The Roman Empire was one of the most influential civilizations in human history.
During the Roman Empire’s reign, humanity pressed forward towards new ideas that people still study and master to this day.
Without the Roman Empire, we might not have as much interest in subjects such as math, science, sports, politics, military tactics, and even creative and performing arts.
This long-reigning empire made the most out of its existence and blossomed into a more civilized society.
How Long Did The Roman Empire Last?
The Roman Empire lasted more than 1,000 years, beginning around the eighth century BC.
The bulk of the Empire, the western part, fell in the fifth century AD, while the Eastern part continued for the next 1,000 years as the Byzantine Empire, which surrounded the city of Constantinople, now known as Istanbul in modern-day Turkey.
The Roman Empire started during the times of Ancient Rome when the city of Rome was founded.
Historians often divide the development of the Roman Empire into three stages: the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic, and the Roman Empire.
The beginning of the Roman Empire began when Julius Caesar took control of the crumbling Roman Republic.
The Roman Republic had gained a taste for land and power, but the leaders had no clue how to balance the two desires.
Eventually, the Roman Republic had taken over Italy, North Africa, and the Mediterranean.
With more people than ever relying on the Roman Republic, Rome’s resources were growing scarce and the divide between the rich and the poor was growing more with each passing day.
The Republic thought it could solve the wealth problem by paying their soldiers gold, but all that did was make the soldiers more loyal to their generals rather than the Roman Republic.
Julius Caesar was one of these generals, and he thought that if he could run an effective army, he could run an effective country.
Julius Caesar’s reign came to end when he demanded that the Senate make him dictator for life.
Instead of receiving a lifetime guarantee on his republic, he received multiple stabs to the back and died in 44 BC.
Julius’s adopted son, Octavian, soon took over and became the first Emperor of Rome.
By this time, Rome had even more land to rule, which included Egypt, Southern Europe, Western Europe, Crimea, the Balkans, and a large amount of the Middle East.
This time is seen as the peak of power for the Roman Empire.
The Fall Of The Roman Empire
What made the Roman Empire so powerful is also what ended up destroying it.
It was through their military that the empire had gained so much land at the peak of its power.
While paying the military had been questionably beneficial in the beginning, their army had grown too large for their wallets.
The Roman Empire barely had enough to pay the soldiers, which meant that money couldn’t go towards the many other important aspects of running an empire.
Wealth disparity was becoming a problem once again.
While new laws had made slavery less legal, the government also had no way to pay the many other types of workers who served them.
Although the military was funded to the best of the Roman Empire’s abilities, this didn’t stop its expensive army from losing more and more battles.
The Roman Empire was losing a grip on its control, and nobody quite knew what to do.
Once again, over-expansion put the Romans in hot water.
There was another battle being waged inside the empire, and it was one of faith.
For centuries, the Romans had their own religion, and many of them saw their governing bodies as deities as well.
Christianity was quickly spreading across the Empire, starting in the Middle East.
With each day, more Romans were looking towards the Christian faith and their god rather than the many gods they had worshipped for years.
The Western Roman Empire was the first to fall, and it was followed by the Eastern Roman Empire about 800 years later.
The Council Of 12
There were 12 main gods and goddesses that the Romans worshipped.
The Di Consentes, the Council of 12, was made up of Jupiter, Juno, Neptune, Minerva, Mars, Venus, Apollo, Diana, Vulcan, Mercury, Ceres, and Vesta.
Each of these gods and goddesses had their own place in Roman day-to-day life.
Jupiter is the leader of the Di Consentes and king of all the gods.
He was seen as the god of sky, thunder, and lightning.
When his father, Saturn, died, he and his two brothers divided their rule between the heavens, the underworld, and the sea.
Jupiter was married to his sister, Juno.
She was the goddess of marriage and the proctor of Rome and married women.
Neptune is the god of the sea and ruler of horses and horse racing.
His fury would cause large storms and rough waters.
