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Ancient Rome

ancient roman shipsThrough these pages you can reach many different aspects of Ancient Rome. The task of covering all aspects of a millennium of the civilization of ancient Rome is almost impossibly big but we have included as many of the salient features as possible and a good number of curiosities.


The area at the end of the page has been reserved for a public Forum on Ancient Rome.

Timeline of ancient Rome: skip through time, emperors and leaders, events, art and  monuments which have marked the rise and fall of Ancient Rome. 

The Circus MaximusA day at the Races in Ancient Rome's Circus Maximus 

gladiator_helmet_romeWhy not go to see the gladiators of ancient rome. Free tickets and food! (Well, they were free 2000 years ago!)

Antique map of Ancient RomeMaps of ancient rome: have a look at ancient Rome, the city and geography of the empire both in new and antique formats.

A Christian being slayed by a Lion in the ColosseumChristian Persecutions. Read all about it! They got nasty.

Yum yum: Food in Ancient Rome.

Ancient Rome

  Picture of a Roman war trophyThe history of Ancient Rome lasted a full thousand years from its founding myths of Aeneas and Romulus & Remus all the way through its periods of greatness and infamy with men such as Caesar, Augustus and Nero.

Roman Chariot - a BigaDaily life in ancient Rome was in many ways similar to ours and in others quite surprising and exotic. Everyday shops, banks and trades functioned in the forums much as they would in today's markets and the average roman would be quite shocked by public nudity just as we would today. Gambling although loved and frequently practiced was illegal except in particular circumstances: at the chariot races and at Christmas (the "Saturnalia" actually).

Ancient_Rome_naval_gamesLike the Rome of today the traffic was unbearable, especially in the downtown Via Sacra (Sacred street, in the Forum) and the Soho area called the Suburra must have been quite something. roman_estruscan_walls The buildings and structures of ancient rome had little to envy of a modern city of today. Even today buildings such as the Pantheon and the Colosseum continue to rank amongst the greatest architectural achievements.

toga_servusOn the other hand purchasing a slave or two to assist in the house,  fields, shops or even work in your back yard as a prostitute was seen as quite acceptable - so long as you paid the taxes due! A slave-cook who knew his trade was worth his weight in gold and in fact things became so absurd that poor plebeians (roman citizens) might sell themselves and children into slavery in order to have a chance in life. Unwanted or unrecognized babies were often abandoned to be picked up by passers by.


The cruelty of the Colosseum is perhaps the epitome of how different the Romans of Ancient Rome could be from us. Although not all Romans were in agreement with the gratuitous slaughter of men and animals we can't but be surprised at how a great civilization might turn death and slaughter into a mass spectacle. The population of ancient Rome, smartly dressed and seated according to social class, looked on to the arena from above and cheered.

Ancient_Rome_sacrificeReligion in ancient Rome was also surprisingly different from what we might regard as "religion" nowadays. The relationship between an ancient Roman and the gods was a little more business-like than the devotion a believer would have in God today. It was more like a contract at the forum: I sacrifice, follow ritual and pay respects and (in exchange) you might grant me this or that special favour, or at least not punish me.

drawing of an ancient roman marble relief showing Achilles and the Sybil. Relief found in Pompeii.In fact it was quite the norm to pay your respects and believe in a number of gods: In the household you had your house and family spirits called the Lares, whilst in public you could follow the public gods such as Jupiter and Co. What few people know is that the authorities of ancient rome had little against anyone practicing whatever religion (or religions) they pleased. So long as it was done in private and didn't go against public decency, such as the cult of Dionysus did, or go against the state itself, such as Christianity did.

roman_clothing_stolaAt the beginning of the empire the ancient romans were quite different people from the austere warriors who had first founded the city and the republic. By the end of the empire the founding fathers of Rome were only a dim and distant memory. 

A love for the luxuries of the Orient, barbarian pressure, a lack of new territorial conquests and a faltering supply of slaves brought inevitable economic hardships. Ancient Rome succumbed to cardiac arrest in the year 473AD under the weight of repeated barbarian invasions and a flagging economy.

structure of the roman armyan antique print of Roman CoinsAncient Rome had become its own worst enemy and the invading barbarians minted coinage with the words "Invicta Roma" -Rome unconquered- as if they were there to save it from itself and bring back its ancient valour.  That inheritance was also claimed by many others, such as Charlemagne, Karl der Grosser, founder of the "Holy Roman Empire".

Ancient map of the Roman EmpireThe Holy Roman Empire had little to do with ancient Rome but it did perpetuate its  inheritance of Christian belief and certain notions of law & government (I'm not sure about popular freedom though). The inspiration of the ideal and "eternal city" of Rome led by great men such as Caesar became a holy empire led by a Kaiser.

