Italian History III: The rise of Rome

Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, Italian History III: The rise of Rome, Italy, Italy (Photo by Gun Powder Ma)
Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, Greek art in Italy (500 BC–300 BC), General

The beginnings of the Republic of Rome

Leaving aside the famous legend of a she-wolf nursing the abandoned twins Romulus and Remus (the former kills his brother and founds a village called Rome) and Virgil’s Aeneid (Aeneas of Troy flees the burning city at the end of the Trojan War, makes his way to Romulus’s little village, and turns it into an ancient superpower), Rome probably began as a collection of Latin and Sabine villages in the Tiber Valley.

It was originally a kingdom ruled by the Etruscan Tarquin dynasty. In 509 BC, the last Tarquin king raped the daughter of a powerful Roman. After the girl committed suicide, infuriated Romans ejected the king and established a republic ruled by two consuls (chosen from among the patrician elite) whose power was balanced by tribunes elected from among the plebian masses.

The young Roman Republic sent its military throughout the peninsula and by 279 BC ruled all of Italy. Rome’s armies trampled Grecian colonies throughout the Mediterranean, and after a series of brutal wars defeated Carthage (present-day Tunisia), a rival sea power and once Rome’s archenemy.

By 146 BC, Rome controlled not only all of the Italian peninsula and Sicily but also North Africa, Spain, Sardinia, Greece, and Macedonia.

Still, Rome wanted more. It invaded Gaulish lands to the north and added what we now call France and Belgium to its realm. Rome even crossed the English Channel and conquered Britain all the way up to the Scottish Lowlands (Hadrian’s Wall still stands as a testament to how far north the Roman army got). However, so much military success so distant from Rome itself resulted in a severely weakened homefront.

With war booty filling the coffers, Rome ended taxation on its citizens. So much grain poured in from North Africa that the Roman farmer couldn’t find a market for his wheat and simply stopped growing it.

The booty had an additional price tag: corruption. Senators advanced their own lots rather than the provinces ostensibly under their care. Plebeians clamored for a bigger share, and the slaves revolted repeatedly. More reforms appeased the plebes while the slaves were put down with horrific barbarity.

 
 

Roman in Italy

Sights in Italy

The Arch of Septimus Severus flanked by the three columns of the Temple of Vespasian and Titus on the left, and the eight columns of the Temple of Saturn on the right. Just to the right of the arch are the Umbilicus Urbus and the broken, curving bits of s

The top ancient sites and ruins in Italy

 

Topics in Italy

Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127 (Photo by Sir Banister Flight Fletcher)

The great Roman architectural innovations were the load-bearing arch and the use of concrete, brick, and stone

 

Where to find the best ancient Roman sculpture, mosaics, and frescoes in Italy

 

Ancient in Italy

Sights in Italy

The Via Sacra

The top ancient sites and ruins in Italy

 

Topics in Italy

Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Photo by Gun Powder Ma)

Greek colonies settled the Sicilian and Southern Italian coasts well before the Romans

 
Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127 (Photo by Sir Banister Flight Fletcher)

The great Roman architectural innovations were the load-bearing arch and the use of concrete, brick, and stone

 

Where to find the best ancient Roman sculpture, mosaics, and frescoes in Italy

 

The art of early Christians was Roman in style, but its themes were starting to explore the figures and motifs that would soon become familiar

 

More on Roman

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Toscolano-Maderno
Garda's eastern shore

A beach town and Romanesque church on Garda's western shore

 
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Base di Tiberio, with personifications of the cities, from Pozzuoli (this museum has a plaster replica; the original's in the Archaeological Museum of Naples) (Photo by Sailko)

The Phlagrean Fields Archaeological Museum in the medieval Castello di Baia castle

 
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The Mithraic temple (Photo by Nik893)
The Mithraeum
Santa Maria Capua Vetere

A frescoed temple to an ancient Persian blood cult

 
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A Roman-era tomb in the necropolis below St. Peter's (Photo Fabbrica di San Pietro)

