Forget everything you think you know about Romans. Forget togas, and gladiators, and banquet goers eating, tossing up in the "vomitorium" and guzzling more. Forget Christians to the lions. Forget orgies and by all means, forget every preposterous movie ever made about life in Rome.

Thatís not Rome. Those things went on in Rome at some points in time, albeit, perhaps brief. A phrase about history that you should discard is "they were like this..." Some of them may have been like this. Togas, for example, went out by the first century. We know about them because Caesar Augustus said that all persons of the upper political ranks had to wear them. Why? Because he saw it as the traditional garment and disliked the new styles that had overtaken the entire populace. How long did that toga revival last? Who knows.

Christians to the lions? Well, there were some, of course. There were two waves of Christian persecution. One was brief, under Nero, following the burning of Rome. But at that point, there isnít any way of knowing what kind of Christians were in Rome. Peter and Paul may have been there, but they may not have, either. The persecution was short lived, though, and not many people were killed. These martyrdoms, however, did serve to inspire more people to become Christian, and these new Christians saw Nero literally as the anti-Christ and preserved the memory of that brief period of persecution.

The second wave was in the 300s, under the emperorer Diocelsian, and was centered in the city of Lyon, now in France. It also was short lived. Again, Christians memorized the names and stories of the people who were killed, and, over time, expanded and extrapolated these stories until it appears that from the birth of Christ under Constantine, Christians were constantly being persecuted.

As for banquetting, the word "vomitorium" simply means "exit". It isnít a place in a house specifically reserved for barfing guests. The reference to vomiting comes from two places. Horace, in a letter, wrote that if oneís friend consumed too much liquor and food and threw up on your couch, you wouldnít be angry at him, you would just clean him up. The other reference comes from Ciceroís speech against Marc Anthony in which, after saying the Marc Anthony got his start in life as a boy prostitute in the streets, Cicero said that he had seen Marc Anthony come into the senate after a night of revelry still drunk, and that Marc Anthony had thrown up in the presence of the esteemed company. He suggested that this was Marc Anthonyís habit, over indulging, throwing up and continued gorging. This was an insult to Marc Anthony, meant to humiliate him in the esteem of his peers, not a chat about common customs. Cicero is holding him up to ridicule, and, eventually, Cicero would pay for it with his life.

In many ways, we know very little about Roman life. There werenít magazines, photographs, news reels, or recording. There were huge volumes of records, letters, diaries, plays, poetry, stories, novels, pornography, buildings, statues, gravestones, toys, cooking vessels, invoices, all manner of things that provide records about life. Most of it is gone.

We have some books that are extremely significant. Unfortunately, modern historians try to eke out of every word, phrase and page, some "truth" about Roman society. But a joke in a novel does not bespeak real life any more than a dirty joke told today about a group of people accurately reflects those peopleís behavior.

Once one reads enough Roman literature, enough of Caesar and Cicero and Vergil, enough Aulus Gellius and Horace, one can see clearly real people, going about their lives, doing real things. Caesar writes to Ciceroís brother thanking him for a job well done, Cicero writes to a friend telling his Caesar just visited him for dinner while traveling somewhere and he hopes Caesar wonít come back that way on his return journey. Horace writes about meeting his friends at an inn and the lousy service they received. Aulus Gellius, while wintering in Greece wants to write down all the stories he remembers so his children can read them. Pliny writes about his uncle going across the water to Pompeii one morning because something was up with the volcano. His uncle wouldnít let him go. Why? Because Pliny the Younger had homework. Marcus Aurelius writes to his mother about his tutor, and a girl he loves.

These are not stiff, cardboard or even marble, Roman figures. These are people who like to eat and drink and listen to music. They like to play games. They buy toys and pets for their children. They fall in love, sometimes with the wrong people, get married and divorced and remarry. They are, in short, just like us. As soon as one realizes that, history becomes something that doesnít come in eras and epochs and in neat packages. It is the unbroken line between parent and child, between people who share common values, common goals, going back to the beginning of time.


Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Mica, mica, parva stella

Miror quanam sis tam bella

Super terra in caelo

Alba gemma splendido.

Mica, mica, parva stella

Miror quanam sis tam bella.



Mica, mica, parva stella

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

Miror quanam sis tam bella

I wonder how you are so beautiful

Super terra in caelo

Above the earth in the skies

Alba gemma splendido.

A splendid diamond

Mica, mica, parva stella

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

Miror quanam sis tam bella.

I wonder how you are so beautiful

Letís look at this word by word...


Latin Word Meaning Parse (ignore this) Other English words derived

mica twinkle verb, present tense, active ` mica

parva small adj /1/1/nom/s/f/pos

stella star noun/nom/1/1/s/f/ stellar

miror I wonder deponent verb miraculous

quaenam why packon w/qui

sis you are

tam so adverb pos

bella beautiful adjective

super above adverb super, superior

terra earth nom/f/1/1/s/f/ terrarium, terraform, terrestrial

in in preposition

caelo heaven n/2/ablative/s/m/ celestial

alba white n/f/1/1/nom/s/f albumin

gemma gem n/1/1/nom/s/f/ gem

splendido splendid adj/1/1/dat/s/m/pos splendid


Congratulations, you have just learned fifteen words of Latin. As a cautionary note, although a great many words in Latin sound like words in English, you canít assume automatically that they mean the same thing.



Read this over several times. When you embark on the study of Latin, you will find that you canít read it like you read English. You are so used to reading English that you probably skim. You may read the first words of a paragraph and then briefly look through the rest of it for key words, or phrases. You might read the beginning of a word and skip the rest. This is how speed reading is done. Unfortunately, it leads to a lot of comprehension errors and a lack of understanding of the reading materials. There are some things you canít learn by skimming. Highly detailed, precise information is necessary in many of the professions and it can only be learned through reading. You have to read every word. Latin will teach you to read every letter of every word, every word in every sentence and every sentence in every paragraph. You will get used to it, and you will learn a great deal and a great deal more quickly. Does it take more time? Yes. But do you really have anything better to do? Slow down. Enjoy it.


Copy this. Copy it several times. You will learn a number of things when you copy. For example, you will notice that the Latin doesnít have any punctuation. Latin didnít have any punctuation. If you see punctuation in a Latin piece, it has been added later for ease of reading. Copying will not only familiarize you with the spelling, and the way the words are put together, it will assist you in memorization.



Memorize the above poem. Memorization is going to be a big key in learning Latin or any other language. Before you go off moaning that you canít memorize anything, be assured that you can. Youíve been memorizing great volumes of things since you were very small. How many songs do you know, or parts of songs, without sitting down and memorizing a line of them? How did you do it? Simple. By hearing the song over and over. Using the same technique you can learn Latin, or scripts for plays, or poetry or scientific formulas. Memorization is vital to success in any field of endeavor, and in fact, in social interactions. You will be much more popular if you can remember peopleís names, and something about them when you meet them again. If you can remember birthdays and anniversaries, you will be especially esteemed.

Is it difficult? Yes, at first, if you are unused to memorizing, it can be tough. The younger you are, though, the easier it will be. Like any other part of your body, you can train your mind to work. If you, without doing any exercise for a year, tried to do a hundred pushups you would find it difficult. If, on the other hand, you had started with ten, and worked your way up by one every day, at the end of the year you could do quite a few. Start slowly.

There are two good techniques for memorization. One is to put the material on a tape and play it back over and over and over until youíve learned it. Say it or think the words along with the tape. The other is to go by lines. Say line A, and memorize it. Then lines A and B, until you have them memorized. Then A, B., and C., and continue in that manner until you have thoroughly covered the piece. Is it time consuming? Yes. But you have plenty of time when youíre walking or going to bed or simply doing nothing to practice. You will be amazed, once you start, how much you can remember.

