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Rome, Ital. Roma, city (1991 pop. 2,775,250), capital of Italy and see of the pope, whose residence, Vatican City, is a sovereign state within the city of Rome. Rome is also the capital of Latium, a region of central Italy, and of Rome prov. It lies on both banks of the Tiber and its affluent, the Aniene, in the Campagna di Roma, between the Apennine Mts. and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Called the Eternal City, it is one of the world's richest cities in history and art and one of its great cultural, religious, and intellectual centers.

The rise of Rome from an insignificant pastoral settlement to perhaps the world's most successful empire—supreme as a lawgiver and organizer, holding sway over virtually all the then-known world W of Persia, on which it left a permanent imprint of its material and cultural achievements—is one of the great epics of history. Whatever its fortunes throughout history, Rome has remained the symbol of European civilization. Because of the complexity of the subject matter, the following article is divided into several sections, and additional information will be found in the articles to which there are cross references. See also Roman art; Roman architecture; Latin literature; Roman religion.

The Modern City

In the past half century Rome has expanded well beyond the walls started in the 3d cent. by Emperor Aurelian, and it now extends north to the Aniene. Long sections of the ancient walls have been preserved, however, and archaeology remains an essential element of modern city-planning in Rome. Ancient marble columns and ruins rising beside modern apartments and offices, noisy boulevards, and luxurious villas and gardens characterize the modern city of Rome. As in ancient times, the larger section of Rome lies on the left bank of the Tiber, which intersects the city in three wide curves and is spanned by over 20 bridges.


As in ancient times Rome is a center of transportation. It is the focus of international traffic by road, rail, sea (at the port of Civitavecchia), and air (at Leonardo da Vinci international airport at Fiumicino) and is as well a cultural, religious, political, and commercial center of international importance. Public transportation in Rome is provided by an elaborate bus system. A subway, the Metropolitana, was opened in 1955. Rome's large number of automobiles has caused serious traffic congestion, and in the 1970s and 80s various attempts were made to deal with the problem, including the banning of traffic in certain parts of the city. The economy of Rome depends to a very large extent on the tourist trade. The city is also a center of banking, insurance, printing, publishing, and fashion. Italy's movie industry (founded in 1936) is located at nearby Cinecitta.

Landmarks and Institutions

Aside from modern residential quarters, the right-bank section of Rome contains Vatican City, including Saint Peter's Church, the Castel Sant' Angelo, and the ancient quarter of Trastevere. In describing the larger left-bank section one may use the Piazza Venezia, a central square, as a convenient point of departure. It lies at the foot of the old Capitol (see Capitoline Hill) and borders on the huge monument to King Victor Emmanuel II and on the Palazzo Venezia, a Renaissance palace from the balcony of which Mussolini used to address the crowds. A broad avenue, the Via dei Fori Imperiali, runs from the Piazza Venezia SE to the Colosseum, leaving the Emperors' Fora and at a distance the Church of St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) to the left, and the Capitol and the ancient Forum to the right. From the Colosseum the Via di San Gregorio continues south past the Arch of Constantine and the Baths of Caracalla to the Appian Way. There, as in other places on the outskirts of Rome, are large catacombs. From the Piazza Venezia another modern thoroughfare, the Via del Mare, leads southwestward to the Tiber and then east past the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls (San Paolo fuori le Mure) to Ostia, Rome's ancient port now blocked by silt, to the sea at Lido di Roma.

The narrow and busy Via del Corso leads N from the Piazza Venezia past the Piazza Colonna (now the heart of Rome) to the Piazza del Popolo at the gate of the old Flaminian Way. East of the Piazza del Popolo are the Pincian Hill, commanding one of the finest views of Rome, and the famous Borghese Villa. In the widest westward bend of the Tiber, W of the Via del Corso, is the Campo Marzio quarter (anciently, Campus Martius), where most of the medieval buildings are located; there also are the Pantheon (now a church) and the parliament buildings. To the east of the Via del Corso the fashionable Via Condotti leads to the Piazza di Spagna; a flight of 132 steps ascends from that square to the Church of the Santa Trinità dei Monti and the Villa Medici. The Quirinal palace is NE of the Piazza Venezia. In the southeastern section, near the gate of San Giovanni, are the Lateran buildings.

As an educational center Rome possesses—aside from the Univ. of Rome (founded 1303)—the colleges of the church, several academies of fine arts, and the Accademia di Santa Cecilia (founded 1584), the world's oldest academy of music. The opera house is one of Europe's grandest. The various institutes of the Univ. of Rome were formerly scattered throughout the city but were transferred in 1935 to the northeastern section.

Among the countless churches of Rome there are five patriarchal basilicas—St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore), St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, and St. Paul's Outside the Walls. With the exception of St. Mary Major, the basilicas and other ancient churches occupy the sites of martyrs' tombs. Characteristic of the old Roman churches are their fine mosaics (4th–12th cent.) and the use of colored marble for decoration, introduced in the 12th cent. by the workers in marble known as Cosmati. Rome's first mosque opened in 1995.

Among Rome's many palaces and villas the Farnese Palace (begun 1514) and the Farnesina (1508–11) are particularly famous; others, all dating from the 17th cent., are those of the great Roman families, the Colonna, Chigi, Torlonia, and Doria. Rome is celebrated for its beautiful Renaissance and baroque fountains, such as the ornate Fontana di Trevi (18th cent.). Its richest museums and libraries are in the Vatican. Others include the National (in the Villa Giulia) and Capitoline museums, notable for their antiquities; the Borghese, Corsini, Doria, and Colonna collections of paintings; and the Torlonia collection of ancient sculptures.

Rome before Augustus

Ancient Rome was built on the east, or left, bank of the Tiber on elevations (now much less prominent) emerging from the marshy lowlands of the Campagna. The seven hills of the ancient city are the Palatine, roughly in the center, with the Capitoline to the northwest and the Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Caelian, and Aventine in an outlying north-southwest curve. The Pincian, N of the Quirinal, is not included among the seven. In the westward bend of the Tiber, W of the Quirinal, lies the Martian Field (Campus Martius), facing the Vatican across the Tiber. On the side of the Tiber opposite the Palatine is the Janiculum, a ridge running north and south, which was fortified in early times.

Early in the first millennium B.C. the Tiber divided the Italic peoples from the Etruscans in the north and west (see Etruscan civilization). Not far to the north were the borders between the Sabines and the Latins; the Sabines were closely related to Roman life from the very beginning. The hills of Rome, free from the malaria that had been the bane of the low-lying plains of Latium, were a healthful and relatively safe place to live and a meeting ground for Latins, Sabines, and Etruscans. In the 8th cent. B.C., the fortified elevation of the Palatine was probably taken by Etruscans, who amalgamated the tiny hamlets about the Palatine into a city-state. Tradition tells of the founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 B.C. (hence the dating ab urbe condita, or AUC, i.e., from the founding of the city), and of the Tarquin family, the Etruscan royal house. It was probably Etruscan rule that civilized Rome and gave it the hegemony of Latium.

The Roman Republic

The Romans overthrew their foreign rulers c.500 B.C. and established the Roman republic, which lasted four centuries. The patrician class controlled the government, but the plebs (who comprised by far the major portion of the population) were allowed to elect the two patrician consuls, who held joint power. The vitality of the patricians was remarkable, and long after political power had been granted to the plebs, experienced patricians continued to govern Rome.

As the majority realized its power and the aristocracy continued its rule, the people demanded (and received) privilege after privilege; the greatest were the election of plebeian tribunes (see tribune) and the codification (c.450 B.C.) of the Twelve Tables. With the growth of the city, multiplication of consular duties called for new officials: quaestor, praetor, and censor. The three popular assemblies, or comitia, developed slowly, but they quietly abstracted legislative power from the patricians. The ancient senate, theoretically the supreme power of the state, became more and more powerful until in the 3d cent. B.C. it controlled the consuls completely.

Although the Roman republic was never a true democracy, historians have modified the traditional view that it was the tool of a powerful aristocracy and have acknowledged that the system had open aspects beyond the control of the ruling class. It remains true, however, that it was under senatorial administration that Rome began its march to world supremacy and that in the end the senate was crushed under the weight of the huge problems of empire.

