A thousand years ago Rome was one of the most important cities in the world. A legend tells of the city being formed by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus, who were abandoned at birth and raised by a wolf. When the twins grew up, they decided to build a city where they had been abandoned. Remus and Romulus argued over the boundaries of this city. Romulus, in a rage, killed Remus. After Remus’s death the city was named Rome after Romulus who ruled the city.
Whether the legend is based on facts can’t be determined. Scholars know the city of Rome began as a small village around 753 B. C. The early settlers made a living by farming. Gradually the village grew into a city. It was ruled by kings. In 509 B. C. the citizens decided the city would no longer be ruled by kings. They elected two consuls to rule. The villagers began to conquer the surrounding territory and the city grew. By 250 B. C. the Romans ruled all of Italy.
In 206 B. C. the Romans built a fleet of ships to fight the Carthaginians of North Africa. The Romans won causing the Carthaginians to move to Spain. One Carthaginian soldier named Hannibal led an army against Rome. He used elephants to cross the Alps from Spain to attack the Romans. Hannibal won many battles, but the Romans finally defeated him by cutting off his food supply.
In 204 B. C. the Romans attacked Carthage. Hannibal tried to defend his homeland, but he was defeated. The Romans completely destroyed Carthage and killed many citizens.
Rome became a very powerful city by 100 B. C. Government officials became greedy and corrupt. Some demanded huge taxes from the Romans. Civil war broke out when two generals tried to take the power. In 73 B. C. a slave named Spartacus led a revolt. He escaped to Mount Vesuvius and gathered an army of 90,000 slaves. He fought the Roman army until he was killed in 71 B. C.
Caesar and Pompey struggled to control the government. Caesar defeated Pompey’s army and Pompey escaped to Egypt. He was murdered there. Caesar went to Egypt to help Queen Cleopatra keep her throne. After several conquests he returned to Rome.
In 45 B. C. Caesar became the sole ruler of Rome. He planned improvements for Rome. Before he could carry out these plans Caesar was murdered in 44 B.C. After this there was struggle for power between Mark Antony and Octavian, Caesar’s heir. Octavian became Rome’s first emperor of Rome when Mark Antony and his wife, Cleopatra, killed themselves rather than be defeated. Octavian changed his name to Augustus. Augustus built up the Roman army. With this force, he was able to conquer surrounding territories increasing the Roman Empire.
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