Donít be tempted to cheat on this, or stint. You will only find yourself in a hopeless mess later on. You have to build a firm foundation in order to learn languages, or anything. If you tried to learn long division before youĎre sure of your addition facts to twenty, you will do very poorly. Even if it means going slowly at first, get it right. Be absolutely sure that you know the material before you go on. Remember, this is for you, not for anyone else. If you try to shortcut or skip steps, you are the one thatís going to lose out on the benefits. It may be disappointing for those around you who have hopes for you. but it doesnít have a practical effect on them. You need to do this because you want to do it. If you donít, do something else.



You should note that this English translation is not the one you are already familiar with. Herein you will see a lesson in the art of translation. A translator of poetry or literature does not make a one to one, literal translation of a work of art. In many cases, they may add or delete certain things, or add material that plays up certain nuances of the work. Horace wrote a great many poems, which have been translated many times by a great many people. Some of his poems deal rather graphically with sexual themes. Victorian era translators, however, were less inclined to be as graphic in their translations as modernists are. Some translators tend to stay close to what the original author wrote, while others will do quite extreme things to make sure they produce a poem that has the right rhyme and meter, despite the original authorís words. This is why, as soon as possible, you should prepare yourself to read great works in their original languages. In the meantime, as you read works in translation, be sure to ask yourself, "How much of this is the translatorís own work and how much is the original authorís."



Much of what you will learn about the Latin language, the Romans didnít know themselves. They just spoke their language. Obviously people studied grammar centuries before Christ and there are many letters from Roman writers talking about the uses of words and grammar. But it wasnít really until the nineteenth century that the modern forms of grammar were codified for Latin. Much of what is taught as Latin grammar is the art of labeling things so that one can talk about them more readily with other scholars. If you were a little boy growing up in Rome, you simply would have learned to talk the way you did in your own home. Because of this unnatural system, you will find learning Latin and English grammar to be something of a chore, but it will improve your ability to speak and write in both languages immensely.

Do not be daunted by what follows. It is very complicated, or, if itís not complicated, itís tedius to learn. Donít try to memorize what follows. But do learn it. It is the framework upon which all languages are built. There are variations, but all languages must, of necessity, have a structure similar to this. Read over this list often. Every day would be good, so that the ideas are set in your mind. This is the only way to learn so that you will not forget the minute you walk away from it.


Parsing is the art of being able to tell everything there is to tell about any word or sentence. It is vital to the complete understanding of any language. The difference between parsing a word in Latin and in English is very slight.

Whatís included in parsing?

1. Part of speech.

2. Gender

3. Number

4. Case

5. Tense

6. Mood


1. Parts of speech. There are six.

A. Nouns

B. Verbs

C. Pronouns

D. Prepositions

E. Adverbs

F. Adjectives

G. Conjugations

This is the same as for English, except English has one extra. We have "articles", words like "the", "a" and "an".

A. Nouns

Describe persons, places, things. There are two types

i. Common nouns

ii. Proper nouns


B. Verbs

Words that describe an action or state of being

i. transitive

ii. intransitive

C. Pronouns

A word that stands in place of a noun

i. Personal pronouns

a. he, she, it, we, they


D. Prepositions

E. Adverbs

F. Adjectives

G. Conjugations

(Words that conjoin parts of the sentence...

2. Gender

This is very easy in English...we donít have it.

In Latin there are three genders

A. Masculine

B. Feminine

C. Neuter

Sometimes there doesnít seem to be much logic in the reason for the selection of a gender for an item. They tend to be very arbitrary. Youíll have to memorize the gender, but there are some guidelines that will assist you in doing so.

3. Number

This is also the same as in English

A. Singular

B. Plural

4. Case

There are five cases in English, six in Latin...

A. Nominative

The case of the subject

B. Genitive

The case of the possessor (his book)

C. Dative

The case of the Indirect Object (the "to" or "for" case)

She did that for him. Him is the dative.

D. Accusative

The case of the direct object.

"Give him the book" The book is the direct object.

E. Ablative

The by-with-from case, used frequently in prepositions

F. Vocative

The case of address.

Muffy, come. "Muffy" is in the vocative case.

