The Roman Empire was formally born under the reign of Gaius Octavius, which was

the nephew of Julius Caesar.
After the assassination of Caesar in 44 B.C. and the battle of Philippi in 42 B.C.,
Marcus Antonius and Gaius Octavius remained the only rulers of the roman lands
while Marcus Lepidus (the third member of the second triumvirate) was
marginalized on the African continent.
But as Antonius was becoming increasingly dependent of Cleopatra’s moves,
Octavius took advantage of his rival distractions, building a case against him and
bringing it before the Senate. In the spring of 32 BC the Senate was finally
persuaded, and strategically declared war to Cleopatra’s Egypt, knowing that
Antonius would join the war on his lover’s side.
Antonius and Cleopatra were decisively defeated at the naval battle of Actium (31
BC), and they committed suicide a year later, during the siege of Alexandria.
Gaius Octavius was now the only ruler of the Romans. With his cunning and through
skillful political movements, Octavius managed to receive in 27 B.C the title of
“Augustus” (=the venerated) from the Senate. In 23 B.C. he created a new public
dignity – emperor of Rome, which was lifelong and offered total control over Rome’s
army. The Republic gave birth to the Empire, but the emperor still named himself
occasionally “Princeps” (= the first citizen).
Octavius Augustus was followed by Tiberius, during which Jesus Christ was crucified
in Jerusalem. Palestine (with all its regions: Judea, Galilee, Samaria etc) was in
Rome’s possession for almost one hundred years. But this event – which took place
in a remote city of the Roman Empire, would, centuries later, shake the world order
through the falling of the Western Roman Empire, as the ancients knew it.
Tiberius was one of the most skillful Roman generals, pushing the Roman frontiers
further to the North and East by conquering Pannonia, Dalmatia and Raetia.
The Julio-Claudian dynasty came to an end in 68 A.D., when Nero committed
suicide. It is said that Nero burned the entire city of Rome just to acquire inspiration
for one of his poems.
After the “Year of the four emperors” passed, Vespasian came to power in 69 A.D. In
the same year, he sent his son Titus to ultimately conquer Jerusalem and destroy
the Jewish rebellion. In 70 A.D. Jerusalem felt, and the Jewish have spread in all the

empire, thickening the ranks of the Jewish communities already in existence.
Because of this, Roman colonialism probably became harder to be carried out.
The empire reached its maximum expansion under Trajan (98-117 A.D.), which
conquered Dacia after two long wars (between 101-102 and 105-106), securing
Dacia’s gold resources for his empire. This war is depicted on the Trajan’s column
in Rome. He also conquered Mesopotamia and parts of Arabia. Because of enlarging
the Oriental borders, the Roman Empire entered intro constant conflicts with the
Parthian empire. The struggle will last for centuries, with little border changes. In
general, the Romans had the initiative. This fight weakened both empires, and was
taken over by the later Byzantine Empire, whose emperor still entitled himself as
“the emperor of all Romans”. The Parthian empire was destroyed in the VII century,
with the Arab conquest campaigns triggered by Muhammad’s ideology.
The Parthians registered some important achievements over the Roman Empire.
During the 3rd century AD, when the Romans entered into a period of political
instability, because of political battles (for example from 235 to 284 there were over
25 successive emperors), the Parthians killed in battle Gordian III (Roman sources
do not mention this event) in 244 A.D. Later, during the battle of Edessa (260A.D.)
emperor Valerian was taken prisoner and killed in the same year. Valerian was
skinned and his skin stuffed with straw, Lactantius says in one of his works. But
Valerian’s death is still an open historical subject.
As mentioned before, the 3rd century was already announcing the future fall of
Rome. In Orient the Parthian Empire (from the beginning of the century under a
Sassanid dynasty) became increasingly bold, capturing few Roman settlements, like
Caesarea in Asia Minor. The Sassanid had tactical advantages over Rome, but the
advance proved to be too slow.
In the same period the Germanic tribes began playing an important role into the
Roman life. There were not few the emperors requesting Germanic help over more
harmful invaders.
To be continued...