As part of the Visual Timeline series
753BC: According to legend, Rome (small city state) founded by twin brothers Romulus and Remus. Romulus later kills Remus
509BC: Roman Republic founded (still small city state); after centuries as small-city state kingdom, to prevent monarchic power concentration
480BC: Greek city states dominate Mediterranean, and repel Persian invasion. Greeks also repel Carthaginian invasion of Sicily.
404BC: Sparta defeats Athens in Peloponnesian War (431BC-404BC); all Greek cities fall into decline
390BC: Gauls sack Rome
340BC: Rome starts conquest of Italy (340BC-282BC), beginning with conquering its former neighbour and ally, the Latins (340BC-338BC).
338BC: Macedonia subdues Greek city states; Alexander the Great conquers Archaemenid Persia in 331BC, then dies in 323BC.
326BC: Rome enters into series of wars with Samnites to the East
321BC: Famous Roman road, Via Appia, begins construction
295BC: Rome defeats Samnites, Etruscans, Umbrians and Gauls at Battle of Sentinum
290BC: Rome dominates Italy after winning Samnite Wars (343-290BC)
275BC: Rome wins Pyrrhic Wars (280BC-275BC) against Greeks in south Italy. Although king Pyrrhus (relative of Alexander the Great) won two major battles in 280BC and 279BC, casualties were so heavy that they’d eventually lose the war (hence the term “Pyrrhic victory”).
241BC: Rome (led by general Scipio) defeats Carthage (led by general Hannibal) in First Punic War (264-241BC), conquering Sicily; 1.5m deaths over 23 years. Carthage goes into civil war
218BC: Second Punic War starts with Hannibal sacking Saguntum in Spain and crossing the alps
216BC: Hannibal defeats Romans at Battle of Cannae; worst defeat Roman army ever suffered to date
206BC: Han dynasty (206BC-220AD) est in China. Similar territory, population, and power as Roman empire.
202BC: Romans defeat Carthage at Battle of Zama
201BC: Rome (led by general Scipio) defeats Carthage (led by general Hannibal) in Second Punic War (218BC-201BC), and now dominates the Mediterranean
168BC: Rome defeats Macedon at Battle of Pydna
– Rome conquers Carthage after defeating them in Third Punic War (149BC-146BC)
– Rome defeats Achaen League (Greek city states) at Battle of Corinth, marking Roman dominance over Greece
130BC: Gracchus assassinated after proposing land redistribution; tribunes of the people led by Gracchi brothers vs Senate
107BC: Maurius military reforms: landless peasants recriuited into army with extended service; and move away from staggered maniples (‘phalanx with joints’) of 120 men in favor of larger cohorts of about 500 men. Requires more skill.
105BC: Gauls defeat Romans at Battle of Arausio
73BC: Slave rebellion led by Spartacus in southern Italy defeat Roman legions at Battles of Mount Vesuvius, but is eventually being suppressed
63BC: Rome conquers Judea (modern Israel); general Pompey, Siege of Jerusalem
– First Triumverate formed: general Pompey, consul Caesar, and censor Crassus form alliance
– English queen Boudicca leads revolt against Romans, but is defeated
55BC: First Roman invasion of Britain (led by Caesar), and second in 54BC, both fail
– Rome led by general Gaius Julius Caesar conquers Gauls; “I came I saw I conquered”
– Parthian Persians decisively defeat numerically superior Romans at Battle of Carrhae; general Crassus killed.
51BC: Caesar annexes more territory in north Africa. Cleopatra VIII, supported by Caesar, ascends Ptolemaic Egypt throne; gives birth to Caesar son
49BC: Caesar crosses illegally crosses river Rubicon “The die is cast”, marches to Rome, and defeats Senate in Civil War
48BC: Caesar pursues Pompey in modern Albania
47BC: Caesar defeats Pontus kingdom at Battle of Zela, completing pacification of Asia Minor
44BC: Caesar assassinated by conspiring senators
43BC: Second Triumverate between Octavian (Augutus), Mark Antony, and Lepidus; expires in 33BC.
