Portal:Ancient Rome

Introduction

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In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the 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, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The term is sometimes used to refer only to the kingdom and republic periods, excluding the subsequent empire.

The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian peninsula, dating from the 8th century 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) and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.

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Statue of the Emperor Tiberius showing the draped toga of the 1st century AD.

Clothing in ancient Rome generally comprised a short-sleeved or sleeveless, knee-length tunic for men and boys, and a longer, usually sleeved tunic for women and girls. On formal occasions, adult male citizens could wear a woolen toga, draped over their tunic, and married citizen women wore a woolen mantle, known as a palla, over a stola, a simple, long-sleeved, voluminous garment that hung to midstep. Clothing, footwear and accoutrements identified gender, status, rank and social class, and thus offered a means of social control. This was probably most apparent in the segregation of seating tiers at public theatres, games and festivals, and in the distinctive, privileged official dress of magistrates, priesthoods and the military.

The toga was considered Rome's "national costume" but for day-to-day activities, most Romans preferred more casual, practical and comfortable clothing; the tunic, in various forms, was the basic garment for all classes, both sexes and most occupations. It was usually made of linen, and was augmented as necessary with underwear, or with various kinds of cold-or-wet weather wear, such as knee-breeches for men, and cloaks, coats and hats. In colder parts of the empire, full length trousers were worn. Most urban Romans wore shoes, slippers, boots or sandals of various types; in the countryside, some wore clogs. Read more...
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The technology history of the Roman military covers the development of and application of technologies for use in the armies and navies of Rome from the Roman Republic to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The rise of Hellenism and the Roman Republic are generally seen as signalling the end of the Iron Age in the Merranean. Roman iron-working was enhanced by a process known as carburization. The Romans used the better properties in their armaments, and the 1,300 years of Roman military technology saw radical changes. The Roman armies of the early empire were much better equipped than early republican armies. Metals used for arms and armor primarily included iron, bronze, and brass. For construction, the army used wood, earth, and stone. The later use of concrete in architecture was widely mirrored in Roman military technology, especially in the application of a military workforce to civilian construction projects. Read more...
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Photios I (Greek: Φώτιος Phōtios), (c. 810/820 – 6 February 893), a[›] also spelled Photius (/ˈfʃəs/) or Fotios, was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 858 to 867 and from 877 to 886; He is recognized in the Eastern Orthodox Church as St. Photios the Great.

Photios is widely regarded as the most powerful and influential church leader of Constantinople subsequent to John Chrysostom's archbishopric around the turn of the fifth century. He is also viewed as the most important intellectual of his time – "the leading light of the ninth-century renaissance". He was a central figure in both the conversion of the Slavs to Christianity and the Photian schism, and is considered "[t]he great systematic compiler of the Eastern Church, who occupies a similar position to that of Gratian in the West," and whose "collection in two parts...formed and still forms the classic source of ancient Church Law for the Greek Church." Read more...
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The Roman Empire in 117 AD

Vulgar Latin or Sermo Vulgaris ("common speech"), also Colloquial Latin, or Common Romance (particularly in the late stage), was a range of non-standard sociolects of Latin (as opposed to Classical Latin, the standard and literary version of the language) spoken in the Merranean region during and after the classical period of the Roman Empire. It is from Vulgar Latin or 'everyday speech' that the Romance languages developed; the best known are the national languages Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and French. 'Classical' Latin is the more than less standardized, formal and written language that was understood and spoken by Latin speakers as a living language until the 8th century.

Works written in Latin during classical times and the earlier Middle Ages used prescribed Classical Latin rather than Vulgar Latin, with very few exceptions (most notably sections of Gaius Petronius' Satyricon), thus Vulgar Latin had no official orthography of its own. In Renaissance Latin, Vulgar Latin was called vulgare Latinum or Latinum vulgare. Read more...
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Aedile (Latin: aedīlis Latin pronunciation: [ae̯ˈdiː.lɪs], from aedes, "temple edifice") was an office of the Roman Republic. Based in Rome, the aediles were responsible for maintenance of public buildings (aedēs) and regulation of public festivals. They also had powers to enforce public order.

