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Rise and Fall of Roman Empire
753 B.C. to 1453 A.D.

Roman Empire Timeline
753 BC :  Roma (Rome) is founded by Romulus
750 BC :  Greeks establish a colony at Cuma
750 BC :  first Etruscan inscriptions
616 BC :  Tarquinius I becomes an Etruscan king of Roma
600 BC :  Etruscans build the colossal tombs of Cerveteri
600 BC :  the Forum is built
600 BC :   oldest Latin inscriptions
578 BC :  Tarquinius Priscus builds Cloaca Maxima, 1st sewer
550 BC :  Servius Tullius builds city walls
474 BC :  the Greeks defeat the Etruscans at Cuma
509 BC :  last king is expelled and Roma becomes a republic
450 BC :  the Twelve Tables of the Roman law
396 BC :  Roma conquers the Etruscan city of Veii
387 BC :  the Gauls/Celts sack Roma
326 BC :  the Circus Maximus is built
312 BC :  the Via Appia is opened
312 BC :  the first aqueduct, the Aqua Appia, is built
308 BC :  Roma conquers the Etruscan city of Tarquinia
295 BC :  Roma defeats the Gauls/Celts in northern Italy
287 BC :  the Lex Hortensia makes plebiscites binding
283 BC :  Roma establishes Gallia Cisalpina (Cisalpine Gaul) in nothern Italy
280 BC :  Roma issues coins
275 BC :  Roma conquers southern Italy (Greek colonies)
272 BC :  a second aqueduct, the Anio Vetus, is built
264 BC :  Roma and Carthage fight the first Punic war
264 BC :  the Romans destroy the last vestiges of the Etruscan civilization (Volsinies)
232 BC :  Gaius Flaminius enacts an agrarian law ceding land of N Italy to poorer class citizens
225 BC :  the Gauls invade Rome
222 BC :  the invading Gauls are defeated
221 BC :  the Circus Flaminius
218 BC :  Hannibal invades Italy and the Gauls of northern Italy ally with him
214 BC :  War machines designed by Greek mathematician Archimedes

              the city of Syracuse, an ally of Carthage, from a Roman naval attack
203 BC :  Roma organizes the northern colonies of Placentia

              and Cremona in the territory of the Gauls
202 BC :  Scipio defeats Hannibal and Roma annexes Spain
196 BC :  the Romans defeat the Macedonian king Philip V at Cynoscephalae
189 BC :  Antiochus III, king of the Seleucids, is defeated at the battle of Magnesia

              and surrenders his possessions in Europe and Asia Minor
184 BC :  the Basilica Porcia
181 BC :  Aquileia is founded on the head of the Adriatic
181 BC :  the Gauls of northern Italy are definitely subjugated
175 BC :  the Celts of Spain are subjugated
171 BC :  The Third Macedonian War begins
167 BC :  At the end of the Third Macedonian War

              the romans divide Macedonia into four republics
149 BC :  Roma attacks Carthage
149 BC :  Roma conquers Greece after winning the battle of Corinth (and destroying Corinth)
146 BC :  Macedonia becomes a province of Roma
146 BC :  Roma destroys Carthage
144 BC :  The first high-level aqueduct is built
138 BC :  Slave revolt in Sicily (crucifixion of 4,500 slaves)
135 BC :  Second slave revolt in Sicily ("first servile war")
133 BC :  Tiberius Gracchus enacts a law to redistribute land to

               the poor farmers but is assassinated with 300 of his supporters
133 BC :  Attalus III of Pergamum wills his kingdom to Roma and

              the whole Mediterranean Sea is under Roman control ("mare nostrum")
128 BC :  Southern France (Aquitania) becomes a provinces of Rome
123 BC :  Tiberius's brother Gaius Gracchus enacts populist laws 121 BC :

              Gaius Gracchus is assassinated
106 BC :  the Romans led by newly elected consul Marius defeat Jugurtha, king of Numidia
105 BC :  the Teutones and the Cimbri defeat the Romans at Arausio/Orange
104 BC :  Slave revolt in Sicily ("second servile war")
102 BC :  consul Gaius Marius defeats the Teutonic army at Aix-en-Provence,

              killing about 100,000 of them
101 BC :  consul Gaius Marius defeats the Cimbri at Vercelli, killing more than 100,000 of them
90 BC :  Central and Southern Italians start the "social wars" over the issue of citizenship
88 BC :  Central and Southern Italians are granted full citizenship
88 BC :  Sulla marches on Roma to seize power from Marius,

