Roman HistoryRoman HistoryThroughout world history, countless civilizations have risen up in attempts to challenge others with world domination as their ultimate goal. One such civilization, the Roman Empire, would rise to greater power than had ever been witnessed in the course of human history. Because it was so glorious, modern cultures have modeled themselves on the Roman Empire, so that the legacy of the Romans pervades even today.
Like many ancient civilizations, the origins of the Roman empire remain shrouded in myth. The historian Levi recorded the birth of Rome based on oral traditions passed on from generation to generation. According to Levi, the Romans claimed that their city was built by brothers Romulus and Remus, 800 years before the birth of Christ. In 753 BC, the twins were placed in a wicker basket by their mother and were set afloat on the Tiber River shortly after they were born. The twins’ mother had done so to protect them from their uncle, who wanted to kill them. When they were washed ashore, a female wolf adopted and raised the boys in the lush forests of Italy until they were found by a shepherd. As adults, Romulus and Remus returned to their home and defeated their uncle. Then, Romulus and Remus decided to build a town, called Latins, which was fortified by a wall. Soon, however, the brothers quarreled violently about who was to be the leader of the town, and asked the town augers for help. These mystics instructed the brothers to stand atop a hill named Palatine Hill. When birds flew over Romulus, it was taken as a sign and he was chosen to be king. Remus, however, rejected the augury and the two brothers fought. A violent battle ensued and Romulus defeated Remus. Thus town was therefore called Rome (after Romulus), and it was the fruit of fratricide.
More historically oriented, archaeologists suggest that people lived where modern Rome is from about 1500 BC, which is confirmed by Greek sailors who encountered the growing town of Rome on one of their exploratory voyages. The earliest community lived in villages located on the main hill in the area called Palatine Hill and were called Latins (later they were known as Romans). By about 1000 BC, other small villages were built on other hills nearby.
The roots of the Roman culture lie in the ancient and mysterious civilization of the Etruscans. The Etruscan empire, situated in Northeastern Italy, was founded somewhere between 900 and 800 BC, and was believed to have been originally from the Eastern Mediterranean, in Asia Minor. When Greek sailors into uncharted areas called the “land of the rising sun”, they encountered civilizations, the most prominent being the Etruscan. There they found walled cities, kings, traders, and clergy: all the makings of an advanced culture. Their civilization stretched from the Arno river in the north to the Tiber river towards the center of the Italian peninsula; it was on the Tiber river that a small village of Latins, the village that would become Rome, sat. So the Romans, who were only villagers during the rise of the Etruscan civilization, were in close contact with the Etruscans: their language, their ideas, their religion, and their civilization. Being great artisans in metalwork, for iron, copper, and tin was abundant in the Tuscany region, they built great subterranean shelters linked by magnificent tunnels of exquisite design. (These were later melted by Mussolini to make weapons for WWI.) They taught all their culture had to offer. The Etruscans were the single most important influence on Roman culture in its transition to civilization.
The early Rome contrasts greatly with the magnificent Rome that it later became. The inhabitants of the town were mainly desperate fugitives who had escaped from the Etruscan Empire, and there were no women living there. Thus, the people of Rome invited a nearby settlement, inhabited by the Sabines, for festivities in the town. Warily, the Sabines accepted the invitation. As the festivities went on, the Sabines became calm and adjusted to the situation. It was at this time that the Romans attacked. The Romans slew the men and carried off the women. In this way, Rome was created in violence and rape.
As a result of the growing population, there was a newfound stability in Rome. Mud huts turned to stone houses as wealth increased due to trading with the Etruscans and Greeks. The neighboring Etruscan king, Cerbius Tulius, saw this prosperity as a threat and conquered the town. Tulius planned to bring organization to Rome. This organization would set Rome apart as a city in the years to come. In 6 BC, Cerbius made the first census ever in Rome. This census led him to segregate the different social classes, give rights to each specific class, and begin a representational government called the Senate, thereby laying the foundations for a republic. Along with these improvements, Tulius stated that each
of the five provinces in the empire would form a separate government, and the government would set a date of 12 BC, which would mark Caesar’s 30 year reign.
To set this time aside and to establish a new civil institution, with this new date, a different set of events must take place, along with events from the Republic.
What this means for the Rome of today.