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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 Villa of the Mysteries (Italian: Villa dei Misteri) is a well preserved ruin of a Roman Villa which lies some 400 metres northwest of Pompeii, southern Italy. In this fresco from the villa, a Bacchian rite is depicted.

The Villa of the Mysteries (Italian: Villa dei Misteri) is a well preserved ruin of a Roman Villa which lies some 400 metres northwest of Pompeii, southern Italy. In this fresco from the villa, a Bacchian rite is depicted.

Photo credit: The Yorck Project

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Faustina Minor Louvre Ma1144.jpg
Annia Galeria Faustina Minor (Minor Latin for the younger), Faustina Minor or Faustina the Younger (February 16 between 125 and 130-175) was a daughter of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius and Roman Empress Faustina the Elder. She was a Roman Empress and wife to her maternal cousin Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. She was the namesake of her mother. Faustina from her parent’s marriage was the youngest and the fourth child, second daughter and the only one who survived to adulthood from her siblings. She was born and raised in Rome.

Her great uncle Roman Emperor Hadrian had arranged with her father for Faustina to marry Lucius Verus. On February 25 138, she was engaged to Lucius Verus. Verus’ father was Hadrian’s first adopted son and intended successor for the emperor’s throne. However when Verus’ father died, Hadrian adopted Faustina’s father as his second adopted son and eventually, he became Hadrian’s successor.

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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The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 19 Sep 2014 21:52:30 -0700

Why ancient Rome? “Rome allows us to bring in gladiators and beheadings and orgies,” says Sam Leifer (Teddy's brother), who directs and co-writes the show with comedian Tom Basden. “You couldn't have a gladiator beheading in Peep Show. Well, you ...
 
Washington Post
Wed, 17 Sep 2014 14:50:40 -0700

But not till I pored over Mary Beard's “Laughter in Ancient Rome” — brim-full of such tales — did I discover that the set-up and punch line go back millennia, to the court of Augustus. Rome's first emperor, according to one historian, allowed some ...

Scientific American

Scientific American
Mon, 15 Sep 2014 21:06:16 -0700

That Henny Youngmanesque offering is also in Philogelos, which is the subject of intense scrutiny in the much newer book Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up, by University of Cambridge classics professor Mary Beard.

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal
Fri, 05 Sep 2014 16:29:31 -0700

The Ponte Rotto still stands as a heroic fragment, a single arch cut off from both banks. Getty Images/iStockphoto. Visitors to the Eternal City invariably marvel at the Pantheon and other glories of Roman Imperial architecture. But an earlier ...

SFGate

SFGate
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 ...
 
Stoke Sentinel
Fri, 12 Sep 2014 05:33:45 -0700

THEATRE-GOERS wanting to catch a lively throwback to ancient Rome have until tomorrow evening to do so. Audiences can still catch Up Pompeii, performed by the Stoke Amateur Theatre Society, at the Mitchell Arts Centre, in Hanley, tonight at 7.30pm, ...

Politico

Politico
Tue, 09 Sep 2014 18:07:30 -0700

The power described above is not 21st century America, but rather ancient Rome. And today, nearly a decade and a half after the terror attacks of 9/11, the United States appears to be entering an environment analogous to the one in which Rome found itself.

Haaretz

Haaretz
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 ...
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