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Ancient Rome

Roman Emperors

Portrait of Caesar Augustus
Emperor Augustus
Source: The University of Texas

History >> Ancient Rome

For the first 500 years of Ancient Rome, the Roman government was a republic where no single person held ultimate power. However, for the next 500 years, Rome became an empire ruled by an emperor. Although many of the republican government offices were still around (i.e. the senators) to help run the government, the emperor was the supreme leader and was even sometimes thought of as a god.

Who was the first Roman Emperor?

The first Emperor of Rome was Caesar Augustus. He actually had a lot of names including Octavius, but was called Augustus once he became emperor. He was the adopted heir of Julius Caesar.

Julius Caesar paved the way for the Roman Republic to become an Empire. Caesar had a very strong army and became very powerful in Rome. When Caesar defeated Pompey the Great in a civil war, the Roman Senate made him dictator. However, some Romans wanted the republic government back in power. In 44 BC, just a year after Caesar was made dictator, Marcus Brutus assassinated Caesar. However, the new republic did not last long as Caesar's heir, Octavius, was already powerful. He took Caesar's place and eventually become the first Emperor of the new Roman Empire.

Julius Caesar by Andreas Wahra

Strong Emperors

At first you may think that the Roman republic moving to an empire led by an Emperor was a bad thing. In some cases, this was absolutely true. However, in other cases the Emperor was a good, strong leader who brought peace and prosperity to Rome. Here are a few of the better emperors of Rome:
Bust of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius
Emperor Marcus Aurelius
Photo by Ducksters
Crazy Emperors

Rome also had its share of crazy emperors. A few of them include Nero (who is often blamed for burning Rome), Caligula, Commodus, and Domitian.

Constantine the Great

Constantine the Great ruled over the Eastern Roman Empire. He was the first Emperor to convert to Christianity and started the Roman conversion to Christianity. He also changed the city of Byzantium to Constantinople, which would be capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for over 1000 years.

End of the Roman Empire

The two halves of the Roman Empire ended at different times. The Western Roman Empire ended in 476 AD when the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus, was defeated by the German, Odoacer. The Eastern Roman Empire ended with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 AD.

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For more about Ancient Rome:

Overview and History
Timeline of Ancient Rome
Early History of Rome
The Roman Republic
Republic to Empire
Wars and Battles
Roman Empire in England
Fall of Rome

Cities and Engineering
The City of Rome
City of Pompeii
The Colosseum
Roman Baths
Housing and Homes
Roman Engineering
Roman Numerals
Daily Life
Daily Life in Ancient Rome
Life in the City
Life in the Country
Food and Cooking
Family Life
Slaves and Peasants
Plebeians and Patricians

Arts and Religion
Ancient Roman Art
Roman Mythology
Romulus and Remus
The Arena and Entertainment
Julius Caesar
Constantine the Great
Gaius Marius
Spartacus the Gladiator
Emperors of the Roman Empire
Women of Rome

Legacy of Rome
The Roman Senate
Roman Law
Roman Army
Glossary and Terms

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Rome

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