Minerva was the niece of Neptune and daughter of Jupiter.
Minerva was called the goddess of a thousand works and looked over arts, poetry, and wisdom.
Mars was the god of war and the son of Jupiter and Juno.
Although known for being an attractive god, like Neptune, he was also known for being mean, cocky, and bloodthirsty.
He had four children with Venus, the goddess of beauty, love, sex, desire, victory, and fertility.
Venus was married to Vulcan, who was the god of fire, the forge, and blacksmithing.
Apollo was the god of the sun, music, and prophecy.
He was a gentle and complex god who had his own cult, the Cult of Delphi.
Diana was Apollo’s twin and the goddess of the hunt and the moon.
Mercury was the god who wore winged sandals and looked over travel, communication, trickery, and profit.
Ceres was the goddess of the harvest, agriculture, and fertility.
Vesta was the goddess of hearth and home.
Caesar And Cleopatra
While many people may know that Cleopatra was a beloved ruler of Egypt, what you may not know is that Julius Caesar gave her a hand in her ascension to the throne.
When Cleopatra was 18, she was forced to marry her 10-year-old brother in order to keep the throne after the passing of her father.
However, Cleopatra had no intention of sharing her reign.
She was known for being as clever as she was beautiful and was able to flee to Syria when she was forced out, putting her younger brother in charge.
Cleopatra ran to Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire, pleading with them to help her get back the kingdom that was rightfully hers.
Luckily, the Roman Empire was already upset with the Egyptians for not paying back the money that they owed the Romans while the financial crisis was beginning to arise.
The Roman Empire flushed Cleopatra’s younger son and his forces out of Egypt.
He was assumed to have died by drowning in the Nile River.
During this time, Cleopatra and Julius Caesar were spending a lot of time together and eventually had a child named Caesarion, which meant Little Caesar.
When Julius Caesar was assassinated, Cleopatra and Caesarion went back to Egypt.
Finally having a male counterpart to rule over Egypt with, Cleopatra became the ruler of Egypt alongside her son.
Innovations That Built Up The Roman Empire
We can attribute many of the things in our daily lives to the innovations that the Roman Empire created.
While there was a heavy focus on the military and fighting, knowledge and wisdom were greatly celebrated and seen as blessings from the Council of 12.
One of the innovations that literally built up the Roman Empire was concrete and cement.
Many of the ancient structures that modern-day tourists flock to in Rome are still standing because of the concrete that the Roman Empire made.
Concrete was used to build everything from holy temples to aqueducts and even bridges.
They used slaked lime and volcanic ash, also known as pozzolana, to make their cement.
The Romans respected their time in the bathroom, whether it was their public toilet or their public bathhouses.
They also had underground sewage.
All this was thanks to their invention of the aqueduct.
They were first introduced in 312 BC and carried water throughout the entire city.
Roman aqueducts could be as long as 60 miles!
As the empire was expanding, the Roman Empire found that their citizens and military needed easier ways to travel.
They began creating roads with dirt, gravel, and bricks of granite or hardened volcanic lava.
By the time 200 AD had rolled around, more than 50,000 miles of road had been created.
The newly added roads made it less likely for travelers to get lost and made it easier for the military to spread the word after their battles.
After mastering the art of making concrete, the Roman Empire used it to create gorgeous arches that help give the architecture its distinctive look.
While working on the arches, the iconic Roman column was created, along with vaulted and domed ceilings.
The Roman made sure that every building was as beautiful as it was functional.
Educating The Roman Empire
Many of the great thinkers of the Roman Empire gathered their inspiration for their lives from Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.
Although philosophers and scientists weren’t paid as well as soldiers, this didn’t stop their innovative drive towards better living.
The Roman Empire wanted to have well-rounded citizens.
One of the first things that Julius Caesar required of the Senate was the release of written statements about what they were discussing and deciding on for the day.
This led to the creation of the Acta Diurna, or “daily acts”.