The Subduing of Italy

In the 4th cent. B.C., Rome extended its influence over W Latium and S Etruria; during the course of that century and the next, Rome came in full contact with Greek culture, which modified Roman life tremendously. The idea of the old Roman courage and morality, however, was kept alive by such staunch conservatives as Cato the Elder. The power of the city may be inferred from the tremendous impression the sack of Rome (390 B.C.) by the Gauls made in subsequent times.

The Samnites were subdued in the wars dated conventionally 343–341 B.C., 326–304 B.C., and 298–290 B.C., and the inhabitants of Picenum, Umbria, Apulia, Lucania, and Etruria were pacified. The Roman policy in subduing Italy was that of a master toward slaves. Tarentum, besieged by the Romans, called for the aid of Pyrrhus of Epirus; he won victories at Heraclea (280 B.C.) and Asculum (279 B.C.), but after a dispute with his Italian allies he returned to Greece, leaving the Romans masters of central and S Italy.

Conquests Overseas and to the East

Rome, previously a continental power, began to look seaward in the 3d cent. B.C. Sicily, a granary of the ancient world, was an obvious goal, but Rome's rapid conquests could not continue there without meeting the like ambitions of Carthage, which ruled the W Mediterranean. The Punic Wars were thus inevitable, and in this titanic struggle the fate of Carthage and the destiny of Rome were decided. Although Carthage had the great general Hannibal, Rome fought with the resources of Italy behind it and had such leaders as Scipio Africanus Major. Rome gained from the Punic Wars dominion over Spain, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and the northern shores of Africa, indisputable hegemony in the Mediterranean, and an insatiable desire for conquest.

With Carthage humbled, the Roman republic turned its attention eastward. Philip V of Macedon was defeated after two campaigns (215–205 B.C., 200–197 B.C.), and Antiochus III of Syria was conquered at Magnesia (190 B.C.); eventually the defeat of Perseus (171–168 B.C.) made Macedonia a Roman province. Greece did not become a Roman province, but the brief opposition of the Achaean League was disposed of, and the Greeks became subject to Rome. Egypt acknowledged vassalship to the republic in 168 B.C.

Effects of Expansion

The rapid expansion of Roman dominion, however, had terrible effects at home. The provinces were governed by the senate for the benefit not of Rome but of the senatorial class; enormous wealth (by graft and by trade) flowed into the hands of the senators, who used it exclusively to their own advantage. The equites (see knight), a class of financiers, came into its own through management of imperial trade. Class dissension was rife, and in spite of agrarian laws the masses were daily more dissatisfied. The slaves in Sicily rebelled twice (c.134–132 B.C., c.104–101 B.C.), and the Gracchus brothers in a political victory tried to make the populace more powerful, but such defiance was to no avail. Massacres and incredible barbarities disposed of the slaves' restlessness, and the Gracchi were assassinated (133 and 121 B.C.).

Marius defeated Jugurtha (106 B.C.) and the Cimbri and the Teutons (101 B.C.), and he heralded a new era by definitively introducing Roman arms into Transalpine Gaul. Rome was forced by the Social War (90–88 B.C.) to extend citizenship widely in Italy, but the republic was nevertheless doomed. A slave revolt led by Spartacus was put down mercilessly. Marius, the idol of the populace, used proscription to rid himself of his foes, but Sulla, a conservative, destroyed Marius' party by the same method.

Julius Caesar

After Sulla's retirement his lieutenant Pompey emerged as a popular champion. He abolished some of Sulla's reactionary measures, suppressed Mediterranean piracy, and made himself master of Rome. His defeat of Mithradates VI brought Pontus, Syria, and Phoenicia under Roman dominion.

On Pompey's return from the East, he found an ally for his ambitions in Julius Caesar, a popular democratic leader of the best patrician blood. With Marcus Licinius Crassus to furnish the funds, Pompey and Caesar formed the First Triumvirate (60 B.C.), and Caesar departed to make himself immortal in the Gallic Wars. Within ten years Caesar and Pompey fell out; Pompey joined the senatorial party, and Caesar (as the champion of the people and of republican legality) led his devoted army against Pompey. Pharsalus was the result (48 B.C.), and Caesar was master of Rome.

He governed through the old institutions, with wisdom and vigor. His territorial additions were the most important ever made, for his conquest and organization of Gaul placed Rome in the role of civilizer of barbarians as well as ruler of the older world. The age of Caesar was a great period in Roman culture, and the cosmopolitan Roman was considered the ideal. Greek was the language of much of the empire, and Greek literature became fashionable. Even more influential was Greek thought, which served to destroy Roman religion and to open the Romans to the Eastern cults, which were enormously popular for years. Cicero, an urbane lawyer and philosopher of broad culture, was typical of the period.

At the death (44 B.C.) of Caesar, the territories ruled by Rome included Spain (except part of the northwest), Gaul, Italy, part of Illyria, Macedonia, Greece, W Asia Minor, Bithynia, Pontus, Cilicia, Syria, Cyrenaica, Numidia, and the islands of the sea, and Rome completely controlled Egypt and Palestine. The rule of Caesar marked an epoch, for it completed the destruction of the republic and laid the foundations of the empire.

The Roman Empire

Augustus and the Pax Romana

Caesar's assassination brought anarchy, out of which the Second Triumvirate emerged with the rule of Octavian (later Augustus), Antony, and Lepidus. Octavian was Caesar's nephew, ward, and heir, and his true successor. At Actium (31 B.C.) he defeated Antony and Cleopatra and made the empire one. No change was made in the government, but Octavian received from the senate the title Augustus and from the people life tribuneship; this, with the governorship of all the provinces conferred by the senate, made him the real ruler. He was called imperator [commander] and princeps [leader] and is usually considered the first Roman emperor. (For a list of the Roman Emperors from Augustus to the fall of Rome and the years they reigned, see the table entitled Rulers of the Roman Empire.)

Augustus organized provincial government and the army, rebuilt Rome, and patronized the arts and letters. His rule began a long period (200 years) of peace, called the Pax Romana. During this time the Roman Empire was the largest it would ever be; its boundaries included Armenia, middle Mesopotamia, the Arabian desert, the Red Sea, Nubia, the Sahara, the Moroccan mountain mass, the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea, Scotland, the North Sea, the Rhine, the Danube, the Black Sea, and the Caucasus. Augustus' chief additions to the empire were a strip along the North Sea W of the Elbe and part of the Danubian area.

The blessings of peace were great for the empire. The extensive system of Roman roads made transportation easier than it was again to be until the development of railroads. A postal service was developed closely tied in with the organization of the army. Commerce and industry were greatly developed, particularly by sea, over which grain ships carried food for Rome and the West from the ports of northern Africa. The Roman Empire became under Augustus one great nation. The enlarged view of the world made a great impression on Rome, where literary and artistic interests were of importance, although nearly always tending to imitation of Greece and of the East.

Augustus died A.D. 14 and was succeeded by his stepson Tiberius; his general Germanicus Caesar fought fruitlessly in Germany. Caligula, who followed, was a cruel tyrant (A.D. 37–A.D. 41); he was succeeded by Claudius I (A.D. 41–A.D. 54), who was dominated by his wives, but during his rule half of Britain was conquered (A.D. 43). In his time Thrace, Lydia, and Judaea were made Roman provinces. His stepson Nero (A.D. 54–A.D. 68) was an unparalleled tyrant. In his reign occurred the great fire of Rome (A.D. 64), attributed (probably falsely) to Nero; it burnt everything between the Caelian, the Palatine, and the Esquiline, but it was a boon to the city, for Nero moved the population to the right bank of the Tiber, then very thinly populated, and rebuilt the region with broader streets and great buildings.