5. Tense (Verbs)

A. Present

B. Imperfect

C. Perfect

D. Pluperfect

E. Future

F. Future Perfect

6. Mood (Verbs)

A. Active

B. Passive


This is a big, nasty word that just means a list of all the inflected forms of a word. Remember that an inflection is an ending put on a word to change its meaning.

Hereís an example of a paradigm...

Singular Plural Meaning Use

Nominative Terra Terrae The land(s) Subject

Genitive Terrae Terrarum Of the land(s) Possessive

Dative Terrae Terris To or for the land(s) Indirect Object

Accusative Terram Terras The land(s) Direct Object

Ablative Terra Terris By, with, from the land(s)


You will, as time goes on, learn to rattle through the paradigs, and understand what they mean. When we get a littler further, you will receive some hints for memorizing the paradigms.



Latin is an inflected language, meaning that the words change their meanings and uses depending on the particle or ending that you put on them. English is a noninflected language, meaning that the wordís use is determined by its position in a sentence. In other words, word order gives meaning to English sentences.

"The dog barked loudly at the cat.".

This doesnít make sense if you mix the words up.

"The loudly cat barked the dog at."

However, because each word in a Latin sentence shows, by the inflection, what part it plays in the sentence, you can write each word of a Latin sentence on a piece of paper, throw them in the air, and, when they come down, arrange them in any order you like without altering the meaning.

This is wonderful for poetry writing, because you can then arrange the words in a sentence to get the best rhyme. Weíll talk a lot more about poetry later.


A declension consists of adding the proper endings to the stem to show different gender, number and cases.

There are five declensions, that is, five categories of nouns. These categories were made in the nineteenth century as an aid to learning Latin, by sorting thousands of Latin words and their attributes into pigeon holes. These are not "natural" categories. But you will begin to see some things that will assist you greatly. You will, however, have to memorize which declension any word belongs to. The sooner you accept this nasty fact, the faster you will learn Latin.

1. First Declension. Nouns that end in "a". These are always feminine.

2. Second Declension. Nouns that end in "us", "er" or "um" and are always masculine or neuter.

3. Third Declension. Nouns whose genitive form always ends in "is". They can be either masculine, feminine or neuter.

4. Fourth Declension. Nouns whose nominative and genitive forms are the same. They can be any gender.

5. Fifth Declension. Everything that doesnít fit into one of the above categories.



Et cetera, literally, "and the rest"

Habitat, literally "it inhabits"

Ad infinitum "to the infinite"

Ad nauseum "to sea-sickness"

Caveat "let him beware.", a warning

Pax, "peace"

Per Diem, "by the day" as in "you will be paid per diem for your work"

Persona Grata "a pleasing person", generally welcome

Persona non grata, "a non pleasing person", generally unwelcome

R.I.P. we say "rest in peace" but it means "requiescat in pace" "may he/she/it rest in peace".

Tabula rasa "a blank slate"

Quid novi "Whatís new?"



Here are some useful phrases that are given first in Latin and then in English. Memorize these and their meanings. You will begin to see how words fit together, their uses, in a practical form.

Tempus fugit Time flies.

In hoc signo vincis In this sign, we will conquer (Constantineís words after seeing the vision of the cross in the sky.)

Carthago delenda est Carthage must be destroyed. Cato the Elder. He said this at the end of every speech he gave...just to reinforce his hatred of Carthage. It worked, it was.

Veni, vidi, vici I came, I saw, I conquered.

This is a great line. It is believed to be the briefest dispatch by any general back to home describing his victory over an enemy. Julius Ceasar sent this dispatch to Rome after the battle of Zela in 47 B.C.)

Gallia est omnis divisa in partres tres. "All Gaul is divided into three parts." This is the first line of Caesarís famous work, "Bello Gallica", "The Gallic Wars."

Difficile est longum subito deponere amorem. "It is difficult to suddenly give up a long love." Catullus

Odi et amo "I hate and I love" Catullus

Carpe diem "Pluck or seize the day" This is from a line in a poem by Horace,

Caveat emptor "Let the buyer beware"

Oderint dum metuant "Let them hate me provided they fear me", Accius

De duobus malis, minus est semper eligendum. "Of two evils, the lesser must always be chosen" Thomas a Kempis.