             the first time that a Roman army invades Roma
83 BC :  Sulla reconquers Roma, kills 5,000 political enemies and becomes dictator
74 BC :  Cicero enters the senate
73 BC :  Spartacus leads the revolt of the gladiators ("third servile war")
71 BC :  Mithridates VI of Pontus is conquered by Roman general Lucius Lucullus
71 BC :  Crassus puts down Spartacus' revolt
70 BC :  Crassus and Pompey are elected consuls
69 BC :  Rome invades Tigranes' Armenian kingdom and edstroys its capital, Tigranocerta
64 BC :  Syria becomes a Roman province under general Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius)
63 BC :  Cicero thwarts Catilina's attempted coup
63 BC :  Pompeus captures Jerusalem and annexes Palestine to Roma
60 BC :  Crassus, Pompey and Caesar form a "triumvirate"
59 BC :  Caesar is elected consul
57 BC :  Caesar conquers all of Gaul
53 BC :  in the first war against Persia, Crassus is defeated

            and killed by the Parthians at Carrhae (Syria)
51 BC :  Caesar crushes revolt of Vercingetorix in Gaul
50 BC :  Roma introduces the gold coin "aureus"
49 BC :  Ceasar crosses the Rubicon, defeats Pompey and

            becomes sole dictator of Rome, calling himself "imperator"
47 BC :  Ceasar invades Egypt and proclaims Cleopatra queen
45 BC :  Julius Caesar employs the Egyptian astronomer Sosigenes

            to work out a new 12-month calendar (Julian calendar)
44 BC :  Julius Caesar is killed.
42 BC :  The religious cult of Julius Caesar is officially instituted
36 BC :  Rome tries to invade Persia
31 BC :  Octavianus defeats Mark Anthony at the battle of Actium and ending the civil wars
30 BC :  Cleopatra commits suicide and Egypt is annexed to Roma
27 BC :  Octavianus appoints himself "augustus" (the first emperor)

            and founds the Praetorian Guard
20 BC :  a treaty between Roma and Persia (Parthians) fixes the boundary

            between the two empires along the Euphrates river (Iraq)
17 BC :  the theater of Marcellus
13 BC :  Augustus expands the borders to the region of the Danube
6 BC :  Jesus is born in Palestine
1 AD :  Roma has about one million people
2 AD :  the Forum of Augustus
5 AD :  Roma acknowledges Cymbeline, King of the Catuvellauni, as king of Britain
6 AD :  Augustus expands the borders to the Balkans
9 AD :  Gothic warlord Arminius destroys the Roman army at the Teutoburg Forest
12 AD : The last Etruscan inscription is carved
14 AD :  Augustus dies and Tiberius becomes emperor
14 AD :  five million people live in the Roman empire
25 AD :  Agrippa builds the Pantheon
37 AD :  Tiberius dies and the mad Caligula succeeds him
41 AD :  Caligula is assassinated and is succeeded by Claudius
43 AD :  Claudius invades Britain
46 AD :  Thracia becomes a Roman province
50 AD :  the Romans found Londinium in Britain
54 AD :  Claudius is succeeded by Nero
58 AD :  the Romans conquer Armenia
64 AD :  Nero sets fire to Roma and blames the Christians for it
68 AD :  Nero commits suicide and, after the Praetorians

             kill the successor, is eventually succeeded by Vespasianus
79 AD :  Vespasianus is succeeded by Tito
70 AD :  Tito destroys Jerusalem and Jews spread in Armenia,

             Iraq, Iran, Arabia, Egypt, Italy, Spain and Greece
77 AD :  the Romans conquer Wales
79 AD :  the Vesuvius erupts and Pompeii is buried under ash
79 AD :  the Colosseum is completed
80 AD :  the Romans invade Caledonia (Scotland)
81 AD :  the Arch of Titus
84 AD :  British rebels are defeated by the Romans at the battle of Mons Graupius
97 AD :  Rome forbids human sacrifice throughout the Roman empire
97 AD :  Chinese general Pan Chao sends an embassy to the Roman Empire
98 AD :  Trajan becomes emperor
100 :  the city of Roma has one million inhabitants
106 :  Trajan defeats Dacia that becomes a Roman province
106 :  Trajan captures the Nabataean capital Petra (Jordan)

         and turns Nabataea into the province of Arabia
107 :  The Roman Empire sends an embassy to India
110 :  the Basilica of Trajano is completed
112 :  the Forum of Trajanus
113 :  Colonna Traiana
116 :  Trajan conquers Mesopotamia and the Parthian capital Ctesiphon
117 :  Trajan dies on his way to the Persian Gulf and Hadrian becomes emperor
122 :  Hadrian's Wall is built along the northern frontier to protect from the Barbarians
132 :  Jews, led by Bar-Cochba, whom some identify as the Messiah, revolt against Roma
134 :  Villa Hadriana
136 :  emperor Hadrian definitely crushes the Jewish resistance, forbids Jews

         from ever entering Jerusalem, and changes the name of the city to Aelia Capitolina
138 :  Hadrian is succeeded by Antoninus Pius, who repels Hadrian's anti-Jewish laws
139 :  Hadrian's mausoleum (Castel Sant'Angelo)
161 :  Marcus Aurelius becomes Roman emperor
164 :  the plague spreads throughout the Roman empire ("Antonine plague")
167 :  the Roman empire is attacked for the first time by barbarians

