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According to tradition the ancient city was founded by Romulus (after whom it is named) in 753 bc on the Palatine Hill; as it grew it spread to the other six hills of Rome (Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Viminal, and Quirinal). Rome was ruled by kings until the expulsion of Tarquinius Superbus in 510 bc led to the establishment of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.

By the time of the empire's fall the city was overshadowed politically by Constantinople, but emerged as the seat of the papacy and as the spiritual capital of Western Christianity. In the 14th and 15th centuries Rome became a centre of the Renaissance. It remained under papal control, forming part of the Papal States, until 1871, when it was made the capital of a unified Italy.

In allusive use, Rome is traditionally seen as standing for the Roman Empire or the Roman Catholic Church: the heart and emblem of a major power.

Rome was not built in a day proverbial saying, mid 16th century, used to warn against trying to achieve too much at once.

Treaty of Rome a treaty setting up and defining the aims of the European Economic Community. It was signed at Rome on 25 March 1957 by France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

when in Rome, do as the Romans do proverbial saying, late 15th century, meaning that you should conform to the customs of the society you find yourself in; St Ambrose, the 4th-century bishop of Milan, wrote in a letter, ‘When I go to Rome, I fast on Saturday, but here [Milan] I do not. Do you also follow the custom of whatever church you attend.’

See also Roman, Romans.

Subjects: Arts and Humanities.

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