|753 BC–476/4801 AD|
|Motto: Senatus Populusque Romanus|
Tarquin the Proud
• Octavian proclaimed Augustus
In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 BC), Roman Republic (509–27 BC), Roman Empire (27 BC– 395 AD), and Western Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire.[a]
Ancient Rome began as an
The Roman state evolved from an elective monarchy to a
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
Early Italy and the founding of Rome
Archaeological evidence of settlement around Rome starts to emerge c. 1000 BC. Large-scale organisation appears only c. 800 BC, with the first graves in the Esquiline Hill's necropolis, along with a clay and timber wall on the bottom of the Palatine Hill dating to the middle of the 8th century BC. Starting from c. 650 BC, the Romans started to drain the valley between the Capitoline and Palatine Hills, where today sits the Roman Forum. By the sixth century, the Romans were constructing the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline and expanding to the Forum Boarium located between the Capitoline and Aventine Hills.
The Romans themselves had a
Literary and archaeological evidence is clear on there having been kings in Rome, attested in fragmentary 6th century BC texts. Long after the abolition of the Roman monarchy, a vestigial rex sacrorum was retained to exercise the monarch's former priestly functions. The Romans believed that their monarchy was elective, with seven legendary kings who were largely unrelated by blood.
Evidence of Roman expansion is clear in the sixth century BC; by its end, Rome controlled a territory of some 780 square kilometres (300 square miles) with a population perhaps as high as 35,000.
By the end of the sixth century, Rome and many of its Italian neighbours entered a period of turbulence. Archaeological evidence implies some degree of large-scale warfare.
Other magistrates of the Republic include
In the 4th century BC, Rome had come under attack by the
In the 3rd century BC Rome faced a new and formidable opponent: Carthage, the other major power in the Western Mediterranean. 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 Syracuse. After the Carthaginian intercession, Messana asked Rome to expel the Carthaginians. Rome entered this war because Syracuse and Messana were too close to the newly conquered Greek cities of Southern Italy and Carthage was now able to make an offensive through Roman territory; along with this, Rome could extend its domain over Sicily.
Carthage was a maritime power, and the Roman lack of ships and naval experience made the path to the victory a long and difficult one for the
More than a half century after these events, Carthage was humiliated and the Republic's focus now was only to the
After defeating the
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
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
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. After returning from his Eastern campaigns, Sulla 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 held two dictatorships and one more consulship, which began the crisis and decline of Roman Republic.
Caesar and the First Triumvirate
In the mid-1st century BC, Roman politics were restless. Political divisions in Rome split into one of two groups,
To avoid this fate, Caesar
Octavian and the Second Triumvirate
Caesar's assassination caused political and social turmoil in Rome; the city was ruled by his friend and colleague,
In 42 BC, the Senate
The Triumvirate divided the Empire among the triumvirs: Lepidus was given charge of
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
The Julio-Claudian dynasty was established by Augustus. The emperors of this dynasty were Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. 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 Mediterranean region. While Caligula and Nero are usually remembered in popular culture as dysfunctional emperors, Augustus and Claudius are remembered as successful in politics and the military. This dynasty instituted imperial tradition in Rome and frustrated any attempt to reestablish a Republic.
Augustus (r. 27 BC – AD 14) gathered almost all the republican powers under his official title,
The Julio-Claudians continued to rule Rome after Augustus' death and remained in power until the death of Nero in 68 AD.
Tiberius died (or was killed)
Nero sent his general,
The Flavians were the second dynasty to rule Rome. By 68 AD, the year of Nero's death, there was no chance of a return to the Roman Republic, and so a new emperor had to arise. After the turmoil in the Year of the Four Emperors, Titus Flavius Vespasianus (anglicised as Vespasian) took control of the empire and established a new dynasty. Under the Flavians, Rome continued its expansion, and the state remained secure. Under Trajan, the Roman Empire reached the peak of its territorial expansion. Rome's dominion now spanned 5.0 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles).