42BC: Augustus and Mark Antony leads 30 legions into Greece to pursue Caesar’s assassins (Brutus and Longinus) (Liberator’s Civil War)
40BC: Second Triumverate divides Roman empire into 3; Octavian takes West, Mark Antony takes East
33BC: Antony’s campaign into Parthian Persia fails
31BC: Octavius defeats Antony and Cleopatria at Battle of Actium, ending Roman Civil War
– Pax Romana (27BC-180AD)
– Rome becomes empire; first emperor Julius Caesar Octavian (aka Augustus Caesar) (r.27BC-14AD)
23BC: Augustus reforms coinage, centralizing minting, and composition of currency.
12BC: Rome expands into Germania
9AD: Roman invasion of Germanic tribes fails; 20k Roman troops die; Tiberius becomes Roman emperor
By turn of millennium, Egypt provides 2/3 of the empire’s tax revenue, thanks to the high agricultural output of the Nile, low military maintenance cost, and its access to trade with India.
14: Tiberius unleashes terror on Rome (r.14-37)
30-33: Jesus Christ crucified by Romans
37: Tiberius, killed by his guards, dies as a hated emperor
40: St Paul brings Christianity to Rome (40-70AD)
43: Romans invade Britain with 40k troops, gradual territorial gains over 40 years (emperor Claudius needed triumph). Rome holds onto Britannia until 410AD
60: Nero becomes Roman emperor; debaucherous lifestyle and rumoured to have started the Great Fire of Rome
73: Jewish revolt (66-73) suppressesd by Trajan Rome; final destruction of the Temple and kills 1m Jews
83: Roman victory at Battle of Mon Graupius, conquering Britain
86: Dacians (modern Romania) repel Roman invasion
98: Rome at greatest extent under Trajan (r.98-117); regarded as best emperor; builds many roads; builds Segovia aqueduct in Spain during reign (still in use).
115: Rome conquers Parthia (modern day Turkey, and Middle East)
117: Rome under Hadrian (r.117-138); builds Pantheon (first temple to be topped with dome)
133:Hadrian’s wall in Britain completed
161: Rome under Marcus Aurelius (r.161-180); writes stoic philosophy Meditations
165-180: Antonine Plague kills 10% of Roman population
167: Lombards invade Rome across frozen River Danube
180: Pax Romana ends with Aurelius death
212: Rome under Caracalla, grants Roman citizenship to all subjects of empire
(193-284) Rome starts decline in 200s. Civil War (193-197). Rapid currency debasement 240-270.
Similar power declines and transisions elsewhere in 3rd century. In China: Yellow Turban Rebellion (184-205), Han dynasty (206BC-220AD) ends, starting Three Kingdoms period (220-265). Sassanid Empire gains control over Mesopotamia, overthrowing Parthians in 224.
285: Roman emperor Diocletian (r. 284-305) persecutes Christians
286: Roman Empire divided into east and west by Diocletian
307: Sassanid Persian empire at height under Shapur II (307-370)
311: Edict of Toleration (under emperor Galerius) ends Christian persecution in Rome
312: Emperor Constantine converts to Christianity; Battle of Milvian Bridge in Roman civil war ends with Constantine I as sole ruler
313: Constantine’s Edict of Milan preaches religious tolerance and makes Christianity legal
350: Xiongnu huns attack Rome (350-360)
378: Goths defeat Romans at Battle of Adrinople (modern day Edirne in Turkey)
390: Theodosius makes Christianity official religion of Roman Empire
395: Theodosius death (r.379-395) Roman Empire permanently divided between East and West
410: Visigoths sack Rome; under Alaric. Roman military leaves Britainnia
– Attila Huns vs Roman-Gothic alliance indecisive at Battle of Catalaunian Plains; ‘scourge of earth’
– Roman victory against Huns at Battle of Chalons (northern France)
476: Fall of Western Rome
– Emperor Romulus Augustulus deposed (similar to Constantine in 312AD)
“Fall of Roman Empire in 476” is misleading.
Roman Empire shifts East based at Constantinople