Ancient Civilizations 101: The Roman Empire from Caesar to Augustus I


We cannot be sure of how human mentality led to the development of civilizations. Until today, this remains a popular topic among historians and anthropologists, and it is a significant scholarly debate. This 101 series brings to the spotlight some of the oldest civilizations that have ever existed. Undoubtedly, modern-day culture and society owe a lot to the previous ones. Each civilization, discussed in this 101 series, contributed in many ways to: new inventions, new ideas, new cultures, new philosophies, and lifestyles. In this article, the author will examine the civilization of ancient Rome; Rome, a city built on the lowest point of the Tiber River, gradually expanded as the power of its inhabitants grew. The monarchy of the early years gave way to democracy, which was later replaced by the imperial power of Augustus. At this time, the city acquired the first outstanding monuments, while at the same time some remarkable technical structures were built, such as aqueducts, sewers, and public toilets.

Ancient Civilizations 101 So Far Is Divided Into 5 Chapters

  1. The Mayan Civilization

  2. The Mycenaeans

  3. The Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt I

  4. The Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt II

  5. The Roman Empire from Ceasar to Augustus I

Thomas Cole. (1836). The Course of Empire: Consummation of Empire

The Myths Behind the Founding of Rome.

Beginning in the eighth century B.C., Ancient Rome developed from a small town in mid-Italy into an empire that, at its zenith, encompassed most of continental Europe, Britain, much of western Asia, northern Africa, and the Mediterranean islands. According to myth, Ancient Rome was founded by two demigods brothers, Romulus and Remus, on 21 April 753 B.C.; they were the twin sons of Mars, the god of war. These two brothers were abandoned at birth and were raised by a wolf. Later in life, they decided to found a city along the Tiber River near the site where they had been abandoned. Either of them chose a hill upon which to begin a settlement. The myth claims that, during an argument among the two brothers (over who would be the ruler of the city), Romulus killed Remus and named the city after himself. This tale is the most well-known story about the founding of the eternal city. However, is not the only one.

Other myths assert that the city was named after a lady, named Roma, who travelled with Aeneas and the other survivors from Troy after it's city's fall. Upon landing on the banks of the Tiber River, Roma was opposed when the men desired to move further in Europe. So, Roma led the women in burning the Trojan ships and, in doing so, stranded the Trojan survivors at the location which would eventually become Rome. Aeneas of Troy is also featured in this legend as a founder of Rome. He was an ancestor of Romulus and Remus. Thus, the myth links Rome with the Trojan hero. Finally, there is another theory that suggests the name of the city came from Rumon, the ancient name for the Tiber River. According to this theory, Rome was simply a name given to a small trading centre established on the Rumon banks. Indeed, myths always attract interest by stimulating the imagination, making reality seem common and indifferent. In the case of Rome, archaeological excavations reveal that people have been living there for over 3000 years. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible, even today, to talk about the founding of Rome without referring to the myth of Romulus and Remus.

The Location

The city of Rome was built on seven hills -Esquiline Hill, Palatine Hill, Aventine Hill, Capitoline Hill, Quirinal Hill, Viminal Hill, and Caelian Hill- and developed on the banks of the Tiber River, at a point where the flat surface of the river overflow is relatively narrow. This configuration of the Tiber created remarkable fortifications for the early settlements of the hills. But, the most important thing was that Rome was at the lowest point of the Tiber. The city was located at a point where trade routes from the south and east could cross the Tiber to the Etruscan territories. Along the south bank of the river, there was an ancient trade route known as Via Salaria. The city was also about 15 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The Romans had easy access to the sea; while at the same time, because of the Tiber and the hills, they were somewhat protected from seaborne invasion.

Vanessa Elle. (2019). Julius Ceaser

Julius Caesar’s Rise

In 59 B.C., Gaius Julius Caesar, after earning military glory in Spain, returned to Rome to compete for the consulship. He created an alliance with Marcus Licinius Crassus and, his political rival, Gnaeus Pompeius Mangus (known as Pompey the Great); this formed what modern historians call the First Triumvirate of Rome. From his union with Pompey and Crassus, Caesar received the governorship of three wealthy provinces in Gaul beginning in 58 B.C.; he then set about conquering the rest of those regions for Rome.

The three men were all equally ambitious, as they were competing and keeping each other in check whilst helping to make Rome flourish. Crassus was the richest man in Rome, and was deemed unethical as he forced wealthy citizens to pay him safety money. If the citizen paid, Crassus would not burn down their house; but, if the citizen did not have the money to pay Crassus, a fire would be lighted and Crassus would charge a fee to the citizen in order to send men to put the fire out. On the other hand, both Pompey and Caesar were seen to be great generals who made Rome wealthy and flourishing. After Pompey’s wife Julia died (in 54 B.C.) and Crassus was killed in a battle against Parthia, the triumvirate was broken. With Crassus gone, Pompey and Caesar started war against each other. Pompey tried to eliminate his rival through legal means; he stepped in as sole consul in 53 B.C. However, Caesar’s military glory in Gaul and his increasing wealth had eclipsed Pompey’s victories; the latter teamed with his allies, in the Senate, to steadily sabotage Caesar. Yet, instead of returning to the city in humility to face these charges, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River (on the border between Italy from Cisalpine Gaul) with his army in 49 B.C., and he entered Rome at the head of it. Caesar’s attack of Italy ignited a civil war from which he emerged as dictator of Rome for life in 45 B.C.

Sources: editors. Ancient Rome.

Owen J. (2021). Ancient Rome: From city to empire in 600 years. Live Science. Ancient Rome.

Joshua J. M., (2009). Ancient Rome. World History Encyclopedia. https://w

Image Sources:

Thomas Cole. (1836). The Course of Empire: Consummation of Empire. The Guardian.

Vanessa Elle. (2019). Julius Ceaser. The

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Anna-Aikaterini Bati

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