The most significant
Vespasian was a general under
Titus became emperor in 79. He finished the Flavian Amphitheater, using war spoils from the First Jewish-Roman War, and hosted victory games that lasted for a hundred days. These games included gladiatorial combats, horse races and a sensational mock naval battle on the flooded grounds of the Colosseum. Titus died of fever in 81 AD, and was succeeded by his brother Domitian. As emperor, Domitian showed the characteristics of a tyrant. He ruled for fifteen years, during which time he acquired a reputation for self-promotion as a living god. He constructed at least two temples in honour of Jupiter, the supreme deity in Roman religion. He was murdered following a plot within his own household.
Following Domitian's murder, the Senate rapidly appointed Nerva as Emperor. Nerva had noble ancestry, and he had served as an advisor to Nero and the Flavians. His rule restored many of the traditional liberties of Rome's upper classes, which Domitian had over-ridden. The Nerva–Antonine dynasty from 96 AD to 192 AD included the "five good emperors" Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius; and ended with Commodus.
Nerva abdicated and died in 98 AD, and was succeeded by the general Trajan. Trajan is credited with the restoration of traditional privileges and rights of commoner and senatorial classes, which later Roman historians claim to have been eroded during Domitian's autocracy. Trajan fought three Dacian wars, winning territories roughly equivalent to modern-day Romania and Moldova. He undertook an ambitious public building program in Rome, including Trajan's Forum, Trajan's Market and Trajan's Column, with the architect Apollodorus of Damascus. He remodelled the Pantheon and extended the Circus Maximus. When Parthia appointed a king for Armenia without consulting Rome, Trajan declared war on Parthia and deposed the king of Armenia. In 115 he took the Northern Mesopotamian cities of Nisibis and Batnae, organised a province of Mesopotamia (116), and issued coins that claimed Armenia and Mesopotamia were under the authority of the Roman people. In that same year, he captured Seleucia and the Parthian capital Ctesiphon (near modern Baghdad). After defeating a Parthian revolt and a Jewish revolt, he withdrew due to health issues, and in 117, he died of edema.
Many Romans emigrated to Hispania (modern-day Spain and Portugal) and stayed for generations, in some cases intermarrying with Iberians; one of these families produced the emperor Hadrian. Hadrian withdrew all the troops stationed in Parthia, Armenia and Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), abandoning Trajan's conquests. Hadrian's army crushed a revolt in Mauretania and the Bar Kokhba revolt in Judea. This was the last large-scale Jewish revolt against the Romans, and was suppressed with massive repercussions in Judea. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed. Hadrian renamed the province of Judea "Provincia Syria Palaestina," after one of Judea's most hated enemies. He constructed fortifications and walls, like the celebrated Hadrian's Wall which separated Roman Britannia and the tribes of modern-day Scotland. Hadrian promoted culture, especially the Greek. He forbade torture and humanised the laws. His many building projects included aqueducts, baths, libraries and theatres; additionally, he travelled nearly every province in the Empire to review military and infrastructural conditions. Following Hadrian's death in 138 AD, his successor Antoninus Pius built temples, theatres, and mausoleums, promoted the arts and sciences, and bestowed honours and financial rewards upon the teachers of rhetoric and philosophy. On becoming emperor, Antoninus made few initial changes, leaving intact as far as possible the arrangements instituted by his predecessor. Antoninus expanded Roman Britannia by invading what is now southern Scotland and building the Antonine Wall. He also continued Hadrian's policy of humanising the laws. He died in 161 AD.
From Nerva to Marcus Aurelius, the empire achieved an unprecedented 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. Gibbon declared the rule of these "Five Good Emperors" the golden era of the Empire. During this time, Rome reached its greatest territorial extent.
Commodus, son of Marcus Aurelius, became emperor after his father's death. He is not counted as one of the Five Good Emperors, due to his direct kinship with the latter emperor; in addition, he was militarily passive. Cassius Dio identifies his reign as the beginning of Roman decadence: "(Rome has transformed) from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust."
Commodus was killed by a conspiracy involving
Severus was enthroned after invading Rome and having
Upon the death of Severus, his sons
Crisis of the Third Century
A disastrous scenario emerged after the death of
There were 26 emperors in a 49-year period, a signal of political instability.
Empire – The Tetrarchy
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.
Diocletian expelled the Persians who plundered Syria and conquered some barbarian tribes with Maximian. He adopted many behaviours of Eastern monarchs. Anyone in the presence of the emperor had now to prostrate himself—a common act in the East, but never practised in Rome before. Diocletian did not use a disguised form of Republic, as the other emperors since Augustus had done. 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. 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. 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 Tetrarchy.
