Julius Caesar may be regarded as Rome’s most important general and statesman. He was a great military leader and won many battles that helped him gain power and, in the end, made him the sole ruler of Rome.
During his military career he conquered Gaul, invaded Britain and kept Germanic tribes out of the empire.
Augustus was born as Octavian, son of a rich Roman banker. His great-uncle Julius Caesar adopted him and made him his heir. After Caesar’s death Octavian formed an army to fight against Mark Antony, who took over control of Rome from Caesar. The two men came to an agreement and shared control of the Roman Empire. They also defeated Caesar’s murderers. When Octavian found out about the love relationship between Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra of Egypt he saw this as a threat to the Roman Empire and turned against Antony. After Antony’s death Octavian was given the name Augustus and became Rome’s first emperor.
Under his reign Augustus expanded Rome’s territory. He conquered the Iberian Peninsula and pushed the boundaries of the Roman Empire north to the Danube River. He also gave orders to restore old buildings that needed repair and built roads to the outskirts of the empire.
After his death Augustus was worshipped in Rome because of his successful reign.
Staue of Augustus in his early life as Octavian
Nero was 17 when he became emperor of Rome in 54 A.D. He turned out to be a ruthless ruler who had his mother killed. But at first Nero was good-natured and a sensible leader. He focused on improving trade and the cultural life of the empire. However, as time went on, Nero became more violent and unpredictable.
According to rumors he laid a fire that destroyed most of Rome. He blamed Christians for setting the fire and persecuted them throughout his reign. In 68 A.D. Nero saw that he no longer had the support of the Senate and committed suicide.
Remus and Romulus
Romulus and Remus were twins who supposedly founded the city of Rome. According to the legend, their parents abandoned them at an early age, placed them into a basket and put it into the river Tiber. A wolf discovered the basket and brought it to a shepherd who brought up the twins.
When they became adults the brothers argued over which hill to build a city on. After a following fight Remus was killed and Romulus became the first king of Rome. He was a popular ruler and a great military leader.
Marcus Brutus was a Roman statesman who helped assassinate Julius Caesar because he wanted to break his power. On March 15, 44 B.C. Brutus and other men stabbed Julius Caesar to death as he entered a meeting of the Senate. After the Senate took over control of Rome again Brutus was sent to govern the eastern part of the Roman Empire. In 43 BC. Brutus killed himself after he had been defeated by Octavian and Mark Antony in the Battle of Philippi.
Hadrian became Roman emperor in 117 AD. He was especially known for construction projects. He completed the Roman Pantheon and built a stone wall across northern Britain to defend the empire from outsiders. Hadrian travelled to almost every corner of the empire. He admired ancient Greece and wanted to make Athens the cultural centre of the empire. Hadrian was considered to be a peaceful emperor. He died in 138 A.D.
Vergil was Rome’s greatest poet. Born in northern Italy in 70 BC he started writing during his studies in Rome and Naples. His most famous work was the Aeneid which was left uncompleted. Based on Homer’s Odyssey and the Iliad, Vergil describes the adventures of the Trojan hero Aeneas who sailed westwards and founded the city of Rome. In the epic poem Vergil shows the greatness of Rome and his admiration for its rulers.
In other poems Vergil wrote about country and peasant life. After his death, Vergil’s influence spread throughout Rome. Roman schools taught their pupils about him and made them read his poems. Writers in the Middle Ages often referred to Vergil in their works.
Gaius Marius lived between 157 BC and 86 BC. He was an important general, statesman and was elected consul several times. Marius organized the Roman army and defeated invading tribes from the North. He recruited poor men to the Roman army and promised to make them happy and proud of their country.
Cicero (106 – 43 BC) was a great Roman philosopher, speaker and writer. He was one of the most important translators from Greek to Latin. He was banned from Rome by the first triumvirate, but then allowed to return. He was killed because of his opposing views. Even today Latin students around the world read the works of Cicero.
Bust of Cicero
Constantine I (275 – 337 AD) was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. When he ruled Rome the Christians and other religious groups got their freedom. He rebuilt Byzantium, and named it Constantinople, the Christian capital of ancient Rome.