Acta est fabula. "The play is over". The last words of Caesar Augustus. What a guy.

Festina lente "Make haste slowly". Either Cease Augustus or Horace


Ipsa scientia potestas est. Knowledge itself is power. Sir Francis Bacon.

Alea iacta est. "The die is cast" meaning, thereís not any going back. Julius Caesar.

Et tu, Brute? (Bru-te) And you, too , Brutus? The supposed last words of Julius Caesar. He may have said, "And you too, my son?"

Hoc volluerunt "They wished this." Julius Caesar after a battle.

O tempore, o mores Oh, the time, oh, the manners (or customs). Cicero bemoaning modern times and decadence

Cum tacent clamant When they remain silent, they cry out Cicero, In Catilinam I.

Ut sementem feceris ita metes "As you sow, so will you reap. Cicero.

Ego nolo Caesar esse "I donít want to be Caessar" P. Annius Florus.

Video barbam et pallium; philosophum nondum video. "I see the beard and cloak, but I donít yet see a philosopher. " Aulus Gellius

Ars longa, vita brevis "Art is long, life is short". Hippocrates

Dulce est desipere in loco "It is sweet to relax at the proper time" Horace

Nunc est bibendum "Now we must drink" Horace

Mens sana in corpore sano "A sound mind in a sound body." Juvenal

Nemo repente fuit turpissimus "Nobody every became thoroughly bad in one step" Juvenal

Panem et circensis "Bread and circuses" Juvenal

Probitas laudatur et alget "Honesty is praised and left out in the cold." Juvenal, Satires 1.74)

Gutta cavat lapidem "Dripping hollows our rock" Ovid

Vos vestros servate, meos mihi linquite mores "You keep to your own ways and leave mine to me." Petrach

Potest ex casa magnus vir exire. It is possible for a great man to come from a hut. Seneca the Younger

Timendi causa est nescire "Ignorance in the cause of fear." Seneca the Younger

Aliena nobis, nostra plus aliis placent. "Other peopleís things are more pleasing to us, and ours to other people." Syrus

Malus consilium quod mutari non potest "It is a bad plan that cannot be changed." Syrus

Amantium irae amoris integratioíst "The quarrels of lovers are the renewal of love" Terence

Dictum sapienti sat est "A word to the wise is enough" Terence

Fortes fortuna adiuvat "Fortune assists the brave." Terence

Homo sum Humani nihil a me alienum puto I am a man. I think noting human is alien to me. Terence

Tacent, satis laudant Their silence is enough praise Terence

Certum est quia impossibile It is certain because it is impossible Tertulliam

Non omnes qui habent citharam sunt citharoedi "Not all who own a lyre are lyre-players" Varro

Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum "If you want peace, prepare for war." Vegetius

Arma virumque cano "I sing of arms and a man" Virgil. This is the first line of the Aeneid

E pluribus unim "One out of many" Virgil, quoted on American money.

Latet angius in herba "A snake lies hidden in the grass" Virgil, Eclogues III.94

Omni vincit amor, et nos cedamus amori "Love conquors all, and let us yield to it" Virgil, Eclogues, X.69



Back in the old days, before Vatican II, circa 1964, learning Latin was much easier for Catholic kids because they used it constantly. Even Protestant children could relate to certain prayers.


In nomine patris, et filio, et spiritu sancti. Amen.

In the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lordís Prayer

PATER noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie, et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.


Pater noster Our father

qui es in caelis Who art in heaven

sanctificetur nomen tuum. Hallowed be thy name

Adveniat regnum tuum Thy kindom come

Fiat voluntas tua Thy will be done

In caelo et in terra On earth as it is in heaven

Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie Give us this day our daily bread

et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut And forgive us our debts just as

et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostric We forgive our debtors.

Et ne nos inducas in tentationem And lead us not into tempation

sed libera nos a malo But deliver us from evil.

