Portal:Ancient Rome

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In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom (753 BC–509 BC), Roman Republic (509 BC–27 BC) and Roman Empire (27 BC–476 AD) until the fall of the western empire. The civilisation began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, traditionally dated to 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The civilization was led and ruled by the Romans, alternately considered an ethnic group or a nationality. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants (roughly 20% of the world's population at the time) and covering 5 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles) at its height in AD 117.

In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state evolved from an elective monarchy to a democratic classical republic and then to an increasingly autocratic semi-elective military dictatorship during the Empire. Through conquest, cultural, and linguistic assimilation, at its height it controlled the North African coast, Egypt, Southern Europe, and most of Western Europe, the Balkans, Crimea and much of the Middle East, including Anatolia, Levant and parts of Mesopotamia and Arabia. It is often grouped into classical antiquity together with ancient Greece, and their similar cultures and societies are known as the Greco-Roman world.

Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern language, religion, society, technology, law, politics, government, warfare, art, literature, architecture and engineering. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called res publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France. It achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and roads, as well as the construction of large monuments, palaces, and public facilities.

The Punic Wars with Carthage were decisive in establishing Rome as a world power. In this series of wars, Rome gained control of the strategic islands of Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily; took Hispania (modern Spain and Portugal); and destroyed the city of Carthage in 146 BC, giving Rome supremacy in the Mediterranean. By the end of the Republic (27 BC), Rome had conquered the lands around the Mediterranean and beyond: its domain extended from the Atlantic to Arabia and from the mouth of the Rhine to North Africa. The Roman Empire emerged with the end of the Republic and the dictatorship of Augustus. Seven-hundred and twenty-one years of Roman–Persian Wars started in 92 BC with the first struggle against Parthia. It would become the longest conflict in human history, and have major lasting effects and consequences for both empires.

Under Trajan, the Empire reached its territorial peak. It stretched from the entire Mediterranean Basin to the beaches of the North Sea in the north, to the shores of the Red and Caspian Seas in the East. Republican mores and traditions started to decline during the imperial period, with civil wars becoming a prelude common to the rise of a new emperor. Splinter states, such as the Palmyrene Empire, would temporarily divide the Empire during the crisis of the 3rd century before some stability was restored in the Tetrarchy phase of imperial rule.

Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire broke up into independent barbarian kingdoms in the 5th century. The eastern part of the empire remained a power through the Middle Ages until its fall in 1453 AD.

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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A she-wolf on a Roman coin from circa 77 BCE. 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.

A she-wolf on a Roman coin from circa 77 BCE. 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: Sailko

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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 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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