full Roman citizenship was extended to all
free-born men in the Empire by Caracalla in 212. The Orator, c. 100 BC, an
Etrusco-Roman bronze statue
Family depicting Aule Metele (Latin:
Aulus Metellus), an Etruscan
The basic units of Roman society were households and man wearing a Roman toga
families.[167] Households included the head (usually the father) of while engaged in rhetoric; the
the household, pater familias (father of the family), his wife, statue features an inscription
children, and other relatives. In the upper classes, slaves and in the Etruscan alphabet
servants were also part of the household.[167] The power of the
head of the household was supreme (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).[168]

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.[168][169]
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.[170] However, as Romans reckoned descent through the male line, any children she had
belonged to her husband's family.[171]

Little affection was shown for the children of Rome. The mother or an elderly relative often raised
both boys and girls. Unwanted children were often sold as slaves.[172] Children might have waited
on tables for the family, but they could not have participated in the conversation.

In noble families a Greek nurse usually taught the children Latin and Greek. Their father taught 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

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boy had to carry a lantern to school). Wax-covered boards were

used as paper, papyrus, and parchment were too expensiveor
he could just write in the sand. A loaf of bread to be eaten was
also carried.[173]

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.

In ancient Rome, marriage was often regarded more as a

A gold glass portrait of a Roman
financial and political alliance than as a romantic association,
family. According to legend, it
especially in the upper classes (see marriage in ancient Rome).
has been believed to depict Galla
Fathers usually began seeking husbands for their daughters
Placidia and her children, and
when these reached an age between twelve and fourteen. The
even Queen Ansa and her
husband was usually older than the bride. While upper class
children; the Greek inscription on
girls married very young, there is evidence that lower class
women often married in their late teens or early 20s. the medallion may indicate either
the name of the artist or the pater
familias who is absent in the
portrait.[159] Academics have
In the early Republic, there were no public schools, so boys suggested it may actually be a
were taught to read and write by their parents, or by educated family from Roman Egypt (with
clear similarities to the Fayum
slaves, called paedagogi, usually of Greek origin.[174][175][176]
The primary aim of education during this period was to train mummy portraits);[160][161] the
young men in agriculture, warfare, Roman traditions, and public central knot worn by the woman
in the center most likely indicates
affairs.[174] Young boys learned much about civic life by
accompanying their fathers to religious and political functions, her as a cult follower of the
Egyptian goddess Isis;[162] gold
including the Senate for the sons of nobles.[175] The sons of
glass portrait (most likely by an
nobles were apprenticed to a prominent political figure at the
age of 16, and campaigned with the army from the age of 17 Alexandrian Greek due to the
(this system was still in use among some noble families into the Egyptian dialect of the
inscription), dated 3rd century
imperial era).[175]
Educational practices were modified after 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 much different from Greek ones.[175][177] 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

Beginning at age 12, students went to secondary schools, where the teacher (now called a

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grammaticus) taught them about Greek and Roman literature.[175][178] At the age of 16, some
students went on to rhetoric school (where the teacher, usually Greek, was called a rhetor).[175][178]
Education at this level prepared students for legal careers, and required that the students memorize
the laws of Rome.[175] 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.[179]
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 that
could assemble the people to bear witness to certain acts, hear proclamations, and declare the feast
and holiday schedule for the next month.

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.
Representation of a sitting of the Roman
In the Republic, the Senate held actual authority Senate: Cicero attacks Catilina, from a
(auctoritas), but no real legislative power; it was 19th-century fresco.
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 by the office-holder. 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

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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, 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 promulgated in 449 BC and to the codification of law issued by order of
Emperor Justinian I around 530 AD (see Corpus Juris Civilis). 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.[180] The Praetores Urbani (sg.
Praetor Urbanus) were the people 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.[167] The Praetores Peregrini (sg. Praetor Peregrinus) were the
people who had jurisdiction over cases involving citizens and foreigners. Ius Naturale
encompassed natural law, the body of laws that were considered common to all beings.


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
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

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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.
Night view of Trajan's Market, built by Apollodorus of Damascus.
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 beyondsome 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 value.

Horses were expensive and other pack animals were slower. Mass trade on the Roman roads
connected military posts, where Roman markets were centered.[181] These roads were designed for
wheels.[182] As a result, there was transport of commodities between Roman regions, but increased
with 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.[102] Transport by sea was around 60 times cheaper than by land, so the
volume for such trips was much larger.

