The rise of Rome from an insignificant pastoral settlement to perhaps the world's most successful empire—supreme as a lawgiver and organizer, holding sway over virtually all the then-known world W of Persia, on which it left a permanent imprint of its material and cultural achievements—is one of the great epics of history. Whatever its fortunes throughout history, Rome has remained the symbol of European civilization. Because of the complexity of the subject matter, the following article is divided into several sections, and additional information will be found in the articles to which there are cross references. See also Roman art; Roman architecture; Latin literature; Roman religion.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.