Ancient Rome - Index

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The Twelve Tables Punic Wars Late Roman Republic Consuls of the Republic Trouble in the Republic
Julius Caesar Julius Caesar Play and Brutus Trial Antony and Cleopatra Octavian Late Republic Poetry
Early Roman Empire Caesar Augustus Basics of Christianity Pontius Pilate The New Testament
Bishops of Rome / Popes Late Roman Empire Attack of the Barbarians Roman Emperors Roman Emperors List

509 - 146 BC - Early Roman Republic

Formation of the Republic

509-264 BC

  • Two annually elected consuls serve as chief magistrates
  • In an emergency, the consuls step aside to provide for a single dictator for six months

451-450 BC

366 BC

  • Office of praetor with the imperium
  • Commander of urban defense in absence of consuls

264 BC

  • Political officials of the Republic
  • 8 quaestors (financial officials), 4 aediles (supervisors of public markets and roads), 10 tribunes (protectors of lower classes), 10 judges of liberty (tried suits involving legal freedom)
  • Senate--an advisory body comprised of experienced men, summoned by the consul or praetor
  • Every 5 years, censors collected data for taxation and infrastructure maintenance
  • Religious officials of the Republic: 9 pontiffs, 9 augurs (supervisors of public sacrifices and festivals)

509-264 BC

  • Roman Conquest of Italian Peninsula

496 BC

  • Battle of Lake Regillus
  • Latin league secures independence from Rome

493 BC

  • Latins and Romans join in an alliance known as foedus Cassianum against hillsmen

396 BC

  • Etruscan stronghold of Veii conquered by Romans

390 BC

  • Gauls conquer Roman army north of Rome
    • Rome is nearly destroyed

387-350 BC

  • In response, Romans build a wall five and one-half miles long around Rome
    • Gain control of surrounding area

340-264 BC

  • Rome conquers remainder of Italian peninsula

340-338 BC

  • Conquers and dissolves the Latin league

326 BC

  • Clashes with the Samnites

295-282 BC

  • Victory over Samnites and Gauls at Sentinum

280-279 BC

  • King Pyrrhus of Epirus defeats the Romans at Heraclea and Asculum using elephants as weapons

275 BC

  • Pyrrhus is defeated at Epirus

Cultural Achievements

312 BC

  • Appius Claudius constructs the via Appia (Appian way) to Capua

300 BC

  • Coinage is used in Rome

225 BC

  • Italy contains 120-150 city-states
    • 1,000,000 males in Italy are Roman citizens, 500,000 are Latins, 1,500,000 are allies


Military Organization


8 men = 1 contubernium (mess unit/tentful), probably led by a file leader
10 contubernia = 1 centuria (century), commanded by the centurion
6 centuriae = 1 cohors (cohort), probably commanded by its senior centurion
10 cohortes = 1 legio (legion), commanded by the legatus

1 Contubernium - 8 Men File Leader
10 Contubernia 1 Century 80 Men Centurion
2 Centuries 1 Maniple 160 Men experienced Centurion
6 Centuries 1 Cohort 480 Men senior Centurion
10 Cohorts + 120 Horsemen 1 Legion 5240 Men * Legate
*1 Legion = 9 normal cohorts (9 x 480 Men) + 1 "First Cohort" of 5 centuries (but each century at the strength of a maniple, so 5 x 160 Men) + 120 Horsemen = 5240 Men

264-241 BC

First Punic War - visit the Punic Wars page


Also called FIRST CARTHAGINIAN WAR, first of three wars between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian (Punic) Empire that resulted in the destruction of Carthage.

The first Punic war was fought to establish control over the strategic islands of Corsica and Sicily. In 264 the Carthaginians intervened in a dispute between the two principal cities on the Sicilian west coast, Messana and Syracuse, and so established a presence on the island. Rome, responding to this challenge, attacked Messana and forced the Carthaginians to withdraw.

In 260 a Roman fleet failed to gain complete control of Sicily but opened the way to Corsica, from which the Carthaginians were expelled. A second Roman fleet sailed in 256 and established a beachhead on the African continent. Carthage was prepared to surrender, but the terms offered by Rome were too severe, and in 255 Carthage attacked with a new army built around cavalry and elephants and drove the invaders to the sea.

The battle for Sicily resumed in 254 but was largely stalemated until 241, when a fleet of 200 warships gave the Romans undisputed control of the sea lanes and assured the collapse of the Punic stronghold in Sicily. One year later Carthage surrendered, ceding Sicily and the Lipari Islands to Rome and agreeing to pay an indemnity.