Constantine and Christianity
The reign of
Fall of the Western Roman Empire
In the late 4th and 5th centuries the Western Empire entered a critical stage which terminated with the
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. During the 5th century, the Western Empire experienced a significant reduction of its territory. The Vandals conquered North Africa, the Visigoths claimed the southern part of Gaul, Gallaecia was taken by the Suebi, Britannia was abandoned by the central government, and the Empire suffered further from the invasions of Attila, chief of the Huns. 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. The Roman noble and former emperor Julius Nepos continued to rule as emperor from Dalmatia even after the deposition of Romulus Augustus until his death in 480. Some historians consider him to be the last emperor of the Western Empire instead of Romulus Augustus.
After 1200 years of independence and nearly 700 years as a great power, the rule of Rome in the West ended. 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 civilisations experience. The Eastern Empire survived for almost 1000 years after the fall of its
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.
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. Around 20 per cent of the population under jurisdiction of ancient Rome (25–40%, depending on the standards used, in Roman Italy) lived in innumerable urban centers, with population of 10,000 and more and several military settlements, a very high rate of urbanisation by pre-industrial standards. Most of those centers had a forum, temples, and other buildings similar to Rome's. The average life expectancy in the Middle Empire was about 26–28 years.
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 Jus civile,
Roman society is largely viewed as
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 in ancient Rome 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 pater familias, gained property rights and even had more juridical rights than their husbands, but still no voting rights, and were absent from politics.
Allied foreign cities were often given the
In the early Republic, there were no public schools, so boys were taught to read and write by their parents, or by educated
Beginning at age 12, students went to secondary schools, where the teacher (now called a grammaticus) taught them about Greek and Roman literature. At the age of 16, some students went on to rhetoric school (where the teacher, usually Greek, was called a rhetor). Education at this level prepared students for legal careers, and required that the students memorise the laws of Rome.
Initially, Rome was ruled by kings, who were elected from each of Rome's major tribes in turn. The exact nature of the king's power is uncertain. He may have held near-absolute power, or may have merely been the chief executive of the Senate and the people. 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.
In the Republic, the Senate held actual authority (
The Republic had no fixed
In the early Empire, the pretense of a republican form of government was maintained. The
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The early Roman army (c. 500 BC) was, like those of other contemporary city-states influenced by Greek civilisation, a citizen militia that practised hoplite tactics. It was small and organised in five classes (in parallel to the comitia centuriata, the body of citizens organised politically), with three providing hoplites and two providing light infantry. The early Roman army was tactically limited and its stance during this period was essentially defensive.
By the 3rd century BC, the Romans abandoned the hoplite formation in favour of a more flexible system in which smaller groups of 120 (or sometimes 60) men called maniples could manoeuvre more independently on the battlefield. Thirty maniples arranged in three lines with supporting troops constituted a legion, totalling between 4,000 and 5,000 men. The early Republican legion consisted of five sections: the three lines of manipular heavy infantry (hastati, principes and triarii), a force of light infantry (velites), and the cavalry (equites). With the new organisation came a new orientation toward the offensive and a much more aggressive posture toward adjoining city-states. At nominal full strength, an early Republican legion included 3,600 to 4,800 heavy infantry, several hundred light infantry, and several hundred cavalrymen.
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,
Military leadership evolved over the course of the history of Rome. Under the monarchy, the hoplite armies were led by the kings. During the early and middle Roman Republic, military forces were under the command of one of the two elected
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. Decreased resources, increasing political chaos and civil war eventually left the Western Empire vulnerable to attack and takeover by neighbouring barbarian peoples.
Less is known about the
As compared with a
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 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 harbours 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 prefects.
Ancient Rome commanded a vast area of land, with tremendous natural and human resources. As such, Rome's economy remained focused on
Industrial and manufacturing activities were small. The largest such activities were the mining and quarrying of stones, which provided basic construction materials for the buildings of that 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.
The economy of the early Republic was largely based on smallholding and paid labour. However, foreign wars and conquests made slaves increasingly cheap and plentiful, and by the late Republic, the economy was largely dependent on slave labour 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 labour become more economical than slave ownership.