Some economists consider the Roman Empire a market economy, similar in its degree of
capitalistic practices to 17th century Netherlands and 18th century England.[183]


The early Roman army (c. 500 BC) was, like those of other contemporary city-states influenced by
Greek civilization, a citizen militia that practiced hoplite tactics. It was small (the population of free
men 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

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providing light infantry. The early Roman army was tactically limited
and its stance during this period was essentially defensive.[184]

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
sometimes 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.[185]

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),
Modern replica of lorica a force of light infantry (velites), and the cavalry (equites). With the
segmentata type armor, new organization came a new orientation toward the offensive and a
used in conjunction with much more aggressive posture toward adjoining city-states.[185]
the popular chainmail
after the 1st century AD.
At nominal full strength, an early Republican legion included 4,000 to
5,000 men: 3,600 to 4,800 heavy infantry, several hundred light
infantry, and several hundred cavalrymen.[186] 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 they were recently recruited, while Caesar's legions were often
well below nominal strength after long active service in Gaul. This pattern also held true for
auxiliary forces.[187]

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,[188] 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

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 longup to twenty years if emergencies required although six- or
seven-year terms were more typical.[190]

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.[191] Cavalry and light

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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.[192] By the time of Caesar Augustus, the ideal of the citizen-soldier had been
abandoned and the legions had become fully professional. Legionaries received 900 sesterces a
year and could expect 12,000 sesterces on retirement.[193]

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.[194]
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 combined cavalry and
legionaries in a single formation. They could be stationed at garrisons or outposts and could fight
on their own as balanced small forces or combine with other similar units as a larger legion-sized
force. This increase in organizational flexibility helped ensure the long-term success of Roman
military forces.[195]

The Emperor Gallienus (253268 AD) began a reorganization that created the last 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).[196]

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

Military leadership evolved over the course of the history of Rome. Under the monarchy, the
hoplite armies were 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.[197]

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 held before) to govern a foreign province.
More junior officers (down to but not including the level of centurion) were selected by their

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commanders from their own clientelae or those

recommended by political allies among the Senatorial

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
Altar of Domitius Ahenobarbus, c. 122
commanded the legion (legatus legionis) and also
served as provincial governor, while in a province with BC; the altar shows two Roman
more than one legion, each legion was commanded by a infantrymen equipped with long scuta and
legate and the legates were commanded by the a cavalryman with his horse. All are
provincial governor (also a legate but of higher shown wearing chain mail armour.

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.[199]

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 quinquereme 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

As compared with a trireme, the quinquereme 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 about
40 marines in lieu of the ram. Ships were commanded by a navarch, a rank equal to a centurion,
who was usually not a citizen. 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.[200]

Information suggests that by the time of the late Empire (350 AD), the Roman navy comprised
several fleets including warships and merchant vessels for transportation and supply. Warships were

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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. 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 fleets were commanded by

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 theatres, gymnasiums,
marketplaces, functional sewers, bath complexes complete
with libraries and shops, and fountains with fresh drinking
water supplied by hundreds of miles of aqueducts.
Throughout the territory under the control of ancient Rome,
residential architecture ranged from 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 The seven hills of Rome
derives. The low Plebeian 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 property owners to
rent, were often centred upon collegia or taberna. These people, provided with a free supply of
grain, and entertained by gladatorial games, were enrolled as clients of patrons among the upper
class Patricians, whose assistance they sought and whose interests they upheld.


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.[202] Its
alphabet was based on the Etruscan alphabet, which was in turn based on the Greek alphabet.[203]
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 spoken language of the
Roman Empire was Vulgar Latin, which significantly differed from Classical Latin in grammar and
vocabulary, and eventually in pronunciation.[204]

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

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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.[205] The
expansion of the Roman Empire spread Latin throughout
Europe, and Vulgar Latin evolved into dialects in different
locations, gradually shifting into many distinct Romance


Archaic Roman religion, at least concerning the gods, was made

up not of written narratives, but rather of complex interrelations
between gods and humans.[206] Unlike in Greek mythology, the
Roman fresco of a blond maiden
gods were not personified, but were vaguely defined sacred
reading a text, Pompeian Fourth
spirits called numina. Romans also believed that every person,
Style (60-79 AD), Pompeii, Italy
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
deified,[207][208] and the formalized imperial cult became
increasingly prominent.

