We all know the old adage ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, but how long did it actually take to build Rome? A long time, we’ll wager.
How long did it take to build Rome?
When was Rome founded?
Legend tells that Rome was founded in 753 BCE by Romulus. However, there is archaeological evidence of humans living in Rome over 5,000 years ago though, suggesting that the city’s ancient foundation has been obscured by the legend of the testosterone-fuelled twins. In 2014, excavation work confirmed this with the uncovering of a stone wall pre-dating the original founding date. There’s also evidence of people living on Palatine Hill as early as 10 BCE.
So what’s the deal with Romulus and Remus?
Romulus and Remus are said to be the sons of the god Mars and descendants of the Trojan hero Aeneas. They were abandoned, brought up by a she-wolf, then decided to build a city. The pair got into a row about where the city should be located so Romulus ended up killing his brother (which seems like a bit of an overaction to us) then naming the city after himself.
The story goes that Romulus then invited men of all classes, including slaves, to come to Rome for a new life. He invited neighbouring tribes to a festival, then abducted all of the young women to marry the new male residents. There was a war with the Sabines (from whom he’d snatched all the women) and Romus ended up ruling with the Sabine King Titus Tatius.
They selected 100 of the noblest men and formed the Roman senate.
So where did Rome get its name from if it wasn’t Romulus?
No one really knows. It could have derived from the Greek Ῥώμη’, meaning brave and courageous. The root word ‘rum’ also means ‘teat’, so it could be a reference to the she-wolf that reared the two boys. So, in short, we still don’t know.
What was Rome like during the Roman Republic and Imperial Rome?
In the early days, Rome was ruled by kings. The first king of Rome was supposedly Romulus and the last king was Tarquin the Proud in 509 BCE. The people of Rome drove him out and established the Rome Republic. After winning a series of battles, the Romans achieved supremacy in 393 BE. When Rome conquered the Etruscan Veii, it became the dominant city in Latium. In 287 BCE Rome was sacked and burned. After that, Rome rebuilt most of its buildings, some of which still stand today. As the Roman republic grew more powerful, so did its army. At the peak of its power, Rome ruled over 45 million people.
What happened to Rome in the Medieval period?
The Medieval period saw Rome break with Constantinople and form the Papal States. With the emergency of the Holy Roman Empire, the Papacy struggled to retain its influence. The population fell to as little as 30,000 inhabitants. Most of the buildings constructed during the medieval period were demolished. Trastevere, which sits on the River Tiber, is one of the few places in the capital city where you can see some of the original medieval buildings. The Castle of Caetani, the Casa Mattei, and the Basilica of Santa Maria were built then.
What was Rome like in the Renaissance?
The Roman Renaissance – when Rome replaced Florence as the centre of artistic and cultural influence – took place in the 15th century. Despite the devastation of the city in 1527, the city flourished into the early modern period. Churches like St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel emerged. Michelangelo and Bernini also became great champions of the city.
What happened to Rome after the Renaissance?
Rome became the epicentre of Italian reunification in the nineteenth century. Florence temporarily became the capital, but in 1861, Rome was declared the capital of Italy – despite being under the control of the pope.
Where did the proverb come from?
The earliest record of the proverb is actually in French, in a medieval collection of poems called Li Proverbe au Vilain that dates back to 1190.
The first record of the English proverb is in Richard Taverner’s translation from the Latin of Erasmus’s Prouerbes 1545. It says: “Ye may use this prouerbe when ye wol signifie that one daye… is not ynoughe for… acheuinge… a great matter… Rome was not buylt in one day.”
Queen Elizabeth, I reportedly included it in a public address in Cambridge in 1564.