[[quoteright:294:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/294px-Roman_SPQR_banner_svg_4619.png]]
[[caption-width-right:294:''[-'''S'''enātus '''P'''opulus'''q'''ue '''R'''ōmānus ("The Senate and People of Rome ")-]'']]

->'''Reg (leader of the People's Front of Judea):''' All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
->'''PFJ member:''' Brought peace?
->'''Reg:''' Oh, peace--SHUT UP!
-->-- ''Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian''


The Roman Empire succeeded UsefulNotes/TheRomanRepublic in the first century BC, precisely when being a subject for debate. It is generally thought to coincide with Octavian Caesar defeating his last serious rival for control of Rome, Mark Antony, in 31 BC, or otherwise when he declared himself ''[[JustTheFirstCitizen Princeps]]'' in 27 B.C and was granted the honorific cognomen "Augustus". The pretense of a HereditaryRepublic lasted rather longer, but withered away.

At its peak the Empire stretched from the Atlantic to the Tigris, and from the Highlands of Scotland to the deserts of North Africa. At one time or another it covered part or all of the modern day countries of- [[http://www.roman-empire.net/maps/empire/extent/rome-modern-day-nations.html well, here's a list]].

Rome, in its own name, continued to exist for quite a long time. By the end of the 3rd century it had gotten so unwieldy that it needed co-emperors to handle everything; in 395, not long after Constantine embraced UsefulNotes/{{Christianity}}, the empire split into the Eastern and Western halves[[note]]which had happened earlier as part of the general power balance/power struggle within the Empire at large; contemporaries apparently still saw it as one empire with two emperors, it just so happened that the administrative split became more permanent[[/note]]. The Eastern side, which historians re-named the ByzantineEmpire for convenience[[note]]the Empire called ''itself'' Roman until its fall, despite being quite Hellenic--and so, for that matter, did almost everybody else[[/note]], toiled on almost a thousand years longer, until Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople in 1453 (despite the power of the Roman legion, evidently their training course did not cover defense against [[IncrediblyLamePun flightless furniture]]). The Western empire collapsed in 476, ushering in TheDarkAges. Charlemagne took the name of "Rome" for his kingdom, the "HolyRomanEmpire," in 800 AD, as did TsaristRussia ("Tsar" being a linguistic evolution of "Caesar"). The most salient point here is that a "Roman" nation of some sort existed, on paper at least, for [[LongRunners well over two thousand years]].

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Pax Romana]]

->''"To plunder, to slaughter, to usurp, they give the lying name of empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace."''
-->-- '''Calgacus''', chieftain of the Caledonians, in ''Agricola'' by Roman historian Tacitus

During its heyday, the Roman Empire maintained a level of peace and stability within its borders not often known to people living in those times. With its legions, a relatively enlightened ruling system, religious freedom (well, tolerance and syncreticism, at least), the Roman Empire held well enough (and people considered themselves sufficiently part of it) that an American would probably be quite at home there. In fact, there are two separate terms for this in the modern context: Pax Britannica (for when UsefulNotes/TheBritishEmpire's influence moderated conflict and brought relatively free trade from [[NapoleonicWars 1815]] to [[WorldWarI 1914]]) and Pax Americana.

The Pax Romana was based, to a large degree, upon the political nature of the empire. A great deal was direct empire: Rome had immediate authority over the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. However, Rome's peace was the result of its HegemonicEmpire. Technically independent client nations surrounded it and participated in trade of goods, wealth, and (Roman) culture. In order to maintain control over these client states, Rome regularly sent lavish gifts to their rulers. In return, those rulers did everything they could to keep from antagonizing Rome. Not only did these client states not make war with Rome, they also served as buffers.

On the far side of the client states were barbarian tribes who, being nomadic (the horsemen of the desert) or seminomadic (the Germans to the North moved between different permanent sites depending on the season) and lacking such features of civilization as money and stone monuments, were indifferent to Romanization. They liked Rome's wealth but wanted nothing of its culture. The client states surrounding Rome absorbed the repeated incursions of barbarian raiders so that Rome wouldn't have to. This is why Augustus, after expanding the empire, told his successor to stop doing that: eliminate the clients and Rome has to deal with the barbarians herself.

Barbarians weren't the only problem. In the East, Rome had a potent enemy in the Iranian empires of Arsacid Parthia (247 BC - AD 224) and Sassanid Persia (224 - 651). The client states to the east were essentially shuffled back and forth between Rome and Parthia/Persia in a kind of hegemonic game of checkers, with each side more or less understanding that direct conflict between the two would be disastrous for both. Hence, the Kingdom of UsefulNotes/{{Armenia}} became a buffer kingdom in which the Persians chose who'd be king of Armenia, and that king would travel to Rome to gain the Emperor's approval and be crowned. This kept conflict at a minimum between the two empires for some time.

