The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire


Kelly Macquire
by and
published on 30 April 2023

The Roman Empire, at its height (c. 117), was the most extensive political and social structure in western civilization. Building upon the foundation laid by the Roman Republic, the empire became the largest and most powerful political and military entity in the world up to its time and expanded steadily until its fall, in the west, in 476.

By 285, the empire had grown too vast to be ruled from the central government at Rome and so was divided by Emperor Diocletian (r. 284-305) into a Western and an Eastern Empire. The empire began when Augustus Caesar (r. 27 BCE-14 CE) became the first emperor of Rome and ended, in the west, when the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus (r. 475-476), was deposed by the Germanic King Odoacer (r. 476-493). In the east, it continued as the Byzantine Empire until the death of Constantine XI (r. 1449-1453) and the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The influence of the Roman Empire on western civilization was profound in its lasting contributions to virtually every aspect of western culture.



0:00​ Introduction
1:01 The Beginning of the Roman Empire
2:44 Introduction to the Julio-Claudian Dynasty
4:16 The Year of the Four Emperors
5:05 The Prosperity of the Flavian Dynasty
6:07 The Five Good Emperors
7:33 The Crisis of the Third Century
9:07 The Split of the Empire
11:34 Christianity and the Fall of the Western Roman Empire
13:46 Legacy of the Roman Empire
15:11 Outro

Roman Empire
Roman Republic
Julius Caesar
Roman Republic

Ancient Rome Playlist
Ancient Roman Art and Architecture
The Founding of Rome: The Story of Romulus and Remus in Roman Mythology
What Caused the Fall of the Western Roman Empire?

You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here -

The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2023, April 30). The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified April 30, 2023.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 30 Apr 2023. Web. 28 May 2024.