When we think about Ancient Rome, images of luxury, excess, and war come to mind. With estimates of at least 500,000 – 3.5 million people living in the megalopolis called Rome, carving one’s name into history was no simple task. Names like Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Augustus, Nero, and Constantine the Great have become immortalized in human history.
Julius Caesar was a general in ancient Rome. Most notable are his victories during the Gallic wars. He is considered to be one of the greatest military leaders in history. His military tactics are still used to teach the art of war today. He was heavily involved in politics and succeeded in starting a civil war in Rome. Afterward, Caesar was became Rome’s dictator. Caesar infamously fell in love with Cleopatra and had a relationship with her during his marriages. Caesar passed a reform which switched the Roman calendar with the Egyptian calendar. This is the calendar that we still use today. Julius Caesar was assassinated because of his political beliefs.
Marcus Aurelius was the last of a line of emperors that are referred to as the Five Good Emperors. He was a believer in Stoicism, a type of philosophy, and a writer. His writings are known commonly as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. He protested being made emperor, but did accept the position, as he thought it was his duty in life. He ruled over Rome during the Parthenian Wars and many other battles. He was deified upon his death and was succeeded by his son.
Augustus was the very first emperor of Rome. He is remembered for building roads, aqueducts, and buildings in Rome. Augustus and Marc Antony famously sought vengeance together for the assassination of Julius Caesar. After he and Marc Antony no longer were friendly, Augustus and Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, defeated Marc Antony together.
Nero is a name everyone has heard. It is thought that Nero may have been insane. He is sometimes called the madman of Rome. He was responsible for many executions during his rule. Nero was commonly thought of as corrupt by the Roman people. He attempted to enhance Rome’s culture during his rule and also focused on trade and diplomacy. Many Romans thought Nero started the Great Fire of Rome himself to clear land for his palace. After being accused of being a public enemy, Nero took his own life.
Constantine the Great was the first Christian emperor to rule over the Roman Empire. He defeated other prospective emperors so that he could rule. He also re-united the Roman Empire, which had been divided. Constantine moved the capital of Rome to Byzantium and then re-named it Constantinopolis in his own honor. He was responsible for gathering the bishops for the Council of Nicaea to write the Nicene Creed. He is known as Saint Constantine to many Christians.
Each of these men hold a place in history because of their actions, though some not all good.