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The Roman empire was one of the largest, most powerful, longest lasting and influential powers in world history. Its rule reached its peak of power under Emperor Trajan in 117 A.D. In this year, it controls 2.5 million square miles (6.5 million square kilometers) of land with a total population of about 60 million. This made Rome one of the most powerful in the ancient world, exceeded in land controlled only by the Persian (under Darius the Great) and Han (Chinese) empires. The capital city of Rome (known as the city of seven hills and the eternal city,) began around 753 B.C. Long before it became a world power a series of Roman kings ruled the city. It changed to a republic form of government in 509 B.C.
Elected consuls advised by the Roman Senate governed the Republic. Public offices during the Republic period were generally limited to one year. The first sole ruler of the Empire was Augustus Caesar, who reigned as Emperor from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D. After his rule came Emperor Tiberius (14 to 37 A.D.), Caligula (37 to 41 A.D.), Claudius (41 A.D. to 54 A.D.), and Nero (54 to 68 A.D.).
After Nero's death, the empire entered a period of civil war known as the 'Year of Four Emperors.' In this period, four emperors would rule in quick succession. Galba reigned after Nero until his murder in June 68 A.D. Otho then ruled until he committed suicide in April 69. Vitellius then rose to power and ruled until he too was murdered. After his murder, the Senate declared Vespasian, on December 20 of the same year.
Rome had a tremendous impact on Christianity and its beliefs. It carried out no less than ten waves of persecution against Christians. The first of these began under Roman Emperor Nero, who instigated the torture and death of believers, many times as sport in the Circus Maximus, in order to deflect criticism of his own behavior. Emperor Diocletian (ruled 284 to 305 A.D.) carried out the last of these persecutions.
The last ruler of a united kingdom, emperor Theodosius I, died in 395 A.D. After his death, the kingdom split permanently into two parts: the Eastern (also known as the Byzantine) and the Western Roman Empires. While the Western lasted less than 100 years, the Eastern (Byzantine) continued until 1453 A.D. Rome as a power, in one form or another, lasted for more than 2,200 years and left an indelible mark on history. For example, the Forum (a plaza in the heart of the city) is the MOST FAMOUS meeting place in the world throughout all human history! Rome's influence still exists in areas such as language, law, government, architecture, medicine, sports, the arts and many more.