Quora Question: What Year Was the Rise of Rome?

Rome didn’t rise in a day, nor in a year. The rise of Rome was a very long process.

The Greek historian Polybius explored the rise of Rome in his Histories. In the preface he wrote:

“For who is so indolent and so worthless as to not wish to know by what means and under what system of polity the Romans, in less than fifty-three years, have succeeded in subjecting nearly the whole inhabited world to their sole government, a thing unique in history? Or who again is there so passionately devoted to other spectacles or studies as to regard anything as of greater moment than the acquisition of this knowledge?”

The Romans had spread their rule over much of Italy before the Second Punic War (the Hannibalic war), 218–202 B.C. They had already conquered Etruria and were colonizing cis-alpine Gaul. They maintained a loose federation over most of the peoples of Italy by means of alliances and puppet states.

After the First Punic War, 264–241 B.C. the Romans took Corsica and Sardinia from the Carthaginians while the latter were engaged in putting down a mercenary rebellion. (This is mentioned by Polybius as one of the causes of the Second Punic War.) But the Romans only really got into expanding their borders beyond Italy as a result of the Second Punic War. They took over Spain from the Carthaginians established two provinces there, and came into conflict with Philip V of Macedonia who ruled most of Greece. Three wars with Macedonia and one war with Antiochus of the Seleucid Empire ultimately resulted in Rome imposing its hegemony on Greece and the Near East. The Third Punic War led to establishing a province in Africa, and there were Roman client states in Numidia and Mauritania. Conflict with King Mithradates of Pontus resulted in direct Roman rule of Judea and Syria early in the first century B.C.

Egypt came under direct Roman rule after Augustus defeated Marc Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.

As Governor of Trans Alpine Gaul in the mid first century B.C., Julius Caesar completed the conquest of Gaul-what is now France.

Under the Emperors Rome continued to expand its territory. The Emperor Claudius invaded and conquered Britain. Emperor Trajan expanded Roman rule into Eastern Europe (Dacia).

Rome’s attempts to conquer Germany were thwarted by Arminius who wiped out three Roman legions at the battle of Teutoburg Forest. The aged Emperor Augustus and his successor Tiberius decided that Germany wasn’t worth it.

So there is no particular year that was the rise of Rome. I tend to think that the pivotal event was the Battle of Zama in 202 B.C. in which Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus defeated Hannibal and imposed a treaty on Roman terms on Rome’s chief rival, Carthage.

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