Although the Pax Romana specifically refers to a phenomenon in the Mediterranean world, the fact is that the period was marked by unusual peace across a solid belt across the Eurasian civilized world from the Atlantic to the Pacific, controlled by four great empires: Rome in the west; with Persia to its east; and then to Persia's east the Kushan and Gupta empires in Afghanistan and northern India; and to the east of both of those the [[DynastiesFromShangToQing Han Dynasty]] held not only the Chinese heartland but also the Tarim Basin in modern Xinjiang. This is arguably the first period of "proto-globalization,"[[note]]the Hellenistic period might also count, although frankly the Greek kingdoms kept fighting each other and China was disunited, which put a serious damper on trade[[/note]] as in this time, the influence of the four large empires (Rome, Persia, India, and China) made regular cross-Eurasian trade not merely a reality, but big business. Although restricted to luxuries--nothing else was worth shipping that far--there was unquestionably regular trade, with the Romans developing a taste for Eastern silk and spices, the Chinese developing an interest in Roman glassware, and everything in between. (The Han, by the way, sent an explorer to Rome, who left a fairly detailed report; they seem to have greatly respected Rome, seeing it as a Western mirror to themselves and calling it ''Daqin'': Great China.) Ideas also travelled: Christianity made its way to India and Central Asia in this time, finding moderate purchase; late in the period, the Persian Manichaeism spread to Rome and China. At the same time, fighting was restricted to proxy wars at the fringes of the great empires. This period of peace ended, however, after plagues swept Rome and China in the third century. Rome managed to hang on for another two centuries, but only just (see below); the Han [[Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms met their fate quicker]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: The Fall]]

->''"It was luxuries like air conditioning that brought down the Roman Empire. With air conditioning their windows were shut, they couldn't hear the barbarians coming."''
-->--'''Garrison Keilor'''

Unfortunately, the hegemonic empire couldn't last. Although Rome's tribute to her client states paid for the necessary military service of facing barbarian incursions, it couldn't pay for the human cost of warfare. Further, as each client became more Romanized, the citizens thereof became increasingly vocal in their desire to become part of Rome and receive the benefits of Roman civilization directly. Eventually each client state was absorbed into the Roman empire and Rome had to bear the burden of defending her borders herself.

As is often the case with a stable, growing population and economy, Rome faced the difficulties of inflation and, sometimes, too much economic growth, leading to cycles of boom and bust. As the science of economics wouldn't be developed for a few millennia, Rome found herself unable to cope with the complexities of managing the marketplace. Since the environmental factors fueling Rome's population growth also fueled the populations of the barbarians surrounding the empire, it led to a perfect storm that gradually ate away at Rome and led to her downfall. This can be marked in several stages.

Stage 1 - Search and Destroy

Search and Destroy is a military strategy wherein you search out hostile forces, destroy them on their own territory, and then withdraw. This prevents them from doing any damage to your own infrastructure and minimizes all other injuries done. Imminent barbarian incursions would be neutralized before they even reached the borders. This is a costly form of defense, but ideal. It requires a great deal of manpower at the border, regular and maintained fortifications, constant scouting in hostile territory, and a mobile force capable of meeting the enemy. This is what Rome had along all of her borders, with her forces and fortifications deployed in accord with the terrain and density of hostile forces. The German woods required a great deal of manpower and effort; the African deserts could be more sparsely manned. Despite the expense and effort required, attempts to carry out this strategy were made even as late as 375, a hundred years before the Western Empire would fall. However, even before then, declining power forced Rome to increasingly rely on...

Stage 2 - Static Defense

Rather than meet the hostile forces on their own ground, Rome learned to accept meeting them at the border. Very often the empire built actual walls (for example, the Antonine Wall in Scotland and Hadrian's Wall further south in England), though the psychological effects of building such walls may have been known even then. It's likely that this shift was made not out of any strategic choice, but because Rome was losing the manpower to engage in more effective strategies, the reason generally being disease: the Antonine Plague struck in 165 and lasted 15 years, and the Plague of Cyprian began in 250 and lasted at least 20. Both of these are generally accepted to be outbreaks of smallpox, and they caused serious damage to both civilian populations (the Antonine Plague killed up to a third of the population in some areas), and to the army (the Antonine Plague at least is understood to have been spread by a legion returning from fighting in the Middle East). Roman power also ebbed away in the endemic civil wars from the third century onwards, as rival claimants battled for the throne. These inevitably entailed the loss of Roman lives, sacked cities, economic disruption, and the destruction of Roman armies that might otherwise have been used against foreign enemies.

Since it requires less manpower--which is now what the Romans had--static defense it was. Unfortunately, this kind of defense is both unimaginative and passive, and a breach may occur at any single spot on a very long border, as the enemy may concentrate his strength, while the defender has no choice but to guard the entire perimeter. Once a breach is made, an invading horde may raid and pillage a great distance before they are stopped, as military forces are concentrated on the border and it takes time to react to face them. What's more, such defenses are also a constant drain on the defender as they must also be maintained and manned at all times. Once the barbarians broke through, the repeated damage to infrastructure (roads, fortifications, farms) led directly to...