At that time an entirely new element, Christianity, made itself felt in Rome. On Nero's orders a barbarous persecution took place in which many Christians died, among them St. Peter and St. Paul. Throughout the Roman Empire the Christians expanded steadily for the next centuries. Their conflict with the empire, which brought on them continual persecution, was chiefly a result of the Christian refusal to offer divine honors to the emperors. But Christianity penetrated the army and the royal household in spite of the constant danger of detection and persecution. There were many periods in the first three centuries when Christians worshiped openly, even in Rome, where the catacombs housed not only graves but also churches.

With Nero the Julio-Claudian line ended. There was a brief struggle (see Galba; Otho; Vitellius) before Vespasian (A.D. 69–A.D. 79) became emperor. Under him his son Titus destroyed Jerusalem (A.D. 70); Titus then briefly succeeded his father. After his mild, rather benign rule, his brother Domitian (A.D. 81–A.D. 96), a despot and persecutor of Christians, gained the empire. In Domitian's reign Agricola conquered Britain almost entirely. Domitian was unsuccessful in his dealings with the Daci and finally bought them off. After Nerva came Trajan (A.D. 98–A.D. 117), one of the greatest of emperors. Trajan undertook great public works, defeated the Daci and established Roman colonies there (in what is now modern Romania), and pushed the eastern borders past Armenia and Mesopotamia.

Trajan's successor, Hadrian, withdrew Roman rule to the Euphrates and in Britain built his wall (Hadrian's Wall) to hold back the barbarians who constantly threatened that fast-developing province. He also reorganized the senate and the army. Roman armies were then seldom seen far from the boundaries of the empire, and life continued throughout the Roman world in peace and quiet. Italy was sinking into a purely provincial state, although many emperors made attempts to make it a special country. The successors of Hadrian were Antoninus Pius (138–161) and Marcus Aurelius (161–180), who ruled in what is commonly called the Golden Age of the empire.

The Empire Declines

With Commodus (180–192) the decline of the empire is usually said to have begun. The age of the Praetorians was then at hand, when the rise and fall of emperors was determined by this elite corps of soldiers. Septimius Severus (193–211) was unusually able for his period; he campaigned with success against the Parthians and against the Picts of N Britain. His son Caracalla is noteworthy for extending Roman citizenship to all free men of the empire and for the famous baths named after him.

Emperors succeeded one another rapidly in the 3d cent.: Heliogabalus, Alexander Severus, Philip (Philip the Arabian), and Decius among them. Decius was one of the most violent persecutors of Christians; he fell fighting the Goths, first of the Germans, who were eventually to overwhelm the empire. In 260 the emperor Valerian was captured by the Persians, and the empire fell into anarchy. The provinces suffered from increasingly bad government as well as from a pestilence that carried off half the population. Claudius II (268–70) revived Roman fortunes somewhat, while Aurelian (270–75) overthrew the Palmyrene kingdom of Zenobia.

In 284, Diocletian was made emperor by the army. He was a reformer of government and of the social order, but only one of his efforts was successful. This was the division of the empire into four political sections, two eastern and two western. There were to be two Augusti and two Caesars.

The division of East and West was resumed after the death (337) of Constantine I, who moved the capital to Byzantium, renamed Constantinople. By the Edict of Milan (313), Constantine granted universal religious tolerance, thus placing Christianity on the same footing as the other religions. He divided the empire administratively into prefectures, dioceses, and provinces; the bishops thus gained great influence and shared in the authority of the civil administration. There was a brief resurgence of paganism under Julian the Apostate, but Christianity was securely established.

On the death of Jovian, Julian's successor, Valentinian I (364–75) ruled the Western Empire; Valentinian II (375–92) succeeded him. After the death (395) of Theodosius I the empire was permanently divided into Eastern (see Byzantine Empire) and Western, and Rome rapidly lost its political importance.

Under the emperors, Rome had been the center of the world. It must have presented a splendid, although heterogeneous, appearance. Little remained of the original city, for the emperors had replanned it to glorify themselves as well as the city. Parts of the Aurelian Wall still stand. On the Capitoline were the citadel (the arx) and the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus; the Palatine was the site of the palaces of Augustus and Tiberius (the word palace derives from the hill); the palace of Nero and Trajan's baths were on the southern slopes of the Esquiline. South of the Palatine was the Circus Maximus, where the famous chariot races were held. The old Roman Forum (see forum), extending from the Palatine almost to the Colosseum, remained the center of the city; northwest of it were the Emperors' Fora, with many fine public buildings, and the Temple of Peace. On the Martian Field were Pompey's theater, the Circus Flaminius, the Pantheon (see under pantheon), and the baths of Agrippa and Nero. Across the Tiber was Nero's circus, where St. Peter's now stands; Hadrian's tomb, now known as the Castel Sant' Angelo, has survived as a major landmark. The largest of the many public baths were those of Caracalla, near the Appian Way.

At its height, imperial Rome counted well over a million inhabitants. It was well policed, sanitation was excellent, and a fire-fighting force of seven brigades was maintained. Nineteen imposing aqueducts, of which many remains are extant, supplied the city with water. Among the rich such luxuries as central heating and running water were not unknown. The indigent (c.200,000) were cared for at public expense. Not until the 18th cent. were luxury and technical proficiency on a comparable scale to return to any European city.

Decline, once it began, came quickly, however. Honorius (395–423) made Ravenna the capital of the West; other emperors chose Milan and Trier (Treves), where they were nearer the border to check Germanic attacks. The West sank into anarchy, and Italy was ravaged by invaders. Alaric I took Rome in 410, and Gaiseric conquered it in 455. Attila was kept from sacking it, supposedly through the efforts of the pope, Leo I (St. Leo the Great). In this general disintegration the popes, originally the bishops of Rome, greatly increased their power and prestige, thus restoring to Rome in the religious field the importance it had lost in the political.

In 476 the last emperor of the West, appropriately called Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by the Goths under Odoacer; this date is commonly accepted as the end of the West Roman Empire, or Western Empire. The so-called Dark Ages (now usually called the Early Middle Ages; see Middle Ages) that followed in Western Europe could not eradicate the profound imprint left by the Roman civilization. Roman law is still alive; the Romance languages are but modifications of Roman speech. Roman Catholicism for nearly 12 centuries was the only religion and the main cultural force of Western Europe.

The fall of Rome marked no abrupt ending of an era, for the barbarians that filled the gap left by the disappearance of the old order were quick in accepting and adapting what vital elements remained of it. The survival of the East Roman Empire, or Eastern Empire, and the creation of the Holy Roman Empire showed how much vitality was left in the imperial ideal. Italy itself, however, did not recover from the fall of Rome until the 19th cent.

Medieval Rome

The history of Rome in the Middle Ages, bewildering in its detail, is essentially that of two institutions, the papacy and the commune of Rome. In the 5th cent. the Goths ruled Italy from Ravenna, their capital. Odoacer and Theodoric the Great kept the old administration of Rome under Roman law, with Roman officials. The city, whose population was to remain less than 50,000 throughout the Middle Ages, suffered severely from the wars between the Goths and Byzantines. In 552, Narses conquered Rome for Byzantium and became the first of the exarchs (viceroys) who ruled Italy from Ravenna. Under Byzantine rule commerce declined, and the senate and consuls disappeared.

Pope Gregory I (590–604), one of the greatest Roman leaders of all time, began to emancipate Rome from the exarchs. Sustained by the people, the popes soon exercised greater power in Rome than did the imperial governors, and many secular buildings were converted into churches. The papal elections were, for the next 12 centuries, the main events in Roman history. Two other far-reaching developments (7th–8th cent.) were the division of the people into four classes (clergy, nobility, soldiers, and the lowest class) and the emergence of the Papal States.

The coronation (800) at Rome of Charlemagne as emperor of the West ended all question of Byzantine suzerainty over Rome, but it also inaugurated an era characterized by the ambiguous relationship between the emperors and the popes. That era was punctuated by visits to the city by the German kings, to be crowned emperor or to secure the election of a pope to their liking or to impose their will on the pope. In 846, Rome was sacked by the Arabs; the Leonine walls were built to protect the city, but they did not prevent the frequent occupations and plunderings of the city by Christian powers.

