The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. — Edmund Burke

Historical Characters of Ancient Rome

    Kingdom of Rome     Early Republic     Punic Wars     Decline of Republic     Age of the Caesars     Height of Empire     Fall of Empire     Rise of Christianity

Kingdom of Rome—753 to 510 B.C.

Founding of Rome to Exile of Tarquins

CharacterDate Short Biography

Legendary Rome

Aeneas~ 1200 BC Hero of Virgil's Aeneid. Prince of Troy who escaped from the burning city and after a long voyage, settled in Italy and became the ancestor of Romulus.
Rhea Silvia~ 771 BC Legendary mother of Romulus and Remus. Daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa, forced to become a Vestal Virgin by her usurping uncle, Amulius.
Numitor~ 771 BC Deposed king of Alba Longa, restored to his throne by his grandsons, Romulus and Remus.
Romulus771–716 BC Legendary founder of the city of Rome, with brother Remus.
Remus~ 0 Twin brother of Romulus, killed in a conflict over who should rule the new city.
Tarpeia~ 740 BC Maiden who opened gates of Rome to the Sabines. Gave name to Tarpeian Rock from which Roman traitors were hurled.

Kings of Rome

Numa Pompiliusd. 674 BC Second king of Rome, instituted calendar, holidays, worship practices.
Tullus Hostiliusd. 642 BC Third king, conquered Alba, made Rome the greatest city of the Latins.
Horatii~ 650 BC Three brothers who won man-to-man combat to resolve Rome/Alba dispute.
Ancus Marciusd. 617 BC Fourth king, conquered Latins, built Sublican Bridge across the Tiber.
Tarquin the Elderd. 559 BC Fifth king, built great sewer, circus, temple of Jupiter, and forum.
Servius Tulliusd. 535 BC Sixth king, built Servian Wall; helped plebians, murdered by daughter.
Tarquin Superbus~ 535 BC Killed Servius and usurped throne, eventually overthrown but tried to regain throne by force.
Tullia~ 535 BC Helped her husband Tarquin Superbus murder her father Sevius Tullus, and seize the throne of Rome.
Cumaean Sibyl~ 535 BC Legendary priestes who presided over the Oracle at Cumae. Presented the Sibylline Books to Tarquin Superbus.

War Against Tarquinii

Lucretiad. 510 BC Virtuous Maiden, killed herself after assault by son of Tarquin Superbus.
Junius Brutusd. 509 BC First Consul of Rome; executed sons for plotting against the republic.
Publicolad. 508 BC Consul of Rome during the wars with Porsena.
Lars Porsena~ 508 BC Etruscan king, and supporter of the Tarquins who raised an army to march against Rome.
Horatius535–509 BC Hero who held the Sublican Bridge against Porsena's entire army.
Mucius Scaevola535–509 BC Hero who burned his right hand to defy Porsena.
Cloelia~ 510 BC Roman hostage swam across the Tiber to escape from Lars Porsenna.

Early Republic—510 to 275 B.C.

Defeat of Tarquin Superbus to Unification of Italy

CharacterDate Short Biography

Early Heroes

Menenius~ 503 BC Roman noble who negotiated with the plebeians after their walk-out during a war.
Coriolanus500–450 BC Hero, provoked to turn traitor. Convinced by his mother to spare Rome from destruction.
Cincinnatus 519–439 BC Called to be dictator when Roman army was trapped. Saved them, and then returned to his farm.
Fabii~ 480 BC Fabian brothers build a camp on the Cremona to defend Rome from Veii. They were ambushed and slain.
Appius Claudiusd. 452 BC Evil law giver who usurped power, then attempted to enslave Virginia.
Virginiad. 451 BC Heroine slain by her father to rescue her from slavery and dishonor.

Gallic Invasion

Camillus446–365 BC Great military leader; conquered Veii, saved Rome from Gauls, organized legions.
Marcus Manliusd. 384 BC Defended the capitol from the Gauls.
Brennusd. 390 BC Leader of the Gauls who sacked Rome in 390 B.C.
Marcus Curtiusd. 362 BC Rode horse into a large chasm in Roman market-place.
Valerius Corvus370–270 BC Defeated a gigantic Gaul in one-on-one combat; lived to be 100.