As contact with the Greeks increased, the old Roman gods

became increasingly associated with Greek gods.[209] Thus,
Punishment of Ixion: in the
Jupiter was perceived to be the same deity as Zeus, Mars
center is Mercury holding the
became associated with Ares, and Neptune with Poseidon. The
caduceus and on the right Juno
Roman gods also assumed the attributes and mythologies of
sits on her throne. Behind her Iris
these Greek gods. Under the Empire, the Romans absorbed the
stands and gestures. On the left is
mythologies of their conquered subjects, often leading to
situations in which the temples and priests of traditional Italian Vulcan (blond figure) standing
behind the wheel, manning it,
deities existed side by side with those of foreign gods.[210]
with Ixion already tied to it.
Beginning with Emperor Nero in the 1st century AD, Roman Nephele sits at Mercury's feet; a
official policy towards Christianity was negative, and at some Roman fresco from the eastern
points, simply being a Christian could be punishable by death. wall of the triclinium in the
Under Emperor Diocletian, the persecution of Christians House of the Vettii, Pompeii,
reached its peak. However, it became an officially supported Fourth Style (60-79 AD).
religion in the Roman state under Diocletian's successor,

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Constantine I, with the signing of the Edict of Milan in 313, and quickly became dominant. All
religions except Christianity were prohibited in 391 AD by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I.[211]

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.
[212][213] 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.[212][213]
Woman playing a kithara, from
The second style of Roman painting began during the early 1st the Villa Boscoreale, 40-30 BC.
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. [212][213]

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, ornate hair and
bearding, with deep cutting and drilling, became popular. Advancements were also made in relief
sculptures, usually depicting Roman victories.

Latin literature was, from its start, 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.[214] 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.[215] 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

Most religious rituals featured musical performances, with tibiae (double pipes) at sacrifices,
cymbals and Tambourines at orgiastic cults, and rattles and hymns across the spectrum.[217] Some

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music historians believe that music was used at almost all public ceremonies.[214] Music historians
are not certain if Roman musicians made a significant contribution to the theory or practice of

The graffiti, brothels, paintings, and sculptures found in Pompeii and Herculaneum suggest that the
Romans had a sex-saturated culture.[218]


Ancient Roman cuisine changed over the long duration of this ancient civilization. Dietary habits
were affected by the influence of Greek culture, the political changes from kingdom to republic to
empire, and empire's enormous expansion, which exposed Romans to many new, provincial
culinary habits and cooking techniques. In the beginning the differences between social classes
were relatively small, but disparities evolved with the empire's growth. Men and women drank
wine with their meals, a tradition that has been carried through to the present day.[219]

Games and recreation

The youth of Rome had several forms of athletic play and

exercise, such as jumping, wrestling, boxing, and racing.[220] In
the countryside, pastimes for the wealthy also included fishing
and hunting.[221] The Romans also had several forms of ball
playing, including one resembling handball.[220] Dice games,
board games, and gamble games were popular pastimes.[220]
Women did not take part in these activities. For the wealthy,
dinner parties presented an opportunity for entertainment,
sometimes featuring music, dancing, and poetry readings.[222]
Plebeians sometimes enjoyed similar parties through clubs or
associations, but for most Romans, recreational dining usually Choregos and theater actors, from
meant patronizing taverns.[222] Children entertained themselves the House of the Tragic Poet,
with toys and such games as leapfrog.[221][222] Pompeii, Italy. Naples National
Archeological Museum
Public games were sponsored by leading Romans who wished
to advertise their generosity and court popular approval; in the
Imperial era, this usually meant the emperor. Several venues were developed specifically for public
games. The Colisseum was built in the Imperial era to host, among other events, gladiatorial
combats. These combats had begun as funeral games around the 4th century BC, and became
popular spectator events in the late Republic and Empire. Gladiators had an exotic and inventive
variety of arms and armour. They sometimes fought to the death, but more often to an adjudicated
victory, dependent on a referee's decision. The outcome was usually in keeping with the mood of
the watching crowd. Shows of exotic animals were popular in their own right; but sometimes
animals were pitted against human beings, either armed professionals or unarmed criminals who
had been condemned to a spectacular and theatrical public death in the arena. Some of these

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encounters were based on episodes from Roman or Greek


Chariot racing was extremely popular among all classes. In

Rome, these races were usually held at the Circus Maximus,
which had been purpose-built for chariot and horse-racing and,
as Rome's largest public place, was also used for festivals and
animal shows.[223] It could seat around 150,000 people;[224]
The "bikini girls" mosaic,
The charioteers raced in teams, identified by their colours. The
showing women playing sports,
track was divided lengthwise by a barrier that contained
from the Villa Romana del
obelisks, temples, statues and lap-counters. The best seats were
Casale, Roman province of
at the track-side, close to the action; they were reserved for
Sicilia (Sicily), 4th century AD
Senators. Behind them sat the equites (knights), and behind the
knights were the plebs (commoners) and non-citizens. The
donor of the games sat on a high platform in the stands alongside images of the gods, visible to all.
Large sums were bet on the outcomes of races. Some Romans offered prayers and sacrifices on
behalf of their favourites, or laid curses on the opposing teams, and some aficionados were
members of extremely, even violently partisan circus factions.