There were two pairs of aediles: the first were the "plebeian aediles" (Latin aediles plebis) and possession of this office was limited to plebeians; the other two were "curule aediles" (Latin aediles curules), open to both plebeians and patricians, in alternating years. An aedilis curulis was classified as a magister curulis. Read more...
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The following is a List of Roman wars and battles fought by the ancient Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire, organized by date. Read more...
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The strategy of the Roman military contains its [[ (the arrangements made by the state to implement its political goals through a selection of military goals, a process of diplomacy backed by threat of military action, and a dedication to the military of part of its production and resources), operational strategy (the coordination and combination of the military forces and their tactics for the goals of an overarching strategy) and, on a small scale, its military tactics (methods for military engagement in order to defeat the enemy). If a fourth rung of "engagement" is added, then the whole can be seen as a ladder, with each level from the foot upwards representing a decreasing concentration on military engagement. Whereas the purest form of tactics or engagement are those free of political imperative, the purest form of political policy does not involve military engagement. Strategy as a whole is the connection between political policy and the use of force to achieve it. Read more...
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Map of Antioch in Roman and early Byzantine times

Antioch on the Orontes (/ˈæntiˌɒk/; Ancient Greek: Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou; also Syrian Antioch) was an ancient Greek city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. Its ruins lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey, and lends the modern city its name.

Antioch was founded near the end of the fourth century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals. The city's geographical, military, and economic location benefited its occupants, particularly such features as the spice trade, the Silk Road, and the Royal Road. It eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East. It was also the main center of Hellenistic Judaism at the end of the Second Temple period. Most of the urban development of Antioch occurred during the Roman Empire, when the city was one of the most important in the eastern Merranean area of Rome's dominions. Read more...
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Original dioceses of the Roman Empire, created by emperor Diocletian (284–305)

Vicarius is a Latin word, meaning substitute or deputy. It is the root of the English word "vicar".

Originally, in ancient Rome, this office was equivalent to the later English "vice-" (as in "deputy"), used as part of the title of various officials. Each vicarius was assigned to a specific superior official, after whom his full title was generally completed by a genitive (e.g. vicarius praetoris). At a low level of society, the slave of a slave, possibly hired out to raise money to buy manumission, was a servus vicarius. Read more...
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The Latin or Roman alphabet is the writing system originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language. Due to its use in writing Germanic, Romance, and other languages first in Europe and then in other parts of the world and due to its use in Romanizing writing of other languages, it has become widespread globally (see Latin script). It is also used officially in China (separate from its ideographic writing) and has been semi-adopted by Slavic (Russia) and Baltic states. The Latin alphabet evolved from the visually similar Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet, which was itself descended from the Phoenician abjad, which in turn derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Etruscans, who ruled early Rome, adopted the Cumaean Greek alphabet, which was modified over time to become the Etruscan alphabet, which was in turn adopted and further modified by the Romans to produce the Latin alphabet.

During the Middle Ages, the Latin alphabet was used (sometimes with modifications) for writing Romance languages, which are direct descendants of Latin, as well as Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, and some Slavic languages. With the age of colonialism and Christian evangelism, the Latin script spread beyond Europe, coming into use for writing indigenous American, Australian, Austronesian, Austroasiatic, and African languages. More recently, linguists have also tended to prefer the Latin script or the International Phonetic Alphabet (itself largely based on the Latin script) when transcribing or creating written standards for non-European languages, such as the African reference alphabet. Read more...
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The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, which had been founded as Byzantium). It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire (Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".

Several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empire's Greek East and Latin West divided. Constantine I (r. 324–337) reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, and legalised Christianity. Under Theodosius I (r. 379–395), Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed. Finally, under the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin. Thus, although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity. Read more...
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The Basilica of Aquileia.

