753 B.C., the city of Rome was founded, on theTiber River , in
what is now central Italy.
The mythological story of the ancestry of Rome tells of a
manAeneas , the son of a king and the goddess Aphrodite.
During the Trojan war (1194-1184BC), a war between the Greeks
and the Trojans in the city of Troy, he was under the command of
prince Hector, prince of the Trojans. He was removed from the war
so he could be the new leader of the Trojans someday, but when Troy
was destroyed he left to find a new home.
Aeneas went through a series of adventures trying to find a
place to settle with his fellow Trojans. They encountered Harpies
and bleeding bogs. At the urging of Juno, Aeneas and his companions
were attacked by the god of the winds Aeolus. There were then
protected by Neptune. who keep them from being shipwrecked and from
other perils. Finally Aeneas arrived in Carthage where Cupid
disguised himself as the son of Aeneas and influenced the Queen
Dido to fall in love with Aeneas. Aeneas did fall in love with
Dido. Mercury, the messenger of the gods, was sent to visit Aeneas
twice to remind him of his destiny and to get him to break away
from Dido, after which Aeneas resumed his journey to his new
After landing in Italy, Aeneas was tried to determine where to
settle. Aeneas visited Cumaean Sibyl, a prophetess who had access
to the underworld through a cave with a hundred openings. Sibyl
agreed to be the guide and directed Aeneas to take an item from a
nearby magical bough which was sacred to Proserpine, wife of Pluto.
Charon, the ferryman of the river Styx, allowed Aeneas to pass
because of the item from the magical bough. In the underworld,
Aeneas spoke to his father Achises and was told where to settle. He
returned from the underworld and sailed again to the Tiber River in
a land called Latium.
Aeneas, after beating a rival tribe who had been pitted against
him by Juno, began to rule the area where he settled. For twelve
generations the throne was passed peacefully down until the
thirteenth king, Numitor. Numitor was removed from the throne by
his own brother Amulius. Amulius tried to make sure that none of
Numitor's descendents could challenge him for the throne. Amulius
killed both of his nephews and appointed his niece Rhea Silvia a
Vestal Virgin. This position forced Rhea to stay a virgin, which
would eliminate any prospect of Numitor's children to challenge
Mars, the god of war and farming, became enamored with Rhea,
and depending on the account, seduced her. She became pregnant and
gave birth to two sons, Romulus and Remus. Amulius had Rhea
imprisoned. He put the two boys in a basket and tossed it into the
Tiber River. The boys were saved by their father Mars, who sent two
animals to feed them. A she wolf fed the boys until they were
discovered by a shepherd named Fausulaus. The boys were sheltered
by the shepherd and his wife until they had grown. The boys were
united with their grandfather Numitor, and they then planned
revenge on Amulius. The three, along with a band of shepherds,
stormed the palace and killed Amulius and restored Numitor to the
5. Romulus and Remes
After restoring Numitor to the throne,Romulus and Remusset out
to establish their own city with some of their shepherd followers.
They planned to establish the city on the banks of the Tiber where
they were discovered. The brothers began to argue over the city's
design and name. They decided to settle their dispute by seeking a
sign from the gods. They decided that who ever saw a flight of
vultures first would be the winner. Remus was positioned on
Aventine Hill, while Romulus was on Palentine Hill. Remus was the
first to see six vultures, while shortly after Romulus saw twelve
vultures. Remus claimed that he had won since he saw the birds
first. Romulus claimed that he had won the contest since he saw a
dozen of the birds. A fight broke out between their followers.
Remus was killed, and Romulus set himself up as ruler. He named the
Another version of the story has Romulus winning the contest
with the birds flying over the hill which he was on. When Romulus
began to build the walls of the city, Remus jumped over a walls.
Romulus was so insulted that he killed his brother and stated that
anyone who tries to come over the walls of his city would meet the
Romulus was the citys first ruler.
6. The 1 stRuler-Romulus
Romes first citizens were outlaws.
There wasnt enough women for all the men of the city. So, they
stole women from an Italian tribe called theSabines .
The Sabine men waged war against the Romans. However, the
stolen women loved the Romans and begged the fighting to stop. The
leader of the Sabine tribe wasTitus Tatiusand he joined Romulus as
the leader of the people until he was killed in battle.
In time, help and conquest blended and the Romans ran most of
7. Kings to a Republic
There were several kings of Rome. The last king wasTarquinthe
Proud, whose son, so the story goes, committing an act of injustice
upon the wife of a friend, stirred the citizens of Rome to a
revolution, in which they expelled their king and installed
Rome became arepublic(509BC). This meant that a group of
people, called theSenate , made the laws for the people of Rome.
