History of Power in Ancient Rome
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Roman civilization began with the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BCE and it ended with the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. This period encompassed the Monarchy (753–509 BCE), the Republic (509–27 BCE), and the Empire (27 BCE–476 AD). Rome’s seven hills grew into the largest city of its time and eventually the greatest empire ever known, with as many as 90 million subjects and nearly two million square miles of territory under its rule at the Empire’s height in AD 117.
The Roman state evolved from an elective monarchy to a democratic republic and then to an autocratic and often capricious dictatorship during the Empire. By dint of military conquest and cultural and linguistic assimilation, the Empire extended throughout the Mediterranean, Egypt and Greece, southern and most of western Europe, and much of the Near Eastern lands of Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and Arabia. The contiguous lands and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome inter-mingled and became known as the Classical or Greco-Roman world.
Roman contributed much to many fields. The Romance languages derive from Latin, and modern Western law draws many of its precepts from Rome. There is an extensive literary corpus of Roman philosophy, politics, and governance, and its feats of architecture and engineering endure to the present day. Rome built an extensive system of aqueducts and roads and erected countless monuments, palaces, and facilities such as the public baths and the Coliseum. It created the largest military force in history and a system of republican government that would inspire the founding of republics in the United States and France.
The Punic Wars with Carthage established Rome as a great power. These wars gave Rome control of the strategic islands of Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily and its new province of Hispania (modern Spain and Portugal). Rome’s destruction of Carthage in 146 BCE resulted in complete supremacy in the Mediterranean, and by the end of the Republic in 27 BCE, Rome had conquered the lands of the Mediterranean and beyond, to Arabia and the Danube. The Roman Empire emerged with the dictatorship of Augustus. More than 700 years of war with Persia ensued, starting in 92 BCE to become the longest conflict in human history, with massive consequences for both empires.
The Empire reached its peak under the emperor Trajan, stretching throughout the entire Mediterranean Basin to Britain and the Red and Caspian Seas in the east. The mores and morals of the Republic eroded during the Empire, and civil war seemed to precede the rise of each new emperor. Splinter states divided the Empire during the crisis-ridden 3rd century before some stability was restored under the Tetrarchy.
Wracked by internal instability and beset by invasion, the Western Roman Empire shattered into independent barbarian kingdoms in the 5th century. The Eastern Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, remained a salient power through the Middle Ages until its fall in 1453 AD.
Power: Governance: Corruption: Judicial • Patronage • Political • Privatization | Foreign Affairs | Imperium | Assemblies | Executive | Law: Codes • Courts • Early Development: Later Development • Twelve Tablets • Constitution • Criminal Courts • Empire • Lawyers • Penalties • Sources • Statuses • Types • Women | Military: Empire
Governance: Foreign Affairs
Law: Early Development
Law: Later Development
Law: Twelve Tables
Law: Criminal Courts