Ancient Rome


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Rome was settled in the Italian Peninsula. The legend tells that was founded by Romulus in 753 B.C. Surrounded by seven hills, on the banks of the river Tiber. Founded by a tribe, Latins from the centre of the Italian peninsula. By the time Rome was founded, Etruscans, Latins and Greeks inhabited this peninsula.

Romans founded the city near to the port of Ostia, to facilitate the access to the Mediterranean Sea, in the mouth of the Tiber in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

 1.1 The Monarchy. 753 – 509 B.C

Rome was ruled by seven kings from 753 B.C. until 509 B.C, when Tarquinius Superbus, the last King was deposed becoming in a Republic. The kings were served by the Senate, an advisory groups of nobles.

1.2. The Republic. 509 – 27 B.C

Senatus PopulusQue Romanus (The Senate and the People of Rome, in Latin)

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Republic: a political government system in which power is held by a person elected by the citizens for a limited period of time.

The Republic in Ancient Rome was characterised:

  • A group of nobles (300) that give advice and ruled the city.
  • Magistrates:
    • Consuls: Military power
    • Praetor: Administrate civil justice and governed the provinces
    • Aediles: Governed the cities
    • Quaestors: Administrate the treasure.
    • Censors: Elaborated lists of citizens
  • Legislative assemblies: Voted for laws and elected magistrates.

 – Social conflicts during the Republic.

Plebeians vs. Patricians.

Patricians has unlimited rights and Plebeians lived modestly and did not have political rights. They tried to found a Tribunal to represent them and increased their political rights, but they didn´t succeed.

The end of the Republic arrived after the assassination of Julius Caesar, who had become in a dictator. Julius Caesar was stubborn to death in the Senate in 44 B.C., probably by Brutus (his illegitimate son). Afterwards, a civil war broke out between Octavian and Mark Antony. In 27 B.C. The Republic came to its ending.

1.3 The Empire. 27 B.C – 476 A.D

The most important and splendorous period in the history of Rome was the Empire, that reached the Height in the 2nd century. The empire is divided commonly into two big periods:

– The Height of the Empire (1st-3rd c.) Roman Empire reached the largest empire. From Hispania in the West to Mesopotamia in the East. From North Africa (Mauritania-Aegyptus) to Britania in the North.


The first emperor was Octavio Augustus, awarded by the Senate, that kept their functions, but only symbolic. The emperor held absolute religious and political powers.

The most important emperors, during the 1st and 2nd, when Roman Empire reached its maximum size, were Claudius, Vespasian and Trajan. Trajan was an emperor who was born in Hispania (Italica, Sevilla).

This period is known as PAX ROMANA because it was a time with few wars.  Stability and prosperity.

– The decline of the Empire (3rd –  5th  c.) Roman started to lose territories.

The Decline, due to:

  • Barbarians Invasions from Central and North Europe. Germanic Tribes (Ostrogoths, Suebi, Alans, Huns, Visigoths, etc.)
  • Civil wars
  • Taxes increasing to pay the army

– The division of the Empire in 395 by Diocletian. Eastern Roman Empire and Western Roman Empire. Finally, the Fall of Western Roman Empire in 476. Eastern Roman Empire continued with Constantinople as its capital becoming in Byzantine Empire.

The last emperor of the Western Roman Empire was Romulus Augustulus.

476 A.D. is considered the end of Ancient History and beginning of the Middle Ages.


Divided into FREE PEOPLE and SLAVES.

During the Republic and the Height of the Empire, the society was divided into the following groups

 – Patricians: Rich families. Held political rights. Senators.

Plebeians: Rest of free people. Farmers, traders, craftsmen. Excluded from the government, were given Roman citizenship.



–  Foreigners: Free people with limited rights.

Liberti: Liberated people, freed people.  Former slaves freed by their owners

– Slaves: Considered a property. The hardest work (agriculture, mining, craftwork.

 During the decline of the Roman Empire, all the free people were given the citizenship rights, in order to collect more taxes and recruit more soldiers.

The role of the Women.            

The same in Ancient Greece, the society was patriarchal. Fathers controlled all the members of the family and their possessions, give names to the family (daughters and sons). Managed the finances and arranged marriages.

Women had no political rights, were controlled by men: father, brother or husband. But women gained some more rights that ancient periods.

One of the most famous women that had some rights, was HYPATIA of Alexandria, Philosopher and Mathematician.

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Only the children of rich families received an education.

– Soldiers.

The soldiers (legionaries) lived in camps built by themselves. Many poor Romans joined the army to make a living. They were paid good salaries. (Salary is a Latin word. It means that the soldiers were paid sometimes in salt which had a high value during Roman Empire).

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 Roman Cities.

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Cities were extremely important in Roman civilisation because they were the centre of economic activity, trade and craftwork.

Characteristics and main parts of the Roman cities:

Grid system: Built along straight lines crossing each other.

