Ancient Rome began as an Italic settlement, traditionally dated to 753 BC, beside the River Tiber in the Italian Peninsula. The settlement grew into the city and polity of Rome, and came to control its neighbours through a combination of treaties and military strength. It eventually dominated the Italian peninsula, and acquired an Empire that took in much of Europe and the lands and peoples surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. It was among the largest empires in the ancient world, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants, roughly 20% of the world's population at the time. It covered around 5 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles) at its height in AD 117.
Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern language, religion, society, technology, law, politics, government, warfare, art, literature, architecture and engineering. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called res publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France. It achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the empire-wide construction of aqueducts and roads, as well as more grandiose monuments and facilities.
The Punic Wars with Carthage gave Rome supremacy in the Mediterranean. The Roman Empire emerged with the principate of Augustus (from 27 BC); Rome's imperial domain now extended from the Atlantic to Arabia and from the mouth of the Rhine to North Africa. In 92 AD, Rome came up against the resurgent Persian Empire and became involved in history's longest-running conflict, the Roman–Persian Wars, which would have lasting effects on both empires. Under Trajan, Rome's empire reached its territorial peak, encompassing the entire Mediterranean Basin, the southern margins of the North Sea, and the shores of the Red and Caspian Seas. Republican mores and traditions started to decline during the imperial period, with civil wars becoming a common prelude to the rise of a new emperor. Splinter states, such as the Palmyrene Empire, would temporarily divide the Empire during the crisis of the 3rd century before some stability was restored in the Tetrarchy phase of imperial rule.
Image 4Reconstruction of a writing tablet: the stylus was used to inscribe letters into the wax surface for drafts, casual letterwriting, and schoolwork, while texts meant to be permanent were copied onto papyrus. (from Roman Empire)
Image 12Wall painting (1st century AD) from Pompeii depicting a multigenerational banquet (from Culture of ancient Rome)
Image 13The Roman empire under Hadrian (ruled 117–138) showing the location of the Roman legions deployed in 125 AD (from Roman Empire)
Image 14Stone game board from Aphrodisias: boards could also be made of wood, with deluxe versions in costly materials such as ivory; game pieces or counters were bone, glass, or polished stone, and might be coloured or have markings or images (from Roman Empire)
Image 32The Barbarian Invasions consisted of the movement of (mainly) ancient Germanic peoples into Roman territory. Even though northern invasions took place throughout the life of the Empire, this period officially began in the 4th century and lasted for many centuries, during which the western territory was under the dominion of foreign northern rulers, a notable one being Charlemagne. Historically, this event marked the transition between classical antiquity and the Middle Ages. (from Roman Empire)
Image 40Construction on the Flavian Amphitheatre, more commonly known as the Colosseum (Italy), began during the reign of Vespasian. (from Roman Empire)
Image 41Claudius wearing an early Imperial toga (see a later, more structured toga above), and the pallium as worn by a priest of Serapis, sometimes identified as the emperor Julian (from Roman Empire)
Image 56Solidus issued under Constantine II, and on the reverse Victoria, one of the last deities to appear on Roman coins, gradually transforming into an angel under Christian rule (from Roman Empire)
Image 70Sol in his biga drawn by two white horses; Mars descending from the sky to Rhea Silvia lying in the grass of a hill with a temple on it; in front of the temple of Vesta and altar three priests in white togas pointing at Rhea Silvia; Mercury shows to Venus the she-wolf suckling the twins; in the lower corners of the picture: river-god Tiberinus and water-goddess Juturna. Fresco from Pompeii, 35–45 CE (from Founding of Rome)
Image 84The Triumph of Neptune floor mosaic from Africa Proconsularis (present-day Tunisia), celebrating agricultural success with allegories of the Seasons, vegetation, workers and animals viewable from multiple perspectives in the room (latter 2nd century) (from Roman Empire)
Although Gaius was named after Gaius Julius Caesar, he acquired the nickname "Caligula" ("little caliga," a type of military boot) from his father's soldiers during their campaign in Germania. When Germanicus died at Antioch in 19, Agrippina returned with her six children to Rome, where she became entangled in a bitter feud with Tiberius. The conflict eventually led to the destruction of her family, with Caligula as the sole male survivor. In 26, Tiberius withdrew from public life to the island of Capri, and in 31, Caligula joined him there. Following the death of Tiberius in 37, Caligula succeeded him as emperor. There are few surviving sources about the reign of Caligula, though he is described as a noble and moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule. After this, the sources focus upon his cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion, presenting him as an insane tyrant. (Full article...)
...That according to Suetonius, Caligula "often sent for men whom he had secretly killed, as though they were still alive, and remarked offhandedly a few days later that they must have committed suicide"?
...That Mark Antony, who avenged Julius Caesar, was killed by Julius Caesar's grand nephew (Octavian) Augustus Caesar?
...That Sulla's grave read No friend ever surpassed him in kindness, and no enemy in ill-doing?
[...] Caesar is a god in his own city. Outstanding in war or peace, it was not so much his wars that ended in great victories, or his actions at home, or his swiftly won fame, that set him among the stars, a fiery comet, as his descendant. There is no greater achievement among Caesar's actions than that he stood father to our emperor. Is it a greater thing to have conquered the sea-going Britons; to have led his victorious ships up the seven-mouthed flood of the papyrus-bearing Nile; to have brought the rebellious Numidians, under Juba of Cinyps, and Pontus, swollen with the name of Mithridates, under the people of Quirinus; to have earned many triumphs and celebrated few; than to have sponsored such a man, with whom, as ruler of all, you gods have richly favoured the human race? Therefore, in order for the emperor not to have been born of mortal seed, Caesar needed to be made a god. [...]
Augustus, his 'son', will ensure that he ascends to heaven as a god, and is worshipped in the temples. Augustus, as heir to his name, will carry the burden placed upon him alone, and will have us with him, in battle, as the most courageous avenger of his father's murder. Under his command, the conquered walls of besieged Mutina will sue for peace; Pharsalia will know him; Macedonian Philippi twice flow with blood; and the one who holds Pompey's great name, will be defeated in Sicilian waters; and a Roman general's Egyptian consort, trusting, to her cost, in their marriage, will fall, her threat that our Capitol would bow to her city of Canopus, proved vain.
Why enumerate foreign countries or the nations living on either ocean shore? Wherever earth contains habitable land, it will be his: and even the sea will serve him!