Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ancient Rome (pt. 1)

In 509B.C., Rome established a Republic.  The mythological story of the founding of Rome is probably a familiar one to you: Remus and Romulus, two brothers raised by a she-wolf, the latter of whom kills the former and founds Rome.  In actuality, Rome began with a tribe of people called Latins, since they were from Latium (in modern-day central-western Italy), and after a long period of warring with neighboring tribes (namely the Samnites and Etruscans), the Latins took Rome and began to form an independently wealthy city.  The new Roman leaders decided to invest in a strong army, and the Roman government instituted a Senate in supreme authority.  (The Ancient Roman Senate was the basis from which the United States' founding fathers took much influence in forming their nation's government).  Of course there was the Roman Caesar, who claimed kingship by divine right (by claiming to be the descendant of some god or other); here is Caesar Augustus (Octavian), who claimed to be a descendant of Venus, with the god Cupid tugging on the edge of his tunic.
By 300B.C., the Roman Empire had control over most of the Italian peninsula, and it eventually became the largest empire in history.  In 200A.D., the Roman sphere of influence included basically all of Europe, an enormous chunk of the Middle East, and a vast strip of Northern Africa.  For all intents and purposes, this is arguably the grandest civilization the world has ever known.

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