By the 10th cent., Rome and the papacy had reached their lowest point. Papal elections, originally exercised by the citizens of Rome, had come under the control of the great noble families, among whom the Frangipani and Pierleone families and later the Orsini and the Colonna were the most powerful. Each of these would rather have torn Rome apart than allowed the other families to gain undue influence. They built fortresses in the city (often improvised transformations of the ancient palaces and theaters) and ruled Rome from them.

From 932 to 954, Alberic, a very able man, governed Rome firmly and restored its self-respect, but after his death and after the proceedings that accompanied the coronation of Otto I as emperor, Rome relapsed into chaos, and the papal dignity once more became the pawn of the emperors and of local feudatories. Contending factions often elected several popes at once. Gregory VII reformed these abuses and strongly claimed the supremacy of the church over the municipality, but he himself ended as an exile, Emperor Henry IV having taken Rome in 1084. The Normans under Robert Guiscard came to rescue Gregory and thoroughly sacked the city on the same occasion (1084).

Papal authority was challenged in the 12th cent. by the communal movement. A commune was set up (1144–55), led by Arnold of Brescia, but it was subdued by the intervention of Emperor Frederick I. Finally, a republic under papal patronage was established, headed by an elected senator. However, civil strife continued between popular and aristocratic factions and between Guelphs and Ghibellines. The commune made war to subdue neighboring cities, for it pretended to rule over the Papal States, particularly the duchy of Rome, which included Latium and parts of Tuscany. Innocent III controlled the government of the city, but it regained its autonomy after the accession of Emperor Frederick II. Later in the 13th cent. foreign senators began to be chosen; among them were Brancaleone degli Andalò (1252–58) and Charles I of Naples.

During the “Babylonian captivity” of the popes at Avignon (1309–78) Rome was desolate, economically ruined, and in constant turmoil. Cola di Rienzi became the champion of the people and tried to revive the ancient Roman institutions, as envisaged also by Petrarch and Dante; in 1347 he was made tribune, but his dreams were doomed. Cardinal Albornoz temporarily restored the papal authority over Rome, but the Great Schism (1378–1417) intervened. Once more a republic was set up. In 1420, Martin V returned to Rome, and with him began the true and effective dominion of the popes in Rome.

Renaissance and Modern Rome

A last effort at restoring the Roman republic failed utterly in 1453. The history of Rome became more than ever that of the papacy. The successors of Martin V in the 15th cent. and the first half of the 16th cent. were chiefly interested in increasing the temporal power of the papacy, in patronizing the arts and letters, in beautifying the city, and in raising the fortunes of themselves and their relatives. The moral tone of the papal court was a scandal to Christendom and contributed to the success of the Reformation.

Rome during the Renaissance

The period of the great popes of the Renaissance—Sixtus IV, Innocent VIII, Alexander VI, Julius II, Leo X, Clement VII, and Paul III—was one of sensuous splendor. Among the countless artists and architects who served the papal court, Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Domenico Fontana were the chief creators of Rome as it is today. Saint Peter's Church and the frescoed Sistine Chapel in the Vatican are outstanding examples of the artistic resources of Renaissance Rome. The popes also played a leading part in the Italian Wars of the 16th cent. As a result of Clement VII's alliance with Francis I of France, Rome was stormed (1527) by the army of Emperor Charles V and subjected to a thorough plundering.

The triumph of the Counter Reformation in the late 16th cent. restored dignity and moral power to the papal court and gave the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) great influence. Although the power of the pope was established as absolute, more religious tolerance (particularly toward the Jews) could be found at Rome than in many other capitals of Europe. The city continued to prosper and to benefit by the influx of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims (see jubilee). The great creative wave of the Renaissance was largely spent, but the noble baroque monuments—notably those of Bernini—that were erected in the 17th and early 18th cent. added to the grandiose harmony of the city. The splendor of religious ceremonies, as well as the encouragement given by the popes to art, music, classical and archaeological studies, and the restoration of ancient monuments, continued to make Rome a center of world culture.

Napoleon to the Present

When, in 1796, French troops under Napoleon Bonaparte invaded the Papal States, a truce was bought by Pope Pius VI, and many art treasures passed into French possession. In 1798 the French occupied Rome, deported the pope, and proclaimed Rome a republic. Pius VII reentered Rome in 1800, but in 1808 Napoleon reoccupied the city and in 1809 annexed it to France. Papal rule was restored in 1814.

Pope Pius IX, who ruled during a crucial period (1846–78), yielded to liberal demands and granted a constitution. However, disorders in 1848 caused his flight to Gaeta, and once more Rome became a republic, under the leadership of Giuseppe Mazzini. French troops intervened, defeated the republican forces under Giuseppe Garibaldi, and restored Pius IX, who made no further attempts at liberalism.

The Italian kingdom, proclaimed in 1862, included most of the former Papal States but not Rome, which remained under papal rule as a virtual protectorate of Napoleon III. Napoleon's fall in 1870 made possible the occupation of Rome by Italian troops, and, in 1871, Rome became the capital of Italy. Pius IX and his successors, however, did not recognize their loss of temporal sovereignty. The conflict between pope and king—or Vatican and Quirinal, as the antagonists were designated because of the location of their palaces—was not solved until the conclusion (1929) of the Lateran Treaty, which gave the pope sovereignty over Vatican City.

With the Fascist march on Rome (1922) Benito Mussolini came to power. In World War II, Rome fell to the Allies on June 4, 1944. The postwar years were marked by a vigorous economic, artistic, and intellectual revival. The year 1950 was designated a holy year by Pope Pius XII, and Rome, more than ever the spiritual capital of Catholicism, was host to many thousands of pilgrims. In 1960 the Olympics were held in Rome.


Ancient Rome

General histories of ancient Rome are countless. Among the ancient histories, that of Livy is the only comprehensive work. Other great Roman historians were Julius Caesar, Tacitus, Suetonius, Polybius, Dio Cassius, and Josephus. The works of Mommsen and Edward Gibbon are monumental. General works on ancient Rome include those of J. B. Bury, Guglielmo Ferrero, Tenney Frank, and Michael Rostovtzeff.

See also F. F. Abbott, History and Description of Roman Political Institutions (3d ed. 1911, repr. 1963); J. Carcopino, Daily Life in Ancient Rome (tr. 1940, repr. 1962); R. H. Barrow, The Romans (1949, repr. 1964); C. G. Starr, Civilization and the Caesars (1954, repr. 1965); E. T. Salmon, A History of the Roman World (6th ed. 1968); F. W. Wallbank, Awful Revolution: The Decline of the Roman Empire in the West (2d ed. 1969); J. P. V. D. Balsdon, Rome: The Study of an Empire (1970); P. A. Brunt, Social Conflicts in the Roman Republic (1970); D. Dudley, The Romans (1970); J. Heurgon, The Rise of Rome to 264 B.C. (1973); G. Masson, A Concise History of Republican Rome (1973); A. Garzetti, From Tiberius to the Antonines (1974); M. Cary and H. H. Scullard, A History of Rome Down to the Reign of Constantine (3d ed. 1975); F. Millar, The Emperor in the Roman World (1977); H. H. Scullard, A History of the Roman World (4th ed. 1980); A. Massie, The Caesars (1984); P. Garnsey and R. Saller, The Roman Empire: Economy, Society, and Culture (1987); E. Nash, Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome (2 vol., 1989); T. J. Cornell, Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (1995); T. Holland, Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic (2005) and Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar (2015); S. L. Dyson, Rome: A Living Portrait of an Ancient City (2010); A. Carandini, Rome: Day One (2011); R. C. Knapp, Invisible Romans (2011); G. Wills, Rome and Rhetoric (2011); B. Campbell, The Romans and Their World (2012); G. Woolf, Rome: An Empire's Story (2012); M. Beard, S.P.Q.R.: A History of Ancient Rome (2015); A. Goldsworthy, Pax Romana (2016); E. J. Watts, Mortal Republic (2018).

Medieval Rome

See Ferdinand Gregorovius, History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages (8 vol. in 13, 1903–12; repr. 1968); Alain de Boüard, Le Régime politique et les institutions de Rome au moyen âge (1920); Peter Llewellyn, Rome in the Dark Ages (1970); Ferdinand Gregorovius, Rome and Medieval Culture (1973).