          (the German Quadi and Marcomanni)
192 :  the Praetorian Guard kills emperor Commodus
193 :  Libyan-born Septimius Severus seizes power militarily

         and turns Rome into a military dictatorship
194 :  Rome annexes Palmyra to the province of Syria
197 :  Septimius Severus wins the civil war and reforms the Praetorian Guard with non-Italians
211 :  Septimius Severus dies and the Praetorian Guard or the soldiers will kill most of them 

         succeeding emperors till 284 (the average reign will be three years)
212 :  Caracalla grants Roman citizenship on all free people who live in the Roman Empire
214 :  Caracalla murders King Abgar IX of Edessa and declares Edessa a Roman colony
216 :  the thermae of Caracalla
217 :  the Baths of Caracalla are inaugurated
217 :  Caracalla is murdered in Edessa
218 :  Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, the last of the Antonines,

         becomes emperor and promoties the cult of Elegabalus, a Syriac sun god
235 :  After the assassination of emperor Severus Alexander a 50-year civil war erupts
238 :  The Praetorian Guard assassinates the emperor chosen

         by the Senate and appoints the ten-year old Gordian III
244 :  Shapur I becomes king of the Sassanids and attacks Roma 250 :

         emperor Decius orders the first empire-wide persecution of Christians
253 :  Gallienus becomes emperor but 30 "tyrants" carved out

         their own kingdoms around the empire
256 :  the Persians/Sassanids defeat the Romans and conquer Dura Europus in Mesopotamia
261 :  Gallienus forbids aristocrats from serving in the army
268 :  Gallienus is assassinated by his own officers
273 :  the Romans destroy the rebellious city of Palmyra in Syria 284 :

         Diocletian becomes emperor but rules from Nicomedia in the East
285 :  Diocletian reunites the empire and ends the 50-year civil war
298 :  Roma captures Nisibis and the Sassanids sign a peace treaty with Roma
300 :  the population of the Roman Empire is 60 million (about 15 million Christians)
303 :  Diocletian orders a general persecution of the Christians
303 :  the thermae of Diocletian are built
305 :  Diocletian retires and civil war erupts again
312 :  Constantine becomes emperor and disbands the Praetorian Guard
313 :  Constantine ends the persecution of the Christians (edict of Milano)
313 :  the Basilica of Maxentius is completed
313 :  Constantine recognizes the Christian church
324 :  Constantine I founds a new city, Constantinople (Byzantium)
330 :  Constantine I moves the capital of the Roman empire to Constantinople (Byzantium)
337 :  after Constantine's death, his sons split the empire: Constantine II (Spain, Britain, Gaul),  

         Constans I (Italy, Africa, Illyricum, Macedon, Achaea) and Constantius II (the East)
356 :  Roma has 28 libraries, 10 basilicas, 11 public baths, two amphitheaters, three theaters,

         two circuses, 19 aqueducts, 11 squares, 1,352 fountains, 46,602 insulae (city blocks)
359 :  Constantinople becomes the capital of the Roman empire
360 :  pagan (Mithraist) general Julian (the "apostate") defeats an invasion of Barbarians

         and is declared emperor by his German troops
363 :  Julian dies attempting to invade the Sassanid kingdom of Persia,

         which recaptures Nisibis and Armenia, and general Valentinian becomes emperor
363 :  an earthquake destroys Petra
364 :  Valentinian delegates Valens as emperor of the East
376 :  Valens allows Visigoths to settle within the empire
378 :  the Visigoths defeat the Roman army at Hadrianopolis/Adrianople
380 :  Theodosius I proclaims Christianity as the sole religion of the Roman Empire
393 :  Theodosius forbids the Olympic Games because pagans

         and shuts down the temple of Zeus at Olympia
395 :  Theodosius divides the Roman empire in the Western and Eastern Empires,

         with Milano and Constantinople as their capitals
402 :  the western Roman empire moves the capital from Milano to Ravenna
406 :  Barbarians invade France from the north
410 :  the Visigots sack Roma
410 :  Roma withdraws from Britannia
418 :  the emperor grants Wallia's Visigoths to settle in Aquitaine (Atlantic coast of France)
425 :  the eastern emperor Theodosius II installs Valentinian III as emperor of the west
427 :  Gensenric's Vandals crosses the strait of Gibraltar and lands in Africa
443 : the emperor grants Burgundi to settle in Savoy
450 :  Theodosius II dies and Marcian succeeds him, the first Roman emperor

