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Famous People

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on May 4, 2009 at 12:15:26 am


Below is a list of Famous Romans in order of importance, according to Matt Lipson, Amanda Lipson, and Kristin Harris. Included with each Roman will be a short biography and why they ranked what they did.


10  Saint  Helena 


Saint Helena also known as Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople was the consort of Emperor Contstantuis, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I (number seven on our list. She is said to have found the relics of the True Cross. She was born in the Roman province, Moesia, a land on the western shore of the Black Sea. According to St. Ambrose, Helena was an inn-keeper when Constantius lifted her from her lowly position and made her his consort. Legend says that she is the daughter of a British king. When Emperor Constantius died at York the new Emperor Constantine I had his mother live at Byzantium, the capital of the Eastern Empire. Constantine I, who liked his mother very much, honored her by giving her the name Augustus, and had coins made with her face on them.When Constantine I had a dream of a flaming cross in the sky, and beneath it were the words, in Greek, "In this sign conquer" he decided to embrace the Christian religion taking it as a sign. He had his children and his mother Saint Helena become Christian too. Saint Helena, honored with the position, fell in love with the religion and used her influence and wealth to extend Christianity. She built many churches and restored shrines. She is particularly famous for the churches at Rome and at Trier, in Gaul. But she is most famous for the Holy Land itself; there she constructed the great basilicas at Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Saint Helena’s aim was to clear the Holy Places of all the accumulated debris and rubbish that had piled up in the past three centuries. Saint Helena, according to some of the chroniclers, with the help of St. Judas Cyriacus, cleared the mound that covered the Holy Sepulchre, and when she did she found the True Cross, on which Jesus was crucified, which they moved to Byzantium.Saint Helena is very important to the Roman people, and especially the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches for being their Saint. She has many “feast days” in several different churches, which prove how important and appreciated she is. Her feast day as a saint of the Orthodox Christian Church is celebrated with her son on May 21, also called the "Feast of the Holy Great Sovereigns Constantine and Helen, Equal to the Apostles." Her feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is on August 18. Her feast day in the Coptic Orthodox Church is on9 Pashons (according the Coptic calendar of the Coptic Orthodox Church). Saint Helena made many great discoveries and helped Constantine be the great Emperor that he was although she didn’t rule Rome herself, she still have a great influence on Rome and it’s religion, which is why she ranks number 10 on our list.


9 Justinian 


8 Nero 


7 Constantine 

Caesar Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus commonly known in English as Constantine I, Constantine the Great, or among some religions as Saint Constantine was Roman emperor from 306, and the undisputed holder of that office from 324 until his death in 337. He was born in the military city of Naissus on February 27th around 272 to his parents Flavius Constantinus and Helena Augusta, also known as Saint Helena (number ten on our list). He was in the Roman army, and advanced though the ranks. Galerius divided the empire into two and appointed two Caesars (junior emperors) Constantius -Constantine’s father- and Diocletian under himself as Augustus (senior emperor) He received an education at Diocletian’s court, where he learned Latin literature, Greek, and philosophy. Galerius then manipulated Diocletian into resigning. Constantine was taken hostage and realized the danger, so he depended on his father to save him. Constantius requested his son to help him campaign in Britain. After drinking, Galerius granted the request and Constantine fled before he could change his mind. Constantius became sick and died on July 25 306 AD, after declaring Constantine to the rank of full Augustus. Constantine wrote to Galerius telling him of Constantius’s death and his acclamation. Galerius was furious, but was persuaded into making him at least Caesar. Constantine's part of the Empire was of Britain, Gaul, and Spain. He commanded one of the largest Roman armies. Constantine followed his father in a tolerant policy towards Christianity, since he was not yet a Christian yet didn’t want persecution.Constantine had military skill and made building projects while ruling. Galerius' soon recognized Constantine as emperor. Maximian offered to marry his daughter Fausta to Constantine, and elevate him to Augustan rank so Constantine would reaffirm the old family alliance between Maximian and Constantius, and offer support to Maxentius' cause in Italy. Constantine did no participate in this war. His refusal to participate in the war made him more popular, and his power base in the West. Constantine rebuilt the city of Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinople, meaning "Constantine's City". Constantine had become a Christian by now. The figures of old gods from the city were either replaced or assimilated into a framework of Christian symbolism and Constantine built the new Church of the Holy Apostles on the site of a temple to Aphrodite. Constantine is best known for being the first Christian Roman emperor. His reign was a turning point for the Christian Church. In 313 Constantine announced toleration of Christianity in the Edict of Milan, which removed penalties for teaching Christianity. Historians do not know whether Constantine took in Christianity from his mother St. Helena during his youth, or whether he gained the belief over. After the Feast of Easter 337, Constantine fell seriously ill. He left Constantinople to his mother's city of Helenopolis. There, in a church his mother built in honor of Lucian the Apostle, he prayed, and there he realized that he was dying. He then thought it was time to become baptized, probably pushing it to as old an age as possible to be cleansed from as much sin as possible. Constantine died soon after on May 22 337 AD. Constantine is one of the most important people that helped in the development of the early Christian Church. He played a part in the spread of Christianity, and is also one of the best-known emperors. 