  • Hiero, king of Syracuse, attacks Campanian mercenaries in northeastern Sicily
  • Mercenaries plead to Rome and Carthage for help
  • Carthage sends naval assistance to the Mamertines (Campanian mercenaries)
  • Senate and assembly fear a Carthaginian advantage in gaining control of Sicily, so they vote to protect the Mamertines
  • Roman soldiers oust Carthaginian forces, leading to war

263 BC

  • King Hiero of Syracuse joins Romans

261 BC

  • Romans, having a weak navy compared to Carthage, build 20 triremes and 100 quinqueremes (each oar pulled by five men)

260 BC

  • Romans used a "crow" (corvus), a gangway lowered by Roman ships onto enemy ships allowing the Roman sailors to board Carthaginian ships and capture them, giving them victory at Mylae

256 BC

  • Romans attack Carthage
  • Spartan mercenary general, Xanthippus, combines Carthaginian infantry with Numidian cavalry and elephants to defeat the Roman land forces

244 BC

  • Senate assesses a public loan to build 200 warships

241 BC

  • Carthage surrenders Sicily, paying 3200 talents over 10 years
  • Rebellion ensues by Carthaginian mercenaries in Africa, Sardinia, and Corsica

218-201 BC

Second Punic War - visit the Punic Wars page


Read a children's story about the 2nd Punic War written by Karissa A., Hope B., and Anna L.

Punic War, Second (218-201 BC), also called SECOND CARTHAGINIAN WAR, second in a series of wars between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian (Punic) Empire that resulted in Roman hegemony over the western Mediterranean.

In the years after the First Punic War, Rome wrested Corsica and Sardinia from Carthage and forced Carthaginians to pay an even greater indemnity than the payment exacted immediately following the war. Eventually, however, under the leadership of Hamilcar Barca, his son Hannibal, and his son-in-law Hasdrubal, Carthage acquired a new base in Spain, whence they could renew the war against Rome.

In 219 Hannibal captured Saguntum (Sagunto) on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula. Rome demanded his withdrawal, but Carthage refused to recall him, and Rome declared war. Because Rome controlled the sea, Hannibal led his army overland through Spain and Gaul and across the Alps, arriving in the plain of the Po River valley in 218 BC with 20,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry.

Roman troops tried to bar his advance but were outmatched, and Hannibal's hold over northern Italy was established. In 217 Hannibal, reinforced by Gallic tribesmen, marched south. Rather than attack Rome directly, he marched on Capua, the second largest town in Italy, hoping to incite the populace to rebel. He won several battles but still refrained from attacking the city of Rome, even after annihilating a huge Roman army at Cannae in 216. The defeat galvanized Roman resistance. A brilliant defensive strategy conducted by Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator harried the Carthaginians without offering battle. Thus, the two armies remained deadlocked on the Italian peninsula until 211 BC, when Rome recaptured the city of Capua.

In 207 Hasdrubal, following Hannibal's route across the Alps, reached northern Italy with another large army supported by legions of Ligurians and Gauls. Hasdrubal marched down the peninsula to join Hannibal for an assault on Rome. Rome, exhausted by war, nevertheless raised and dispatched an army to check Hasdrubal. Gaius Nero, commander of the southern Roman army, slipped away north also and defeated Hasdrubal on the banks of the Metauros River.

Hannibal maintained his position in southern Italy until 203, when he was ordered to return to Africa; Italy was free of enemy troops for the first time in 15 years. During the long mainland campaign, fighting had continued as well on Sardinia and Sicily, which had become Rome's chief sources of food. Aided by internal upheaval in Syracuse, Carthage reestablished its presence on the island in 215 and maintained it until 210. Meanwhile, in Spain, Roman forces maintained pressure on Carthaginian strongholds. The Roman general Publius Scipio won a decisive battle at Ilipa in 206 and forced the Carthaginians out of Spain.

After his Spanish victory Scipio determined to invade the Carthaginian homeland. He sailed for Africa in 204 and established a beachhead. The Carthaginian council offered terms of surrender but reneged at the last minute, pinning its hopes on one last battle. The massed Carthaginian army, led by Hannibal, was defeated at Zama. The Carthaginians accepted Scipio's terms for peace: Carthage was forced to pay an indemnity and surrender its navy, and Spain and the Mediterranean islands were ceded to Rome.

  • Silver coinage known as denarius (equaling 10 asses of bronze) are introduced, becoming the standard exchange medium in the Mediterranean region
  Read a children's story about the 2nd Punic War written by Karissa A., Hope B., and Anna L.

