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Rome and its conquests

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Rome’s power, which lasted more than ten centuries, began in 753 BCE. After the destruction of Troy, Aeneas fled a cursed earth ravaged by the Achaean storm. His journey ended only in distant Italy, where he decided to found a new city.

She-wolf feeding twins – Romulus and Remus.

He came to where the Tiber River cuts through barren soil. There was also the settlement of Aeneas who, after short fights, defeated Turnus, king of the Rutul tribe, and married Avalinia, daughter of the Latino king. This is how the great history of Rome begins. Several generations after Aeneas, Rhea, daughter of Numitor, was born. Thanks to the god Mars, she fell into grave, giving birth to the twins Romulus and Remus. It should also be added that Numitor was deposed from the throne by his brother Amulius. Who at the same time gave Rea to the vestal. Upon hearing of the death of Numitor’s descendants, Amulius ordered Rhea and her sons to be thrown to the Tiber. By a lucky coincidence, the twins survived and were found by the she-wolf who fed them. Soon Remus and Romulus avenged their grandfather and founded a new settlement with his consent. Two gables – the Capitoline Hill and the Palatine Hill – became the foundations for the city. The brothers, as it happens in legends, soon quarrelled over the reign. As a result of the fight, Romulus killed Remus and became the ruler of Roma (Roman in Polish). The further history of the city of Romulus was as turbulent as its beginnings. Quite happily, the Romans established friendly relations with the Quirinit tribe, who settled on a nearby hill, henceforth known as the Quirinal. Then, other mounds were seized – Esquilin, Viminal, Celius and Aventine1.

Romulus was succeeded by Numa Pompilius, a calm, moderate and pious chief. It was he who built temples in honour of the Roman gods. Another was Tullus Hostilius, who was the complete opposite of his predecessor. He boldly led his people into battle. He led him to war with Alba, which the Albanian dictator2ended to his detriment due to the lost duel of units3. The first battle was won by the Romans. Then Hostilius turned against the Etruscan Veys and ended the duel with a victory. After this brave but not very pious king came the reign of Ancus Marcius. He referred to the tradition of Numa and at the same time strengthened the estate’s division of the people – into plebs and patricians4. Strangely enough, after the death of Ancus, Etruscan Tarkvinius the Elder ascended the throne of Rome. It should be noted that the election of the ruler belonged to the people’s assembly, the so-called tribus. The first of the Tarquinius again dealt with the religiosity of the Romans, without referring to the glorious deeds of his predecessors. After him, Servius Tullius reigned, who reformed the army and the class division of the estates. Centuries were established, which were not only military formations but also groups voting on the king’s projects. Servius Tullius also surrounded Rome with a wall, which created greater opportunities in the event of an attack by an enemy tribe. How strange it was that this wise ruler was overthrown – he was succeeded by Tarquinius Superbus, which means Proud. The coup by surprise took the senate, which now had to minister to the tyrant. Anyway, the second Tarquinius did not take into account the opinion of the senators. However, in the war, he turned out to be an intelligent and wise ruler. He successfully campaigned against the Etruscans and the Latin Americans, only strengthening dominion over their neighbours to the north and south. And at the moment when Tarkwinius Pysny was triumphing in foreign politics, in his own backyard, speaking a bit of a sports language, he found a rebellion. The people who in 510 BCE ended the hegemony of one ruler and elected the first two consuls at the same time – Lucius Julius Brutus and Tarquinius Kollatyn5against the crimes and dissolute life of the king.

