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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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The Roman Forum (Latin: Forum Romanum) was a rectangular forum at the heart of the city of Ancient Rome. The Forum was used for military triumphs, elections, criminal trials, gladiatorial matches, and as a meeting- and business-place. The Forum survives today in ruins, and is the oldest structure in the modern city of Rome.

The Roman Forum (Latin: Forum Romanum) was a rectangular forum at the heart of the city of Ancient Rome. The Forum was used for military triumphs, elections, criminal trials, gladiatorial matches, and as a meeting- and business-place. The Forum survives today in ruins, and is the oldest structure in the modern city of Rome.

Photo credit: Howard Hudson

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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).

Did you know?

  • ...That When Caesar's troops hesitated to leave their ships for fear of the Britons, the aquilifer of the tenth legion threw himself overboard and, carrying the eagle, advanced alone against the enemy?
  • ...That the most well paid athlete in human history, Gaius Appuleius Diocles, was an illiterate Roman Chariot racer, and earned the equivalent of $15 Billion US Dollars.

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1117 news items

BU Today

BU Today
Sun, 05 Oct 2014 21:11:09 -0700

As different and primitive as ancient Rome might seem to us, there are similarities, Uden says. One is something you might not consider a commonality: the gladiatorial arena. Fights to the death seem barbaric, but “the way I teach the arena is in terms ...

U-T San Diego

U-T San Diego
Sun, 12 Oct 2014 18:18:45 -0700

Ancient Rome's German, Swiss legacy preserved. Customs, artifacts reflect history of western empire. By Carl H. Larsen Special to the U-T6:18 p.m.Oct. 12, 2014Updated6:18 p.m.Oct. 10, 2014. ⎙. Print. 💬. Comments -. The ultimate symbol of Roman power in ...

TTG Digital

TTG Digital
Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:40:16 -0700

This city in North Africa is the second largest metropolitan area in its country, and is also the largest city directly on the Mediterranean coast. It's one of the largest cities on the Med coast, and was founded by Alexander. Both a popular tourist ...
 
Concord Monitor
Sat, 27 Sep 2014 21:13:23 -0700

But not till I pored over Mary Beard's Laughter in Ancient Rome – brim-full of such tales – did I discover that the setup and punch line go back millennia, to the court of Augustus, Rome's first emperor, who, according to one historian, allowed some ...
 
Financial Times
Fri, 03 Oct 2014 07:03:45 -0700

epeatedly, I have been observing the value of strong vertical lines in gardens. They are relevant anywhere, but especially in smaller town gardens where an extra upper storey of flowers and greenery is so effective. At the Hillier Gardens in Hampshire ...
 
KPLU News for Seattle and the Northwest
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 05:00:00 -0700

The south of France is a vacation destination for Europeans as well as those coming from outside. That's in large part because of its sunny and warm Mediterranean climate. Our travel advice this week comes from Danna Brumley, wife of KPLU travel expert ...

New York Magazine

New York Magazine
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:21:28 -0700

It got its start as ancient Rome's cattle market; today, it exemplifies how Rome is as much a puzzle as it is a city, with contemporary buildings literally fitted into historic ones. Columns from an ancient temple form the ribs of the medieval Church ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Mon, 06 Oct 2014 02:09:46 -0700

Ancient Rome recycled or reused everything but sadly Rome today has followed American consumer models and produces more and more trash with nowhere to put it but the huge Malagrotta landfill, now saturated but with no clear replacement. The frugal ...
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