Stage 3 - Withdrawal

Toward the end of the empire's existence, Rome gradually gave up on more and more territory as undefendable. Repeated incursions by hostile forces destroyed the population, the buildings, and the land. By the time the city of Rome was sacked, the Empire`s territory in the West had shrunk to more or less that of modern Italy. Rome itself was sacked multiple times during the fifth century and is seen as the final coda on the death of the empire. The Eastern, or Byzantine, empire continued for another thousand years, having much more secure natural borders and making better use of natural resources. Further, the density of hostile barbarians was much less in Western Asia than in Northern Europe, at least until the rise of, variously, the Mongols and Islam. It was Muslim Turks who finally conquered Constantinople, destroying the last remnant of the empire. For a time, Byzantium reached out, claimed, and held onto a significant portion of the Western empire (including modern Italy) in the sixth century, but it, too, had to retreat from those claims.
[[/folder]]


[[folder: Crucifixion]]

->'''Centurion''': What could be worse [than crucifixion]
->'''Old Man''': Could be stabbed.
->'''Centurion''': What?! It only takes a second; crucifixion lasts ''hours''.
->'''Old Man''': Least it gets you out in the open air.
->'''Centurion''': You're weird mate.
-->--''Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian''

The most famous person that this happened to was of course UsefulNotes/JesusChrist, but it happened to quite a lot of other people too. Another well-known example would be Spartacus. Everyone in his army that was taken prisoner after finally being defeated (about 6,000 people) were crucified at the same time, spread over about 200 km of the Via Appia (the Appian Way). Kinda similar to Jesus, there are claims that Spartacus either escaped, survived, or had a son that survived.

In terms of sheer nastiness, little matches crucifixion in the capital punishment field. It was designed to be as painful and humiliating as possible. The Romans themselves considered it so barbaric that Roman citizens usually couldn't be sentenced to crucifixion.

To go into further detail about crucifixion: five- to-seven-inch-long nails were driven into the wrists and ankles. How the nails were driven in depended on the shape of the cross, which was I, T, X, Y or the traditional cross shape. Then ropes are tied, so the Romans can pull up the cross. The ropes cut into the skin as the cross is raised. Then the person is essentially left to die. Times passes on, the person literally gets baked by the sun. Crows start to come and peck on the eyes on the hung, if that person has no family or friends to fend them off. The hung man must struggle with all of his might to get one tiny breath in, as his lungs are constricted. If he's lucky, he'll get a bitter tasting wine as a painkiller. In terms of waste removal, there was none. This further adds to the humiliation and infects any wounds below the waist. After that, there's not much left as the prisoner gets no food nor drink. Jesus lasted the good part of a day before passing on, but there are cases of men who lasted THREE DAYS of this. It's also where we get the word "excruciating", literally "from the cross."
* Now imagine this happening to six thousand people at the same time, on the same road.

Quite where the nails went (or if they were even used) and what the person was supposed to die of are debated by historians (Literature/TheBible isn't too clear on the subject either, due to translation issues from the original Greek). The usual theory has been suffocation, but some experiments concluded otherwise- certainly exhaustion and dehydration would have occurred too. Jesus' seven traditional sayings on the cross i.e. "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" ("My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" in Aramaic) would have been very hard, though not impossible, to get out in these circumstances. In order to speed things up, the legs of the condemned might be broken. How long it took to die varied widely and there are cases of people surviving due to a reprieve.

Victims were crucified completely naked to add to the humiliation factor. Though it is perfectly understandable that religious art wouldn't depict it visually (''especially'' given that it was done to ''disgrace'' the victims), there is no reason to believe Jesus was spared this token of humiliation.
* Some have said that humiliation and shame was the main issue Jesus dealt with, as part of the separation from God.

All that is what happened if you ''got'' to the cross- you had to carry it there yourself and you were flogged with a rather nasty whip (with iron balls or sharpened sheep bones in) beforehand. There are cases of the flogging killing people. In fact, the flogging was actually intended as a mercy -- the worse you were beaten before crucifixion, the sooner you would die on the cross.
[[/folder]]


[[folder: The Legion]]

->''"I came, I saw, I conquered."''
-->--'''Creator/GaiusJuliusCaesar'''

TheGloryThatWasRome

The centerpiece of the Roman army, the Legion was and is justifiably famous. They were incredibly disciplined, on pain of death. Perhaps what they are most lauded for is not their ability to kill, but for their engineering.

The early imperial army was a two-tier institution, with citizen volunteers making up the legions, which fought as heavy infantry, and non-citizens recruited into the auxilia, which consisted of archers, cavalry, light infantry, and any other type of unit that could help the legions achieve their mission.

As time went on, the legions became smaller and more numerous, so that they could be deployed more easily. The quality of the equipment also deteriorated, but the legions remained a very effective fighting force almost until the very end of the western Empire. Units were classified as ''limitanei'', or border units, and ''comitatenses'', or mobile units.

In the east, the army was reorganized and was focused on heavy cavalry, emulating the Persians. Following the Arab invasions, the military was divided into an elite standing army, the ''tagmata'', and local units raised from military districts, or ''themata'', similar to the limitanei and comitatenses mentioned above. In the high middle ages, some troops were raised in a semi-feudal manner, and the Empire relied a lot more on mercenaries.
[[/folder]]



[[folder: Symbols of the Empire]]

->'''''S'''enatus '''P'''opulus'''q'''ue '''R'''omanus''