Aquileia (/ˌækwɪˈlə/; Italian: [akwiˈlɛːja]; Friulian: Olee/Olea/Acuilee/Aquilee/Aquilea; Venetian: Aquiłeja/Aquiłegia; German: Aglar/Agley/Aquileja; Slovene: Oglej) is an ancient Roman city in Italy, at the head of the Adriatic at the edge of the lagoons, about 10 kilometres (6 mi) from the sea, on the river Natiso (modern Natisone), the course of which has changed somewhat since Roman times. Today, the city is small (about 3,500 inhabitants), but it was large and prominent in Antiquity as one of the world's largest cities with a population of 100,000 in the 2nd century AD. and is one of the main archeological sites of Northern Italy. Read more...
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Renaissance Latin is a name given to the distinctive form of Latin style developed during the European Renaissance of the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries, particularly by the Renaissance humanism movement. Read more...
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The Tribal Assembly (comitia populi tributa) was an assembly consisting of all Roman citizens convened by tribes (tribus).

In the Roman Republic, citizens did not elect legislative representatives (such as congressmen or MPs). Instead, they voted themselves on legislative matters in the popular assemblies (the comitia centuriata, the tribal assembly and the plebeian council). Bills were proposed by magistrates and the citizens only exercised their right to vote. Read more...
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The Agora of Smyrna (columns of the western stoa)

Smyrna (Ancient Greek: Σμύρνη, Smýrnē or Σμύρνα, Smýrna) was a Greek city dating back to antiquity located at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. Since 1930, the modern city located there has been known as İzmir, in Turkey, the Turkish rendering of the same name. Due to its advantageous port conditions, its ease of defense and its good inland connections, Smyrna rose to prominence. Two sites of the ancient city are today within the boundaries of İzmir. The first site, probably founded by indigenous peoples, rose to prominence during the Archaic Period as one of the principal ancient Greek settlements in western Anatolia. The second, whose foundation is associated with Alexander the Great, reached metropolitan proportions during the period of the Roman Empire. Most of the present-day remains of the ancient city date from the Roman era, the majority from after a 2nd-century AD earthquake.

In practical terms, a distinction is often made between these. Old Smyrna was the initial settlement founded around the 11th century BC, first as an Aeolian settlement, and later taken over and developed during the Archaic Period by the Ionians. Smyrna proper was the new city which residents moved to as of the 4th century BC and whose foundation was inspired by Alexander the Great. Read more...
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Tribune (Latin: Tribunus) was the title of various elected officials in ancient Rome. The two most important were the tribunes of the plebs and the military tribunes. For most of Roman history, a college of ten tribunes of the plebs acted as a check on the authority of the senate and the annual magistrates, holding the power of ius intercessionis to intervene on behalf of the plebeians, and veto unfavourable legislation. There were also military tribunes, who commanded portions of the Roman army, subordinate to the higher magistrates, such as the consuls and praetors, promagistrates, and their legates. Various officers within the Roman army were also known as tribunes. The title was also used for several other positions and classes in the course of Roman history. Read more...
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Quintus Horatius Flaccus (December 8, 65 BC – November 27, 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace (/ˈhɒrɪs/), was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian). The rhetorician Quintilian regarded his Odes as just about the only Latin lyrics worth reading: "He can be lofty sometimes, yet he is also full of charm and grace, versatile in his figures, and felicitously daring in his choice of words."

Horace also crafted elegant hexameter verses (Satires and Epistles) and caustic iambic poetry (Epodes). The hexameters are amusing yet serious works, friendly in tone, leading the ancient satirist Persius to comment: "as his friend laughs, Horace slyly puts his finger on his every fault; once let in, he plays about the heartstrings". Read more...
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Eboracum (Latin /ebo'rakum/, English /ˈbɒrəkəm/ or /ˌbɔːˈrɑːkəm/) was a fort and city in the Roman province of Britannia. In its prime it was the largest town in northern Britain and a provincial capital. The site remained occupied after the decline of the Roman Empire and ultimately evolved into the present-day city York, occupying the same site in North Yorkshire, England.

Two Roman emperors died in Eboracum: Septimius Severus in 211 AD, and Constantius Chlorus in 306 AD. Read more...
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Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (/ˈtæsɪtəs/; Classical Latin: [ˈtakɪtʊs]; c. 56c. 120 AD) was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors (69 AD). These two works span the history of the Roman Empire from the death of Augustus, in 14 AD, to the years of the First Jewish–Roman War, in 70 AD. There are substantial lacunae in the surviving texts, including a gap in the Annals that is four books long.

