An Introduction to Ancient Rome

More of this Feature

• Part 2: War as a Way of Life
• 
Part 3: The Struggles with Carthage
• 
Part 4: The Growth of Government
• 
Part 5: From Caesar to Empire
• 
Part 6: Empire's Rise and Fall
• 
Part 7: Construction, Culture, Economics
• 
Part 8: Religion and the Arts
• 
Part 9: And in the End

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Part 1: Starting Small

The civilization of ancient Rome was at one time the mightiest on the planet. Yet it, too, like any other civilization, began as one small settlement.

In 753 B.C., the city of Rome was founded, on the Tiber River, in what is now central Italy. Some people say that the twins Romulus and Remus fought each other for the right to found a capital city and that Romulus, who won the fight by killing his brother, founded Rome. Other people say that the settlers just called it Rome. Whatever the true story is, it is lost to history.

Rome soon attracted many people, and the city grew larger, both because the large city attracted people in search of adventure and wealth and because Roman warriors captured people from nearby settlements and brought them home to Rome.

The leaders of Rome at this time were kings. The last king of Rome was Tarquin.

In the early 6th Century B.C., Rome became a republic. This meant that a group of people, called the Senate, made the laws for the people of Rome. (And the civilization this time had grown quite a bit, including colonies.)

An early struggle developed between patricians (wealthy people) and plebeians (common people) over laws. The result was the Twelve Tables, a set of laws carved into rock so everyone would know what the laws were and to whom they applied.

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