According to some of the archaeological evidence, the first tribes at the territory of modern Italy (at the top of the Palatine Hill) appeared as early as the 10th century BC. Still, the first settlements to give birth to Rome are believed to have appeared in the 8th century BC. The first civilization here belongs to the Etruscans, the inhabitants of Etruria (now Toscana). By the late 7th century they gained political control over the Rome surroundings and established a kind of aristocratic and monarchical elite. They were at their height during the 5th century BC and were subdued by the Romans on whom the Etruscans made significant cultural and political influence.
The Romans are known as a bellicose people, and they generally grabbed territories and power throughout the Italian peninsula by subduing other people and founding colonies in strategically important areas. After 20 years of the wars with Carthage, the opponent maritime power, Rome expanded its conquests overseas and was becoming a magnificent imperial power (Bentley and Ziegler 270). All major enemies were defeated, but inside the Republic there were a lot of controversies. The members of the government were elected by the citizens, but the patricians regularly struggled with each other. The laws providing the patricians with exclusive rights to the highest offices of Rome were annihilated or weakened, and with time a new aristocracy rose from among the plebeian class. Tiberius and Gaius Gracchi were a pair of tribunes who tried to save the situation. They tried to pass land reform legislation according to which the land would be distributed among the plebeians. The measures offered by the Gracchi brothers were rather progressive and make them known as the first fathers of populism and socialism in history. Despite their significance and some early success at the office, they were dangerous for the patricians and therefore were finally assassinated. The end of republic is often associated with the appointment of Gaius Julius Caesar (100 – 44 BC) as a perpetual dictator in 44 BC, but other versions exist. Julius Caesar became the symbol of the Ancient Rome. The power became hereditary (Reilly 214). Although officially there was still republican government, Octavian Augustus (63 BC ”“ 14 AD) gained absolute power since he had got the official position (Bentley and Ziegler 293). The Empire as a form proved to be safer and more glorious than the Republic. As for the rights of women in the Ancient Rome, they were rather restricted. Although they had the status of citizens, they were not allowed to vote or participate in politics. However, the women from rich and powerful families, influenced politics and legislation through private negotiations. In the times of Republic, such women as Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi brothers, and Fulvia contributed much to the martial affairs. Further, imperial mores were essentially formed due to the efforts of Livia. There is an evidence that the women in Rome had the same access to education as the men did, so formal preparation for professional activities was rather high. Still, public life was officially closed for them and their domestic skills were much more appreciated than their intellectual achievements. During the late Republic and Empire, however, many women were emancipated (reached freedom from paterfamilias), became able to gain property rights and even more juridical rights than their husbands. The role of women significantly changed after Christianity was introduced.