Ancient Rome

Territories of the Roman civilization:
A fresco from Pompeii depicting the foundation of Rome. Sol riding in his chariot; Mars descending from the sky to Rhea Silvia lying in the grass; Mercury shows to Venus the she-wolf suckling the twins; in the lower corners of the picture: river-god Tiberinus and water-goddess Juturna. 35-45 CE
Territories of the Roman civilization:
According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BC by Romulus and Remus, who were raised by a she-wolf
Etruscan painting; dancer and musicians, Tomb of the Leopards, in Tarquinia, Italy
This bust from the Capitoline Museums is traditionally identified as a portrait of Lucius Junius Brutus, Roman bronze sculpture, 4th to late 3rd centuries BC
Italy (as defined by today's borders) in 400 BC.
One of the most famous Roman sieges was that of the Celtiberian stronghold of Numantia in present north-central Spain by Scipio Aemilianus in 133 BC
Roman bronze bust of an unknown man, traditionally identified as Scipio Africanus the Elder from the Naples National Archaeological Museum (Inv. No. 5634), dated to mid 1st century BC Excavated from the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum by Karl Jakob Weber, 1750–65
Gaius Marius, a Roman general and politician who dramatically reformed the Roman military
Portrait bust formerly identified as Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Landing of the Romans in Kent, 55 BC: Caesar with 100 ships and two legions made an opposed landing, probably near Deal. After pressing a little way inland against fierce opposition and losing ships in a storm, he retired back across the English Channel to Gaul from what was a reconnaissance in force, only to return the following year for a more serious invasion.
The Battle of Actium, by Laureys a Castro, painted 1672, National Maritime Museum, London
The Augustus of Prima Porta, 1st century AD, depicting Augustus, the first Roman emperor
Extent of the Roman Empire under Augustus. The yellow legend represents the extent of the Republic in 31 BC, the shades of green represent gradually conquered territories under the reign of Augustus, and pink areas on the map represent client states; areas under Roman control shown here were subject to change even during Augustus' reign, especially in Germania.
Bust of Vespasian, founder of the Flavian dynasty
The Roman Empire reached its greatest extent under Trajan in AD 117
The Justice of Trajan (fragment) by Eugène Delacroix
Map showing the location of Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall in Scotland and Northern England
The Pantheon, Rome, built during the reign of Hadrian, which still contains the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world
The Severan Tondo, c. 199, Severus, Julia Domna, Caracalla and Geta, whose face is erased
Bust of Caracalla from the Capitoline Museums, Rome
The Roman Empire suffered internal schisms, forming the Palmyrene Empire and the Gallic Empire
A Roman follis depicting the profile of Diocletian
The Aula Palatina of Trier, Germany (then part of the Roman province of Gallia Belgica), a Christian basilica built during the reign of Constantine I (r. 306–337 AD)
The Roman Forum, the political, economic, cultural, and religious center of the city during the Republic and later Empire
The Orator, c. 100 BC, an Etrusco-Roman bronze statue depicting Aule Metele (Latin: Aulus Metellus), an Etruscan man wearing a Roman toga while engaged in rhetoric; the statue features an inscription in the Etruscan language
Representation of a sitting of the Roman Senate: Cicero attacks Catilina, from a 19th-century fresco
Modern replica of lorica segmentata–type armor, worn in conjunction with the chainmail popular after the 1st century AD
Roman tower (reconstruction) at Limes – Taunus / Germany
Altar of Domitius Ahenobarbus, c. 122 BC; the altar shows two Roman infantrymen equipped with long scuta and a cavalryman with his horse. All are shown wearing chain mail armour.
A Roman naval bireme depicted in a relief from the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia in Praeneste (Palastrina), which was built c. 120 BC; exhibited in the Pius-Clementine Museum (Museo Pio-Clementino) in the Vatican Museums.
Workers at a cloth-processing shop, in a painting from the fullonica of Veranius Hypsaeus in Pompeii
View of Trajan's Market, built by Apollodorus of Damascus
A gold glass portrait of a family from Roman Egypt. The Greek inscription on the medallion may indicate either the name of the artist or the pater familias who is absent in the portrait.
The seven hills of Rome
Punishment of Ixion: in the center is Mercury holding the caduceus and on the right Juno sits on her throne. Behind her Iris stands and gestures. On the left is Vulcan (blond figure) standing behind the wheel, manning it, with Ixion already tied to it. Nephele sits at Mercury's feet; a Roman fresco from the eastern wall of the triclinium in the House of the Vettii, Pompeii, Fourth Style (60–79 AD).
Frescoes from the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii, Italy, Roman artwork dated to the mid-1st century BC
Woman playing a kithara, from the Villa Boscoreale, 40–30 BC
A boy holding a platter of fruits and what may be a bucket of crabs, in a kitchen with fish and squid, on the June panel from a mosaic depicting the months (3rd century)
Mosaic of "Big Game" hunters, Sicily, 4th century AD
Gladiator combat was strictly a spectator sport. This mosaic shows combatants and referee, from the villa at Nennig, Germany, c. 2nd–3rd century AD.
The "bikini girls" mosaic, showing women playing sports, from the Villa Romana del Casale, Roman province of Sicilia (Sicily), 4th century AD
Pont du Gard in France is a Roman aqueduct built in c. 19 BC. It is a World Heritage Site.
The Appian Way (Via Appia), a road connecting the city of Rome to the southern parts of Italy, remains usable even today
A vomitorium at the Roman amphitheatre in Trier