         to be crowned by a religious leader (the patriarch of Constantinople)
452 :  the Huns invade Italy
455 :  the Vandals sack Roma
476 :  Odoacer, a mercenary in the service of Roma, leader of the Germanic soldiers

         in the Roman army, deposes the western Roman emperor

         and thereby terminates the western Roman empire
488 :  emperor Zeno sends Theodoric's Ostrogoths (still settled in Pannonia) to conquer Italy
493 :  the Ostrogoths led by Theodoric conquer Italy
500 :  Roma's population has declined to less than 100,000 people
526 :  Antioch in Syria is destroyed by an earthquake
527 :  Justinian becomes eastern Roman emperor and decides to reconquer Italy
527 :  Byzantium enforces anti-Jewish laws and the Jews

         all but disappear from the eastern Roman Empire
529 :  Roman emperor Justinian shuts down the Academia of Plato
533 :  Justinian's code of law ("Corpus Juri Civilis") is published
534 :  Justinian's general Belisarius destroys the Arian kingdom

         of the Vandals and reconquers southern Spain and northern Africa
536 :  the Ostrogoths surrender and Belisarius reconquers Rome

         ( beginning of the Barbar wars in Italy )
537 :  Justinian's general Belisarius deposes pope Silverius and replaces him with pope Vigilius
537 :  Justinian builds the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople
540 :  Justinian's general Belisarius takes Ravenna from

         the last Ostrogothic resistance and thus reconquers Italy to the empire
542 :  the plague decimates the Empire
546 :  Visigothic rebels led by Totila sack Roma
551 :  imperial troops reconquer Rome
552 :  Nestorian monks smuggle silkworm eggs from China to Byzanthium
552 :  End of Ostrogothic resistance in Italy
554 :  Rome is reduced to a camp of about 30,000 people,

         while Constantinople has about one million people
554 :  the new king of the Visigoths, Athanagild, accepts the emperor's sovereignity over Spain
554 :  the empire reorganizes Italy as an imperial province (end of the Barbar wars)
565 :  Justinian dies
568 :  Alboin's Lombards invade northern Italy
600 :  Constantinople has 500,000 inhabitants
602 :  the Persians (Sassanids) attack the eastern Roman empire in Asia Minor
610 :  Heraclius I overthrows the tyrant Phocas and becomes emperor
614 :  the Persians (Sassanids) capture Jerusalem
619 :  the Persians capture Egypt
621 :  the Visigoths reconquer all of Spain from the Roman empire
626 :  the Sassanids besiege Constantinople
627 :  the Sassanid king Khusrau II is defeated by Roman emperor Heraclius at Niniveh
628 :  the Romans retake Syria from the Sassanids
636 :  Arabs invade Syria and Palestine
639 :  the Arabs invade the southern provinces of the Empire
673 :  the Arabs besiege Constantinople
714 :  the Arabs besiege Constantinople again
718 :  Leo III repels the Arabs from Constantinople
726 :  Emperor Leo III orders the destruction of all icons (iconoclasm)
739 :  emperor Leo III issues the Ecloga that introduces Christian principles into law
800 :  Charlemagne, king of the Franks, is crowned emperor

         by Pope Leo III and founds the Holy Roman Empire
811 :  the eastern Roman emperor recognized Charlemagne as emperor of Roma
812 :  a peace treaty between Charlemagne and the Eastern Roman Empire surrenders

         Venezia to the Eastern empire but grants Venezia the right to trade with

         the Holy Roman becomes eastern Roman emperor Leo V
840 :  Basil's fleet retakes Bari from the Muslims
843 :  Icons are restored
846 :  the city of Roma has 17,000 inhabitants
860 :  the Rus attack Constantinople
867 :  Basil I becomes the Byzantine emperor and founds the Macedonian dynasty
879 :  Basil I defeats the Arabs and reconquers Cappadocia
896 :  Symeon of Bulgaria defeats the Byzantine army for the first time
922 :  Symeon of Bulgaria defeats the Byzantine army for the fourth and last time
934 :  Magyars raid Constantinople
968 :  Nicephorus II defeats the Arabs and reconquers Syria
969 :  Nicephorus II defeats the Bulgars
976 :  Basil II becomes the Byzantine emperor
1018 :  Basil II annexes Bulgariaand the Byzantine empire reaches its zenith
1025 :  Basil II dies
1054 :  The patriarch of Constantinople and the pope in Roma

           excommunicate each other (the Great Schism)
1057 :  end of the Macedonian dynasty
1064 :  the Seljuks invade Armenia
1071 :  the Byzantine army of Romanus IV Diogenes is defeated

