- a brief
Tradition has it that Rome was founded in 753 BC
by Romulus and Remus, two foundlings who had been reared by a she-wolf. The Italic
peninsular at the time, was populated in the north by the wild Celtic tribes and in the
middle by the Etruscans, a people with a fairly well-developed culture. Another
tale would have it founded by Enea, the son of godess Venus, having fled
from Troy in flames and after a brief love affair with a local queen in
The inhabitants of Rome were a very
determined lot, very much tied to their land and city, which they wanted strong and
powerful. They werent so much for art or culture, as were the Athenians but one
thing was important for them: The Law. Slowly and tenaciously, the Romans extended their
authority from city to city along the Italian peninsular, forming a strong federation,
with an ever powerful army to keep law and order.
The Romans had a very different approach
to sport from the Greeks: rather than personally competing in races and launching the
javelin, they preferred to leave sport to the slaves, to fight one another as gladiators
and against savage beasts in arenas such as the Coliseum.
By this time, the Greeks had lost control
of their colonies in southern Italy to the Phoenicians, who had gained control of most of
the Mediterranean. But now Rome was growing to be a force to be contended with and soon a
great rivalry developed between Rome and Carthage. The Romans, not at all a maritime
nation, copied the Phoenician ships and built many to contrast the enemy's navy. This they
soon did and first conquered Sicily in 241 BC and then Carthage itself in 146 BC, becoming
the new dominators of the Mediterranean Sea, the "Mare Nostrum", which became
"our sea" from then on.
Roman Empire at its height under Trajan in 116 AD
The Roman Empire controlled all the shores
of the Mediterranean, stretched north to England and up to the Rhine river in Germany and
east to Hungary, including Rumania, Turkey and all the Near East.
The present Turkish Aegean coast was an important
Roman province where you can encounter well-preserved Roman ruins
constructed over those of the dominated Greek settlements: Pergamon, Efesus, Miletus, Priene, Iassus, Didyma,
splendour of the Roman Empire lasted several centuries, until around 400 AD, when hoards
of invaders descended from the north, the Goths and the Vandals and the Huns from Asia,
lead by Attic, wreaking terror and devastation. The Empire was finished, with the
destitution of the last emperor in 476 AD, when a new Age commenced: the Middle Ages.
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The Mediterranean Sea
Copyright L. Camillo