War of the States

After the expulsion of Tarquinius the Proud, there was a time of unrest, as the defeated ruler demanded the return of the throne. Therefore, he called on the Latin and Etruscan allies who fought with Rome. Brutus settled the war in his favour, and the lost Tarquinius (after another unsuccessful intrigue) died in 496 BCE Unfortunately, even the death of the last of the Tarquins did not determine the welfare of the inhabitants of Roma. Dissatisfied with the rule of the patriciate, the plebs decided to take matters into their own hands and take armed action against the oppressors. The civil war was prevented only by the oratorical sense of Agrippa Menenius6. The plebeians thus received the positions of tribunes who, from then on, had similar powers in the lower part of the society as the consuls among the patricians. Unfortunately, the crowd’s agitation grew. The flowery speeches of Gnaeus Martius known as Coriolanus did not help. It was he who led the Roman legions into battle during the wars with Volsci and Aequi7, which coincided with state riots. The debauchery of the tribunes led to the exile of Coriolanus, who hid with the Volsci family and became one of the commanders-in-chief of the troops that this militant tribe sent against Rome. The war that this brilliant commander had arranged for them finally sobered up the tribunes, senators and consuls. Coriolanus departed from the city gates as a special message, led by the chief’s mother, entered his camp. Unfortunately, Coriolan paid for treason to the Wolskom – he was murdered in 488 BCE. The next skirmishes between the plebs and the patricians did not have to wait long. The commoners’ revolt led to the disorganization of the army. At the same time, taking advantage of the confusion, the Aequas attacked the allied Latin tribe. Rome came out against them. And he would probably have lost this war if the swiftly recruited soldiers led by the dictator Cincinnatus had not entered the fray. Eventually, the opposing parties came to an agreement. The Romans have grown up to their next great achievement, this time in the field of law. Well, at the turn of 450/449 BCE, they wrote down the law, henceforth called the Law of the Twelve Tables. At that time, the offices of consuls and tribunes were abolished, and a new post was created – 10 decemvirs. One of them, despite the clear law8, did not want to step down. It was only the military outburst of united social strata that the new tyranny ended. The next concessions to the commoners did not come soon. Rome faced danger again. The Etruscan Veys were against him. The sense of Marcus Camillus led to the victory and conquest of the city from the north. Veii was conquered in 396 BCE Unfortunately, in the north, a new enemy – the Gauls – took action against the Clusians and against a request to help Rome.

How the Geese Saved Rome

After swiftly dealing with the Cluzja army, the barbarian Gauls turned armed against Roma. On July 18, 390 BCE, the Romans suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of the Alia River, a tributary of the Tiber. The remnants of the army fled in panic to take refuge behind the walls of Rome. In 390 BCE, however, the city was captured and burned – Rome ceased to exist. Only the Capitol had resisted the Gallic storm, and its crew fought fiercely on the steep sides of the hill. Camillus, a hero from the time of the war with the Etruscans, was summoned to the rescue9. Pontius Cominius made his way to the Capitol through the passage he knew only and received the Roman blessing for the appointment of Camillus. The Gauls, however, discovered the passage of Pontius and set out to attack themselves through this passage. The Capitol and its sleeping crew rescued the geese, which raised a great frenzy and woke the soldiers. The Gauls were rejected. The further war, despite the victory at the Capitol, was still dictated by the Gauls. The Romans agreed to pay a ransom – 1,000 pounds of gold. The commander of the Gauls, Brennus10cheated with a laugh while weighing the gold. Then came Camillus at the head of the Legions of Entry. He defeated the Gauls, and then confronted the combined forces of the Aequi, Volsci and Etruscans. Once again he thwarted the attempts of enemy tribes, expanding the territory of Rome. After years of disputes, the plebeians and patricians also came to an agreement. In 366 BCE peace was made – from then on, the consul could be a representative of the commoners. Behind the political reform (the position of praetor was also introduced – for court cases) came also economic reform. Behind the reforms came new wars…