(And the civilization this time had grown quite a bit, including
During this time Rome was only about 50 square miles. When Rome
was threatened they called upon a man named Cincinnatus to help out
Cincinnatuswas once a wealthy noble and highly respected from
the rulers and the people of the city. His son, however, got into
deep trouble and he had to spend all his money, including the money
of ten other men to bail him out of jail.
When one of the citys two consuls was killed, he was called
upon to be a consul. He restored order in the city and, as the end
of his term approached, the senate wanted to elect him for another
term. This was illegal and Cincinnatus pointedly refused. His term
complete, he returned to the farm.
When he was called upon from the attack from local enemies,
called Aequi, the army was away from the city and the only men left
in Rome were too old or too young.
On this occasion, the consuls were each leading one of the
armies, so Cincinnatus was elected directly by the senate. He was
aware that his absence from the farm meant the harvest would be
poor and his family would go hungry, but he considered his duty to
be more important.
Cincinnatus ordered the suspension of all business and for all
men of military age to gather, suitably provisioned. Everyone who
was too old to fight was to assist in gathering food for the
Having spoken words of encouragement to his rag-tag force,
Cincinnatus led them to the rescue of the Roman army, which had
been under attack for three days. Arriving at night, he sent his
men to surround the Aequi, digging a ditch all the way around them
and filling it with stakes to prevent an escape. He then ordered
his men to yell a fearsome Roman war cry to encourage their
brothers who were under attack, before attacking the enemy
The Aequi were taken by surprise and now had to fight two
armies at once. As they turned their focus from the newcomers to
the re-energised Roman army, Cincinnatus ordered his men to dig in
for the night. The following morning, they charged. The Aequi
surrendered almost immediately. Cincinnatus allowed the survivors
to disband, but took the leaders to Rome.
On his return, Cincinnatus was not surprisingly treated as a
hero. There were great celebrations, including a procession.
Cincinnatus then returned his powers. The leaders of the city even
offered to make him king but, to his enormous credit, he refused
and returned to his poor farm, also refusing offers from the senate
of land and the spoils of war.
Decades later, Cincinnatus was called upon once again. It was a
time of famine, and a wealthy Roman named Spurius Maelius was
providing corn extremely cheaply, or for free, to the poor. This
made him extremely popular with the lower classes but raised the
suspicions of the nobles, who suspected he might have kingly
He was thought to be keeping weapons in his home, so it was
decided to call Cincinnatus in as dictator again. He was over 80 at
the time, but accepted the call after initial hesitation.
Cincinnatus went in secret and ordered Maelius to be called before
a tribunal. Afraid, Maelius refused, and in the melee which
resulted was killed.
Although no-one could be certain Maelius had aimed to become
king, he was posthumously declared guilty of refusing the summons
of the dictator, which was a capital offence. Several plebians
(common citizens), believing Maelius to have been killed by
powerful interests, attempted to revolt, but failed. Cincinnatus
had them executed.
11. Life in the Republic
Rome was ruled by its aristocrats (roughly, thepatricians ) who
abused their privileges. This led to a struggle between the people
( plebeians ) and the aristocrats that is referred to as the
Conflict of the Orders, where "orders" means "plebeian" or
To help resolve the conflict, the patricians gave up most of
their privileges, but retained vestigial and religious ones. This
law was named for a plebeian dictator.
The result was theTwelve Tables , a set of laws carved into
rock so everyone would know what the laws were and to whom they
The 12 tablets were an important move in the direction of what
we would call equal rights for the plebeians, but there was still
much to do. The law against intermarriage between the classes was
repealed in 445. When the plebeians proposed that they should be
eligible for the highest office, the consulship, the Senate
wouldn't completely oblige, but instead created what we might call
a "separate, but equal" new office known asmilitary tribune with
consular power . This office effectively meant plebeians could
wield the same power as the patricians
12. Start of Punic Wars: Carthage
The greatest naval power of the Mediterranean in the third
century BC was the North African city of Carthage
While the Romans were steadily increasing their control over
the Italian peninsula, the Carthaginians were extending their
empire over most of North Africa.
Carthage was a formidable power; it controlled almost all the
commercial trade in the Mediterranean, had subjected vast numbers
of people all whom sent soldiers and supplies, and amassed
tremendous wealth from gold and silver mines in Spain.