Ancient Rome boasted impressive technological feats,
using many advancements that were lost in the Middle
Ages and not rivaled again until the 19th and 20th
centuries. An example of this is Insulated glazing, which
was not invented again until the 1930s. Many practical
Roman innovations were adopted from earlier Greek
designs. Advancements were often divided and based on
craft. Artisans guarded technologies as trade secrets.[225]

Roman civil engineering and military engineering

Pont du Gard in France is a Roman
constituted a large part of Rome's technological superiority
aqueduct built in c. 19 BC. It is a
and legacy, and contributed to the construction of hundreds
of roads, bridges, aqueducts, baths, theaters and arenas. World Heritage Site.
Many monuments, such as the Colosseum, Pont du Gard,
and Pantheon, remain as testaments to Roman engineering and culture.

The Romans were 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.

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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 forms.[226] Also in the
1st century BC, Vitruvius wrote De architectura, possibly
the first complete treatise on architecture in history. In the
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
The Appian Way (Via Appia), a road
Lucius Cornelius Sulla's campaigns in Greece.
connecting the city of Rome to the
Concrete made possible the paved, durable Roman roads, southern parts of Italy, remains usable
many of which were still in use a thousand years after the even today.
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 crossroadsthe origin of the
saying "all roads lead to Rome". The Roman government maintained a system of way stations,
known as the cursus publicus, that provided refreshments to couriers at regular intervals along the
roads and established a system of horse relays allowing a dispatch to travel up to 80 km (50 mi) a

The Romans constructed numerous aqueducts to supply water to cities and industrial sites and to
aid in their agriculture. The city of Rome was supplied by 11 aqueducts with a combined length of
350 km (217 mi).[227] Most aqueducts were constructed below the surface, with only small portions
above ground supported by arches. Sometimes, where valleys deeper than 500 m (1,640 ft) had to
be crossed, inverted siphons were used to convey water across a valley.[51]

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 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 few taps were in use.[228] Other authors have raised
similar objections to this theory, also pointing out that Roman water pipes were thickly coated with
deposits that would have prevented lead from leaching into the water.[229]


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Ancient Rome is the progenitor of Western civilization. External video

[231][232][233] The customs, religion, law, technology,
architecture, political system, military, literature, languages,
alphabet, government and many factors and aspects of western
civilization are all inherited from Roman advancements. The
rediscovery of Roman culture revitalized Western civilization,
playing a role in the Renaissance and the Age of

Although there has been a diversity of works on ancient
Roman history, many of them are lost. As a result of this loss,
there are gaps in Roman history, which are filled by unreliable
Ancient Rome
works, such as the Historia Augusta and other books from
obscure authors. However, there remains a number of reliable
accounts of Roman history. /ancient-rome-an-
introduction.html)[230] (13:47),
In Roman times Smarthistory at Khan Academy

The first historians used their works for the lauding of Roman culture and customs. By the end of
Republic, some historians distorted their histories to flatter their patronsespecially at the time of
Marius's and Sulla's clash.[236] Caesar wrote his own histories to make a complete account of his
military campaigns in Gaul and during the Civil War.

In the Empire, the biographies of famous men and early emperors flourished, examples being The
Twelve Caesars of Suetonius, and Plutarch's Parallel Lives. Other major works of Imperial times
were that of Livy and Tacitus.

Polybius The Histories

Sallust Bellum Catilinae and Bellum Jugurthinum
Julius Caesar De Bello Gallico and De Bello Civili
Livy Ab urbe condita
Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities
Pliny the Elder Naturalis Historia
Josephus The Jewish War
Suetonius The Twelve Caesars (De Vita Caesarum)
Tacitus Annales and Histories
Plutarch Parallel Lives (a series of biographies of famous Roman and Greek men)
Cassius Dio Historia Romana
Herodian History of the Roman Empire since Marcus Aurelius
Ammianus Marcellinus Res Gestae

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In modern times

Interest in studying, and even idealizing, ancient Rome became prevalent during the Italian
Renaissance, and continues until the present day. 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 the 2nd century to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453.[237] Like Montesquieu,
Gibbon paid 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 tried to determine the way the Roman tradition evolved. According to
him, Romans, like other people, had an historical ethos 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,[238] became very important
milestones. Later the work Greatness and Decline of Rome by Guglielmo Ferrero was published.
The Russian work ,
(The Outlines on Roman Landownership History, Mainly During the Empire) by Ivan
Grevs contained information on the economy of Pomponius Atticus, one of the largest landowners
at the end of the Republic.

