The culture of ancient Rome existed for 1200 years and started in the 8th century BC. Rome started off as a small town and grew into an empire that included much of Europe, Britain, western Asia, North Africa, and the Mediterranean islands. For 450 years it was a Republic and with Julius Caesar ruling it became an empire. The Romance languages, the modern western alphabet, the modern western calendar, and Christianity all emerged in ancient Rome. Augustus reigned as the first emperor and led the empire into prosperity. In the fifth century AD the empire of Rome experienced one of the biggest falls of any civilization.
Rome was founded by twin brothers Romulus and Remus; sons of the god of war. Romulus killed his brother Remus and became Rome’s first king and also named after him. Latin, Sabine, and Etruscan kings followed after him. Rome went from a monarchy to a republic under the rule of Lucius Tarquinius in 509 BC. In the early republic politics was mainly based on conflicts between patricians and the common people, plebeians, who wanted to gain some political power. Roman law codes called the Twelve Tables were created in 450 BC. The codes had legal procedures, civil rights, property rights, and civil law. The senate, made up of patrician members and plebeians, mainly held political power. The early republic marked growth in size and power for the empire.
The military was under the leadership of Camillus. Under Camillus Rome gained control of the Italian peninsula and won the Punic Wars taking control of Sicily, most of Spain, Carthage, northern Africa, and Macedonia. The military led to growth of Roman culture, Greek influences effected art, religion, and philosophy. During the late republic Rome began to struggle. Political institutions began to fall, the classes were parting more and more, and government access was limited. Reform movements were attempted, but not successful. The rise of Julius Caesar began in 45 BC, he became dictator of Rome after he started a civil war. Enemies killed Caesar less than a year after his dictatorship started. Octavian, better known as Augustus, took over and became the first emperor of Rome, ruling for 56 years until his death. Augustus led Rome into two centuries of prosperity and peace, including military victories and social reforms. Many successful emperors ruled after him until it came to Commodus leading the empire to another civil war, but ended in defeat. The next 22 emperors all ran into major conflicts. Ultimately the Roman Empire collapsed losing one province at a time.
Life revolved around the city of Rome. The city included the seven hills and famous monumental structure; the coliseum, the forum of Trajan, and the Pantheon. The majority of the people lived in the city center with theaters, gymnasiums, taverns, baths, and brothels. Rome was the largest megalopolis at the time, with the population over 1 million. Italy was the most urbanized country, with 32% of the population living in urban areas. The large populations required lots of food. The cuisine was influenced by Greek culture. It was also affected by political changes from a republic to an empire, and expansion. There were many Italian farms and aqueducts were built to bring water to urban centers. The city had 11 aqueducts totaling 350 kilometers.. Wine and oil was imported from Hispania, Gaul, and Africa. Transportation along with other technology was efficient. They were very advanced when it came to sanitation. Romans were famous for there thermae, baths, toliets that could flush, indoor plumbing, and their sewer systems.
The art of Rome started in 500 BC. Etruscans, ancient Greece, Hellenistic styles, and ancient Egypt influenced the art of Rome. Metal work, coin die, gem engraving, ivory carvings, figurine glass and pottery, and book illustrations were some of the minor art forms. After the Romans conquered Greece they took art from the towns and even took sculptors to Rome as slaves. Compared to the Greeks, their sculptures and statues were a lot more realistic. Wall paintings known as Frescoes were popular in the first century AD. They liked to paint battles, mythological, and everyday scenes. Mosaics were also a popular art form, made up of small tiles pieces fitting together like a puzzle to make up a picture. In 300 AD their art began to show influences of Christianity. The art was less graphic and sculptures eyes were looking up toward heaven. Sculptures were of emperors, generals, and senators still not in perfect proportions, the body was less important than the face.
Wine was and still is popular in Rome, playing a pivotal role in wine history. The earliest influences were the Ancient Greeks and Etruscans. The rise of the Roman Empire led to a rise in technology. The awareness of winemaking was spread around all of the empire. Rome had an impact on the major winemaking regions of today including France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Wine was available to all classes, even peasants, it was believed to be a daily necessity of life. Merchants were spreading Roman influence, even before the Roman military, by trading wines with Native Tribes, mainly Gaul and Germania. Cato, Columella, Horace, Palladius, Pliny, Varro, and Virgirl were writers who wrote about the role of wine in their culture including a contemporary understanding of winemaking and viticultural practices. Many of their techniques and principles are used in modern winemaking.
Popular activities of the empire were jumping, wrestling, racing, boxing, fishing, hunting, and dice, board, and gambling games. Gladiatorial combats were a very popular form of entertainment. Gladiators would fight until death or until one would get hurt. Chariot racing as also popular, apart of the Circus Maximus, a popular area also for horse racing, marketing, and gambling.
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