Tacitus' other writings discuss oratory (in dialogue format, see Dialogus de oratoribus), Germania (in De origine et situ Germanorum), and the life of his father-in-law, Agricola, the general responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain, mainly focusing on his campaign in Britannia (De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae). Read more...
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The Populares (/ˌpɒpjʊˈlɛərz, -jə-, -ˈlrz/; Latin: populares, "favouring the people", singular popularis) were a grouping in the late Roman Republic which favoured the cause of the plebeians (the commoners).

Concerned for the urban poor, the Populares supported laws regarding the provision of a grain dole for the poor by the state at a subsidized price. As such, they wanted reforms which helped the poor, particularly redistributing land for the poor to farm and debt relief. At times, the Populares also supported the extension of Roman citizenship to Rome's Italic allies. Read more...
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Carthage (/ˈkɑːrθɪ/; Punic: 𐤒𐤓𐤕•𐤇𐤃𐤔𐤕, Qart-ḥadašt, "New City"; Latin: Carthāgō; Arabic: قرطاج‎, Qarṭāj) was the center or capital city of the ancient Carthaginian civilization, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now the Tunis Governorate in Tunisia.

The city developed from a Phoenician colony into the capital of an empire dominating the Merranean during the first millennium BC. The legendary Queen Dido is regarded as the founder of the city, though her historicity has been questioned. According to accounts by Timaeus of Tauromenium, she purchased from a local tribe the amount of land that could be covered by an oxhide. Cutting the skin into strips, she laid out her claim and founded an empire that would become, through the Punic Wars, the only existential threat to the Roman Empire until the coming of the Vandals several centuries later. Read more...
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The practices of Ancient Roman finance, while originally rooted in Greek models, evolved in the second century BCE with the expansion of Roman monetization. Roman elites engaged in private lending for various purposes, and various banking models arose to serve different lending needs. Read more...
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Gaius Julius Phaedrus (/ˈfdrəs/; Greek: Φαῖδρος; was a 1st-century CE Roman fabulist and the first versifier of a collection of Aesop's fables into Latin. Few facts are known about him for certain and there was little mention of his work during late antiquity. It was not until the discovery of a few imperfect manuscripts during and following the Renaissance that his importance emerged, both as an author and in the transmission of the fables. Read more...
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Quintus Asconius Pedianus (c. 9 BC – c. AD 76) was a Roman historian.

In his later years he resided in Rome, and there he died, after having been blind for twelve years, at the age of eighty-five. During the reigns of Claudius and Nero he compiled for his sons, from various sources—e.g. the Gazette (Aetablica)–shorthand reports or skeletons (commentarii) of Cicero's unpublished speeches, Tiro's life of Cicero, speeches and letters of Cicero's contemporaries, various historical writers, e.g. Varro, Atticus, Antias, Tuditanus and Fenestella (a contemporary of Livy whom he often criticizes) -- historical commentaries on Cicero's speeches, of which only five, viz, in Pisonem, pro Scauro, pro Milone, pro Cornelio and In Toga Candida, in a very mutilated ion, are preserved, under the modern title Q. Asconii Pediani Orationvm Ciceronis qvinqve enarratio. Read more...
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Rome (Italian: Roma [ˈroːma] (About this sound listen); Latin: Roma [ˈroːma]) is the capital city of Italy and a special comune (named Comune di Roma Capitale). Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,868,782 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4.3 million residents. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City (the smallest country in the world) is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Rome's history spans 28 centuries. While Roman mythology dates the founding of Rome at around 753 BC, the site has been inhabited for much longer, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe. The city's early population originated from a mix of Latins, Etruscans, and Sabines. Eventually, the city successively became the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as the birthplace of Western civilization and by some as the first ever metropolis. It was first called The Eternal City (Latin: Urbs Aeterna; Italian: La Città Eterna) by the Roman poet Tibullus in the 1st century BC, and the expression was also taken up by Ovid, Virgil, and Livy. Rome is also called the "Caput Mundi" (Capital of the World). After the fall of the Western Empire, which marked the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome slowly fell under the political control of the Papacy, which had settled in the city since the 1st century AD, until in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. Beginning with the Renaissance, almost all the popes since Nicholas V (1447–1455) pursued over four hundred years a coherent architectural and urban programme aimed at making the city the artistic and cultural centre of the world. In this way, Rome became first one of the major centres of the Italian Renaissance, and then the birthplace of both the Baroque style and Neoclassicism. Famous artists, painters, sculptors and architects made Rome the centre of their activity, creating masterpieces throughout the city. In 1871, Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, which, in 1946, became the Italian Republic. Read more...
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The Principate is the name sometimes given to the first period of the Roman Empire from the beginning of the reign of Augustus in 27 BC to the end of the Crisis of the Third Century in 284 AD, after which it evolved into the so-called Dominate.

