A thousand years ago Rome was one of the most important cities in the world. A legend tells of the city being formed by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, who were abandoned at birth and raised by a wolf. When the twins grew up, they decided to build a city where they had been abandoned. Remus and Romulus argued over the boundaries of this city. Romulus, in a rage, killed Remus. After Remus's death the city was named Rome after Romulus who ruled the city.

Whether the legend is based on facts can't be determined. Scholars know the city of Rome began as a small village around 753 BC. The early settlers made a living by farming. Gradually the village grew into a city. It was ruled by kings. In 509 BC, the citizens decided the city would no longer be ruled by kings. They elected two consuls to rule. The villagers began to conquer the surrounding territory and the city grew. By 250 BC, the Romans ruled all of Italy.

In 206 BC, the Romans built a fleet of ships to fight the Carthaginians of North Africa. The Romans won causing the Carthaginians to move to Spain. One Carthaginian soldier named Hannibal led an army against Rome. He used elephants to cross the Alps from Spain to attack the Romans. Hannibal won many battles, but the Romans finally defeated him by cutting off his food supply.

In 204 BC, the Romans attacked Carthage. Hannibal tried to defend his homeland, but he was defeated. The Romans completely destroyed Carthage and killed many citizens.

Rome became a very powerful city by 100 BC. Government officials became greedy and corrupt. Some demanded huge taxes from the Romans. Civil war broke out when two generals tried to take the power. In 73 BC, a slave named Spartacus led a revolt. He escaped to Mount Vesuvius and gathered an army of 90,000 slaves. He fought the Roman army until he was killed in 71 BC.

Student Dressed in Roman Clothing

Caesar and Pompey struggled to control the government. Caesar defeated Pompey's army, and Pompey escaped to Egypt. He was murdered there. Caesar went to Egypt to help Queen Cleopatra keep her throne. After several conquests, he returned to Rome.

In 45 BC, Caesar became the sole ruler of Rome. He planned improvements for Rome. Before he could carry out these plans, Caesar was murdered in 44 BC. After this, there was a struggle for power between Mark Antony and Octavian, Caesar's heir. Octavian became Rome's first emperor of Rome when Mark Antony and his wife, Cleopatra, killed themselves in 30 BC rather than be defeated. Octavian changed his name to Augustus in 27 BC. Augustus built up the Roman army. With this force, he was able to conquer the surrounding territories increasing the Roman Empire.

In 117 AD, Hadrian became emperor. He strengthened the frontiers and built a stone wall across northern Britain to keep out intruders. In Judea, the Roman army stopped a revolt led by the Jews. They killed thousands of people.

 The Roman Empire began to rule over the entire Mediterranean world including most of Europe and parts of East and North Africa by the second century AD. Barbarians attacked northern Italy, but were defeated.

In the third century, the army controlled the government. Generals were often chosen as emperors. The empire was too big to control. This led to many civil wars. With the weakened state, the Persians began to regain the land they had earlier lost.

Soldiers posted across the empire learned of new religions. One was Christianity. The emperors blamed the Christians for the troubles the empire was having. The Romans killed many Christians because of this.

In 284 AD, Diocletian was elected emperor by his troops. He divided the empire into the eastern and western halves. This helped the empire to be easier to control. Still the empire did not have enough funds to build the army they needed to protect their immense boundaries.

In 320 AD, Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion. He moved the capital and named it Constantinople after himself. There he ruled the eastern half of the empire.

Barbarians attacked the western empire. In 410 AD they destroyed Rome. In 476 a barbarian, Germanic leader Odoacer, became the ruler of Italy. Constantinople was able to hold off the barbarians until it was captured by the Turks in 1453. This empire was so great that the influence of the Romans can still be seen today.


Click the images to go to the individual pages.

Ancient Rome Introduction
Romulus and Remus
The History of Rome


The City of Rome
Ancient Roman Emperors
Roman Gods


Ancient Roman Gladiators
The Roman Meal
Ancient Roman Entertainment


Ancient Roman Baths
Ancient Roman Clothing
Ancient Roman Children


Ancient Roman Slaves
Ancient Roman Soldiers
Ancient Roman Homes


Ancient Roman Art
Ancient Roman Calendar
Ancient Roman Building


Roman Numerals
Roman Catacombs