Roman Empire

period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–395 AD)

The Roman Empire (Latin: Imperium Romanum, Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων) was an ancient civilization with large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Historical map of Roman empire at its greatest extent


  • The Roman came into the Promised Land that had become less and less as promised. The rich got along quite well with the foreign occupation; it provided protection from desperate peasants and patriotic resistance fighters. It provided protection from prophets who could be labeled "agitators" now, without any qualms.
    • Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope (1959), in Man on His Own (1970), p. 121
  • Few empires in history have achieved either the geographical size or the integrative capacities of the Roman commonwealth. None have combined scale and unity like the Romans—not to mention longevity. No empire could peer back over so many centuries of unbroken greatness, advertised everywhere the eye wandered in the forum.
    • Kyle Harper, Prologue to The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the Fate of an Empire] (2017), p. 2 of 2019 pbk edition
  • What an awful book the Corpus Juris is, this Bible of selfishness! I've always found the Roman code as detestable as the Romans themselves. These robbers want to safeguard their swag, and they seek to protect by law what they have plundered with the sword; hence the robber became a combination of the most odious kind, soldier and lawyer in one. Truly, we owe the theory of property, which was formerly a fact only, to these Roman thieves.
    • Heinrich Heine, Memoiren, 1884 in the magazine Die Gartenlaube. Translated in Max Brod, Heinrich Heine: The Artist in Revolt, New York University Press, 1957 (p.77).
  • By the time of Augustine (354-430 AD), the Roman Empire had become an Empire of lies. It still pretended to uphold the rule of law, to protect the people from the Barbarian invaders, to maintain the social order. But all that had become a bad joke for the citizens of an empire by then reduced to nothing more than a giant military machine dedicated to oppressing the poor in order to maintain the privileges of the rich. The Empire itself had become a lie: that it existed because of the favor of the Gods who rewarded the Romans because of their moral virtues. Nobody could believe in that anymore: it was the breakdown of the very fabric of society; the loss of what the ancient called the auctoritas, the trust that citizens had toward their leaders and the institutions of their state.
  • The Romans introduced into all their provinces a system of law so fair and so strong, that almost all the best laws of modern Europe have been founded on it. Everywhere the weak were protected against the strong; castles were built on the coast with powerful garrisons in them; fleets patrolled the Channel and the North Sea. Great roads crossed the island from east to west and from north to south.
    • Rudyard Kipling and C. R. L. Fletcher, School History of England, 1911. Quoted in Butler, Sarah J., Britain and Its Empire in the Shadow of Rome, A&C Black, 2012, (p.56).

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