In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilization from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 BC), Roman Republic (509–27 BC) and Roman Empire (27 BC–476 AD) until the fall of the western empire.

- Ancient Rome

500 related topics


Western Europe

Western region of Europe.

Schism of 1054 (East–West Schism) in Christianity, the predominant religion in Europe at the time
Political spheres of influence in Europe during the Cold War; neutral countries (shaded gray or light blue) considered informally Western-oriented but not formally aligned to the West
Former Western European Union – its members and associates
WEOG member and observer states
European climate. The Köppen-Geiger climates map is presented by the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia and the Global Precipitation Climatology Center of the Deutscher Wetterdienst.

Prior to the Roman conquest, a large part of Western Europe had adopted the newly developed La Tène culture.

Classical antiquity

The Parthenon is one of the most recognizable symbols of the classical era, exemplifying ancient Greek culture.
Map of Phoenician (in yellow) and Greek colonies (in red) around 8th to 6th century BC
Etruscan civilization in north of Italy, 800 BC.
Delian League ("Athenian Empire"), right before the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC
The extent of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in 218 BC (dark red), 133 BC (light red), 44 BC (orange), 14 AD (yellow), after 14 AD (green), and maximum extension under Trajan 117 (light green)
The extent of the Roman Empire under Trajan, AD 117
The Western and Eastern Roman Empires by 476
The Byzantine Empire in 650 after the Arabs conquered the provinces of Syria and Egypt. At the same time early Slavs settled in the Balkans.
Plato and Aristotle walking and disputing. Detail from Raphael's The School of Athens (1509–1511)

Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 6th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome known as the Greco-Roman world.

Greco-Roman world

The Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, construction started by Athenian tyrants in the 6th century BC and completed by Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD
Roman Theatre of Mérida, Spain.
A map of the ancient world centered on Greece.

The Greco-Roman world (also Greco-Roman culture; spelled Graeco-Roman in the Commonwealth), as understood by modern scholars and writers, includes the geographical regions and countries that culturally—and so historically—were directly and intimately influenced by the language, culture, government and religion of the Greeks and Romans.

Ancient Roman architecture

The Roman Pantheon
Dome of the Pantheon, inner view
Palladian Stowe House, by William Kent
Frigidarium of Baths of Diocletian, today Santa Maria degli Angeli
Close-up view of the wall of the Roman shore fort at Burgh Castle, Norfolk, showing alternating courses of flint and brickwork.
The St. George Rotunda (4th century) and remains of Serdica, Sofia, Bulgaria
Example of opus caementicium on a tomb on the ancient Appian Way in Rome. The original covering has been removed.
The Temple of Claudius to the south (left) of the Colosseum (model of Imperial Rome at the Museo della civiltà romana in Rome)
Model of the 1st century Philippopolis (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) in the Roman period created by arch. Matey Mateev
The Amphitheatre of Pompeii, built around 70 BC and buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius 79 AD, once hosted spectacles with gladiators
Northern aisle of the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome
The Aula Palatina of Trier, Germany (then part of the Roman province of Gallia Belgica), built during the reign of Constantine I (r. 306–337 AD)
The Roman Forum
The Horrea Epagathiana et Epaphroditiana, a horreum in Ostia (Rome), Italy, built c. 145–150 AD
Insula in Ostia Antica
The Tower of Hercules, a Roman lighthouse in Spain
"Roman Baroque" Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek, Lebanon
The Temple of Hercules Victor, Rome, built in the mid-2nd century BC, most likely by Lucius Mummius Achaicus, who won the Achaean War.
The Temple of Portunus, god of grain storage, keys, livestock and ports. Rome, built between 120 and 80 BC
Roman Theatre (Mérida), Spain
Villa of the Mysteries just outside Pompeii, seen from above
The capital of Trajan's Column, Rome
Gardens in Conimbriga, Portugal
The Arch of Titus in Rome, an early Roman imperial triumphal arch with a single archway
The Arch of Augustus in Rimini (Ariminum), dedicated to Augustus by the Roman Senate in 27 BC, the oldest surviving Roman triumphal arch
The Appian way
The Pont du Gard, near Vers-Pont-du-Gard, France
Puente Romano over the Guadiana River at Mérida, Spain
The Basilica Cistern in Constantinople provided water for the Imperial Palace.
Roman walls of Lugo, Spain
The Centaur mosaic (2nd-century), found at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, Italy. Altes Museum, Berlin
Hypocaust in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France
Inside the "Temple of Mercury" at Baiae, a swimming pool for a Roman bath, dating to the late Roman Republic, and containing one of the largest domes in the world before the building of the Pantheon
The Baths of Caracalla
Canopo at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli, Italy
Verona Arena at dawn
Hadrian's Wall, built in 122 AD in Roman Britain, in what is now Northern England