The empire was rife with symbolism and iconography that has truly stood the test of time. Unfortunately, some are virtually never used because, almost without exception, Hitler co-opted them for his Nazi regime, tainting them perhaps beyond redemption. Roman symbols include:
* The Aquila - An eagle with wings outstretched, a rallying standard for the armies. Also found on a great deal of stonework.
* The double-headed eagle - Dating to the splitting of the empire, though the symbol is much older.
* Eagles in general - As they are associated with Jupiter/Zeus and are a symbol of strength. Their status as "King of the Birds", combined with the special Roman relationship with birds in general (avian activity was the primary form of state omen-reading), gave them particular importance to the Romans.
* The laurels and S.P.Q.R. - As seen at the top of the page, it stands for ''Senatus Populusque Romanus'', the Senate and People of Rome. ''Still'' used as the municipal logo by the modern city of Rome.
* The fasces - An axe, handle thrust through a bundle of reeds or sticks, the fasces was a symbol of authority. Originally a republican symbol of strength in unity (one reed or stick breaks, a bundle doesn't). It was resurrected by the fascists, specifically UsefulNotes/BenitoMussolini. So not everything was ruined by Hitler.
** Not even Mussolini could ruin this one: the French and American republics, which intentionally attempted to recall Rome, used the fasces in their symbolism long before Mussolini. The French Fifth Republic still uses the fasces with an axe in its [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Emblem_of_France semi-official emblem]], and the fasces are still found in many American symbols: the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seal_of_the_United_States_Senate Seal of the Senate]] has crossed fasces with axes, while the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mace_of_the_United_States_House_of_Representatives Mace of the House]] and the armrests in the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Memorial Lincoln Memorial]] are axeless fasces.
*** The fasces is also found in the symbol for the [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/31/Polisen_vapen_bra.svg/190px-Polisen_vapen_bra.svg.png Swedish police]] and related agencies, as well as in many other nations.
* The swastika - The symbol most indelibly associated with the Nazis (in the West), it is very ancient, going back to the neolithic, and global, having been found throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. It is related to the sun, as are most cross symbols.
* Roman Salute - There is little evidence that actual Romans actually saluted each other by raising their right hands above their heads, palm facing downward. Nevertheless, the image was associated with Roman Republicanism (via paintings by J-L David, among others) and became popularized during the French Revolution and thereafter. It was adopted by many Americans (as Bellamy Salute), by UsefulNotes/FascistItaly (the Roman Salute), UsefulNotes/NaziGermany (the Nazi salute), and many other political movements, although, after WorldWar2, its popularity receded drastically.
[[/folder]]


[[folder: The Emperors]]

->''"Two Caesars is one too many."''
-->--'''UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}}''', ordering the death of Cleopatra's son (and supposedly Creator/GaiusJuliusCaesar's bastard)

While the image of TheCaligula may linger in the popular imagination, Roman emperors varied from [[TheAce good and competent]] to ineffectual to monsters. The early emperors, starting with Augustus, largely kept [[TheRomanRepublic republican]] institutions in place, cultivating the image of what we would call a constitutional monarchy. However, all real power lay with the emperor, as he had the personal loyalty of the legions[[note]]If he ''didn't'', he wasn't going to remain emperor for long[[/note]]. Later on, during the third century, the emperors dropped the pretense of being JustTheFirstCitizen and openly embraced autocratic rule. Their personal force of bodyguards, the PraetorianGuard, had a large role in both selecting and displacing them.

Oh, and, just in case you did not know, Creator/GaiusJuliusCaesar was ''not'' an emperor. He died almost 20 years before Rome became an empire, for that matter. It is true, though, that he was a monarch in all but name by the time he died, and played a critical role in helping Rome transition into an empire.

[[AC:'''Julio-Claudian dynasty''']]
!![[UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}} Augustus]](27 BC - 14 AD)

The founder of the Roman Empire and its first emperor. Extremely ruthless and [[Creator/NiccoloMachiavelli Machiavellian]] with his political rivals, he was benevolent with the general public. He began the ''Pax Romana'' and is widely revered for bringing peace to the Empire.

[[UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}} Has his own page.]]

!!Tiberius (14 - 37)

The second emperor and ReplacementScrappy for Augustus and his intended heirs. Ruled the early Roman Empire competently enough, but was alienated from the Senate and constantly suffered personal tragedies.

* ZeroPercentApprovalRating: By the end of his reign, he was universally hated.
* BadassBookworm
* BrutalHonesty
* TheCreon: According to most sources, he did much better when he wasn't emperor. He was content with his NumberTwo status and decidedly ''not'' gunning for the top job, until his mother forced him into it. By all accounts, Tiberius was very popular as a general and administrator under Emperor Augustus, but very hated as soon as he was in Augustus' job.
* LonelyAtTheTop
* MotherMakesYouKing: His mother Livia pushed him into becoming Augustus' heir, a position that he never wanted himself.
* NoSocialSkills
* OvershadowedByAwesome: Having to live up to Augustus ain't easy.
* ThePeterPrinciple: Many believe his promotion to Roman Emperor was an ascent beyond his talents.
* PrinceCharmless: Famously anti-social and uncharismatic. He was called "the gloomiest of all men" by Tacitus.
* ReplacementScrappy
* SurroundedByIdiots: How he felt about the Senate.
* UnwantedSpouse: Augustus' daughter Julia was this to him, and he certainly was this to her. The whole marriage was an utter disaster.

