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History
Ancient History
Rome

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Foundation and Early History
The Seven Hills of Rome
Calendar
Sackings
Other

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Ancient Rome

See also Roman Emperors, Roman Place Names.

Foundation and Early History

Traditional date for the foundation of the City of Rome Click to show or hide the answer
Founder and first king of Rome (according to legend) Click to show or hide the answer
Romulus's twin brother, killed in a contest for supremacy with him Click to show or hide the answer
Father of Romulus and Remus Click to show or hide the answer
Vestal virgin, gave birth to Romulus and Remus after being seduced by Mars Click to show or hide the answer
Romulus and Remus were said to have been raised by a female Click to show or hide the answer
Rome became a republic Click to show or hide the answer

First Triumvirate (unofficial – 60–53 BC) Click to show or hide the answer
Second Triumvirate (43–44 BC) Click to show or hide the answer

The Seven Hills of Rome

According to tradition, Rome was founded by Romulus on 21 April in the year 753 BC – the day he killed his twin brother Remus – on one of a group of seven low hills on the east bank of the river Tiber. The hill that he chose would become known as the Palatine Hill (the hill of the palace). The story goes that other settlements grew up on the other six hills, and the city came into being as the different groups began to interact peaceably with one another and drain the marshy ground that separated the hills. A wall was built to enclose and defend the seven hills in the early 4th century BC.

In all honesty, the names of the seven hills don't come up all that often in quizzes. You might be given some of them and asked what they are; or you might be asked the meaning of the mnemonic Can Queen Victoria Eat Cold Apple Pie?. But you won't often get asked to name any of the hills.

This website, however, can't bear to mention a mnemonic without going into the details of what it means. This one refers to the names of the seven hills, starting with the Capitoline and working clockwise – ending with the one on which Romulus chose to site his city.

Here they all are, in the same order:

Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer

Wikipedia is one of several websites that have diagrams to illustrate the seven hills. As these diagrams show, the Palatine Hill is surrounded by the Capitoline to the north–west, the Caelian to the east, and the Aventine to the south–west; the other three (the Quirinal, Viminal and Esquiline) lie to the north–east of these four and are in reality the three extremities of an extensive area of higher ground. Rome's main archaelogical sites are on the Palatine Hill, and its City Hall (the Palazzo Senatorio – built in the 13th and 14th centuries AD, with its facade added later by Michelangelo) now stands on the Capitoline Hill.

Tradition has it that Remus chose to live on the Aventine Hill. History suggests that Romulus and Remus may in fact have been the respective leaders of the warring tribes that lived on the Palatine and Aventine hills – and this slots in nicely with the traditional version, which has Romulus founding the city after killing Remus.

Another thing that this website cannot do, is talk about hills without wondering how high they are. A map on this web page suggests that the Tiber valley is at an elevation of approximately 30 metres above sea level, and each of the seven hills reaches a height of approximately 70 metres, while the higher ground behind the three outlying hills rises to about 90 metres.

Other notable hills in the vicinity of Rome include:

The Vatican hill: this is to the north–west of the city of Rome, on the other side of the Tiber; it gave its name to the world's smallest state.

The Janiculum: also west of the Tiber, notable for its views of the city. In ancient times it was a centre for the cult of the god Janus (hence the name). A cannon is fired from the Janiculum daily at noon, as a time signal to the city. (This tradition began in 1847 at the Castel Sant'Angelo, and was transferred to the Janiculum in 1904.)

The Pincian hill: home to several important families in ancient Rome – including the Pincii, who gave the hill its name – and re–landscaped in the early 19th century. This lies within the Aurelian walls (built in the late 3rd century AD, to replace the Servian Wall referred to above), near the Villa Borghese. The Pincian Hill overlooks the Piazza del Popolo, a large urban square that was redesigned in the early 19th century.

The Roman Calendar

Months in the Roman calendar Click to show or hide the answer
First month of the Roman calendar Click to show or hide the answer
First day of each month, on which the new moon fell Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Day of the month on which the full moon fell Click to show or hide the answer
Ides: 15th in March, May, July and October; otherwise Click to show or hide the answer
The ninth day before the ides Click to show or hide the answer

Sackings

Wikipedia lists six sackings of Rome. Only four of them (at the most) can really be described as ancient, but I list them here for completeness. In each case (except the last), the question is "Which tribe or people, led by [see below], sacked the city of Rome in the year [date]?

