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Rome.

Rome History

The beginning of Rome, one of the greatest cities of all time, was surprisingly modest. The first settlers were farmers and shepherds from various regions who settled in scattered groups around what is now known as the Seven Hills of Rome. However, this historical fact’s accompanying legend is much more fascinating. As many have discovered, the line between where the fable ends and ancient history begins, is unclear.

Many Romans believed that the start of their city resulted from the fall of another. As Troy fell, the hero Aeneas managed to escape the city’s demise and fled to Italy. Generations later, Aeneas’s female descendant, the priestess Rhea Silva, gave birth to twins Romulus and Remus, by the god Mars. The birth was considered criminal, as priestesses were sworn to celibacy, and the twins were given to a servant to be killed. The servant wrapped the infants in cloth and threw them in the Tiber River, assuming they would eventually drown. Instead, they washed ashore in the location of modern day Rome, and were found and raised by a she-wolf. Eventually rising to great power, the twins decided to form a new city, Rome, and competed for the right to rule. In the fight for power, Romulus killed Remus and, in 753 BC, became the first King and ruler of Rome. For over 200 years, Rome was lead by seven consecutive kings. The monarchy came to an end following the rape of the virtuous Lucretia by the son of king Tarquinius Superbus. The act was considered unforgivable by Roman standards, and the monarchy was overthrown.

In 509 BC, the Romans formed a Republic, placing much influence in the hands of the Senate. Although the Senate represented the views of various people, rather than just one soveirghn, the government retained a bias in favor of the aristocracy. The Senate was composed solely of members of the upper, or “patrician”, class. As a result of the Republic’s fair nature, the lower, or “plebian”, class slowly rose in status. The sporadic appointment of various laws, permitting the lower class to freedoms they had not previously enjoyed, allowed for temporary periods of peace. Still, the fights between the two classes caused internal dilemmas and eventually aided in the fall of the Republic.

The Roman Empire followed the Republic, and many believe the shift resulted from the dictatorship of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. The first official Emperor is generally believed to be Augustus in 27 BC. Rome saw many different types of Emperors rule; some were great while others were completely insane. The Emperor Claudius conquered Great Britain and the Emperor Vespasiano oversaw the building of the Coliseum. A later Emperor, Nero, was known for brutally slaying hundreds of Christians, killing his mother, and, eventually, himself. This period also brought about the division of Rome into an Eastern and Western Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire was founded by Constantine I in 330 AD, and outlived the Western Roman Empire, which fell to invaders in 476 AD. The demise of the Western Roman Empire cannot be attributed to one factor. The major upset occurred as a result of the influx of European, specifically German, peoples. Struggling with their own citizens, the Empire could not additionally control other groups in such large numbers. It is important to note that while Rome ceased to be ruled as an Empire, Rome itself did not cease to exist. The Eastern Roman Empire saw the rise of Christianity and respectfully lasted for almost another thousand years. In 1453 AD, the Empire fell to the Turks.

After Western Rome was conquered, the invaders squandered the city’s power and caused the once dense population to decline severely. Despite the barbaric rule inflicted upon Rome, Christian figureheads, especially Popes, began to see an increase in their authority. In 800, the conqueror Charlemagne lent much support to the Popes and in exchange was crowned as the first Holy Roman Emperor. Until the 15th century, the power of Rome was in the hands of the Emperor, the Pope, and the upper class.

The Empire of Rome was interspersed with various attempts at a reformed Republic, most notably in the 1700’s and 1800’s. In 1870, Italy became a unified nation, and forced Rome, whose ruling Pope objected, to comply with the unification. In 1871, Rome was declared the capital of the newly formed Italy.

More Information
 www.state.gov

 


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