Interesting Facts About Ancient Rome – Legacy, Origins and Facts
Ancient Rome has seen many empires come and go. Beginning with a small settlement on the Tiber in the 8th century BC, the city had grown to have a population of around one million people by 100 AD.
As well as being home to emperors such as Caligula, Nero and Constantine, Ancient Rome was also memorable for its magnificent architecture, including significant buildings like the Pantheon and Colosseum.
Not only was Ancient Rome known for its powerful army and colossal architecture, but it was also known for its art and the significant contribution made by artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael. Perhaps what makes Ancient Rome most famous is that it is where the famous stories of Roman mythology originated.
Origins of Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome began as a small settlement called ‘Roma’ on the Tiber River. Romulus and Remus were the twin sons of Mars, the god of war, who according to legend were born in Alba Longa (a settlement near to Rome). Their great-uncle Amulius ordered the twins to be drowned in the Tiber River, but they were saved and they ended up being suckled by a she-wolf. The two boys later returned to found a settlement, which is now Rome.
The areas that would later become known as Latium were conquered many times over by many different groups and empires throughout history, including the Etruscans, Gauls and Carthaginians. In 509 BC, a man named Lucius Junius Brutus led the rebellion against King Tarquinius Superbus, who was also betrayed by his son Sextus Tarquinius. After the king was exiled, a republic was formed, with Brutus as one of the first consuls (a position created for men in charge of running the government). Julius Caesar later took this position.
Although Rome was never officially under control of any empire, it did come under threat from Greek city-states and the Etruscans. Between 364 and 338 BC Rome was controlled by King Philip II of Macedon from Greece. From 300 BC to 264 BC it fell to Etruscans (led by King Lars Porsenna) and then again in 200 BC to the Gauls (led by Brennus). The Gauls were defeated by Marius at the Battle of Sentinum in Umbria in 295 BC.
The Roman Republic
Rome became a Republic in 509 BC. A senate was formed, which elected two consuls to rule for one year at a time. The consuls had the right to veto each other’s actions and they were originally only allowed to serve for one month at a time (but reforms were made later that increased their term lengths). At this point, the head of state was known as a ‘praetor’, but after the first century BC a triumvirate (group of three men) was formed with two consuls who shared power. Eventually, Julius Caesar took control as ‘dictator for life’. The Republic came to an end in 27 BC when Octavian (the grandnephew of Julius Caesar) took control and formed the ‘Roman Empire’.
Octavian, also known as Augustus, introduced new laws and reformed the old ones. He changed the calendar from a system of 365 days to a system of 12 months with 355 days. At this point, there were three levels of government – Imperial, Senate and Citizens. The emperor became known as ‘Augustus’, which meant ‘majestic’ or ‘venerable’. By 23 AD Augustus was granted the title pater patriae (father of the country). The emperor was considered to be the voice of Jupiter on earth. He had to run the government with the help of a senate and he had to attend meetings at least twice a month. He was also expected to listen to the public’s opinions. Although the emperor’s powers were vast, he was also heavily scrutinized by the Senate and citizens.
Imperial Rome faced many challenges. The first invasion took place in 35 BC when Parthia (a region in Persia) took over Armenia. The second invasion happened in 21 BC when Germany attacked Gaul. In AD 9, Spain declared war on Rome, but this was successfully defended by Germanicus (adopted son of Augustus) and his nephew Tiberius (son of Livia). In AD 5, the Rhine River was breached by Teutoburg Forest where three legions were ambushed.
Eventually, the empire was split in two – the Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire, which is also known as the Byzantine Empire. The Western Roman Empire fell in 476 AD to Germanic invaders led by Odoacer. The Eastern Roman Empire lasted until 1453 when the Ottoman Turks conquered its last city, Constantinople.
Legacy of Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome has left many legacies for us to remember it by. One of these legacies is its architectural wonders that are still visible to this day. Some of the most famous examples are the Colosseum, Pantheon and Forum. The Colosseum is an elliptical amphitheatre located in the centre of Rome, Italy. It could hold around 50,000 people when it opened in 80 AD. Historical fights and executions took place here for many centuries before it became a Christian shrine during the medieval period.
The Pantheon is an ancient temple built under Augustus’s reign between 27 BC and 25 BC dedicated to all Roman deities. The dome is still one of the largest concrete domes in the world and can be seen from miles away.
The Forum was the centre of ancient Rome and it was a meeting area as well as an open-air market. This is where elections would be held and people would come to discuss. Much of it has been excavated and can still be visited today.
Another legacy that Ancient Rome has left us with is its culture. Many traditions and stories have been passed down to us from ancient Rome, including the legendary story of Aeneas (founder of Rome). We also get many phrases from Ancient Greece, such as ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, ‘Carpe diem’ (seize the day) and ‘Veni, vidi, vici’ (I came, I saw, I conquered).