Renaissance and Modern Rome

See bibliographies at Renaissance and Italy. See also R. Hughes, Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History (2011); M. Kneale, Rome (2018).


, cities, United States

Rome. 1 City (1990 pop. 30,326), seat of Floyd co., NW Ga., where the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers meet to form the Coosa, in a farm, timber, and quarry area; inc. 1847. The city was first established as cotton market and an industrial center, with textile and lumber mills, clothing factories, and foundries, and has become a manufacturing center that produces concrete and crushed stone, transportation and electrical equipment, plastics, tires, and metal and food products. Rome was settled (1834) on the site of a Cherokee village. It was captured by Union forces in the Civil War; Sherman burned the city in Nov., 1864. Shorter College is there, and Berry College is nearby. The tall clock tower (1871) atop one of the city's hills is Rome's famous landmark.

2 Industrial city (1990 pop. 44,350), Oneida co., central N.Y., on the Mohawk River and the Erie Canal; laid out c.1786 on the site of Fort Stanwix, inc. as a city 1870. It became recognized for its copper and brass manufactures and was dubbed the “Copper City.” Cooking utensils, machine tools, and strip steel are some of the products now manufactured. Nearby is the Rome Development Center as well as state parks. Rome is situated on Wood Creek, .5 mi (.8 km) from the Mohawk River. Because of its location, the city was a busy portage point, and it had great strategic importance during the French and Indian Wars and in the American Revolution. The Six Nation Treaty of 1768 was concluded at Fort Stanwix there. The unsuccessful British siege of the fort in the American Revolution led to the battle of Oriskany (see Saratoga campaign). Construction on the Erie Canal began (1817) in Rome.

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Rome; Romans

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The ancient Romans were steeped in magical practice and superstition. They had many deities of their own but did not hesitate to adopt deities from other nations, if they thought their powers would serve Rome. They incorporated into their own pantheon gods and goddesses of the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Etruscans, Sabines, and those of various indigenous tribes. Along with the gods, numerous spirits were honored with rites and rituals. Sacrifices were made, including human sacrifices. Magical rites were innumerable; festivals and sacred banquets were packed into the calendar throughout the year.

A major part of Roman religious practice was divination. Circa 300 BCE, a large priestly college was established by either Numa or Romulus, with three priest-augurs (those who read and interpreted the prophetic signs). By the time of Sulla, the number had been increased to fifteen augurs and then, in the time of Julius Cæsar, there were sixteen. The augurs wore a uniform toga, which had scarlet stripes and a purple border, known as the trabea. Since their pronouncements were unchallengeable, the augurs developed great political power. An augur would travel with armies and fleets and would interpret the flight of birds to gain knowledge of coming events before battle was enjoined. When doing a reading, the augur was accompanied by a magistrate who would verify the results. The magistrate was also the one who was officially entitled to ask the deities for signs. Rather than actually trying to see the future, the object was to ascertain whether or not the deities approved or disapproved of the course of action queried.

There was a manual that contained augural ritual and a collection of answers to questions that had previously been given to the college of the senate. The augur always announced his finding with a specific set of words, which were duly recorded by the magistrate. The complexity of interpretation of phenomena grew by degrees until it finally became so complex it was unmanageable, and the Roman college had to be abandoned.

Chaldean astrologers were much sought after in ancient Rome, as were numerologists and soothsayers … Most noble houses had their own astrologers. Dreams and their interpretation were considered especially important. There are many instances on record of prophetic dreams. There was recognition of astral projection; the Romans having a belief that dreams were the souls of individuals visiting one another during sleep. There was also a belief that the spirits of the dead could return to earth through dreams.

Pliny the Elder wrote, “The art of magic … has brought in the arts of astrology and divination. For everyone desires to know what is to come to him and believes that certainty can be gained by consulting the stars.”


Buckland, Raymond: The Fortune–Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 2004
Encyclopedia Britannica. Chicago: William Benton, 1964
Hamilton, Edith: The Roman Way to Western Civilization. New York: W.W. Norton, 1932
Leach, Maria (ed): Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. New York: Harper & Row, 1984
Rose, H. J.: Religion in Greece and Rome. New York: Harper & Row, 1959
The Spirit Book © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the capital of Italy; the country’s main political and cultural center, as well as an important economic center. Known as the Eternal City, Rome is one of the world’s oldest cities and is rich in historical and cultural monuments. It is the administrative center of the province of Rome and the region of Latium. Located within the city limits is the Vatican, a city-state. Rome is situated on the Roman Campagna, a hilly plain of volcanic origin, and along both banks of the Tiber River, near its confluence with the Tyrrhenian Sea. Monte Mario (139 m) is the highest point in the city.

The climate is Mediterranean, with an average January temperature of 6.8°C and an average July temperature of 25.8°C. Annual precipitation amounts to 508 mm, with about 60 rainy days, chiefly in the fall. In the winter the city experiences the effects of the cold tramontana wind, and in the summer, the hot, dry sirocco. As in antiquity, aqueducts supply the city with water from mountain rivers and lakes. The extremely polluted, silty Tiber is not used for this purpose.

The area of the city proper is 208.7 sq km, and that of the city and its suburbs, 1,507.6 sq km. The administrative structure of Rome is complex. The central, historical part, which is divided into 22 wards, is surrounded by 35 urban sectors. The suburban zone consists of six administrative units.

Rome is Italy’s largest city, with a population of 2.8 million (1973; 3.6 million, including suburbs). Until the 19th century population growth was relatively slow. Rome’s population was 135,000 at the end of the 17th century, 167,000 at the end of the 18th, and 214,000 at the end of the 19th. The city began to grow rapidly after it was proclaimed the capital of the Kingdom of Italy in 1871.

In 1971 there were 998,500 persons in the labor force, of whom 25.5 percent (255,700) worked in construction and industry (including gas and water supply), 15.7 percent (156,700) in trade, 7.9 percent in transportation and communication, 19 percent in the state bureaucracy, and most of the remainder in the service industries. Unemployment amounted to 6.8 percent (68,000).

Administration. Rome is governed by an 80-member council elected by the population for a five-year term. Its functions are limited to approving the city budget and passing decrees on matters of municipal government, such as public transportation and municipal services. The city council elects the mayor (sindaco) and the advisory board (giunta) from among its members. The mayor is considered to be a civil servant. The prefect of the province of Rome and the provincial administrative giunta supervise the city government.

History. Rome is named after Romulus, one of its mythic founders. According to classical tradition, the city was founded in 754/753 B.C., but archaeological findings indicate that there were earlier settlements on the site of Rome, and that their unification in the early sixth century resulted in the emergence of a central area, the Forum. The small city-state of Rome conquered the Apennine Peninsula and later, vast territories beyond. Thus, it became the capital of an enormous Mediterranean power, ancient Rome.

Major political events took place in Rome during the republican and imperial periods. Antiquity’s largest city, classical Rome had between 600,000 and 2 million inhabitants during the imperial period, according to contemporary estimates. In addition to its many temples, palaces, and roads, the city had 11 aqueducts, which are among the most outstanding ancient structures. The first was built in 312 B.C. Part of ancient Rome’s sewer system is still in use.

Rome felt the impact of the crisis in the Roman Empire in the third century A.D. When Constantine I transferred the imperial capital to Constantinople in 330, Rome lost importance as a political center. In the mid-fifth century, Ravenna became the de facto capital of the Western Roman Empire. The city was devastated by the barbarian invasions (the capture and sack of the Eternal City in 410 by the Visigoths led by Alaric I and in 455 by the Vandals). During the war that broke out in 535 between Byzantium and the Ostrogoths, Rome suffered greatly, changing hands several times. In 547 the city’s population was evacuated. The population decreased to 30,000–40,000 in the sixth century, and the city declined economically. In 552, Rome entered a long period of rule by Byzantium. In the 550’s and 560’s, Narses, the Byzantine governor of Italy, adopted measures to clear the channel of the Tiber, restore the port of Rome, and repair public buildings. However, these measures failed to revive the economy.