Amen Affirmed


Pater (father) noster (our), qui (who) es (is) in (in) caelis (heaven)

sanctificetur (is being sanctified) nomen (name) tuum (your)

Adveniat (is coming) regnum (kingdom) tuum (your)

Fiat (is becoming or happening) volutas (wish) tua (your)

In (in) caelo (heaven) et (and) in (on) terra (earth)

Panem (bread) nostrum (our) quotidianum (daily) da (give) nobis (our) hodie (today)

et (and) dimitte (forgive) nobis (out) debita (debts or fault) nostra (our) sicut (just as)

et (both) nos (we) dimittimus (forgive) debitonibus (debtors) nostris (our)

Et (and) ne (do not) nos (us) inducas (lead) in (into) tentationem (temptation)

sed (but) libera (free or preserve) nos (us) a (from) malo (evil).

Amen (affirmed).

Hail Mary

AVE Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Ave Maria, gratia plena Hail Mary, full of grace

Dominus tecum The Lord is with you

Benedicta tu in mulieribus Blessed art thou among women

et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iusus And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei Holy Mary, mother of God

ora pro nobis peccatoribus Pray for us sinners

nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Now and at the hour of our death.

Amen. Affirmed.

Ave (hail) Maria (Mary), gratia (pleasing or grace) plena (full of)

Dominus (God) tecum (te, you) (cum, with)

Benedicta (blessed are) tu (you) in (among) mulieribus (women)

et (and) benedictus (blessed is) fructus (fruit) ventris (womb) tui (your), Iusus (Jesus)

Sancta (Holy) Maria (Mary), Mater (Mother) Dei (of God)

Ora (pray) pro (for) nobis (us) peccatonibus (sinners)

nunc (now), et (and) in (at) hora (hour) mortis (death) nostrae (of our)

Amen (affirmed).





Aulus Gellius. Aulus Gellius was a second century A.D. Roman attorney who lived in Athens, which is in the Attic region of Greece, for at least a year. During the winter, he wrote a book known as Noctus Atticae (Attic Nights). His stated purpose was to preserve stories that he had heard that might be entertaining to his children. His subjects include the history of Roma, folk tales, discussions of codes, regulations, and the use of words, grammar and spelling, philosophy, antiquities, jokes and even the recounting of discussions about breastfeeding with young mothers. He wrote twenty volumes. Nineteen and a fraction of another survived, which is nothing short of miraculous. They are virtually indispensible for their pithy style and for the wealth of detail about Roman life, customs and mores. Aulus Gellius preserved some of Aesopís fables, and even recounts, as historical fact, a slightly different version of Androcles and the Lion.


Julius Caesar. His real name was Caius or Gaius Iulius Caesar. Born in about 100 B.C., he was elected Pontifex Maximus at the age of sixteen. When his father died that year, he dumped the girl to whom he was engaged and married the one he loved. However, he quickly fell afoul of Sulla and had to flee for his life, while suffering from the tertian ague, a serious syndrome of fevers, vomiting and other nasty symptoms. He managed, through his friendsí intercession, to survive the proscription in Rome. He became a soldier, and worked his way into extraordinary power. He managed to continue the reforms of his kinsman Marius with the army, which served to unite the men into a force that was not as much loyal to Rome as they were to him. He became governor of Gaul and fought for nine years to keep it Roman, and wrote a wildly popular book called Bella Gallica (the Gallic Wars), modestly outlining his adventures. He fought a Civil War with Pompeii, whom he had once been allied with, even giving Pompeii his daughter Julia in marriage. When Julia died, all bets were off and they went to war. Caesar won. He ten wrote a wildly popular book entitled, Bellum Civile (the Civil Wars). The people loved him. He was fair, charming, diplomatic. The love of the people moved him into the position of Dictator for Life, which was egregious to the members of the senate. A cadre of them conspired against him and killed him under a statue of Pompeii on March 14, 44 B.C.. Very quickly, however, they found that the people didnít want a return to a republic. They wanted an emperor. The conspirators fled, all of them meeting somewhat tragic or grim deaths within a fairly short period of time.

