Rome (ancient city)

capital city and origin of ancient Rome

Ancient Rome is an ancient city, capital of Roman civilization (753 B.C.E. — C.E. 476).

  • To anyone who asks me what ancient Rome looked like and begs me to present it to them in concrete terms, I will say, so to speak, to photograph it, I should answer the question with another question: "When?". Cicero, Seneca, Martial have handed down to us a copious mass of information on what the material aspect of Rome was; but if we collect and combine those elements, a different Rome emerges for each author. Just saying Rome, and thinking that it could be enough, is already an error in itself; and it is one of the most common errors, because there is a widespread tendency not to consider how changeable the face of Rome was, and to suppose, in a certain way, that Cicero was walking in a city very similar to the one in which, as an adult, the his son, that Rome presented the same aspect in the eyes of Horace as in the eyes of Martial. (Ugo Enrico Paoli)
  • From a small village on the Palatine, Rome became the largest metropolis of antiquity. Its first inhabitants came down to graze their herds and bury their dead in the damp and narrow valley, where the Forum later arose; after ten centuries, when Constantine moved the capital of the Empire to Byzantium, the built-up area of ​​Rome had a perimeter of almost twenty kilometers and a very numerous and dense population. The banks of the Tiber from Porta Trigemina to beyond the slopes of the Aventine towards the south were arranged through port works, in order to ensure the necessary supplies in abundance and regularly. Eleven aqueducts supplied such a quantity of water every day that it is estimated at one and a half billion litres. (Ugo Enrico Paoli)
  • Nothing is equal to you, O Rome even in your almost complete ruin; | what you were, intact, your ruins reveal | [...] The city has fallen. As I look at its ruins | and considering her state I keep repeating: Rome was. | However, neither the succession of wars nor the fires | nor could the massacres completely erase | her beauty. Much still remains, as much as was ruined; | nor is there anything that could equal what remains | nor could one rebuild what was destroyed. (Hildebert of Lavardin)
  • Rome was very glorious for the heroic actions of its Citizens, and was equally admirable to the world entirely for the order of its Laws and well-ordered government. (Francesco Eschinardi)
Model of Rome at the time of Constantine, created by Italo Gismondi and preserved at the Museum of Roman Civilization
  • In spite [...] of all the defects of its streets and its position, Rome was such a city that it had no equal, and [sic] it produced a great impression for the immense crowd that continuously came in turns, coming from all parts of the world; for the motion, for the life that continually stirred there; for the quantity and splendor of its public establishments and [sic], and finally for the endless extension of the city. The gaze of anyone who had then climbed to the top of the Capitoline Hill would have been almost lost in a forest of monumental buildings, palaces, monuments of every kind, which stretched out beneath his feet, occupying, several miles away, hills and valleys. Where at present a deserted region extends towards the Alban mountains, populated by ruins, ravaged by the Maremma fever [1], there was at that time a plain that was not at all unhealthy, entirely cultivated, crossed by roads which teemed with people. The city continually expanded in the fields, in the surrounding towns, and its suburbs gave way to new and stupendous villas, to temples, to monuments, whose roofs and marble domes shone in the sun, among the luxuriant greenery of the woods and of the gardens.
  • Until the fire set by Nero, Rome was not a beautiful city in the modern sense of the word. After it had been burned by the Gauls, it was rebuilt without a pre-established plan, and as if by chance. The neighborhoods were irregular; the narrow, winding streets; the tall houses, mostly leaning against each other, and until the times of the Pyrrhic War ([sic] eighty four years before the Christian era) the roofs of the wooden ones, contributed to making it poorer , the darker the appearance, and the city remained more or less so in the following centuries. At the court of Philip of Macedonia, one hundred and seventy-four years before the birth of Christ, the party opposed to the Romans mocked the mean appearance of the capital of Italy.
  • Rome never had grandiose views such as Antioch and Alexandria, with their long, straight and wide streets, cut at right angles. Furthermore, several peculiarities of Roman domestic architecture must have brought [sic] to the architectural effect of the streets. Such were the frequent deviations of several houses from the straight line, the different heights of the various floors of the houses, the irregularity of the windows particularly in the upper floors, and finally the frequency of recesses and projections in the houses, which made the the section of the road surface.
  • Unlike the Sumerian, Hellenic and Phoenician city-states, Rome did not identify itself with a nation. She was never cast into a rigid mold, as an old cliché portrays her. Founded from the beginning as a kindergarten that collected the waste of the surrounding people, it could never have generated a racist culture. He could not recognize her identity in an organic substratum. She was therefore forced to construct it artificially, as a creation of the mind. Her unity, her identity was the State, the Republic. An essentially political structure.
  • The greatness of Rome [...] is not only the result of military success, but above all of the ability to hold together an Empire so quickly conquered. If it had limited itself to military success, Rome would have equaled the great Eastern Empires: the Assyrians and the Persians. Those lasted much less and left only large traces of hatred. When the Assyrian Nineveh fell the world rejoiced: the evil Empire had disappeared. When Rome fell, the world was lost. Rome left an incomparable trace compared to those ephemeral powers.
  • In ancient times there were two forms of political community: the city-state and the imperial monarchy. But no city-state has become an imperial monarchy: except Rome.


  1. Malaria.

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