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The Ancient Rome Portal

Ancient Rome was a civilization which began as a small agricultural community on the Italian Peninsula in the 8th century BC. Rome became a large empire which straddled the Mediterranean Sea. In its twelve centuries of existence, Roman civilization was firstly a monarchy, then a republic that combined oligarchy and democracy, and finally became an autocratic empire. Through conquest and assimilation, it came to dominate Western Europe, the entire Mediterranean Basin including the Near East and North Africa, the Balkans, and the Black Sea.

The Roman empire went into decline in the 3rd century AD, and began to collapse in the 5th century AD. Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire, including Hispania, Gaul, and Italy, broke into independent kingdoms in the 5th century. The eastern part of the empire, governed from Constantinople, survived this crisis, and remained intact for another millennium, until its last remains were finally annexed by the emerging Ottoman Empire. This eastern, medieval stage of the Empire is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians.

Roman civilization was part of the period of classical antiquity, alongside ancient Greece—a civilization that inspired much of the culture of ancient Rome. Ancient Rome made significant contributions to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology, and language in the Western world, and its history continues to have a great influence on the world today.

Bust of Gaius Julius Caesar.

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In the Roman Republic, the dictator was an extraordinary magistrate with the absolute authority to perform tasks beyond the authority of the ordinary magistrate. The office was the single exception during the Republic to the principle of collegiality (under which every office was composed of more than one citizen). Dictators were appointed in order to wage war on a particular enemy, to settle a constitutional crisis, to conduct special religious functions, or to conduct certain types of election. Dictators were appointed by the consuls, who were authorised to do so by a senatus consultum (dictum) of the Roman Senate. The dictator was superior to all other magistracies in the republic, and had no legal responsibility for his actions. He was attended by 24 lictors, and could over-rule, depose from office, or put to death any other magistrate. Unlike all other magistracies (including the consulship), the dictator was not required to co-operate with the senate, and had the absolute power to put any citizen to death, and to create, change, or amend any law. The dictator was always attended by a Master of the Horse.

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Trajan's Column (Italian: Colonna Traiana) is a monument in Rome which commemorates the Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars in 106–101 BC.

Trajan's Column (Italian: Colonna Traiana) is a monument in Rome which commemorates the Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars in 106–101 BC.

Photo credit: Radomil


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Gaius Cornelius Tacitus.jpg
Publius (or Gaiues) Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 56 – ca. 117) was a senator and an historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those that reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors. These two works span the history of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus in 14 to (presumably) the death of emperor Domitian in 96. There are significant lacunae in the surviving texts.

Other works by Tacitus discuss oratory (in dialogue format, see Dialogus de oratoribus), Germania (in De origine et situ Germanorum), and biographical notes about his father-in-law Agricola, primarily during his campaign in Britannia (see De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae).

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  • ...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?


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959 news items


Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:26:15 -0700

Sleepwalking from ancient Rome to Netanyahu's Israel. But there's a difference between Rome back in the day and the here and now, and this difference is arrogance. By Oudeh Basharat | Sep. 1, 2014 | 5:28 AM ...


Sat, 30 Aug 2014 18:49:59 -0700

The Colosseum in ancient Rome, finished in 80 A.D., had a similar heat problem. The Flavian Amphitheater, as it was called, wasn't much smaller than Levi's; it could seat up to 80,000. Engineers devised a shade system. They installed 230 poles around ...


Fri, 08 Aug 2014 03:07:08 -0700

The prime minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi, wants to miniaturize the Italian Senate—both in number of senators and in power. Under Renzi's reform plan, senators would be appointed by regional councils and have no power to approve budgets, pass most ...


Mon, 25 Aug 2014 08:56:51 -0700

I'm writing this from a campsite outside Rome. We are in the last few days of a family holiday in Italy. The plan was for the holiday to please both children and adults combining fun (campsites with lots of pools and water slides) and culture (guided ...
Providence College Athletics
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:26:25 -0700

Wednesday, August 20, in Rome, Italy started off with a nice, light, Italian breakfast before we were off to the Colosseum (not Coliseum, you learn something new everyday). Our tour guide, Georgio, was a little difficult to understand but he proved to ...
The Epoch Times
Sun, 17 Aug 2014 06:04:04 -0700

The favorite words of that original foodie, Marcus Gravius Apicius, about A.D. 30 were “in cibum est” (“The food is ready.”). Apicius, whose name has become synonymous with “gourmand” was a food-loving Roman whose advice on how to cook flamingo's ...
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 21:39:35 -0700

The Market Basket situation reminds me of the tale of Agrippa. In ancient Rome, there were two classes of people: the patricians and the plebeians. The patricians were the wealthy aristocrats in the early Roman Republic (509-264 BCE). The word ...
Cape Gazette
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 12:18:45 -0700

Ancient Rome had a culture that praised the beauty of the naked human form in both art and poetry. So, unsurprisingly by the first century B.C. the Romans were practicing advanced plastic surgery techniques. Ancient Romans are believed to have viewed ...

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