Samnite Wars

The Samnite Wars were fought between Rome and the Samnite tribe, who lived in the lands south of Lazio. Their territory covered the eastern part of the fertile Campania. The Samnites decided to descend from the mountains in which they lived and conquer the indigenous lands of Campania. Teanum asked Capua for support. The city of Capua turned to Rome for help. And so the Romans went against the Samnites. The wars that were fought continued intermittently in the years 342-295. After short-lived battles, the Romans defeated the Samnites and took Capua for their own possession. Teanum remained in the hands of the other side. The Capuanians, however, came up with a way to break away from Rome and asked for support from Lazio, until now belonging to Roma. The quickly ended Latin War allowed for the re-annexation of Lazio to the territory of Rome. Thus, the city of Wolsków, Privernum, came into possession of the Romans. Thanks to efficient negotiations, the Volks gained strong autonomy, becoming citizens of the city of Rome. The Second Samnite War took place in 328-304 BCE. Lucius Papiri was elected dictator, who quickly set to work. One of its commanders smashed the Samnite army in one of the battles, but that was not the end of the war. Papirius was soon dismissed and two consuls took his place. Soon they suffered a disgraceful defeat, culminating in the humiliation of Roman soldiers and commanders11. Now it was the turn of the Romans. One of the consuls was Lucius Papirius again, who quickly devised a new plan for the war. He walked around the Caudinian gorges in which the Romans had suffered such a defeat and conquered Luceria. He also ordered to do the same as once was done with the Romans. The disgrace has been blotted out. In 312 BCE Appius Claudius became the censor. It was he who ordered the construction of a road connecting Rome and Capua by a wide road. The guesthouse via Appia was named after him. Appius also built the first waterworks in Rome, which was called aqua Appia. Soon the road network connected the conquered Italian provinces. The Apennine Peninsula was cut by a network that allowed not only quick raids of troops but also better trade connections. The last of the Damnica wars had the most dramatic course. The Samnites called for help from the Etruscans, Gauls and the warrior tribe of Umbria, who live in today’s Umbria. Fierce fighting took place between 298-290 BCE, which was determined by the Battle of Sentinum (296 BCE). Thanks to the heroic deed of one of the consuls Publius Decius. The Samnite-led force association was broken up. Further fighting took place in the mountainous regions of the Apennines. They ended with the victory of the Romans. Now their territory encompassed vast lands from the southern tip to the northern tip of the Apennine Peninsula.

Pyrrhus and his battles

After establishing a colony in fertile Puglia, the Romans turned the Greek Taranto against each other. The city, deprived of a valiant army, had extensive overseas contacts, which it tried to use in the upcoming clash. Hence the king of Epirus, Pyrrhus, who dreamed of becoming the second Alexander the Great, came to Italy12. Pyrrhus came to the Apennine Peninsula with his mighty army and war elephants, which he received from his brother-in-law, Egyptian King Ptolemy II Philadelphia. In 280 BCE, Pyrrhus fought a victorious battle at Heraclea. His triumph was ensured by his war elephants, the sight of which Roman horses could not bear. Many Romans died, many were taken prisoner. Pyrrhus lost a similar number of soldiers13. The king of Epirus wanted peace, and he turned his arms against Sicily, in which Carthage had ravaged. The Romans, however, rejected the offer of peace. The second battle was also in favour of his troops. It was only the skirmishes with Carthage in Sicily that the conquests of Pyrrhus were abandoned. Soon Taranto fell, and Pyrrhus himself died in one of the battles in the Balkan cities. Yes, in a rather sad way, his fate ended14.

Two Punic Wars

Now Carthage was entering the scene. In 272 BCE Taranto fell into Roman hands, making the Romans lords of the entire peninsula. Carthage was at that time a dynamically developing city, thanks to its achievements and the past to Dido, who not before the founding of Rome, created a powerful city on the African coast. In 264 BCE, the so-called First Punic War. The Mamertines, who lived in Messana at the time, turned to Rome for help, as they feared the aggression of Syracuse. Rome promised not to interfere in the affairs of Sicily, by attacking the island he broke the provisions of the alliance with Carthage. This brought a state of war to both countries. Italics predominated on land, the descendants of the Phoenicians were the mountain in the sea, where their mighty fleet ruled. Without a fleet, the Romans had to do without it. Rapid actions of the legions drove the Carthaginians into the western part of Sicily. Meanwhile, a series of naval battles took place in the Mediterranean Sea. The Romans, in the Carthaginian way, built their own ships, sending them now against the enemy. Initially, they succeeded in destroying the enemy fleet in quick actions. Unfortunately, this was where the domination of Rome ended. Marcus Atilius Regulus, who became the commander of the squadron sent to Africa, did not manage to conquer the city. Another brilliant leader, the Spartan Xanthippus, defeated him. This is how the first part of the war ended. Regulus was defeated and his troops were taken prisoner. It was only in 241 BCE that the Romans managed to gather a relatively strong fleet, which was led by Gaius Lutacius Catulus. And this is how the First Punic War ended – Carthage, apart from the resignation of Sicily, was forced to pay a salty contribution, spread over several years. In addition, both sides made a covenant. The city, torn by civil wars, had a lot of trouble not only with the budget, but also with the mercenaries it had once paid for. Had it not been for Hamilcar’s genius, Carthage would probably have fallen prey to people who shed their blood, taking a reward for it.

