It was one of the greatest deeds in the history of the Roman Empire – the glorious but brief restoration of the Western Roman provinces, the capture of Rome, and the series of month-long sieges in order to take back major Italian cities. From 535 to 554 AD, the Byzantines and Ostrogoths fought furiously over the peninsula. By the last year of the war, the Byzantines are able to conquer the majority of Italy, but their territorial holdings will soon come under attack by the cruel Langobards later in the century.
The port city of Ostia, built at the mouth of the River Tiber, was home to between forty and sixty thousand residents during its peak. Attracting merchants, traders, farmers, patricians and builders, Rome’s central naval base proved significant in its overseas operations and enabled it to conduct widespread trade between its many provinces, notably during the Republican period.
The archaeological find you see above is called an “aureus” and is one of the most valuable and high-quality coins that were issued, minting and distributed during the late Roman Republic and Empire, up until the about the 4th century.
1. Did the Romans really control a quarter of the world?
No, they didn’t. They conquered the majority of Europe, a slice along the North of Africa and mostly dominated the east. This map shows the extent of the Roman Empire in the year 117AD, at around the height of its landmass and power. It is true that at one point a quarter of living humanity were Romans, but they had not conquered a quarter of the world.
In the fifth chapter of Livy’s work, we see Romulus escape capture, Remus taken for punishment to the King, and the assassination of the treacherous usurper Amulius. Here is my brief summary of chapter 5 of the first books – enjoy 🙂
Romulus and Remus were celebrating the festival of Lupercalia – founded by Evander, an Arcadian who had previously occupied the area – on the Palatine hill
Remember the brothers were fighting and stealing? Well, the brigands came to take revenge and managed to capture Remus. Romulus is not caught.
Remus had been raiding his grandfather, Numitor’s lands, and had not realised who he was attacking as he had never grown to know his exiled grandfather.
Fastaulus, the farmer that had found the boys with the wolf and cared for them through their childhood, knew that the boys were of royal blood
So Fastaulus told Romulus that he was descended from royalty
At about the same time, Numitor realised that the one boy he had in custody and his brother (Romulus) were his long-lost grandsons
Rom and Reme didn’t stand a chance in a pitched battle against Amulius, so they grouped their soldiers…
…and built a trap…
I hope this helped you! Oh, and Merry Christmas. Not sure why I am doing this on Christmas Day, but oh well.
The food of Ancient Rome is often called the “most rounded and balanced diet of the ancient world”. And if you know the variety of different meats, vegetables and cheeses they ate, it’s not hard to see why. Although it is debatable whether they were better fed than their surrounding Mediterranean neighbours, we can be certain that if you had money, you had food – and talented chefs that could cook it.
During the Imperial Period, the Romans constructed hundreds of thousands of miles of paved and unpaved roads to connect provinces, towns and ports and enable widespread military mobilization within and outside the Empire’s borders.
In an attempt to intimidate enemy Germanic tribes and gain support and admiration from the Senate back in Rome, Caesar constructed a genius wooden bridge to the cross the Rhine, the greatest border between the Romans and Germans.
Doubtless we all know the Romans – the huge Empire, magnificent buildings and incredible works of literature. But it is often hard to discern how much of Ancient Roman civilisation has been carried on into modern day life, and whether they’ve benefitted us in any great way.
… and much more in the rise of this glorious Empire. This is The Augustus, and today we’ll be talking about the industrialisation of a small Latin community into an thriving urban superpower, and what it was like to live in the “city of marble”.