!!Caligula (37 - 41)

Tiberius' great-nephew. Insane and tyrannical, but just ''how'' much is still hotly debated by historians to this day. Was extremely hated by the Senate, though popular with the lower classes for his antics. Had a very short reign of four years, before he was killed by a BodyguardBetrayal.

Has [[UsefulNotes/{{Caligula}} his own article]].

!!Claudius (41 - 54)

Caligula's uncle and Tiberius' nephew, already an older man when he became emperor. Is famous for [[Series/IClaudius a certain TV series]], and for conquering Britain. Surviving his murderous family and eventually obtaining the imperial throne due to his ObfuscatingStupidity, he had a fairly successful reign. Poisoned by his wife (and niece) in 54.

* ActionSurvivor: He managed to survive the deadly maze of conspiracies and backstabbings that was the Julio-Claudian family, in no small part due to his ObfuscatingStupidity. The imperial family ripped itself apart, and nobody bothered to kill "Claudius the Idiot" until he was the last man standing (well, crouching behind a curtain).
* BreadAndCircuses: Massively expanded during Claudius' reign, and the main reason for his ''huge'' popularity with the plebs.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass
* ObfuscatingStupidity: His most famous trait.
* ProperlyParanoid
* {{Sadist}}

!!Nero (54 - 68)

Caligula's nephew and the last descendant of Augustus' dynasty. Wrongly remembered as a fiddling Rome-burning lunatic, Nero was actually extremely popular during his lifetime. Was overthrown after a mutiny by the armies in Spain and Gaul. The first emperor who persecuted Christians, he was given a massive HistoricalVillainUpgrade after his death.

Has [[UsefulNotes/{{Nero}} his own article]].

[[AC:'''"The Year of the Four Emperors"''']]

!!Galba (68 - 69)

The first of the short-lived "four emperors". Former governor of Spain, and made emperor by the legions of Gaul and Spain during their mutiny against Nero.

* BodyHorror
* BodyguardBetrayal: Died in the Forum Romanum when he was chopped to shreds by his bodyguards and his NumberTwo.
* TheButcher: Famous for his cruelty when he was governor of Spain. When he was elected to Roman emperor, his first act was to round up the legions who'd been loyal to Nero and [[SadisticChoice decimate them.]]
* DisproportionateRetribution
* GrumpyOldMan: He was seventy years old when he became emperor.
* HangingJudge: At least according to Suetonius.
** ->''"He sentenced a money-changer of questionable honesty to have both hands cut off and nailed to the counter; and crucified a man who had poisoned his ward. When this murderer complained that he was a Roman citizen, Galba recognized his status and ironically consoled him with: 'Put this citizen on a higher cross than the rest, and have his cross whitewashed'."''
* RedRightHand: Galba suffered from gout, which made his hands and feet swollen to a huge size. He also had another RedRightHand on his body--an enormous tumor which grew out of his belly, and he supposedly needed to wear special armor to restrain this growing tentacle-like mass of flesh.
* TheUsurper

!!Otho (69)

The second of the four. Once a close friend of Nero (and the ex-husband of Nero's wife), he was Galba's second-in-command until he killed the old man and took over.

* HeroicSacrifice: After a few small battles against the forces of Vitellius, and despite the urging of his troops to continue fighting, Otho stabbed himself in the chest in order to prevent the empire from falling into further civil war.
* HiddenDepths: Although a metrosexual playboy and a party animal for most of his life, Otho showed a [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething surprising competence and leadership skill]] when he became emperor.
* PrettyBoy
* ReplacementGoldfish: Was a friend of Nero's, and promoted himself as a second Nero when he rose to power. The memory of Nero was still majorly popular with the Roman lower classes, so this was pretty good PR. Otho reinstated most of Nero's reforms, and even signed papers as "Nero".
* TheStarscream: He was this to Galba.

!!Vitellius (69)

The third (and worst) of the four. The governor of Germania, he launched his own rebellion against Galba and Otho. Was infamous for his gluttony and cruelty.

* AdiposeRex: The fattest Roman emperor in history.
* FatBastard: How he is remembered. Suetonius describes him as horrible and depraved, though it's more likely that he was simply a lazy emperor and out of his depth.
* HumiliationConga: Subjected to one by Vespasian, before he was publicly tortured to death.
* IWasQuiteALooker

[[AC:'''Flavian dynasty''']]

!!Vespasian (69 - 79)

Former governor of Judea and last of the "four emperors". A very competent administrator and military leader. Defeated the UsefulNotes/JewishRevolts and built the Colosseum. According to some, the MessianicArchetype prophecy referred to him.

* ColonelBadass: Before he became an emperor in his old age.
* DeadpanSnarker: His main trait. Vespasian is said to have dealed the snark even when he was sick and about to die. As he shat himself from diarrhea, he declared: ''"Oh, dammit I think I'm becoming a god."'' (Ut puto, deus fio.)
* DyingMomentOfAwesome: Vespasian's exit was classy: aware that he was breathing his last, he got someone to help him out of bed - so that he could die standing up.

!! Titus (79 - 81)

Vespasian's eldest son, who waged a successful war against the Jews early in his life, which would have long-lasting consequences for Christianity and Judaism.

!! Domitian (81 - 96)

Vespasian's younger son, who may or may not have killed his brother. Was a competent but authoritarian ruler, and deeply loathed by the Senate. One of the first emperors with a cult of personality.