The Principate is characterised by the reign of a single emperor (princeps) and an effort on the part of the early emperors, at least, to preserve the illusion of the formal continuance, in some aspects, of the Roman Republic. Read more...
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A bust of Suetonius in the Capitoline Museums, Rome

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (Classical Latin: [ˈɡa:jjʊs sʊ.e:'to:ni.ʊs traŋˈkᶣɪllʊs]), commonly known as Suetonius (/swɪˈtniəs/; c. 69 – after 122 AD), was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order who wrote during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire.

His most important surviving work is a set of biographies of twelve successive Roman rulers, from Julius Caesar to Domitian, entitled De Vita Caesarum. He recorded the earliest accounts of Julius Caesar's epileptic seizures. Other works by Suetonius concern the daily life of Rome, politics, oratory, and the lives of famous writers, including poets, historians, and grammarians. A few of these books have partially survived, but many have been lost. Read more...
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Macrobius, fully Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius, also known as Theodosius, was a Roman provincial who lived during the early fifth century, at the transition of the Roman to the Byzantine Empire, and when Latin was as widespread as Greek among the elite. He is primarily known for his writings, which include the widely copied and read Commentarii in Somnium Scipionis ("Commentary on the Dream of Scipio"), which was one of the most important sources for Platonism in the Latin West during the Middle Ages, the Saturnalia, a compendium of ancient Roman religious and antiquarian lore, and De differentiis et societatibus graeci latinique verbi ("On the Differences and Similarities of the Greek and Latin Verb"), which is now lost. Read more...
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The princeps senatus (plural principes senatus) was the first member by precedence of the Roman Senate. Although officially out of the cursus honorum and owning no imperium, this office brought enormous prestige to the senator holding it. Read more...
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Gold coin from Dacia, minted by Coson, depicting a consul and two lictors


A lictor (possibly from Latin: ligare, "to bind") was a Roman civil servant who was a bodyguard to magistrates who held imperium. Lictors were used since the Roman Kingdom, and according to Roman historian Livy, the custom may have originated earlier, in the Etruscan civilization. Read more...
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A Roman street in Pompeii


Roman roads (Latin: viae Romanae IPA: [ˈwjjae̯ ˈrɔːmaːnae̯]; singular: via Romana IPA: [ˈwjja rɔːˈmaːna]; meaning "Roman way") were physical infrastructure vital to the maintenance and development of the Roman state, and were built from about 300 BC through the expansion and consolidation of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. They provided efficient means for the overland movement of armies, officials, and civilians, and the inland carriage of official communications and trade goods. Roman roads were of several kinds, ranging from small local roads to broad, long-distance highways built to connect cities, major towns and military bases. These major roads were often stone-paved and metaled, cambered for drainage, and were flanked by footpaths, bridleways and drainage ditches. They were laid along accurately surveyed courses, and some were cut through hills, or conducted over rivers and ravines on bridgework. Sections could be supported over marshy ground on rafted or piled foundations.