Between Carthage and Italy lay the huge island of Sicily;
Carthage controlled the western half of Sicily, but the southern
tip of the Italian peninsula put the Romans within throwing
distance of the island. When the Sicilian city of Messana revolted
against the Carthaginians, the Romans intervened, and the first
Punic War erupted.
13. The First Punic War: 264-241 BC
The First Punic War broke out in 264 BC; it was concentrated
entirely on the island of Sicily. Rome overwhelmed many of the
Carthaginian cities on Sicily, and when Carthage attempted to raise
the siege with its navy, the Romans utterly destroyed that navy.
For the first time since the rise of the Carthaginian empire, they
had lost power over the sea-ways.
the war ended with no particular side winning over the other.
In 241 BC, the Carthaginians and Romans signed a treaty in which
Carthage had to give up Sicily, which it didn't miss, and to
guarantee to cover Roman costs for the war, which it could well
afford. But Carthage soon faced rebellion among its mercenary
troops and Rome, in 238 BC, took advantage of the confusion by
seizing the island of Corsica. The Romans greatly feared the
Carthaginians and wanted build as large a buffer zone as possible
between them and the Carthaginians. By gaining Sicily, the Romans
had expelled the Carthaginians from their back yard; they now
wanted them out of their front yard, that is, the islands of
Corsica and Sardinia west of the Italian peninsula.
The Carthaginians were furious at this action; even Roman
historians believed it was a rash and unethical act. The
Carthaginians began to shore up their presence in Europe. They sent
first the general Hamilcar and then his son-in-law, Hasdrubal, to
Spain to build colonies and an army. Both Hamilcar and Hasdrubal
made allies among the native Iberians, and their armies, recruited
from Iberians, grew ominous as Carthaginian power and influence
crept up the Iberian peninsula.
14. First Punic War Map
1. Naval battle at Tindaris. Punic victory in 260, 258 &
2. Romans attack Panormus. Withdraw 258 BC.
3. Romans capture Mytistraton (258 BC)
4. Romans retake Enna & Camarina (258 BC)
5. Roman naval victory front of Cape Ecnomus (256 BC)
6. Marcus Atilius Regulus invades Africa (256 BC)
15. The Second Punic War: 218-202 BC
Following its defeat in the First Punic War, Carthage rebuilt
its strength by expanding its empire in Spain. Growing increasingly
anxious, the Romans had imposed a treaty on Carthage not to expand
their empire past the Ebro river in Spain. However, when a small
city in Spain, Saguntum, approached Rome asking for Roman
friendship and alliance, the Romans couldn't resist having a
friendly ally right in the heart of the Carthaginian Iberian
A few years later, however, in 221 BC, a young man, only
twenty-five years old, assumed command over Carthaginian
Spain:Hanniba l . At first, Hannibal gave the Saguntines wide berth
for he wished to avoid coming into conflict with Rome. But the
Saguntines were flush with confidence in their new alliance and
began playing politics with other Spanish cities. Hannibal, despite
direct threats from Rome, attacked Saguntum and conquered it.
The Romans attempted to solve the problem with diplomacy and
demand that Carthage dismiss Hannibal and send him to Rome. When
Carthage refused, the second Punic War began in 218 BC. In the
years following the first Punic War, Carthage had created a
powerful empire in Spain with a terrifyingly large army. Hannibal
marched that terrible army out of Spain and across Europe and, in
September of 218, he entered Italy on a war of invasion. Although
his army was tired from the journey, he literally smashed the Roman
armies he encountered in northern Italy. Within two months, he had
conquered the whole of northern Italy, with the exception of two
cities. These spectacular victories brought a horde of Gauls from
the north to help him, fifty thousand or more; his victory over
Rome, as he saw it, would be guaranteed if he could convince Roman
allies and subject cities to join Carthage.
16. 2 ndPunic War Continued
The Romans were divided as to whether they could beat Hannibal
in open warfare and they knew that he and his army were alone and
far from any supplies. Despite Hannibal's certainty that Roman
allies would join him, the allies remained faithful to Rome. So on
the eve of his invasion of Rome, Hannibal steered south. The
Romans, desperate because of their losses, askedQuintus Fabius
Maximusto become absolute dictator of Rome. Fabius determined to
avoid open warfare at any cost and simply shadowed and harassed the
Carthaginian army until they were weak enough to be engaged with
openly. His instinct was to wait out Hannibal; he was hated for
this policythe Romans called him "The Delayer" and eventually
removed him from power. But when Hannibal marched into Cannae in
southern Italy and started decimating the countryside in 216 BC,
the two inexperienced consuls which had replaced Fabius as generals
of the army sent an army of eighty thousand soldiers against him.
