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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 Roman legion (from Latin legio "military levy, conscription", from lego — "to collect") is a term that can apply both as a transliteration of legio ("conscription" or "army") to the entire Roman army and also, more narrowly (and more commonly), to the heavy infantry that was the basic military unit of the ancient Roman army in the period of the late Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. In this latter meaning, it consisted of several cohorts of heavy infantry known as legionaries. It was almost always accompanied by one or more attached units of auxiliaries, who were not Roman citizens and provided cavalry, ranged troops and skirmishers to complement the legion's heavy infantry

The size of a typical legion varied widely throughout the history of ancient Rome, with complements of 4,200 legionaries in the republican period of Rome (split into 35 maniples of 120 legionaries each), to around 5,500 in the imperial period (split into 10 cohorts of 480 men each, with the first cohort at double strength.

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On this Roman coin, the busts of Emperor Gordian III and his wife Furia Sabina Tranquillina. The Roman Republic and Empire's currency was used from the middle of the third century BC until the middle of the third century AD.

On this Roman coin, the busts of Emperor Gordian III and his wife Furia Sabina Tranquillina. The Roman Republic and Empire's currency was used from the middle of the third century BC until the middle of the third century AD.

Photo credit: Heinz-Joachim Krenzer

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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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