The Expansion of Rome

753 BC Foundation of Rome

until 510 BC Reign of the Seven Kings

until 500 BC Foundation of the Republic of Rome

387 BC The Celts ravaged Rome

343 – 290 BC The Romans won the three wars with the Samnites and ruled over Italy

264-241 BC First Punic War

218-201 BC Second Punic War. Rome is ruler of the West Mediterranean.

149-146 BC Third Punic War. The Romans destroyed Carthago.


The Germans and Rome

The successful campaigns of Drusus and Tiberius (8/7 BC) up to the Elbe led to the conquest of Germany only for a short time. The catastrophe of the Varus Battle (9AC) finally led to the surrender of the policy of attacking German tribes. After that the German tribes united and attacked again and again the border of the Roman Empire. The hard defeat of the Imperator Decius against the Goths at the Danube (251 AC), the success of the Allemans in passing the Limes (260 AC) and the success of the French by invading Gaule were harbingers of the Roman breakdown.

The tactics and the legionaries

We know from the Greek historian Polybios, that every legionary had two lances, called „pila“. A lance was thrown into the shield of the enemy and was plunged into it. The pilum got bent and got stuck in the shield. So the repushing of the second pilum was very hard. In the following hand-to-hand fighting the legionaries used their short sword, called „gladius“. By doing so the enemies could hardly make use of their shields, nor could they throw back the bent pila.

Orders and badges of honour

All soldiers of the Roman army and whole unities could be honoured by orders and badges of honour. There were „phalerae“, round decorated disks, „torques“, twisted rings, „armillae“, bangles and little banners, garlands or lances as well. As marks of honour soldiers often got promotions or greater amounts of money.

The Romans on horseback

In the battles against Hannibal it became obvious that the cavalry was a weak point of the Roman army. Therefore the cavalrymen were grouped into 500 or even 1000 men. The greatest unit was the „ala millaria“. It consisted of 1008 cavalrymen and was divided into 24 "turma" of 42 men. The Romans felt threatened in the third century, because they had to face a lot of enemies on horseback. Therefore they built up heavyly armed squadrons of cavalrymen, which were provided with a long sword, a stabbing lance and a light shield.

The education of the roman soldiers

Nowadays we are very good informed about the roman army – by Flavius Vegetius, an author. The recruits had to learn to convert tactical orders and different formations during a battle quickly and correctly. One of the most famous formations has been the “turtle” (testudo). So an armour has been formed from joined shields.

Field Signs

During the war against the naval power of Carthago the Romans had to build-up a very powerful fleet to overcome their enemies in the first Punic War.
The warships tried to ram enemy ships with high speed.
During the imperial time Italy’s coasts have been protected by two big naval ports.
Beside boarder guard these ports served as protection for trading ships against pirates.
he battle the Romans used optical and acoustical signs for communication. With the help of these field signs a commander-in-chief could start moves of the troops.
Following field signs were known by the Romans:

  • discs (signa)
  • in form of animals (eagle = aquila, dragon = draco)
  • post with a cross beam (vexilla)
  • image of the emperor (imago)
  • in form of a lance for the Benefizarians.

During excavations in Egypt complete field signs were found. At the Saalburg these field signs have been re-designed. Soldiers who carried these signs have been in a high rank: they were recognisable through the bear skin over their armaments. The skull of the animal has been worn like a helmet on the head.
The troop had to be very carefully with the field sign. In the Roman army it was treated as a wipe-out of the troop, when the field sign came into the hands of the enemy.

The Fleet

During the war against the naval power of Carthago the Romans had to build-up a very powerful fleet to overcome their enemies in the first Punic War. The warships tried to ram enemy ships with high speed. During the imperial time Italy’s coasts have been protected by two big naval ports. Beside boarder guard these ports served as protection for trading ships against pirates.


The realm of the gods

Many different gods, goddesses and demigods were worshipped by the Romans. They imagine their gods in the form of human beings. They were willing to make sacrifices. Apart from the gods they imagined ghosts and heroes, like Mithras and Isis. In general the Romans accepted different kinds of religious opinions. Only the Christians weren't allowed to worship the Roman gods.

Name of gods
Their function
He is the sky god
Protector of women
War god
Beauty and love goddess
Wisdom goddess
Wine god
Music god


The Romans at table

The kitchen: Rich families had a separate kitchen with a kitchen stove, tables and chair. Poor families had only an open camp fire in another living room.
The dishes were made of clay or metal and looked like our dishes. The kitchentools hung at the wall. The Romens used amphoras for keeping wine and oil.

Eating habits: Did the Romans eat with knife and fork? The Romans prepared their food, so that they could eat it with fingers or with a spoon So they needed napkins or bowls of water for washing their hands. The spoon had a function like a fork, too. One could spike the food with the end of the spoon, however they didn’t have a fork like today. The knife was only used for the preparation of the meal.

Did the Romans sit or lie at the table? Men lay at the meals on a kind of couch, the cliniums, which were put around the table in form of horseshoes. They rested on the left arm and had the right arm free for eating. Women and children had to sit.

Which taste did their food have? The Romans liked eating sweet-spicy food, they added a bit of spice to everything. There were about 50 different spices in every household.

How many meals did they have? They had three meals: the ientaculum (breakfast), the prandium (lunch) and the cena (dinner). After the cena they had often a feast with guests.(convivium)

What did they eat? They drank very much wine. The main food were cheese, bread and olives.

Differences between today and the time of the Romans: Pasta and Pizza. In former times there was no Pasta and Pizza, because the Romans didn’t have the ingredients for that. The noodles were imported by Marco Polo later.

Fastfood: The Romans had a type of fastfood: at the roadside were little snack bars at which one could buy peassoups and hot sausages.

Tradition of the food: Without the Romans, we wouldn’t have many spices in Germany. For example: celery, garlic, dill, parsley and coriander. They spread these spices all over Europe.


The living conditions of the citizens

Until the 2nd century the Roman emperors decided the life by making peace inside and outside. This situation the people took advantage of had changed into a bad situation since the beginning of the 3rd century. The people had to pay very high taxes and they had to meet more and more obligations to the state. All these obligations were laid down.


The decline of Western Rome - Why the decline of Western Rome didn't mean its end

When the Teutonic troop leader Odoaker deposed the last emperor of Western Rome Romulus Augustulus in the year 476, the existence of this empire ended and the fight for the power and the heritage of this part began. Eastern Rome remained for nearly 1000 years. But all the attempts the capital of Eastern Rome made since the 5th century failed. The people often dealt with the decline of the Western Roman Empire, because at last this biggest state had existed since the foundation of Rome for 12 centuries. But didn't this empire not earlier collapse, because it gave the people advantages for a long time and considered their needs? Or did it collapse, because they weren’t able to resist the Germanic pressure? Although the empire declined, it kept ist radiation. In customs, public institutions and in the people's thoughts, the idea of the empire was still alive. Latin was even the most important language. The connection between the declined and the new empire was built by Christianity. The first emperors of the Middle Ages - the kings of the Franks - and later the emperors often orientated themselves by the idea of the Roman Empire.