Look at the timeline below and notice how we measure time between BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era). How many years ago from today was Rome founded?
Some of the bolded terms below are Latin words that look similar to the English meaning—this is because those English words are derived from Latin! What do you think the terms mean?
In 509 BCE, the Romans overthrew their last king and became a res publica. In the time of the republic, the populus had the right to vote, but only if they were male Roman citizens.
In 27 BCE, the first imperator, Augustus, came to power, and that was the start of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire had a powerful army which waged war with places like Egypt, North Africa, Greece, France, Spain, and Great Britain. People from all these places came to live in the city of Rome and shared customs, traditions, and ideas.
In 476 CE, the Roman empire had too many problems. They were invaded by Germanic tribes and the western half of the empire fell apart. The eastern half, called the Byzantine Empire, continued for about another thousand years until 1453. The Byzantines still considered themselves to be Romans throughout this time.
From the founding to the fall of Rome, how many years did Roman civilization last?
How many years has our own country existed?
You may recognize many aspects of Roman culture that seem familiar today. They invented and improved many things that we still use in everyday life, like concrete, aqueducts and sewers, bound books, and, in a modified form, the Julian calendar. But there are also many things that are very different. As you read, imagine life in the ancient world and think about what we can learn from both the similarities and differences between us and the Romans.
We will be learning Latin, the language that the Romans spoke, which contains thousands of words and parts of words that we still use everyday!