Ancient Roman architecture adopted the external language of classical Greek architecture for the purposes of the ancient Romans, but was different from Greek buildings, becoming a new architectural style.

Roman aqueduct

The multiple arches of the Pont du Gard in Roman Gaul (modern-day southern France). The upper tier encloses an aqueduct that carried water to Nimes in Roman times; its lower tier was expanded in the 1740s to carry a wide road across the river.
Map of Rome's aqueducts
Detailed map
Map showing aqueducts' sources
Parco degli Acquedotti, a park in Rome named after the aqueducts that run through it
Ruins of the Aqua Anio Vetus, a Roman aqueduct built in 272 BC
Galería de los Espejos (Gallery of Mirrors), a tunnelled part of a 25 km Roman aqueduct built during the 1st century AD near Albarracín (Spain)
The water conduit of the Tarragona Aqueduct, Spain. It would formerly have been slab-topped, not open
The arches of an elevated section of the Roman provincial Aqueduct of Segovia, in modern Spain.
Catchment basin of the aqueduct of Metz, France. The single arched cover protects two channels; either one could be closed off, allowing repair while the other continued to provide at least partial supply
Urban distribution tank at Nîmes, France. Circular section pipes radiate from a central reservoir, fed by a square-sectioned aqueduct.
Roman stopcock, bronze. Uncertain date
A standing section of the ruined Aqua Anio Novus near Tivoli, built in 52 AD
Aqueduct arcade near Belgrade in Ottoman Serbia, painted by Luigi Mayer
Rock-cut aqueduct feeding water to the mining site at Las Médulas
Map of the gold mine at Dolaucothi, showing its aqueducts
A portion of the Eifel Aqueduct, Germany, built in 80 AD. Its channel is narrowed by an accretion of calcium carbonate, accumulated through lack of maintenance.

The Romans constructed aqueducts throughout their Republic and later Empire, to bring water from outside sources into cities and towns.

Direct democracy

Form of democracy in which the electorate decides on policy initiatives without elected representatives as proxies.

A Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus, on 7 May 2006, Switzerland.
In Switzerland, with no need to register, every citizen receives the ballot papers and information brochure for each vote and election and can return it by post. Switzerland has various directly democratic instruments; votes are organized about four times a year. Here, the papers received by every Berne's citizen in November 2008 about five national, two cantonal, four municipal referendums, and two elections (government and parliament of the City of Berne) of 23 competing parties to take care of at the same time.
Practicing direct democracy – voting on Nuit Debout, Place de la République, Paris

Also relevant to the history of direct democracy is the history of Ancient Rome, specifically during the Roman Republic, traditionally founded around 509 BC. Rome displayed many aspects of democracy, both direct and indirect, from the era of Roman monarchy all the way to the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Roman Kingdom

The ancient quarters of Rome
A map of Rome in 753 BC. Colours show topography, with green lowlands and brown highlands. The Latin names of hills are included in all caps.
Growth of the city region during the kingdom
A map of the City of the Four Regions, roughly corresponding to the city limits during the later kingdom. The division is traditionally, though probably incorrectly, attributed to Servius Tullius. The seven hills of Rome are shown in green, with Latin names.
The Capitoline Brutus, an ancient Roman bust from the Capitoline Museums is traditionally identified as a portrait of Lucius Junius Brutus

The Roman Kingdom (also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome) was the earliest period of Roman history when the city and its territory were ruled by kings.

