Portal:Ancient Rome

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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 civilisation began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, traditionally dated to 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 civilization was led and ruled by the Romans, alternately considered an ethnic group or a nationality. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, 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 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles) at its height in AD 117.

In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state evolved from an elective monarchy to a democratic classical republic and then to an increasingly autocratic semi-elective military dictatorship during 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 Anatolia, 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. Seven-hundred and twenty-one years of Roman–Persian Wars started in 92 BC with the first struggle 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 before some stability was restored in the Tetrarchy phase of imperial rule.

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. The eastern part of the empire remained a power through the Middle Ages until its fall in 1453 AD. (Full article...)

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A modern recreation of chariot racing in Puy du Fou

Chariot racing (Greek: ἁρματοδρομία, translit. harmatodromia, Latin: ludi circenses) was one of the most popular Iranian, ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing was dangerous to both drivers and horses as they often suffered serious injury and even death, but these dangers added to the excitement and interest for spectators. Chariot races could be watched by women, who were banned from watching many other sports. In the Roman form of chariot racing, teams represented different groups of financial backers and sometimes competed for the services of particularly skilled drivers. As in modern sports like football, spectators generally chose to support a single team, identifying themselves strongly with its fortunes, and violence sometimes broke out between rival factions. The rivalries were sometimes politicized, when teams became associated with competing social or religious ideas. This helps explain why Roman and later Byzantine emperors took control of the teams and appointed many officials to oversee them.

The sport faded in importance in the West after the fall of Rome. It survived much longer in the Byzantine Empire, where the traditional Roman factions continued to play a prominent role for several centuries, gaining influence in political matters. Their rivalry culminated in the Nika riots, which marked the gradual decline of the sport. (Full article...)
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Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate (the first phase of the Roman Empire) has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history. The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession.

Augustus was born Gaius Octavius into an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the plebeian gens Octavia. His maternal great-uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, and Octavius was named in Caesar's will as his adopted son and heir. Afterwards, Octavius took the name Gaius Julius Caesar and was called Octavianus. He, Mark Antony, and Marcus Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at the Battle of Philippi (42 BC), the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic among themselves and ruled as de facto dictators. The Triumvirate was eventually torn apart by the competing ambitions of its members; Lepidus was exiled in 36 BC, and Antony was defeated by Octavian at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. (Full article...)

Did you know?

  • ...That the Pater familias of a family, had the power to sell his children into slavery?
  • ...That Trajan was the last Roman Emperor to harry the coast of Arabia with the Roman Navy?
  • ...That Trajan was born at Italica, in Spain and adopted by the Roman Emperor Nerva and made his heir, which entitled Trajan to call himself the son of Nerva

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Trajan's Column (Italian: Colonna Traiana) is a monument in Rome which commemorates the Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars in 101-106 AD.

Trajan's Column (Italian: Colonna Traiana) is a monument in Rome which commemorates the Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars in 101-106 AD.

Photo credit: Radomil

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