CLST201 Final: Roman Timeline.doc
Course CodeCLST 201
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Timeline of Ancient Rome
753 BC – Foundation of Rome
Rome's foundation myth begins with twin brothers Romulus and Remus. Their mother is
Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Before their conception,
Numitor's brother Amulius seizes power, kills Numitor's male heirs and forces Rhea
Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, sword to chasity. Rhea conceives the twins by the god
Mars, or the demi-god Hercules. Once the twins are born, Amulius has them abandoned
to die in the river Tiber. They are saved by a she-wolf who suckles them, and a
woodpecker feeds them. A shepherd and his wife find them and foster them to manhood.
As men they learn the truth and rather than wait to inherit Alba Longa they choose to
found a new city. They quarrel about where to found it, Palatine Hill or Aventine Hill,
and in the process Remus is killed. Romulus founds his new city after himself naming it
715-673 BC – Reign of Numa Pompilius
Numa Pompilius was the second king of Rome. He was Sabine origin, and many of
Rome's most important religious and political institutions are attributed to him. Firstly,
he disbanded the personal guard of 300 so-called Celeres (the “Swift”) with which
Romulus permanently surrounded himself with. He constructed a temple of Janus as an
indicator of peace and war. He created the cult of Terminus, a god for boundaries that
involved sacrifices at private properities, boundaries, and landmarks which was used to
instill respect of lawful property and non-violent relationships with neighbours. He
established the office of Pontifex Maximus (“greatest pontiff”), which was the high
priest of the College of Pontiffs who were priests of the state religion. The Vestal
Virgins, unmarried girls and women sworn to chasity, were brought to Rome from Alba
Longa, and reformed the calendar introducing the months of January and February.
Numa died of old age and was succeeded by Tullius Hostilius
673-642 BC – Reign of Tullus Hostilius
Tullus Hostilius was the third king of Rome. He was known as a warlike king. He was
the grandson of Hostus Hostilius who had fought with Romulus and died during the
Sabine invasion of Rome. He defeated Alba Longa which became part of Rome's vassal
state. However, after the Alban dictator, Mettius Fufetius, subsequently betrayed Rome,
Tullus ordered Alba Longa to be destroyed and forces the migration of the Alban
citizenry to Rome, where they were integrated and became Roman citizens.
642-617 BC – Reign of Ancus Marcius
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Ancus Marcius was the fourth king of Rome. He was the son of Marcius (whose father,
also named Marcius, had been a close friend of Numa Pompilius) and Pompilia
(daughter of Numa Pompilius). According to Festus, a 4th century historian, Marcius had
the surname of Ancus from his crooked arm. Upon the death of the previous king, the
Roman Senate appointed an interrex (literally a ruler “between kings), who in turn called
a session of the assembly of the people who elected a new king.
616-579 BC – Reign of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus
Tarquinius Priscus or Tarquin the Elder, was the fifth king of Rome. He was believed to
be the son of Demaratus of Cornith, a Greek city, who fled to Tarquinii (modern
Tarquinia) to escape tyranny of Cypselus. Tarquin would then migrate with his wife,
Tanaquil and became the right-hand man of King Ancus Marcius. Upon the death of
Marcius, Tarquin addressed the Comitia Curiata (an assemby of 30 divisions of curiae
or representatives) and convinced them that he should be elected king over Marcius'
natural sons, who were still only youths. Tarquin increased the number of the Senate by
adding 100 men from the leading minor families. Among these was the family of the
Octavii, from whom the first emperor, Augustus, was descended. He also increased the
number of cavalry centuries from 3 to 6, and conducted successful wars againsts the
Latins, Sabines, and Etruscans. Tarquin was assassinated by the sons of Ancus Marcius,
but their bid for the thrones was thwarted by Tanaquil, who secured it for her favourite
Servius Tullius. Tarquin and Tanaquil had two sons, Lucius (Tarquinius Superbus) and
Arruns, and two daughters. One married Servius Tullius, the other Marcus Brutus and
thus became the mother of Lucius Junius Brutus, the founder of the republic.