Samnite Wars

Decius Musd. 340 BC Sacrificed self in war against the Latins.
Manlius Torquatusd. 384 BC Consul who slew his son for a minor disobedience.
Caius Pontius~ 321 BC Samnite general who captured the Romans at Caudium Pass.
Fabius Rullianusd. 291 BC Hero of the Battle of Sentinum, against the Gauls and Samnites.

Pyrrhic Wars

Appius Claudius340–273 BC Built first auqeduct, public buildings, and "Appian Way", the great Roman road to Capua.
Fabricius~ 284 BC Incorruptible Roman ambassador who negotiated with Pyrrhus. Emblem of Roman Republican virtue.
Pyrrhus318–272 BC Renowned general, won victories in Macedon, Italy, and Greece, but failed to follow up wins.

Punic Wars—274 to 146 B.C.

First Punic War to Destruction of Carthage

CharacterDate Short Biography

First Punic War

Regulus300–250 BC Captured by Carthage in first Punic war; urged Rome keep fighting at cost of his own life.
Xanthippus~ 255 BC Spartan mercenary general in first Punic War; captured Regulus, led Carthage to victories.
Hamilcard. 229 BC Carthage's most able general in first Punic War; father of Hannibal.

Second Punic War

Hannibal247–182 BC Carthaginian general, invaded and laid waste to Italy for sixteen years.
Fabius Cunctator250–203 BC Elected dictator to resist Hannibal; counseled delay, not direct assault.
Cornelius Scipiod. 211 BC Tried to intercept Hannibal in Gaul, but was defeated at Ticino River and Trebbia.
Aemilius Paulusd. 216 BC Consul at the Battle of Cannae; opposed the confrontation, but died on battlefield.
Varro~ 216 BC Led Rome to disastrous defeat at Cannae. Survived and tried to rally the troops.
Marcellus268–208 BC Besieged Syracuse during the second Punic War, but the ingenious war weapons of Archimedes frustrated the Romans.
Hasdrubal Barcad. 207 BC Fought against Scipios in Spain; killed after he crossed the Alps to aid Hannibal.
Masinissa238–148 BC King of Numidia, allied with Rome against Carthage; fought at Zama.
Scipio Africanus234–149 BC Roman hero of second Punic War. Led armies in Spain and Africa. Defeated Hannibal at Zama.

Third Punic War

Cato (the censor)234–149 BC Roman censor, urged destruction of Carthage before third Punic War.
Scipio the Younger185–129 BC Led the siege of Carthage during the third Punic War.
Polybius203–120 BC Taken as Greek hostage during Macedonian wars; historian of Punic Wars.

Macedonia Wars

Flamininus230–175 BC Led Rome against Philip V in second Macedonian War.
Aemilius Paulus229–160 BC Led Rome against Macedonia at the Battle of Pydna and was victorious.

Decline of Republic—146 to 60 B.C.

Age of Gracchi to Pompey Defeats Pirates

CharacterDate Short Biography

Gracchi Land Reforms

Scipio the Younger185–129 BC Led the siege of Carthage during the third Punic War.
Cornelia185–100 BC Mother of the Gracchi. Highly revered Roman matron.
Tiberius Gracchus163–132 BC Promoted Land Reform and fought for people's rights. Murdered by senators.
Gaius Gracchus154–121 BC Continued reforms of his brother, but was undermined by the senate.

Marius/Sulla Civil War

Metellusd. 91 BC Commanded troops in Numidia against Jugurtha. Enemy of Marius.
Marius155–86 BC Renowned general. Modernized legions. Waged a bloody feud with party of Sulla.
Cinnad. 84 BC With Marius, raised an army, and took possession of Rome for populist Party.
Sulla138–78 BC Defeated Mithradates in Greece. Marched on Rome, defeated the party of his enemy Marius.
Lucullus120–70 BC Led Rome against Mithradates in third Mithradatic War. Known for extravagant lifestyle.
Crassus110–53 BC Very wealthy general. Fought Spartacus. Formed triumvirate with Pompey and Caesar.
Pompey 106–48 BC Very renowned general. Defeated pirates. Led opposition to Caesar in civil war.

