There can be little doubt that Roman history has arguably been amongst the most influential when it comes to the founding of the modern world, as we know it today. From the Seat of American government on “Capitol Hill” to the Senate, to the very concept of the rule of law all the way to the very creation of the Catholic church (it is centered in Rome to this very day). Rome has been one of the most influential civilizations that the world has ever seen.
While the site that comprises Rome today, has been inhabited for nearly 5000 years, it is the city-state itself that went on to become the globe-straddling colossus that we know. If we were to separate the myths and legends of Rome’s founding, we can see that the city state first appeared around the 7th century BC.
The origins of the city state (Roman legends)
The origin of the city’s name is basically steeped in antiquity, but the ancient romans themselves firmly believed that they were all descended from the founder as well as the first ruler of the city, the legendary King called Romulus.
They believed that that Romulus and his twin brother Remus, were the direct descendants of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who escaped the sack of Troy during the Trojan war. Romulus killed Remus and named the city after himself. Once the city had been constructed, he invited all the surrounded towns people to partake of the city’s refreshments at a great festival. This was where the Romans abducted the Sabine women and this in turn, led to a series of wars that were almost won by the Sabines before the women themselves intervened and came between their erstwhile husbands and their fathers and brothers. This way, the Sabines and the Romans were united, and Rome went from being a small town to a powerful city state in its own right.
The archeological and geographical origins of Rome
According to contemporary historians as well as archeologists, Rome essentially grew from various pastoral settlements located on the Palatine Hill and its surrounding territory approximately 30 km to the south side of the Tiber. The place where the city was located was close by a ford near the river Tiber and due to both the river and its ford, Rome found itself on the cross roads of trade and commerce, since rivers were the primary means of transport, when roads and highways did not exist.
Rome and Carthage
With the passage of time Rome became increasingly powerful and started vying for control of not just the Italian peninsula but surrounding areas as well, from other city states, chief of which was Carthage.
There was no room for the development of two powerful city states and their related empires, and therefore conflict was inevitable. Hannibal crossed the alps and almost destroyed Rome, before the Romans prevailed and defeated not just his armies but also Carthage itself. Carthage was razed to the ground and its population either killed or sold into slavery thus cementing the domination of the Roman republic for nearly half a thousand years.