           by the Seljuks at Manzikert in Armenia,and establish a sultanate in Anatolia
1071 :  Normans led by Robert Guiscard conquer southern Italy from the eastern Roman empire
1081 :  Alexius I Komnenos establishes the Komnenos dynasty
1099 :  the first Crusade captures Jerusalem
1187 :  Saladin defeats the crusaders
1204 :  the Crusaders, led by the Doge of Venezia, sack Constantinople, expel

           the Greek emperor Alexius III and set up a Latin kingdom, led by Baldwin I

           of the Flanders, while Venezia acquires territories in the Mediterranean and Black Seas
1204 :  Theodore I Lascaris, son-in-law od Alexius III, flees from Constantinople

            to Nicaea (Bithynia), where he founds a the empire, whereas Alexius founds

            the empire of Trebizond further east
1211 :  Nicaea emperor Theodore I Lascaris conquers most of Anatolia
1261 :  Constantinople is liberated by the Nicaean emperor Michael VIII Paleologus

           and Greek becomes the official language of the ever smaller eastern Roman empire
1291 :  the Moslems expel the Crusaders from the Middle East
1345 :  Serbia defeats the eastern Roman empire and annexes Macedonia and Thrace
1347 :  the plague (Black Death) strikes Constantinople

           and it will kill half the population of the city
1348 :  Serbia defeats the eastern Roman empire and annexes Thessaly and Epirus
1453 :  the Ottoman Turks under Mehmet II capture Constantinople
1461 :  the Ottomans conquer the empire of Trebizond, the last Greek state man Empire
813  :   an Armenian general

            Roman Emperors

27 BC-14 AD : Augustus Octavianus
14-37 : Tiberius
37-41 : Caligula
41-54 : Claudius
54-68 : Nero
68-69 : Galba
69 : Otho
69 : Vitellius
69-79 : Vespasian
79-81 : Titus
81-96 : Domitian
96-98 : Nerva
98-117 : Trajan
117-38 : Hadrian
138-61 : Antoninus Pius
161-80 : Marcus Aurelius
161-69 : Lucius Aurelius Verus
180-92 : Commodus
193 : Pertinax
193 : Didius Julian
193-211 : Septimius Severus
211-17 : Caracalla
209-11 : Geta
217-18 : Macrinus
218-22 : Elagabalus
222-35 : Alexander Severus
235-38 : Maximin
238 : Gordian I
238 : Gordian II
238 : Pupienus
238 : Balbinus
238-44 : Gordian III
244-49 : Philipp "Arabs"
249-51 : Decius
251 : Hostilian
251-53 : Gallus
253 : Aemilian
253-59 : Valerian
259-68 : Gallienus
268-70 : Claudius II
270 : Quintillus
270-75 : Aurelian
275-76 : Tacitus
276 : Florian
276-82 : Probus
282-83 : Carus
283-84 : Numerian
283-85 : Carinus
284-305 : Diocletian
286-305 : Maximian
305-306 : Constantius I
305-311 : Galerius
306-7 : Severus
306-8 : Maximian
306-12 : Maxentius
308-13 : Maximinus Daia
311-24 : Licinius
311-37 : Constantine I
337-40 : Constantine II
337-61 : Constantius II
337-50 : Constans
361-63 : Julian
363-64 : Jovian
364-75 : Valentinian I
364-78 : (East) Valens
375-83 : (West) Gratian
375-92 : (West) Valentinian II
379-95 : (West) Theodosius
383-88 : Maximus
392-94 : Eugenius
395-408 : (East) Arcadius
395-423 : (West) Honorius
421 : Constantius III
423-25 : Johannes
408-50 : (East) Theodosius II
425-55 : (West) Valentinian III
450-57 : (East) Marcian
455 : (West) Petronius
455-56 : (West) Avitus
457-61 : (West) Majorian
457-74 : (East) Leo I
461-65 : (West) Severus
467-72 : (West) Anthemius
472 : (West) Olybrius
473 : (West) Glycerius
473-75 : (West) Julius Nepos
473-74 : (East) Leo II
474-91 : (East) Zeno
475-76 : (West) Romulus Augustulus
474-91 : (East) Zeno
475-76 : (East) Basiliscus
491-518 : (East) Anastasius I
518-27 : (East) Justin I
527-65 : Justinian
565-78 : Justin II
578-82 : Tiberius II
582-602 : Maurice
602-10 : Phocas I
610-41 : Heraclius I
641 : Constantine III
641 : Heracleon
641-68 : Constans II
668-85 : Constantine IV
685-95 : Justinian II
695-98 : Leontius
698-705 : Tiberius II
705-11 : Justinian II
711-13 : Philippicus
713-15 : Anastasius II
715-17 : Theodosius III
717-41 : Leo III
741-75 : Constantine V
775-80 : Leo IV
780-97 : Constantine VI
797-802 : Irene
802-11 : Nicephorus I
811 : Stauracius
811-13 : Michael I
813-20 : Leo V
820-29 : Michael II
829-42 : Theophilus I
842-67 : Michael III
867-86 : Basil I
886-912 : Leo VI
912-13 : Alexander II
912-59 : Constantine VII
920-44 : Romanus I
959-63 : Romanus II
963-69 : Nicephorus II
969-76 : John I
976-1025 : Basil II
1025-28 : Constantine VIII
1028-50 : Zoe
1028-34 : Romanus III
1034-41 : Michael IV
1041-42 : Michael V
1042-55 : Constantine IX
1055-56 : Theodora
1056-57 : Michael VI
1057-59 : Isaac I
1059-67 : Constantine X
1068-71 : Romanus IV
1071-78 : Michael VII
1078-81 : Nicephorus III
1081-1118 : Alexius I
1118-43: John II
1143-80 : Manuel I
1180-83 : Alexius II
1183-85 : Andronicus I
1185-95 : Isaac II
1195-1203 : Alexius III
1203-4 : Isaac II
1203-4 : Alexius IV
1204 : Alexius V
1204-5 : (Latin) Baldwin I
1205-16 : (Latin) Henry
1216-17 : (Latin) Peter of Courtenay
1217-19 : (Latin) Yolande
1219-28 : (Latin) Robert of Courtenay
1228-61 : (Latin) Baldwin II
1231-37 : (Latin) John of Brienne
1204-22 : (Nicean) Theodore I
1222-54 : (Nicean) John III
1254-58 : (Nicean) Theodore II
1258-61 : (Nicean) John IV
1259-61 : (Nicean) Michael VIII
1261-82 : Michael VIII
1282-1328 : Andronicus II
1295-1320 : Michael IX
1328-41 : Andronicus III
1341-47 : John V
1347-54 : John VI
1355-76 : John V
1376-79 : Andronicus IV
1379-91 : John V
1390 : John VII
1391-1425 : Manuel II
1425-48 : John VIII
1448-53 : Constantine XI

