The rise of Rome

The origin of Rome is shrouded in legends even under the Romans. This is how the city was founded in 753 BCE, but it took centuries to become an empire of the former small town.

At the beginning of Rome as a city, the Etruscans were the rulers of Italy. Rome was at that time one of the many communities in the country that was in constant conflict with other cities around land and livestock. However, under the influence of the Greeks in Italy, the Romans had also adopted new military tactics and technologies, such as also the Greek phalanx, which was to prove very effective in later campaigns. Thus Rome was able to free itself from the influence of the Etruscans and gain supremacy over surrounding cities until the beginning of the 4th century. But now the Romans had to face much larger opponents, including the Greeks, to push ahead with their expansion.


Samnite warriors


The decisive success of the Roman expansion was mainly due to the restructuring of the armed forces after the defeat against the Gauls in 390 or 387 BC. Thus, the heavy infantry was equipped with a javelin and a short sword for close combat. In addition, the force was divided into smaller, so-called manipulators with 120 men each, which could be used independently on the battlefield and could fight much more flexible.

In the period from 343 to 275 BC, the Roman legions achieved some significant victories through the restructuring. Especially against the Samnites were a great danger to Rome, as they often allied with other peoples such as the Umbrians or the Gauls. The result was 3 Samnitenkriegen in the times 343 - 341, 327 - 304 and 298 - 290 BC. A victory against the Samnites and Gauls in 295 BC made it finally possible for Rome to pacify the mountain tribes and expand on it.


Roman legionnaire




The Punic Wars

The Roman expansion over southern Italy inevitably led to conflict with the Carthaginians in Sicily, who saw their influence and power threatened. This inevitably led to the first Punic war of 264-241 BC around Sicily. What began as a land war, however, soon developed into an immense naval program on the part of Rome to cut off supplies from the Carthaginians. Thus significant victories were achieved in the period 260 and 257 BC and enabled the Romans to carry out an invasion of North Africa in 256 BC. Close to victory, Rome experienced some setbacks as early as 255 BC, which made a final victory over Carthage impossible. Thus, the expeditionary army was almost completely wiped out and by a heavy storm lost the young Roman navy of hundreds of their ships. But despite these setbacks, Rome succeeded in stopping supplies to Sicily, so that in 241 BC Carthage had to agree to a peace, which led to the transfer of Sicily to the Romans.

Driven by revenge throes and the shame of defeat, years later the conflict in Spain flared up again where both sides tried to expand their supremacy. So the Carthaginian Hannibal conquered the Spanish city of Saguntum in 219 BC and led his army through southern Gaul across the famous Alpine Pass to Italy, where his army moved around for years without pursuing a clear strategy. After 16 years, Hannibal returned to Carthage in 202 BC, where he opposed the Roman army which invaded in 204 BC. In Zama, the two armies were what ended with a clear victory of the Romans. Carthage then remained only the surrender, whereby they lost their colonies in the western Mediterranean and their entire fleet of ships.


Rome and Carthage at the time of the Punic Wars from 264 to 201 BC


But the military victory reached Rome only a few decades. Also driven by revenge, Rome accused the Carthaginians in 149 BC of breach of contract and sent a siege army. What was initially carried out sluggishly changed after the takeover of the siege army by Scipio Aemilianus. First, Carthage was starved and stormed in 146 BC. The surviving inhabitants were enslaved and the city completely destroyed.


Ruinen von Karthago (Antoninus-Pius-Thermen)

Carthaginian ruins (Antoninus-Pius-Thermen)




The Gallic War

At the end of the 2nd century BC, Rome was able to consolidate its power position in the Mediterranean, but at the same time had to deal with attacking tribes in the north. Thus, from the year 113 BC, Rome was at war with the Cimbri and Teutons, resulting in a bitter defeat for the Roman army of 105 BC at Arausio (now Orange in France).
Only with the general Gaius Marius, the 102 BC, the military situation turned and had the side effect that the Roman army from a civic militia developed into a solid army of professional soldiers in order to further military campaigns enough soldiers to have training and discipline.