390 BC ... led by Brennus, after the Battle of the Allia (date commonly given) Click to show or hide the answer
410 AD ... led by King Alaric Click to show or hide the answer
455 AD ... led by Geiseric Click to show or hide the answer
546 AD ... led by Totila Click to show or hide the answer
1084 ... led by Robert Guiscard Click to show or hide the answer
1527 ... by the mutinous troops of Holy Roman Emperor ... Click to show or hide the answer

Other

The Year of the Four Emperors Click to show or hide the answer

The four emperors in the Year of the Three Emperors were:

Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer Click to show or hide the answer

Paces (of two steps each, i.e. one with each foot) in a mile Click to show or hide the answer
Battle of 31 BC, in which Octavian defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra Click to show or hide the answer
Epic poem of twelve books (1st century BC) – known as the Roman Empire's national epic – written by Virgil in the first century BC; the legendary story of the founding of Rome after the fall of Troy Click to show or hide the answer
Roman general responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain (completed with the defeat of the Caledonians at the Battle of Mons Graupius in AD 83 or 84); made governor in AD 77 Click to show or hide the answer
Fourth wife of Claudius: daughter of his elder brother Germanicus; believed by historians to have been responsible for his fatal poisoning with a plate of mushrooms; mother of Nero, who had her sent to sea in a booby–trapped boat, and eventually beaten to death by his soldiers; subject of an opera by Handel Click to show or hide the answer
Commander of the Goths who sacked Rome in AD 410 Click to show or hide the answer
Roman slave said to have tamed a lion by removing a thorn from its paw Click to show or hide the answer
Ancient road from Rome to Brindisi Click to show or hide the answer
Priests who interpreted the will of the gods by studying birds in flight Click to show or hide the answer
Principal conspirator against Julius Caesar, along with Cassius (44 BC); defeated Octavian's forces at the first battle of Philippi (42 BC), but took his own life following defeat by Octavian and Mark Antony in the second battle 20 days later Click to show or hide the answer
The two main conspirators against Julius Caesar – defeated by Mark Antony at Philippi, 42BC Click to show or hide the answer
Punishment for a vestal virgin who lost her virginity Click to show or hide the answer
Alternative name for the Eastern Roman Empire – which survived the Western Empire by a thousand years, before falling to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 Click to show or hide the answer
Celebrated a swift and decisive victory at Zela, in modern Turkey, in 47 BC, with the words "Veni, vidi, vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered) Click to show or hide the answer
Introduced the leap year
His cognomen became the title of Roman emperors, and passed into German (Kaiser) and Russian (Czar or Tsar) – and thus at least one head of state bore his name, at any one time, until 1946 (Simeon II of Bulgaria was the last to bear the title Tsar)
Author of Commentarii de Bello Gallico (The Gallic Wars), Commentarii de Bello Civili (The Civil Wars)
Assassinated on the Ides of March (15 March) 44 BC
Wife of Julius Caesar (at the time of his death) Click to show or hide the answer
City–state that opposed Rome in the three Punic Wars (264–241 BC, 218–202 BC, 149–146 BC) Click to show or hide the answer
Principal conspirator against Julius Caesar, 44 BC; took his own life following the defeat of his forces by Mark Antony at Philippi, 43 BC Click to show or hide the answer
Leader of a conspiracy to overthrow the Republic, exposed and denounced by Cicero in 63 BC Click to show or hide the answer
Orator, writer and statesman: made his name as a lawyer with his audacious defence of Sextus Roscius on a charge of patricide in 80 BC, when he accused a freedman of the dictator Sulla; exposed Cataline's conspiracy in 63 BC; exiled in 59 BC on the formation of the First Triumvirate; sided with Pompey during the Civil War (49–48 BC), but was pardoned by Julius Caesar and returned to Rome; following Caesar's assassination in 44 BC he supported Octavian, and violently attacked Antony in a series of speeches known as the Philippics; executed by Antony's agents after the reconciliation of Antony and Octavian (43 BC) Click to show or hide the answer
Tenth part of a legion (approximately 600 men) Click to show or hide the answer
Originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre; started 70AD under Vespasian, completed 80AD under Titus, modified under Domitian Click to show or hide the answer
(Probably) the first Christian emperor of Rome: son of St. Helena, but resisted Christianity as a youth; took control of the Roman Empire after his victory over Maxentius in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (over the Tiber, in Rome) in 312 – which also marked the beginning of his conversion; proclaimed religious tolerance in 313. (Christianity was finally made the official religion of the empire by Theodosius I in 380) Click to show or hide the answer
Capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire – founded (by Constantine) on the site of Byzantium; Europe's richest and largest city through most of the Middle Ages Click to show or hide the answer
Title of the two magistrates who held supreme civil and military authority under the Roman republic Click to show or hide the answer
General who crushed the Spartacus uprising, 71BC Click to show or hide the answer
Roman name for the region that includes modern Romania and Moldova Click to show or hide the answer
Term used in the Roman army for the killing of one in ten of a mutinous section Click to show or hide the answer
Symbol of the Roman Empire Click to show or hide the answer
Mark Antony and Pompey: both died in (modern country) Click to show or hide the answer
Julius Caesar's praenomen (pre–name): also that of Augustus and Caligula, among many others Click to show or hide the answer
Fish paste that was 'the supreme condiment' to the ancient Romans Click to show or hide the answer