Even the concepts of royalty which grew up in the thirteenth century and the singular doctrines of "divine right" have their roots in the Image of a Roman Emperor wearing a Chlamys and holding the orb of power. Emperor-Gods of Ancient Rome all legitimated by an auspicious Papal blessing, in Rome, on Christmas day of the year 800AD. The Holy Roman Empire carried the flame of ancient rome through to the nineteenth century.

And then we should not forget the other great inheritance of ancient Rome, often forgotten but so fundamental to the West: "New Rome". When the empire was falling under the weight of its own size and venerable age it was split in half so that it might be governed more easily. Emperor Constantine founded a new capital for the eastern half which he called Constantinople also known as "New Rome" and now better known as Istanbul.

In spite of the fall of the Roman empire of the West and the internal struggles of the Middle Ages, the Roman empire of the East, headed by New Rome, fought on and survived into the Renaissance. It fell in 1453 after the greed of the Venetians, the might of the Turks and modern cannon technology managed to breach its hitherto impregnable walls. Emperor Constantine's foresight in any case lasted long enough to provide that bulwark of defense against the East which allowed the West of today to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. 

And what of Ancient Rome? For a while the buildings were subjected to pillaging of materials or simply abandoned. A few temples were transformed into churchesSaint_Peter and hence survived through the ages. The bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church took over running of the city and of "St. Peter's Patrimony". Then came the illuminated conservationists of the Renaissance and the Romantic artists of the Grand Tour. roman_road_rome The Pope or "Pontifex Maximus" lives on as do many of the notions of law the majestic monuments, structures, aqueducts, basilicas and roads of ancient Rome. The rest is history.


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Ancient Rome Public Forum



what is the name of the religion on the Earstern Roman Empire!

Answer: I dare say it was Christianity as the Eastern Roman empire had Constaninople as its capital and Emperor Constantine was the one who finally split it once and for all (he wasn't the first though) and he was the one who allowed Christianity to take its first foothold in Roman society. Now we would know that Eastern religion as Christian Orthodox: after the empire (anothe vague statement as the two were split and there is no clear end date really) there were various disquisitions over who had the right to hold power in Christianity. The Pope in Rome felt he had right because of a passage in the Bible where Christ seems (depending on your interpretation) to say that Peter was to be the foundation of the church, and given Peter had come to Rome.... The Easter side felt that given Constantine had shifted power to the East and that the passage in the Bible could be translated in a variety of ways etc etc etc. The issue remains unresolved so you should read about it in a site dedicated to that sort of matter.

hi, this site has provided me the amount of info i need for my school essay!thanx, and bye!

in what ways do the landmarks of ancient Rome reflect the power and the
 glory of the Roman Empire, and in what ways did ancient Rome transform
 the claccical legacy of the Greeks?

Answer: shame you didn't attach your email address for me to send you an answer! Sounds like this is your essay title right?

Off the top of my head I would look at links with deities of boundaries, land donations to war veterans (expropriations from the people taken over eg the Etruscans, Sabines and other Latin peoples). This might give you a different angle from everyone elses essay. Then to be certainly covered: look at the funeral monuments and tombs along the CONSULAR ROADS (ie look into the roads as a significant landmark, including the mile stones) such as the Via Appia Antica eg the tomb of the Scipios (Scipio Africanus for example defeated Hannibal although this was during the Republican period rather than during the period known as the Empire as such). Emperor Augustus - first emperor but actually took the batton from Julius Caesar - turned the city of brick into one of marble and his Agrippa had the Pantheon built (remodelled to what we know by Emperor Hadrian). The Pantheon is a MUST: a link between divine emperor, power on earth and the gods (it was built over the spot where Romulus ascended to the heavens. The Colosseum of course could be viewed as a cathartic exercise by which the population could contain and view the atrocities of everyday cruelty and war outside the Empire's boundaries from a safe distance. The Forums were essentially markets to which all sorts of goods arrived from every part of the empire. At Trajan's forum you also have a great double library with one side full of books in Latin the other books in Greek. Trajan's and Antonine's columns are essentially landmarkst but also scrolls depicting wars across the empire. The Piramid in Rome is obviously an Egyptian memento as are the large number of obelisks (some dating several thousand years before the Roman Empire) which were often used to add magnificence to the circuses (stadiums for chariot races such as the Circus Maximus). There are plenty of inscriptions across the world/empire which the Romans wrote in two or more languages to make sure that all their subjects could understand what was being said/legislated. The Roman aqueducts of course spread virtually as much as the roads - a clear landmark of their engineering capabilities which enabled the empire and their civilising influence to reach as far as it did, similarly you could look at bridges and buildings parts of which stand across the empire areas.