Under the Lombard domination of the Apennine Peninsula (568-mid-eighth century), Rome remained under Byzantine rule, although the actual administration of the city was taken over by the bishop of Rome (the pope), who appointed city officials. In the eighth century the popes succeeded in obtaining Rome’s virtual independence from Byzantium. The city became the capital of the Papal States in 756. By this time it had acquired significance as Western Europe’s religious and political center. In 800, Charlemagne was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III in Rome. Throughout the Middle Ages the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, who considered themselves the successors of the Roman emperors, fought against the papacy for control of Rome. There was also a struggle for power in Rome among various aristocratic families. In 1084, Robert Guiscard’s troops heavily damaged the city.

Rome took on the appearance of a feudal city in the 11th and 12th centuries, with the construction of churches and the erection of castles by the aristocracy on the site of demolished ancient buildings. The merchants’ and artisans’ districts were next to the Campus Martius. In the 11th century, artisans’ guilds were established in Rome. Handicrafts and trade, however, developed more slowly in Rome than in the economically advanced Italian cities. In the 12th century the merchants and artisans, who had suffered from the arbitrariness of the papal administration and from internecine feudal conflicts, launched a struggle against the pope’s secular authority in Rome and for the establishment of a commune. The Rome uprising of 1143 led to the establishment of a republic headed by Arnold of Brescia. However, urban self-government was abolished by Pope Innocent III (reigned 1198–1216), although, at least in form, a republican government (commune) continued to exist.

Life in medieval Rome was influenced primarily by the city’s status as the center of the Catholic world. Rome had a large clergy, attracted many pilgrims, and served as the site of ceremonies and coronations of emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. The transfer of the papal residence to Avignon in 1309 weakened papal authority in Rome. The Curia Romana was temporarily abolished. These events resulted in the strengthening of the strata of merchants and artisans. The townspeople renewed their struggle to limit the privileges of the aristocracy. As a result of a major uprising of the popolo led by Cola di Rienzi, Rome was proclaimed a republic in 1347. Seizing power in the city in 1354, the aristocracy maintained its position through the mid-15th century. (The most powerful feudal families were the Colonna and the Orsini.) The papacy returned to Rome in 1377, but its power over the city was not fully restored until the reign of Sixtus IV (1471–84).

In the mid-15th through the early 16th century, Rome was a major center of the Renaissance, the setting for the work of many humanists, artists, and architects, including Poggio Brac-ciolini, L. B. Alberti, F. Biondo, Bramante, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Patronizing literature and the arts and striving to win glory for themselves by commissioning the construction and decoration of palaces and churches, Popes Nicholas V (1447–55), Pius II (1458–64), and Julius II (1503–13) brought artists to the papal court. In May 1527, during the Italian Wars of 1494–1559, the troops of Emperor Charles V sacked Rome. In the 17th century the city went through a period of economic decline, although the Counter-Reformation enhanced its importance as a religious center.

In February 1798, Rome was occupied by the army of the French Directory. An uprising in the city led to the proclamation of a republic. In 1808, during the Napoleonic Wars, French troops again seized the city. In 1809, Pope Pius VII’s secular authority was abolished, and Napoleonic France annexed Rome. During the French occupation, which lasted until 1814, a program of construction and architectural improvements was carried out in Rome. At the same time, however, the invaders plundered priceless treasures from museums and art galleries and inflicted suffering on the population through extortion and requisitions.

During the Risorgimento, Rome’s status as the capital of the Papal States and a buttress of feudal and clerical reaction made it a serious obstacle to the unification of Italy. During the Revolution of 1848–49 the city was a center of revolutionary events. In November 1848 an uprising by the popular masses resulted in the de facto overthrow of the secular authority of Pope Pius IX, who fled from the city. On Feb. 9, 1849, Rome was proclaimed a republic. Democratic tendencies in the Italian revolution of 1848–49 were most fully expressed in the Roman Republic of 1849. The Republic was suppressed by the forces of international reaction, especially French interventionists. From 1849 through the 1850’s and 1860’s, the pope’s secular authority in the city rested on the presence of the French garrison. Garibaldi’s detachments failed to liberate the city in 1862 and 1867. The pope’s secular authority in Rome was not eliminated until 1870, when the French garrison was recalled as a result of the defeat of the French Army at Sedan.

In response to an increasingly strong popular movement for Rome’s unification with the united Kingdom of Italy, which had been formed in 1861, Italian troops and a detachment of patriots and followers of Garibaldi entered the city on Sept. 20, 1870. The referendum of Oct. 2, 1870, resulted in the incorporation of Rome into Italy. On Jan. 26, 1871, Rome was proclaimed the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, marking the completion of the creation of an Italian national state. Pope Pius IX’s refusal to accept the new conditions resulted in a prolonged conflict between the papacy and the Italian state (the Roman question).

The concentration in Rome of ancient monuments and masterpieces by Renaissance artists and architects has always attracted artists, writers, and tourists. A. A. Ivanov, S. F. Shche-drin, and N. V. Gogol were among the Russian artists who lived in Rome during the 19th century.

Rome’s population climbed rapidly once the city became the capital of Italy. The number of industrial enterprises increased, and the city became a major transportation junction. In the late 19th century the city became a center for the social and democratic struggle of the working people.

In October 1922, Italian fascists staged the “march on Rome.” Fascist detachments from all over the country entered the city. A coup d’etat resulted in the establishment of a fascist dictatorship (1922–43). Under the Lateran Treaty, Vatican City was established as a city-state within Rome in 1929. On Sept. 8, 1943, after Italy’s capitulation in World War II (1939–45), fascist German troops seized Rome. During the occupation (1943–44), thousands of people were imprisoned, executed, and tortured. The mass murder of Romans in March 1944 in the Ardea caves is a particularly brutal example of fascist German policy. The population fought heroically against the invaders. On June 4, 1944, Anglo-American troops liberated Rome. With the elimination of the monarchy under the referendum of June 2,1940, Rome became the capital of the Republic of Italy.

Rome is one of the most important centers of the working-class and democratic movement in contemporary Italy.


Economy. Rome’s advantageous location at the intersection of northern and southern Italy contributed to the development of its importance as a transportation and commercial center and later, to the growth of other economic activities. The city became important as an industrial center relatively late. In industrial output it ranks fourth among Italian cities, after Milan, Turin, and Genoa. Branches of food processing and light industry, represented primarily by small factories and workshops, were the first to develop in Rome. Since 1960 the city has experienced significant industrial expansion. Almost half the capital’s industrial labor force is employed in the food-processing, printing, garment, furniture, paper, textile, footwear, and perfume industries. Rome’s electrical engineering industry manufactures telephone and telegraph equipment, electrical appliances, radio electronics equipment, and major household appliances. Precision instruments, railroad rolling stock, farm machinery, printing equipment, motorcycles, and bicycles are also manufactured in the city. The chemical industry produces pharmaceuticals, synthetic silk, acids, sodium carbonate, and superphosphate. Rome has factories for the production of building materials (cement, glass, and reinforced-concrete goods), as well as a construction industry. The capacity of the city’s thermoelectric power plant is approximately 3 million kilowatts. A traditional handicrafts industry has survived in Rome, producing gold and silver articles, tapestries, wicker furniture, glass and leather goods, and musical instruments. Book-binding is also an important craft.

Rome does not have satellite towns and industrial suburbs. However, many industrial towns in Latium, including Collefer-ro, Frosinone, and Latina, have close economic ties with the capital.

Rome, which attracts more than 10 million tourists a year, is one of the world’s largest centers for tourism. To meet the needs of the tourist trade, there are many hotels, souvenir and curio shops, restaurants, places of entertainment, and clubs, as well as public and private transportation facilities.

Government and administrative institutions are concentrated in the capital city, as well as the executive bodies of Italy’s political parties and mass organizations, the major banks, credit, insurance and commercial institutions, and the offices of national and foreign firms. Also located in Rome are the offices of some international organizations, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Chamber of Commerce.

