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Provides a chronological index of the history of Ancient Rome with extensive links to internet resources. Emphasis is placed upon the use of primary source material, numismatics, and a focus upon the roles of women in ancient time.

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The timeline is divided chronologically into eight sections:

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There can be nobody so petty or so apathetic in his outlook that he has no desire to discover by what means and under what system of government the Romans succeeded in...bringing under their rule almost the whole of the inhabited world. Polybius Histories 1.1.5



163-133 BCE || Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus

Was elected tribune of the people in 133 BCE, and fought for reforms of benefit to the plebeians. He was murdered by opponents.

| Tiberius Gracchus by Plutarch


| Portrait of a Roman | Marble | Palazzo Torlonia, Rome | c. 80 BCE |


|Appian: The Civil Wars

Describes the murder of Tiberius and his followers:

The senators wrenched clubs from the very hands of the followers of Gracchus, or with pieces of torn-up benches or other things that had been brought for the use of the comitia, began mauling them and in hot pursuit, drove them over the precipice. In the riot many followers of Gracchus were killed and Gracchus himself, being seized near the temple, was slain at the door near the statues of the kings. All the corpses were thrown into the Tiber at night.

Thus died on the Capitol and while still tribune, Tiberius Gracchus, the son of the Gracchus who was twice consul and of Cornelia, the daughter of the Scipio that conquered Carthage. He lost his life because he followed up an excellent plan in too lawless a way. This awful occurrence, the first of the kind that took place in the public assembly, was never long without a new parallel thereafter. On the matter of the killing of Gracchus, the city was divided between grief and joy. Some sorrowed for themselves and him and bewailed the existing state of affairs, believing that the republic no longer existed, but had been usurped by coercion and violence. Others congratulated themselves that everything had turned out just as they wanted it to.

c. 157-86 BCE || Gaius Marius

Marius was Roman general and statesman who led the popular party in the civil war of 88 to 86 BCE. Strong individuals enjoyed a cult of personality which proved competitive to the constitutionally prescribed system of two consuls. An essential political theme in Roman political history is the near continuous conflict between republicans and those seeking dictatorship.

153-121 BCE || Caius Sempronius Gracchus

|Caius Gracchus by Plutarch

Caius was the brother of Tiberius and son of Cornelia. He was elected tribune of the people in 123 BCE, and attempted the continuation of popular reforms. He, like his brother, was murdered.

Cicero explains: "Tiberius Gracchus brought forward an Agrarian law. It was very acceptable to the people; the fortunes of the poorer classes appeared likely to be established by it. The nobles strove against it, because they saw that discord was excited by it; and because, as the object of it was to deprive the wealthy men of their ancient possessions, they thought that by it the republic was being deprived of its defenders. Caius Gracchus brought forward a law respecting corn. It was a very pleasing proposal to the common people at Rome; for food was to be supplied to them in abundance without any trouble. The good resisted it because they thought that its effect would be to lead the common people away from industry to idleness, and because the treasury was likely to be drained by such a measure."

This struggle, primarily, was based upon class. Plutarch tells us that "having cleared himself of every suspicion, and proved his entire innocence, he now at once came forward to ask for the tribuneship; in which, though he was universally opposed by all persons of distinction, yet there came such infinite numbers of people from all parts of Italy to vote for Caius, that lodgings for them could not be supplied in the city; and the Field being not large enough to contain the assembly, there were numbers who climbed upon the roofs and the tilings of the houses to use their voices in his favour. However, the nobility so far forced the people to their pleasure and disappointed Caius's hope, that he was not returned the first, as was expected, but the fourth tribune. But when he came to the execution of his office, it was seen presently who was really first tribune, as he was a better orator than any of his contemporaries..."

138-78 BCE || Lucius Cornelius Sulla


Roman general and statesman, led the aristocratic party during the civil war of 88 to 86 BCE. Sulla overcame all opposition and eventually became dictator of Rome. Sulla began what is known as the proscriptions, whereby he published lists of so-called public enemies who were to be summarily executed and whose property was confiscated by the state. He resigned in 79 BCE.


| Bust of Sulla | Marble | Rome | c. 90 BCE |



Read Plutarch The Life of Sulla

"The time in which he lived was no longer an age of pure and upright manners, but had already declined, and yielded to the appetite for riches and luxury..."

| Coin with Portrait of Sulla | Silver | Rome | c. 84 BCE |





133 BCE || The City of the Sun: The Slave Revolt of Aristonicus

Upon his death, Attalus III of Pergamum bequeathed his kingdom to Rome. This was resisted, and a rebellion ensued, led by Aristonicus, who enlisted slaves and the dispossessed into his rebel army. Along with the philosopher Blossius, who had tutored and supported Tiberius Gracchus, and had fled to Pergamum after Tiberius' death, Aristonicus sought to establish an idealistic utopian kingdom which he called the City of the Sun, with its inhabitants whom he called Heliopolitae, followers of the sun god Helios.