Enemy Chieftains

Jugurtha156–104 BC Numedian king, flagrantly bribed senate to maintain power. Enemy of Rome.
Mithridates160–104 BC King of Pontus, enemy of Rome, raised rebellions in Greece and Asia Minor.
Sertorius122–72 BC Led rebellion against Rome in Spain; held out for 8 years.
Spartacus111–71 BC Gladiator who led a slave revolt. Held out for two years.

Age of the Caesars—60 B. C. to 14 A.D.

First Triumvirate to Death of Augustus

CharacterDate Short Biography

First Triumvirate

Julius Caesar100–44 BC Conquered Gaul, prevailed in civil war. Mastermind of Roman empire. Killed by senators.
Pompey 106–48 BC Very renowned general. Defeated pirates. Led opposition to Caesar in civil war.
Crassus110–53 BC Very wealthy general. Fought Spartacus. Formed triumvirate with Pompey and Caesar.
Cicero106–43 BC Orator. Leader of aristocratic party. Put down Catiline conspiracy. Well known writer.
Catiline108–62 BC Led conspiracy to overthrow Senate; discovered and put down by Cicero.
Cato (the younger) 95–46 BC Highly principled republican who opposed Caesar, killed self after defeat of Pompey.
Clodius93–52 BC Violent enemy of Cicero. Populist rabble-rouser and demagogue.

Second Triumvirate

Augustus Caesar63–14 First emperor. Reigned for over fifty years. Established the Imperial system.
Cassiusd. 42 BC Mastermind of conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. Committed suicide at Philippi.
Marcus Brutus84–42 Leader of conspirators to assassinate Caesar. Committed suicide at Philippi.
Antony83–30 BC With Octavius, led empire after Caesar's death. Liaison with Cleopatra caused downfall.
Fulvia77–40 BC Wealthy and scheming Roman matron. Married to Clodius, then to Mark Antony. Enemy of Cicero.
Cleopatra70–20 BC Queen of Egypt. Lover of both Caesar and Mark Antony.

Augustan Age

Maecenas70–8 BC Advisor and ambassador of Augustus. Patron of art and literature.
Virgil70–19 BC Great epic poet of the Augustan age. Wrote The Aeneid.
Horace65–8 BC Great lyric poet and satirist of the Augustan age.
Agrippa63–12 BC Most trusted general and advisor of Augustus Caesar. Married Augustus's daughter Julia.
Livia58–29 Wife of Augustus Caesar. Empress of Rome for over fifty years.
Livy59–17 Roman historian. Wrote History of Rome from its Founding.
Julia Caesara39–14 Profligate daughter of Augustus Caesar. Fell from grace and was banished from Rome.
Hermann16–21 Hero of Germany. Annihilated three Roman legions at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest.

Height of Empire—14 to 235 A.D.

Reign of Tiberius to Last Severan Emperor

CharacterDate Short Biography

Julio-Claudian Emperors

Tiberius42–37 Second emperor. Stepson of Augustus. Retired to Capri.
Drusus38–9 BC Son of Livia, father of Germanicus. Died on campaign in Germany.
Sejanusd. 31 Leader of Praetorians. Conspired to seize the throne from Tiberius.
Germanicus15–19 Roman military hero and heir to the throne. Probably murdered.
Agrippina the Elder14–33 Granddaughter of Augustus Caesar; accused Tiberius of killing her husband Germanicus.
Caligula12–41 Third emperor. Sadistic and probably insane.
Claudius10–54 Fourth emperor. Manipulated by wicked wives, Messalina and Agrippina.
Messalina17–48 Wicked, profligate, and promiscuous wife of Claudius.
Agrippina the Younger16–59 Mother of Nero. Murdered Claudius to make way for his rise to the throne.
Nero37–68 Fifth emperor. Murdered mother, wife, and brother. Fiddled while Rome burned.
Seneca3–65 Tutor and minister to Nero. Forced to commit suicide after falling from grace.
Poppaead. 65 Wicked mistress of Nero. Urged him to kill his mother and first wife.
Boadicead. 61 Queen of the Iceni. Led the largest revolt of Celtic Britons against the Romans.