These stone or metal tablets were placed in parts of the city with high foot traffic.
Not only could you read about the Senate, but you could also read about war efforts, a list of games that were being held, gladiatorial battles, and the births and deaths of citizens.
Although the Acta Diurna was made on metal and stone tablets, the Roman Empire did create bound books.
Tablets were too big to store large numbers of them and were an absolute hassle to carry around.
To make the spreading and preserving of knowledge easier, the Romans made the codex.
The first codices were made with wax tablets, but they were later made with animal skin parchment.
Although it is no longer used, the Julian calendar was created and used for many years.
This near-perfect calendar had a few things wrong with it that the Gregorian calendar later fixed.
When working alongside the astronomer Sosigenes, Julius Caesar was about 11 minutes off from the actual solar year.
This threw his entire calendar off by a few days.
The Romans also refused to let a month-end on an even number because they saw it as bad luck.
Without the Julian calendar, there would be no Gregorian calendar.
The Assassination Of Julius Caesar
Although beloved by his people, Julius Caesar was not a fan favorite among any of the Senate members.
During his rule, Julius had become quite full of himself.
In the days of the Roman Empire, purple was a color only worn by the gods, but Julius had a purple robe made for himself.
Julius wasn’t just loved for the way he saved Rome when the Roman Republic fell, but he was also a beloved travel, scientific, and political author.
His writings were enjoyed by people all over the empire and even outside of the empire.
However, 60 members of the Senate plotted to kill him over his arrogance.
In February, the Senate staged a crowning ceremony for Caesar to be crowned king, but Caesar wanted no part.
Caesar instead demanded that the Senate make him dictator for life, but power was making Caesar uncontrollable.
On March 15th, 44 BC, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by a group of people 23 times.
Among the men who killed Caesar was Marcius Junius Brutus, whom Julius saw and treated as his own son.
When Julius saw that Marcius was one of the men sent to kill him, he quit defending himself and gave up, knowing that something horribly wrong had happened and that the only way to fix it was for him to die.
Everyone knew that the Senate had set up the assassination in hopes of gaining public favor, but the exact opposite happened.
The public hated the Senate for what they had done, and civil wars began breaking out all over the Roman Empire.
As soon as Julius Caesar died, his adopted son and grandnephew, Octavian, took his place.
When he came to power, he changed his name to Augustus Caesar.
Augustus lived a long life of 75 years and spent every minute of life after the age of 17 cleaning up the mess he had inherited.
Augustus was thrown into power during civil wars and intense public unrest.
However, he was able to do a lot of damage control and bring the Roman Empire back to a point of thriving.
Augustus was mostly raised by his grandmother, the sister of Julius Caesar.
He fought at the side of Caesar and was as impressive of a soldier as he was a political leader.
While fighting, Augustus found himself shipwrecked which stranded him from the rest of the Roman military.
Augustus swam to shore and then made the long journey back to Rome.
Julius was so impressed by the young man’s ability to survive and determination that he gave Augustus the inheritance which later earned him the title of emperor of the Roman Empire.
Augustus was preferred by the Senate and old allies of Julius Caesar, but his rival, Marc Antony, was still determined to have the throne.
After Augustus’s army lost to Marc Antony’s army, they agreed to work together to rid the Roman Empire of any of the traitors that had Julius Caesar killed.
Together with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, another Roman general, Augustus and Antony formed the Second Triumvirate.
This agreement gave Marc Antony the eastern side of the empire and gave Augustus the western side of the empire.
This worked out especially well for Marc Antony who was in a romantic relationship with Cleopatra, despite being married to Augustus’s younger sister.
The Roman Empire’s Impact
his once kingdom turned global empire has been craved by many historical figures, such as Napoleon.
The many advancements that this empire made have given us our modern calendar, indoor plumbing, waste management, newspaper, concrete, roads, and countless other innovations.
Their rich history has many lessons you can learn from it, such as not taking on more than you can handle and pride can be your downfall.