Strabo in his Geography, tells us that:

After Smyrna one comes to Leucae, a small town, which after the death of Attalus Philometor was caused to revolt by Aristonicus, who was reputed to belong to the royal family and intended to usurp the kingdom. Now he was banished from Smyrna, after being defeated in a naval battle near the Cymaean territory by the Ephesians, but he went up into the interior and quickly assembled a large number of resourceless people, and also of slaves, invited with a promise of freedom, whom he called Heliopolitae.

| Aurelian Augustus Coin 270 -275 CE; Illustrating the Cult of the Invincible Sun] SOL INVICTO XXI T Sol advancing left, wearing radiate crown, seated captive to left, raising radiate hand and holding whip, seated captive to right. |

Now he first fell upon Thyateira unexpectedly, and then got possession of Apollonis, and then set his efforts against other fortresses. But he did not last long; the cities immediately sent a large number of troops against him, and they were assisted by Nicomedes the Bithynian and by the kings of the Cappadocians. Then came five Roman ambassadors, and after that an army under Publius Crassus the consul, and after that Marcus Perpernas, who brought the war to an end, having captured Aristonicus alive and sent him to Rome. Now Aristonicus ended his life in prison; Perpernas died of disease; and Crassus, attacked by certain people in the neighborhood of Leucae, fell in battle.

Blossius committed suicide, Pergamum became the Roman province of Asia.

136 BCE-132 BCE || The first servile war: the slave revolt of Eunus

Juggler, diviner, leader, slave, and self-appointed king, Eunus led a slave revolt which successfully took over the city of Enna in Syracuse, defeated numerous Roman battalions, and took four years to be overthrown. Eventually, the consul Lucius Calpurnius Piso, and his successor, Publius Rupilius, defeated Eunus, who now called himself King Antioch. Eunus was captured and imprisoned, where he died.

Cicero, no friend of Eunus, used these slaves as an example in Against Verres, and condemned Verres as being worse than the slaves:

"For while Publius Popillius and Publius Rupilius were consuls, slaves, runaway slaves, and barbarians, and enemies, were in possession of that place (Enna); but yet the slaves were not so much slaves to their own masters, as you are to your passions; nor did the runaways flee from their masters as far as you flee from all aws and from all right; nor were the barbarians as barbarous in language and in race as you were in your nature and your habits; nor were the enemies as much enemies to men as you are to the immortal gods. How, then, can a man beg for any mercy who has surpassed slaves in baseness, runaway slaves in rashness, barbarians in wickedness, and enemies in inhumanity?"



Polybius d. ca. 118 B.C.

Varro (116 - 27 B.C.)


ca. 115 BCE-53 CE || Marcus Licinius Crassus

Roman politician, member of the First Triumvirate, defeated Spartacus, killed in battle at Carrhae


| Crassus by Plutarch

106 BCE || Gnaeus Pompeius

Pompey, or Pompey the Great, was an important Roman politician and military leader, a member of the First Triumvirate, and he helped to defeat Spartacus during the slave uprisings.

106 BCE-43 BCE ||Marcus Tullius Cicero

Gifted orator and political statesman, Cicero is reputed to have said that he wished posterity to remember him as a philosopher, yet it is for his political acumen that he is most famed. In Cicero's numerous writings, many of which consist of his eloquent defense or prosecution of notable Romans, he reveals a conservative, incorruptible, defense of the Republic. His oratorical attacks upon Antony cost him his life. He was brutally murdered in 43 BCE.



The Life of Cicero by Plutarch

and by Cicero himself:

On Pompey's Command


Against Catiline

| Cicero | Marble | Rome | c. 50 BCE |


104 BCE || The second servile war: The slave revolt of Salvio

In this year the senate decreed that slaves taken from those states which were now allies of Rome were to be declared free. The governor of Syracuse, however, halted the emancipation in his territory. With the model of Eunus before him, Salvio led a second rebellion. He was defeated by M. Aquilio.



The timeline is divided chronologically into eight sections:

This symbol indicates a link to a primary source text


Click here to learn the real story

behind the events and characters portrayed in the movie Gladiator.

Kindly report any suggestions, problems, errors, or dead links by emailing david(at)

Copyright © David Neelin: All Rights Reserved

Using info from this site?

For detailed copyright information and bibliographic citation, click here

contact the author by emailing david(at) (note: replace (at) with the @ symbol)