[[AC:'''Nervan-Antonine dynasty''']]
!!Nerva (96 - 98)

An old childless Senator who was made emperor by the Senate but was unpopular with the army. Was the first of the "Five Good Emperors."

!!Trajan (98 - 117)

Widely considered to be the greatest Roman emperor since Augustus, his conquests increased the Roman Empire to its greatest extent.

!!Hadrian (117 - 138)

A peacemaker who pulled back from several areas conquered by Trajan. Traveled around the empire, and built the eponymous wall in Britain. Known for vehemently supporting Greek culture, almost to a bizarre degree.

!!Antoninus Pius (138 - 161)

Famous for doing nothing at all besides ruling competently for 22 years.

!! Marcus Aurelius (161 - 180)

Wisest of the emperors. Tried to live up to the ideal of the philosopher-king. A decent man and very competent ruler, though his reign was marked by wars and ThePlague, which killed him too.

!! Commodus (177 - 192)

The son of Marcus Aurelius. Started the empire's long decline by being a spendthrift and useless ruler. May have gone slightly mad before the end, renaming Rome to [[{{Egopolis}} "Colony of Commodus"]] and pretending he was Hercules reborn.

[[AC:'''"The Year of the Five Emperors"''']]

!!Pertinax (193)

An elderly man and accomplished general elected by the Senate. Was betrayed and murdered by the Praetorian Guard after he tried to impose some much needed discipline to their ranks. (are we [[SarcasmMode seeing a pattern here?]]).

!!Didius Julianus (193)

Famous only for ''buying the empire'' from the Praetorians, who auctioned off the throne after they'd killed Pertinax. Needless to say this made him very unpopular with everyone else, leading to him being executed after almost everyone had abandoned him.

!!Pescennius Niger (193)

A general whose troops proclaimed him emperor in Syria, in response to the scandalous auction. Defeated by Septimius Severus in the next year.

!!Clodius Albinus (193)

A second general whose troops rebelled against Didius buying the throne, this time in Britain. He initially allied himself with Severus, who let him have the title "Caesar". Was eventually backstabbed by his "ally" Severus and killed in 197.

[[AC:Severan dynasty]]

!!Septimius Severus (193 - 211)

Harsh but fair emperor and very competent general. Machiavellian master of the XanatosGambit. Since he was a military man who depended only on the army for support, the Senate finally slid into total irrelevance during his reign.

!!Caracalla (198 - 217)

Severus' eldest son. Expanded the Roman citizenship to all free people throughout the empire. Whatever ruling ability he may have had was totally overwhelmed by his constant violent rage. Famously had his own brother, co-emperor Geta, murdered just so that he could reign alone.

!!Macrinus (217 - 218)

Not a member of the Severan dynasty. First non-politician to become an emperor, he killed Caracalla [[ProperlyParanoid before the other way round would've happened.]] Didn't last long before Severus' family took back the throne.

!!Elagabalus (218 - 222)

Caracalla's cousin. A flamboyant CampGay teenager, at a time when StraightGay or BiTheWay was the norm (some even claim him to be a {{Transsexual}}), he was so flamboyant that it led to extreme disapproval and his early demise.

!!Alexander Severus (222 - 235)

Another cousin of Caracalla and Elagabalus. Did his best, but was very [[MommasBoy dominated by his mother]]. Was murdered by his soldiers after trying to negotiate with the German tribes as opposed to fighting them on the battlefield.

[[AC:'''"The Soldier Emperors"''']]

!!Maximinus Thrax (235 - 238)

The first of the so-called "Soldier Emperors", and also the first ruler who never set a foot into Rome. Started as a common barbarian soldier from Thrace, and never learned Latin properly. Also known by the nickname "Cyclops" because of his freakish size.

!!Philip the Arab (244 - 249)

Oversaw the celebration of the millennium since the foundation of Rome. As his ''cognomen'' implies, he was an ethnic Arab from the Syrian borderlands--a fact of which modern Syrians are quite proud; they put him on their 100-pound note. Very tolerant towards Christians.

!!Decius (249 - 251)

Persecuted the Christians and became infamous for it. Died in battle against the invading Goths.

!!Valerian (253 - 260)

First emperor to be captured by the enemy. Valerian's reign was easily the lowest point of Rome in the third century. Was taken alive by the Sassanid Persians and allegedly skinned, stuffed and put on display. Other accounts have him being forced to be King Shapur's footstool, whilst the more credible ones simply have him stuck in a tower for the rest of his life.

!!Claudius Gothicus (268 - 270)

Military man from the Balkans and competent ass-kicker. Defeated and almost exterminated the Goths.

!!Aurelian (270 - 275)

Reconquered the breakaway provinces of Gaul, and crushed the Palmyrene Empire under [[LadyOfWar Queen Zenobia]]. He probably extended the Roman Empire's lifespan by two hundred years. He obtained the title of ''Restitutor Orbis'', or restorer of the world. Was assassinated by his soldiers after a 5 year reign, which makes his accomplishments all the more impressive.

!!Probus (276 - 282)

Oversaw the Roman withdraw to the Rhine and Danube rivers. Despite a reasonable competent campaign of military restoration, he was deposed and murdered in a revolt begun by disloyal Praetorians (''again'').