The almost complete conquest of Gaul took place only decades later with one of the most famous Romans in history: Gaius Julius Caesar.
His quick and successful campaigns Caeser was able to perform by the skillful Ausspiel the splintered Gallisischen trunks. So in 58 BC, he began to fight with the Aeduern against the Helvetii, who penetrated from Switzerland to western Gaul. Subsequently, at the request of the Aeduerer, the Germanic Suebi were pushed back across the Rhine.
Strengthened by these victories, the further advance into Belgium and Brittany took place 57 BC, as well as the invasion of Gaul 2 years later and the invasion of Britain.


Conquest of Gaul


The pacification of the occupied provinces turned out to be far more difficult than thought by Caesar. So the Belgen revolted in 54/53 BC and destroyed a whole Roman column. In western and central Gaul, the leader of the Arverni Vercinggetorix united the tribes against Rome and led a guerrilla war against the occupiers, which later ended with his surrender in Alesia.


Vercingetorix capitulating to Caesar


Caesar ordered his troops to move into winter quarters after the conquest of Alesia. The following year was indeed marked by further campaigns, such as against the Karnuten and Treverer; the Gauls hoped to hold out until the end of Caesar's governorship. But Caesar was also for this reason again, sometimes with the utmost severity. In other cases, however, he deliberately spared his opponent - here, Caesar's later proverbial leniency (clementia), which was of great use to him in the subsequent Roman civil war, probably already looks through. Gradually, the still in rebellion Gaul - finally as the Kadurker in their fortress Uxellodunum - subjugated, which now lacked a central leadership figure.

Since the Gauls were tired of the long and lossy fight anyway, they now took the Roman rule, especially as Caesar deftly won leading nobles for his cause. Nevertheless, the balance of the Gallic war was terrible. Although all sources are ultimately speculative, the loss of human lives must have been immense, especially since the infrastructure was often thoroughly destroyed by looting. The land was 50 years old. It remained calm even in the ensuing civil war in which Caesar intervened against Pompey and the senators supporting him in the Gallic war.

Gaul was rapidly Romanized in the aftermath and became a heartland of the Empire, in which the developed Gallo-Roman culture was to hold in late antiquity even years after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.






You can find the right literature here:


The Romans: From Village to Empire: A History of Rome from Earliest Times to the End of the Western Empire

The Romans: From Village to Empire: A History of Rome from Earliest Times to the End of the Western Empire 2nd Edition

How did a single village community in the Italian peninsula eventually become one of the most powerful imperial powers the world has ever known? In The Romans: From Village to Empire, Second Edition, Mary T. Boatwright, Daniel J. Gargola, Richard J.A. Talbert, and new coauthor Noel Lenski explore this question as they guide students through a comprehensive sweep of Roman history, ranging from the prehistoric settlements to the fall of the empire in 476. Addressing issues that still confront modern states worldwide--including warfare, empire building, consensus forging, and political fragmentation--the authors also provide glimpses into everyday Roman life and perspective, demonstrating how Rome's growth as a state is inseparable from its social and cultural development.

Vividly written and accessible, The Romans, Second Edition, traces Rome's remarkable evolution from village, to monarchy, to republic, to one-man rule by an emperor--whose power at its peak stretched from Scotland to Iraq and the Nile Valley--to the empire's fall in 476. Firmly grounded in ancient literary and material sources, the text describes and analyzes major political and military landmarks, from the Punic Wars, to Caesar's conquest of Gaul and his crossing of the Rubicon, to the victory of Octavian over Mark Antony, and through Constantine's adoption of Christianity. Featuring two new chapters (13 and 14), the second edition extends the book's coverage through the rise of Christianity, the growth of the Barbarian threat, the final years of the empire, its fall in 476, and, finally, to its revival in the East as Byzantium. This edition also combines chapters 1 and 2 into one--"Archaic Italy and the Origins of Rome"--and integrates more material on women, religion, and cultural history throughout.

Ideal for courses in Roman history and Roman civilization, The Romans, Second Edition, is enhanced by two new 8-page, 4-color inserts and almost 100 extensively captioned illustrations. It also includes more than 30 ancient maps, revised and improved under the supervision of coauthor Richard J. A. Talbert, and textual extracts that provide fascinating cultural observations made by ancient Romans themselves. A new Image Bank CD contains PowerPoint-based slides of all the photos and maps in the text.

