The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Ancient Rome

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Ancient Rome

The origins of Ancient Rome can be traced back to the 8th century BC, when it began its transformation from a small town on the Tiber River in central Italy into the majestic empire that covered most of mainland Europe, Britain, western Asia, northern Africa and the Mediterranean islands.

According to legend, the birth of Rome can even be given a specific date, 21 April 753 BC, when it was apparently founded by twin brothers and demi-Gods Romulus and Remus, grandsons of Numitor of Alba Longa, the Latin king. In an argument over where the city ought to be located, or whom it ought to be named after, Romulus killed his brother and duly named it after himself.

There is a modern theory that the city was founded even further back in time - the 10th century BC - by members of the Latin tribe. Recent excavations show that at that time there were indeed people living on top of The Palantine Hill, the centremost hill of the seven hills of Rome.

Colosseum in Ancient Roma
Colosseum

Rome grew into the largest city in the world - it is said that the population was approximately one million at the height of power. Within the city was the heart of government, military decisions and the Romans incredible wealth which was invested in a number of buildings.

Many buildings in Rome started off around the forum (a significant meeting and marketplace). For this reason it would have been a good choice to place government buildings, temples and palaces. But with the city’s increasing size the forum became very crowded, so a second city centre was planned and built a little further away, but still in the heart of Rome.

The Romans created a variety of stunning buildings within the city - the most famous is the Colosseum which was a central location for entertainment including gladiatorial battles, animal fighting, dramas and other public spectacles. These magnificent buildings were constructed so the emperors would be remembered by future generations. Emperor Vespasian ordered the building of the Colosseum in 72 BC and the iconic ampitheatre was completed during the reign of Emperor Titus in 80 AD.

Triumphal arches were also constructed throughout the city to celebrate military victories of the Romans and acted as a reminder to the people of how powerful the Roman army was.

Rome also had rich and poor living areas - poor people could only afford to live in wooden houses which unfortunately carried a high risk of fire, especially in Italy’s hot climate. Rome did actually fall victim to fires starting within the city slums. The slums were also a place of common crime, so the Emperor Augustus created a police force to patrol through the city. The poor areas were still not improved, though wealthy citizens were not concerned as they never visited those particular parts of the city.

Rome eventually collapsed due to the weight of its own empire and gradually lost its provinces - Britain around 410 AD, northern Africa and Spain by 430 AD. Attila the Hun invaded France and Italy during 450 AD which damaged the foundations even more. Then in 476 AD a German prince named Odovacar won control of the Roman Army in Italy. After he disposed of the last emperor (Romulus Augustus) he was crowned king of Italy, which brought an end to the long standing reign of Ancient Rome.

One of Rome’s legacies is the collection of ‘Romance’ languages such as Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian which all have Latin influences. The modern alphabet and calendar as well as the emergence of Christianity as a significant world religion are all evidence of Ancient Roman dominance.

See also: The Roman Empire 

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Ancient Rome". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.