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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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Roman art is the sculpture, pottery, painting, and other art produced in Ancient Rome or in territories under its rule from the founding of Rome in the 9th or 10th century BC, through the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic, and Roman Empire periods, until the decline of the Roman Empire by the 5th century AD. Influenced by the art of the Etruscans, ancient Greece and the Hellenistic world, and later by the art forms of countries it subsumed within its empire (especially Ancient Egypt) or of civilizations which its empire bordered (e.g. the Sassanid Empire).

The Romans were a practical people; in their original works, observation was key; portrait sculptures (or at least, the heads of) are often meticulously detailed and unidealized. The Romans also depicted warriors and heroic adventures, in the spirit of the Greeks who came during and before them.

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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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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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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 ...
Cosmetic Dentistry Guide (press release)
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:11:15 -0700

Prof Francis Hughes, from King's College London, said that today, up to 1 in 3 people have signs of severe gum disease and this rate is significantly higher than that of days gone by in Ancient Rome. The findings were surprising, especially as there ...

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 0. The ultimate symbol of Roman power in ...
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 ...
Concord Monitor
Sat, 27 Sep 2014 21:07:30 -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 ...

TTG Digital

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

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Thu, 02 Oct 2014 14:39:13 -0700

For fellows of the Rome Prize, visiting the Academy is a career-changing distinction, a year to live and study with artistic and intellectual freedom amid the classical tradition of ancient Rome. Each year, approximately 30 American artists and ...

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