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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 toga, a distinctive garment of Ancient Rome, was a sash of perhaps twenty feet (6 meters) in length which was wrapped around the body and was generally worn over a tunic. The toga was invariably made of wool, and the tunic underneath was often made of linen. For most of Rome's history, the toga was a garment worn exclusively by men, but in and after the 1st century BC, women were expected to wear the stola. Non-citizens were forbidden to wear a toga.

The toga was the earliest dress clothing of the Romans, a thick woollen cloak worn over a loincloth or apron. It was taken off indoors, or when hard at work in the fields, but it was the only decent attire out-of-doors. (We learn this from the story of Cincinnatus: he was ploughing in his field when the messengers of the Senate came to tell him that he had been made dictator, and on seeing them coming he sent his wife to fetch his toga from the house so that they could be received appropriately.

So important was the toga to Roman life that Augustus, upon seeing a meeting of citizens without the toga, quoting Virgil's lines, "Romanos, rerum dominos, gentemque togatam" ("Romans, lords of the world, the toga-wearing race") and ordered the aediles to deny entry to the Forum or Circus to any citizen without his toga.

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Trajan's Column (Italian: Colonna Traiana) is a monument in Rome which commemorates the Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars in 101-106 AD.

Trajan's Column (Italian: Colonna Traiana) is a monument in Rome which commemorates the Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars in 101-106 AD.

Photo credit: Radomil


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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 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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778 news items

Irish Independent

Irish Independent
Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:31:34 -0700

As Mary Beard, Cambridge Classics Professor and presenter of a number of TV series on Ancient Rome, points out in her new work, this joke appears almost word for word in Philogelos, a joke book from the fourth or fifth century better known in English ...


Headlines & Global News
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:41:15 -0700

Divers explored a 2,000-year-old shipwreck submerged in 400 feet of water and found stunning artifacts such as a sacrificial altar. The artifact could help researchers gain insight into ancient commerce routes that were sailed as far back as the third ...

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 ...

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 07:10:55 -0700

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Thu, 09 Oct 2014 05:08:10 -0700

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