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Overview of Roman History
Temple of the Vestal Vergins, Foro Romanum
It all started when on the 21st April 753 B.C. Romulus founded the city of Rome, following . After him, we got for seven generation an elected king for life. This was mainly due to the fact that the Romans were to small for having a king of their own, they elected from the neighbor tribes the one who suited them the best: Latini, Volschi, Etruscans. It is only with the fifth King Tarquinius Priscus that the kingship became hereditary. The last of the seven kings was Tarquinius Superbus, or Tarquinius the Proud. It seems to me to proud in the eyes of the roman population. As king he thought he could do what he liked, and raped the daughter of a senator. That signed the end of the Kings. In an uproar they were dismissed and the Monarchy was replaced by a Republic.
Romulus, Victor over Acron, hauls the rich booty to the temple of Jupiter, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
And so we entering in the epoch of the Republic. Also because the Romans had no trust anymore to put the power in the hands of one single person. Senate, Consuls and Tribunes, representing the people. This worked well until the second century B.C. In those years, Rome got bigger, with a lot of social and economical complications. The hugh influx of money and cheap labour after the victorious war from 200-146 BC created a social turmoil. (See art.: Social and economical reform: the Gracchi Brothers). Consuls for one year ! You can imagine yourself how that worked. In the United States of America you start talking about the next president for years earlier, exactly on the 21 of January, when the just-elected is installed. And in the Roman Republic, elections every year. The Social Reforms by the brothers Gracchi, the dictatorship of Sulla, led within the Roman constitution to the first Triumvirate, with Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus who took the power for five years. But as it happens in the best matrimonies, it didn’t work with three partners. Caesar received the nord, Pompey Rome and Crassus the East. Crassus was so rich that he became the sponsor for the other two. But after Caesar and Pompey took his money for gaining the power, there was no need of him anymore. And Crassus own arrogance would be his end. Desperately he wanted to show that he was as good general as the other two. And as general, he put himself on the frontline in the battle (how stupid as general !) where shortly after he got killed in the style he always lived: extremely wealthy. Captured by the enemies, they cut his head off, filled it with melting gold and send it to Rome as prove they got him. Caesar on the other hand, acting outside the boundaries put on him by the senate, became extremely wealthy. The extremely successful campaign against the Gauls brought in his pockets something like five times the amount of money that Bill Gates has today. When they heard in Rome that he was coming back, it was said by Pompey and the Senate that he was not welcome anymore. See: Alan Greenspan’s farewell letter. And here is coming in (by Plutarch in Greek) the on the 10th of January 49 BC: (and in Latin by Suetonius), and the die is cast ! He decided to cross the Rubicone, a small river in the north of Italy, that created the border between the Italians and those not like us = greek word: Barbarians. And he marched with his army towards Rome. Pompey and his lobby of senators fled to the south, and Caesar, arriving in Rome, gave the order to go after them and to kill them all. Pompey was treachery murdered in Egypt. As single ruler of Rome, Caesar became very popular. He kept the most dangerous lobby, the mob, calm through populist laws, housing, free food and games. At the end he got so popular that they made him dictator for life. Than, someone spread the rumor that he wanted to create a monarchy, what meant that Rome would go into the hands of Egypt, being the only male hear of Caesar the son of Cleopatra, the last pharao of Egypt an their common son, Caesarione. That mostly led to the dramatic events of the Ides of March 44 B.C. when Caesar got murdered at the entrance of the Theatre of Pompey, by his adoptive son Brutus and 30 others. Thereafter started the ferocious civil war about the succession between his adopted son Octavianus and the most beloved general of Julius Caesar: Marc Anthony. That civil war ended in 31 B.C. with the sea-battle in Actium.
The victory went surprisingly to the young and unexperienced Octavianus, (see my article on Julius Caesar) called Augustus from 27 B.C. onwards. It was under the reign of Augustus that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem. This means, talking about emperors, it’s always A.D., after Christ. The Roman Empire expanded day after day and in 330 A.D. it got so big that it was not manageable anymore and it got split in two: The West with Rome as Capital and the East with Constantinople, founded by the Emperor Constantine. The West survived the devision only 140 years and collapsed under the weight of the Barbarians in 476 A.D. The East instead, with Constaninople as Capital survived it another 1000 years until they were defeated by the muslims on the 29th of May1454, who baptized the city into Istambul.
What made Rome the longest ruling Empire in the history? the answer you find in the next article about Alan Greenspan.
Marcus Licinius Crassus
Gneo Pompeo Magno
Alea Iacta est !
Augustus Prima Porta Vatican Museums
Emperor Constantine the Great, York Minster, England | by mariano capogrossi