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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 civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 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 Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though 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 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.

In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state evolved from a elective monarchy to a democratic classical republic and then to an increasingly autocratic semi-elective military dictatorship of 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 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 Caesar. 721 years of Roman–Persian Wars started in 92 BC with their first war 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.

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. This splintering is a landmark historians use to divide the ancient period of universal history from the pre-medieval "Dark Ages" of Europe. The eastern part of the empire endured through the 5th century and remained a power throughout the "Dark Ages" and medieval times until its fall in 1453 AD. Although the citizens of the empire made no distinction, the empire is most commonly referred to as the "Byzantine Empire" by modern historians during the Middle Ages to differentiate between the state of antiquity and the nation it grew into.

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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Marcus Aurelius (April 26, 121 CE. – March 17, 180 CE.), was Roman Emperor from CE 161 to 180 who defeated several significant invasions and put down a revitalisation of the Parthian Empire. His Stoic tome Meditations, which he wrote while on campaign, is still revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty.

Marcus Aurelius (April 26, 121 CE. – March 17, 180 CE.), was Roman Emperor from CE 161 to 180 who defeated several significant invasions and put down a revitalisation of the Parthian Empire. His Stoic tome Meditations, which he wrote while on campaign, is still revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty.

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Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (April 26, 121, – March 17, 180) was Roman Emperor from 161 to his death in 180. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors" who governed the Roman Empire from 96 to 180, and is also considered one of the most important stoic philosophers.

His tenure was marked by wars in Asia against a strong Parthian Empire, and with Germanic tribes along the limes Germanicus into Gaul and across the Danube. A revolt in the East, led by Avidius Cassius, failed.

Marcus Aurelius' work Meditations, written on campaign between 170–180, is still revered as a literary monument to a government of service and duty and has been praised for its "exquisite accent and its infinite tenderness."

Did you know?

  • ...That When Caesar's troops hesitated to leave their ships for fear of the Britons, the aquilifer of the tenth legion threw himself overboard and, carrying the eagle, advanced alone against the enemy?
  • ...That the most well paid athlete in human history, Gaius Appuleius Diocles, was an illiterate Roman Chariot racer, and earned the equivalent of $15 Billion US Dollars.

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