Horses were expensive and other pack animals were slower. Mass trade on the Roman roads connected military posts, where Roman markets were centered. These roads were designed for wheels. 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. Transport by sea was around 60 times cheaper than by land, so the volume for such trips was much larger.
The basic units of Roman society were households and families. Groups of households connected through the male line formed a family (gens), based on blood ties, a common ancestry or adoption. During the Roman Republic, some powerful families, or Gentes Maiores, came to dominate political life. Families were headed by their oldest male citizen, the pater familias (father of the family), who held lawful authority (patria potestas, "father's power") over wives, sons, daughters, and slaves of the household, and the family's wealth.
The extreme expressions of this power—the selling or killing of family members for moral or civil offences, including simple disobedience—were very rarely exercised, and were forbidden in the Imperial era. A pater familias had moral and legal duties towards all family members. Even the most despotic pater familias was expected to consult senior members of his household and gens over matters that affected the family's well-being and reputation. Traditionally, such matters were regarded as outside the purview of the state and its magistrates; under the emperors, they were increasingly subject to state interference and legislation.
Once accepted into their birth family by their fathers, children were potential heirs. They could not be lawfully given away, or sold into slavery. If parents were unable to care for their child, or if its paternity was in doubt, they could resort to infant exposure (Boswell translates this as being "offered" up to care by the gods or strangers). If a deformed or sickly newborn was patently "unfit to live", killing it was a duty of the pater familias. A citizen father who exposed a healthy freeborn child was not punished, but automatically lost his potestas over that child. Abandoned children were sometimes adopted; some would have been sold into slavery. Slavery was near-ubiquitous and almost universally accepted. In the early Republic, citizens in debt were allowed to sell their labour, and perhaps their sons, to their debtor in a limited form of slavery called nexum, but this was abolished in the middle Republic. Freedom was considered a natural and proper state for citizens; slaves could be lawfully freed, with consent and support of their owners, and still serve their owners' family and financial interests, as freedmen or freed women. This was the basis of the client-patron relationship, one of the most important features of Rome's economy and society.
In law, a pater familias held potestas over his adult sons with their own households. This could give rise to legal anomalies, such as adult sons also having the status of minors. No man could be considered a pater familias, nor could he truly hold property under law, while his own father lived. During Rome's early history, married daughters came under the control (manus) of their husbands' pater familias. By the late Republic, most married women retained lawful connection to their birth family, though any children from the marriage belonged to her husband's family. The mother or an elderly relative often raised both boys and girls. Roman moralists held that marriage and child-raising fulfilled a basic duty to family, gens, and the state. Multiple remarriages were not uncommon. Fathers usually began seeking husbands for their daughters when these reached an age between twelve and fourteen, but most commoner-class women stayed single until their twenties, and in general seem to have been far more independent than wives of the elite. Divorce required the consent of one party, along with the return of any dowry. Both parents had power over their children during their minority and adulthood, but husbands had much less control over their wives.
Roman citizen women held a restricted form of citizenship; they could not vote but were protected by law. They ran families, could own and run businesses, own and cultivate land, write their own wills, and plead in court on their own behalf, or on behalf of others, all under dispensation of the courts and the nominal supervision of a senior male relative. Throughout the late Republican and Imperial eras, a declining birthrate among the elite, and a corresponding increase among commoners was cause of concern for many gentes; Augustus tried to address this through state intervention, offering rewards to any woman who gave birth to three or more children, and penalising the childless. The latter was much resented, and the former had seemingly negligible results. Aristocratic women seem to have been increasingly disinclined to childbearing; it carried a high risk of mortality to mothers, and a deal of inconvenience thereafter.
Time and dates
Roman hours were counted ordinally from dawn to dawn. Thus, if sunrise was at 6 am, then 6 to 7 am was called the "first hour". Midday was called meridies and it is from this word that the terms am (ante meridiem) and pm (post meridiem) stem. The English word "noon" comes from nona ("ninth (hour)"), which referred to 3 pm in Ancient Rome.[d] The Romans had clocks (horologia), which included giant public sundials (solaria) and water clocks (clepsydrae).
The ancient Roman week originally had eight days, which were identified by letters A to H, with the eighth day being the
The Roman year originally had ten months from Martius (March) to December, with the winter period not included in the calendar. The first four months were named after gods (Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius) and the others were numbered (Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December).