6 Mark Antony 

Marcus Antonius, known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman Politician and General. He was born in Rome at around 83 BC. Antony didn’t have a disciplined early life. His father died young, and left behind him and his brothers Lucius Antonius and Gaius Antonius in the hands of his mother. There was a lack of parental guidance and presence. According to historians, he spent his youth wandering Roman streets with his brother and friends, and frequently found trouble. He frequently drank, visited gambling houses, and got involved in scandalous love affairs, and already owed a debt of 250 talents, or $5 million, by the age of 20. Antony cleaned up his act, and moved to Greece to escape creditors and study rhetoric, the art of using language as a means to persuade. He became best friends with Caesar, along with being an important supporter and cousin of him. Antony assisted Caesar in carrying out his military campaigns. When Caesar became dictator for a second time, Antony was made Master of the Horse, or his right hand man. After a conflict arose between the two, they did not speak for about two years. Yet, Antony remained faithful to Caesar at all times. On February 15, 44 BC, Antony offered Caesar a diadem, which was a symbol of a king, at the Lupercalia festival. Later Antony hears news of an uprising conspiracy to kill Caesar. On the Ides of March Antony went to warn the dictator about the liberators, but was too late for the assignation. Antony fled Rome dressed as a slave in fear that people would soon try to kill him for being a supporter of Caesar. When he realized this would not happen, he returned to Rome to discuss a truce. Antony kept up the truce to seemingly end the political tension. On the day of Caesar’s funeral, Antony was the chosen one to give the eulogy for being Caesar’s second in command. In his speech, he showed his talent in rhetoric and dramatic interpretation as he made accusations of murder by the conspirators. He then showed Caesar’s stabbed body, shaming the conspirators who killed the dictator. He then read Caesar’s will, which left most of his property to the Roman people showing that Caesar had no intention of forming a royal dynasty. The opinion of the public changed, and they attacked the houses of the assassins, forcing them to flee. He became consul and ruled with Cicero, but there was tension between the two. Cicero made Antony an enemy of state. He ordered the assassination of Cicero, which was successful. Antony married and divorced Fadia, Antonia, Fulvia, and Octavia and left behind him a number of children. He later met Cleopatra, Pharaoh of Egypt and fell in love. He had twins and a son with her. He divorced Octavian and married Cleopatra. Octavian wanted to kill Antony and become ruler. In August 30 BC he invaded Egypt, where Antony now lived. With nowhere to escape, he stabbed himself with his sword in a mistaken belief Cleopatra had already committed suicide. His friends brought him to Cleopatra while he was still alive, and died in her arms. Some historians believe he was actually killed by an Egyptian priest that was in favor of Octavian.


