Italian History V: The Roman Empire

Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127, Italian History V: The Roman Empire, Italy, Italy (Photo by Sir Banister Flight Fletcher)
Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127, Ancient Roman architecture (125 BC–AD 450), General

The Age of Empire in Rome

Augustus’s long reign ushered in Pax Romana, 200 years of peace under Roman rule. The new emperor, who preferred to be called “First Citizen,” reorganized the military and the provincial governments and reinstituted constitutional rule.

Succeeding emperors weren’t so virtuous: Deranged Tiberius and Caligula, henpecked Claudius I, and the infamous Nero, who in AD 64 persecuted the Christians of Rome with a viciousness easily equal to the earlier slave repressions.

Several of the military commanders who became emperors were exceptions to the tyrant mold. Late in the AD 1C, Trajan expanded the empire’s eastern boundaries and constructed great public works, including a vast series of markets (recently reopened to visitors in Rome).

At this peak, Rome knew amenities not to be enjoyed again in Europe until the 18th century. Citizens were privileged to have police protection, fire fighting, libraries, sanitation, huge public baths such as the Caracalla by the Appian Way, and even central heating and running water[md]if they could afford them.

The empire’s decline began around AD 200. After sacking the city several times, Goths and other Germanic tribes set up their own leaders as emperors and were more interested in the spoils of an empire than in actually running one. And while Edward Gibbon’s famous opus The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire takes up an entire bookshelf to explain Rome’s downfall, in the end it all boils down to the fact that the empire had gotten just too big to manage.

After embracing Christianity in his famous AD 313 Edict of Milan, Emperor Constantine I tried to resolve the problem by moving the capital of the empire from Rome to the city of Byzantium (later renamed Constantinople and today known as Istanbul).

The Roman empire was irrevocably split in half: a western Roman Empire comprising most of Europe and North Africa, and an eastern Roman Empire filling southeast Europe and the Near East.

In AD 476, the last emperor (ironically, named Romulus) fell from power and the Roman Empire collapsed.

It would be 1,500 years before Rome and Italy were once again united as capital and nation.

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Roman in Italy

Sights in Italy

The Mausoleum of Augustus as it was in 2016 (ongoing works are transforming it so it can open to the public)

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 ruins at Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome

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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The Mausoleum of Augustus as it was in 2016 (ongoing works are transforming it so it can open to the public) (Photo by Ethan Doyle White)
Mausoleo di Augusto
Rome: Tridente

The tomb of the emperor Augustus

 
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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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Ancient statues in the Aula Ottagona (Photo by Rene Boulay)
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Aula Ottagona
Rome: Termini train station

The Aula Ottagona is both the most atmospheric branch of Rome's Museo Nazionale Romano and the only one that's admission-free. Sadly, it's usually closed.

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

 

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The legendary twins who founded Rome—and the she-wolf that raised them

 

What was it really like being a gladiator?

 

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Museo Stibbert
Florence: Outskirts

Incredible private collection that includes the largest display of Japanese arms and armour in Europe

 
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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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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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The columns of the Basilica Ulpia backed by Trajan's Column (and a pair of baroque church domes— Santa Maria di Loreto on the left and Santissimo Nome di Maria on the right) in the Forum of Trajan, part of Rome's Imperial Fori (Photo by Ade Russell)
Trajan's Forum
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

The Forum of Trajan's is home to Trajan's Column, a massive carved marble comic strip of the emperors accomplishments

 
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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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 (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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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)
Free

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

 

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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

 

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The legendary twins who founded Rome—and the she-wolf that raised them

 

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