An old story tells about a mother wolf who is trotting along the bank of a wide river. Suddenly she stopped. Her ears pricked up. She thought she heard someone crying. She crept forward through the bushes…until she saw two baby boys sitting on the riverbank. They had no clothes on. They were crying because they were lost and hungry.
When they saw the wolf, they crawled to her and put their little arms around her furry neck. This must have pleased the mother wolf because she took the babies back to her cave and cared for them as though she were their mother. Later the baby boys were found by a herdsmen and his wife, who took care of them until they were old enough to take care of themselves. We don’t know who named the boys but today we call them Romulus and Remus.
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At the place on the riverbank where the mother wolf found them, the boys started a city. They called their city Rome and that according to legend, is how Rome-a great city and the capital of Italy-began. All this happened a long,long,long time ago-if it happened at all. The story probably isn’t true. But it is true that the Romans who continued to build the city of Rome, were as tough and as fierce as wolves. They were great fighters. The soldiers of Rome conquered most of the world that was known at that time. They conquered even the faraway Greeks.
The Romans liked what they saw in Greece. They brought back many Greek ideas. They built their buildings something like those in Greece. They brought back Greek teachers to teach their children. The Romans even took the Greek alphabet and changed it to fit their own language. The alphabet you learn in school comes from the Roman alphabet.Rome became the most important city in the world. It ruled over a huge empire.
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In the Forum or center, of Rome the senators made laws or rules for all the lands and all the people that the Roman armies had conquered. Most of the laws were good laws. The Romans knew how to govern well. Many of our laws today are taken from Roman law. During this time a Roman could go anywhere in the conquered lands and still find the same laws the same kind of government, many of the same customs and even the same language. It was all Roman. Romans built good roads in every direction. People could start out from Rome and go through swamps and forests and mountains on smooth rock roads. Some of the Roman roads are still use today.
Since Rome ruled most of the known world, there was not much fighting among the different countries. The Roman soldiers stopped the wars as soon as they started or kept them from starting in the first place.Rome’s soldiers brought back treasures from all the countries they had conquered. They also brought back many captives as slaves. Rome became very rich. Some of its leaders became too proud. A few became very cruel. They held great contests in the huge open-air theater called the Colosseum.(The ruins of the Colosseum can be seen today.)
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Thousands of people went to Colosseum to see man, called gladiators, fight each other until one was killed by the other. Sometimes groups of people were forced to fight with lions while other people watched. But not all of Rome’s leaders were cruel. Many were good men who ruled the empire wisely and fairly. Even now, long after the Roman Empire has gone, people remember it well.