Hamilcar soon travelled to Spain to begin building an empire there. He had two young sons with him – Hannibal and Hasdrubal. Rome, meanwhile, strengthened its position, occupying Sardinia (the Tyrrhenian Sea became the inner sea of ​​Rome15) and waging victorious battles against the Cisalpine Gauls, which ended the battle at Klastidium in 222 BCE In Spain, the Barkids campaigned after the campaign, conquering the Iberian Peninsula. In 219 BCE Hannibal laid siege to Sagunto, an ally of Rome. Thus began the Second Punic War (219-201 BCE). The Carthaginian chief, therefore, headed towards Rome through the Pyrenees and the Alps. He walked in front of his faithful troops, leading with him 50,000 armed men, combat equipment and elephants. Thus prepared, he set off through unknown territories to meet the greatest enemy of life – Rome. In the first year of the fighting, the Romans suffered a defeat at the Ticinus River and then lost the clash of Lake Trasimene. Only Quintus Fabius Kunktatorowi the Romans can owe the recovery of at least some of their troops from the bloody slaughter. The next place of the duel was Cannae, where Hannibal crashed the troops of Terentius Varro (216 BCE). Now, after impressive victories, individual Italian cities began to join Hannibal. The betrayal of Capua was particularly shocking for the Roman Senate. Meanwhile, in Spain, there were fierce battles to break the Ebro River. Unfortunately, after the first successes of the Scipio family, failures have also come. In 212 BCE, the Scipio army succumbed to the enemy at the Battle of Amtorgis. Thanks to Gaius Marcius, the remnants of the army were saved. Publius Cornelius Scipio, a young and brave warrior, son of the slain Publius Scipio, now came to Spain. His courage and bravery quickly led to the defeat of Carthage on this front, ending with the capture of New Carthage. Hannibal’s brother Hasdrubal Barkas decided to send his troops to help those who fought in Italy. He walked an even more difficult path than his brother had a few years earlier, and made his way to Hannibal. Now two brothers fought against the Roman leaders. The year was approaching 207. After breaking the resistance of Consul Nero’s troops, Hannibal planned an attack on the capital. Thanks to the information obtained from the special envoys of Barkid, Nero learned about the enemy’s plans. He succeeded in frustrating the brothers’ plans by defeating Hasdrubal’s army over Metaurus. Now the Romans have taken to the affairs of Africa, where they have won a complete victory. In 202 BCE, prompted by Carthaginian envoys, Hannibal had to return to his homeland.

Scipio crashed his troops there, defeating his great opponent. Thus, the Second Punic War ended. Carthage was again forced to make concessions to the Indian power. 18 years of wars decided the fate of Hannibal’s soldiers. Despite his young age, Scipio turned out to be an adult commander who was able to make the right decision. In 201 BCE, Spain, Sicily16 and all of Italy belonged to Rome.