Ancient Carthage

Settlement in modern Tunisia that later became a city-state and then an empire.

Carthage and its dependencies in 264 BC
The suicide of Queen Dido, by Claude-Augustin Cayot (1667–1722)
Carthage and its dependencies in 264 BC
Coin from Tarentum, in southern Italy, during the occupation by Hannibal (c. 212–209 BC). ΚΛΗ above, ΣΗΡΑΜ/ΒΟΣ below, nude youth on horseback right, placing a laurel wreath on his horse's head; ΤΑΡΑΣ, Taras riding dolphin left, holding trident in right hand, aphlaston in his left hand.
Eurasia and Africa (c. 323 BC).
Routes taken against Rome and Carthage in the Pyrrhic War (280–275 BC).
Carthage in 323 BC
Benjamin West (1738-1820) - Hamilcar and The Oath of Hannibal
Bardo National Museum Statue of the Carthaginian goddess Tanit, the goddess of motherhood
Hannibal Barca counting the rings of the Roman knights killed at the Battle of Cannae (216 BC), by Sébastien Slodtz (1704). Gardens of the Tuileries, Louvre Museum. Hannibal is regarded as one of the most brilliant military strategists in history.
Former Carthaginian port
Punic mask to exorcise evil spirits

Founded by the Phoenicians in the ninth century BC, it was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC, who later rebuilt the city lavishly.

Roman people

Ethnicity' or a nationality,' that in classical antiquity, from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD, came to rule the Near East, North Africa, and large parts of Europe through conquests made during the Roman Republic and the later Roman Empire.

Border changes of the Roman state from the 6th century BC to the 15th century AD
Six of the Fayum mummy portraits, contemporary portraits of people in Roman Egypt from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD
Coin of Emperor Constantine II ((r. undefined – undefined)337–340), depicting the emperor on horseback, trampling two barbarians (right)
Relief from the Arch of Titus depicting Romans looting the Temple in Jerusalem
A late Republican banquet scene in a fresco from Herculaneum, Italy, c. undefined 50 BC
The Roman Empire in AD 117, at its greatest extent
Egyptian relief depicting Emperor Trajan ((r. undefined – undefined)98–117; right) as a pharaoh
4th-century portrait of a woman from Roman Egypt
Late Roman soldiers, possibly of barbarian origin, as depicted in a relief by Emperor Theodosius I ((r. undefined – undefined)379–395)
Consular diptych of Rufius Gennadius Probus Orestes, a Roman consul appointed during the time that Rome was under Ostrogothic rule
The 6th-century reconquests of Emperor Justinian I (in yellow)
Personifications of (from left to right) the Slavic, German, Gallic (French) and Roman peoples, depicted as bringing gifts to Holy Roman Emperor Otto III
Coin of the Vandal king Hilderic ((r. undefined – undefined) 523–530). The reverse depicts a personification of Carthage and is inscribed Felix Karthago ("fortunate Carthage").
Coin depicting emperors Constans II ((r. undefined – undefined)641–668) and Constantine IV ((r. undefined – undefined)668–685). The coin is inscribed with the Latin phrase Deus adiuta Romanis ("May God help the Romans").
15th-century miniature depicting Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos ((r. undefined – undefined)1391–1425) and his family. The text titles him as "Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans" and "forever Augustus".
Ottoman Greeks in Constantinople, painted by Luigi Mayer (1755–1803)
Proclamation of the Roman Republic in 1849 in Piazza del Popolo, Rome
Language map of Switzerland, with Romansh in green and French (Romandy) in blue

Many modern historians tend to have a preferred idea of what being Roman meant, so-called Romanitas, but this was a term rarely used in Ancient Rome itself.' Like all identities, the identity of 'Roman' was flexible, dynamic and multi-layered,' and never static or unchanging.' Given that Rome was a geographically vast and chronologically long-lived state, there is no simple definition of what being Roman meant and definitions were inconsistent already in antiquity.' Nevertheless, some elements remained common throughout much of Roman history.