The Scavi—an ancient necropolis underneath St. Peter's Basilica—supposedly contain the burial site of Saint Peter alongside other Roman-era tombs

 
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A room in the museum (Photo by Filippo Espo)
Museo Correale
Downtown Sorrento

A small, bit-of-everything museum

 
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The Forum of Caesar, also known as Forum Iulium or Forum Julium, Forum Caesaris, is a forum built by Augustus Caesar in honor of his adoptive father, Julius Caesar, near the Forum Romanum in Rome in 46 BC (Photo by Ade Russell)
Forum of Caesar
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

The Forum of Caesar, part of the Imperial Fori in Rome

 
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Transept (Photo by Fczarnowski)
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Santa Maria degli Angeli
Rome: Termini train station

Rome's Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri is a church designed by Michelangelo to inhabit the remains of an ancient Roman bathhouse...you'd think it'd be more famous

 
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Arco d’Agusto
Northern Perugia

An ancient Etrusco-Roman city gate

 
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Ponte Pietra
Città Antica di Verona

Verona's ancient Roman bridge

 
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The Forum Boarium, with the round Temple of Hercules Victor on the left and the rectangular Temple of Portunus on the right (Photo by Carole Raddato)
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Foro Boario
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

Fraternal twin temples and the world's first sewer on lovely little "Cow Forum" by the Mouth of Truth

 
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Etruscan sarcophagus, with a terracotta couple, from the 7C BC (Photo by Damian Entwistle)
Villa Giulia
Rome: Outside the walls

An antiquities museum in the Villa Borghese park

 
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Pozzo Etrusco
Around Corso Vannucci

An ancient Etruscan well

 
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The loggia
Baths of Diocletian
Rome: Termini train station

Rome's Museo Nazionale Romano branch in the ancient Baths of Diocletian

 
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Base di Tiberio, with personifications of the cities, from Pozzuoli (this museum has a plaster replica; the original's in the Archaeological Museum of Naples) (Photo by Sailko)

The Phlagrean Fields Archaeological Museum in the medieval Castello di Baia castle

 
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Museo Archeologico
Southern Perugia

Umbria's main archaeological museum

 
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 (Photo by Anthony Majanlahti)
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Ponte Milvio
Rome: Outside the walls

The ancient Roman bridge where Constantine converted

 
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Ponte Pietra
Città Antica di Verona

Verona's ancient Roman bridge

 
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Pasquino, near Piazza Navona, is the most famous statua parlante (talking statue) of Rome (Photo by Emanuele)
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Pasquino
Rome: Tiber Bend

The Pasquino is the most famous of Rome's "Talking Statues"

 
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The Forum Boarium, with the round Temple of Hercules Victor on the left and the rectangular Temple of Portunus on the right (Photo by Carole Raddato)
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Foro Boario
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

Fraternal twin temples and the world's first sewer on lovely little "Cow Forum" by the Mouth of Truth

 
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 (Photo by Simone Ramella)
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This triumphal column reads like an ancient Roman comic strip of the Emperor's accomplishments

 
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A basement dining room inside an ancient Roman hallway (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
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Da Pancrazio
Rome: Tiber Bend

Dine in the buried arcades of an ancient Roman stadium

 
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 (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
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Da Giggetto
Rome: Lower Tiber Bend

Great artichokes and other Roman Jewish delicacies surrounded by ancient ruins in Rome's Jewish Ghetto

 
Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Photo by Gun Powder Ma)

Greek colonies settled the Sicilian and Southern Italian coasts well before the Romans

 
Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127 (Photo by Sir Banister Flight Fletcher)

The great Roman architectural innovations were the load-bearing arch and the use of concrete, brick, and stone

 

The Founding of Florence

 

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The art of early Christians was Roman in style, but its themes were starting to explore the figures and motifs that would soon become familiar

 

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