5 Cicero 

Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He was born in January 3, 106 BC in Arpinum, Italy, meaning he was not “Roman” in a traditional sense.  He was an extremely talented student, whose learning attracted attention from all over Rome. His childhood dream was “always to be best and far to excel the others”, a line from Iliad by Homer. Cicero was the son of a knight and mother who managed the household. He group learning both Greek and Latin and used his knowledge of Greek to translate theoretical concepts of Greek philosophy into Latin. This helped translate the work for more people. Romans chose personal names, which were usually down-to-earth, in ancient times. Cicero chose the name chickpea, which was originally given to on of his ancestors who had a cleft in the tip of his nose resembling a chickpea. He was urged to change his “belittling” name when he got into politics, but he refused. He studied Roman law under Quintus Mucius Scaevola. Cicero's students of law were Gaius Marius Minor, Titus Pomponiu, and Servius Sulpicius Rufus. He was asked to prosecute Gaius Verres, a governor of Sicily who plundered Sicily. It was a success for Cicero, and at the end of the case, he was considered to be the greatest orator in Rome. Oratory was considered a great art in ancient Rome. In the late 90's and early 80's BC Cicero fell in love with philosophy. He introduced philosophy to the Romans and created a philosophical vocabulary in Latin. He married around 79 BC to Terentia and had two children with her, Marcus and Tullia (who he was very close with). He divorced Terentia, and married a younger wife and divorced again very shortly. Cicero was elected Consul in 63 BC, where he diminished a conspiracy to overthrow the Roman Republic. For this, he earned the honorific Pater Patriae. While suppressing the conspiracy, he put Roman citizens to death without trial. Because of this, he was forced to go into exile in 58 BC and became depressed. He came back from exile in August 5, 57 BC to a cheering crowd. Cicero and Antony then became the two leading men in Rome following Caesar’s death. The two men did not like each other, and Cicero spoke speeches against Antony, trying to make him enemy of state and drive him out. The effort failed, and Cicero became a target of assassins. On December 7, 43 BC he was found, and his last words are said to have been “There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly”. He was decapitated, and his hands were cut off and nailed and displayed. Cicero is believed to be one of the most versatile minds of ancient Rome. He is also believed to be on of the greatest orators. His philosophies and speeches are valuable up to this date.


4 Augustus  

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Gaius Octavius Thurinus was born on July 23rd, 63 BC. Octavius was born into a simple family that lived in a small Italian village outside of Rome. Despite being related to Juilius Caesar, his family were plebians and lived very simply. When Octavius was four-years-old his father died and was left to live with his mother. His mother eventually remarried a man named Lucius Philippus who was the former governor of Syria. However, his mother nor step-father took great interest in him. He was raised mostly by his aunt and grandmother. When Octavius' grandmother died, his mother and step-father took a much more active role in his life and paid more attention to him. When Octavius got older he joined the military. When he was in training he recieved the news that his great uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated. When he got to Rome he found out that Julius left him two-thirds of his estate and the throne. When Octavius took the throne he changed his name to Gaius Julius Caesar to hide his modest origins. He lead Rome with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus in an authoritarian regime known as the Second Triumvirate. During this time he ruled Rome and many other provinces as a ruler. However, all three men became too ambitious and the Second Tiumvirate failed. Mark Antony committed suicide after losing the battle of Actium and Lepidus was exiled. Octavius was left as the lone ruler of Rome and attempted to make Rome a more Democratic society. However, he still ruled as a dictator by using the military to alter the Senate's decisions if he did not like the outcome. During the time he ruled he added most of modern-day Europe to his empire and expanded his African provinces. He changed his name once again to Impearator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus, which showed his increase in power and influence. During the time Octavius ruled there was long period of peace  known as the Pax Romana, which lasted for hundreds of years. Augustus reformed the Roman tax system, built a network of roads, and established the Roman police and fire department. Augustus passed away in 14 AD and was declared a God by the Roman senate. All the emperors after him used the names Augustus and Caesar. Augustus was a very important person because he established the framework on which the Roman Empire would be ruled by for hundreds and hundreds of years. He also made Rome the most powerful empire in the world by expanding its territory. Augustus has a legacy that will never go away. In a sense, he never really died. 