At the peak of Rome's development, no fewer than 29 great military highways radiated from the capital, and the late Empire's 113 provinces were interconnected by 372 great roads. The whole comprised more than 400,000 kilometres (250,000 miles) of roads, of which over 80,500 kilometres (50,000 mi) were stone-paved. In Gaul alone, no less than 21,000 kilometres (13,000 mi) of roadways are said to have been improved, and in Britain at least 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi). The courses (and sometimes the surfaces) of many Roman roads survived for millennia; some are overlaid by modern roads. Read more...
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Depiction of Apuleius

Apuleius (/ˌæpjʊˈləs/; also called Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis; c. 124 – c. 170 AD) was a Latin-language prose writer, Platonist philosopher and rhetorician. He was a Numidian who lived under the Roman Empire and was from Madauros (now M'Daourouch, Algeria). He studied Platonism in Athens, travelled to Italy, Asia Minor, and Egypt, and was an initiate in several cults or mysteries. The most famous incident in his life was when he was accused of using magic to gain the attentions (and fortune) of a wealthy widow. He declaimed and then distributed a witty tour de force in his own defense before the proconsul and a court of magistrates convened in Sabratha, near ancient Tripoli, Libya. This is known as the Apologia.

His most famous work is his bawdy picaresque novel, the Metamorphoses, otherwise known as The Golden Ass. It is the only Latin novel that has survived in its entirety. It relates the ludicrous adventures of one Lucius, who experiments with magic and is accidentally turned into a donkey. Read more...
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The site of the former Circus Maximus in modern-day Rome

The Roman circus (from Latin, "circle") was a large open-air venue used for public events in the ancient Roman Empire. The circuses were similar to the ancient Greek hippodromes, although circuses served varying purposes and differed in design and construction. Along with theatres and amphitheatres, Circuses were one of the main entertainment sites of the time. Circuses were venues for chariot races, horse races, and performances that commemorated important events of the empire were performed there.

According to Edward Gibbon, in Chapter XXXI of his work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the Roman people, at the start of the 5th century: Read more...
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Over the course of some fourteen centuries, the Romans and other peoples of Italy employed a system of nomenclature that differed from that used by other cultures of Europe and the Merranean, consisting of a combination of personal and family names. Although conventionally referred to as the tria nomina, the combination of praenomen, nomen, and cognomen that have come to be regarded as the basic elements of the Roman name in fact represent a continuous process of development, from at least the seventh century BC to the end of the seventh century AD. The names developed as part of this system became a defining characteristic of Roman civilization, and although the system itself vanished during the early Middle Ages, the names themselves exerted a profound influence on the development of European naming practices, and many continue to survive in modern languages. Read more...
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Pedanius Dioscorides (Greek: Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης Pedanios Dioskouridēs; c. 40 – 90 AD) was a Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist, and author of De Materia Medica (Ancient Greek: Περὶ ὕλης ἰατρικῆς, On Medical Material) —a 5-volume Greek encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances (a pharmacopeia), that was widely read for more than 1,500 years. He was employed as a medic in the Roman army. Read more...
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Early 16th century publication ed by Beatus Rhenanus

Marcus Velleius Paterculus (c. 19 BC – c. AD 31), also known as Velleius (/vɛˈləs, -ˈləs/), was a Roman historian. His History (Latin: Historiae), written in a highly rhetorical style, covered the period from the end of the Trojan War to the death of Livia in AD 29, but is most useful for the period from the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. to the death of Augustus in 14 AD. Although Velleius's praenomen is given as Marcus by Priscian, some modern scholars identify him with Gaius Velleius Paterculus, whose name occurs in an inscription on a north African milestone (C.I.L. VIII.10, 311). Read more...
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  Unofficial Romance language
  Unofficial regional Romance language

The legacy of the Roman Empire includes sets of cultural values, religious beliefs, technological advances, engineering and language. This legacy survived the demise of the empire itself (5th century AD) and went on to shape other civilizations, a process which continues to this day. The city of Rome was the civitas (reflected in the etymology of the word "civilization") and connected with the actual western civilization on which subsequent cultures built.

