Ancient Rome is an old civilization of Europe that emerged from the Italian Peninsular. This civilization started around 8th Century BC from the city of Rome and later transformed into an empire within few centuries. The Roman Empire divided in two parts in the 4th Century AD. Along with Ancient Greece, the civilization of Ancient Rome also laid the foundations of several modern ideologies in science & technology, politics, society etc. The views of Renaissance in the 14th Century were based on these two ancient civilizations.
There are four eras of this ancient civilization including; Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic, Roman Empire and the division of Roman Empire.
According to a myth, the city of Rome was founded by Romulus in the 8th Century BC and he was also the first king of the Roman Kingdom. There were total 7 rulers of this kingdom which lasted for more than 200 years and was later replaced by the Roman Republic in 509 BC. There is no written record of that time available and there is also no certainty about the events and personalities of that period. But modern historians believe that there was a kingdom in Rome which was overthrown by the Republic.
The Roman Republic was established around 509 BC after the fall of Roman Kingdom. During this system of government, a constitution was formed to put checks and balances on the authorities of state. The extension of Roman rule initially started during the era of Roman Republic.
The expansion of Roman Republic started in 338 BC when they occupied the central-western part of Italy after the Latin War. After the end of 3 Seminite Wars in 290 BC, they occupied the central part of Italian Peninsular. In 272 BC, they became rulers of the southern part of peninsular after their victory in the Pyrrhic War. Till 264 BC, the Romans also occupied the northern area of the Italian Peninsular.
In the 4th century, the Republic had to face the threat from powerful Celtic tribes of Gaul (central Europe and adjacent areas) who were expanding their rule. Around 390 BC, the two powers first engaged in the Battle of Allia where the Gauls remained victorious and Romans almost lost Rome. But after initial defeats, the Romans came back strongly and won the later major battles. The Battle of Mutina (193 BC) was the last battle between the two nations after which the area of Gaul (north of Italian Peninsular) became a province of Roman Republic.
Romans had to face the toughest resistance by the Carthagians in the 3rd Century BC. Carthage was based on modern-day Tunisia with its rule on all the areas adjacent to Mediterranean Sea including most of Sicily, southern Spain, coastal areas of North Africa, Sardinia and several smaller islands. Three wars were fought between the two great powers and they’re known as Punic Wars.
The First Punic War was fought between 264-241 BC. The Romans won that war and occupied whole of Sicily with that victory. The Second Punic War (218-201 BC) is known as the Hannibalic War due to the great Carthagian general Hannibal. After initial victories by Hannibal, Romans were later able to defeat the Carthagians in their counter-offensive and gained control of Iberia and few parts of northern Africa. From 149-146 BC, the third Punic War was fought in the Carthage mainland Tunisia. The war ended with Roman victory and complete destruction of Carthage Empire.
From 214 to 148 BC, the Roman Republic fought four wars against Macedon. The Romans won all these wars and conquered Macedon (Hellenistic Greece) at the end of these wars. The Romans fought against the north-African Berber kingdom of Numidia from 112-106 BC known as the Jugurthine War. Victory in this war ended problems for Romans from Africa. From 113-101 BC, the Roman Republic had to fight the Cimbrian War in the southern and central Europe against the Germanic tribes who migrated from Denmark. After initial defeats, Romans were able to beat their opponents completely who threatened even their homeland. In 63 BC, Romans completely captured Anatolia (Turkey) after their victory in the Mithridatic Wars (three wars from 88-63 BC).
Famous Roman leader Julius Caesar fought Gallic Wars (58-50 BC) against the numerous Gallic tribes and victory in the wars helped them occupied whole of modern-day Belgium and France. During Gallic Wars, Caesar also attacked Britain in 55 and 54 BC. Romans set up a friendly king in Britain after their insignificant victory. Between 49-45 BC, the Great Roman Civil War was fought between Julius Caesar against Roman Senate led by Pompey. Caesar became victorious in the war. Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC by a group of senators.
After Caesar’s murder, his supporters Mark Antony (Marcus Antonius), Octavius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus jointly ruled the Roman Republic for ten years (43-33 BC). After legal formation of their government, they killed all the senators who allegedly support the assassination of Caesar. In October 42 BC, the new rulers defeated and killed the assassins of Caesar in the Battle of Philippi. Differences emerged between Octavian and Antony after 34 BC due to Antony’s marriage to famous Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra VII and his extra favor to her. In 31 BC, Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra in the Battle of Actium. Both Cleopatra and Antony committed suicide and Octavian became the sole ruler of Roman Republic. In 27 BC, Octavian adopted the name of Augustus (majestic) and this event is marked as the beginning of Roman Empire.
Julian-Claudian dynasty was the first dynasty of Roman Empire. There were total five rulers in this dynasty from Augustus to Nero. This dynasty lasted from 27 BC to 68 AD and ended with the death of Nero by suicide after several revolts and conspiracies against him.
The 2nd dynasty of Roman Empire was the Flavian dynasty. There were three rulers in this dynasty including; Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. This dynasty lasted from 69 AD to 96 AD and ended with the murder of Domitian.
Nerva-Antonine dynasty was the third dynasty of Roman Empire. The Empire reached its peak during that dynasty while controlling huge areas of Europe, North Africa and western Asia. This period is also known for internal peace and economic prosperity. This dynasty lasted from 96 AD to 192 AD. There were total 6 emperors during that period from Nerva to Commodus while Trajan was the most famous and successful ruler. Except for Commodus, the initial five rulers are known as Five Good Emperors. This dynasty ended with the death (murder) of Commodus.
Severan dynasty was the last dynasty of Roman Empire. The dynasty started in 193 AD with the empowerment of Septimus Severus while Alexander Severus was the last emperor of this dynasty who died in 235 AD. By that time, the Romans have to suffer heavy losses against the Parthians in the east and Germanic tribes in the north. Alexander was killed by his own army who were unhappy with his failures while indiscipline attitude in military was also prevalent at that time.
After the death of Alexander, a crisis emerged in Roman Empire which is known as the Crisis of the 3rd Century. During that period, the Roman Empire was weakened by external attacks, internal conflicts, political instability, poor economic conditions etc. Due to this situation, the Roman eastern areas of Levant, Egypt and Asia Minor separated into Palmyrene Empire while the western European areas formed separate Gallic Empire, both in 260 AD. But the situation reversed a bit as the Roman emperor Aurelian re-conquered Palmyrene and Gallic empires till 275 AD.
Diocletian became emperor in 284 AD and his rule lasted till 305 AD. His rule is known as the last effort to restore the glory of Roman Empire. He expelled the Persians from Syria and divided the empire into four parts with different emperors, known as Tetrarchy. He was also severe against the new emerging Christian faith while the religion of Romans was Roman Mythoology. In 303 AD, he persecuted Christians, destroyed churches and burned the scriptures.
Division of Roman Empire
In 306 AD, Constantine took over as the emperor of Roman Empire. He stopped the persecution of Christians and later also himself accepted Christianity and started the Christianization of Rome. He made Constantinople (now Istanbul) as the new capital of empire while the Roman Empire divided into two parts in 330 AD, Western Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire). The Western Roman Empire lasted till 476 AD when the king of Germanic Tribes occupied their capital while the Byzantine Empire collapsed in 1453 AD when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Empire.