Ancient Rome

  • (753 BCE-476 AD)

    Today Rome is the capital city of Italy, a country in Europe. In ancient times it was a large empire that spanned across three continents! We will be learning about how this city grew into an empire, the influence of its government and culture on later civilizations and the circumstances that brought this great empire to an end in 476 A.D. ​

    *Remember: AD is used when we see a timeline switch from BCE to modern times*

    map of the roman empire at its height

    Ancient Rome was a powerful and important civilization that ruled much of Europe for nearly 1000 years.

    ​The culture of Ancient Rome was spread throughout Europe during its rule. As a result, Rome's culture still has an impact on the Western world today. The basis for much of Western culture comes from Ancient Rome, especially in areas such as government, engineering, architecture, language, and literature.


    Learning Objectives for this unit

    1. The role of significant individuals in ancient Rome - Government & Philosophers

    2. The physical features of ancient Rome and how they influenced the civilization that developed there - Geography

    3. Roles of key groups in of ancient Roman society in this period, including the influence of law and religion - Government & Religion 

    4. The significant beliefs, values, and practices of ancient Roman society - Religion 

    5. Conflicts within and/or with other societies, resulting in developments and the spread of philosophies and beliefs.

    Timeline of Ancient Rome

    Timeline of ancient rome

    Activities for the Unit

    Below, you will find the activities and resources for each topic. This page will be updated daily with your activities and videos.

    1st Topic: Geography and the Beginning of Rome (April 1)

    Nat. Geographic: Rome 101 Video (optional): watch the following video to build your background knowledge about the ancient civilization!

    The Big Idea: Geographic features can promote (allow) or impede (stop) the movement of people, products and ideas. 

    Use the reading below to complete your first activity of the unit.

    Assignment #1: Reading Notes - The Geography & Beginning of Ancient Rome (Wednesday, April 1st)

    Map of Ancient Rome 

    map of ancient rome

    2nd Topic: The Legend of Rome (April 2nd) 

    a wolf and two babies


    legend is a story about a person who did something heroic. It is not based on fact nor can it be said to be the truth. Roman children were told the legend of Romulus and Remus which shares how the city of Rome was built. 

    The Big Idea: The legend of Romulus and Remus was used to tell the founding of Rome.

    Use the reading below to complete your second activity of the unit.

    Assignment #2: Reading - The Story of Rome (Thursday, April 2nd)

    2-minute video (optional): watch the following video to recap the story of Rome that you just read.

     Friday, April 3rd: Weekly Quiz Due on Canvas 

    The quiz will help you review the topics covered this week

    • The Persian Wars: the various Greek City-States put their differences aside to defend their land and culture against the Persian Empire
    • The Fall of Persia: The greatest empire of their time, Persia fell by underestimating the Greeks
    • The Geography of Rome: How the geography provided the Romans with a number of benefits 
    • The Legend of Rome: How the story of Romulus and Remus was passed through Rome

    You are allowed to take the weekly quiz two times. If you are happy with your score the first time you take the quiz you do not have to take the quiz again! There is no time limit for the quiz. Do not close out the quiz until after you have submitted it. Your answers will not save unless you have submitted them. 

    3rd Topic: The Roman Republic - Day 1 (April 14)


    Senators - In this 19th-century painting, a speaker addresses his fellow members of the Roman Senate.


    Like most early civilizations, Rome was once ruled by a monarch. A monarch is a king or queen. Their power was passed down by blood. Rome eventually overthrew its kings and formed a republic. This change to self-rule would not only affect Rome's government. It would also affect Roman society.


    ESSENTIAL QUESTION:   How was Roman society structured?

    The Big Idea: As Rome developed into a complex civilization, two classes arose. Inequalities between them would lead to conflict. This conflict, however, would eventually define Roman citizenship and the rights of citizens under Roman law.

    Assignment #3: Reading - The Roman Republic (Tuesday, April 14)

    Video to recap the three branches of the Roman Republic: John Greene, Crash Course 

    Vocabulary Covered in Activity   

    • The upper-class patricians (puh•TRIHSH•uhnz) were wealthy landowners who held all of the highest positions in government

    • The plebeians (plih•BEE•uhnz) were mostly common farmers. Like all male Roman citizens, they could vote, but they couldn't hold important government positions.

      The Senate was a powerful body of 300 members that advised Roman leaders.

    • Two consuls led Rome's executive branch. They commanded the army and directed the government for one year. Each consul had the power to veto, or overrule, the other.


      3rd Topic: The Roman Republic - Day 2

      Law & Order in Ancient Rome: The Twelve Tables 

      (April 15th) 

    The leaders of the Roman Republic established a tripartite (try•PAHR•tyt) government. This type of government has three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive branch enforces a country's laws. The legislative branch makes the laws. And the judicial branch interprets the laws in court.

    Comparison chart of the Roman government to US government

      The U.S. government adopted several features of the Roman Republic. You can compare the two systems in the chart above. Like the Roman government, the United States has a tripartite system. The U.S. system of checks and balances makes sure that one branch of the government doesn't have too much power. This system is like the veto, which limited the power of Roman consuls. In addition, like Rome, the United States has a written constitution on which its government is based.