Roman Mythology
Roman Gods and Goddesses

At the founding of Rome, the gods were 'numina', divine manifestations, faceless, formless, but no less powerful. The idea of gods as anthropomorphized beings came later, with the influence from Etruscans and Greeks, which had human form. Some of the Roman Gods

are at least as old as the founding of Rome.

The concept of numen continued to exist and it was related to any manifestation of the divine. For the Romans, everything in Nature is thought to be inhabited by numina, which explains the big number of deities in the Roman pantheon, as will be shown. Numina manifest the divine will by means of natural phenomena, which the pious Roman constantly seeks to interpret. That's why great attention is paid to omens and portents in every aspect of Roman daily life. A groups of twelve Gods called Dii Consentes is especially honored by the Romans: Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Vesta, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars, Mercurius, Neptunus, Volcanus, and Apollo. These are the ones listed by the Poet Ennius about the 3rd Century, B.C.E.. Their gilt statues stood in the Forum, later apparently in the Porticus Deorum Consentium. As there were six male and six female, they may well have been the twelve worshipped at the lectisternium of 217 BC. A lectisternium is a banquet of the gods, where the statues of the gods were put upon cushions, and where these statues were offered meals. The number 12 was taken from the Etruscans, which also worshipped a main pantheon of 12 Gods. Nevertheless, the Dii Consentes were not identified with Etruscan deities but rather with the Greek Olympian Gods, though the original character of the Roman Gods was different from the Greek,
having no myths traditionally associated.
The twelve Dii Consentes are lead by the first three, which form the Capitoline Triad.

These are the three cornerstones of Roman religion, whose rites were conducted

in the Capitoleum Vetus on the Capitoline Hill.

Roman Mythology

Roman mythology can be considered as two parts. One part, largely later and literary, consists of whole-cloth borrowings from Greek mythology. The other, largely early and cultic, functioned in very different ways from its Greek counterpart. Nature of early Roman mythOne might almost say that the archaic Romans did not have myths. That is to say: until their poets began to borrow from Greek models in the later part of the Republic, the Romans had no sequential narratives about their gods comparable to the Titanomachy or the seduction of Zeus by Hera.

What the Romans did have, however, were: a highly developed system of rituals, priestly colleges, and "clusters" of related gods a rich set of historical myths about the foundation and rise of their city involving human actors, with occasional divine interventions. Early mythology about the gods The Roman model involved a very different way of defining and thinking about the gods than we are familiar with from Greece. For example, if one were to ask a Greek about Demeter, he might reply with the well-known story of her grief at the rape of Persephone by Hades. An archaic Roman, by contrast, would tell you that Ceres had an official priest called a flamen, who was junior to the flamens of Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus, but senior to the flamens of Flora and Pomona. He might tell you that she was grouped in a triad with two other agricultural gods, Liber and Libera. And he might even be able to rattle off all of the minor gods with specialized functions who attended her: Sarritor (weeding), Messor (harvesting),

Convector (carting), Conditor (storing), Insitor (sowing), and dozens more.

