Ancient Rome: Brutal, Ingenious and Systematic

Dear Year 7,

As we have discussed in class, the three adjectives in the title of this post sum up many aspects of ancient Roman civilisation. The BBC website employs the first two adjectives, “brutal” and “ingenious”, in its description of this powerful empire. I chose the last word, “systematic”, because Roman organisation and administration were crucial to the lasting success of the empire.

The exercises below will provide you with examples and stories that further illustrate the qualities of the ancient Romans. There are several quizzes, videos and handouts that will help you to piece together the complex story of ancient Rome.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

1 Complete this Timeline Task

Based on the Ducksters summary of the ancient Roman story, this handout will give you an overview of the main events in Roman history. It covers the period from 753 BCE till 476 CE.

2 Quick Vocabulary Quiz 

First of all, can you select the synonyms that accurately explain the meanings of the three adjectives? See this quiz on your whole screen HERE.

3 More Essential Roman VocabularyFlashcards

4: Video: A Day in the Life of a Roman Soldier

Edpuzzle of this video with questions…

5 Video: A Mesmerising Summary of Roman Army Organisation (thanks, Linton!)

6 Reading up on the Roman Army: BBC Bitesize

7 An Ancient Whodunit

Did Agrippina Murder Claudius? – a handout based on Swinton, J. (1995) In Search of History, Melbourne: MacMillan

8 Portrait of a Tyrant

9 Kahoot on Ancient Rome, tyranny and Nero

10 An Introductory Quiz

11 Modern Forms of Slavery

Defining Slavery: Handout

12 A Crossword

13 Extra Resources

The Western Roman Empire Falls

Dear S2Z,

As you know, teasing out the interwoven causes, variables and factors that contributed to an important historical event is a tricky business. There is rarely a single cause that leads inexorably to a single effect.

The fall of the western part of the ancient Roman Empire is a case in point. Many factors contributed to the Roman Empire’s gradual decline and final collapse; indeed, the event was so complex that Edward Gibbon, the famous historian, wrote six long volumes on the topic.  Rome’s collapse, furthermore, was to have a profound impact on the development of medieval Europe.

Use the links below to create a set of notes possible causes and effects. Try to dip into at least three different sources.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

fall of rome

Questions to ask yourselves as you read:

a Gibbon thought we should ask why the Roman Empire lasted as long as it did, rather than why it fell. This is a whole new way of considering the issue. What do you think?

b What were the possible benefits of Rome’s fall?

c Is it accurate to assert that its fall ushered in the so-called “Dark Ages”?


“The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness…” – Edward Gibbon, writer of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Links on the Fall of Rome

Words for describing cause and effect in history:

Cause and effect in History

The Dangerous and Clever Romans


Handout: Word Document | PDF Version

Dear 7X,

It is lovely to be back in your company and to observe your insight, industry and courtesy at close hand. Whatever possessed me to leave you for five whole weeks?

Today we continue our exploration of the wily, brutal and inventive ancient Romans. I suppose we could use those adjectives for the whole human race to some degree, but the history of Rome, more than most, sometimes strikes me as a kind of violent soap opera with several crime stories as subplots. The story is captivating and horrifying at the same time. Perhaps you can identify some modern equivalents? 

We begin our study, after that outlandish and sensational introduction based on the Ben Hur chariot race, with a more serious exploration of the vocabulary you will need in order to speak knowledgeably and accurately about ancient Rome. After briefly encountering these words, with the help of this handout, you will be ready to hear the fascinating summary by the witty and fast-talking John Green, embedded for your edification below. This will permit you to discourse knowledgeably on even more topics at your parents’ dinner table.

Kind regards from Ms Green (no relation)

PS You can open and read the transcript if you watch this video on YouTube. This is not a bad idea, should some of the presenter’s words fly past too quickly even for your quick ears and agile minds.

Embedded Handout:

Visit to our class by our librarian, Mrs McQueen:

A relatively reliable source for biographical research