Cleopatra (69 – 30 BC ) was a queen of Egypt during the Roman rule. She liked being beautiful, but she was a ruthless leader at the same time. Cleopatra, who became queen at the age of 18, was well-known for having relationships with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Pontius Pilate was a Roman governor in Judea during the time of Jesus Christ. He became famous as judge at the trial of Jesus Christ. He had Jesus killed for treason because he claimed to be the king of Jews. Leaders of Judea thought of him as dangerous to the Roman Empire.
According to the Bible, however, Pilate claims he did not want to have Jesus Christ crucified.
The Roman Empire - Table of Contents
- History of the Roman Empire
- Famous People of Ancient Rome
- Religion in Ancient Rome
- Life in Ancient Rome
The Roman Empire - Exercises
- The Roman Empire - Multiple Choice Exercise
- The Roman Empire - Vocabulary Matching Exercise
- The Roman Empire - Order the events
- Who is Who in Ancient Rome?
- Julius Caesar - General, Statesman, Dictator of Ancient Rome
- Cleopatra - Egyptian Queen of Ancient Rome
- A.D. = Anno Domini = after the birth of Jesus Christ
- abandon = dump, leave
- according to = as shown or said by …
- admiration = feeling of respect and liking for
- admire = to show your love for something
- adopt = to take someone else’s child into your home and become its parent
- agreement = arrangement, deal
- argue = have a quarrel; fight
- assassinate = kill for political reasons
- B.C. = before the birth of Jesus Christ
- ban = here: not allowed to be in
- based on = to use something as a starting point
- basket = container made of thin pieces of wood that are woven together; used to carry things
- battle = one single fight in a longer war
- blame = to say it is someone else’s fault
- boundary = line that separates two countries
- Christianity =a religion based on the life and beliefs of Jesus Christ
- claim = to say that something is true
- commit suicide = to kill yourself
- complete = finish
- conquer = to take control of land with an army
- considered = thought
- construction = building
- consul = person who held a high office in ancient Rome
- convert = change to another religion
- crucify = kill someone by nailing them to a cross
- defeat = win against someone
- defend = guard, protect
- destroy = damage completely
- elect = to vote for someone to hold an official position in a state
- emperor = king or queen of a group of countries that belong together
- epic = very long
- especially = above all
- expand = to make larger
- focus on = concentrate on
- found – founded = start something new
- freedom = liberty
- gain = get
- Gaul = today’s France
- Germanic tribes = people who lived to the north of the Roman Empire
- govern = rule
- governor = a person who rules a territory for the king or emperor
- greatness = how great and successful something is
- heir = a person who will take over something after you die or who will get everything that belongs to you
- however = but
- influence = power
- invade = to enter a country with an army
- Judea = old name of the region around Jerusalem
- judge = person who decides in court if a person has committed a crime
- opposing = completely different from each other
- outskirts = outer areas; places that are far away from the centre
- peaceful = quiet; not violent
- peasant = poor farmer who owns very little or no land at all
- peninsula = land with water on three sides
- persecute = to treat someone cruelly and badly over a certain time because of their religion or what they think
- place = put
- poem = piece of writing in rhymes that shows a person’s ideas or how they feel
- poet = someone who writes poems
- popular = liked by many
- proud = pleased; to be happy about something
- recruit = sign up for the army
- refer to = to speak about someone
- regard = think of someone as
- reign = time in power
- relationship = here: a love affair
- repair = fix
- restore = save, rebuild, repair
- rumor = information that is passed on from person to person and does not always have to be true
- ruthless = cruel, violent, cold-blooded
- sensible = reasonable; to make good decisions
- shepherd = someone whose job it is to take care of sheep
- sole = only
- stab = to push a knife into someone
- statesman = a politician or leader who is respected by many
- support = approval, help
- supposedly = so they say
- threat = danger
- throughout = in all of
- trade = buy and sell things
- translate = to change written or spoken words into another language
- treason = to betray your country or government
- tribe = group of people of the same race, who have the same language and traditions
- triumvirate= a group of three powerful people who ruled Rome
- Trojan = person who lived in Troy, a powerful old city in today’s Turkey
- twin = one of two children born at the same time to the same mother
- uncompleted = not finished
- unpredictable = a person who changes his ideas a lot , so that you never know what they really do or think
- work = piece of writing
- worship = to pray to someone