The Roman Republic was founded in 509 BC, replacing the earlier Roman Kingdom. In 27 BC, Rome was established anew as an Empire after political conflict led to a series of civil wars. The transition from Republic to Empire began after Julius Caesar was appointed as perpetual dictator in 45 BC, only to be assassinated shortly after in 44 BC. This led to further unrest when Caesar's adopted son Octavian was challenged by his brother-in-law Mark Anthony. The latter, despite his marriage to Octavian's sister, was having a love affair with Cleopatra VII Philopator, Queen & Ruler of Egypt.
Julius Caesar Caesar's Assassination Octavius Caesar
Octavian declared him a traitor and defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, conquering Ptolemaic Egypt. The battle between Octavian's fleet versus the combined fleets of Mark Anthony and the Egyptians took place in the Ionian Sea. As a result both Mark Anthony and Cleopatra took their own lives bringing an end to over a decade of rivalry between the former and Octavian. In 27 BC the Roman Senate formally granted the latter full authority over the City and Empire under the new title Augustus, effectively making him the first emperor.
Mark Anthony Naval Battle of Actium Cleopatra
During this period Roman jurisdiction expanded throughout the Mediterranean and as far as Britain, all of Western, and most of South West Europe. At its peak in around 117 AD the entire shoreline of the Mediterranean Basin was under Roman control. From a local perspective, Malta was first raided by the Romans in 257 BC during the first Punic War, when Rome was still a Republic, and Malta a Carthaginian outpost. The war lasted for twenty-three years between 264-241BC and ended in a Roman Victory.
Extent of the Roman Empire in about 117 AD
Although the Carthaginians had been defeated in Sicily, Malta remained in Punic hands until the Romans invaded again in 218 BC during the second Punic war. The local garrison offered no resistance to the vastly superior Roman forces effectively ending Carthaginian rule of our Islands. The archipelago was incorporated as part of the province of Sicily and Malta was eventually renamed Melite, after the Roman town Melita was established in what we now call Mdina. Until then, Malta had been known as Maleth, Punic name meaning 'safe haven', and already referred to as Melite by the Greeks before the term was adopted by the Romans.
Malta fell under Roman Jurisdiction as a result of the Punic Wars
The Acts of the Apostles state that Saint Paul was shipwrecked here in 60 AD. According to local tradition, Publius1 welcomed St. Paul and converted to Christianity after his father was healed from dysentery, leading others to do the same. Although many details pertaining to this episode have not yet been attested by the historical record, archaeological evidence shows that Christianity was among the religions practised locally from around that time. Many traces of a rich Roman culture remain scattered across the islands, including temples, villas, apiaries, baths and a scatter of fortifications.
Shipwreck of St. Paul in 60 AD
The islands prospered under Roman rule and by the 1st century AD Malta had its own senate and people's assembly distinguished as a Municipium and Foederata Civitas, with both Malta and Gozo minting their own distinctive coins based on Roman weight measurements. Latin became Malta's official language, along with the introduction of Roman religion. Despite this, the local Punic-Hellenistic culture and language are thought to have survived until at least the 1st century AD.
Maltese Roman Triens Coin from 85 BC
Malta remained part of the Roman Empire until the early 6th century AD and collapse of its western heart defined by the fall of Rome. There is mention of incursions by the Vandals and Ostrogoths as from the 5th Century AD, who might have even briefly occupied the islands around that time. No solid evidence of this remains however. In 533 AD, Byzantine General Belisarius briefly landed at Malta while on his way from Sicily to North Africa, and by 535 AD, the island had been integrated into the Byzantine province of Sicily. During the Byzantine period, the main settlements remained the city of Melite on mainland Malta and the Citadel on Gozo. To read more about the various perspectives of Roman life and culture in Malta, kindly access the links below. Click on image to leave page or underlying text to open in a new tab
1. Publius was ordained as a bishop by St. Paul, and died at martyr in Athens sometime between 122-125 AD. He was canonised as a Saint in 1634.
Roman Republic / Julius Caesar / Battle of Actium / Punic Wars - Wikipedia.org & Brittanica.com The Sons of Mars - Erich B. Anderson via Historytoday.com The Carthaginian Army - Realmofhistory,com --
Images Cover Image - Unrecorded source Julius Caesar & his Assassination / Octavian - Britannica.com / Smithsonianmag.com / Faces of Ancient Europe via Twitter.com Mark Anthony / Battle of Actium / Cleopatra - Vatican Museum via Brittanica.com / Lorenzo A. Castro via Wikipedia.org / Wu Zhao via Pinterest.com The Roman Empire in around 117 AD - Edmaps.com The Punic Wars - Ancienthistorylists.com Roman Coin - John Gatt via Coinsofmalta.com Shipwreck of St. Paul - Gustave Dore' via Etsy / Pinterest.com
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