Thus the archaic Roman "mythology", at least concerning the gods, was made up not of narratives, but rather of interlocking and complex interrelations between and among gods and humans. The original religion of the early Romans was modified by the addition of numerous and conflicting beliefs in later times, and by the assimilation of a vast amount of Greek mythology. We know what little we do about early Roman religion not through contemporary accounts, but from later writers who sought to salvage old traditions from the desuetude into which they were falling, such as the 1st century BC scholar Marcus Terentius Varro. Other classical writers, such as the poet Ovid in his Fasti (Calendar), were strongly influenced by Hellenistic models, and in their works they frequently employed Greek beliefs to fill gaps in the Roman tradition.

Early mythology about Roman "history"In contrast to the dearth of narrative material about the gods, the Romans had a rich panoply of quasi-historical legends about the foundation and early growth of their own city. Primitive kings like Romulus and Numa were almost wholly mythical in nature, and legendary material may extend up as far as accounts of the early Republic. In addition to these largely home-grown traditions, material from Greek heroic legend was grafted onto this native stock an early date, rendering Aeneas, for example, an ancestor of Romulus and Remus. The Aeneid and the first few books of Livy are the best extant sources for this human mythology. Native Roman and Italic gods The Roman ritual practice of the official priesthoods clearly distinguishes two classes of gods, the di indigetes and the de novensides or novensiles. The indigetes were the original gods of the Roman state (see List of Di Indigetes), and their names and nature are indicated by the titles of the earliest priests and by the fixed festivals

of the calendar ; 30 such gods were honored with special festivals.

The novensides were later divinities whose cults were introduced to the city in the historical period, usually at a known date and in response to a specific crisis or felt need. Early Roman divinities included, in addition to the di indigetes, a host of so-called specialist gods whose names were invoked in the carrying out of various activities, such as harvesting. Fragments of old ritual accompanying such acts as plowing or sowing reveal that at every stage of the operation a separate deity was invoked, the name of each deity being regularly derived from the verb for the operation. Such divinities may be grouped under the general term of attendant

or auxiliary, gods, who were invoked along with the greater deities.

Early Roman cult was not so much a polytheism as a polydemonism: the worshipers' concepts of the invoked beings consisted of little more than their names and functions, and the being's numen, or "power", manifested itself in highly specialized ways. The character of the indigetes and their festivals show that the early Romans were not only members of an agricultural community but also were fond of fighting and much engaged in war. The gods represented distinctly the practical needs of daily life, as felt by the Roman community to which they belonged. They were scrupulously accorded the rites and offerings considered proper. Thus, Janus and Vesta guarded the door and hearth, the Lares protected the field and house, Pales the pasture, Saturn the sowing, Ceres the growth of the grain, Pomona the fruit, and Consus and Ops the harvest. Even the majestic Jupiter, the ruler of the gods, was honored for the aid his rains might give to the farms and vineyards. In his more encompassing character he was considered, through his weapon of lightning, the director of human activity and, by his widespread domain, the protector of the Romans in their military activities beyond the borders of their own community. Prominent in early times were the gods Mars and Quirinus, who were often identified with each other. Mars was a god of young men and their activities, especially war; he was honored in March and October. Quirinus is thought by modern scholars

to have been the patron of the armed community in time of peace.

At the head of the earliest pantheon were the triad Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus (whose three priests, or flamens, were of the highest order), and Janus and Vesta. These gods in early times had little individuality, and their personal histories lacked marriages and genealogies. Unlike the gods of the Greeks, they were not considered to function in the manner of mortals, and thus not many accounts of their activities exist. This older worship was associated with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, who was believed to have had as his consort and adviser the Roman goddess of fountains and childbirth, Egeria, who is often identified as a nymph in later literary sources. New elements were added at a relatively early date, however. To the royal house of the Tarquins was ascribed by legend the establishment of the great Capitoline triad, Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, which assumed the supreme place in Roman religion. Other additions were the worship of Diana on the Aventine Hill and the introduction of the Sibylline books, prophecies of world history, which, according to legend, were purchased by Tarquin

in the late 6th century BC from the Cumaean Sibyl.