The Latin language of ancient Rome, epitomized by the Classical Latin used in Latin literature, evolved during the Middle Ages and remains in use in the Roman Catholic Church as Ecclesiastical Latin. Vulgar Latin, the common tongue used for regular social interactions, evolved simultaneously into the various Romance languages that exist today (notably Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, etc.). Although the Western Roman Empire fell in the 5th century AD, the Eastern Roman Empire continued until its conquest by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century AD and cemented the Greek language in many parts of the Eastern Merranean even after the Early Muslim conquests of the 7th century AD. Although there has been a small modern revival of the Hellenistic religion with Hellenism, ancient Roman paganism was largely displaced by Christianity after the 4th century AD and the Christian conversion of Roman emperor Constantine I (r. 306-337 AD). The Christian faith of the late Roman Empire continued to evolve during the Middle Ages and remains a major facet of the religion and the psyche of the modern Western world. Read more...
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Reconstruction of Hecataeus' map

;Pre-Hellenistic Classical Greece Read more...
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The Roman family, or domus, was one of the ways that the mos maiorum was passed along through the generations

The mos maiorum (Classical Latin: [mɔs majˈjoː.rũ]; "ancestral custom" or "way of the ancestors," plural mores, cf. English "mores"; maiorum is the genitive plural of "greater" or "elder") is the unwritten code from which the ancient Romans derived their social norms. It is the core concept of Roman traditionalism, distinguished from but in dynamic complement to written law. The mos maiorum was collectively the time-honoured principles, behavioural models, and social practices that affected private, political, and military life in ancient Rome. Read more...
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Roman Republican currency refers to the gold and silver Coinage struck by the various magistrates of the Roman Republic, to be used as legal tender. In modern times, the abbreviation RRC, "Roman Republican Coinage" originally the name of a reference work on the topic by Michael H. Crawford, has come to be used as an identifying tag for coins assigned a number in that work, such as RRC 367.

Coins came late to the Republic compared with the rest of the Merranean, especially Greece and Asia Minor where coins were invented in the 7th century BC. The currency of central Italy was influenced by its natural resources, with bronze being abundant (the Etruscans were famous metal workers in bronze and iron) and silver ore being scarce. The coinage of the Roman Republic started with a few silver coins apparently devised for trade with the Greek colonies in Southern Italy, and heavy cast bronze pieces for use in Central Italy. Read more...
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The King of Rome (Latin: Rex Romae) was the chief magistrate of the Roman Kingdom. According to legend, the first king of Rome was Romulus, who founded the city in 753 BC upon the Palatine Hill. Seven legendary kings are said to have ruled Rome until 509 BC, when the last king was overthrown. These kings ruled for an average of 35 years.

The kings after Romulus were not known to be dynasts and no reference is made to the herary principle until after the fifth king Tarquinius Priscus. Consequently, some have assumed that the Tarquins and their attempt to institute a herary monarchy over this conjectured earlier elective monarchy resulted in the formation of the republic. Read more...
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This is a list of Roman nomina. Each nomen is for a gens, originally a single family, but later more of a political grouping. Read more...
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This page lists films set in the city of Rome during the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic or the Roman Empire. Where films are only partly set in Rome, they are so noted. Read more...
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Forum of Pompeii, seen from above the Basilica with a drone


A forum (Latin forum "public place outdoors", plural fora; English plural either fora or forums) was a public square in a Roman municipium, or any civitas, reserved primarily for the vending of goods; i.e., a marketplace, along with the buildings used for shops and the stoas used for open stalls. Many fora were constructed at remote locations along a road by the magistrate responsible for the road, in which case the forum was the only settlement at the site and had its own name, such as Forum Popili or Forum Livi. Read more...
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SPQR is an initialism of a phrase in Latin: Senātus Populusque Rōmānus ("The Roman Senate and People", or more freely as "The Senate and People of Rome"; Classical Latin: [sɛˈnaː.tʊs pɔpʊˈlʊs.kᶣɛ roːˈmaː.nʊs]), referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic. It appears on Roman currency, at the end of documents made public by inscription in stone or metal, and in dedications of monuments and public works.