Flavian Emperors

Galba3–69 Declared emperor after Nero was deposed. Served less than a year.
Otho32–69 Emperor for three months in 69 A.D. Committed suicide rather than continue civil war.
Vitelliusd. 69 Emperor for nine months in 69 A.D. Known as an incompetent glutton.
Vespasian9–79 First emperor of humble origins. Founder of Flavian dynasty.
Titus40–81 Second Flavian emperor. Conquered Jerusalem. Reigned with father Vespasian.
Domitian51–96 Third Flavian emperor. Known for purges and persecutions near end of reign.
Pliny ( the Elder)23–79 Scholar, author of encyclopedias, naturalist. Wrote Natural Histories. Died at the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
Josephus37–100 Jewish historian. Captured by Romans at Jotapata. Wrote the Jewish War.
Agricola40–93 Roman general and statesman. Governor of Britain. Pacified Wales.
Martial40–102 Poet and satirist. Wrote twelve books of Epigrams.
Plutarch46–122 Most outstanding moralist and biographer of ancient times. Wrote Lives of Greeks and Romans.
Tacitus55–120 Historian. Related to Agricola. Wrote Germania, Histories, and Annals.

Five Good Emperors

Nerva30–98 First of the "Five Good Emperors." Ruled briefly between Domitian and Trajan.
Trajan53–117 Second of "Five Good Emperors." Ruled with justice and integrity. Conquered Dacia.
Pliny the Younger63–113 Roman statesman and and orator. His letters are important historical sources.
Hadrian 76–138 Third of "Five Good Emperors." Talented artist and architect, good administrator.
Antoninus Pius86–161 Fourth of "Five Good Emperors." Continued policy of consolidation. Ruled justly.
Marcus Aurelius121–180 Fifth of "Five Good Emperors." Stoic philosopher. Improved condition of poor.
Commodus161–192 Corrupt son of Aurelius, misruled for twelve years and was murdered.

Severan Emperors

Septimus Severus146–211 Seized Imperial throne after the death of Commodus. Put down many rebellions.
Caracalla188–217 Brutal and iron-fisted emperor. Murdered brother Geta. Built "Baths of Caracalla."

Fall of Empire—235 to 565 A.D.

Military Anarchy to Reign of Justinian I

CharacterDate Short Biography

Military Anarchy

Maximinusd. 238 Thracian giant. Rose to head of army, seized imperial throne, and reigned as a barbarian.
Aurelian214–275 Emperor who reunited the empire during the Military anarchy. Led campaign in Palmyra against Zenobia.
Zenobia of Palmyra~ 267 Queen of Palmyra. Attempted to control the eastern empire, only to be crushed by Rome.


Diocletian245–313 Restored order to the empire after fifty years of chaos. Broke empire into four regions.
Constantine272–337 First Christian emperor. Unified empire. Moved capital to Constantinople near Black Sea.
Julian the Apostate331–363 Last emperor of the Constantinian dynasty. Tried to restore paganism.
Ulfilas310–383 Missionary bishop who translate the bible into the Gothic language and converted the Goths to Arian Christianity.

Late Western Empire

Stilicho359–408 Roman general who fought off the Visigoths before they overran Rome. Murdered by Emperor Honorius.
Aetius396–454 Last great General of the Western Empire. Defeated Attila the Hun at Chalons.
Ricimer405–472 Visigoth General who was master of Rome during the final years of the Empire.
Alaric the Visigoth370–410 Chieftain who led the Visogoths into northern Italy, and then besieged and sacked Rome.
Attila the Hun406–453 Barbarian chieftain who overran and terrorized much of Europe. Defeated at the Battle of Chalons.
Genseric390–477 Leader of Vandals. Conquered Northern Africa and Sicily. Invaded and ransacked Rome.
Odoacer435–493 Deposed last Roman Emperor and became King of Italy. Later overthrown by Theodoric the Ostrogoth.
Theodoric the Ostrogoth454–526 Ostrogoth king who invaded Italy and successfully formed a Gothic-Roman kingdom.
Alboind. 573 King of the Lombards who crossed the Alps and invaded Northern Italy. Made Pavia capital of Lombards.
Clovis466–511 Founder of the Frankish Kingdom. Converted to Christianity by his wife Clotilda.