Edward Gibbon (17371794) The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
John Bagnall Bury (18611927) History of the Later Roman Empire
Michael Grant (19142004) The Roman World[239]
Barbara Levick (born 1932) Claudius[240]
Barthold Georg Niebuhr (17761831)
Michael Rostovtzeff (18701952)
Howard Hayes Scullard (19031983) The History of the Roman World[241]
Ronald Syme (19031989) The Roman Revolution[242]
Adrian Goldsworthy (born 1969) Caesar: The Life of a Colossus and How Rome fell[243]

See also
Ancient Roman architecture
Daqin, the Chinese name for the Roman Empire, see Sino-Roman relations
Outline of classical studies
Outline of ancient Rome
Constitution of the Roman Republic
History of Rome
Timeline of Roman history
Legacy of the Roman Empire
Regions in Greco-Roman antiquity

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Roman agriculture
List of ancient Romans
List of Roman Emperors
Roman culture

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Goldsmith (1984, p. 263) estimates 55.
Beloch (1886, p. 507) estimates 54.
Maddison (2006, p. 51, 120) estimates 48.
Roman Empire Population ( estimates 65
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McEvedy and Jones (1978).
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160. For a description of scholarly research on the Brescia Medallion, see Daniel Thomas Howells (2015). "A
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"Other important contributions to scholarship included the publication of an extensive summary of gold
glass scholarship under the entry Fonds de coupes in Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclercqs
comprehensive Dictionnaire darchologie chrtienne et de liturgie in 1923. Leclercq updated Vopels
catalogue, recording 512 gold glasses considered to be genuine, and developed a typological series
consisting of eleven iconographic subjects: biblical subjects; Christ and the saints; various legends;
inscriptions; pagan deities; secular subjects; male portraits; female portraits; portraits of couples and
families; animals; and Jewish symbols. In a 1926 article devoted to the brushed technique gold glass
known as the Brescia medallion (Pl. 1), Fernand de Mly challenged the deeply ingrained opinion of
Garrucci and Vopel that all examples of brushed technique gold glass were in fact forgeries. The
following year, de Mlys hypothesis was supported and further elaborated upon in two articles by
different scholars. A case for the Brescia medallions authenticity was argued for, not on the basis of its
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written in the Alexandrian dialect of Egypt. De Mly noted that the medallion and its inscription had
been reported as early as 1725, far too early for the idiosyncrasies of Graeco-Egyptian word endings to
have been understood by forgers."
"Comparing the iconography of the Brescia medallion with other more closely dated objects from Egypt,
Hayford Peirce then proposed that brushed technique medallions were produced in the early 3rd
century, whilst de Mly himself advocated a more general 3rd-century date. With the authenticity of the
medallion more firmly established, Joseph Breck was prepared to propose a late 3rd to early 4th century
date for all of the brushed technique cobalt blue-backed portrait medallions, some of which also had
Greek inscriptions in the Alexandrian dialect. Although considered genuine by the majority of scholars
by this point, the unequivocal authenticity of these glasses was not fully established until 1941 when
Gerhart Ladner discovered and published a photograph of one such medallion still in situ, where it
remains to this day, impressed into the plaster sealing in an individual loculus in the Catacomb of
Panfilo in Rome (Pl. 2). Shortly after in 1942, Morey used the phrase brushed technique to categorize
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a gem cutters precision and lending themselves to a chiaroscuro-like effect similar to that of a fine steel
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Further reading
Cowell, Frank Richard (1961). Life in Ancient Rome. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
ISBN 0-399-50328-5.

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Gabucci, Ada (2007). Rome (Dictionaries of Civilizations; 2). Berkekely: University of

California Press. ISBN 0-520-25265-9.
Scheidel, Walter; Morris, Ian; Saller, Richard P. (2008). The Cambridge Economic History of
the Greco-Roman World.
Woolf, Greg (2012). Rome: An Empire's Story. New York: Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-977529-3.
Wyke, Maria (1997). Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema, and History. New York;
London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-90613-X.

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