This army, vastly outnumbering the Carthaginian army, was
completely wiped out by Hannibal' "pincer" strategy: the largest
defeat Rome ever suffered. The battle had proven that Fabius was
right all along to avoid direct battles, so the Romans went back to
his strategy of waiting out Hannibal. Roman allies in the south of
Italy literally ran to Hannibal's side; the whole of Sicily allied
itself with the Carthaginians. In addition, the king of
Macedon,Philip V , who controlled most of the mainland of Greece,
allied himself with Hannibal and began his own war against Roman
possessions in 215 BC.
The situation looked bad for the Romans; however, none of the
central Italian allies had gone over to Hannibal's side after
Cannae. The Romans had been chastened by their defeat and
absolutely refused to go against Hannibal, whose army moved around
the Italian countryside absolutely unopposed. Hannibal, however,
was weak in numbers and in equipment. He didn't have enough
soldiers to lay seige to cities such as Rome, and he didn't have
either the men or equipment to storm those cities by force. All he
could do was roam the countryside and lay waste to it.
The Romans, however, very logically decided to fight the war
through the back door. They knew that Hannibal was dependent on
Spain for future supplies and men, so they appointed a young,
strategically brilliant man as proconsul and handed him
theimperiumover Spain. This move was unconstitutional, for this
young man had never served as consul. His name:Publius Cornelius
Scipio(237-183 BC). Scipio, who would later be calledScipio
Africanusfor his victory over Carthage (in Africa), by 206 had
conquered all of Spain, which was converted into two Roman
provinces. Hannibal was now left high and dry in Italy.
Scipio then crossed into Africa in 204 BC and took the war to
the walls of Carthage itself. This forced the Carthaginians to sue
for peace with Rome; part of the treaty demanded that Hannibal
leave the Italian peninsula. Hannibal was one of the great
strategic generals in history; all during his war with Rome he
never once lost a major battle, although he had lost a couple small
battles. Now, however, he was forced to retreat; he had, despite
winning every battle, lost the war. When he returned to Carthage,
the Carthaginians took heart and rose up against Rome in one last
gambit in 202 BC. At Zama in northern Africa, Hannibal, fighting
against Scipio and his army, met his first defeat. Rome reduced
Carthage to a dependent state; Rome now controlled the whole of the
western Mediterranean including northern Africa.
The Second Punic War turned Rome from a regional power into an
international empire: it had gained much of northern Africa, Spain,
and the major islands in the western Mediterranean. Because Philip
V of Macedon had allied himself with Hannibal and started his own
war of conquest, the second Punic War forced Rome to turn east in
wars of conquest against first Philip and then other Hellenistic
kingdoms. The end result of the second Punic War, in the end, was
the domination of the known world by Rome.
19. Map of 2 ndPunic War 20. The Third Punic War: 149-146 BC
In the years intervening, Rome undertook the conquest of the
Hellenistic empires to the east. In the west, Rome brutally
subjugated the Iberian people who had been so vital to Roman
success in the second Punic War. However, they were especially
angry at the Carthaginians who had almost destroyed them. The great
statesman of Rome,Cato , is reported by the historians as ending
all his speeches, no matter what their subject, with the statement,
"I also think that Carthage should be destroyed." Carthage had,
through the first half of the second century BC, recovered much of
its prosperity through its commercial activities, although it had
not gained back much power. The Romans, deeply suspicious of a
reviving Carthage, demanded that the Carthaginians abandon their
city and move inland into North Africa. The Carthaginians, who were
a commercial people that depended on sea trade, refused. The Roman
Senate declared war, and Rome attacked the city itself. After a
siege, the Romans stormed the town and the army went from house to
house slaughtering the inhabitants. Carthaginians who weren't
killed were sold into slavery. The harbor and the city was
demolished, and all the surrounding countryside was sown with salt
in order to render it uninhabitable.
21. Map after 3 rdPunic War 22. Growth of the Government
During the Punic Wars, the power of the Senate grew. But the
government also had other people in it. The actual heads of
government were calledconsuls . Usually, two consuls were elected,
and they could be re-elected.
With the successes of the Roman army, Roman generals became
very popular. They also became very powerful.
Two generals namedSullaandGaiusMariusfought each other for
control of Rome. In 83 B.C., Sulla won and became dictator. It was
one of many civil wars that threatened to tear Rome apart. Each
time, however, the Roman civilization survived.
