History Stories

As legend has it, Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus, twin sons of Mars, the god of war. Left to drown in a basket on the Tiber by a king and rescued by a she-wolf, the twins lived to defeat that king and found their own city on the river’s banks in 753 B.C. After killing his brother, Romulus became the first king of Rome, which is named for him.

Rome’s era as a monarchy ended in 509 B.C., when it turned into a republic. The power of the monarch passed to two annually elected magistrates called consuls. Though elected by the people, the magistrates were drawn largely from the Senate, which was dominated by the descendants of the original senators from the time of Romulus. Politics in the early republic was marked by the long struggle between patricians and plebeians (the common people). During the early republic, the Roman state grew exponentially in both size and power. Rome’s complex political institutions, however, began to crumble under the weight of the growing empire, ushering in an era of internal turmoil and violence. In 27 B.C., Augustus became the first—of many—emperor of Rome. Augustus’ rule restored morale in Rome after a century of discord and corruption and ushered in the famous pax Romana–two full centuries of peace and prosperity.

Rome eventually collapsed under the weight of its own bloated empire, losing its provinces one by one. In September 476, a Germanic prince named Odovacar won control of the Roman army in Italy. After deposing the last western emperor, Romulus Augustus, Odovacar’s troops proclaimed him king of Italy, bringing an ignoble end to the long, tumultuous history of ancient Rome.

From powerful generals to corrupt leaders to the conquest of far-off lands, find out how Rome built—and lost—an empire in this week’s featured collection, Rome: Rise and Fall. Here’s a look at some of this week’s episodes:

  • From the depths of the vicious and magnificent Flavian amphitheater where gladiators fought for their lives, peel back the layers of the gladiator’s triumph—and demise—in Gladiators: Blood Sport.
  • Carefully uncovered from molten rock and ashes, Pompeii is one of the world’s most well preserved archaeological sites. In Pompeii: Buried Alive, follow in the footsteps of the team as they continue their quest to unearth the treasures of Pompeii.
  • The flowering of the Roman Empire saw incomparable power and civilization—and at the same time, depravity on an unparalleled scale. Roman Vice explores how good and evil lived side by side.

Watch on HISTORY Vault, available on your computer at historyvault.com, Roku players, iOS devices and Apple TV (4th Generation).

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