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SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome Paperback – September 6, 2016

In SPQR, an instant classic, Mary Beard narrates the history of Rome "with passion and without technical jargon" and demonstrates how "a slightly shabby Iron Age village" rose to become the "undisputed hegemon of the Mediterranean" (Wall Street Journal). Hailed by critics as animating "the grand sweep and the intimate details that bring the distant past vividly to life" (Economist) in a way that makes "your hair stand on end" (Christian Science Monitor) and spanning nearly a thousand years of history, this "highly informative, highly readable" (Dallas Morning News) work examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries. With its nuanced attention to class, democratic struggles, and the lives of entire groups of people omitted from the historical narrative for centuries, SPQR will to shape our view of Roman history for decades to come.

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The Triumph of Empire: The Roman World from Hadrian to Constantine (History of the Ancient World)

The Triumph of Empire: The Roman World from Hadrian to Constantine (History of the Ancient World) Hardcover – November 28, 2016

The Triumph of Empire takes readers into the political heart of imperial Rome and recounts the extraordinary challenges overcome by a flourishing empire. Michael Kulikowski’s history begins with the reign of Hadrian, who visited the farthest reaches of his domain and created stable frontiers, and spans to the decades after Constantine the Great, who overhauled the government, introduced a new state religion, and founded a second Rome.

Factionalism and intrigue sapped the empire from within, even at its apex. Roman politics could resemble a blood sport: rivals resorted to assassination; emperors rose and fell with bewildering speed, their reigns measured in weeks, not years; and imperial succession was never entirely assured. Canny emperors―including Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, and Diocletian―constantly cultivated the aristocracy’s favor to maintain a grip on power. Despite such volatility, the Roman Empire protected its borders, defeating successive attacks from Goths and Germans, Persians and Parthians. Yet external threats persisted and the imperial government sagged under its own administrative weight. Religion, too, was in flux with the rise of Christianity and other forms of monotheism. In the fourth century CE, Constantine and his heirs reformed imperial institutions by separating civilian and military hierarchies, restructuring the government of both provinces and cities, and ensuring the prominence of Christianity.

The Triumph of Empire is a fresh, authoritative narrative of Rome at its height and of its evolution―from being the central power of the Mediterranean world to becoming one of several great Eurasian civilizations.

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The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Volumes 1-3, Volumes 4-6 (Everyman's Library)

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Volumes 1-3, Volumes 4-6 (Everyman's Library) Reprint Edition

Edward Gibbon€s classic timeless work of ancient Roman history in 6 volumes collected into 2 boxed sets, in beautiful, enduring hardcover editions with elegant cloth sewn bindings, gold stamped covers, and silk ribbon markers.

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The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean: Rome’s Dealings with the Ancient Kingdoms of India, Africa and Arabia

The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean: Rome’s Dealings with the Ancient Kingdoms of India, Africa and Arabia Hardcover – November 19, 2014

The ancient evidence suggests that international commerce supplied Roman government with up to a third of the revenues that sustained their empire. In ancient times large fleets of Roman merchant ships set sail from Egypt on voyages across the Indian Ocean. They sailed from Roman ports on the Red Sea to distant kingdoms on the east coast of Africa and the seaboard off southern Arabia. Many continued their voyages across the ocean to trade with the rich kingdoms of ancient India. Freighters from the Roman Empire left with bullion and returned with cargo holds filled with valuable trade goods, including exotic African products, Arabian incense and eastern spices.

This book examines Roman commerce with Indian kingdoms from the Indus region to the Tamil lands. It investigates contacts between the Roman Empire and powerful African kingdoms, including the Nilotic regime that ruled Meroe and the rising Axumite Realm. Further chapters explore Roman dealings with the Arab kingdoms of south Arabia, including the Saba-Himyarites and the Hadramaut Regime, which sent caravans along the incense trail to the ancient rock-carved city of Petra.

The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean is the first book to bring these subjects together in a single comprehensive study that reveals Rome’s impact on the ancient world and explains how international trade funded the Legions that maintained imperial rule. It offers a new international perspective on the Roman Empire and its legacy for modern society.

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