The Romans had several ways of tracking years. One widespread way was the consular dating, which identified years by the two consuls who ruled each year. Another way, introduced in the late 3rd century AD, was counting years from the indictio, a 15-year period based on the announcement of the delivery of food and other goods to the government. Another way, less popular but more similar to present day, was ab urbe condita, which counted years from the mythical foundation of Rome in 753 BC.
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 Trajan's Forum 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
While Latin remained the main written language of the Roman Empire,
As contact with the Greeks increased, the old Roman gods became increasingly associated with Greek gods. Under the Empire, the Romans absorbed the mythologies of their conquered subjects, often leading to situations in which the temples and priests of traditional Italian deities existed side by side with those of foreign gods.
Beginning with Emperor
Ethics and morality
Like many ancient cultures, concepts of ethics and morality, while sharing some commonalities with modern society, differed greatly in several important ways. Because ancient civilisations like Rome were under constant threat of attack from marauding tribes, their culture was necessarily militaristic with martial skills being a prized attribute. Whereas modern societies consider compassion a virtue, Roman society considered compassion a vice, a moral defect. Indeed, one of the primary purposes of the gladiatorial games was to inoculate Roman citizens from this weakness. Romans instead prized virtues such as courage and conviction (virtus), a sense of duty to one's people, moderation and avoiding excess (moderatio), forgiveness and understanding (clementia), fairness (severitas), and loyalty (pietas).
Roman society had well-established and restrictive norms related to sexuality, though as with many societies, the lion's share of the responsibilities fell on women. Women were generally expected to be monogamous having only a single husband during their life (univira), though this was much less regarded by the elite, especially under the empire. Women were expected to be modest in public avoiding any provocative appearance and to demonstrate absolute fidelity to their husbands (pudicitia). Indeed, wearing a veil was a common expectation to preserve modesty. Sex outside of marriage was generally frowned upon for men and women and indeed was made illegal during the imperial period. Nevertheless, prostitution was an accepted and regulated practice.
Public demonstrations of death, violence, and brutality were used as a source of entertainment in Roman communities; however it was also a way to maintain social order, demonstrate power, and signify communal unity.
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. 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 practised 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. The second style began during the early 1st century BC and attempted to depict realistically three-dimensional architectural features and landscapes. The third style occurred during the reign of
Portrait sculpture used youthful and classical proportions, evolving later into a mixture of realism and
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.
Ancient Roman cuisine changed over the long duration of this ancient civilisation. Dietary habits were affected by the influence of Greek culture, the political changes from Kingdom to Republic to Empire, and the 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.
The ancient Roman diet included many items that are staples of
However, some foods now considered characteristic of modern Italian cuisine were not used.
Butcher's meat such as beef was an uncommon luxury. The most popular meat was pork, especially sausages. Fish was more common than meat, with a sophisticated aquaculture and large-scale industries devoted to oyster farming. The Romans also engaged in snail farming and oak grub farming. Some fish were greatly esteemed and fetched high prices, such as mullet raised in the fishery at Cosa, and "elaborate means were invented to assure its freshness".
Traditionally, a breakfast called ientaculum was served at dawn. At mid-day to early afternoon, Romans ate cena, the main meal of the day, and at nightfall a light supper called vesperna. With the increased importation of foreign foods, the cena grew larger in size and included a wider range of foods. Thus, it gradually shifted to the evening, while the vesperna was abandoned completely over the course of the years. The mid-day meal prandium became a light meal to hold one over until cena.
The toga, a common garment during the era of Julius Caesar, was gradually abandoned by all social classes of the Empire. At the early 4th century, the toga had become just a garment worn by senators in Senate and ceremonial events. At the 4th century, the toga was replaced by the paenula (a garment similar to a poncho) as the everyday garment of the Romans, from the lower classes to the upper classes. Another garment that was popular among the Romans in the later years of the Western Roman Empire was the pallium, which was mostly worn by philosophers and scholars in general. Due to external influences, mainly from the Germanic peoples, the Romans adopted tunics very similar to those used by the Germanic peoples with whom they interacted in the final years of the Western Empire, also adopted trousers and hats like the pileus pannonicus. At the Late Empire the paludamentum (a type of military clothing) was used only by the Emperor of Rome (since the reign of Augustus, the first emperor) while the dalmatic (also used by the Christian clergy) began to spread throughout the empire.
