Ancient Rome (Ancient Civilizations) by Michael Anderson

By Michael Anderson

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Octavian got the Roman Senate to declare war on Egypt and won a decisive victory in the naval battle of Actium in 31 bc. Antony and Cleopatra escaped to Alexandria. The next year Octavian defeated Antony again in Egypt, and Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide. Egypt was annexed to Rome, and Octavian returned to Rome in triumph. 46 CHAPTER 4 The Roman Empire T he battle of Actium made Octavian master of Rome and its provinces. He kept up a show of republican government, with himself as first citizen (princeps civitatis).

The main challenge to the imperial architects was now the construction of 63 Ancient Rome churches. These churches were large vaulted enclosures of interior space, unlike the temples of the Greeks and the pagan Romans that were mere statue-chambers set in open areas. The earliest imperial churches in Rome, like the first church of St. Peter’s erected by Constantine beginning in 333, were vast barns with wooden roofs supported on lines of columns. They resembled basilicas, which had carried on the Greek style of columnar architecture.

On his victorious return in 82 bc, Sulla took a fearful revenge, slaughtering more than 5,000 of the people’s leaders and confiscating their goods. As “perpetual dictator” (81–79 bc) he passed laws transferring supreme power from the people to the Senate. The aristocrats, however, were too corrupt and feeble to hold power. Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus The infighting and corruption within the governing elite threatened Rome’s supremacy in the Mediterranean—and the very structure of Roman power. In these stormy years two great statesmen emerged: Pompey and Julius Caesar.

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