2. Beginnings of Rome
3. Institutions of Early Rome
4. Etruscan Kings of Rome
5. Reorganization of Kingdom

6. Struggle against Kingship
7. Struggle for Economic Rights
8. Struggle for Equal Laws
9. Struggle for Political Equality
10. Conquest of Latium
11. Conquest of Central Italy
12. Conquest of Southern Italy
13. Supremacy of Rome in Italy
14. First Punic War
15. Second Punic War
16. Conquests in East
17. Reduction of Roman Conquests
18. Rome as a World Power
19. Times of Gracchi
20. Times of Marius and Sulla
21. Times of Pompey and Caesar
22. Times of Antony and Octavius

23. Reign of Augustus
24. Julian Emperors
25. Flavian Emperors
26. Five Good Emperors
27. Decline of Empire
28. Reorganization of Empire
29. Extinction of Western Empire
Outlines of Roman History
by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L.
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: American Book Company (1901).



Table of contents




Traditions of the Early Kings, I.The Situation of Rome, II.The Origin of the City, III.


   The Early Legendary History.—In its beginnings, the history of Rome, like that of all other ancient peoples, is made up largely of traditions. But we must not suppose on this account that the early history of Rome is a mere blank. Like all other traditions, these stories have in them some elements of truth. They show to us the ideas and the spirit of the Roman people; and they show how the Romans used to explain the origin of their own customs and institutions. Aeneas (Coin)While we may not believe all these stories, we cannot ignore them entirely; because they have a certain kind of historical value, and have become a part of the world’s literature.

   Foundation of the City.—According to the Roman legends, the origin of the city was connected with Alba Longa, the chief city of Latium; and the origin of Alba Longa was traced to the city of Troy in Asia Minor. After the fall of that famous city, it is said that the Trojan hero, Aeneas, fled from the ruins, bearing upon his shoulder his aged father, Anchises, and leading by the hand his son, Ascanius. Guided by the star of his mother, Venus, he landed on the shores of Italy with a band of Trojans, and was assured by omens that Latium was to be the seat of a great empire. He founded the city of Lavinium, and after his death his son Ascanius transferred the seat of the kingdom to Alba Longa. Here his descendants ruled for three hundred years, when the throne was usurped by a prince called Amulius.
ROMULUS AND REMUS AND THE WOLFTo secure himself against any possible rivals, this usurper caused his brother’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, to take the vows of a vestal virgin. But she became the mother of twin children, Romulus and Remus; their father was Mars, the god of war. The wicked Amulius caused the children to be thrown into the Tiber; but they remained under the guardianship of the gods. Drifting ashore at the foot of the Palatine hill, they were nursed by a she-wolf, and were brought up at the home of a neighboring shepherd. And when they had grown to manhood, they founded (B.C. 753?) the city of Rome on the Palatine, where they had been providentially rescued. In a quarrel between the two brothers, Remus was killed, and Romulus became the king of the new city.

   The Reign of Romulus.—Romulus was looked upon by the Romans not only as the founder of their city, but as the creator of their social and political institutions. He is said to have peopled his new town by opening an asylum for refugees; and when he wanted wives for his people he captured them from the Sabines. After a war with the Sabines peace was made; and the two peoples became bound together into one city under the two kings, Romulus and Titus Tatius. After the death of Titus, Romulus reigned alone and gave laws to the whole people. He made many wars upon the neighboring towns, and after a reign of thirty-seven years he was translated to heaven and worshiped under the name of Quirinus.

   Numa Pompilius.—After a year’s interregnum a Sabine named Numa Pompilius was elected as the second king of Rome.
TERMINUSHe is said to have been a very wise and pious man, and to have taught the Romans the arts of peace and the worship of the gods. Numa is represented in the legends as the founder of the Roman religion. He appointed priests and other ministers of religion. He divided the lands among the people, placing boundaries under the charge of the god Terminus. He is also said to have divided the year into twelve months, and thus to have founded the Roman calendar. After a peaceful reign of forty-two years, he was buried under the hill Janiculum, across the Tiber.

