Portal:Ancient Rome

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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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Nero Glyptothek Munich 321.jpg
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (December 15, 37 – June 9, 68), born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, also called Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus, was the fifth and last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his grand-uncle Claudius to become heir to the throne. As Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus, he succeeded to the throne on October 13, 54, following Claudius' death.

Nero ruled from 54 CE to 68 CE. During his rule, Nero focused much of his attention on diplomacy, trade, and increasing the cultural capital of the empire. He ordered the building of theatres and promoted athletic games. His reign included a successful war and negotiated peace with the Parthian Empire (58–63), the suppression of the British revolt (60–61) and improving diplomatic ties with Greece.

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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