More Facts About Ancient Rome
1. Rome was a republic where power was divided between two consuls, two censors and an eruptive assembly of citizens.
2. Romans were a superstitious people that had many religious festivals, including the Saturnalia, which marked the end of winter in December by celebrating with friends and family.
3. The government of Rome was very sophisticated for a civilization that existed before Christianity spread across Europe in the late Roman empire’s rule over Britain and Ireland — the Romans ran one of the first welfare systems in history after they conquered Carthage (a city on what is now Tunisia) because they experienced sudden growth due to their military conquest there. The government also made a census in 7 BC to keep track of the population, size of the army and taxable wealth to gather taxes.
4. At first, the Roman Empire was ruled by a king who had an advisory council made up of his relatives. Later on, it was ruled by two consuls who each had equal power and could veto decisions made by the other. The government also had Senate which worked like a big advisory council to decide what laws to make and which foreign leaders to ally with or declare war upon.
5. The Roman Legion was one of the most disciplined fighting forces in history because they were organized in regiments and battalions with battalions being lead by centurions (battle captains). It took seven years for an ordinary soldier to become a centurion. Roman soldiers were also very well fed, and they spent most of their time training and getting ready for war rather than working on farms like most people did at the time.
6. The Empire kept its borders safe with the help of its military strongholds, watchtowers and reconnaissance posts throughout its border areas. It also had garrisons with soldiers who served in the Empire’s army stationed at many forts throughout Britain to make sure peace was kept in the area. The Roman Empire also had a good military intelligence system that sent spies to enemy civilizations to gather information about their military strengths and weaknesses so that Rome could plan how to attack them best.
7. The Roman Empire had a large army that was organized in centuries (a century is 100 soldiers). There were ten centuries in a cohort (a cohort is 1,000 soldiers). Each century was made up of 10 maniples (a maniple is 50 soldiers). A maniple has two centurions. They also had 17 legions which were organized with 4,200-foot soldiers.
8. Ancient Roman coliseum “The Circus Maximus” was enormous and could accommodate up to 150,000 spectators
The Circus Maximus is one of the most iconic buildings of ancient Rome. With a diameter of almost 400 meters and an incredibly long track, the Circus Maximus was able to accommodate up to 150,000 spectators at any given time during the great tournaments or chariot races.
The Romans were staunch supporters of entertainment in any form; it was thanks to their enthusiasm that such a large stadium was built in Rome, which at that time had over 1 million inhabitants.
9. Education helped the Romans to develop one of the first writing systems that used letters instead of pictures to represent words and numbers as well as how to make maps and charts so they could keep track of things like taxes they collected from their citizens. The Romans also invented concrete, cement and public toilets which they called latrines.
10. People in the Roman Empire loved to play sports. They played a game of catch called furcula latrunculorum.The Roman version of chess was called latrunculi (meaning battle for two points), and it was a game where players had to capture two points on the opponent’s board before they could win. It is thought that this game influenced modern-day checkers, a game played on a checker board with 16 squares on each side. The people in Rome also enjoyed watching chariot races, horse racing, swimming and boxing contests as well as wrestling matches.
11. The Roman Empire also had many great artists including painters, potters, architects (which means a person who designs buildings), sculptors and writers. Many of the ancient Romans were buried in tombs which were underground and full of treasures like jewels, glassware and tools.
12. The city of Rome was established over 2,500 years ago. It is the modern-day capital of Italy, but it’s built on the same site as ancient Rome. Visitors to the city can see many original Roman structures such as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
13. People refer to the fall of Western Rome as the beginning of the “Dark Ages” in Europe
The fall of the Western Roman Empire is often referred to as the start of the “Dark Ages” in Europe. This can be attributed to a number of factors, including climate change, barbarian invasions, and economic instability. In addition to this, Rome also experienced political turmoil that led to instability and poor leadership that created an unstable empire. Although it’s difficult to pinpoint one reason for why Rome fell into decline, what is clear is that its downfall led Europe into a period of intellectual and cultural stagnation.
14. The consul was the highest position in the Roman Republic. Rome was a republic, meaning that citizens elected officials to represent them in government. There were two consuls at any given time and both of them were needed to make sure each other didn’t become too powerful. In theory, the consuls had power over everything and they had to share it with their colleagues because the Roman people didn’t want to allow for just one person to have too much power.
15. The Romans’ native tongue was Latin, but they also favored speaking in Greek.
Their mother tongue was Latin, but many of them spoke Greek as well.
Roman citizens’ native language is Latin but many also speak Ancient Greek.
The primary language spoken by the Romans up until around 400 CE was Latin, which is still used today in a handful of Catholic countries like Vatican City.