Teaching Students About the Timeline of Roman Rulers


The history of ancient Rome offers a fascinating study for students, as it provides valuable insights into a significant period that shaped the world. One of the most important aspects of Roman history is the timeline of its rulers, from the founding of the city to the eventual collapse of its vast empire. Teaching students about these diverse characters and their impact on society can be engaging and inspiring while also providing crucial context for understanding Rome’s evolution over time.

The Founding of Rome: From Monarchy to Republic

To begin your lessons on the timeline of Roman rulers, it is crucial to start with Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome. According to tradition, Romulus established Rome in 753 BCE after killing his twin brother Remus in a dispute. The Roman Kingdom was governed by a series of seven kings, each making important contributions, such as founding religious institutions or creating legal systems.

However, in 509 BCE, following the ousting of its last tyrannical king Tarquinius Superbus, the monarchy system was replaced by a republic governed by two elected officials known as consuls. Students will find it exciting to explore this transition and learn about prominent consuls like Lucius Junius Brutus and Gaius Marcius Coriolanus.

The Glory Days: The Rise of Julius Caesar & the Fall of the Republic

Introducing students to Julius Caesar’s rise to power will captivate their attention and fuel further interest in Roman history. Julius Caesar was instrumental in expanding Rome’s territory during his campaigns for which he received great admiration from many countrymen.

In 49 BCE, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River with his troops marking the beginning of a civil war that led to him being declared dictator in perpetuity. His assassination on March 15th, 44 BCE, commonly referred to as “the Ides of March,” marked the end of the Roman Republic.

The Roman Empire: From Augustus to The Five Good Emperors

The assassination of Julius Caesar paved the way for his adopted son, Octavian, to become Rome’s first emperor, taking on the title of Augustus. Under his leadership, Rome experienced stability and prosperity and transitioned from a republic to an empire.

Teaching students about the subsequent four rulers known as “The Four Good Emperors” – Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus Pius – is vital for understanding Rome’s expansion and culture. Emphasize their contributions to architecture, law commissions, social improvements, and public works projects.

The Crisis and Decline: Commodus to Romulus Augustulus

An important turning point in Roman history is the crisis of the third century marked by economic collapse, political instability, and external invasions. This period contributed to the eventual decline of the Western Roman Empire.

Discussing emperors such as Commodus (whose reign was portrayed in Ridley Scott’s movie Gladiator), Constantine the Great (who established Christianity as Rome’s official religion), and Romulus Augustulus (the last Western Roman Emperor) allows students to develop an understanding of factors that led to Rome’s decline.


Teaching students about the timeline of Roman rulers can be an engaging and informative experience. By covering the pivotal moments – from Rome’s founding through its collapse – educators can highlight significant causes and effects that influenced world history over centuries. Ensure that your approach balances essential facts with engrossing stories about individuals who contributed to shaping Western civilization.

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