Rome's history spans more than two and a half thousand years, since its legendary founding in 753 BC. Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. It is referred to as "The Eternal City" (Latin: Roma Aeterna), a central notion in ancient Roman culture. In the ancient world it was successively the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of Western civilization. Since the 1st century AD, Rome has been considered the seat of the Papacy and in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic.
After the Middle Ages, almost all the popes since Nicholas V (1422–55) pursued coherently along four hundred years an architectonic and urbanistic program aimed to make of the city the world`s artistic and cultural center. Due to that, Rome became first one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance along with Florence, and then the birthplace of Baroque style. Famous artists and architects, such as - to name just a few - Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini, made of the city the center of their activity, creating masterpieces like St Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms and St. Peter's Square.
Rome has the status of a global city. In 2011, Rome was the 18th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are among the world's most visited tourist destinations with both locations receiving millions of tourists a year. Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics and is the seat of United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)...........................
About the origin of the name Roma several hypotheses have been advanced. The most important are the following:
From Rumon or Rumen, archaic name of the Tiber, which in turn has the same root as the Greek verb ῥέω (rhèo) and the Latin verb ruo, which both mean "flow";
From the Etruscan word ruma, whose root is *rum- "teat", with possible reference either to the totem wolf that adopted and suckled the cognately named twins Romulus and Remus, or to the shape of the Palatine and Aventine Hills;
From the Greek word ῤώμη (rhōmē), which means strength.................
Main article: Founding of Rome
There is archaeological evidence of human occupation of the Rome area from approximately 14,000 years ago, but the dense layer of much younger debris obscures Palaeolithic and Neolithic sites. Evidence of stone tools, pottery and stone weapons attest to about 10,000 years of human presence. Several excavations support the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built above the area of the future Roman Forum. While some archaeologists argue that Rome was indeed founded in the middle of the 8th century BC (the date of the tradition), the date is subject to controversy. However, the power of the well known tale of Rome's legendary foundation tends to deflect attention from its actual, and much more ancient, origins.
Legend of the founding of Rome
Capitoline Wolf suckles the infant twins Romulus and Remus.
Traditional stories handed down by the ancient Romans themselves explain the earliest history of their city in terms of legend and myth. The most familiar of these myths, and perhaps the most famous of all Roman myths, is the story of Romulus and Remus, the twins who were suckled by a she-wolf. They decided to build a city, but after an argument, Romulus killed his brother. According to the Roman annalists, this happened on 21 April 753 BC.This legend had to be reconciled with a dual tradition, set earlier in time, that had the Trojan refugee Aeneas escape to Italy and found the line of Romans through his son Iulus, the namesake of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. This was accomplished by the Roman poet Virgil in the first century BC.
Monarchy, republic, empire
Main articles: Ancient Rome, Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire
After the legendary foundation by Romulus,Rome was ruled for a period of 244 years by a monarchical system, initially with sovereigns of Latin and Sabine origin, later by Etruscan kings. The tradition handed down seven kings: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius and Tarquin the Proud.
In 509 BC the Romans expelled from the city the last king and established an oligarchic republic: since then, for Rome began a period characterized by internal struggles between patricians (aristocrats) and plebeians (small landowners), and by constant warfare against the populations of central Italy: Etruscans, Latins, Volsci, Aequi.After becoming master of Latium, Rome led several wars (against the Gauls, Osci-Samnites and the Greek colony of Taranto, allied with Pyrrhus, king of Epirus) whose result was the conquest of the Italian peninsula, from the central area up to Magna Graecia.
The third and second century BC saw the establishment of the Roman hegemony over the Mediterranean and the East, through the three Punic Wars (264-146 BC) fought against the city of Carthage and the three Macedonian Wars (212-168 BC) against Macedonia. Then were established the first Roman provinces: Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, Spain, Macedonia, Greece (Achaia), Africa.
Map depicting late ancient Rome.
