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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 censor was a magistracy in Rome, held by two citizens at once, and which maintained the census, regulated some aspects of the government's finances, and supervised public morality. The censors' regulation of public morality is the origin of the modern meaning of "censorship" and "to censor". The office of censor was created by the sixth king of Rome, but it fell into disuse (with the consuls taking up the duties of censor) between the abolition of the Roman Kingdom and 442 BC. Two censors were elected every five years, to hold office for eighteen months, by the Centuriate Assembly. The censors had no imperium, and accordingly no lictors, but was nonetheless regarded as the highest dignity in the state. Their duties were regarded as so important that the death of one censor necessitated the resignation of his colleague and the election of two new censors; and the funeral of a censor was conducted with the same pomp and revere as the funerals of the later Roman Emperors would be. Their duty to supervise public morality was what caused their office to be one of the most revered and the most dreaded in the Roman state, and they were colloquially known as Castigatores ("chastisers").

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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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Selected biography

Sejanus Tiberius As.jpg
Lucius Aelius Seianus(or Sejanus) (20 BCOctober 18, 31 AD) was an ambitious soldier, friend and confidant of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. He served as Prefect of the Praetorian Guard from 14 AD until his death in 31. For a time he was the most influential and feared citizen of Rome and nearly succeeded in deposing Tiberius as Emperor. In 31, his intrigues were uncovered and Sejanus was executed along with his followers.

Sejanus was born at Volsinii, in Etruria, to the family of Cosconia Lentuli Maluginensis and Lucius Seius Strabo, an equestrian who became Praetorian Prefect under Augustus. By Roman custom he was known as Aelius Sejanus after his adoption into the more prestigious Aelian gens.

Did you know?

  • ...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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17384 news items

Radio New Zealand

Radio New Zealand
Sat, 23 May 2015 16:21:37 -0700

New Zealand astronomers have helped re-create the skies above Rome for simulations showing how ancient emperors built structures to align with the movements of the sun. A ray of sunlight illuminates the central door of the Pantheon through the dome in ...

Colorado Springs Independent (blog)

Colorado Springs Independent (blog)
Sat, 23 May 2015 06:41:15 -0700

Nobody will ever accuse Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery of being elegant, but it is a blast. Based directly on the Starz original series — which I have not seen and don't plan to — Spartacus throws you headlong into the role of a scheming ...

National Geographic

National Geographic
Sat, 16 May 2015 08:21:34 -0700

ISIS closes in on World Heritage Site of Palmyra in Syria. Will this 2,000-year-old city face the same fate as Nimrud and Nineveh? Picture of Palmyra, Syria ruins. The ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra. Photograph by Ed Kashi, National Geographic ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Wed, 06 May 2015 06:00:59 -0700

Lindsey Davis's top 10 books about ancient Rome. From sex and death to spin and shopping, the historical thriller writer digs out the best books to bring the ancient past to – all too recognisable – life. Vote Cicero! Bust of the great orator on the ...

L'Italo Americano (subscription) (blog)

L'Italo Americano (subscription) (blog)
Sat, 16 May 2015 12:30:00 -0700

Slavery in Ancient Rome (Part two). SALVATORE DI VITA | May 19, 2015. An accomplished military leader, Spartacus, led a major slave rebellion against the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC. For the next 27 years, slave uprisings seemed to be a thing ...


Mon, 04 May 2015 08:11:15 -0700

Walking the castle grounds transports any visitor back to the time of Ancient Rome. Even Hollywood has utilized the ancient site. In 2014, the television show Game of Thrones used the Palace as a filming location. Before touring the Palace, I sat down ...
KU Today
Wed, 06 May 2015 07:15:00 -0700

LAWRENCE — A 1972 episode of the sitcom "All in the Family" features a well-known riddle about a boy who was injured in a car accident that killed his father. The boy is flown to a hospital for emergency surgery, and the surgeon says, "I can't operate ...
CT News (blog)
Tue, 19 May 2015 03:18:45 -0700

Nancy Bernard – the founder and head of the Archaeological Associates of Greenwich (AAG) has invited an intriguing speaker for this Thursday night at the AAG meeting at the Bruce Museum. Archaeologist and Brandeis Professor Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow.

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