Rome‘s early history is shrouded in mythic legend, according to legend, the city was founded on 21 April 753 BC by the twins princes of Alba Longa Romulus and Remus, supposedly itself founded four centuries earlier by Aeneas a Trojan prince. The twins, his distant descendants, were abandoned as babies on orders of Amulius, who had usurped their kingdom and ordered their deaths. miraculously, a she wolf appeared from the woods and suckled them, and they were brought up as Faustinus, a kindly shepherd on the palatine hill. When they grew up, they killed the usurper and together founded a new city: Rome. But soon they quarreled, Romulus killed Remus for jumping his ploughed boundary line. Romulus then populated Rome by inviting outlaws and homeless men to join him, and abducting young women of his neighbors in the famous
” Rape of The Sabine Women”.
When the sabine men marched back in force to reclaim their women, the latter by now used to being Roman wives, intevened to prevent a battle and the two peoples intermarried. Romulus later ascended into heaven in a thunderstorm, becoming divine. From such violent, mythic beginnings sprang the eternal city of Rome. Archaeological evidence supports the view that Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine and Esquiline Hills. Beneath and between these hills were marshy valleys and it was particularly fertile spot in the mists of the tiber river it provided practical crossing upriver from the sea and good defensive positions. The settlement remained extremely primitive until the arrival of the Etruscan kings. While some archaeologists say that they ruled Rome by the mid of the 8th century BC, the date is subject to controversy. By this time Rome came under the sway of Etruscans, they were a civilized people who dominated Italy from bologna to Naples. Romes stratergic position on the tiber river meant the Etruscans, approaching the height of power, inevitably wanted control over it. In close contact with the Greek cities in the south, whose art influenced but did not overwhelm the art of the Etruscans, the were cheerful and hedonistic race fond of the arts, women, banquets and sports.
Tarquinius Priscus, the “good tarquin” who ruled between 616BC and 579BC, held the first census. Citizens were organized into three tribes, each having ten wards. From these wards the kings chose 300 patricians, or heads od extended families, to sit on the advisory council known as the senate. The Firts Assembly, the comitia curiata, it is also thought to have formed although its powers are unknown. Priscus successor, was king Servius Tullius he reorganized the states, dividing Romans into five classes acording to their wealth, each class subdivided into centuries, each century being roghly equal in wealth. All citizens were liable for the army service, apart from those in the last and poorest class, who could not arm themselves. A legion, or levy, had 6,00 infantry and 300 Calvary, the calvalry being provide the rich. In the new appointed comitia centuriata, or assembly by hundreds, each century voted as a single block the rich, the smallest century voting first. The vote was decided as soon as an absolute majority of centuries was reached, which gave the rich centuries the most influence the poorest and biggest centuries the least. Rome never operated on the principle of “one man vote”. Rome acquired Ostia at the mouth of the tiber river as well as its first wooden bridge across the river. The period culminated in the construction of the first temple to Jupiter, king of the gods, on the capitoline hill. Originally simply constructed, the temple was later rebuilt more splendidly, and become the symbol of roman power.
The founding of the republic
Around 509BC the Etruscan kings were finally expelled from Rome , and the word Etruscan, like the word king, became an insult to the Romans. According to legend the last Etruscan king, Tarquinius Superbus, meaning “the proud” angered the Roman nobles that they drove him out and declared a republic, which they dominated through the senate. From now on, the patriotic virtues, or courage was established that would serve Rome well through its coming troubles.
From its foundation Rome, although losing occasional battles, had been undefeated in war until 386 BC, when it was briefly occupied by the Gauls. According to the legend, the Gauls offered to deliver Rome back to its people for a thousand pounds of gold, but the Romans refused, preferring to take back their city by force of arms rather than ever admitting defeat, after which the Romans recovered the city in the same year.
Roman dominance expanded over most of Europe and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, while its population surpassed one million inhabitants. For almost a thousand years, Rome was the most politically important, richest, and largest city in the Western world, and remained so after the Empire started to decline and was split, even as it lost its capital status to Milan and then to Ravenna, and was surpassed in prestige by the Eastern capital Constantinople.
What eventually became the Roman Empire began as settlements around the Palatine Hill along the river Tiber in Central Italy. The river was navigable up to that place. The site also had a ford where the Tiber could be crossed. The Palatine Hill and hills surrounding it presented easily defensible positions in the wide fertile plain surrounding them. All these features contributed to the success of the city.
The traditional account of Roman history, which has come down to us through Livy, Plutarch, Dionysius of Halicarnassus and others, is that in Rome’s first centuries, it was ruled by a succession of seven kings. The traditional chronology, as codified by Varro, allots 243 years for their reigns, an extraordinary average of almost 35 years , which, since the work of Barthold Georg Niebuhr, has been generally discounted by modern scholarship. The Gauls destroyed all of Rome’s historical records when they sacked the city after the Battle of the Alliain 390 BC (Varronian, according to Polybius the battle occurred in 387/6), so no contemporary records of the kingdom exist, and all accounts of the kings must be carefully questioned.