So ends Greece

Greece – We associate the Balkan Peninsula primarily with this country. Indeed, the ancient Greeks were pioneers in many fields, including the concept of democracy. We owe them a lot, and these are not just memories of ancient times. We are not interested in the extremely interesting history of the Greeks, but in the conquests of Rome, so we will start our story from the moment when the brave Romans began their conquest of Hellas. During the last of the mentioned Punic wars, the ruler of Macedonia came out against Rome, but he ended the clash sooner than he was able to prepare for it. It was not until 200 BCE that he turned armed, along with Antiochus the Great, ruler of Syria. This war was called the Second Macedonian War. The commander of Roma’s army was Titus Quincius Flamininus, who had long distinguished himself in the field of battle. In 198 BCE he became a consul and soon led his troops into the heart of Greece. There, in an area called Cynoscephalae17, he crashed the troops of Philip V. 197 was therefore the year of decisions on the Eastern Front. Rome’s allies, the Etols, who boasted of their victory, diminished the role of Flamininus’ legions, credited themselves with a great deal of credit throughout the battle. In 197 BCE Flamininus did an unheard-of thing – he handed over the conquered lands to the local rulers, recognizing them as independent and withdrawing his own troops back to Italy. Hellad was free at last. Unfortunately, peace in the east did not last long. The aforementioned Antiochus the Great, who set off from Asia Minor to the still weak Hellas, recalled himself. In 192 BCE a great Syrian expedition crossed the Hellespont to Europe. Tanioch conquered more territories. Then Rome entered the arena. In the same year, war was declared against the threat. Piece by piece, the legions began to liberate Greece piece by piece, reaching Thermopylae, where Antiochus was defeated. He was disappointed by… the Ethols, and the same, who so praised their own armies a few years ago, fighting on the side of Rome. Then Scipio’s troops crossed over to Asia. A decisive battle took place at Magnesia. The doubled Syrian army, however, succumbed to the power of Rome and lost the war. Lucius Scipio, who commanded the troops, triumphed, assuming the title of “Asian Scipio”. However, this time too, Rome did not benefit materially from the victory and gave the conquered territories to the indigenous peoples. Thus ended the first phase of the wars in Greece. Only in 172 BCE, the fighting resumed. And this is because the Macedonian king Perseus, breaking the provisions of the alliance treaty. Rome had no way out and declared war, although it was not prepared for it. The first two years of fighting were fought with varying luck. In the third year, the Romans went on the offensive, displacing Perseus for Olympus. Then Lucius Emilius Paulus became the consul. Perseus, meanwhile, stood with 43,000 men in the isthmus above Dione. There he was also surprised in the form of 8,000 armed Romans, who managed to get the enemy from behind and dislodge him from an inaccessible place. Unfortunately for Macedonians, the clash with Roman troops ended disastrously. It was a coincidence that decided it, and the battle itself was really bizarre. The end result of the fighting was favourable to Rome. But… and this time he gave up the spoils, and Macedonia itself was divided into four parts. Now is the time for another skirmish with the Carthaginians.

Third Punic War and minor clashes

The Third Punic War was not a surprise, although the Carthaginians of that time certainly did not expect such a quick attack from their eternal rival. This was caused by the harsh policy of one of the senators – Marcus Porcjus Katona. This one Cato uttered in the Senate the following words: “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delandam”18. Unfortunately, despite strong opposition, Cato’s dark dreams were real. He died in 149 BCE, but what he so longed for came soon after. In the same year, the East rumbled again from the beating of the hooves of Roman horses. The Macedonian uprising soon spread across the country, and the Romans were forced to send a regular army there under the command of Quintus Cecilius Metellus. The revolt was quickly suppressed, creating a new province – Macedonia. The Romans learned not to leave Macedonians on their own. Then war began with the Achaean League led by Corinth. Internal disagreements caused the Romans to intervene. These events were provoked by an Achaean strategist, a certain Diajos. In two years 148-146 BCE, the entire Balkans fell into the hands of Rome. A new conflict appeared on the horizon in exactly the same years, probably caused by the debauchery of the Numidian leader Masinissa, who plundered and plundered Carthage. In 149 BCE Rome decided to declare war on Carthage, being an ally of Masinissa. The Third Punic War was perhaps the most barbaric of all that took place in the two centuries between Rome and Carthage. The Romans crossed to the African coast and began a long siege of the city, which was ended only by Scipio Aemilianus, known as the African Younger Scipio. In 146 BCE his troops captured the city and razed it to the ground. Nothing would ever grow again on this land, this was the will of the Romans, who covered the ruins with salt. The following years were relatively quiet. Minor friction on the northern borders could be eliminated relatively quickly. It was only in 133 BCE that Rome acquired another province. The bloodless conquest by the king of Pergamon Attalos III, who bequeathed his country to the Romans in his will, made the descendants of Romulus the rulers of the “province of Asia”. Again, there was a period when, apart from fierce political struggles, nothing happened in the war arena. Only the civil war broke the stagnation at the front.

