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Master engineers and soldiers, the Romans bind strong laws and hardy institutions into an enduring framework, tying the many provinces of their lands together.

Rome was allegedly founded in 753 BCE. According to legend, the city was built by Romulus or a group of Trojan exiles after their city was destroyed by the Mycenaeans. The predominant city-state in central Latium, it extended its control over the entire Italian peninsula and later all of the Mediterranean world.

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The city of Rome was the heart of a monarchy, then a republic from 509 to 27 BCE, and finally an empire up until the fourth century. Each of these regimes reinterpreted, developed, and perpetuated a common body of traditions and political institutions. Central to this common framework was the figure of the free and active citizen, integrated into the life of the city through a set of religious and civic practices. By 272 BCE, the Roman Republic had taken control of most of Italy. The wars against Carthage between 264 and 146 BCE were a turning point in the city’s history: Rome became unrivaled in the Mediterranean and the city established its first provinces outside Italy. However, the victorious campaigns led from this point in Hispania, Africa, Greece, Egypt, and Gaul permanently destabilized the republican institutions. After a century of political turmoil and civil war, Octavian would be the last Roman consul, marking the end of the Republic. Following his accession, under the title Augustus, emperors governed all of the Roman provinces. The Roman Empire would be at its largest at the beginning of the second century under Emperor Trajan. Stretching from England to Jordan and from Armenia to Morocco, bordered in the north by the Danube and the Rhine, it counted some 60 million subjects.

Did you know?

The name Caesar (after Julius Caesar) became the title used by every Roman emperor beginning with Augustus, who was Julius Caesar’s adoptive son and political heir. This title was later given to the Byzantine emperors and was then used in the West up to the 20th century under the forms Tsar and Kaiser.