Source: The University of Texas
History >> Ancient Rome
For the first 500 years of Ancient Rome, the Roman government was a republic where no single person held ultimate power. However, for the next 500 years, Rome became an empire ruled by an emperor. Although many of the republican government offices were still around (i.e. the senators) to help run the government, the emperor was the supreme leader and was even sometimes thought of as a god.
Who was the first Roman Emperor?
The first Emperor of Rome was Caesar Augustus. He actually had a lot of names including Octavius, but was called Augustus once he became emperor. He was the adopted heir of Julius Caesar.
Julius Caesar paved the way for the Roman Republic to become an Empire. Caesar had a very strong army and became very powerful in Rome. When Caesar defeated Pompey the Great in a civil war, the Roman Senate made him dictator. However, some Romans wanted the republic government back in power. In 44 BC, just a year after Caesar was made dictator, Marcus Brutus assassinated Caesar. However, the new republic did not last long as Caesar's heir, Octavius, was already powerful. He took Caesar's place and eventually become the first Emperor of the new Roman Empire.||
by Andreas Wahra
At first you may think that the Roman republic moving to an empire led by an Emperor was a bad thing. In some cases, this was absolutely true. However, in other cases the Emperor was a good, strong leader who brought peace and prosperity to Rome. Here are a few of the better emperors of Rome:
Emperor Marcus Aurelius
Photo by Ducksters
- Caesar Augustus - The first Emperor, Augustus, set a good example for future leaders. After years of civil war in Rome, his rule was a time of peace called the Pax Romana (Roman peace). He established a standing Roman army, a network of roads, and rebuilt much of the city of Rome.
- Claudius - Claudius conquered several new areas for Rome and started the conquest of Britain. He also built many roads, canals, and aqueducts.
- Trajan - Trajan is considered by many historians to be the greatest of Rome's Emperors. He ruled for 19 years. During that time, he conquered many lands increasing the wealth and size of the empire. He also was an ambitious builder, constructing many lasting buildings throughout Rome.
- Marcus Aurelius - Aurelius is called the Philosopher-King. Not only was he Emperor of Rome, but he is also considered one of history's foremost stoic philosophers. Aurelius was the last of the "Five Good Emperors".
- Diocletian - He was perhaps both a good and bad emperor. With the Roman Empire growing too large to manage from Rome, Diocletian split the Roman Empire into two sections; the Eastern Roman Empire and the Western Roman Empire. This enabled the huge Empire to be ruled more easily and to defend its borders. However, he also was one of the worst emperors when it came to human rights, persecuting and killing many people, especially Christians, because of their religion.
Rome also had its share of crazy emperors. A few of them include Nero (who is often blamed for burning Rome), Caligula, Commodus, and Domitian.
Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great ruled over the Eastern Roman Empire. He was the first Emperor to convert to Christianity and started the Roman conversion to Christianity. He also changed the city of Byzantium to Constantinople, which would be capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for over 1000 years.
End of the Roman Empire
The two halves of the Roman Empire ended at different times. The Western Roman Empire ended in 476 AD when the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus, was defeated by the German, Odoacer. The Eastern Roman Empire ended with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire
in 1453 AD.
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History >> Ancient Rome