Ancient Rome

Thought to be one of the most important and powerful civilizations to have ever existed in most of Europe, Ancient Rome was successful for almost 1,000 years.
The fact that Rome conquered much of Europe also means that many of those countries adopted the culture of Ancient Rome. The influence has been so great that we see the results in many of today’s functions, including language, literature, methods of building, engineering, and government.

The invasion of Ancient Greece gave them the opportunity to adopt almost all of their culture, which included their gods and goddesses.

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From the Beginning

When most of Europe was being governed by kings or emperors that were born into the ruling position, Ancient Rome was being established as a Republic.
These leaders were elected and only allowed to serve in their position for a limited time. The Ancient Romans created a very excellent, and yet complex form of government. They had a constitution, a set of written laws, and a requirement for a balance of power.
These are the very base for the formation of the future of Democracies such as the United States. This rule by Republic happened from 509 B.C. to 45 B.C. but then changed when Julius Caesar declared himself as a supreme dictator. Only a couple of years later, Caesar Augustus was listed as the first Roman Emperor and this began the rule of the Roman Empire.
Even during the time of the Emperors, most of the rest of the lower levels of government remained as they were; but the Emperor had the final word.

Rome, the Invader

With each new Emperor, the demands for riches became bigger and bigger. Ancient Rome focused on training soldiers so that they could invade other countries.
A successful invasion allowed the people of other countries to continue to believe in their own religions, as long as they paid to Rome. However, the more that Rome expanded, the thinner its resources became and a decision was made to split into two empires: ruled from the city of Rome was the Western Empire while Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey today) was the Eastern Roman Empire; which would later be called the Byzantine Empire.

When Rome Fell

Any time someone refers to the “fall of Rome” they are talking about the Western Roman Empire. This failed in 476 A.D. while the Byzantine Empire (or Eastern Roman Empire) remained in place for an additional 1,000 years.

Gladiators, Mythology, and Art

Ancient Rome is famous for the coliseums that they built as entertainment for the people. The gladiators were trained to perform and fight in the coliseums and were considered to be some of the most important members of society.
The early Romans took on many of the Greek gods and goddesses as their own and just changed their names. They also adopted a lot of their mythologies from other cultures, including a group known as the Etruscans.
The artists of Ancient Rome were refined in so many aspects of creation including sculptures, pottery, painting, and reliefs. Their pride in their artistic talents meant that they included them in much of their architecture and buildings.

Facts about Ancient Rome:

  • Many of the gladiators were actually slaves. Fighting as a gladiator was one of the few ways that a slave could earn their freedom (as long as they stayed alive).
  • The Circus Maximus is a large stadium that was built specifically for chariot races and has seating for 150,000.
  • The Ancient Roman stadiums were used as a guide for building many of the sports stadiums of today.
  • Although Latin was the native language of Rome, they adopted so much of the Ancient Greek culture that most also spoke Greek.
  • Historians make a note that when Western Rome fell, it was also thought to be the beginning of Europe’s “Dark Ages.”
  • Julius Caesar decided to make himself dictator for life. But this didn’t last too long as one year later he was assassinated.
  • The capital of Italy is the city of Rome and it is on the same site as that of Ancient Rome. Many of the original buildings from so long ago are still present in today’s capital.
  • When Ancient Rome was still a Republic, they made sure to have a system of “checks and balances” to make sure that no one became too powerful. Two “consuls” were elected at the same time and were considered to be in the highest positions.