Late Eastern Empire

Valens328–378 Eastern Emperor embroiled in wars in Persia and with the Goths. Died fighting Visigoths at Adrianople.
Theodosius346–395 Emperor excommunicated by Ambrose for massacre of civilians at Thessalonia.
Justinian the Great483–565 Ruled Byzantine Empire for 40 years. Well known for legal reforms known as Code of Justinian.
Empress Theodora500–548 Born in humble circumstances, she married Justinian the Great and became his trusted advisor.
Belisarius505–565 General associated with Julian the Great, reconquered much of lost Roman territory.

Rise of Christianity—50 to 600 A.D.

Death of Apostles to Gregory the Great

CharacterDate Short Biography


Saint James the Greaterd. 44 Apostle who preached in Spain before being beheaded by Herod. Patron Saint of Spain.
Saint Peterd. 64 Leader of the Apostles and first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
Saint Philipd. 80 Apostle who preached in Greece, Syria and Asia Minor. Martyred in Asia Minor by crucifixion.
Saint Paul3–67 Apostle who traveled throughout the Eastern Roman Empire spreading Gospels. Wrote Epistles.
Saint Johnd. 101 Long-living apostle who preached in Asia Minor. Authored the Gospel of John and Revelation.

Church Fathers

Saint Ignatius of Antioch35–107 A follower of the Apostle John, Ignatius was on of the early fathers of the church. Died as a martyr in the arena.
Saint Irenaeus~ 190 Early Christian theologian, bishop in Roman Gaul, recognized as a Father of the Church.
Saint Cyprian of Carthage200–258 Bishop of Carthage who battle heresies and suffered with his flock through persecutions.
Saint Athanasius298–373 Bishop of Alexandria. Opposed the Arian heresy.
Saint Basil330–379 Influential bishop and important church father, particularly revered in the Orthodox churches. Opposed Arianism.
Saint Ambrose340–397 Bishop of Milan. Resisted Arian heresy, advised emperors, advocated for Church interests.
Saint Jerome340–420 Translated the Bible into the Latin Vulgate.
Saint Chrysostom347–407 Bishop in Syria and Constantinople. Great orator, and notable ascetic.
Saint Augustine 354–430 Greatest Christian theologian of the Middle Ages. Wrote Confessions and City of God.


Saint Ceciliad. 117 Noblewoman of Rome who was martyred under the reign of Marcus Aurelius.
Saint Dorothea295–311 Martyr Virgin who refused to worship the Roman Gods and was put to death.
Saint Lawrence225–258 Deacon of Rome who was martyred during the persecutions of Valerian by being grilled on a gridiron.
Saint Alband. 304 First martyr of England. Killed for hiding a priest in his home.

Early Saints

Saint Christopherd. 250 Early Christian saint whose name means "bearer". Said to have born the burdens of the Christ child."
Saint Denisd. 250 Saint of the third century who was martyred in Roman Gaul by druid priests for converting Celts to Christianity.
Saint Paul the Hermit228–341 First Christian hermit. Fled to the Theban desert to avoid persecution of Decius.
Saint Helena248–329 Wife of Constantius Chlorus and mother of Constantine. Influenced her son to become Christian.
Saint Nicholasd. 343 Bishop in fourth century Asia Minor, known for his generosity.
Saint Martin of Tours317–397 Roman soldier who gave up his military career to follow Christ. Bishop of Tours and early monastic personality.
Saint George275–303 Patron saint of England. Soldier who killed a dragon and died a martyr's death.
Saint Germanus380–448 Renowned Bishop from Gaul visited Britain in order to help combat Pelagianism heresy.
Saint Synesiusd. 414 Bishop in Africa near the city of Cyrene, and associate of Hypatia.
Saint Benedict480–547 Established the Benedictine order of monks. Founded the monastic movement in Europe.
Saint Clotildad. 545 Christian wife of Clovis; converted him to Christianity, and built a church.
Saint Simeon521–597 Hermit who lived for many years on the top of a pillar, practicing penance.
Gregory the Great590–640 Increased the power of the papacy by church reforms and effective management.


Arius250–336 Founder of the Arian Heresy, which insisted that the Son was not eternal, but created by the Father.
Ulfilas310–383 Missionary bishop who translate the bible into the Gothic language and converted the Goths to Arian Christianity.