This map plots the settings and references in Imperium
To start exploring, click a red pin
Ancient Rome was a city in central-west Italy on the river Tiber, built on seven hills: the Capitoline, Aventine, Caelian, Palatine, Esquiline, Viminal, and the Quirinal. The modern city was built on top of the ancient one; some landmarks and ruins remain, and more are discovered with each new excavation.
Houses in Rome would range from the luxurious villas atop the hills to the modest townhouses and insulae (blocks of flats) crowded in the city, and the slum blocks of the very poor. Rome’s main food markets included the Forum Boarium and the Emporium; shops, businesses and bars will have lined the streets of these areas. Rome’s main port city was Ostia. The Forum Romanum was an open square between the Capitoline and Palatine hills where business, public meetings and the law courts were held. The Games (public entertainment) were held in the Circus Maximus. Outside the city walls was the Campus Martius (Field of Mars) where the public voting was held. During Cicero’s time this field would have been mainly open land, but was later the site of extensive building work and monuments.
Walking around Rome in the 1st century BC, a visitor would see many small temples to various Roman gods. These were usually dedicated by individuals or families as personal acts of piety. Larger public temples such as the Temple of Vesta, the Temple of Castor and Pollux, and the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitol would also be visible. The streets of Rome would have been narrow, lined with blocks of flats or two-storey townhouses. They had a raised pavement for pedestrians, with a central channel for carts and horses. At intervals, stepping stones across would allow people to cross the street without having to tread in the dirt and animal excrement in the road. Above all, Rome would be a busy, bustling place – the powerful capital of a growing empire.
The Forum Romanum is where much of the action in Imperium takes place. The building labelled Curia is the Senate House, the basilicas are where important business and law courts were held, the Carcer is the prison of Rome, and the Rostra is the platform for public speaking.
As one of the main sources of grain for Rome (the others being North Africa and Egypt), Sicily was an important Roman province. Sicily supported both Phoenician and ancient Greek colonies, with Greek cities established on the east side of the island, Phoenician cities on the west, and the original inhabitants such as the Sicani pushed into the centre of the island. Gradually the original tribes were absorbed into the colonised settlements. Sicily by Cicero’s time was a fairly diverse place, with Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans, as well as their various cults, temples and gods, all mingling together.