   Tullus Hostilius.—The third king, Tullus Hostilius, was chosen from the Romans. His reign was noted for the conquest of Alba Longa. In accounts of this war with Alba Longa, the famous story is told of the Horatii and the Curiatii, three brothers in each army, who were selected to decide the contest by a combat, which resulted in favor of the Horatii, the Roman champions. Alba Longa thus became subject to Rome. Afterward, Alba Longa was razed to the ground, and all its people were transferred to Rome. Tullus, it is said, neglected the worship of the gods, and was at last, with his whole house, destroyed by the lightnings of Jove.

   Ancus Marcius.—After the reign of Tullus the people elected Ancus Marcius, a Sabine and a grandson of Numa Pompilius. He is said to have published the sacred laws of his grandfather, and to have tried to restore the arts of peace. But, threatened by the Latins, he conquered many of their cities, brought their inhabitants to Rome, and settled them upon the Aventine hill. He fortified the hill Janiculum, on the other side of the Tiber, to protect Rome from the Etruscans, and built across the river a wooden bridge (the Pons Sublicius). He also conquered the lands between Rome and the sea and built the port of Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber.

   Credibility of the Legends.—These are in substance the stories which, decorated by many fanciful and miraculous incidents, the Romans were proud to relate as explaining the beginnings of their city and the work of their early kings. These traditions have been shown to be unworthy of belief in many particulars. It is of course impossible, in a small book like this, even to suggest the many and various opinions which have been expressed regarding the credibility of early Roman history. It is enough to say that, while we need not believe all the incidents and details contained in these stories, we may find in them references to facts and institutions which really existed; and with the aid of other means, we may put these facts together so as to explain in a rational way the origin and growth of the famous city on the Tiber.


   The Hills of Rome.—To obtain a more definite knowledge of the birth of Rome than we can get from the traditional stories, we must study that famous group of hills which may be called the “cradle of the Roman people.” By looking at these hills, we can see quite clearly how Rome must have come into being, and how it became a powerful city. The location of these hills was favorable for defense, and for the beginning of a strong settlement. Situated about eighteen miles from the mouth of the Tiber, they were far enough removed from the sea to be secure from the attacks of the pirates that infested these waters; while the river afforded an easy highway for commerce.

   Their Relation to One Another.—To understand the relation of these hills to one another, we may consider them as forming two groups, the northern and the southern.
THE HILLS OF ROMEThe southern group comprised three hills—the Palatine, the Caelian, and the Aventine—arranged in the form of a triangle, with the Palatine projecting to the north. The northern group comprised four hills, arranged in the form of a crescent or semicircle, in the following order, beginning from the east: the Esquiline, the Viminal, the Quirinal, and the Capitoline—the last being a sort of spur of the Quirinal. These two groups of hills became, as we shall see, the seats of two different settlements. Of all the hills on the Tiber, the Palatine occupied the most central and commanding position. It was, therefore, the people of the Palatine settlement who would naturally become the controlling people of the seven-hilled city.
   Their Relation to Neighboring Lands.—By looking at the neighboring lands about the Tiber we see that Rome was located at the point of contact between three important countries. On the south and east was Latium, the country of the Latins, already dotted with a number of cities, the most important of which was Alba Longa. On the north was the country of the Sabines, a branch of the Sabellian stock. On the northwest was Etruria, with a large number of cities organized in confederacies and inhabited by the most civilized and enterprising people of central Italy. The peoples of these three different countries were pushing their outposts in the direction of the seven hills. It is not difficult for us to see that the time must come when there would be a struggle for the possession of this important locality.