218 BC

  • Rome sends ambassadors to Carthage demanding they surrender Hannibal
  • Carthaginians refuse and the ambassadors declare war (March)
  • Hannibal crosses the Pyrenees into Gaul, crosses the Rhone, and crosses the Alps into Italy
  • Romans defeated at Trebia river, losing two-thirds of its military force and losing the Po valley to Hannibal (December)

217 BC

  • Flaminius elected consul
    • Killed in battle near Lake Trasimene
  • Q. Fabius Maximus chosen as Roman dictator
    • Employed "Fabian tactics" of harassing small detachments sent out by Hannibal near Campania, with the intent of forcing Hannibal out of his fortifications

216 BC

  • Under newly elected consuls L. Aemilius Paullus and C. Terentius Varro, 50,000 Roman soldiers are slaughtered at Cannae due to Hannibal's brilliant tactical maneuver
  • Rome prepared for war, calling to "wailing women" indoors and forbidding mention of the word pax (peace)
  • Much of southern Italy revolts from Roman rule
    • Capua, Syracuse, Gauls in the Po valley

211 BC

  • Capua and Syracuse fall

210-205 BC

  • First Macedonian war against Rome
    • Philip V of Macedonia allies with Hannibal, attempting to liberate the Dalmatian coast from Roman rule

210 BC

  • P. Scipio (Africanus), son of a consul, is given command of Roman forces in Spain

209 BC

  • Scipio Africanus captures New Carthage (Cartagena) behind enemy lines

207 BC

  • Hasdrubal, brother of Hannibal, is killed in northern Italy at the Metaurus river and thrown into Hannibal's camp by a Roman cavalryman

204 BC

  • Scipio reaches a tentative peace treaty with Carthage on the condition that Hannibal evacuates Italy

203 BC

  • Hannibal agrees to armistice and withdraws

202 BC

  • Battle of Zama
  • Armistice broken, Scipio enlists the Numidian cavalry and defeats Hannibal with Hannibal's own strategies

201 BC

  • Harsh conditions of peace agreement
    • Carthage yields elephants and all but 10 warships, surrenders Spain to Rome, promises to pay 10,000 talents over 50 years, and agrees not to wage war in Africa without Roman approval

183 BC

  • Hannibal commits suicide rather than suffer Roman capture

200-196 BC

  • Second Macedonian war with Rome
  • Rhodes and King Attalus I of Pergamum ask for Roman intervention against Philip V
  • Through consul T. Quinctius Flamininus, Rome "liberated" Greece and established boundaries
    • Livy 33.33.5-7 "There was one people in the world which would fight...and law might prevail.

192-188 BC

  • War with Antiochus III
    • Antiochus III fills the power vacuum left by Philip V
    • Romans engage Antiochus' naval force at Thermopylae
    • Romans engage Antiochus' land force at Magnesia, destroying it
    • Peace is concluded at Apamea, yielding Asia Minor to the Romans

186 BC

  • Senate works to curtail growth of cults worshiping Bacchus and Dionysus

Hermes and Dionysus

171-167 BC

  • Third Macedonian war
    • Roman province of Macedonia emerges as a result

167-151 BC

  • Slavery increases in the Republic
    • Polybius brought to Rome as a hostage

149 BC

  • Senate develops a standing court to try cases of extortion

149-146 BC

Third Punic War - visit the Punic Wars page


(149-146 BC), also called Third Carthaginian War, third of three wars between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian (Punic) Empire that resulted in the final destruction of Carthage, the enslavement of its population, and Roman hegemony over the western Mediterranean. The first and second Punic wars (264-241 BC and 218-201 BC) had effectively deprived Carthage of its political power. Nevertheless, its commercial enterprises expanded rapidly in the 2nd century BC, exciting the envy of Rome's growing mercantile community. When the Carthaginians in 150 resisted Masinissa's aggressions by force of arms, thus formally breaking the treaty with Rome, a Roman army was dispatched to Africa.

Although the Carthaginians consented to make reparation by giving hostages and surrendering their arms, they were goaded into revolt by the further stipulation that they must emigrate to some inland site, where commerce by sea would no longer be possible. Carthage resisted the Roman siege for two years. In 147, however, the command was given to Scipio Aemilianus, the adopted grandson of the former conqueror of Carthage.

Scipio made the blockade stringent by walling off the isthmus on which the town lay and by cutting off its sources of supplies from overseas. His main attack was delivered on the harbour side, where he effected an entrance in the face of a determined and ingenious resistance. House by house he captured the streets that led up to the citadel.

Of a city population that may have exceeded a quarter of a million, only 50,000 remained at the final surrender. The survivors were sold into slavery; the city was razed, and the territory was made a Roman province under the name of Africa.

  • Led to the destruction of Carthage
    • Romans sowed salt on the destroyed city to prohibit the growth of future crops •• Freewalt Family •• Search •• Terms of Use

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