The phrase commonly appears in the Roman political, legal, and historical literature, such as the speeches of Cicero and Ab Urbe Condita Libri ("Books from the Founding of the City") of Livy. Read more...
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The Roman Assemblies were institutions in ancient Rome. They functioned as the machinery of the Roman legislative branch, and thus (theoretically at least) passed all legislation. Since the assemblies operated on the basis of direct democracy, ordinary citizens, and not elected representatives, would cast all ballots. The assemblies were subject to strong checks on their power by the executive branch and by the Roman Senate. Laws were passed (and magistrates elected) by Curia (in the Curiate Assembly), Tribes (in the Tribal Assembly), and Centuries (in the Centuriate Assembly).

When the city of Rome was founded (traditionally dated at 753 BC), a senate and an assembly, the Curiate Assembly, were both created. The Curiate Assembly was the principal legislative assembly during the era of the Roman Kingdom. While its primary purpose was to elect new kings, it also possessed rudimentary legislative powers. Shortly after the founding of the Roman Republic (traditionally dated to 509 BC), the principal legislative authority shifted to two new assemblies, the Tribal Assembly ("Citizen's Assembly") and the Centuriate Assembly. Eventually, most legislative powers were transferred to another assembly, the Plebeian Council ("Assembly of the Commoners"). Ultimately, it was the Plebeian Council that disrupted the balance between the senate, the legislative branch, and the executive branch. This led to the collapse of the republic, and the founding of the Roman Empire in 27 BC. Under the empire, the powers that had been held by the assemblies were transferred to the senate. While the assemblies eventually lost their last semblance of political power, citizens continued to gather into them for organizational purposes. Eventually, however, the assemblies were ultimately abandoned. Read more...
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Extent of the Roman Empire under Augustus. Yellow represents the extent of the Republic in 31 BC, while green represents gradually conquered territories under the reign of Augustus, and pink areas represent client states.

The Pax Romana (Latin for "Roman Peace") was a long period of relative peace and stability experienced by the Roman Empire between the accession of Caesar Augustus, founder of the Roman principate, and the death of Marcus Aurelius, last of the "good emperors". Since it was inaugurated by Augustus with the end of the Final War of the Roman Republic, it is sometimes called the Pax Augusta. During this period of approximately 206 years (27 BC to AD 180), the Roman empire achieved its greatest territorial extent and its population reached a maximum of up to 70 million people – a third of the world’s population. According to Cassius Dio, the dictatorial reign of Commodus, later followed by the Year of the Five Emperors and the crisis of the third century, marked the descent "from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust". Read more...
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Roman ensigns, standards, trumpets etc.


Roman military personal equipment was produced in large numbers to established patterns, and it was used in an established manner. These standard patterns and uses were called the res militaris or disciplina. Its regular practice during the Roman Republic and Roman Empire led to military excellence and victory. The equipment gave the Romans a very distinct advantage over their barbarian enemies, especially so in the case of armour. This does not mean that every Roman soldier had better equipment than the richer men among his opponents. According to Edward Luttwak, Roman equipment was not of a better quality than that used by the majority of Rome's adversaries.

Initially, they used weapons based on Greek and Etruscan models. On encountering the Celts, they based new varieties on Celtic equipment. To defeat the Carthaginians, they constructed an entire fleet de novo based on the Carthaginian model. Once a weapon was adopted, it became standard. The standard weapons varied somewhat during Rome's long history, but the equipment and its use were never individual. Read more...
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The interrex (plural interreges) was literally a ruler "between kings" (Latin inter reges) during the Roman Kingdom and the Roman Republic. He was in effect a short-term regent.

The office of interrex was supposedly created following the death of Rome's first king Romulus, and thus its origin is obscured by legend. The Senate of the Roman Kingdom was at first unable to choose a new king. For the purpose of continuing the government of the city, the senate, which then consisted of one hundred members, was divided into ten decuriae (groups of ten); and from each of these decuriae one senator was nominated as decurio. Each of the ten decuriones in succession held the regal power and its badges for five days as interrex; and if no king had been appointed at the expiration of fifty days, the rotation began anew. The period during which they exercised their power was called an interregnum, and on that occasion lasted for one year, after which Numa Pompilius was elected as the new king. Read more...
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