Expansion and Decline of Ancient Rome

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Essential Question

How has the expansion and decline of ancient Rome affected the wolrd we live in today?

Summary of Research

When Rome was first started it covered most of southern Italy. Their strong armies and good government system enabled them to gain power of most Europe. In 59 BC one of Rome's greatest rulers came to power, Julius Caesar. His goal was to conquer the lands surrounding Rome. He made many reforms to better the life of ancient Romans, but sadly he was murdered in 44 BC. After Julius Caesar’s rule Rome covered all of Italy, Spain, Gaul, parts of Northern Africa, and some of Eastern Asia. In 180 BC Rome had conquered Britain, and more areas across Europe, but a string of corrupted emperors would lead to the downfall of Rome. In the late 300's Rome fought with the Germanic tribes to keep control of their territory, but in 476 AD Odoacer, a German leader, threw out the emperor of Rome, ending the Roman Empire.


In 800 BC the Latins moved into the area of what is today Italy. They shared the land with a civilization called the Etruscans, who lived in the Northern and Southern parts of Italy. In 509 BC the Roman aristocrats, the rich people of Rome, promised the plebeians, or poor farmers, that if they helped to overthrow the Etruscan king, then they would have great power in the new government. When the Etruscan king was overthrown, the aristocrats did keep their promise, and the plebeians went on strike and moved out of Rome. With no one to work and farm the aristocrats eventually gave in, and allowed the plebian men to vote, but not the women or slaves. The plebians still did not feel they had enough power, and claimed that not enough of them knew the Roman laws. The government had the laws inscribed on 12 tablets and placed in the marketplace, for the first time it was possible for the plebeians to appeal a law made by a patrician judge. With the unity of the aristocrats and the plebeians the Romans now had a strong civilization.

The success of Rome was mainly because of their army, which valued loyalty, courage, and respect for authority. The typical military unit was the legion, about 5,000 men who fought without pay and supplied their own weapons. When the Romans conquered a country they allowed the people to keep their customs, money, and local government. The conquered lands had to provide the Romans with soldiers for the army, pay taxes, and acknowledge Roman leadership. To keep control of conquered lands Rome had soldiers posted over the land. The Roman army built roads to connect all the lands, hence the saying "All roads lead to Rome." As trade increased local countries started to incorporate Latin to trading deals and daily life, and adopted many Roman customs and beliefs. Gradually the Romans united the lands of Ancient Italy.
Ancient Rome at its largest expanse
The Roman wars with Carthage were from 264-133 BC. In 218 BC Hanibal, the Carthagian leader, lead his army from Pyranes, through France, over the Alps into Italy to defeat the Roman army by surprise. Unfortunately he was defeated in 133 BC, and the Roman Empire extended from Spain to Egypt. In 59 BC Julius Caesar came to power in Rome, and lead the army to Gaul. In 48 BC he gained control of Gaul, and launched public works to employ the jobless, he reorganized the government, and he created the Julian calendar, which is still in use today with some changes. 31 BC brought the period known as Pax Romana-Roman Peace- a period of peace, order, and unity to the lands of Rome. In 169 the period of Pax Romana ended, and with it came a period of political and economic downfall. Generals who had support of their troops overthrew a string of rulers. Those who took over power ruled for a short period of time before they were overthrown. In 50 years there were 26 rulers, out of which one died of natural causes the others were either overthrown or assassinated. During this period high taxes created difficulty for the business people and farmers. The land of small farmers was losing its productivity because of over cultivating; so many farms were abandoned. In 284 to 312 AD
Mosiac of Emperor Constantine
emperors Diocletian and Constantine created reforms that would help return Rome to order. Rome was divided into two areas, one for the wealthy eastern parts, and the western area of Rome. They lowered prices on goods and services to slow the rising inflation, but their efforts were not enough to return order in Rome.

In 350 AD the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and other German tribes reached Rome when fleeing from the attacking Huns. The Germanic tribes moved into Rome wishing to take it for themselves. With a bad economy the Romans had trouble putting up a fight, and lost Britain, France, and Spain. In 378 the Romans suffered a crushing defeat at Adrianople, and from there the Germanic people took over most of western Rome. In 476 the German leader Odoacer threw out the Emperor of Rome; today it is referred to as "the fall of Rome."


When the Romans spread throughout ancient Europe they created an impact on modern life. The saying “all roads lead to Rome” comes from the Romans creating roads throughout Europe to make better trade routes, and to make it easy to travel across Ancient Rome. Although roads were started as trackways made by the people in the Stone Age, the Romans first created roadways like we use today. The roads made by the Romans were in use 1,000 years after they made them.

During the time Caesar came to power Rome was in a time of turmoil. He created many reforms such as, public works, but his greatest reform was the Julian calendar. His calendar was made in 46 BC and first used in 45 BC. The Julian calendar consists of 365 days, 12 months, and one extra day every four years. His calendar was in use until the 20th century, when the Gregorian calendar replaced it.

The largest effect of the Roman expansion was the development of the Romance languages, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian. The Romance languages derive from Vulgar Latin, the language that the slaves, merchants, and soldiers spoke. Between 200 BC and 150 AD Latin was made the dominant language throughout the Roman Empire. When the Roman Empire collapsed Vulgar Latin dissolved into different dialects within many regions. The languages created by Spain, France, and Portugal spread across the world’s continents, and are still used today.


The expansion and decline of Ancient Rome has effected the our lives because they were the first people to create roads, Caesar created the Julian calendar, and the language they spoke is the base of the Romance languages. The Romans created roads like we use today in order to connect all of the lands they conquered, their roads were in use for thousands of years later, and the way they were made helped the creation of the roads we use today. The Julian calendar was created as a part of Julius Caesar’s many reforms. Today his calendar is still in use with one minor change. The Romance languages, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian, evolved from Vulgar Latin, which was spoke by the merchants, soldiers, and slaves of Ancient Rome. After the downfall of Rome these languages were created and spread throughout the world.


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