[[AC:'''The Tetrarchy''']]

!!Diocletian (284 - 305)

A true MagnificentBastard who reorganized the empire and appointed three other co-emperors, creating what is called the tetrarchy. Declared himself a GodEmperor, marking the point when the emperor's authority was absolute in theory as well as in fact. Persecuted the Christians, because he considered them a threat to Rome's stability. After he felt he had done all he wanted to do, he retired to the countryside and became a gardener.

!!Constantius Chlorus (306)

One of Diocletian's co-emperors. Father of an illegitimate son who would later become Constantine the Great. Best known for his tolerant stance towards Christians in his part of the empire.

!!Constantine the Great (306 - 337)

First tolerated, then favored Christianity. The first Christian emperor of Rome, being baptized just before his death. Moved the empire's capital away from Rome, to what would be called Constantinople. Not a pleasant fellow, he killed both his wife and his first son.

!!Constantine II (337-340)

Constantine's first (surviving) son. Squabbled with his brother Constans and died while fighting against him during a failed invasion of Italy.

!!Constantius II (337-361)

Second (surviving) son of Constantine. Credited with masterminding the murder of his male relatives after his father's death. The first emperor to actively discourage pagan practices and promote Christiantiy.[[note]]Though Constantius himself didn't follow orthodox Christianity-he followed Arianism, which acknowledges the divinity of Jesus but denies the concept of the Holy Trinity.[[/note]]

!!Julian the Apostate (360 - 363)

Tried to turn back the clock and reinstate the traditional Roman pagan religion, but Christianity had become far too established by then. Began a number of large reforms, only for them to be abandoned after his death.

!!Jovian (363-364)
Became emperor after Julian was killed in battle against the Persians. Jovian undid Julian's more anti-Christian policies, while maintaining tolerance for paganism. Died under mysterious circumstances after only eight months on the throne while still on his way to Constantinople.

!!Valentian I (364-375)
Ruled in the west, with his brother Valens ruling the east. Valentinian restored the empire's flagging fortunes with military victories against various invaders. Died from a stroke brought on by yelling at enemy diplomats.

!!Valens (364 - 378)

Famous for losing the Battle of Adrianople, the most disastrous defeat in Rome's history, and getting himself killed.

!!Gratian (375-383)

Succeeded his father Valentinian. Ended the religious toleration of his predecessors, favoring Christianity and suppressing paganism.

[[AC:'''Theodosian dynasty''']]

!!Theodosius (379 - 395)

Last emperor to rule over east and west. Banned all religions except Christianity. Split the Empire after his death, the west going to Honorius and the east going to Arcadius.

!!Honorius (395 - 423)

Emperor of the Western Empire. Another imperial idiot. Most notable moment of his reign was the Sack of Rome in 410. Reportedly [[BrotherSisterIncest lusted after his half-sister]].

!!Majorian (457-461)

General who became emperor after the overthrow of Avitus. Notable for spending nearly all of his reign campaigning to regain lands the Empire had lost and doing a fairly successful job, reconquering most of Gaul and Hispania; his attempt to kick the Vandals out of Africa was thwarted by traitorous soldiers however. His attempts to curb practices putting a strain on the Empire drew the ire of both the aristocracy and [[EvilChancellor magister militum Ricimer]] who had hoped to use Majorian as a puppet. As a result he was captured, tortured and finally executed by Ricimer with his death arguably ending any hope for the stability or survival of the Western Empire.

!!Romulus Augustulus (475 - 476)

A kid who was the puppet of his father Flavius Orestes, who himself had violently supplanted the previous emperor Julius Nepos. When Orestes denied the barbarian troops that had helped him to dethrone Nepos the promised rewards -- specifically to grant them a third of Italy for settlement -- he was in turn overthrown by the German general Odoacer, who deposed the puppet Romulus (but spared his life) and assumed the title "commander of Italy". Romulus is usually identified as the last emperor in the West, although some insist that Julius Nepos, who ruled in Dalmatia until 480, was the last one.[[note]]Romulus's prominence in the history books is somewhat boosted by his name, which ironically recalls Romulus the mythic founder of Rome.[[/note]]

(For Emperors of the Eastern Empire after the Western's fall, see ByzantineEmpire)
[[/folder]]
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!!TropeNamer for:
* TheEmperor (from ''imperator'', a military title literally meaning "commander" and usually bestowed upon victorious generals)
* TheEmpire (and in the western tradition at least, also the TropeCodifier)
* TheRepublic (from ''res publica'', "[government is a] public affair")
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!!Depictions in fiction

[[AC:Anime and Manga]]
* ''ThermaeRomae'', set in the reign of the emperor Hadrian (and in 21st century Japan).
* ''Anime/HighlanderTheSearchForVengeance'' has the back story of Marcus being a general of Rome who while conquering England destroys the hero's village. Later on we see the sacking of Rome.
* ''Franchise/AxisPowersHetalia'' has the character of Grandpa Rome, dressed as a Roman general.