A major national and international transportation center, Rome is a junction for eight railroad lines, ten highways, and 30 air lines. There are two airports—the Leonardo da Vinci di Fiumicino and the Ciampino. The city is a river port (between Fiumicino and Rome the Tiber is canalized). There are port facilities at San Paolo and the outer harbor of Civitavecchia on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The main forms of municipal transportation are the tram, which does not serve the center of the city, the trolley, and the bus. A metropolitan railway constructed in 1927–38 connects the center of Rome with the grounds of the Esposizione Universale di Roma (EUR, an exhibition that was never held) in the southern part of the city and with the seashore (Ostia Lido, or Lido di Roma). The number of automobiles, motorcycles, and motor scooters in Rome (more than 1.3 million in 1970) is approaching the saturation point.

Rome has relatively little green area (approximately 1,700 hectares). There are very few public parks and boulevards. In the Monteverde district of southern Rome and the Parioli district in the north there are gardens, as well as private villas and residences owned by Rome’s aristocracy, bourgeoisie, and high officials. Most of the industrial enterprises are located in the southern and southeastern areas of the capital. The people of Rome have access to several resorts, including the seaside areas of Ostia Lido and Fregene; the Alban Hills, located 20–30 km southeast of the city and known for the small villages of Genza-no, Albano Laziale, Marino, and Frascati, which are surrounded by vineyards; and the Tiburtina Mountains east of the city, famous for the town of Tivoli and the picturesque water-falls on the Aniene River. The capital is surrounded by an important agricultural region, with truck gardens, orchards, vine-yards, olive groves, meat-and-dairy farms, and grain cultivation.


Architecture. Rome’s architectural monuments, a reflection of the city’s almost 3,000-year history, had a striking effect on the development of its unique, complex appearance. Rome’s distinctive appearance is largely attributable to its picturesque location on hills, a wealth of splendid ruins, majestic palaces and churches from diverse periods, a variety of squares, and many fountains, monuments, and decorative sculptures. Domes and Italian pines create a distinctive cityscape. The rust-colored tufa, dark brick, and reddish-brown stucco facades have a monochromatic appearance that helps the city to blend with its natural surroundings.

The boundaries of the central part of modern Rome coincide with the ancient Aurelian wall (272; partially preserved). Many of the city’s streets are built over ancient Roman roads. To a large extent, the gigantic scale and balanced majesty of the classical monuments predetermined the scale and the monumental character of the buildings of subsequent centuries.

Rising on the Capitoline and Palatine hills, the ancient city of Rome spread to the neighboring hills (the Esquiline, Aventine, Viminal, Caelian, and Quirinal) and to the lowland, up to the bend in the Tiber (the Campus Martius). Later, the city expanded to the right bank of the river (the present-day quarter of Trastevere). The city’s public centers were the Capitoline and the Forum. Begun in the sixth century B.C., the Forum includes the temples of Castor and Pollux (begun in 484 B.C.) and the temples of Antoninus and Faustina (141), the Basilica of Max-entius (c. 315; also known as the Basilica of Constantine), the triumphal arches of Titus (81) and Septimius Severus (203), and the forums of Julius Caesar and the emperors Augustus and Nerva, as well as that of Trajan, with Trajan’s Column (111– 114; architect Apollodorus of Damascus).

Among the most important ancient Roman structures located outside of the forums are the temples of Vesta and of Fortuna Virilis at the Forum Boarium (first century B.C.), the Pantheon, and the Temple of Venus and Rome (135–307); the tombs of Cecilia Metella, Eurysaces (both mid-first century B. C.), Cestius (the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius, 12 B.C.), and Hadrian (135–140; converted into the Castel Sant’ Angelo during the Middle Ages); the Marcellian theater (teatro di Marcello, 44 B.C.–13 A.D.); the Flavian Amphitheater (the Colosseum); the Baths of Caracalla (206–217) and the Baths of Diocletian (306; now the Roman National Museum); and the triumphal column of Marcus Aurelius (176–193) and the Arch of Constantine (315). Also among the city’s most important ancient structures are Hadrian’s Bridge (Ponte Sant’ Angelo, 136), the Claudian aqueduct (38–52), and the Via Appia (312 B.C.). The ruins of the House of Livia (first century B.C.), the Flavian palace (first century), and other palaces are located on the Palatine Hill.

In the sixth through ninth centuries the city’s area decreased, and classical monuments deteriorated into ruins. The separate centers of medieval Rome were the Lateran and Vatican residences of the bishop of Rome (later, the pope) and the Capitoline, the site of city government. During the Middle Ages residential areas were concentrated on the bank of the Tiber directly opposite the Vatican, near Christian basilicas and habitable classical buildings and surrounded by vacant plots, gardens, and swamps.

Among Rome’s early Christian monuments are the catacombs of San Sebastiano (with crypt; first through second centuries), Domitilla (first through fourth centuries), and Callistus (second through third centuries). The city’s many early Christian basilicas, which underwent a series of reconstructions until the 18th century, include San Giovanni in Laterano (311–314); San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura (330), which is known for its sixth-century mosaics; Santa Maria Maggiore (third quarter of the fourth century), with mosaics dating from the fifth and 13th centuries; Santi Giovanni e Paolo (c. 400), with frescoes dating from the 12th century; and San Clemente (fourth century), with mosaics and frescoes from the ninth through 12th centuries. Other churches include Santa Maria in Cosmedin, which was rebuilt in the eighth and 12th centuries; Santa Maria in Trastevere, built in 1140 on the site of a fourth-century church and famous for mosaics by P. Cavallini; and Santa Maria d’Aracoe-li, which was rebuilt in 1250. The circular churches of San Ste-fano Rotondo and Santa Maria Antiqua (frescoes, sixth-eighth centuries) date from the sixth century. An outstanding example of the city’s few Gothic structures is the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (begun in 1280; facade, 1453).

From the early 16th century, the popes embellished the city with buildings and architectural ensembles, hoping to revive the greatness of classical Rome. The first Renaissance buildings were constructed near the Vatican and on the opposite bank of the Tiber. The style spread toward the Piazza Navona and the Capitoline. The Belvedere and San Damaso (1503–45; architect Bramante) courtyards and St. Peter’s Basilica (1506–1614; architects Bramante, Michelangelo, G. della Porta, Vignola, and C. Maderno), a splendid structure whose dome became the main architectural accent in Rome’s skyline, are located in the Vatican, which was completely rebuilt during this period. The business center of Renaissance Rome was located in the district of the Ponte Sant’ Angelo, where, in the 1540’s, the triradiate street layout was introduced, with the construction of three streets diverging from the Piazza San Celso.

Among Rome’s Renaissance buildings are the Venezia palace (begun in 1452), which was evidently designed by L. B. Al-berti or B. Rossellino, as well as the Cancelleria (after 1499, architect Bramante), Farnese (1513–89; architects A. de Sangallo the Younger, Michelangelo, G. della Porta), and Vidoni-Caffa-relli palaces (c. 1515–20; architect Raphael). Renaissance villas include the Farnesina (1509–11; architect B. Peruzzi; frescoes by Raphael and G. Romano) and the Madama (begun in 1517; architects Raphael and A. da Sangallo the Younger). Renaissance churches include San Pietro in Montorio (1480’s; architect B. Pontelli), with the Tempietto in the courtyard (1502; architect Bramante), Santa Maria della Pace (late 15th-early 16th centuries; architects B. Pontelli, Bramante; facade, 1656; architect Pietro da Cortona), Santa Maria dell’ Anima (early 16th century; architects G. da Sangallo and Bramante); and Sant’ Eligio degli Orefici (1509; architect Raphael).

From the second quarter of the 16th century, mannerist tendencies emerged in the architecture of some of Rome’s buildings, including the Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne (1536; architect B. Peruzzi) and the Villa Giulia (1550–55; architects Vignola, B. Amanati, G. Vasari), which is now a museum. Techniques that anticipated 17th- and 18th-century city planning were characteristic of the architectural ensemble created by Michelangelo on the Capitoline. This new secular center of the city, the construction of which was begun in 1546, revealed the link between the papal capital and classical Rome. The ensemble includes the Palazzo Senatorio, the Palazzo dei Conservatori, the main building of the Capitoline Museum, and the classical statue of Marcus Aurelius, which was placed in the square in 1538.

