The Roman Empire

So for many years, I've been interested in the history of the Roman Empire. In at least one of the old versions of my website, I tried to dedicate a set of pages to the Empire, and you can find those pages here if you really care to. They won't be updated, as I'm going to go ahead and try it again, hopefully with more success this time around.

Currently, there are two pages here. One is some information about the Colosseum, which I saved from the old version of the site because, somehow, it kept coming up big on a few Google searches for things about the Colosseum. I have updated it a bit over the past year, but it's still a work in progress. The other page is a little essay about gladiatorial combat, which I wrote because I noticed that a lot of the searches leading people to the Colosseum page were searches about the thumbs-up and thumbs-down gestures used in gladiatorial combat, and I decided to write up a little bit of the information that I've gleaned from hours and hours of watching history shows on TV.

I hope to add a lot more information to this portion of the site, but this certainly isn't a full-time job for me, so I'll just try to add whatever I can when I get the time. If you're interested in anything in particular, feel free to drop me a line with any questions, comments, or topics of interest, and I'll add those thoughts to the top of the list of things to write about. Thanks.

The Roman Kingdom

Legends of the Founding of Rome

There are two main legends dealing with the founding of Rome. According to the first, which is more widely known today, the city was founded in 753 BC by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus. The second legend, which may have actually been more widely believed during the time of the Empire, was that Rome was founded by the Trojan hero Aeneas, who had escaped from that city after its defeat by the Greeks. The two legends are sometimes combined, either in the form that Aeneas founded the city of Lavinium, which later became Rome, or that Romulus and Remus were descendants of Aeneas. Regardless of whether these legends have any basis in fact, the village which would become Rome was definitely founded by the eight century BCE. The actual circumstances of its founding will probably never be known with great certainty, due to the lack of any definite physical evidence and the amount of time between the founding and the present.

The area that would later become Rome was actually settled around 1000 BCE by Latin people.  They and the neighboring Sabines created the village of Rome on three of the seven hills of the area (the Palatine, Capitoline, and Quirinal).  The Etruscan people, from the neighboring northern area of Etruria, or modern Tuscany, established control of most of the area, including Rome, by the latter part of the 7th century BCE.  The Etruscans formed the aristocratic elite, and established a monarchy in Rome.

The Seven Kings

According to legend, there were seven kings during the monarchy. The first was Romulus, one of the legendary founders. He ruled from the founding, around 753 BCE, until his death in 715. Romulus created the first Roman calendar, dividing the year into 10 months.

His successor, Numa Pompilius, reigned from 715 to 672 BCE and added January and February to the calendar of Romulus.

Tullus Hostilius reigned 672 to 641 BCE.

Ancus Marcius reigned 640 to 616 BCE.

Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, also called Tarquin the Elder or Tarquin I, reigned 616 to 579 BCE.

The sixth of the seven legendary kings was Servius Tullius, who reigned from 578 to 535 BCE. Under his reign, the city of Rome was fortified and the class system based on property ownership was established.

The last king of Rome was Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, also called Tarquin the Proud or Tarquin II. He reigned 535 or 534 BCE to 510 or 509 BCE. His deposition and expulsion led to the foundation of the Roman Republic.

The Roman Republic

Expulsion of the Kings and the Early Republic

After Tarquin the Proud was exiled from Rome, he attempted to gain the support of Etruscan and Latin kings in the surrounding cities. He tried to instill a fear in them that republicanism would spread from Rome to those other cities, threatening the power of those kings. Despite obtaining the support of several powerful Etruscan kings, including Lars Porsenna of Clusium (modern Chiusi), all of Tarquin's efforts to regain the throne were repulsed by the people of Rome.

The Roman Empire

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Created on ... March 3, 2009

Last updated ... March 3, 2009