Cicero. Marcus Tullius Cicero. Born 106 B.C at Arpinium, came from a newly rich merchant class. He was what was called a "novus homo" "a new man", because it was the first time that men of the merchant class were allowed political power. He became a statesman, but was an ineffectual one, although he is best known for his speeches, many of which were preserved along with about eight hundred of his letters.. They combine skillful rhetoric with sharp wit and a lot of humor. He was tenacious in his beliefs, unswerving in his character, difficult to get along with. He opposed Marc Anthony and his cronies, but opposed with equal vigor any effort to sway Rome from itís traditional course as a republic. Caesar desired his renewed friendship but was unable to affect it. After Ceasar was dead, Cicero, who had been supportive of Ceasar Augustusís claim to the throne, made the mistake of calling him a stupid boy, or words to that effect, and Augustus allowed Marc Anthony to proscribe Cicero. He was captured waiting for a boat to affect his escape from Italy, and killed.



HORACE. Quintus Horatius Flaccus was born at Venusia in southern Italy, in 65 B.C., the son of a freedman, probably who worked as an auctioneer. Horaceís father saw to it, apparently at great expense and inconvenience, that Horace was educated like a gentleman, and eventually sent him to the great school in Athens. While he was a student there, Ceasar was killed and there was subsequent war between two the two factions that wished to control Rome, Brutus and Cassius on the one side and Octavian (later Caesar Augustus) and Marc Anthony. Horace enlisted in Brutusís army, attained some rank, but ran from a routed battle of Phillippi, never to return to military life. He went back home but was unable to find any of his relatives due to the ravages of the civil war. Miserable, he went to Rome, where apparently Ciceroís son assisted him in some manner to obtain employment at the treasury. He began to write poetry, which came to the attention of Maecaneas, a man who, though he did not come from a noble lineage, had found a place in the affections of Ceasar Augustus. Virgil introduced Horace to Maecaneas who, after a delay of almost a year, welcomed him into his circle of friends, and provided him a livelihood, including a beautiful farm, for the remainder of his life. Maecaneas died in eight B.C., and Horace, unwilling and unable to sustain the loss of his friend, died within a few weeks. His best remembered line is "carpe diem". He wrote a great many poems and letters, as well as a treatise on the art of poetry.

VIRGIL. Publius Vergilius Maro. Virgil was born in Mantua in northern Italy in 70 B.C., and was educated at Cremona, Milan and in Naples before going to Rome to study rhetoric and philosophy. He began to write poetry that was well accepted. When Ceasar Augustus and Marc Anthony won at Phillippi, they gave their veterans farms. Unfortunately for Virgil, his land in northern Italy was confisgated. Horrified, his friends quickly introduced him to Caesar Augustus, who quickly befriended him and reimbursed the value of his property. Virgil became part of the circle of Maecanas, and began writing poems that extolled the virtues of the state, which he now believed would be only way to lasting peace. He lived at Rome and in Naples, for the most part, for the remainder of his life, and wrote a number of important books of poetry, the best known of which is the Aeneid, begun in 30 B.C. This is the story of how the Trojan hero Aeneius founded a community in Italy after the Trojan War. It quickly became practically the Holy Book of Rome, describing its founding and how it is that it is fated that Rome should reign supreme in the world. It is one of the few pieces that managed to remain popular throughout the Middle Ages and indeed, even to today. Virgil went to Greecein 19 B.C. and became ill there. He set out for home but when he arrived at Brindisi, he was too ill to go on. He ordered the Aeneid, which he did not consider to be finished, be burned upon his death. But Augustus was informed of Virgilís wishes, forbade it and it was published soon after.




An Overview


Rome is the major city of Italy and was the center of the Roman Empire for centuries and then the capital of the Western Roman Empire, the eastern being at Constantinope. It lies on the Tiber River, seventeen miles east of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was founded in 753 B.C., by brothers Romulus and Remus, who, although not literally suckled by wolf, managed to found the city before Romulus killed Remus and took the power for himself. Rome remained the most powerful city in the world until 476, a reign of almost a thousand years.