– Two main streets:

  • Cardo (Run from North to South)
  • Decumanus ( From East to West)

At the point where they crossed there were a large square: FORUM. This forum was the main place in the city. Centre of economic and social activities. Sewage system. Below the cobbled streets (Roads made of stone)

Plebeians lived in buildings made of poor materials: INSULAE.

Patricians and rich plebeians lived in comfortable one-storey individual family homes called DOMUS.


The cities were surrounding by protective walls. Civil buildings such as Amphitheatres, Circus, Aqueducts, and religious, such as Basilicas completed the Roman city.



– Greek influences in temples. Columns, pediments, and sculpture.

Pantheon of Rome (Agrippa)

– Utility and decoration. Each building for a specific purpose.

– Curved features: Arches and vaults made of (bricks and mortar) covered by marble.

Types of building Names FEATURES
RELIGIOUS Temples. The Pantheon. Decorated with Tuscan columns, like Greeks.
Scrolls and acanthus leaves mixed in the capitals.
POLITICAL BUILDINGS Basilica Court of Justice





Roman theatre in Merida

Circus in Rome

CIVIL BUILDINGS Houses, markets, thermal baths Public baths such as Caracalla or

– Civil engineering

Romans developed an important system of civil architecture to improve the life in the cities. They built:

  • Roads (calzadas) Several layers of stone with big flat slabs placed on top. roman road build ancient - Google Search:
  • Bridges to cross rivers and communicatte cities.
  • Aqueducts To run water from reservoirs (embalses) to the cities.
  • Walls: Such as Hadrian´s (Brittania) or Lugo (Galicia)
  • Lighthouses (Faros)
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Constantine´s Arch
Merida´s Theatre
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Flavium Amphitheatre (Collisseum)
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Lugo walls



3.1 Agriculture

Based on agriculture, trade, and craftwork

Romans grew cereals, legumes, grapes, olives, fruit, and vegetables.

Agricultural production increased due to the new tools and techniques:

The Roman Plough. Pulled by oxen. Made of wood and an iron blade to turn over the land.

Hand tools such as spades (palas), picks (picos), hoes (azadas), pruners and shears (Tijeras de podar)

Mills powered by water or animals to grind the cereal.

– New agricultural techniques (fertiliser, irrigation and crop rotation)

Presses, to make oil and wine.

Slaves worked in small farms belonging to peasants and large farms (villas) belonging to Patricians or rich plebeians.

3.2 Trade (map pg. 101)

– Though the Mediterranean Sea under Roman control

– Extensive network of roads.

– The use of coins (bronze, copper or silver), for trading easier.

3.3 Mining

Exploitation of mineral resources in their different provinces (gold, silver, copper). One of the most important mining regions was Las Médulas in El Bierzo (León). They obtained gold from this mines.

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Roman beliefs. They were polytheists. Initially, they believed in the forces of nature. Later, Roman religion was divided into public and private worship. Romans were pagans. And a lot of our Holydays and feasts are related to Roman Pagan calendar and gods.

Public worship: MAIN GODS in temples. The Romans adopted the Greeks gods and copied their temples.

– Private worship: at HOME. In small shrines at people´s home.

  • Lares
  • Penates
  • Manes

To predict the future, Romans went to AUGURS (seers). – AUGURAR, Spanish latin word- During the Empire, some emperors were considered like gods and were venerated and worshipped in temples: IMPERIAL CULT.


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In the 1st century A.D, a new religion appeared called Christianity. The teachings of Jesus de Nazareth. A Jew crucified in 33.

The birth of Jesus is the ERA that we take as reference in our calendars. A.C. (After Christ) or A.D. (Anno Domini).

* It is usual find CE referreing to our Era. Common Era.

Christian religion is monotheist. They only worship one God.

During the 1st century, Christianity appeared and some people in Eastern provinces became Christians. At the beginning, Roman emperors started to persecute Christians but Christianity continued its spread. In the 4th century, the Emperor Constantine the Great ended persecution and in 380, Theodosius established Christianity as official religion of the Empire. From this time on, Christianism became in the official religion of the Empire (4th century).


In many aspects was a continuation of Greek civilisation. We have inherited the classical Greco-Roman culture. The base of the Western culture.

ROMANISATION. It is the culture and customs extended in the conquered territories during the expansion.

LATIN. The language which the Romans spoke and wrote in. Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian derived from Latin.

Roman Army. Inhabitants of conquered territories formed part of it. They settled in cities and developed their costumes.

CITIES: They were administrative and trade centres. Roman culture spread to the surrounding territories, from the cities.


  • Philosophy: Greatest thinkers: Seneca and Cicero.
  • Literature: Plays and poetry. Virgil, Plautus and Publius Terentus
  • History: Julius Caesar, Titus Livy, Plutarch and Tacitus.
  • Science: In medicine,
  • Roman Laws. Still used. Base of current law.

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