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Archive for March 8th, 2010|Daily archive page

What’s So Ancient About Rome?

In History on March 8, 2010 at 21:27

by Jim Knell

Rome, a city that was hardly known at all when it was founded in 753 BC by Romulus, soon flourished and expanded its empire to conquer the known inhabited world.

This may have been aided by various factors such as the formation of the very powerful Roman Republic, elements of which are still incorporated into modern governments, as well as strategic war generals such as Scipio Africanus, Roman beliefs and values, and the inventions that they created. Rome was one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen and their radical ideas irreversibly changed the course of history.

Rome was a civilization that took pleasure in fantasy tales, especially ones that included themselves. The first of such stories is the story of the formation of Rome. The story begins with two brothers Romulus and Remus. As it is recounted by Plutarch, “Their minds being full bent upon building, there arose presently a difference about the place. Romulus chose what was called Roma Quadrata, or the Square Rome, and would have the city there” ( This was a main point in the fable of the origins of Rome that did include some events that actually occurred but also myths incorporated into the story.

A belief of Romans and a few select other civilizations that were indeed influenced by the Romans was Stoicism. This philosophy is defined as “conduct conforming to the precepts of the Stoics, as repression of emotion and indifference to pleasure or pain” ( This is not to say that Stoics were suicidal or went to great lengths to induce pain upon themselves, but that they simply embraced pain if and when it was unavoidable. In a poem written in the first century BC by Horace, he says, “You could not gain a moment’s breath or move the haughty king below nor would inexorable death defer an hour the fatal blow” ( This view on death is not taken up by many people or nations as it was back then, but it could have been the reason why the Romans fared so well in battles and wars. When they realized that they must risk their own life for the sake of their nation they accepted the reality and pushed onward.
Another characteristic of Ancient Rome that did not actually resist the tug of history and fell to the ages was the specific law the Romans decreed upon its borders. The laws deemed integral to Rome’s development were assembled into the Twelve Tables. Some laws pertaining to the treatment of women and children have not been practiced for centuries, such as: “A child born after ten months since the father’s death will not be admitted into a legal inheritance” (Table 4, Article 5);  and “Females should remain in guardianship even when they have attained their majority” (Table 5, Article 1). Both of these laws treat women and children as objects and other specific laws even less than that. These laws are not practiced today and women have more rights and children are not treated as harshly.
A law that is not accepted anymore in most, if not all, of the world is in table 11, article 1. “Marriages should not take place between plebeians and patricians” ( This restricted who could rule at a given time. If one was to wed a plebeian and be a patrician one thing had to go. The royal population could not mix with the commoners as it was seen to only cause problems.
Rome was a civilization that went through an entire roller coaster of success and failure. They came up with many revolutionary ideas that astounded nations some of which are still incorporated into modern life. The fact cannot be overlooked, however, that Ancient Rome fell and took some its ideas with it. From its humble beginnings to present Rome, much like the entire globe, has changed dramatically and the very foundations and early ideas of Romans are what make Rome such an ancient though integral civilization.
“The Internet Classics Archive: Romulus by Plutarch.” The Internet Classics Archive: 441 Searchable Works of Classical Literature. Web. 06 Mar. 2010. <>.
“Stoicism: Define Stoicism at” Find the Meanings and Definitions of Words at Web. 06 Mar. 2010. <>.
“Horace: We All Must Die.” Washington State University – Pullman, Washington. Web. 06 Mar. 2010. <>.
“Ancient History Sourcebook: The Twelve Tables, C. 450 BCE.” FORDHAM.EDU. Web. 06 Mar. 2010. <>.
“File:Lupa Romana.jpeg -.” Wikimedia Commons. Web. 06 Mar. 2010.