The Roman Empire

Gaius Gracchus
(153-121 BCE) A younger brother of Tiburius, Gaius favored the rich plebeians, and enabled the poor to buy grain at a discount. Arousing the patricians anger, he and 3,000 of his followers were killed in a civil war. The murders convinced Rome that violence was the answer, and there was a lot of political violence during this period. The senate turned into an oligarchy.

(157-86 BCE) Marius, a militant consul elected in 107 BCE, destroyed the republic by filling his army with poor people, who fought only for the money. The army became loyal to Marius, and not to Rome.

King of Pontus, he invaded the Roman part of Asia, and massacred 80,000 Italians.

(138-78 BCE) Military dictator of Rome, Sulla’s power was taken away by supporters of Marius, and, when he refused to lose power, he marched on Rome. Nevertheless, when he left on a war, Marius took power again, and a civil war broke out. Marius died shortly after. Sulla took power again, and made the senate’s rule infinite, thinking this was the only route to a better Rome. He also increased the senate’s size to six hundred.

Julius Caesar
(c. 100-44 BCE) In 60 BCE, Caesar, a political genius, Pompey, a general, and Crassus, a banker, tried to take over Rome. Caesar was the leader of the three, and an oligarchy developed. The charismatic leader took control of Gaul, and invaded Rome from there. Meanwhile, Crassus died, and Pompey and Caesar grew apart. It was then that Caesar marched on Rome. He appointed himself dictator for the good of Rome, creating revolutionary reforms, which brought Rome out of its state of chaos. In 44 BCE, republican extremists assassinated Caesar. After Caesar’s assassination, there was a civil war in Rome, and thousands died.

Octavian (Augustus)
Caesar’s adopted son, Rome’s first emperor, brought order to Rome, and after his reign, Rome saw a golden age. He brought a strong monarchy to Rome, but did not abolish the assemblies; he used them to disguise his rule. To prove that he was not a tyrant, in 27 BCE, he offered to resign, but the senate would not let him. He took the title Princeps, meaning "first citizen." He made himself commander in chief of the army. He reformed Rome, from creating a new government, to refining the waterways. He was the greatest ruler Rome ever had.

The Pax Romana

The Julio-Claudian Dynasty
The four empires after Augustus were related to him, and formed the Julio-Claudian dynasty. It ended when Nero, a tyrant, committed suicide. After a civil war, and the execution of two emperors, Vespasion took control

From 69-79 CE, Vespasian was the ruler of Rome. He improved the military, and discouraged revolutions. He built the Coliseum a center of entertainment for Romans. 

(79-81) A son of Vespasian, he ruled well, and his rule was marked by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, on Pompeii and Herculaneum.

(81-96) Ruling after Titus, Domitian executed many high-ranking Romans after a small revolution, which got himself killed.

Selected by Rome to succeed Domitian, Nerva’s reign (96-98) was uneventful, but he started a precedent, adopting sons to proceed him as rulers.

The adopted son of Nerva, Trajan eased taxes, enlarged his army, and helped children, and tried to conquer the east.

The emperor after Trajan, Hadrian abandons the eastern expeditions, and fought against a Jewish revolt (132-135), and created many harsh rules against the Jews.

Antoninus Pius
After Hadrian, he ruled from 138 until 161, and was a good ruler, who fought for humanity. Under him was a peaceful empire.

Marcus Aurelius
(161-180) A stoic philosopher, Marcus fought the Parthians, and won, but he brought with him a disease that killed many Romans.