Brief History Of Rome

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Here Is A Very Brief History Of Rome

Tracing the history of Rome ranges from its earliest beginnings in the 8th century BC until it finally collapsed officially in 476 with the naming of Odovacar as King of Italy by his military troops. The growth of the small town on the Tiber River in central Italy was marked by events which caused to to become ruler of most of the known world, including Europe, Britain, Western Asia and Northern Africa.

The Mediterranean Islands were also under the influence. In addition to its geographic dominance, the Roman Republic and Empire is responsible for the use of Romance languages, the Western calendar and alphabet and the rise of Christianity as a globally recognized religion.


Legend has it that the city was founded by Romulus, one of the twin sons of the God of War, Mars. The pair was raised by a she-wolf, and eventually defeated the king of a neighboring city who had left them to drown. Romulus is also responsible for the death of his brother Remus. The city of Rome is named for the first king, Romulus. He was followed by number of kings from earlier Italian civilization, including Sabine, Latin and Etruscan.



The years as a monarchy ended in 509 BC after approximately 244 years under seven kings. The final monarch, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was overthrown in a popular uprising of the people, who formed a republic. The word “republic” comes from a Latin term meaning “property of the people.”


In the early years of the republic, the power formerly held by the monarch was passed to two consuls elected annually. The consuls also were in charge of the army. The consuls were popularly elected, but typically came from the patrician class.


The early republic was marked by conflicts between the common people and the descendants of the senators from the time of Romulus. Over years of concessions, the plebeians achieved some political power, including the development of tribunes which could initiate or ban legislation.

The Roman Law Code was inscribed on a dozen bronze tablets (Twelve Tables) and displayed in the Roman Forum in 450 BC. The laws included legal procedure and property and civil rights. The tablets became the basis for all future civil law in Rome. By 300 BC, the political power of the Republic was controlled by the wealthy plebeian and patrician family members who made up the Senate.

Growth of the Roman State

Although the city was burned in 390 BC by the attacking Gauls, the State of Roman grew in size and power. The Romans fought their way back from the event under Camillus and took over the Italian peninsula by 264 BC. A series of wars were fought with the city-state of Carthage in Northern Africa.

The results of the Punic Wars, as they were known, were to leave Rome in control of Sicily, the Western Mediterranean, much of Spain and finally northern Africa with the destruction of Carthage. The defeat of Macedonia under Philip V made his country into another province of Rome.

Late Republic Discord

Increasing discord, politically and socially, marked the growing empire. There was a period of turmoil and violence. Some of the key figures who arose during this period included

* Tiberius – reform movement leader in 133 BC

* Gaius Gracchus – reform leader 123-22 BC

* Gaius Maris – military warlord elected to consul beginning in 107 BC

* Sulla – military dictator beginning around 82 BC

* Pompey – consul and military leader against Mediterranean pirates and Mithridates in Asia

* Marcus Tullius Cicero – consul in 63 BC and famous orator.

The Rise of Caesar

Pompey returned to Rome as a victor in his military campaigns. He formed an alliance with Crassus and Julius Caesar. The group was known as the First Triumvirate. In 59 BC, Caesar returned to Rome following his Spanish military conquests.

Caesar was granted the wealthy provinces in Gaul to govern and then proceeded to conquer the balance of the region. The alliance broke apart with the death of Caesar’s daughter Julia, wife of Pompey, and the death of Crassus in battle.

Although Pompey took over as sole consul in 53 BC, Caesar continued to enhance his wealth and military power and by 49 BC he crossed the Rubicon River and invaded Italy. The resulting civil war led to his naming as dictator for life in 45 BC.

Less than one year later, Julius Caesar was murdered by a group of enemies, including Brutus and Cassius. These two were then crushed by the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian. The latter two joined with Lepidus to become the Second Triumvirate, which also dissolved under tensions. Octavian beat the joint forces of Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BC, after which they committed suicide. In 27 BC, Octavian took over the title of Augustus, becoming recognized as Rome’s first emperor.

The Roman Empire

The rule of Augustus and his successors led to restoration of morale, peace and prosperity which lasted for two hundred years. The emperor was responsible for social reforms, military victories and the expansion of Roman literature, architecture, religion and art.

Augustus ruled for more than a half-century, supported by his enormous army and growing cult status by the people. Upon his death, the Senate elevated his status to that of a god.

The line of Augustus included

* Tiberius – 14-37 AD

* Caligula – 37-41 AD

* Claudius – 41-54 AD

* Nero – 54-68 AD

The year after Nero’s death saw four emperors, the last of which, Vespasian and his successors Titus and Domitian, were known as the Flavians. Following Domitian, the Senate selected Nerva who ruled from 96 to 98 AD. This selection ushered in another peaceful and golden age in Roman history.

Decline of the Roman Empire

During third century Rome, a total of 22 emperors took the throne, most of whom were removed by the same military personnel who had placed them in power. At the same time, there were military and financial threats from the outside.

Under Constantine in 324, Rome was again reunified and the Roman capital was moved to Byzantium, renamed Constantinople. The Council of Nicaea in 325 named Christianity as the official religion of the Empire.


Although the eastern division of the empire, Byzantium, remained intact for centuries, the western portion was wracked from internal conflicts and threats from abroad, particularly from Germanic tribes. The great Roman empire eventually collapsed under its own weight.


We hope you have enjoyed our brief overview of Rome, check out our other articles on Rome which is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Italy.

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