1st Century BCE (100 to 1)
91 Emperor Wu of China is
seventy-five and violence erupts over who will succeed him.
86 Emperor Wu is succeeded by a compromise choice: an
eight-year-old who is put under the regency of a former general, Huo
83 For the Romans, compromise and toleration have not been
working politically. General Marcus Sulla returns from wars in the
East, and in a civil war and bloodbath he takes power in Rome. Sulla
creates a new constitution that gives rule to the Senate and that he
believes will restore the republic, order and dignity to Rome.
79 Sulla retires. He believes that peace had been established
at home and abroad and that Rome's government is functioning as it had
in its glorious past. He grows cabbages and studies Epicureanism.
77 Around this year, the last book of the Old Testament, the
Book of Esther, is translated into Greek.
74 Emperor Zhao dies at the age of twenty and is succeeded by
another child, Emperor Xuan.
74 A Roman slave, Spartacus, escapes with seventy-seven other
prisoners and seizes control of nearby Mount Vesuvius. News of the
revolt encourages other slaves, and they join Spartacus on Mount
Vesuvius - an army of from fifty to a hundred thousand.
74 Spartacus and other slaves are crucified on the major road
in and out of Rome: the Appian way. The latest slave uprising has
lowered the demand for slaves. Landowners start replacing gangs of
slaves with a less frightening alternative: free people farming as
74 Regent Huo Guang dies peaceably, but palace rivalry leads
to charges of treason against Huo Guang's wife, son and many of Huo
Guang's relatives and family associates, and they are executed. With
Huo Guang gone, Emperor Xuan is able to exercise more control.
74The Maccabees family has been renamed the Hasmonaeans. Two
Hasmonaean brothers, John Hyrcanus II and Judas Aristobulus, are
competing for power, and a civil war erupts.
63 The Roman general, Gneaus Pompey, is in Syria
with a Roman army in response to disorder there. Syria is annexed to
the Roman Empire. The Hasmonaeans still have an alliance with Rome, and
the two warring Hasmonaean brothers seek arbitration from Rome. Pompey
and his army march into Judah. Fighting erupts between Jews and the
Roman army. The Romans take possession of Judah - territory they call
58 Julius Caesar goes to Gaul as military-governor.
53 The Parthians annihilate an army of 40,000 Romans.
52 (Oct 3) Leader of the Gauls, Vercingetorix, surrenders to Julius
Caesar, ending the battle of Alesia.
50 Around this year the Parthians extend their empire to the
Indus Valley. A people called Kushans have been pushing into Bactria
against the Scythians there, and the Scythians are pushing into India
(to be known in India as Sakas).
49 Rome's senate has worried over Caesar's popularity and has
ordered him home from Gaul. On January 10 Caesar crosses the Rubicon
River with his army, a forbidden move which means civil war.
48 China has a new emperor, Emperor Yuan, age twenty-seven.
He is a timid intellectual who is to spend much time with his
concubines. Rather than govern, he will leave power in the hands of his
eunuch secretaries and members of his mother's family.
48 (Aug 9) Caesar's civil war: Battle of Pharsalus - Julius
Caesar decisively defeats Pompey at Pharsalus and Pompey flees to Egypt.
48 (Sep 28) Pompey the Great is assassinated on orders of
King Ptolemy of Egypt after landing in Egypt.
47 Caesar returns to Rome as victor. Many Romans think their
troubles are over, that at last a champion of the people has secured
power and that the gods have granted Caesar good fortune. Caesar is
conciliatory with former enemies.
45 (Jan 1) Julius Caesar's reform calendar, the Julian
calendar, goes into effect: twelve months (January to December in
English), 365 days per year and one day added in February every four
44 Caesar is murdered by Stoic idealists in order to preserve
the Roman republic. Reconciliation has not worked.
32 Emperor Cheng has succeeded his father. He also has little
enthusiasm for governing and is most concerned with personal pleasures.
30 Civil war has followed Caesar's assassination, and it
reduces to Caesar's nephew, Octavian, against Antony and Cleopatra.
Antony dies on August 1, at the age of 53. Cleopatra dies eight days
later at 39.
29 Octavian returns to Rome a hero. He is to be worshipped as
the bringer of peace.
27 Octavian renounces his consulship and declares that he is
surrendering all powers, including control of the army. The Senate
returns his powers and gives him a title that has the ring of his being
divinely chosen, Augustus Caesar, and the Senate makes it law that he
be included in the prayers of Rome's priests. In appearance, the Roman
Republic had been restored, but ultimate power is still held by
23 South of Egypt, the Romans drive back, as far as Napata,
the rival imperialist army of Meroe.
19 Augustus Caesar is associating morality with the
well-being of the state and the pleasing of the gods. To stay on the
good side of the gods he has begun a crusade to revive temperance and
morality. He tries setting an example by dressing without extravagance
and by living in a modest house. He asks Virgil to write the Aeneid, a
story about the gods and the founding of the Roman race.
15 Livy, the Roman historian, is in his forties. He has been
writing his history of Rome since the year 29. He investigates the
story of the founding of Rome, which is popular among the Romans. It is
the story of Romulus and Remus, ending with Romulus vanishing into a
thunderstorm, becoming a god and then reappearing, descending from the
sky and declaring that it is the will of heaven that Rome be the
capital of the world.
74 Emperor Cheng is succeeded by Emperor Ngai, who lives in
the company of homosexual boys, one of whom he appoints
commander-in-chief of his armies. With the decline in quality of
monarchs following the reign of Emperor Wu, some Confucian scholars
declare that the Han dynasty has lost its Mandate from Heaven, and this
is widely believed.
1 Augustus Caesar has laws passed that he hopes will reduce
inter-breeding between Romans and non-Romans. He is encouraging
marriage. Romans believe in the family, and they agree that adultery
should be illegal. They believe that the virtue of their women helped
win favor for their city from their gods. And they continue to be
disgusted by criminality.
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