Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

October 11, 2011

Recently, a colleague concluded an email with the statement, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This led me to ponder how long it took to build Rome.

According to legend the city itself was found in 753 BC by the twins Romulus and Remus. Both raised by a wolf, Romulus became Rome’s first ruler after he prematurely introduced his brother to the Elysian Fields. Had Remus dispatched Romulus, then the City would perhaps, have been named “Reme,” which to my ear doesn’t sound half as good as “Rome.”

The Roman Republic began in 509 BC. So that would be 244 years.

But the founding of the Republic doesn’t really talk about the construction of the city. I’d say Rome could be considered as “built” the day the City Center (Roman Forum) assumed its final shape. This occurred in 29 BC as the Emperor Augustus proclaimed Rome transformed from a city of brick to a city of marble. So, that would be 724 years.

On the other hand the “construction” of Rome could refer to the Empire itself. In that case its “completion” could relate to the time it achieved its maximum extent in terms of territory under its control. This was achieved toward the end of the reign of the Emperor Trajan in 117 AD, or about 869 (adjusting for there not being a year zero) years after the City was founded. See the map below:

And, finally, as I’m sure you all know, the last vestige of the Roman Empire perished on Tuesday, May 29, 1453 when Constantinople was occupied, and the Byzantine Empire ceased to exist, This ultimately doomed my countrymen to live off the money of their more prosperous neighbors to the north; the Northerners having been sufficiently stalwart to later defeat the marauding Turks at the gates of Vienna after having held off the Mongol Horde a few centuries prior.

Thus, the alpha and omega of the empire can be said to have been separated by 2,205 years.

For me I’m going with the empire definition or 869 years.


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