From the beginning of the 2nd century BC, the power was contended between two groups of aristocrats: the optimates, representing the conservative part of the Senate, and the populares, which relied on the help of the urban populace to gain the power. In the same period, the bankrupt of the small farmers and the establishment of large slave estates provoked the migration to the city of a large number of people. The continuous warfare made necessary a professional army, which was more loyal to its chiefs than to the republic. Due to that, in the second half of the second century and during the first century BC saw fights abroad and at home: after the failed attempt of social reform of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus,and the war against Jugurtha, there was a first civil war between Gaius Marius and Sulla. To this followed the slave revolt under Spartacus,and the establishment of a first Triumvirate with Caesar, Pompey and Crassus.The conquest of Gaul let rise the star of Caesar, who fought a second civil war against the Senate and Pompey and, after his victory, established a lifelong dictatorship. His assassination led to a second Triumvirate among Octavian (Caesar's nephew and heir), Mark Antony and Lepidus, and to another civil war between the Octavian and Antony. The former in 27 BC became princeps civitatis and got the title of Augustus, founding the principate, a diarchy between the princeps and the senate.Established de facto the empire, which reached its greatest expansion in the second century under the Emperor Trajan, Rome was confirmed as caput Mundi, i.e. the capital of the world, an expression which had already been given in the Republican period. During its first two centuries the empire saw as rulers, after Octavian Augustus, the emperors of the Julio-Claudian, Flavian (who also built eponymous amphitheater, known as the Colosseum) and Antonine dynasties. This time was also characterized by the spread of the Christian religion, preached by Jesus Christ in Judea in the first half of the century (under Tiberius) and popularized by his apostles through the empire.The Antonine age is considered the apogee of the Empire, whose territory ranged from the Atlantic Ocean to the Euphrates, from the central-northern part of Britain to Egypt.
The Roman Empire at its greatest extent controlled approximately 6.5 million square kilometres of land surface.
In the third century, at the end of the Antonine dynasty, with the Severan dynasty the principatus was substituted by a military government, which was soon followed by a period of military anarchy, while the economy deteriorated, the inflation rose and the historical enemies of Rome, the Germanic tribes in the West and the Persian Empire in the East, bore a continue pressure on the frontiers.
Emperor Diocletian (284) fought the economic and military problems introducing the dominate, an absolute monarchy where the emperor was deified, imposing the price control and decentralising the administration: the emperor divided the empire into twelve dioceses, ruling under the title of Augustus the eastern half (with residence in Nicomedia) and naming Maximian Augustus of the western half, whose capital was moved to Mediolanum. The succession was regulated with the creation of the Tetrarchy: each Augustus, in fact, had to appoint a junior emperor, named Caesar, which would rule part of the roman territory on behalf of his Augustus and which would become, at the end, the new emperor.
After the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian in 305 and many dynastic fights, this system collapsed, and the new ruler, Constantine, centralized power again and, with the Edict of Milan in 313, gave freedom of worship for Christians, pledging himself to give stability to the new religion. He built several churches, gave the civil power of Rome to Pope Sylvester I and founded in the eastern part the new capital, Constantinople.
Christianity became the official religion of the empire, thanks to an edict issued in 380 by Theodosius, who was the last emperor of a unified empire: after his death, in fact, his sons, Arcadius and Honorius, divided the empire in a western and an eastern part. The capital of the western Roman Empire became Ravenna.
Rome, who had lost its central role in the administration of the empire, was sacked in 410 by the Visigoths led by Alaric I,but also embellished by the construction of sacred buildings by the popes (with the collaboration of the emperors). The city, impoverished and depopulated, suffered a new looting in 455, by Genseric, king of the Vandals.The weak emperors of the fifth century could not stop the decay, until the deposition of Romulus Augustus on August 22, 476 marked the end of the Western Roman Empire and, for many historians, the beginning of the Middle Ages..........