Rome's Rise to Power: | The Roman Army: | The Roman Republic: | Julius Caesar: | | Roman Entertainment: | Roman Gods: | The Legacy of the Romans:


Rome's Rise to Power:

If you believe the myth, Rome is said to have been founded in 753BC by Romulus and Remus. Rome was ruled by seven kings until 509BC when it became a republic. This meant that the people of Rome could now chose their own leaders. Rome began taking over the areas that surrounded it and by 250BC they controlled most of Italy. The bigger Rome got the more foreign countries it came into contact with especially coastal countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Because merchants sold goods to these countries and made a lot of money they soon came into conflict with people from other places that wanted to sell the same goods. Trade in these areas had previously been controlled by the North African city of Carthage. The Romans fought three wars against Carthage which they were able to win. Carthage was destroyed and its people were sold into slavery.

Because Rome had won the war against Carthage they now had more land to control. They also managed to take over Greece, Macedonia and Asia-Minor (modern day Turkey). Each new land was required to pay taxes to Rome. This made Rome very rich. Rome continued to conquer lands including Germany, Asia, Africa and Britain.



Click here to watch a video of the story of Romulus and Remus

The Roman Army:

Because Rome controlled a large empire they needed a large and well organised army. The main part of the Roman Army was a legion. Each legion had about 5000 men and was commanded by a legate. In each legion men were divided in cohorts. Cohorts were then divided into six centuries. There was approximately 80 men in each century. Centuries were commanded by centurions who were responsible for training the soldiers under their command. They would teach them military drills and make sure their men could follow orders.


The Roman Republic:

The Roman Republic was controlled by the senate. The 600 members of the senate advised the consuls on how the Roman Republic should be governed. There were two consuls in Ancient Rome. As well as governing Rome the consuls also commanded the army. Any action the senate or consuls wanted to take could be blocked by the tribunes. The tribunes job was to protect the rights of the peasants. The citizens of Rome would meet every year to elect the consuls and tribunes. This was called the assembly. Romans citizens were divded into two groups: the Patricians - weathly Romans who were often members of the senate and
: the Plebians - poorer Romans who disliked the fact that the Patricians had more power than them.

There was two groups of Romans that were not allowed to vote - women and slaves. Women did used to try and convince men to support their ideas. If you were not a citizen of Rome you could have no say in the governing of the empire. People that were not Roman citizens were called barbarians.

Julius Caesar:

One of the most famous generals in Ancient Rome was Julius Caesar. He was elected consul of Rome in 59BC. He then set about conquering Gaul (modern day France). Within seven years all the tribes of Gaul had been defeated by Caesar's army. He even led two expeditions to Britian. Shortly after this he became involved in a feud to see who would control Rome with Pompey. Caesar won this then became involved in the civil war that was going on in Egypt. There he met Cleopatra who lived with him for a short while.

Because Caesar became 'dictator for life' and placed his friends in powerful positions in Rome some people wanted to get rid of him. On 15 March 44BC Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of senators. They had hoped to make the senate powerful again but failed because after Caesar's death there was many rivals for his position. 20 years later Rome was no longer a republic it was now ruled by an emperor.

Click here to listen to a song about Julius Caesar

Roman Entertainment:

Chariot Racing:

Chariot racing took place in the Circus Maximus in Rome. The track there was 656 feet wide and 1 969 feet long and could hold almost 100 000 spectators in the wooden stands that surrounded it. This was expanded to hold up to 350 000 people in 4AD. Teams of horses would race around the track seven times pulling a chariot with a rider on board behind them. Four teams dressed in different colours would compete in each race. It was a dangerous sport because chariots would often hit one another or the inside wall. This added to the excitment for the spectators. Injury to the horse or rider was not uncommon at the chariot races.

Click here to watch the chariot race from the movie Ben Hur

Gladiator Games:

Gladiator games were also popular in Ancient Rome. The games were held in the Colosseum. Animal shows were held in the morning. Often animals fought one another or were hunted and killed in the arena. Spectators looked forward to fights between animals such as lions and tigers and humans. Gladiators were generally slaves that had been captured, criminals or prisoners of war. Different types of gladiators had different weapons. Some gladiators were given a net to defend themselves with, others were given armour and a small sword. In the event that a gladiator was njured he could ask the crowd for mercy. If his had fought well them might grant this. If not he would be killed. It was possible if you were a good fighter to buy your freedom.

Bath Houses:

The public baths presented an opportunity for Romans to socialise with one another as well as clean themselves. Most big cities had at least one public bath house. There was many rooms within each bath house. Some people chose to exercise there as well. People would enter the warm room first. This would allow the pores of their skin to open. They would then go into a hot steam room. Here they would apply perfumed oil to themselves. They would scrap the oil off as they sweated. This would remove any dead skin. After they had completed this bathers would jump into a pool of cold water. This was designed to close the pores of their skin before they went outside.

Roman Gods:

As the Roman empire got bigger they started to adopt the ideas of other parts of their empire. This is how the Romans got the names for their gods. The 12 main gods are from Greece. They were all given a Roman name. Because the Romans did not know about science they used the gods to explain how things happened. Romans built temples to their gods and had festivals in their honour. Sacrafices were made to the gods as well.


Click here to watch video on Roman Mythology

The Legacy of the Romans:

The Ancient Romans are remembered for many things including the buildings and aqueducts they built, their art and architecture and the laws and government they created. We even still use their numbers and a variation of their calendar.

Further Information

BBC Ancient Rome Website
The Colosseum

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