Alea iacta est!

The period of civil wars19is not important for this work, which only tells about the conquests of Rome, so we will also slightly outline their size. While the first of the civil wars, settled in favour of Cornelius Sulla, was of little importance, the second of them was a turning point in the history of Rome. Well, after the uprising of the first triumvirate, whose members were Julius Caesar, Crassus and Pompey. This is how the period of fighting for the control of Rome began. Though his estates were torn by conflicts and often troubled by foreign peoples, there was a decisive clash in the heart. On January 1, 49 BCE Julius Caesar, who was then the praetor of the Gallic land to which we will return, demanded a consulate for himself from the ruling senate and Pompey. Ultimatum was ignored. Cornelius had the entire Empire under command, Caesar only 9 legions. However, his soldiers were ready to sacrifice their lives for him and fight to the end for the leader and for Rome. Caesar, therefore, set off in a quick march towards the capital to gain power by force of arms. Crossing the Rubicon he said: “Alea iacta est!”20. In the quick campaign, the entire West was conquered by Caesar that same year. The following years brought unexpected troubles in Egypt and the victory at Zela with the troops of the Bosphorus king Pharnakes. Then, because he had conquered most of Rome’s territories, Caesar found himself on the African front, where he had to face the rebels of the province of Africa at Lapsus (46 BCE). Now Caesar was sure of a successful end to the Second Civil War and of settling it entirely to his advantage.

From Caesar to Scotland

The Gallic problem has been Rome’s greatest pain for centuries. It was the Gauls who were the toughest opponent, fighting stubbornly, hard and relentlessly. From the 2nd century BCE onwards, the Romans held the Rhine valley to the south of Switzerland with a firm hand. It was from there that Caesar set out to deal with the problem of barbarians from what is now France. The Romans had Provence under their control. From the north, Germanic tribes attacked, threatening the Empire. Caesar ordered them to retreat, but due to failure to comply with his order, he forcibly restored order in Gaul. Julius Caesar was a military genius. Therefore, he did not push himself into Great Britain, deciding first to destroy the possibilities of the resistance of the Gallic tribes. Despite the fast march to the north, it was not possible to completely destroy the enemy. In the first half of the ’50s of the 1st century BCE, Caesar crossed the English Channel several times but decided not to occupy Great Britain. At the turn of 54 and 53 BCE, the Gauls revolted and attacked the two Roman legions that were killed. Caesar decided to punish the rebels. He set out on a great expedition against the insurgents. In 52 BCE a large-scale campaign began against the Gauls and their commander Vercingetorix. During the fights for Avaricum and Gergovia, both sides resolved them alternately in their favour. Then the Romans went on the offensive. Vercingetorix had to take refuge behind the walls of Alesia. Caesar laid siege to the city. The powerful fortifications did not stop the Roman legionaries. Although the Gauls heroically defended themselves, encircled and cut off from reinforcements, they did not manage to fight off the insane attacks of the Romans. Vercingetorix surrendered without the means to defend himself on such a large scale. The Gallic leader was captured by the Romans and led to the capital, where he was beheaded in 46 BCE. Gaul was conquered. Interestingly, the films about the brave Asterix and Obelix are heavily exaggerated. The Romans were not stupid legionaries at all, but highly trained soldiers, whose power was shown by successive gains. In 46 BCE Caesar still dealt with the rebellion in Spain, gaining complete rule of Rome there21. In the Iberian Peninsula, he clashed with the forces of Pompey’s sons, who were defeated in the bloody Battle of Munda. After a series of victories, it was only on March 15, 44 BCE that it ended in a disgraceful defeat for Julius Caesar. On the day of March, Caesar was murdered by the opposition party, a member of which was, inter alia, Marcus Brutus, a favourite and friend of Julius Caesar. The great leader died with the words on his lips: “And you, Brutus, against me”.

Quo vadis… Augustus?

