This week, we turn our attention to the Romans. Though some scholars may grumble about their outright larceny of all things Greek and their decadent lifestyle, how can you not love the Civilization that gave us gladiators and togas?
Rome's beginnings are obscured by myth and legend, but we know that parts of what we now call Rome were first settled in 753 BC, though the Republic of Rome wasn't founded until 509 BC. Toward the end of the 5th century BC, the Romans, propelled by the pressures of unchecked population growth, began to expand at the expense of nearby city-states. Rome's first two wars were fought with Fidenae, an independent city near Rome, and against Veii, an important Etruscan city. While fighting in the hills and valleys of central Italy, the expanding Roman Republic learned that plagiarism always catches up to you; the Phalanx formation they lifted from the Greeks had proven unwieldy, and the need for new combat strategies was crucial. A new tactical system, based on flexible ranks of self-contained Legions, became the principle means by which Imperial Rome conquered and ruled the ancient world. By 264 BC, all of Italy south of the Alps was "united" under the heel of Rome. Rome's next foe would be Carthage, an established commercial power in northern Africa. The Romans defeated and destroyed Carthage, but it took three Punic Wars (264-146 BC) to do it. This victory sustained Rome's acquisitive momentum, and the Republic set its sights on dominating the entire Mediterranean area. In short order, the Romans overran Syria, Macedonia, Greece and Egypt -- all parts of the decaying Hellenistic empire created by Alexander the Great.
All this prime new real estate didn't come cheaply, however. At home, tensions grew and civil war erupted. The ensuing period of unrest and revolution marked the transition of Rome from a republic to an empire. The later stages of these civil wars encompassed the careers of the brilliant Pompey, the orator Cicero, and the consul Julius Caesar, the conqueror of Gaul, who eventually was given power over Rome as its dictator. Despite sharing his name with a rather lightweight dinner salad, Caesar was definitely a heavy-hitter, meting out violent justice to his enemies and delivering stirring oratory at all the right times. Eventually, though, his ambition inflamed too many influential Romans, and in 44 BC, Caesar's retirement from public life (and life in general) was announced with a knife to the back.
After Caesar's death, civil war again erupted, but following his victory at Actium (31 BC), Julius' nephew Octavian was crowned Rome's first emperor, thus restoring some semblance of order to the always turbulent empire. With some notably colorful exceptions, such as Caligula, Nero, and Commodus, Rome was blessed with a series of able and brilliant leaders who continually expanded its frontiers; at its height, the empire stretched from Britain to Egypt and from Spain to Persia. The emperor Theodosius I (379-395) was the last to rule over a unified Roman Empire, and, upon his death in 395, Rome split into Eastern and Western empires. The fall of Rome was complete in 476, when the German chieftain Odoacer deposed the last Roman emperor of the West, Romulus Augustulus. Despite Rome's influence as the seat of Christianity and the wealth of the Italian city-states during the ensuing Medieval Ages, Italy would not be unified again until 1861 under the House of Savoy.
In Civilization III, the Romans are considered a Militaristic and Commercial civilization, therefore, they start with Warrior Code and Alphabet, and have significant bonuses to military and trade activities. See the developer update on Civ-specific abilities for more on these bonuses.
Roman Legionaries were well trained, well equipped, and well paid. In fact, it's a good thing they were paid so well, because Legionaries were required to pay for regular maintenance of their equipment out of their own pockets! Equipped with a short sword (gladius) or throwing spear (pilum), clad in steel plate armor and a bronze helmet, and wielding a large shield, a Roman Legionary was a fearsome sight indeed. Well-known for their offensive potency, Legionaries were equally adept at holding their ground, relying on clever defensive tactics and superior equipment.
The Legionary is an upgraded version of the swordsman. Like the swordsman, it requires iron to build, but it has an additional defensive point, making it one of the most formidable defenders of the early and middle ages, on par with pikemen.
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