Ancient HistoryENGLISH

ANCIENT ROME


Map of the Roman Empire at its peak around 117 AD. Source : creativecommons.org

The Ancient Rome was a civilization that developed from the beginning of some Latin Villages founded along the banks of the Tiber River around 7th Century BC and later merged and gave birth to the city of Rome that gradually became the Roman Empire, which lasted until 5th Century AD when the Roman Empire collapsed.

The most important thing about the Ancient Rome was the reason of it being a Great Empire to have ever existed in the ancient world. Because, the Ancient Rome was believed by many historians to have produced a gigantic Roman Empire from where many of modern day Western political, cultural, and even economical systems were rooted. For example, the Romans were the first to developed a system of senatorial representative whereby the senior citizens of the Rome aged 60, gathered and make the laws for the whole Roman Empire. Therefore, this important aspect made the Ancient Rome a unique civilization.

As part of the Ancient Rome, at its height, the Roman Empire have possessed nearly continental Europe, large share of western Asia, and the entire of north Africa. And this greatness was due to the fact that Rome was a military super power as well as good in diplomatic relations.

Founding of Rome and Its Emergence as an Imperial Power

The history of the Roman Empire started from the Ancient Rome civilization that brought about natural merging of some Latin villages along the Tiber River around 500 BC that became the city of Rome. Thus, the beginning of the Ancient Rome.

But, despite the fact that Rome became a city, it came under the domination and control of the Etruscans until in 509 BC, when the Romans rebelled and founded a republic.

THE ROMAN REPUBLIC (509 BC – 27 BC)

Romans started enjoying full status of sovereignty when they overthrew the Etruscans and founded the Roman Republic in 509. In this new status of Rome, the Romans agreed on the system that every adult Roman citizen have the freedom of participating in the the process of governance whether voting or holding a public office.

In this early periods, the Romans under the first Republic ruler Lucius Brutus gave a great priority to the work of building and protecting their borders, and also conquering neighboring tribes. Thus, by the end of 265 BC, the Roman armies have conquered all other people in what is today the Italian Peninsula.

Between 264 BC to around 204 BC, the Romans have fought different wars with their southern neighbor, the Carthaginian Empire. The Carthage under its Army General called Hannibal have even defeated the Roman armies and dominated some parts of the Roman Empire for some years. But, in the year 204 BC, the Roman armies under their General called Scipio had defeated the Carthaginian armies, destroyed their city and even made the whole of the Carthaginian Empire under the Roman control as a Roman Province of Africa.

By 133 BC, the great Roman army have subdued many states of Greece, Macedonia, and finally as far east as Asia Minor. These victories made the Roman Republic an imperial power.

Gradually, as the Rome became consolidated, a complex political, social, and economical institutions were developed. And this in turn, caused internal problems and eventually into crises.

In 107 BC, a Roman Army General called Gaius Marius succeeded in becoming the head of the Roman Republic and tried to bring some peace, but he was menaced by another General called Sulla, who sabotaged his effort.

In 82 BC, General Sulla emerged as the head of the Roman Republic and a military dictator. His time was considered a time of terror, because of his zero tolerance attitude to opposition. This was why, he was said to have executed many Roman Senators. This action in turn, paved the way for new crisis that made it possible for the gradual decline of the Roman Republic.

In 60 BC, Sulla was forced to retire, but unfortunately, two Roman Generals emerged as contenders of the Roman leadership. These two Generals were Pompey and Julius Caesar.

At first, Pompey was likely to possessed the power, because he was more popular, even though Julius Caesar was also popular. In 48 B6, a war broke out between them. They engaged in many wars for about 2 years in different scenes like Greece, Asia, and finally Egypt where General Julius Caesar succeeded in killing General Pompey in 48 BC.

Julius Caesar’s period as the Roman leader was short, but, significant in the history of the Ancient Rome. Because, he brought peace to Rome, and also made many reforms. For example, he granted citizenship to many people in the remote Roman Provinces. But Unfortunately, Julius Caesar’s social reforms made him popular among the Roman citizens, but, unpopular among the Roman Senators, thus, in 44 BC, the Senators conspired and killed Julius Caesar.

With the death of Julius Caesar, Rome went into Civil War between the conspirators of Julius Caesar’s assassination and his nephew, called Octavian.

Octavian fought fiercely and succeeded in defeating the conspirators and any other opposition in 31 BC, and he became the ruler of Rome.

Octavian’s coming to power marked the end of Rome as a Republic and marked its emergence as an Empire.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE (27 BC – 476 AD)

Julio-Claudian Dynasty

When Octavian settled on power, he changed his name to Augustus which means great and respected. He also established a ruling dynasty of Julio-Claudian that produced five emperors. These emperors were Augustus himself, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero.

Augustus as the first Emperor of Rome, saw the destruction of the remnant of Republican values. And he gradually introduced a complex and strong bureaucracy to govern the entire Roman Empire. In the process, he reduced the senatorial influence, and he appointed governors in all of the Roman Provinces, as well as maintaining full control of the army.

A statue of the Emperor Augustus. Source : creativecommons.org

In 14 BC, Emperor Augustus died and was succeeded by other emperors who continued to rule Rome in the same line with Augustus’s system until the end of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.

Flavian Dynasty

After the death of Nero, another Emperor called Vaspasian emerged who established new Dynasty of Flavian in 69 AD.

