View of the Roman Forum, which was extensively built up by Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire.
Introduction“I came. I saw. I conquered.” Those words are attributed to Julius Caesar, but they easily could have been the motto of Roman generals for centuries. During a more than six-hundred-year period, Rome conquered and ruled the entire Mediterranean world, essentially turning the Mediterranean Sea into a Roman lake. As rulers, the Romans brought their political institutions, their laws, their culture, their roads, their currency, and their language to the people they governed, thus making an indelible mark on the whole of Western culture and society. Rome inspired loyalty by granting citizenship—a valuable commodity—to the conquered, and Roman citizens responded by serving their government with a courage and discipline that was not always deserved by some Roman emperors infamous for their excesses of greed, lust, and cruelty.
- At its height, the Roman Empire covered over two million square miles stretching from the Rhine River to Egypt and from Britain to Asia Minor.
- The Roman Republic was governed by Elected Consuls, the Senate, and the Plebian Council, which was a popular assembly. The Senate consisted of the wealthier Romans, while the Plebian Council represented the working classes. Most modern Western governments are more reflective of the Roman Republic and its dual legislative bodies than the earlier Greek democracies.
- The Roman Republic really fell when Julius Caesar defeated his rival Pompey. Caesar was appointed dictator for life, but that life was short. He was assassinated in 44 BC, and his nephew Augustus became the first Roman emperor. The assassination was immortalized by Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar.
- Caligula, an early Roman emperor, was known for his excessive cruelty and eccentric actions. Once, when angry with the Senate, he appointed his favorite horse as a Senator and tried to get it elected as Consul.
- The spread of Christianity was greatly helped by the infrastructure of Roman roads and the use of a universal language—Latin, of course.
All Resources by Category
- Fall of Rome
- How Did The Roman Empire Differ From The Holy Roman Empire?
- If The Roman Empire Was So Powerful, Why Did It Fall?
- The Roman Empire - Magill's Guide to Military History
- Wars of the Roman Empire
- What Government Ruled Rome Before The Roman Empire?
- What Was The Pax Romana?
- Who Started The Fall Of The Roman Empire?
- Why Is Charlemagne Considered One Of The Great Leaders In History?
- Julius Caesar
- Julius Caesar - Great Lives From History: The Ancient World
- Marc Antony
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