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 North 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 Marian reforms of 107 BC were a group of military reforms initiated by Gaius Marius, a statesman and general of the Roman republic. Up until the last decade of the second century BC the eligibility to become a Roman soldier in the service of the Republic were very strict.

When war threatened, the consuls of the day would be charged with the duty of recruiting an army from the eligible citizenry of the Republic. As a rule one of the consuls would lead this mainly volunteer army into battle. As can be imagined, not all elected consuls were adept at leading an army. For example, in the year 113 BC the consul Gnaeus Papirius Carbo was defeated at the Battle of Noreia by invading tribes of the Cimbri and the Teutons, losing all but 20,000 men out of an army of 200,000. This disaster was followed by a protracted war in Africa against King Jugurtha of Numidia.

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Gaius Gracchus (154 BC – 121 BC), a tribune of the people, presiding over the Plebeian Council. When presiding, the tribune could make motions and propose laws to the council.

Gaius Gracchus (154 BC – 121 BC), a tribune of the people, presiding over the Plebeian Council. When presiding, the tribune could make motions and propose laws to the council.

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Tiberius Caesar Augustus, born Tiberius Claudius Nero (November 16, 42 BC – March 16 AD 37), was the second Roman Emperor, from the death of Augustus in AD 14 until his own death in 37. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced his father and was remarried to Octavian Augustus in 39 BC. Tiberius would later marry Augustus' daughter Julia the Elder (from an earlier marriage) and even later be adopted by Augustus and by this act he became a Julian. The subsequent emperors after Tiberius would continue this blended dynasty of both families for the next forty years; historians have named it the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

Tiberius Claudius Nero is recognized as one of Rome's greatest generals, whose campaigns in Pannonia, Illyricum, Rhaetia and Germania laid the foundations for the northern frontier.

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  • ...That according to Suetonius, Caligula "often sent for men whom he had secretly killed, as though they were still alive, and remarked offhandedly a few days later that they must have committed suicide"?
  • ...That Mark Antony, who avenged Julius Caesar, was killed by Julius Caesar's grand nephew (Octavian) Augustus Caesar?
  • ...That Sulla's grave read No friend ever surpassed him in kindness, and no enemy in ill-doing?

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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
  • LacusCurtius: Into the Roman World
  • Livius. Articles on ancient history (Livius.org)
  • Ouvrage de référence sur l'antiquité
  • Perseus Digital Library
  • The Stoa (stoa.org)
  • Women's History Resource Site
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