Julius Caesar was succeeded by Octavian Augustus. Interestingly, he also had to fight for power in the emerging Empire. And it was Augustus, the adoptive descendant of Caesar, who became the man who had surpassed his great predecessor in power. As Peter Connolly writes, “August, at the end of the Civil War, reduced [60 legions]to twenty-eight.” However, in the beginning, he was at the head of 60 legions, the strength of which the Gauls once found out. The borders were protected by clusters of legions. The Danube and the Rhine were the most heavily fortified, where a third of the total forces were stationed. Now let’s talk a bit about Augustus. It is certainly worth mentioning that he was the first de facto Roman Emperor, although he forbade him to be called dominus – “lord”. After Caesar’s death, a triumvirate was formed, consisting of three people: Octavian, Marcus Antony and Marcus Emilius Lepidus. Soon a conflict broke out, which started the Third Civil War. We will not talk about it extensively, but we should stop at Egypt for a moment.

This state has been under the de facto control of Rome for centuries. However, his lands were not incorporated into the Empire. Now that Marcus Antony had mated with the Egyptian queen, the beautiful Cleopatra, Octavian could turn against the Nile country. In 36 BCE, Octavian took Sicily, retaking it from the hands of Pompey the Great’s son, Sixtus Pompey. Then, in Octavian’s hands, the African provinces of Lepidus were placed. Egypt was the next destination. But more on that in the next chapter…

Real Emperors

The forces at both sides before the final Battle of Actium were as follows: Forces of Antony and Cleopatra – 60 Egyptian warships and transport ships, 170 Roman ships. Crews combined and demoralized. (due to lack of manning – desertion and disease – most of the Egyptian fleet was burnt) 20,000 soldiers and 2,000 archers were signed on. An average of 100-120 soldiers on a warship.
Octavian and Agrippa – approximately 400 warships (mostly lightships). Experienced crews. About 40,000 soldiers were embarked. An average of 90 soldiers on a warship.

So, as we can see before the clash, Octavian had the advantage. The battle took place on September 2, 31 BCE. As a result of four hours of fighting, the Romans defeated the Egyptian forces, thus destroying the plans of Antony and Cleopatra. Besides, they both soon committed suicide. Legend has it that they did it together, but we already know that it was not so. Octavian now conquered another province – Egypt, later called “the granary of Rome”. Let’s go back to 35 BCE. It was then that Octavian conquered the territory of Pannonia, today’s right bank of the Danube. The areas of today’s Hungary, eastern Austria and Slovenia were in the hands of the Romans, after a short campaign. New provinces were created – Moesia, Pannonia, Noricum and Retia. In 27 BCE Octavian decided to give up all titles and restore the Republic. This clever step earned him the love of the people, and soon the would-be dictator was asked to resume work for the state. Therefore, January 27, 27 BCE is considered the official beginning of the era of Roman emperors. Octavian also managed to conquer the central part of today’s Turkey. An important event was also the shifting of the border with the Germans from the River Rhine to the River Elbe, which was achieved in the course of an exhaustive campaign. Unfortunately, the blood sacrifice was wiped out by one failure. In 9 BCE Octavian’s commander, Publius Quintilius Varus, clashed with the Germans under the leadership of Arminius, chief of the Cherusci tribe, in the Teutoburg Forest. The Germans, who initially avoided fighting, dragging the legionaries deep into their territories, were favoured by the location of the battle and the weather. During the battle, a storm broke out, which deepened the chaos in the Roman ranks. Varus suffered a miserable defeat, losing three legions22and committing suicide. Thus was the dream of power in the northern territories shining. The Romans had to retreat to the Rhine border again and wait there for the Germanic storm that Italy would once bury. Subsequent emperors, apart from slight successes, did not repeat the feats of Caesar and Octavian. They did not refer to the noble traditions of Rome, which was to rule over the whole world. Apart from civil wars and fending off ever stronger attacks from outside, nothing has happened in Rome since then that would attract the attention of this work. The Roman Empire, as the Romans proudly called it, was declining. Nothing could stop the sinking ship that Rome certainly was.

Fall

Therefore, we are approaching the end of our journey through the ages, in which the main protagonist was the history and history of the conquests of a small city on the Tiber River. Roman legionaries fought valiantly, with sacrifice and often risked their own lives for the good of their homeland. It is, therefore, appropriate to summarize the conquest of over half of Europe over these few centuries.