Elder brother of Claudius, father of Caligula, maternal grandfather of Nero; died in 19 AD (early in Tiberius's reign), in suspicious circumstances Click to show or hide the answer
Carthaginian general, led an army of elephants over the Pyrenees and Alps, 218 BC; defeated the Roman army at Cannae, 216BC Click to show or hide the answer
City destroyed along with Pompeii by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD Click to show or hide the answer
The leading lyric poet of ancient Rome; along with Virgil and Ovid, one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature; works include Odes, Epodes, Satires, Epistles (or Letters); wrote "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" (It is sweet and honourable to die for one's country), "Nil desperandum", "Carpe diem" (Seize the day); served under Brutus at Philippi Click to show or hide the answer
System of under–floor central heating, used in public baths and private houses Click to show or hide the answer
"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes" (Who guards those who guard us) – Roman poet, c. 100AD Click to show or hide the answer
Bissextile year ("twice sixth" – for rather complicated reasons) Click to show or hide the answer
Wife and advisor to the emperor Augustus – one of the most powerful women in the history of the Roman Empire Click to show or hide the answer
Roman historian (born Padua 64 or 59 BC, died AD 17), author of the monumental Ab Urbis Condita ("from the founding of the city") – whose initials (AUC) were used as a suffix to Roman dates Click to show or hide the answer
Served under Julius Caesar in Gaul; Consul with him in 44BC. Tried to secure the title of King for Caesar; following Caesar's death, formed the Second Triumvirate with Octavian and Lepidus; defeated Brutus and Cassius at Philippi, 42BC; took Egypt as his share of the Empire, formed a liaison with Cleopatra, but married Octavian's sister Octavia in 40BC; defeated (along with Cleopatra) by Octavian at Actium, 31BC; returned to Egypt and committed suicide Click to show or hide the answer
Third wife of Claudius, whom he divorced and had executed for treason Click to show or hide the answer
Ovid's narrative poem describing the creation and history of the world, completed in 8 AD, regarded then and ever since as a definitive work on mythology Click to show or hide the answer
Putting a line (bar) above a Roman numeral Click to show or hide the answer
One of the three canonical poets of Latin literature, along with Virgil and Horace; works include Metamorphoses and Ars amatoria (the Art of Love); banished by Augustus in 8 AD, possibly as a result of the latter work which offered amatory advice to Roman men and women Click to show or hide the answer
Elite citizens of ancient Rome (as opposed to the plebeians) Click to show or hide the answer
Scene of two battles in 42 BC, following the assassination of Julius Caesar, where the forces of Brutus and Cassius opposed those of Octavian and Mark Antony. In the first battle (3 October) Brutus defeated Octavianus, but Antonius defeated Cassius, who committed suicide; Brutus was defeated in the second (23 October), and he committed suicide shortly afterwards Click to show or hide the answer
The general body of Roman people – all except slaves and patricians Click to show or hide the answer
Married Julius Caesar's daughter Julia, but defeated by his father–in–law and murdered in Egypt 48BC Click to show or hide the answer
Roman military governor of Judaea, 26–36 AD Click to show or hide the answer
Imperial bodyguard formed by Augustus in 27 BC Click to show or hide the answer
Lightly–armed gladiator, fought with trident and net – styled on a fisherman Click to show or hide the answer
River marking the border between Cisalpine Gaul (a province) and the part of Italy that was directly controlled by Rome; crossed by Julius Caesar with the 13th Legion in 49 BC, in his campaign against Pompey, plunging the Roman Republic into civil war; Caesar is said to have uttered the famous phrase ālea iacta est – "the die is cast". (To enter Italy in control of an army was a capital offence.) Click to show or hide the answer
The word "salary" is believed to have come from the custom of Roman soldiers being paid an allowance to buy Click to show or hide the answer
Roman feast that started on 17th December (eventually running until the 23rd) Click to show or hide the answer
Main governing council of ancient Rome (the republic, and later the empire) Click to show or hide the answer
Stoic philosopher, statesman and dramatist (4 BC – 65 AD): a tutor and later advisor to the emperor Nero; ordered by Nero to take his own life for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy (the conspiracy of Gaius Calpurnius Piso – a major turning point in Nero's reign, leading to his eventual suicide) Click to show or hide the answer
The pelter, used in the Roman army, was a type of Click to show or hide the answer
Leader of the revolt of slaves and gladiators known as the Third Servile War (a.k.a. the Gladiator War) of 73 BC; crucified in 71 BC; said by some to have been a king of Thrace Click to show or hide the answer
Gladius Click to show or hide the answer
Seventh and last of the legendary Kings of Rome (535–510BC) – son of the fifth, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus (616–578) and son–in–law of the sixth, Servius Tullius Click to show or hide the answer
Emperor 79–81, in succession to Vespasian: previously led the army that besieged and conquered Jerusalem in 70, ending a four–year occupation by Jewish defenders and resulting in the destruction of the Second Temple (an event still mourned by Jews at what remains of the Western Wall – a.k.a. the Wailing Wall) Click to show or hide the answer
Germanic people, related to the Goths, who sacked Rome in 455 AD Click to show or hide the answer
The six holy priestesses of the goddess of the hearth Click to show or hide the answer
Latin poet, 70–19 BC, author of the Aeneid Click to show or hide the answer
"Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes" (I fear the Greeks, even when they offer gifts); "Love conquers all"; "Decus et tutamen" Click to show or hide the answer

© Haydn Thompson 2017–18