578-535 BC – Reign of Servius Tullius
Servius Tullius was the sixth king of Rome and the second of its Etruscan dynasty. He
was the first king to be appointed without election by the Senate, having gained the
throne by popular support, at the contrivance of his mother-in-law, Tanaquil; and the first
to be elected by the Senate without reference of the people. He had military successes
against Veii and the Etruscans, and expanded the city to include the Quirinal, Viminal,
and Esquiline hills. He is credited with the institution of the Compitalia (household
deities) festivals, the building of temples of Fortuna and Diana, and the invention of
Rome's first true coinage. Despite the opposition of Rome's patricians (ruling class
citizens), he expanded Roman citizenshop and improved the lot and fortune of Rome's
lowest classes and creating the first census. He had two daughters, Tullia the Younger
and Tullia the Elder. He arranged their marriages to the two sons of his predecessor,
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. The younger married Arruns Tarquinius. Tullia the Elder and
her husband, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, had Servius Tullius murdered. In
consequence, Tarquinius was eventually removed. This cleared the way for the abolition
of Rome's monarchy and the founding of the Roman Republic, who groundwork had
already been laid by Servius' reforms. Servius Tullus is also known for inagurating the
pomerium, the sacred boundary of Rome, an original line plouged by Romulus. The
legendary date of its demarcation, 21 April, continues to be celebrated as the anniversary
of the city's foundation.
535-509 BC – Reign of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
Tarquinius Superbus is the seventh and final king of Rome, reigning until the uprising in
509 that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is a descendant of the
Etruscan family. He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, from his cognomen, or
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surname, Superbus, a Latin word meaning “proud, arrogant, lofty.” He was the son of
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, and gained the throne through the murders of both his wife
and his elder brother, followed by the assassination of his predecessor, Servius Tullius.
During his reign he built the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, King of Gods and god
of sky and thunder. He put many senators to death including the father of Lucius Junis
Brutus, who eventually led a revolt, the immediate cause of which was the rape of the
noblewman, Lucretia, by Tarquin's son Sextus. The Tarquin family was expelled from
Rome, and the monarchy at Rome was abolished. Tarquin was said to have provoked a
series of attacks on Rome by its neighbours. The Etruscan cities of Caere, Veii, and
Tarquinii were defeated by Rome at the Battle of Silva Arsi. Tarquin's appeal to Lars
Porsenna of Clusium, an Etruscan king, led to a Roman defeat, but not to Tarquin's
restoration. Finally he roused his son-in-law, Ocatvius Mamilius, dictator of the Latin
League (a confederation of about 30 villages and tribes in the region of Latium that
organized mutual defence), fight Rome at Lake Regillus. After the defeat of the Latins
there, Tarquin fled to the Greek tyrant Aristodemus of Cumae. His reign is described as
a tyranny that justified the abolition of the monarchy.
509 BC – Rome becomes a Republic
The last king is expelled and Rome is now ruled by senators. There is a constitution with
laws and Rome becomes a complex republican government.
218 BC – Hannibal invades Italy
Hannibal leads the Carthage army to attack Italy. This becomes part of the Second Punic
70 BC – First Permanent Amphitheatre
45 BC – Julius Caesar becomes the first dictator of Rome
Julius Caesar defeats Pompey in a civil war. He becomes the supreme ruler of Rome.
This is the end of the Roman Republic. He hires Sosigenes, an Egyptian astronomer, to
work out a new 12 month calendar.
44 BC – Assassination of Julius Caesar
March 15 - Julius Caesar is assassinated on the Ides of March by Marcus Junius Brutus
and Gaius Cassius Longinus. They hope to bring back the republic, but civil war
breaks out instead.
April - Gaius Octavius was born into an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the
plebeian Octavii family. Following the assassination of his maternal great-uncle
Julius Caesar, Caesar's will named Octavius as his adopted son and heir. He
returns from Apollonia to take up Caesar's inheritance, against advice from Atia
(his mother and Caesar's neice) and consular stepfather Anthony. He is only 18.
April 18-21 – Octavian engages in publicity campaign with consular Cicero who is
fulminating against March Antony
June – Antony is ganted a 5 year governorship of northern central Transalpine Gaul
(France) and Cisalpine Gaul (Northern Italy).
September 2 – Cleopatra VII of Egypt declares her son co-rule as Ptolemy XV
The first of Cicero's Philippics (oratorial attacks) on Antony is published. He will
make 14 of them over the next several months.
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