Foreign Gods at Rome

The absorption of neighboring local gods took place as the Roman state conquered the surrounding territory. The Romans commonly granted the local gods of the conquered territory the same honors as the earlier gods who had been regarded as peculiar to the Roman state. In many instances the newly acquired deities were formally invited to take up their abode in new sanctuaries at Rome. In 203 BC, the cult object embodying Cybele was removed from Phrygian Pessinos and ceremoniously welcomed to Rome. Moreover, the growth of the city attracted foreigners, who were allowed to continue the worship of their own gods. In this way Mithras came to Rome and his popularity in the legions spread his cult as far afield as Britain. In addition to Castor and Pollux, the conquered settlements in Italy seem to have contributed to the Roman pantheon Diana, Minerva, Hercules, Venus, and other deities of lesser rank, some of whom were Italic divinities, others originally derived from the Greek culture of Magna Graecia. The important Roman deities were eventually identified with the more anthropomorphic Greek gods

and goddesses, and assumed many of their attributes and myths.

Religious Festivals

The Roman religious calendar reflected Rome's hospitality to the cults and deities of conquered territories. Roman religious festivals known from ancient times were few in number. Some of the oldest, however, survived to the very end of the pagan empire, preserving the memory of the fertility and propitiatory rites of a primitive agricultural people. New festivals were introduced, however, to mark the naturalization of new gods. So many festivals were adopted eventually that the work days on the calendar were outnumbered. Among the more important of the Roman religious festivals were the Saturnalia, the Lupercalia, the Equiria, and the Secular Games. Under the empire, the Saturnalia was celebrated for seven days, from December 17 to December 23, during the period in which the winter solstice occurred. All business was suspended, slaves were given temporary freedom, gifts were exchanged
, and merriment prevailed.

The Lupercalia was an ancient festival originally honoring Lupercus, a pastoral god of the Italians. The festival was celebrated on February 15 at the cave of the Lupercal on the Palatine Hill, where the legendary founders of Rome, the twins Romulus and Remus, were supposed to have been nursed by a wolf. among the Roman legends connected with them is that of Faustulus, a shepherd who was supposed to have discovered the twins in the wolf's den and to have taken them to his home, in which they were brought up by his wife, Acca Larentia.

The Equiria, a festival in honor of Mars, was celebrated on February 27 and March 14, traditionally the time of year when new military campaigns were prepared. Horse races in the Campus Martius notably marked the celebration.

The Secular Games, which included both athletic spectacles and sacrifices, were held at irregular intervals, traditionally once only in about every century, to mark the beginning of a new saeculum, or "era". They were supposed to be held when the last person who had witnessed the previous Secular Games died, marking the beginning of a new era. The tradition, often neglected, was revived as a spectacle by Augustus
and honored by the poet Horacewith a series of odes.

Decline of the Roman Religion

The distinctions among philosophy, religion, cult and superstition that would be made by an educated Roman of the 1st century BC can be read in Lucretius, a philosopher following Epicurus. Most educated Romans were Stoic in the outlook on life. The transference of the anthropomorphic qualities of Greek gods to Roman ones, and perhaps even more, the prevalence of Greek philosophy among well-educated Romans, brought about an increasing neglect of the old rites, and in the 1st century BC the religious importance of the old priestly offices declined rapidly, though their civic importance remained. Many men whose patrician birth called them to these duties had no belief in the rites, except perhaps as a political necessity. Nevertheless, the positions of pontifex maximus and augur remained coveted political posts.

Julius Caesar used his election to the position of pontifex maximus to influence the membership of the priestly groups. The mass of the uneducated populace became increasingly interested in foreign rites being practiced by soldiers and traders in the cosmopolitan centers. A thorough reform and restoration of the old system was carried out by Emperor Augustus, who himself became a member of all the priestly orders. Even though the earlier ritual had little to do with individual morality, being mainly a businesslike relation with unseen powers in which humans paid proper service to the gods and were rewarded by security, it had promoted piety and religious discipline and thus was fostered by Augustus as a safeguard against internal disorder. During this period the legend of the founding of Rome by the Trojan hero Aeneas became prominent because of the publication of Virgil's Aeneid. In spite of the reforms instituted by Augustus, the Roman religion in the empire tended more and more to center on the imperial house, and Augustus himself was deified after death. Such deification began

before the establishment of the empire, with Julius Caesar.

The emperors Augustus, Claudius, Vespasian, and Titus were also deified, and after the reign (AD 96-98) of Marcus Cocceius Nerva, few emperors failed to receive this distinction. Under the empire, numerous foreign cults grew popular and were widely extended, such as the worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis and that of the Persian god Mithras, initiatory religions of intense personal significance similar to Christianity in those respects.

Despite desultory persecutions, usually at times of civic tensions beginning with Nero, and more throrough persecutions beginning under Diocletian, Christianity steadily gained converts. It became an officially supported religion in the Roman state under Constantine I, who ruled as sole emperor from AD 324 to 337. All cults save Christianity were prohibited in AD 391 by an edict of Emperor Theodosius I. Destruction of temples and desecration of the fanes began immediately, with the sacking of the Serapeum in Alexandria as an encouraging example.

Roman Mythology
Ancient Roman Religion

Roman Gods
Greek Gods
Rome Index