The beginning was difficult – the struggle for control over Italy was often determined by chance or by the force of an individual. The families of Scipio, Claudius, and Publius shaped Rome and the Roman world. Europe gradually romanized, uniting under the common banner of the Empire. The birth of Christ, or in fact the date of his birth, ends the old and begins a new epoch. From now on, the Romans are forced to defend themselves against a few offensives. This is evidenced by the construction of the Hadrian’s Wall. Below, the reader will find a full list of Roman provinces that the Romans managed to conquer during the monarchy, republic, principate and empire. It was only the Germanic tribes that started the fall of the Roman Empire. In closing, I would like to remind you that nearly twenty centuries later the famous German General Erwin Rómmel said about Italian soldiers that they were worth nothing when they were fighting. Was he right? World War II shows that he was not much wrong, the history of ancient Rome, the city of Romulus, can call him a hypocrite.

Author: Eisenhower (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)
Footnotes
  1. Therefore, it should not necessarily be considered that Romulus founded the city on seven hills.
  2. Such a title was awarded to the commander-in-chief in times of war or a threat to the state.
  3. On both sides, three brothers competed, whose duel ended with the triumph of the Roman Horatii.
  4. Plebeians (plebs) were resettled inhabitants of Rome, patricians - indigenous descendants of Romulus and his team.
  5. The monarchy has been abolished forever.
  6. He told the plebeians a catchy parable about the human body.
  7. Southern neighbors, speaking a similar language, close to Roman Latin.
  8. After a year, the Decemvirs changed.
  9. The tribunes looked at him with a wry eye and incited the crowd against the chief. Camillus was banished and took refuge with the Ardeates.
  10. To the Romans he said Vae victis! - Woe to the defeated!
  11. They had to go under the so-called a tree of shame without armor and half naked.
  12. His dreams came to nothing when the conquest of Greece and Macedonia ended for him.
  13. Hence the "Pyrrhic victory", means paid with huge losses.
  14. He died after being hit by a vessel thrown by one of the town's inhabitants.
  15. The Romans called them mare nostrum - our sea.
  16. Syracuse, after 50 years of wise reign of Hieron, rose against Rome and suffered a disastrous defeat, finally succumbing to the legionnaires. They did not help, although the great influence on the defense, Archimedes' inventions. The great defensive location did not help - Rome turned out to be a great force.
  17. Dog's Head Hills - because of their shape.
  18. Furthermore, I consider that Carthage must be destroyed.
  19. It is worth mentioning the rebellion of Roman slaves led by Spartacus. The slave uprising lasted in 74-71 BCE. Only in the battle of Silarus did the insurgents succumb. Their leader died there too. It must not be forgotten that this conflict was very "out of hand" to the Romans, because their state was at that time tormented by various external and internal conflicts.
  20. The dice have been rolled.
  21. It is worth mentioning that Julius Caesar reformed the calendar system. From his name, the new system took the name Julian. To this day, we use the innovations of Julius Caesar.
  22. Octavian was said to have exclaimed - Varus, give me back my Legions! (Vari legiones redde).
Sources
  • Ciechanowicz Jerzy, Rzym, ludzie i budowle
  • Connolly Peter, Historia Armii Rzymskiej
  • Crowford Michael, Rzym w okresie Republiki
  • Gibbon Edward, Zmierzch Cesarstwa Rzymskiego, Warszawa 1975
  • Holland Tom, Juliusz Cezar kontra Rzym, Warszawa 2005
  • Huergon J., Rzym i świat śródziemnomorski
  • Krawczuk Aleksander, Mitologia Italii
  • Krawczuk Aleksander, Poczet cesarzy rzymskich, Warszawa 2004
  • Krawczuk Aleksander, Wywiady internetowe
  • Matthews John, Rzym
  • Miguel Pierre, Le Gall Yvon, W cesarstwie rzymskim
  • Nougier Louis Rene, Brochard Pierre, W czasach Galów
  • Perin Patrick, Forni Pierre, Robert Pierre, W czasach królestw barbarzyńskich
  • Zieliński Tadeusz, Religia Rzeczypospolitej Rzymskiej

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