The  Mediterranean  Sea

-  a brief history  Page 7  -

The Romans

Tradition has it that Rome was founded in 753 BC by Romulus and Remus, two foundlings who had been reared by a she-wolf. The Italic peninsular at the time, was populated in the north by the wild Celtic tribes and in the middle by the Etruscans, a people with a fairly well-developed culture. Another tale would have it founded by Enea, the son of godess Venus, having fled from Troy in flames and after a brief love affair with a local queen in Carthage. 

The inhabitants of Rome were a very determined lot, very much tied to their land and city, which they wanted strong and powerful. They weren’t so much for art or culture, as were the Athenians but one thing was important for them: The Law. Slowly and tenaciously, the Romans extended their authority from city to city along the Italian peninsular, forming a strong federation, with an ever powerful army to keep law and order.

The Romans had a very different approach to sport from the Greeks: rather than personally competing in races and launching the javelin, they preferred to leave sport to the slaves, to fight one another as gladiators and against savage beasts in arenas such as the Coliseum.

By this time, the Greeks had lost control of their colonies in southern Italy to the Phoenicians, who had gained control of most of the Mediterranean. But now Rome was growing to be a force to be contended with and soon a great rivalry developed between Rome and Carthage. The Romans, not at all a maritime nation, copied the Phoenician ships and built many to contrast the enemy's navy. This they soon did and first conquered Sicily in 241 BC and then Carthage itself in 146 BC, becoming the new dominators of the Mediterranean Sea, the "Mare Nostrum", which became "our sea" from then on.

         The Roman Empire at its maximum expansion The Roman Empire at its height under Trajan in 116 AD

The Roman Empire controlled all the shores of the Mediterranean, stretched north to England and up to the Rhine river in Germany and east to Hungary, including Rumania, Turkey and all the Near East.

The present Turkish Aegean coast was an important Roman province where you can encounter well-preserved Roman ruins constructed over those of the dominated Greek settlements: Pergamon, Efesus, Miletus, Priene, Iassus, Didyma, Teos etc.

The splendour of the Roman Empire lasted several centuries, until around 400 AD, when hoards of invaders descended from the north, the Goths and the Vandals and the Huns from Asia, lead by Attic, wreaking terror and devastation. The Empire was finished, with the destitution of the last emperor in 476 AD, when a new Age commenced: the Middle Ages.

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   The Mediterranean Sea
   Copyright L. Camillo 2011