Re transformation of Greek legacy - could write bags but best be brief: they learnt even the bits they were sorry about eg litentious habits and love for luxury (the early Romans were an austere lot). They adored Greek arts: they found ways of setting up workshops to copy the works of great Greek masters in an almost industrial way. They went to Greece to learn the arts of oratory. They learnt much of Greek medical knowledge. They didn't much care for pottery and had a preference for glass or silver ware if possible. In most ways we could say that the relative peace and wealth of the empire allowed Greek culture to be developed further particularly those elements of it which were of practical use: the Romans were a practical lot with relatively little interest in abstract thought. "The Dream of Scipio" written by Cicero is interesting though and worth a quick read (it's only a few pages) - you'll see why.

On the artistic side Greeks were often employed as medics, teachers and artists. They brought teathre over to Rome but the locals essentially retained their preference for baudy Satire and the races at the Circus. When the empire began to collapse it is intersting how the Greek view of the individual's place in the world (and hence the illusionist 3D approach to art) was replaced by a more local style with less regard for "realism" and an enhanced use of symbolism. Better read our bit on the Greek revolution in ancient Roman art.

Wow Leanne, a very big question in a very short paragraph, especially when I don't know how much you
know on the subject yourself.

The characters you refer to embody the various facets of pre-imperial Rome. They set the stage for Julius Caesar's and then Augustus' reforms as well as being the epitomy of all that was not well with the Republic.

The Gracchi brothers are the prototype of nineteenth and twentieth century social revolutionaries and as such bring to the fore the difficulties and struggles of the poor plebeians versus the socially advantaged patricians.

Part of the problem was .... the rest of this post has been placed at the bottom of the Roman Republic in Crisis page.

Dear Sir/Madam,
This is an excellent web site.  I am doing ancient history at university.  What are the more common questions that lecturers ask nearly all the time.?  I am studying through the book "the Punic wars until the death of cesar.
What is your opnion of sulla, marius and Tiberius Gracchus?
My email address is lschroderxxxxxxxx
I would appreciate any feedback

you have too much on one page
Answer: sorry. Some time I'll get round to chopping it down. I'm having trouble keeping up with the volumes of information as well as the various blogs. Point taken however. Thanks for the comment.

Hey When was this published try to pots inthe next 10 hours.
Doing for School assignment.
Sydney AUS

Answer: I update the information continuously but by and large I would say the bulk of it was put together during 2005-2006. I'm afraid I've been very naughty and haven't included any references/bibliography as much of it is the result of years of personal interest and reading reading reading (and of course on-site visiting).

CaN YoU PlEaSe PuT MoRe SoCiAl InFoRmAtIoN FoR AnCiEnT In So ThAt KIds.

Ans: Point taken. Have you had a look at the roman schools page or the page on ancient Roman children? You can search out many social aspects of ancient Rome by going to the search box and typing in a search string eg "punishment" or "law" or "family".

what happend after they died i need to no

Answer: what happened after who died? Do you mean after the Romans died? Unfortunately it wasn't so clear cut: it was a long, perhaps infinite phase of transition as the different peoples who had been under Roman dominion each developed their own cultural differences. Few if any actually eradicated what civilisation had been grafted on by the Romans. For example we can see this in languages, legal systems, civil engineering and so on although in some cases the echoes of Roman influence remained stronger than in other cases. For example the effect and transformation brought by the Romans to Britain was great but once gone it is interesting to see how the Britons tended to move away from the cities and back to the country. Having said that there are many cities which still bear Romanity in their very names eg "Doncaster" - the "caster" bit is from Castrum=a castle or fortified town. There are many "casters" if your think about it and many roads around Britain called "the Roman road (tend to be very straight).

So to cut a long story short after the "fall of the Roman empire" you have the so-called Dark Ages where each "country" went its own way. By the way, it was only the Roman empire of the West which fell (the one with capital in Rome/Italy). The Roman empire of the East - remember Emperor Constantine, the one who let Christianity "in", realised the empire's size was too great to manage from a single point and that in any case events had moved eastwards with the trade routes and so he split the empire (as Domitian had before him). The empire of the East ("Bizantium") lived on with its capital at Constantinople (Istanbul) until the dawn of the Renaissance when the Turks finally managed to breach its wall with cannons. Much of what perished with the fall of Rome was actually looked after by the Eastern part in Constantinople and then made its way back west - hence the Renaissance: rebirth as many of the classical texts were re-discovered.

hi there Hello.

What is the ancient roman flag. Answer: rather than flags the military had standards and the imperial insignia. The Eagle, the She-Wolf and twins, the Laurel Wreath (symbol of divine inspiration). An image of Ancient Roman Flags.

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"ancient Rome" was written by Giovanni Milani-Santarpia with the collaboration of Geraldine Milani for - Rome apartments