Vaspasian was an army General, before his emergence as a Roman Emperor. Under his rule, Rome continued its expansion campaign. For example, during his reign, Roman army completed their occupation of Britain. And it was also during Emperor Vaspasian’s time that the construction of the great amphitheater of Colosseum started, due to his love of architecture.

Vaspasian died in 79 AD, and his Dynasty of Flavian produced other 2 emperors until 96 AD.

Nerva-Antoine Dynasty

Following the death of the last emperor of the Flavian Dynasty, Nerva became the new Roman Emperor in 96 AD. And it was Roman Senators for the first time in the history of Rome since it becoming an empire that installed him. Emperor Nerva started the new Dynasty of Nerva-Antoine.

Emperor Nerva’s succession through the peaceful means, started the succession of other emperors who came after him also through peaceful means. This was why, Dynasty of Nerva-Antoine produced powerful emperors like Emperor Trajan 98 AD.

A statue head of Emperor Trajan. Source: kids.kiddle.co

Historians who wrote about the Roman Empire have described Emperor Trajan as an efficient and tactician Emperor after Augustus. He extended the Roman territory to as far as the Syria and made it a new Province of Arabia Petrea. Thus, this and other subsequent expansions, Rome reached its greatest extent, possessing the greater part of the Western world.

Emperor Trajan died in 117 AD, after suffering from an illness. And he was succeeded by other emperors like Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius.

Severan Dynasty

Initially, the Dynasty of Severan saw the rise of five people trying to ascend the emprororship of Rome. These, contenders were Helvius Pertinax, Didius Julisnus, Pescennius Niger, Clodius Albinus, and Septimus Severus. But, after some struggling between them, Septimus Severus was able to maneuvered the others and became real emperor in 193 AD.

Emperor Severus was considered by many Roman historians, as a cruel person who due to the extent of his cruelty, the famous Italian writer Niccolo Machiavelli, depicted him as ” ferocious lion and a clever fox “. Therefore, this attitude made him unbeloved by the Roman Senators.

Emperor Severus died in 211, and was succeeded by his son called Caracalla.

Emperor Caracalla, like his father have ruled Roman people in a cruel way, to the extent that he killed even his assistants when the need for that arose.

After Caracalla, other emperors in this Dynasty of Severan ruled the Roman Empire, and their reigns marked the beginning of instability and decline.

In 284 AD, the Roman Empire saw the rise of Diocletian as the Roman Emperor who due to his consideration of the vastness of Roman Empire, partitioned it into Western part with Rome as the capital, and the Eastern part with Byzantium (Constantinople and modern day Istanbul) as the capital, for the purpose of making the rule of the Empire easy. In the new system, the Roman Empire from would have 2 Emperors . Therefore, Diocletian appointed Maximian as the Emperor of Western Roman Empire, and he maintained the Eastern part. Many historians have argued that the partitioned of the Roman Empire has opened the door of disintegration of the Empire.

In 305 AD, Emperor Diocletian and his counterpart of the West abdicated the as the Roman Emperors. And new Emperor emerged, called Constantine.

Constantine the Great and the Christianity

Emperor Constantine known also as “the Great”, was the last significant Emperor to rule Roman Empire. In 306 AD when his father Emperor Constantinus Clorus died, Constantine ascended the throne of the Roman Empire.

When Emperor Constantine came to power, he inherited a divided Roman Empire with a system of 2 emperors ruling it. But, he fought and brought the Roman Empire back, under one Emperor.

The most significant work which Emperor Constantine did in the history of the Roman Empire, was the acceptance of Christianity in 312, and making it the chief religion of the Empire.

Emperor Constantine went further, by converting the ancient city of Byzantium into his main capital and renamed it Constantinople after his name. He did this when he realized that Rome was no longer in a strategic position to be secured from the northern barbarian threats of incursion. Thus, this move reduced the influence of Rome as the secular capital of the Empire.

THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

In 337 AD, Roman Emperor Constantine died, and his 3 sons came into conflict and later partitioned the Empire between them. His eldest son Constatius became Emperor in the East, the second son called Constantine II became Emperor in Illyria, and the third son Constans became the Emperor in the West. Therefore, this disagreement paved the way for the another process of the decline of the Roman Empire.

Many historians, concluded that between the 4th and 5th centuries AD, the Roman Empire was in a problem of civil strife which gave the northern barbarian of the Germanic tribes of Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Vandals the opportunity of bedevilling the Empire with constant attack.

In 378, a decisive battle was being waged between the armies of the Emperor Valens of the Eastern Empire and the armies of Fritigern, the Visigoth leader. But, the Roman armies were outmatched by the Visigoths and defeated.

Different Emperors in Western Empire have tried to reunite and expelled the Germanic barbarians, but, the Germanic tribes resisted and continued their incursion into the Roman Empire, and acquired success in the other battles.

By the mid of the 4th century, the Germanic tribes have occupied Gaul, much of the Italian Peninsula, Spain, and north Africa.

The complete destruction of the Roman Empire, came under the Emperor Romulus, the last Roman Emperor who was captured by the Goths military leader called Odoacer, who later made himself the King of Italy and brought the city of Rome under his control.



Ahmad Abdullahi, BA History

My name is Ahmad Abdullahi, I was born on 10th March, 1994 in Garun-Danga Town, Gabasawa L.G., Kano State. I attended FCE Demonstration Primary School from 2002 to 2007, FCE Staff Secondary School from 2007 to 2013, and Northwest University, Kano from 2013 to 2017, where I obtained bachelor degree in History.

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