Eras and Their Highlights

The Roman Republic

What is the legacy of ancient Rome?

Since the Romans borrowed and adapted the ideas of the Greeks, with whom they had come into contact about 300 B.C. and later conquered in 146 B.C., the culture of ancient Rome is sometimes called Greco-Roman. Over the course of centuries, Romans spread their ideas throughout their vast empire.

They also developed a legal code, which outlined basic principles while remaining flexible enough that lawyers and judges could interpret the laws, taking into consideration local customs and practices. The code later became the model for legal systems in Europe and in Latin America. Further, Roman armies built a network of roads, aqueducts, and tunnels, putting in place an infrastructure that outlasted the empire itself. Latin, the Roman language, remained the language of educated Europeans for more than 1,000 years, while the Latin-based (or Romance) languages of Italian, French, and Spanish took over everyday communication. The economic system put in place during the height of the Roman Empire, with a centrally controlled money supply, also had lasting effect.

Though the empire crumbled by A.D. 476, its cultural, social, and economic establishments continued to have validity well into the Middle Ages (500–1350).


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