3 Cleopatra 

Cleopatra VII Philopator was born January 69 BC. She was the third daughter of Ptolemy XII, who ruled Egypt until his death in 51 BC. Cleopatra ruled Egypt by her father’s side until his death. She taught herself politics from watching her father in court.  She then ruled it with her brothers/husbands Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. Eventually she gained total control of Egypt. She was a Macedonian Greek, so she was not traditionally Egyptian, yet she still took the title of Pharaoh. Her main language was Greek, but she is supposed to have been the first member of her family in their 300-year reign in Egypt to learn the Egyptian language. Cleopatra was a distant ancestor from Alexander the Great. She was a lover to Julius Caesar, and had a child with him. They never married. Being in such close ties with Caesar helped her keep her grip on the throne. Cleopatra had four children in all. Her first son was Ptolemy Caesar, also known as Caesarion, by Caser. The other three where by Mark Antony, which were the twins, Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and the third son Ptolemy Philadelphus. The end of her reign was the end of the Hellenistic Era, and the beginning of the Roman Era in the eastern Mediterranean. She was the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. Her son Caesarion ruled with his mother for a few years until Octavian (Augustus) had him executed. Cleopatra is said to have died about two weeks after Antony, and is said to have commited suicide by a snake bite. In ancient roman times, not many women had an important role or had any part in society. Cleopatra is the acceptation, being one of the most powerful and important women in ancient roman history. Cleopatra will forever be known for her power and beauty. For more information on Cleopatra, click here.


2 Romulus and Remus  

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The legend of the famous twins Romulus and Remus begins long before they were even born. Two men named Numitor and Amulius ruled the ancient Italian town Alba Longa. Amulius was in charge of all the royal gold while Numitor held the throne. Since Amulius had the power of wealth, he was able to take the throne from Numitor. After Amulius took the throne he was scared that Numitor's daughter, Rhea, would have sons that would eventually overthrow him as ruler. He made Rhea become a priestess so she could not have children. However, she broke his rules and had a child with Mars, the god of war. When Amulius noticed that Rhea was pregnant he threw her in prison until she gave birth to twin boys, Romulus and Remus. There are many accounts about what happened next. One legend says that Amulius ordered Rhea to be buried alive and the twins to be killed by exposure. Another legend says that both Rhea and the twins were ordered to be thrown into the Tiber River. However, it is popularly told that the servant that was ordered to kill Romulus and Remus did not have the heart to kill them, so she put them in a basket and put them in the Tiber River. The twins floated down the river and were found by Tibernius, the river diety. Tibernius brought them to Lupa, a wolf who raised Romulus and Remus under a fig tree and gave them food from a woodpecker. Coincidentally, both the tree and the woodpecker were sacred to their father, Mars. Eventually, Romulus and Remus were found by a shepherd and was raised by him. When Romulus and Remus got older, the issue of who should rule the new land they lived on surfaced. They both felt they should be the king and had a huge conflict over it. Romulus and Remus stood on seperate hills and a flock of birds flew over Romulus, which signified he should be the king. He killed Remus and named the land Rome, after himself. As ruler Romulus increased the population of Rome by stealing women from the Sabine tribe, which resulted in the mixture of Romans and the Sabines. He also added massive amounts of land to Rome. Romulus and Remus are important because according to legend, they founded the world's largest empire, which influenced the world in many ways. Their story is still told today and it is still a timeless legend.


1 Jupiter 

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Jupiter is the most important Roman due to his status as the king of all gods. He holds the same status as the Greek god, Zeus. Another common name Jupiter holds is Optimus Maximus, which means "Father God Best and Greatest." Jupiter had a huge influence in the way the Roman Empire was run. He ruled over all Roman law and social order which were based on all of his beliefs. He is the son of Saturn and the father of Mars. Jupiter is also known as the grandfather of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. Jupiter was ruled in many temples across the Roman empire, including the largest temple in Rome. He was worshipped in this temple along with the other influential gods Juno and Minerva. Outside the temple is a huge stone dedicated to Jupiter that later became an oath stone. Jupiter is known as the overseer of Cosmic Justice. In all Roman courts people swore on the name of Jupiter while they were on trial. Jupiter is still worshipped by a small group of people today that are part of the group Religio Romana Neopaganism. This group is a Roman revivalist group that still believes Jupiter is the supreme god. Jupiter is important because he was worshipped by millions and millions of people. Roman law was based upon what people thought he believed in. He had a huge say in the way this huge, influential empire was run which affected so many people. Jupiter still has a huge influence on people today. The people that are members of the Religio Romana Neopaganism group still worship him. Jupiter's influence over the Roman empire influenced the world today because so many of today's influences are based on Ancient Rome. Jupiter will always have a legacy that no one else will ever match.



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