[[AC:Comic Books]]
* The ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}}'' series. Though Julius Caesar wasn't an emperor.
* ''ComicBook/{{Alix}}'' is one of the two comics (the other being ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}}'') translated to latin
* ''ComicBook/{{Murena}}''
* ''Nero Fox'' (the "Jive-Jumping Emperor of Ancient Rome"), a [[TheGoldenAgeOfComicBooks Golden Age]] DCComics FunnyAnimal character who was emperor of ancient Rome.
* ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' issue 20, "August", in which an old Augustus spends an afternoon disguised as a beggar in the streets of Rome
* The current [[ComicBook/DieAbrafaxe Abrafaxe]] arc, which started with ''ComicBook/{{Mosaik}}'' No. 459, is set during the reign of Emperor Trajan. The Abrafaxe have to help bring two Germanic children (the son and the daughter of two chiefs who want to have good relations with Rome) from the Rhine to Rome. Which brought them to Carthage, where they found a statue of Bella (the Abrafaxe's distaff counterparts, Anna, Bella and Caramella had passed through the place in an adventure in 25 B.C., during the reign of Augustus).

[[AC:{{Film}}]]
* Ridley Scott's ''Film/{{Gladiator}}''
* ''Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian''
* The second segment of ''Film/HistoryOfTheWorldPartI'', the Creator/MelBrooks movie.
* ''Film/BenHur'' (based on a novel by Lew Wallace)
* ''Film/TheRobe'' (based on a novel by Lloyd C. Douglas)
* ''DemetriusAndTheGladiators'', sequel to ''Film/TheRobe''
* ''The Sign of the Cross'', based on a play by Wilson Barrett
* Fellini's ''Satyricon'', loosely based on a work by the Ancient Roman author Petronius.
* ''Film/QuoVadis?'' (''See'' {{Literature}}, ''below''.)
* ''Film/{{Centurion}}'', set among the Ninth Legion in Scotland, right when Hadrian pulled back.
* ''Filmi/TheLastLegion'', set during the last days of the Empire and the reign of Romulus Augustus
* ''Film/{{Agora}}'', takes place in Roman Egypt during the early fifth century

[[AC:{{Literature}}]]
* ''The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'' (1776-1789) by Edward Gibbon is considered the definitive, most exhaustively researched book ever written on the topic of history.
* ''The Last Days of Pompeii'' (1834) by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Adapted to film many times.
* ''Literature/QuoVadis?'' (1896) by Henryk Sienkiewicz.
* ''The Silver Chalice'' (1952) by Thomas B. Costain. Made into an infamously bad movie in 1954.
* ''DetectivesInTogas'' (1953) by Henry Winterfeld, set in the reign of Emperor Tiberius.
* ''Literature/TheEagleOfTheNinth'' (1954), ''Literature/TheMarkOfTheHorseLord'' (1965), ''Literature/FrontierWolf'' (1980) and various other novels by Creator/RosemarySutcliff set in the Empire times in Britain.
* ''Literature/EcceRomani'', the Latin textbook. First published in 1971.
* ''Literature/CambridgeLatinCourse'', the UK's counterpart to ''Ecce Romani''.
* The ''Literature/MarcusDidiusFalco'' series of detective novels. Started in 1989.
* ''Literature/TheRomanMysteries'' by Caroline Lawrence. Started in 2001.
* ''Literature/TheKingdomAndTheCrown''

[[AC:LiveActionTV]]
* ''Series/IClaudius'', based on the novel by Robert Graves.
* The miniseries ''Series/{{Masada}}'' about the siege of the titular fortress at the end of the UsefulNotes/JewishRevolts.
* ''Series/TheRomanMysteries'': The TV adaptation of the book series.
* The ''Series/DoctorWho'' episodes "The Romans", "The Fires of Pompeii" and "The Pandorica Opens".
* The BBC series of ''Series/HorribleHistories'' has a 'Rotten Romans' segment every episode, sometimes focusing on Rome itself and other times on Roman Britain.
* The HBO/BBC series ''Series/{{Rome}}'' is all about the founding days of the empire.
* ''Series/{{Chelmsford 123}}'' is a {{Britcom}} about the Roman occupation of Britain.
* ''Series/{{Plebs}}'', an ITV sitcom set early in the reign of Augustus.

[[AC:TabletopGames]]
* ''TabletopGame/VampireTheRequiem'': The ''Requiem for Rome''/''Fall of the Camarilla'' duology are set in a stylised fourth century Rome. ''Requiem for Rome'' is a setting book, with the default year being 360; ''Fall of the Camarilla'' is a campaign covering the period from 320 to 410.
* ''TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu'' historical setting ''Cthulhu Invictus'' takes place in the first century AD.

[[AC:{{Theatre}}]]
* A few plays by Creator/WilliamShakespeare:
** ''Theatre/{{Cymbeline}}'': Set in Britain, but during the reign of Emperor UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}}.
** ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus'': Set in a fictional Late Roman era.
* ''Theatre/AFunnyThingHappenedOnTheWayToTheForum''

[[AC:VideoGames]]
* ''[[VideoGame/RomeTotalWar Rome: Total War]]''
** ''VideoGame/TotalWarAttila'' has the Empire split into the Western Roman Empire, and Eastern Roman Empire.
* ''VideoGame/SpartanTotalWarrior''

[[AC:WesternAnimation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheRomanHolidays'' by Creator/HannaBarbera
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