History of Rome

Rome is a fabled city, for its culture, its history, and its beginnings.

According to legend, twin boys were born to the Vestal Virgin, Rhea Silvia and Mars, the god of war.

Their grandfather's brother wrested control of the city where they were born, from their grandfather, and, fearing the consequences of male heirs, had them thrown in a trough in the river.

The she-wolf feeding Romulus and RemusIt drifted to shore where legend says a she-wolf found the twin babies and suckled them until a shepherd adopted them and they grew to manhood.

Years later, having taken back control of the city for their grandfather, Mars directed them to build a city of their own, and they chose the riverside site where the wolf had found them. But boys being boys, it was a competitive process.

Romulus decided to wall the city in, and Remus jeered at the idea, going so far as to leap over the wall. Romulus then killed him and went on to complete the building himself, living many years after as a great leader, and vanishing one night in a storm.

More concrete evidence suggests that building started around 753 BC, placing Rome on a major trade route, which would make it one of the world's oldest cities.

Roman Republic

Ruled initially by Kings (some them highly undesirable monarchs), Rome eventually became a republic, ruled by a Senate, where Senators had specific duties.

Then of course, there were the Dictators. Julius Caesar, who was Consul of the Senate from 49-44 BC, was rumoured to be so possessed by the desire to become Emperor of Rome, that several of his Senators murdered him.

Had he been born 20 years later, he would have had his way, as the political structure of Rome changed, and Augustus, the first Emperor, was installed in 27 BC. The Praetorian Guard was created, just to protect the Emperor.

Unfortunately, some of the rulers were a little flaky, including the infamous Caligula, who made his horse a senator. As a consequence, the guard took a page from the Senator's handbook, and killed the odd leader, to keep the city on an even keel.

By the third century, the Roman Empire constituted a good portion of the "civilized" world, and the city of Rome had 2 million residents, a figure which changed over the centuries with the fluctuation of trade and population density, but Rome never lost its position as a cultural centre of Europe.

Modern History of Rome

After the unification of Italy in 1870, Rome was named the country's capital, and its true growth took place. The population zoomed once more from a mere quarter million, to almost three million by 1995.

The Rome of today is still noted as a seat of government, learning and the arts, and is lucky in some respects, not to have the heavy industrial components that make other cities difficult to live in.

They do, however, still experience a high level of pollution due to the number of automobiles, which has a serious impact on the historic sites. This is attributed to the large number of people who live in the "suburbs", commuting to work, and creating a less dense central population.

For a good overview of the city and its environment, you can try your library for travel books, or the Internet. If you're planning a trip, and are simply overwhelmed by the thought of trying to organize an itinerary and make all the arrangements yourself, try a booking service to help you see Rome the way you want.