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Between history and legend
The earliest Roman history can be found in the Annals of Titus Livius, and his tales of Enea. As the story goes: After his escape from flaming Troy, Enea made his way to the shores of Lazio, establishing a new home, according to where the gods had led him. In fact, Livius himself warns us:
I neither understand, nor validate, nor reject the legends. All of antiquity seems to conspire to this city's wholly venerable dawn, mixing human with divine. And, if ever there was a populous deserving of divine origins, identifying themselves with gods, that would be the Romans.
The most agreed-upon date for the founding of Rome would have to be 753 B.C. However, the archaeological record states that the area was populated at least a century before it was properly established as a city.
Rome, in fact, was established very slowly, with the eventual consolidation of separate villages on each of its hills. The valleys were uninhabitable, being mostly swamps and inhospitable wetlands, due to continuous floodings by the Tiber river. The only certainty is that around 753 A.D. all the Villages began to recognise one common king.
Romulus, the presumed founder, is a legendary figure, his successors kings, however, are not. In chronological order they were: Numa Pompilio, Tullo Ostilio, Anco Marzio, Tarquinio Prisco, Servio Tullio, Tarquinio il Superbo.
It was during the reign of the Etruscan king, Tarquinio Prisco, that Rome became the immigration crossroads of all south-central Italy. It was during his reign that the following civic innovations were first introduced: an efficient canal system for the transportation of water, as well as the first 'Foro' or Central plaza.
Servio Tuillo is known for his political organization. He divided the population into five different economic classes, and built a massive wall surrounding all seven hills of the city (Campidoglio, Palatino, Aventino, Celio, Esquilino, Viminale and Quirinale).
The violence, wrought upon the population by Tarquinio Superbo led to a revolt by the Plebeians and some of the Patricians, which eventually ousted him. At that time a new form of government was introduced, the Republic, which lasted five centuries; and enjoyed a massive growth in wealth and power. At the end of the Republic, Octavian Augustus had complete military, religious and political control over the people. His title 'Tribune delle Plebe', gave him the right to impose his own laws; which led to a new form of government, the Empire. During the centuries of the empire, Rome's population grew to almost a million; which slowly declined during the Barbarian invasions, to the point that, during the high middle ages, only tens of thousands remained.
Then came the revival. It began on the flatlands along the left bank, in the first bend of the Tiber; a rich centre of Renaissance-Baroque influence, with Piazza Navona as its nucleus. This rapid urbanization extended towards the western hills. Repopulation of the hills began with Pope Gregory XIII, when he built his Papal residence on the tallest point of the seven hills, the Quirinale(1574). The urbanization of the hills led to the construction, under Sixtus V, of splendid villas, surrounded by vast parkland. The crown jewel of that era is the Villa Borghese, a true oasis of green amid the chaos of the city.