Even though such civil wars threatened to collapse the Roman
influence, Roman soldiers continued to win victories that ever
widened Roman control. One area that the Romans eventually
succeeded in conquering was a large area in what is now France
23. Julius Caesar
The main conqueror of the tribes in Gaul wasJulius Caesar . A
brilliant general, Caesar had many triumphs, including two
expeditions to the island the Romans called Britannia.
Caesar became a consul, along with two other famous and
important men namedCrassusandPompey . This was theFirst
Triumvirate(meaning "three people rule"). Crassus was a rich man
and Pompey was a general. All three men made a secret deal in which
they would split up the empire evenly. Together they were strong
enough to force this agreement on the senate which had to
Caesar continued to rule and take over Gaul tribes while
fulfilling the wants of Crassus and Pompey to become part of the
Crassus died in battle and Pompey became Caesars enemy. Caesars
enemies in Rome were growing. Caesar was still a part of the
consul, but he was no longer the commander of his military. Caesar
used his army that had been fighting with him for ten years to
start a civil war in Italy. He ran the senate out of Rome and took
control of it, appointing a new senate. He took loyal troops in
Spain and S. France and then wanted to face his enemy Pompey in
Greece. There Caesar killed many of his enemies on the old senate
except Pompey, for he fled to Egypt. In EgyptPompeygot caught up in
a conflict of succession between Ptolemy XIII and his sister
Cleopatra VII. Ptolemy hadPompeykilled to gain favour with Caesar,
but when Caesar arrived he was furious and sided with Cleopatra
against her brother. Caesar stayed in Egypt for several months. He
instated Cleopatra as sole ruler, and left her pregnant when he set
off to return to Rome.
During the civil wars in Italy, a man named Cicero wanted to
return to the old Roman Republic.
Cicero was a member of the consul. in 63 BC He was responsible
for unraveling and exposing the conspiracy of Catiline, which aimed
at taking over the Roman state by force, and five of the
conspirators were put to death without trial on Cicero's
Cicero was on Pompey's side, though halfheartedly during the
civil war. He felt that at this point the question was not whether
Rome would be a republic or an empire but whether Pompey or Caesar
would be Emperor, and he believed that it would make little
difference, for it would be a disaster in either case. Caesar and
his forces won in 48 BC, and Caesar became the first Roman emperor.
He gave Cicero a pardon and allowed him to return to Rome in July
of 47 BC, but Cicero was forced to stay out of politics. Most of
the rest of his life was devoted to studying and writing about
philosophy, and he produced the rest of his philosophical writings
during this time.
After Caesar gained all power in Rome, he passed through
Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor, where he reorganised the provinces
before he returned to Rome in 47BCE.
Pompey had two sons, Gnaus and Sextus Pompeius, who managed to
raise an army in Spain. They met Caesar in battle near Munda in
45BCE. It was hard fought battle with substantial casualties on
both sides, but in the end Caesar won. He remained in Spain for a
while to reorganise the provinces, and then celebrated yet another
triumph on his return to Rome.
After the battle of Munda no-one tried to oppose Caesar with
arms; no-one was capable of opposing Caesar. He was the single most
wealthy man in the empire, with a fortune to match, if not exceed,
that of the state treasury. The armed forces were loyal to him
personally, and every opposing force had been defeated. The
majority of the senate was appointed by him. There was no power but
In 44BCE Caesar started planning a campaign against the
Parthian empire. On the 15th of March (the famous Ides of March) he
was called to a meeting in the senate, a meeting held in the
Theatre of Pompey to discuss the preparations for the war against
Parthia. On his arrival he was surrounded by a group of senators
who pulled out knives from under their togas and stabbed him to
death. Caesar was left dead on the floor at the feet of a statue of
his friend and enemy Pompey.
27. Struggle for Power
In the power struggle that followed, three men took the reins
of government:MarcAntony , Caesar's right-hand man;Octavian ,
Caesar's step-son; andLepidus , an important leader. This was
theSecond Triumvirate .
This, too, resulted in a power struggle, with Octavian
defeating Marc Antony and declaring himself emperor. He renamed
himself Augustus Caesar, and theRoman Empirewas born.
Roman conquests followed after this for hundreds of years. The
main reason was that the Roman soldiers were better-trained,
better-equipped, and better-fed than their opponents. Germanic
tribe after Germanic tribe soon found themselves conquered, invited
to join the Empire, and even serving in the Imperial Army. The
borders of Roman civilization soon stretched from Scotland to the