Italy

Definition

by
published on 28 April 2011
Map of the Roman Conquest of Italy (Javierfv1212)

The Italian Peninsula or Apennine Peninsula is one of the three peninsulas of Southern Europe (the other two being the Iberian Peninsula and Balkan Peninsula), spanning 1,000 km from the Po Valley in the north to the central Mediterranean Sea in the south. The peninsula is bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea on the west, the Ionian Sea on the south, and the Adriatic Sea on the east. The interior part of the Apennine Peninsula consists of the Apennine Mountains, from which it takes its name, the northern part is largely plains and the coasts are lined with cliffs.

Excavations throughout Italy reveal a modern human presence dating back to the Palaeolithic period, some 200,000 years ago. In the 8th and 7th centuries BCE Greek colonies were established all along the coast of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula. Subsequently, Romans referred to this area as Magna Graecia, as it was so densely inhabited by Greeks.

Ancient Rome was at first a small agricultural community founded circa the 8th century BCE that grew over the course of the centuries into a colossal empire encompassing the whole Mediterranean Sea, in which Ancient Greek and Roman cultures merged into one civilization. This civilization was so influential that parts of it survive in modern law, administration, philosophy and arts, forming the ground that Western civilization is based upon. In its twelve-century existence, it transformed itself from monarchy to republic and finally to autocracy. In steady decline since the 2nd century CE, the empire finally broke into two parts in 285 CE: the Western Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire in the East. The western part under the pressure of Goths finally dissolved, leaving the Italian peninsula divided into small independent kingdoms and feuding city states for the next 14 centuries, and leaving the eastern part sole heir to the Roman legacy.



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Timeline

Visual Timeline
  • 800 BCE
    Beginning of the Etruscan civilization in Italy.
  • 753 BCE
    The legendary founding date of Rome.
  • 750 BCE - 510 BCE
    The (semi-mythological) seven kings of Rome: Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tulus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, Tarquinius Superbus.
  • c. 740 BCE - c. 433 BCE
    Greek poleis or city-states establish colonies in Magna Graecia.
  • 509 BCE
    Foundation of the Roman Republic.
  • 498 BCE - 493 BCE
    Rome defeats the Latins.
  • 400 BCE
    Celts enter Italy and settle in the Po Valley. Etruscan power declines.
  • c. 398 BCE - c. 380 BCE
    Plato travels in Egypt, Cyrene, Italy, Syracuse and Sicily.
  • 396 BCE
    Roman expansion begins with the capture of Veii from the Etruscans.
  • 391 BCE
    Senones besiege Clusium, an Etruscan city.
  • 343 BCE - 341 BCE
    First Samnite War (Rome vs. Samnites).
  • 340 BCE - 338 BCE
    Latin War, victory for Rome.
  • 326 BCE - 304 BCE
    Second Samnite War.
  • 285 BCE - 282 BCE
    Rome defeats the Celts in Italy. Rome's dominance in central Italy is secured.
  • 282 BCE - 272 BCE
    Roman war against Tarentum. Rome conquers Tarentum. Rome’s dominance in lower Italy is secured.
  • 223 BCE
    Romans successfully campaign against Celtic tribes of Cisalpine Gaul.
  • c. 177 BCE
    The Roman colony of Luna founded in northern Italy, as a millitary stronghold.
  • 89 BCE
    All poleis or city-states in Magna Graecia come under Roman control.
  • 167 CE
    Marcomanni sack Aquileia.
  • 488 CE - 493 CE
    Theodoric the Great of the Ostrogoths conquers Italy.
  • 535 CE
    Belisarius' first campaign against the Ostrogoths in Italy.
  • 535 CE - 554 CE
    The Gothic War launched by Emperor Justinian I, aimed at reconquering Italy from the Goths.
  • 536 CE - 562 CE
    The Byzantine Empire conquers Italy.
  • 568 CE - 582 CE
    Lombards invade northern Italy.

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