The earliest empires had been in the east. Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Greece were all home to at least one powerful civilization. About 387BC, a city on the Italian peninsula began acquiring land and building an empire. That city was Rome. For almost one thousand years, Rome controlled the western world.
The origins of Rome are steeped in myth and legend. Many ancient Romans believed twin boys named Romulus and Remus founded the city. The legends say a king feared the twins would rob him of his throne, so the tossed the boys into the frigid Tiber River. Soon after, the brothers were rescued by a she-wolf who nursed the boys back to health.
Romulus and Remus decided to establish a city on the Tiber River, but the brothers could not agree on a location. Signs from the heavens told each brother to build a separate city, but Romulus' city would be much larger. Romulus completed his city on April 21, 753BC. Remus was upset that Romulus had built his city, so Remus climbed over the wall of Romulus' city. The enraged Romulus killed his brother with an ax. The city came to be known as Rome, named for Romulus, its legendary founder.
Rome grew into an empire in part because of how it treated the people it conquered. At that time, when a city was defeated in war, the conquerors might banish the citizens of the city into exile or enslave the citizens. Initially, the Romans extended the rights of citizenship to the people they conquered. Newly conquered people would often be welcomed into the Roman army. Through force and persuasion, Rome managed to unify most of the modern nation of Italy by 265BC.
Rome is an ideal place for a city. It is located along the banks of the Tiber River. The river made it easy to travel to and from the sea. The Tiber is very shallow near Rome. A shallow portion of a river is called a ford. The ford made it easier for people to cross the Tiber River. Seven hills surround Rome. The hills made it difficult for invaders to approach the city, and served as lookout areas for the ancient Romans. Rome is also close to excellent farmland and an abundance of wood and stone. Civilizations have grown and prospered in Rome for thousands of years, which is why Rome is nicknamed "the Eternal City."