        Citizenship is also an important part of a republican government. In the Roman Republic, only free adult males were citizens and could vote. Only these citizens enjoyed the protection of Roman law. They also were expected to perform civic duties. That means that they were expected to serve their nation.

    ESSENTIAL QUESTION: How fair were the Twelve Tables of the Roman Republic?

    Big Idea: To limit the power of one branch of government, the Romans created a written set of laws known as the Twelve Tables.

    pillar that holds 12 tablets of laws

    Like most forms of government, the Roman Republic ran into a few problems along the way. Resentment over the patricians' power caused tension in the Republic. Finally, the patricians passed a written set of laws, called the Twelve Tables, around 450 B.C. Because the laws were written on 12 tables or tablets, they became known as the Law of the Twelve Tables. The laws were displayed in Rome’s Forum, or public meeting place, for everyone to see.

    Lady justice statue by "law and order: ancient rome"


    Assignment #4: The Law of the Twelve Tables (Wednesday, April 15th) 

    4th Topic: The Roman Army (April 16th) 

    The Roman Empire stretched across three continents, from the border between England and Scotland, all the way to modern-day Iran. This enormous territory was governed without the use of cars, planes or mobile phones. How did the Romans do it? The answer was their army. The Roman army was the largest and best-organized fighting force in the world. Every last detail from their equipment to their battle formations, to their leadership was carefully considered and copied across the Roman Empire.

    Roman Soldier Diagram

    Essential Question: Why was the Roman Army so good at invading?

    Big Idea: The Roman army was large and well organized allowing the Republic to expand its territory. 

    Assignment: The Roman Army Activity (April 15th)  

    5 min Video: A day in the life of a Roman soldier - Robert Garland (TED-Ed)


    5th Topic: The Punic Wars (April 17th) 

    Hannibal crosses the Alps with a force of elephants during the Second Punic War

    Hannibal crosses the Alps with a force of elephants during the Second Punic War

    Rome was contained mainly in the Italian peninsula until there was a major conflict over land. Both the Romans and the Carthaginians wanted Sicily due to its strategic location. The three Punic wars were a major turning point for the Roman Republic. 

    Assignment: Complete the Powerpoint activity on NearPod. Enter your first name as your username


    Join with this CODE: OHEMA at or in the app


    Join by using this link

    6th Topic: Gladiators (April 20th) 

    The Roman government wanted to keep the idle masses entertained because they knew that a large group of poor people was a major threat to their empire. Therefore, the Romans enjoyed many different forms of entertainment, most of which were free. Theaters were scattered throughout the city and empire. These theaters were large, open-air theaters that could seat as few as 7,000. The most popular form of Roman entertainment was the gladiator games. 

    Essential Questions:

    • Who were gladiators?
    • Would you ever want to see a real gladiator fight? Why or why not?

    Objective: Describe what it was like being a Roman gladiator and the role the games held in Roman culture

    A Day in the Life of a Gladiator in Ancient Rome

    Where Were the Gladiator Games Held?

    The Colosseum in Rome - it was the largest amphitheater in the ancient world and is still a prominent landmark in the Italian capital. It is famously known as the Flavian Amphitheatre. The construction of the Colosseum is said to have begun around the year 70 A.D. At the time, amphitheaters were built against hillsides to ensure stability. In Rome, they built the first free-standing amphitheater. It held around 50,000 spectators.

    The best seats were reserved for senators and guests of honor. Nonetheless, every Roman citizen could attend events here for free. Under the arena, there were gladiator schools, animal cages, and storage chambers, all connected by a network of corridors, secret passageways and trap doors! 

    What is a Gladiator?

    gladiator is a person, often a slave or captive, who was armed with a sword or other weapon and forced to fight to the death in a public arena against another person or a wild animal, for the entertainment of the spectators (viewers). 

    Video to view: National Geographic | Gladiator Training (4:52)


    Today's Activities

    Today, you will have two activities to complete

    Roman Gladiators Reading & Questions

    Spartacus Discussion Post (Canvas)

    Want to Learn More About Gladiators?

    *Optional Activity*

    Book cover

    If you want to learn more about Gladiators you can read through this interactive book that explains why you wouldn't want to be a Roman gladiator. You can navigate through the book using the tabs on either the left or right-hand side.



    7th Topic: Introduction to Julius Caesar (April 21st) 

    Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) was a Roman statesman, soldier, writer, and orator. His government reforms served as the foundation for the Roman Empire. Despite being elected to step in as a leader, Julius is assassinated in 44 BC by some of his own people. Prior to learning what happened that eventful day, you must first learn about Julius Caesar as a person and leader.

    Explore Julius Caesar's Rome | Travel | Smithsonian Magazine

    Julius Caesar Background Information

    7th Topic: The Assassination of Julius Caesar (April 22nd-23rd)

    Julius Caesar was appointed Roman dictator. Typically, his position only needed by filled for six months. However, he was elected to stay a dictator for life. He was assassinated on the Ides of March (the 15th of March) of 44 BC. He arrived, believing he was to meet with the Senate. Upon his arrival, Caesar was stabbed 23 times and left to die.

    After you review the following sources, your job is to address two major questions: 

    1. Who killed Julius Caesar?

    2. Why were the actions of his killer(s) viewed as justified in the eyes of many during the time of his assassination?

    Document to log your student responses 

    Cold Case documents - A-E & G.