Senatus Populus que Romanus History

Rome was, according to legend, founded circa 753 B.C. Even in its earliest creation myths, the Romans were a warlike people. The twins Romulus and Remus, as the story goes, fought each other for the marshy land alongside the Tiber and within the Seven Hills. After Romulus slew his brother, he established a small city and named it after himself.

However, this Rome did not hold in its breadth the coliseums and amphitheaters that come to mind when the stories of gladiators and Caesars are told. This Rome was primitive; its insulae were stone huts and its culture was not unlike the barbarians that plagued the Romans throughout their existence. The descendants of Romulus were lower-class servants of the Etruscans, the original inhabitants of Tuscany. Eventually, the Romans turned against their masters and completely destroyed the Etruscan civilization. Reviewing the deeds done by the tyrant kings, the people of Rome vowed to never again be ruled by a king.

Unfortunately, the class-based system of Etruscan culture maintained its life throughout the founding of the Roman Republic. Plebians, not much better off than the common slave, were dominated by the well-to-do class of patricians. They also inherited the bloodthirsty urge for lethal forms of entertainment. Slaves and prisoners were pitted against beasts and one another to fight to the death for the glory of giving the crowd a thrill. The citizens of Rome kept the demand for the fatal form of fun throughout the existence of Rome.

Nevertheless, Senatus Populusque Romanus (literally "The Senate and People of Rome") made many advances in government that are still reflected in Western democracies today. They established roads in which their armies thundered across the Mediterranean, they built aqueducts that brought water from rivers to more convenient locations, and they established sewers to carry the filth of city life far away from their thoughts. Their senate, while not offering the liberties that are taken for granted in this modern age, introduced a new system that had not been seen in Europe since the republic of Athens. Votes were tabulated to pick leaders- although these elections were often rigged, the ideas established by the S.P.Q.R. are reflected in today's culture.

The Roman armies showed the greatest discipline and unity of their time. The tactics they used were not new, and much of their technology was recycled, but the sheer numbers and restraint of a Roman legion were the envy of the world. For centuries, they defended Rome as a Republic and, less effectively, as an Empire. They defeated the African state of Carthage in the Punic Wars and assimilated Carthaginian naval warfare into their resume.

The Romans were not strangers to the soft aspects of culture, either. Their buildings embodied advanced construction techniques and were often works of art in themselves. Current government buildings in France, Germany, England and even the New World base themselves on the template of Roman design. Latin mythology had adopted the various Greek gods and their stories, branding them with new names such as Jupiter, Mercury and Neptune. The Romans had a civilization which took elements from every culture it warred against and bettered itself as a result.

However, as the saying goes, the bigger they are the harder they fall. The beginning of the end for Rome heralded itself when war hero Gaius Julius Caesar attacked Rome. After a time of civil war, Caesar had emerged on top by 45 B.C.. It wasn't long, though, until republican conspirators assassinated him. However, the gears of change were already in motion. The nephew of Caesar, Octavian, reunited the Roman republic and declared himself emperor in 27 B.C. He changed his name to Augustus and took the title of Caesar, now embodying most of the power the senate once held. However, he was so subtle in changing the politics of the new Roman Empire that few citizens noticed his monarchy forming. The kings of Etrusca had, it seemed, come back to haunt them.

Although now essentially a padded dictatorship, Rome still maintained her strength. Nonetheless, in her power, she was beginning to crumble on the inside. By around 400 A.D., the gulf between the plebeians and the upper-classes were beginning to escalate, and the ranks of the once-great armies of Rome were beginning to become populated by German mercenaries. The Empire had been split between two capitals: Roma and Constantinople. The new Christian religion was beginning to seep into the Imperial seat and dissolve away the culture that had made Rome great. The emperors of Rome were no longer powerful, but weaklings who cowered behind their Praetorian Guardsmen for protection. The Huns savagely made war against both Roman empires. At about 476 A.D., the barbarian Odoacer, a man who was actually in the Roman army, completely overtook the Western Roman Empire.

The legacy of Rome was still not done shedding its light. The Eastern Empire lived onward for many years, but their end eventually came too. Even today, Rome lives on through the people of Italy and in the minds of historians.