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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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The Marian reforms of 107 BC were a group of military reforms initiated by Gaius Marius, a statesman and general of the Roman republic. Up until the last decade of the second century BC the eligibility to become a Roman soldier in the service of the Republic were very strict.

When war threatened, the consuls of the day would be charged with the duty of recruiting an army from the eligible citizenry of the Republic. As a rule one of the consuls would lead this mainly volunteer army into battle. As can be imagined, not all elected consuls were adept at leading an army. For example, in the year 113 BC the consul Gnaeus Papirius Carbo was defeated at the Battle of Noreia by invading tribes of the Cimbri and the Teutons, losing all but 20,000 men out of an army of 200,000. This disaster was followed by a protracted war in Africa against King Jugurtha of Numidia.

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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

Quotes

[...] Caesar is a god in his own city. Outstanding in war or peace, it was not so much his wars that ended in great victories, or his actions at home, or his swiftly won fame, that set him among the stars, a fiery comet, as his descendant. There is no greater achievement among Caesar’s actions than that he stood father to our emperor. Is it a greater thing to have conquered the sea-going Britons; to have lead his victorious ships up the seven-mouthed flood of the papyrus-bearing Nile; to have brought the rebellious Numidians, under Juba of Cinyps, and Pontus, swollen with the name of Mithridates, under the people of Quirinus; to have earned many triumphs and celebrated few; than to have sponsored such a man, with whom, as ruler of all, you gods have richly favoured the human race? Therefore, in order for the emperor not to have been born of mortal seed, Caesar needed to be made a god. [...]

Augustus, his ‘son’, will ensure that he ascends to heaven as a god, and is worshipped in the temples. Augustus, as heir to his name, will carry the burden placed upon him alone, and will have us with him, in battle, as the most courageous avenger of his father’s murder. Under his command, the conquered walls of besieged Mutina will sue for peace; Pharsalia will know him; Macedonian Philippi twice flow with blood; and the one who holds Pompey’s great name, will be defeated in Sicilian waters; and a Roman general’s Egyptian consort, trusting, to her cost, in their marriage, will fall, her threat that our Capitol would bow to her city of Canopus, proved vain.

Why enumerate foreign countries or the nations living on either ocean shore? Wherever earth contains habitable land, it will be his: and even the sea will serve him!

Ovid, Metamorphoses, XV, 745-842

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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 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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Financial Post

Financial Post
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 04:02:58 -0700

What can today's small to medium-sized businesses learn from the great armies of Ancient Rome? More than you might think. The results achieved by this civilization and its army speak for themselves. Powered by its army, Rome grew from a few nomadic ...

Telegraph.co.uk

Telegraph.co.uk
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:29:24 -0700

British scientists have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the river port of ancient Rome which they say proves that the city was much larger than previously estimated. Researchers from the universities of Southampton and Cambridge ...

Sun News Network

Sun News Network
Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:24:14 -0700

The researchers from the Universities of Southampton and Cambridge recently discovered a new section of a boundary wall at the port of Ostia. They have been surveying an area between Ostia and another port called Portus, both about 50 km from Rome.

News & Observer

News & Observer
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:56:15 -0700

My conservative credentials used to be above reproach. When I was a senior cadet at The Citadel, I forced younger cadets to salute a picture of Ronald Reagan. When I was a law student at UNC, I was a member of the Federalist Society. I wrote on ...

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Computerandvideogames.com
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 04:48:45 -0700

A new Assassin's Creed game could take place in ancient Rome, a comment by Ubisoft Toronto boss Jade Raymond suggests. Asked to explain the series' commercial success since debuting in 2007, Raymond, who produced the original game while at ...
 
Cambridge News
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:56:15 -0700

Scientists in Cambridge have helped to reveal startling evidence that the ancient city of Rome was much bigger than previously believed, it was announced today. Researchers from Cambridge University, working with colleagues from Southampton University, ...
 
AOL Travel UK
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:10:06 -0700

The scientists discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the river port of ancient Rome. Source: PA They say the new discovery proves that the city was much larger than first thought. Researchers from the universities of Southampton and ...
 
Telegraph.co.uk (blog)
Fri, 28 Mar 2014 07:12:12 -0700

Latin graffiti – the key that unlocks ancient Rome. By Harry Mount History Last updated: March 28th, 2014. Comment on this Comment on this article. "Romanes eunt domus" – the joy of Latin graffiti (Photo – Allstar/Cinetext/Python). More than 1,600 ...
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