During the reign of Pope Sixtus V (1585–90) straight streets were built, linking the most important early Christian basilicas and joining the city’s districts into a single system. This network of streets, graced with numerous architectural ensembles, clearly revealed the baroque conception of the city as an organic whole best perceived in a movement that opens successive views of striking architectural settings. Among Rome’s most important baroque architectural ensembles are the Piazza di San Pietro (1657–63; architect L. Bernini), the Piazza Na-vona (17th century), the Piazza di Spagna (mainly built in the early 18th century), and the Piazza del Popolo (16th–17th centuries, completed in 1816–20; architect G. Valadier), with three churches, as well as an ancient Egyptian obelisk at the convergence of a triradiate system of avenues.

Among the city’s monumental examples of baroque architecture are the Villa Borghese (early 17th century; architect G. Vasanzio; now a museum) and numerous palaces, including the Quirinal (begun in 1574; architects F. Ponzio, Maderno, and Bernini), the Lateran (1586–90; architect D. Fontana), the Borghese (1590–1615; architects M. Longhi the Elder and Ponzio), the Barberini (1625–63; architects Maderno, F. Borromini and Bernini), and Falconieri (1639–41; architect Borromini), and the Doria-Pamphili (17th–18th centuries; architect A. del Grande; now a picture gallery), as well as the Palazzo di Monte-citorio (1650–90; architects Bernini and C. Fontana). The city’s baroque churches include the Gesù (1568–84; architect Vignola; facade, 1575; architect della Porta), San Luigi dei Francesi (1518–88; facade, 1589; architect della Porta), Sant’ Andrea della Valle (1591–1663; architects, P. Olivieri, Maderno, and C. Rainaldi), San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1634–67; architect Borromini), Sant’ Ivo alla Sapienza (1642–60; architect Borromini), and Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale (1653–58; architect Bernini). Splendid palaces, parks and churches, squares and landscaped grounds that appear unexpectedly, and spatial accents, such as staircases, obelisks, fountains (the Four Rivers and the Trevi), and decorative sculptures, make Rome’s baroque architecture, which dominates the skyline, extraordinarily captivating.

After becoming the capital of Italy, Rome went through a period of particularly intensive growth, during which the eastern and southeastern districts, as well as the Prati district near the Vatican, were developed, primarily through the construction of apartment buildings. Most of Rome’s villas are inside the city limits, with the exception of Hadrian’s Villa (second century) and the Villa d’ Este (1550–72; architect P. Ligorio), both of which are in Tivoli. The parks and gardens surrounding many of the villas have been taken over for public use. In accordance with a general plan issued in 1873, new avenues, such as the Corso Vittorio Emanuele and the Via Nazionale, were built, as well as many pompous, eclectic buildings and ensembles, including the monument to Victor Emmanuel II (1885–1911; architect G. Sacconi). The Piazza Colonna became the new center of public life in Rome.

The 1930’s were marked by an attempt to restore Rome’s imperial greatness. Classical monuments were cleaned, and facilities were built for an international exhibition that was never held (the district of the Esposizione Universale di Roma, or EUR). Historically valuable areas, such as the Borgo, were demolished and replaced by new, wide avenues, including Via dei Fori Imperiale and the Via della Conciliazione. During this period the neoclassical style prevailed (the Foro Italico, a sports complex, 1928–34, architect M. Piacentini, and the EUR grounds, begun in 1937, architects Piacentini and G. Pagano).

After World War II, Rome expanded rapidly in all directions. Since the 1930’s, extremely heavy traffic has been a problem on central Rome’s narrow streets and squares, which date from the 16th through 18th centuries. Consequently, the feasibility of building peripheral avenues bypassing the city’s historical districts became an important issue in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The traffic problem has been somewhat alleviated by the Via Olimpica, built for the 1960 Olympic Games to connect the Foro Italico with the EUR, as well as by the eastern and southern segments of the belt highway, several new tunnels, and the construction of a number of two-level intersections. The Olympic Games also prompted the rebuilding of the Foro Italico and the construction of the Olympic village, the Palazzo dello Sport, and the Palazzetto dello Sport (1957; engineer P. L. Nervi, architect A. Vitelozzi). When possible, districts with buildings of historical interest are preserved in their original state, but no attempt is made to restore them. In these districts only individual structures are built, and often an effort is made to design them so that they are completely in harmony with their surroundings (for example, the Termini Station; 1938, 1950, architects F. Mazzoni and E. Montuori; and the British Embassy, 1970, architect B. Spense).

Most new construction projects are located on the outskirts of the city. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the district of the EUR became one of the major business centers of Rome, which is spreading to the southwest. Since the 1930’s, the number of working-class residential areas has increased. Monotonous, lacking sufficient service establishments, and consisting of apartment houses with five to six, seven to eight, and ten to 12 stories, the working-class districts are located primarily on the lowland (the Tuscolano, Don Bosco, and Nomentano districts). Architecturally unusual residential areas for the wealthy have been built in the north and northwest on Parioli and Vigna Clara hills and on Monte Mario. The specific features of the relief have been skillfully used, but development has often been accompanied by the sale of public green areas surrounding old villas.

Rome’s residential districts have poor access to the center of the city and the business and industrial areas. Under the general plan issued in 1964, this problem was to be alleviated by the creation of a “service axis,” a system of highways feeding into the city and linking the EUR with two new public centers planned for the Centocelle and Pietralata districts.


Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. Rome’s institutions of higher learning include the University of Rome, the International University of the Social Sciences (a private institution), the Higher School of Physical Education, the Academy of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Dance, the St. Cecilia Conservatory, and the S. D’Amico National Academy of Dramatic Art, which has a student theater. Located in the city are the National Academy of Lincei, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the National Academy of the Forty. There are other scientific institutions in Rome, including the National Research Council, the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, the Astronomical Observatory, and more than 100 scientific societies, centers, and institutes in various fields of sciences and the arts. Among the city’s major libraries are the Central National Library, the university library, the Angelica Library, the Casa-natense Library, the Library of the National Academy of Lin-cei, and the Vallicelliana Library. Museums include the Roman National Museum (the Museum of the Baths), the Villa Giulia Museum, the Borghese Gallery, the Luigi Pigorini Museum of Prehistory and Ethnology, the National Gallery of Ancient Art, the National Gallery of Modern Art, the Barracco Museum, the National Museum of Folk Arts and Traditions, the Museum of Roman Civilization, the National Museum of Oriental Art, the Museum of Rome, the Capitoline Museum, and the museums of the Vatican.

Among the theaters in Rome as of 1975 were the Teatro dell’ Opera. The Teatro di Roma, a permanent drama company, performs in many theaters, including the Argentina, the Teatro Circo, the Abaco, and the Teatro E. Flaiano. There are other theaters in the city, including the Valle, the Ridotto dell’ Eliseo, the Quirino, the Teatro dell’ Arti, the Rossini, the Goldoni, the Tordinona, and the Teatro delle Muse, in which Italy’s best drama troupes appear. The capital also has a puppet theater and a children’s theater, Al Torchio. In the summer, operas are performed at the Baths of Caracalla, and plays are presented at the Amphiteatro Quercio del Tasso and the Teatro delle Fontane. The St. Cecilia National Academy, which is located in Rome, has two concert halls. Italy’s major film companies, including Carlo Ponti’s, have their headquarters at the Cinecittà, the widely known motion-picture studio.


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1. the capital of Italy, on the River Tiber: includes the independent state of the Vatican City; traditionally founded by Romulus on the Palatine Hill in 753 bc, later spreading to six other hills east of the Tiber; capital of the Roman Empire; a great cultural and artistic centre, esp during the Renaissance. Pop.: 2 546 804 (2001)
2. the Roman Empire
3. the Roman Catholic Church or Roman Catholicism
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


An experimental object-oriented language.

["The Point of View Notion for Multiple Inheritance", B. Carre et al, SIGPLAN Notices 25(10):312-321 (OOPSLA/ECOOP '90) (Oct 1990)].
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