From the Homeric epics of the 8th century BC to the fall of the Western Roman Empire over a thousand years later, the age of antiquity was one of conquest, discovery, and wonder. Classical antiquity saw the birth of Greek democracy and the transformation of the Roman Republic into a great empire. During late antiquity, Christianity and Islam grew across Europe and the Middle East, ultimately ushering in the Middle Ages. Explore our spotlight on essential figures and events of antiquity with the dictionaries and encyclopedias of Oxford Reference...
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- Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra who has gained enduring fame for her challenges to Roman power in the late third century
- Constantinople, the principal city of the Eastern Roman Empire, founded by Constantine I in 324 on the site of the small city of Byzantium
- Fall of the Western Empire, the series of events between 476 and 480 that resulted in a collapse of the western half of the Roman Empire
- Augustine of Hippo, African bishop, theologian, saint, and author of the seminal Christian works Confessions and City of God
- Arab conquest, the era of rapid expansion of tribes from the Arabian Peninsula after the death of Muhammad
"To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain forever a child."
— Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106–43 BC, Roman orator and statesman
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"History…is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind."
— Edward Gibbon, 1737–94, English historian
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"I am not Athenian or Greek but a citizen of the world."
— Socrates, 469-399 BC, Greek philosopher (as quoted by Plutarch)
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"One evening in mid-October 1764, the young Edward Gibbon sat among the ruins of the Capitol at Rome. The prospect before him must have looked like a Piranesi print–bony cattle grazing on thin grass in the shade of shattered marble columns..."
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"Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, had a number of romances that ended in tragedy. It is said that Cleopatra met Mark Antony (a Roman general) in Rome after the assassination of her lover, Caesar. They quickly fell in love and Antony followed her to Egypt, abandoning his own wife Octavia..."
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"The word museum comes from the Greek “mouseion,” the temples dedicated to the Muses and the arts they inspired. Around the 4th century BC, Aristotle founded a mouseion at his Lyceum school for the collection of specimens for his zoological studies..."
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