Roman Republic

Roman provinces on the eve of the assassination of Julius Caesar, 44 BC
The "Capitoline Brutus", a bust possibly depicting Lucius Junius Brutus, who led the revolt against Rome's last king and was a founder of the Republic.
Roman provinces on the eve of the assassination of Julius Caesar, 44 BC
Map showing Roman expansion in Italy.
The Temple of Hercules Victor, Rome, built in the mid 2nd century BC, most likely by Lucius Mummius Achaicus, who won the Achaean War.
Pyrrhus' route in Italy and Sicily.
Bust of Pyrrhus, found in the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, now in the Naples Archaeological Museum. Pyrrhus was a brave and chivalrous general who fascinated the Romans, explaining his presence in a Roman house.
Coin of Hiero II of Syracuse.
The Roman Republic before the First Punic War.
Diagram of a corvus.
Denarius of C. Caecilius Metellus Caprarius, 125 BC. The reverse depicts the triumph of his great-grandfather Lucius, with the elephants he had captured at Panormos. The elephant had thence become the emblem of the powerful Caecilii Metelli.
Principal offensives of the war: Rome (red), Hannibal (green), Hasdrubal (purple).
A Carthaginian quarter shekel, perhaps minted in Spain. The obverse may depict Hannibal under the traits of young Melqart. The reverse features one of his famous war elephants.
Roman marble bust of Scipio Africanus, found in the Tomb of the Scipios.
Scene of the Battle of Corinth (146 BC): last day before the Roman legions looted and burned the Greek city of Corinth. The last day on Corinth, Tony Robert-Fleury, 1870.
Bust, traditionally identified as Gaius Marius, instigator of the Marian reforms.
Denarius of Faustus Cornelius Sulla, 56 BC. It shows Diana on the obverse, while the reverse depicts Sulla being offered an olive branch by his ally Bocchus I. Jugurtha is shown captive on the right.
A Roman marble head of Pompey (now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek)
Map of the Gallic Wars
The Tusculum portrait, a Roman sculpture of Julius Caesar, Archaeological Museum of Turin, Italy
The Curia Julia, the senate house started by Julius Caesar in 44 BC and completed by Octavian in 29 BC, replacing the Curia Cornelia as the meeting place of the Senate.
The Roman Forum, the commercial, cultural, religious, and political center of the city and the Republic which housed the various offices and meeting places of the government
Detail from the Ahenobarbus relief showing (centre-right) two Roman foot-soldiers c. 122 BC. Note the Montefortino-style helmets with horsehair plume, chain mail cuirasses with shoulder reinforcement, oval shields with calfskin covers, gladius and pilum.
Roman warrior, fresco in Pompeii, ca. 80—20 BC
A Roman naval bireme depicted in a relief from the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia in Praeneste, c. 120 BC; now in the Museo Pio-Clementino in the Vatican Museums
Temple of Janus as seen in the present church of San Nicola in Carcere, in the Forum Holitorium of Rome, Italy, dedicated by Gaius Duilius after his naval victory at the Battle of Mylae in 260 BC
An inscribed funerary relief of Aurelius Hermia and his wife Aurelia Philematum, former slaves who married after their manumission, 80 BC, from a tomb along the Via Nomentana in Rome
The "Togatus Barberini", depicting a Roman senator holding the imagines (effigies) of deceased ancestors in his hands; marble, late 1st century BC; head (not belonging): mid 1st century BC
Ruins of the Aqua Anio Vetus, a Roman aqueduct built in 272 BC
The Temple of Portunus, god of grain storage, keys, livestock and ports. Rome, built between 120 and 80 BC
The tomb of the Flavii, a necropolis outside the Nucerian gate (Porta Nocera) of Pompeii, Italy, constructed 50–30 BC
Denarius of Lucius Caesius, 112–111 BC. On the obverse is Apollo, as written on the monogram behind his head, who also wears the attributes of Vejovis, an obscure deity. The obverse depicts a group of statues representing the Lares Praestites, which was described by Ovid.
Inside the "Temple of Mercury" at Baiae, a swimming pool for a Roman bath, built during the late Roman Republic, and containing one of the largest domes in the world before the building of the Pantheon
Denarius of Caesar, minted just before his murder, in 44 BC. It was the first Roman coin bearing the portrait of a living person. The lituus and culullus depicted behind his head refer to his augurate and pontificate. The reverse with Venus alludes to his claimed descent from the goddess.
The ruins of the Servian Wall, built during the 4th century BC, one of the earliest ancient Roman defensive walls
The Orator, c. 100 BC, an Etrusco-Roman statue of a Republican senator, wearing toga praetexta and senatorial shoes; compared to the voluminous, costly, impractical togas of the Imperial era, the Republican-era type is frugal and "skimpy" (exigua).
Banquet scene, fresco, Herculaneum, Italy, c. 50 BC
The Amphitheatre of Pompeii, built around 70 BC and buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius 79 AD, once hosted spectacles with gladiators.

The Roman Republic (Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public representation of the Roman people.