The old city of Rome was built on seven hills. They are:

1. Aventine

2. Caelian

3. Capitaline

4. Esquililne

5. Palatine

6. Quirinal

7. Viminal

The Capitaline hill (notice the word Ďcapitalí imbedded in it) was the center of the Roman city and the streets radiated off of it.



From 753 until 509, Rome was a monarchy. Toward the end of this period, the kingís power was held somewhat in check by a group of advisors called a Senate and a group of citizens called the "Comitia Curiata." However, the people of Rome grew tired of what they perceived to be the excesses of kingship and did away with the monarchy.


In 509, Rome became a republic. Two consuls were elected each year to hold joint power. They had imperium (absolute power) but each could veto the acts of the other. The advisory bodies were now the Senate, consisting of three hundred members for life, and the Comitia Centuriata, a hundred patricians. The plebians, those who were denied the right to hold office or marry patricians, founded their own body, the Concilium Plebis. Their acts were called Plebisita (note the English word plebicite, which refers to Ö), and were not officially recognized until 287 B.C., when plebians at last won full equality. Once the Plebians had become equal, the society evolved into two general groups, the patricians, the nobilies and the equites (so named because they could afford to keep a horse), successful businessmen.


This system persisted, not without some trouble, especially from Sulla in the 70s B.C., until 27 B.C. The death of Caesar and the peopleís adoration of him, had made it clear that they were ready for a move away from Republican government. Caesarís nephew, Octavian, was, at length, named emperor and given the name Caesar Augustus. The Senate still had a great deal of power, but it was more and more evident that the emperor was the emperor. From 27 B.C until A.D. 180, there was relative peace, known as the Pax Romana (Peace of Rome). It seems an easy fact to assimilate, but imagine, if you will, America or Britain at peace for two hundred years. Unfortunately for Rome, that two hundred years was followed by a hundred years of almost unbroken warfare. During this period of time, the army more or less ran the empire, putting emperors on the throne and taking them off at will. In 67 years, there were twenty nine emperors and only four managed to die natural deaths.

When Diocletian became the emperor in 293, he recognized that the empire had become unwieldly to manage from one central location. The infrastructure of Rome (the physical city) was decaying and he himself was from one of the Asian provinces and not particularly attached to the city. He therefore broke the empire into four divisions or prefectures, and divided it into two parts, the Eastern and Western. He himself moved to Nicomedia in Asia Minor, and appointed Maximillian, a soldier to set up a capital at Milan.

When Constantine came to the imperial throne in 306, he endeavored to reunite the two portions. He succeeded in this in 324, and, in 330, moved the capital to Byzantium in Asia minor, which he renamed Constantinople. Naturally, everyone who was anyone moved from the city of Rome to Constantinople, and it became the capital of western civilization. The greatest libraries and collections of artsworks were moved from Rome to the new capital. When Constantine died in 337, the western part of the Roman empire began to waver. The powerful people and the money were gone. The Romans hired mercenaries, Germans especially, to fill their army, and some of them ended up on the imperial throne. The Romans, for their part, didnít seem to care much. Many wanted to move into the country and be done with the city completely. Reforms didnít do much good.

In 410 the Goths raided the city and sacked it. The Huns tried, but the Romans, aided by the Visigoths, fought them back. In 455, Vandals (note the name) sacked Rome for two weeks. In 476, Odoacer, a German, managed to unseat the young emperor Romulus Augustulus, who, almost too coincidentally, bore the name of the founder of Rome and its first ruler. Despite the fact that it seems that Rome fell apart, its influence, not only their influence, but their presence, was so great in what became France, England, Spain and elsewhere, that it is impossible to say that the Roman Empire fell. It merely metamorphosed into something else.

Constantinople remained strong, and maintained the writings and papers of all the great Romans. By the mid 1400s, however, they knew their days were numbered and as many people as could left Constantinople, bringing with them the contents of the great libraries and works of art. Their return to Italy, especially to Rome and Florence, brought on the Renaissance. There was, then not a loss of anything, but merely a transfer. It was in Rome, then in Constantinope, then back in Italy again.



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