   The Latin Settlement on the Palatine.—So far as we know, the first people to get a foothold upon the site of Rome were the Latins, who formed a settlement about the Palatine hill. HUT-SHAPED URNThis Latin settlement was at first a small village. It consisted of a few farmers and shepherds who were sent out from Latium (perhaps from Alba Longa) as a sort of outpost, both to protect the Latin frontier and to trade with the neighboring tribes. The people who formed this settlement were called Ramnes. They dwelt in their rude straw huts on the slopes of the Palatine, and on the lower lands in the direction of the Aventine and the Caelian. The outlying lands furnished the fields which they tilled and used for pasturage. In order to protect them from attacks, the sides of the Palatine hill were strengthened by a wall built of rude but solid masonry. This fortified place was called Roma Quadrata,1 or “Square Rome.” It formed the citadel of the colony, into which the settlers could drive their cattle and conduct their families when attacked by hostile neighbors. What some persons suppose to be the primitive wall of the Palatine city, known as the Wall of Romulus, has in recent years been uncovered, showing the general character of this first fortification of Rome.


   The Sabine Settlement on the Quirinal.—Opposite the Palatine settlement there grew up a settlement on the Quirinal hill. This Quirinal settlement seems to have been an outpost or colony of the Sabine people, just as the Palatine settlement was a Latin colony. The Sabines were pushing southward from beyond the Anio. The settlers on the Quirinal were called Tities; their colony formed a second hill-town, similar in character and nearly equal in extent to the Palatine town.

   Union of the Romans and the Sabines.—The two hill-towns which thus faced each other naturally became rivals for the possession of the lands near the Tiber; but being so nearly of equal strength, neither could conquer the other.
THE EARLY SETTLEMENTS ON THE TIBERIf these settlements had not been so close together, they might have indulged in occasional strife and still remained separate; but being near to each other, they were obliged to be constantly at war, or else to come to some friendly understanding. They chose the latter course, and after forming an alliance, were united by a permanent league, and really became a single city. To celebrate this union, the intervening space was dedicated to the two-faced god, Janus, who watched the approaches of both towns, and whose temple was said to have been built by Numa. The Capitoline hill was chosen as the common citadel. The space between the two towns was used as a common market place (forum), and also as a place for the common meeting of the people (comitium). This union of the Palatine and Quirinal towns into one community, with a common religion and government, was an event of great importance. It was, in fact, the first step in the process of “incorporation” which afterward made Rome the most powerful city of Latium, of Italy, and finally of the world.

   The Third Settlement, on the Caelian.—The union of the Romans (Ramnes) and the Sabines (Tities) was followed by the introduction of a third people, called the Luceres. This people was probably a body of Latins who had been conquered and settled upon the Caelian hill—although they are sometimes regarded as having been Etruscans. Whatever may have been their origin, it is quite certain that they soon came to be incorporated as a part of the whole city community. The city of the early Roman kings thus came to be made up of three divisions, or “tribes” (tribus, a third part, from tres, three). The evidence of this threefold origin was preserved in many institutions of later times. The three settlements were gradually united into a single city-state with common social, political, and religious institutions. By this union the new city became strong and able to compete successfully with its neighbors.

A, Roma Quadrata. B, Arx, or Citadel
Temples, Altars, etc.: 1, Jupiter Capitolinus; 2, Janus; 3, Quirinus; 4, Vesta; 5, Tarpeian Rock.


Merivale, Gen. Hist., Ch. 3, “The Earliest Legends” (
How and Leigh, Ch. 3, “Legends of the Kings” (1).
Pelham, Bk. I., Ch. 1, “The Traditions” (1).
Parker, Arch. Hist., Ch. 2, “Roma Quadrata” (9).
Shuckburgh, Ch. 4, “Origin of Rome” (1).
Mommsen, Vol. I., Bk. I., Ch. 4, “Beginnings of Rome” (2).
Plutarch, “Romulus,” “Numa” (11).
Livy, Bk. 1., Chs. 24-26, The Horatii and Curiatii (4).


   CREDIBILITY OF EARLY ROMAN HISTORY.—Liddell, Ch. 5 (1); Ihne, Early Rome, Ch. 4 (5); How and Leigh, pp. 34-37 (1); Leighton, Ch. 3 (1); Michelet, pp. 403-424 (6); Lewis, Credibility, en passant (5).

1 This has been the generally accepted view; but some authorities say that the name was applied only to a square altar in the center of the city.

2 The figure in parenthesis refers to the number of the topic in the
Appendix, where a fuller title of the book will be found.


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