Portal:Ancient Rome

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Ancient Rome was a civilization which began as a small agricultural community on the Italian Peninsula in the 8th century BC. Rome became a large empire which straddled the Mediterranean Sea. In its twelve centuries of existence, Roman civilization was firstly a monarchy, then a republic that combined oligarchy and democracy, and finally became an autocratic empire. Through conquest and assimilation, it came to dominate Western Europe, the entire Mediterranean Basin including the Near East and Northern Africa, the Balkans, and the Black Sea.

The Roman empire went into decline in the 3rd century AD, and began to collapse in the 5th century AD. Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire, including Hispania, Gaul, and Italy, broke into independent kingdoms in the 5th century. The eastern part of the empire, governed from Constantinople, survived this crisis, and remained intact for another millennium, until its last remains were finally annexed by the emerging Ottoman Empire. This eastern, medieval stage of the Empire is usually referred to as the Byzantine Empire by historians.

Roman civilization was part of the period of classical antiquity, alongside ancient Greece—a civilization that inspired much of the culture of ancient Rome. Ancient Rome made significant contributions to the development of law, war, art, literature, architecture, technology, and language in the Western world, and its history continues to have a great influence on the world today.

Bust of Gaius Julius Caesar.
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The toga, a distinctive garment of Ancient Rome, was a sash of perhaps twenty feet (6 meters) in length which was wrapped around the body and was generally worn over a tunic. The toga was invariably made of wool, and the tunic underneath was often made of linen. For most of Rome's history, the toga was a garment worn exclusively by men, but in and after the 1st century BC, women were expected to wear the stola. Non-citizens were forbidden to wear a toga.

The toga was the earliest dress clothing of the Romans, a thick woollen cloak worn over a loincloth or apron. It was taken off indoors, or when hard at work in the fields, but it was the only decent attire out-of-doors. (We learn this from the story of Cincinnatus: he was ploughing in his field when the messengers of the Senate came to tell him that he had been made dictator, and on seeing them coming he sent his wife to fetch his toga from the house so that they could be received appropriately.

So important was the toga to Roman life that Augustus, upon seeing a meeting of citizens without the toga, quoting Virgil's lines, "Romanos, rerum dominos, gentemque togatam" ("Romans, lords of the world, the toga-wearing race") and ordered the aediles to deny entry to the Forum or Circus to any citizen without his toga.

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The Villa of the Mysteries (Italian: Villa dei Misteri) is a well preserved ruin of a Roman Villa which lies some 400 metres northwest of Pompeii, southern Italy. In this fresco from the villa, a Bacchian rite is depicted.

The Villa of the Mysteries (Italian: Villa dei Misteri) is a well preserved ruin of a Roman Villa which lies some 400 metres northwest of Pompeii, southern Italy. In this fresco from the villa, a Bacchian rite is depicted.

Photo credit: The Yorck Project

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Nero Glyptothek Munich 321.jpg
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (December 15, 37 – June 9, 68), born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, also called Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus, was the fifth and last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his grand-uncle Claudius to become heir to the throne. As Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus, he succeeded to the throne on October 13, 54, following Claudius' death.

Nero ruled from 54 CE to 68 CE. During his rule, Nero focused much of his attention on diplomacy, trade, and increasing the cultural capital of the empire. He ordered the building of theatres and promoted athletic games. His reign included a successful war and negotiated peace with the Parthian Empire (58–63), the suppression of the British revolt (60–61) and improving diplomatic ties with Greece.

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  • ...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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  • Ancient Library
  • Attalus. Sources for Greek & Roman history (attalus.org)
  • De Imperatoribus Romanis. An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors
  • Earth's Ancient History
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