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The Expansion of Rome


In historical terms, the growth of Rome began in earnest around 378 B.C. It was then that its people gave some forewarning of their militant intent by encircling themselves with the Servian wall: a massive ten-kilometer long structure that followed the topography of the various hills overlooking the Tiber river. Rome's authority then ranged over scarcely 600 square miles: less than the span of a modern city with a 10 mile radius of suburban sprawl.

By 241 B.C., when its fleet defeated the Carthaginians off the western tip of Sicily, Rome controlled, either by alliance or dependency, all the land on the Italian peninsula from the course of the Arno river to its southernmost port of Rhegium. Defeated enemies either were forced to become allies or were offered some level of citizenship.

Sicilia became its first province; Sardinia and Corsica soon followed. In 225 B.C., a crushing victory at Telamon turned back an intense Gallic invasion and thereafter extended the Roman territories northward into the Po River Valley and the foothills of the Alps.