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History of Italy: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Have you heard the expression 'Rome wasn't built in a day'? In this lesson, you will learn interesting facts and details about the history of Italy, including Rome, the Renaissance and even the World Wars.

Gladiators

In America we have arenas, or stadiums, for football, baseball, soccer and even track and field. The citizens of the ancient Roman Empire enjoyed sporting events too, although the outcome for the players was usually life or death. The players were called gladiators. They fought in large arenas and the biggest of these was called the Colosseum. If you visited Rome today, you could see the remains of many of these ancient sites, reminders of Italy's fascinating history!

Where Is Italy?

It's hard not to miss Italy. It's shaped like a boot! Italy is about the size of Arizona and is a peninsula surrounded by seas. A peninsula is a piece of land that is almost completely surrounded by water, but is still connected to the mainland.

Italy's First Civilization

One of Italy's first civilizations came about after the Stone Age. These people are known as the Etruscans and lived in the region of present-day Tuscany. They were warriors, farmers and miners and had many gods. The Etruscans adopted many of the Greeks' artistic traditions, including statues, pottery and frescoes, which are watercolor paintings on the wet plaster of walls or ceilings.

Rome

How did the city of Rome get its name? Legend says that two orphaned brothers, Remus and Romulus, were raised by a she-wolf. Romulus ended up killing Remus and declared himself the first king of Rome. The Roman Republic was formed in 509 BC. It was made up of two elected officials, a wealthy senate and common people called plebeians. Did you know the United States is also a republic? This means that the people choose the leaders. The Roman Republic conquered a massive amount of land and its army grew.

Remains of the Colosseum in Rome
Colosseum

But the Roman Republic eventually ran into trouble. The people were angry with the government because of crime, high taxes and no jobs. Julius Caesar gained the trust and favor of the Roman people and became very popular. After all, the month of July was named after him! Caesar had his own army and the Senate was worried he would destroy the Republic. On the Ides of March (March 15th), Julius Caesar was killed by his own senators. Civil wars destroyed the republic and in 27 BC, Augustus Caesar, Julius' adopted son, became Rome's first emperor. The Roman Empire was born and at its height, ruled all of the Mediterranean region.

Map of the Roman Empire under Augustus
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