IntroductionRome, Ital. Roma, city (1991 pop. 2,775,250), capital of Italy and see of the pope, whose residence, Vatican City, is a sovereign state within the city of Rome. Rome is also the capital of Latium, a region of central Italy, and of Rome prov. It lies on both banks of the Tiber and its affluent, the Aniene, in the Campagna di Roma, between the Apennine Mts. and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Called the Eternal City, it is one of the world's richest cities in history and art and one of its great cultural, religious, and intellectual centers.
The rise of Rome from an insignificant pastoral settlement to perhaps the world's most successful empire—supreme as a lawgiver and organizer, holding sway over virtually all the then-known world W of Persia, on which it left a permanent imprint of its material and cultural achievements—is one of the great epics of history. Whatever its fortunes throughout history, Rome has remained the symbol of European civilization. Because of the complexity of the subject matter, the following article is divided into several sections, and additional information will be found in the articles to which there are cross references. See also Roman art; Roman architecture; Latin literature; Roman religion.
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