Portal:Ancient Rome

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In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 BC), Roman Republic (509–27 BC) and Roman Empire (27 BC–476 AD) until the fall of the western empire.

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, assimilated the Greek culture of southern Italy (Magna Grecia) and the Etruscan culture 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.

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

Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern language, religion, society, technology, law, politics, government, warfare, art, literature, architecture and engineering. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called res publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France. It achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the 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 Third Century before some stability was restored in the Tetrarchy phase of imperial rule.

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

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The history of the Constitution of the Roman Republic is a study of the ancient Roman Republic that traces the progression of Roman political development from the founding of the Roman Republic in 509 BC until the founding of the Roman Empire in 27 BC. The constitutional history of the Roman Republic can be divided into five phases. The first phase began with the revolution which overthrew the Roman Kingdom in 509 BC, and the final phase ended with the revolution which overthrew the Roman Republic, and thus created the Roman Empire, in 27 BC. Throughout the history of the Republic, the constitutional evolution was driven by the struggle between the aristocracy and the ordinary citizens.

The Roman aristocracy was composed of a class of citizens called Patricians (Latin: patricii), while all other citizens were called Plebeians (Latin: plebs) . During the first phase of political development, the Patrician aristocracy dominated the state, and the Plebeians began seeking political rights. During the second phase, the Plebeians completely overthrew the Patrician aristocracy, and since the aristocracy was overthrown simply through alterations to the Roman law, this revolution was not violent. The third phase saw the emergence of a joint Patricio-Plebeian aristocracy, along with a dangerous military situation that helped to maintain internal stability within the Republic. The fourth phase began shortly after Rome's wars of expansion had ended, because without these wars, the factor that had ensured internal stability was removed. While the Plebeians sought to address their economic misfortune through the enactment of laws, the underlying problems were ultimately caused by the organization of society. The final phase began when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon river, and ended with the complete overthrow of the Republic. This final revolution triggered a wholesale reorganization of the constitution, and with it, the emergence of the Roman Empire. (Full article...)
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Sestertius Herennius Etruscus-s2749 (obverse).jpg
Sestertius bearing the bust of Herennius Etruscus. The inscription reads q her etr mes decivs nob c.
Quintus Herennius Etruscus Messius Decius (died June 251) was briefly Roman emperor in 251, ruling jointly under his father Decius. His father was proclaimed emperor by his troops in September 249 while in Pannonia and Moesia, in opposition to Emperor Philip the Arab. Decius defeated Philip in battle, and was then proclaimed emperor by the Roman Senate. Herennius Etruscus was elevated to Caesar in 250, then further raised to Augustus in May 251. When the Goths, under Cniva, invaded the Danubian provinces, Herennius Etruscus was sent with a vanguard, followed by the main body of Roman troops, led by Decius. They ambushed Cniva at the Battle of Nicopolis ad Istrum in 250, routing him, before being ambushed and routed themselves at the Battle of Beroe. Herennius Etruscus was killed in the Battle of Abritus the following year, alongside his father. After the deaths of both emperors, Trebonianus Gallus, who had been governor of Moesia, was elected emperor by the remaining Roman forces. (Full article...)

Did you know?

  • ...That the Pater familias of a family, had the power to sell his children into slavery?
  • ...That Trajan was the last Roman Emperor to harry the coast of Arabia with the Roman Navy?
  • ...That Trajan was born at Italica, in Spain and adopted by the Roman Emperor Nerva and made his heir, which entitled Trajan to call himself the son of Nerva

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Gaius Gracchus (154 BC – 121 BC), a tribune of the people, presiding over the Plebeian Council. When presiding, the tribune could make motions and propose laws to the council.


Gaius Gracchus (154 BC – 121 BC), a tribune of the people, presiding over the Plebeian Council. When presiding, the tribune could make motions and propose laws to the council.

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