Games and recreation
The youth of Rome had several forms of athletic play and exercise. Play for boys was supposed to prepare them for active military service, such as
Public games and spectacles were sponsored by leading Romans who wished to advertise their generosity and court popular approval; in Rome or its provinces, this usually meant the emperor or his governors. Venues in Rome and the provinces were developed specifically for public games. Rome's
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. It could seat around 150,000 people; The charioteers raced in teams, identified by their colours; 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
The Romans were renowned for their
In the 1st century BC, Romans started to use
The Romans also largely built using timber, causing a rapid decline of the woodlands surrounding Rome and in much of the Apennine Mountains due to the demand for wood for construction, shipbuilding and fire. The first evidence of long-distance wood trading come from the discovery of wood planks, felled between AD 40 and 60, coming from the Jura mountains in northeastern France and ending up more than 1,055 miles (1,700 km) away, in the foundations of a lavish portico that was part of a vast wealthy patrician villa, in Central Rome. It is suggested that timber, around 4 metres (13 ft) long, came up to Rome via the Tiber River on ships travelling across the Mediterranean Sea from the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers in what is now the city of Lyon in present-day France.
With solid foundations and good drainage, Roman roads were known for their durability and many segments of the Roman road system were still in use a thousand years after the fall of Rome. The construction of a vast and efficient travel network throughout the Empire dramatically increased Rome's power and influence. They allowed Roman legions to be deployed rapidly, with predictable marching times between key points of the empire, no matter the season. These highways also had enormous economic significance, solidifying Rome's role as a trading crossroads—the origin of the saying "all roads lead to Rome". The Roman government maintained a system of way stations, known as the cursus publicus, and established a system of horse relays allowing a dispatch to travel up to 80 km (50 mi) a day.
The Romans constructed numerous
Ancient Rome is the progenitor of
Primary and Secondary sources
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 works, such as the
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
- De Bello Civili
- Ab urbe condita
- Dionysius of Halicarnassus – Roman Antiquities
- 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
Interest in studying, and idealising, ancient Rome became prevalent during the
- Edward Gibbon – The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
- John Bagnall Bury– History of the Later Roman Empire
- Michael Grant – The Roman World
- Barbara Levick – Claudius
- Barthold Georg Niebuhr
- Michael Rostovtzeff
- Howard Hayes Scullard – The History of the Roman World
- Ronald Syme – The Roman Revolution
- Adrian Goldsworthy – Caesar: The Life of a Colossus and How Rome fell
- Mary Beard - SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
- Outline of classical studies
- Regions in Greco-Roman antiquity
- List of ancient Romans
- List of Roman Emperors
- List of Roman civil wars and revolts
- The specific dates vary, depending on whether one follows Roman tradition, modern archaeology, or competing views of which particular events mark endpoints.
- There are several different estimates for the population of the Roman Empire.
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- Goldsmith (1984, p. 263) estimates 55.
- Beloch (1886, p. 507) estimates 54.
- Maddison (2006, pp. 51, 120) estimates 48.
- Roman Empire Population estimates 65 (while mentioning several other estimates between 55 and 120).
- McLynn, Frank (2011). Marcus Aurelius: Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor. Random House. p. 3. ISBN 978-1446449332.
[T]he most likely estimate for the reign of Marcus Aurelius is somewhere between seventy and eighty million.
- McEvedy and Jones (1978).
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- Between 343 BC and 241 BC, the Roman army fought in every year but five.
- Later in Christian liturgy, "noon" came to describe the nones, a time of prayer originally at 3 pm but later at midday, so "noon" became synonymous with midday.
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|Library resources about |
- Ancient Rome resources for students from the Courtenay Middle School Library.
- History of ancient Rome OpenCourseWare from the University of Notre Dame providing free resources including lectures, discussion questions, assignments, and exams.
- Gallery of the Ancient Art: Ancient Rome
- Lacus Curtius
- Livius.Org Archived 1 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine
- United Nations of Roma Victrix (UNRV) History
- Water and Wastewater Systems in Imperial Rome
- The Jewish History of Rome
- Roman DNA project