According to legend, Rome was founded in the 8th century BCE by Romulus, one of a pair of royal twins, abandoned on a river bank as infants by their great-uncle who had usurped their grandfather’s throne. The most recognisable image of the twins is of them in infancy being suckled by a wolf.
While initially a monarchy, the city-state eventually evolved into a republic with a complex political structure. The republic flourished from 509BCE to 27BCE, and saw the Punic Wars against Carthage, and the expansion of Roman influence.
Rome transitioned into an empire, and reached its highest influence under emperors such as Augustus and Trajan. During the empire, Roman engineering marvels like the Colosseum and aqueducts were erected.
The Romans were pioneers in law, literature, philosophy, and engineering. They left an enduring cultural legacy - even today, Latin still has an influence on modern languages and is used extensively in legal matters.
Roman society would have changed gradually over time, so would not have looked the same at the beginning of the republic as it did at the end of the empire. General life would have been very broadly similar to today, with various social classes and daily life ranging from bustling cities to agricultural regions.
The religious beliefs of the Romans changed over time as well. In the early years of Rome from the monarchy through to the beginning of the empire there was a polytheistic system with a pantheon of gods and goddesses, including Jupiter, Mars, Venus and others. Some other religions were tolerated, but the others were treated with suspicion and sometimes outwardly persecuted.
In the 4th century CE there was a significant shift as Christianity gained prominence. In 313CE, Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which allowed religious tolerance and marked a pivotal moment in the acceptance of Christianity within the empire.
As all civilisations do, the Roman Empire faced its challenges. Political instability, economic decline, and invasions from outside the empire all contributed to its decline and eventual collapse.
Ancient Rome’s rich history covers a whole host of developments. From its early days as a monarchy through to the decline and fall of the empire, its influence echoes through the ages.