Ancient Rome City: Between Legends and The Truth

In order to understand how the Roman culture spread throughout the Ancient World, you must first see how the city known to us as Rome appeared, how the establishment in these territories paved the way for other cities throughout the empire.

Ancient Rome — City Of Gods

There is evidence that the city of Rome arose as a result of the unification of different tribes living in ordinary villages, grouped around seven hills, on which Rome is located. Historians believe that in these settlements there were kings who ruled the peasants who lived on the fertile slopes and along the Tiber River.

Of all the tribes, the Etruscans were the most mysterious. Who were they?

We know nothing about the Etruscans except what they told us through their art. The Greeks and Romans left us a rich literary heritage, including historical works, but from the Etruscans we did not have any legends or epics in writing. All that the experts found are few monuments that survived several centuries. These ancient monuments give us basic information about the Etruscan civilization.

Around 600 BC the Etruscans founded a settlement, which eventually became the "heart" of the Roman Empire and all its cities. Some historians believe that it was the Etruscans who invented the aqueducts, with which the Romans later supplied their cities with fresh water.

The Etruscans were illustrious artists, skilled blacksmiths and builders. From the paintings found in their well-preserved tombs, it is clear that the values for the Etruscans were love and passion.

Mysticism and divination were held in high esteem and were considered sciences. The Etruscans believed that the future could be predicted by the flight of a flock of birds or by the liver of a dead animal.

A number of neighbouring tribes - such as the Latins, Samnites and Sabinians - coexisted with the Etruscans. These tribes worked closely in trade and adopted each other's lifestyles, so historians find it difficult to say who the Romans were.

It is only known that the people who settled on this territory and gained independence from Etruscan leaders began to be called the Romans.

How did the foundation of Rome happen?

The story is silent about many things, mystifying and throwing contradictory facts to us. The most famous legend connects the origin of Rome with the god Mars in the 9th century BC. The main god of the Latin race impregnated the Vestal virgin, who gave birth to the brothers Romulus and Remus.

But the vestal virgin violated the holy Roman law by becoming pregnant. She had to abandon her children, she put them in a basket and sent them down the Tiber River. They did not drown: the Tiber was calm, and the children were safe. They were found by the she-wolf and fed on her milk. This is a famous statue and symbol of Rome. Romulus and Remus appear as demigods, which allows the Romans to believe that they are descended from the god.

Legend has it that, having matured, Romulus killed his twin brother to be the sole ruler and king. Where did this legend come from?

There is an assumption that historians of that period simply composed this legend as a divine justification for the conquest of foreign lands. The participation of the god in the birth and life of the twins allowed Romulus to continue to embody his insidious plans. Tsar Romulus invited people from all over Italy, even vagrants, to settle in Rome. He did this to strengthen his power.

Romulus went to neighboring tribes to find wives for the bachelors of his city, but his attempts were unsuccessful: who would agree to give his daughter for criminals, even if the king asks for it? But soon Romulus got his way.

He called tribes to Rome at the festivities in honor of the god Neptune. But when the festivities were coming to an end, the king gave a special signal, entertainment was replaced by horror and ruin: young Romans seized the arena and raped the Sabine virgins.

The story of the dishonored Sabinian virgins partially tells us who made up the population of Rome. The same atrocious crime explains why it is so difficult to determine who the Romans were. But whether the tragedy of the Sabine virgins was true or myth remains a mystery. And was there really a king named Romulus who founded Rome?

Several archaeological finds made in different centuries give us reason to believe in this famous legend. One of these monuments is the house of Romulus on the Palatine Hill. Some historians believe that this hut was once the home of Romulus, the first Roman king.

Can archeology provide us with confirmation that there were kings in the early Rome?

The proof was found on a Roman forum at the end of the 19th century: it is a cryptographic inscription called Lapis Niger, “Black Stone”, because it was found under slabs of black marble. On the stone it is written that anyone who will disturb this place will have a curse. If the king discovers that someone has stepped on this road, he will confiscate the cattle of the offender. Let everyone turn and go in a roundabout way.

Having learned more about Rome, kings and inhabitants of huts, we can imagine what the Eternal City had become under the rule of emperors 6 centuries later.

Formation of Ancient Rome City

And yet, how did the transformation of a group of villages into a city-republic, and then into the capital of an entire empire, really happened?

The history of the formation of Rome is an example of pragmatism and power. It became the "heart" of the empire when the Romans captured the rest of Italy, Greece, Spain and Africa.

The Roman Forum is the oldest monument of Roman architecture, it was from here that the city began its history. Soon it became the most important artery of Rome: there were markets, temples, the Senate, meetings.

Conquering all the new cities of the world, the Romans built roads from the center to the distant possessions of the empire. Each road had to lead back to the house in Rome - to the forum.

Around 509 BC Rome from a united settlement of huts turned into a republic governed by the Senate.

In the late period of the Roman Republic, in the 2nd century BC, many wars were started and won. The next victories brought money, on which new cities were built.

One of the most important heroes of the Roman Republic was Julius Caesar - a brave general whose victories made this brave commander, his soldiers and the whole of Rome rich.

Caesar had millions of admirers, but there were enemies as well. Fearing that its strengthening would lead to the establishment of a monarchy, the conspirators killed Caesar at the peak of his fame.

Caesar's death became a symbol of the end of Rome as a republic.

Within two years, the conspirators themselves were killed. The Roman people declared Julius Caesar a god.

Caesar's death paved the way to the throne for his adopted heir, Octavian, who later became the first emperor Augustus Caesar.

He was able to do the impossible: to keep the whole Roman world in unity. At a young age he fought and won in battles. The main problem for him was the retention of power, the consolidation of forces and the creation of a structure that could unite Roman civilization for the next four centuries. And he succeeded.

There is a well-known saying that Rome was not built in one day. No emperor attributed to himself the creation of the capital. Each successful ruler sought to leave his mark on history, creating massive structures for the benefit of the people and to perpetuate themselves. Most often this was achieved by invading foreign territories and founding new Roman cities in their place.

Daily Life in Ancient Rome City

Rome gradually became the largest city of that time. He attracted people with a variety of activities, unusualness and entertainment. Someone rejoiced at the diversity and difference between people, and someone criticized them. Rome combined the beauty of virtue and decline.

The lifestyle of the capital spread to other, conquered and romanized, cities. In Rome there was a common daily routine, not the same as in modern life - it was different. They got up early, of course. Work was done in the morning; breakfast was very small, then they worked again. Successful people who had their own business and political influence opened their home in the morning for visitors or for those who supported them, voted for them or conducted their affairs. Wives and slaves went for daily purchases, and those who had no business went to eat in a tavern. In the morning, schools, taverns, atriums, and libraries - all were open. At noon the city froze. Then it was lunch time, for most people it was the main meal of the day, after lunch they did not work. They went to baths, met friends, listened to fresh gossip, then went home and had a rest.

Toward evening, many Romans went to the Circus Maximus to watch games or make a bet. Those who had problems went to the soothsayer or to the temple.

Contrary to popular myths about the hedonism and dissoluteness of the ancient Romans, it took tremendous work, strength and engineering to erect buildings and structures that, after a thousand years, speak of the Eternal City and its inhabitants.

Ancient Rome became the scene where warriors, slaves, artists, and officials played their roles amid growing greatness. Part of this greatness was to be transferred to cities in distant lands as a sign that the Romans had conquered them.

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