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Comparison Between Alexandria and Ancient Rome

Criteria Ptolemaic Alexandria Ancient Rome
Images Photo: Pompey pillar in Alexandria, a single column standing from the ancient temple Photo: Colosseum of Rome, the Flavian Amphitheatre
Foundation
  • Alexandria was built by the Greek architect Dinocrates (332-331 BC), at the orders of Alexander the Great
  • Alexandria was founded beside the ancient village of Rhakotis, along the coast of the Mediterranean sea in north Egypt
  • This coastal location, allowed Alexandria to develop into an important trade center, with a multi-ethnic population.
  • The founddation of the city was a documented historical fact, unlike the legendary foundation of Rome
  • According to legend, the city was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on 21 April 753 BC
  • This story says that after these twins founded the city, they had an argument, and Romulus killed his brother Remus, and renamed the city after himself, Rome.
  • However Archaeological evidence shows Rome grew from pastoral settlements on the Palatine Hill built in the area of the future Roman Forum.
Icon and Symbol Icon:3rd nome of Lower EgyptAlexandria was the capital of the West, the 3rd Nome of Lower Egypt Icon: Romulus and Remus The symbol of Rome was the statue depicting the twin founders of the city, Romulus and Remus, being nursed by the she-wolf.
Local diety
  • Serapis, the underworld god was the most important god during the Ptolemaic Period
  • He derived from the Egyptian Osiris
  • While Alexandria's main diety had a dominion in the underworld reveiling the importance of afterlife in Egypt, Rome in contrast worshipped Mars the god of war, and father of Rome's twin founders, Romulus and Remus.
  • This fact shows that unlike Egypt, warfare played an important role in Roman culture
Location
  • Along the coast of the Mediterranean sea in north Egypt
  • This coastal location, allowed Alexandria to develop into an important trade center, with a multi-ethnic population.
  • The city was home to the largest Jewish community in the world, the Septuagin
  • The city of Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber river
  • The population of Rome was native, and no foreigners were ever allowed to obtain the Roman citizenship, how were given a limited form of Roman citizenship such as the Latin Right. This amounted essentially to a second-class citizenship within the Roman state.
  • The city of Rome never had a multi-ethnic population, despite controlling a vast empire with different native peoples
Architectural Planning
  • Designed by Dinocrates, the personal architect of Alexander the Great
  • The city incorporated the best in Hellenic planning and architecture.
  • Streets had a grid square, well defined pattern, unlike any other city in the ancient world
  • Like any city that grows over the centuries, the plan of ancient Rome was not a premeditated work of an architect, but rather the product of natural expansion.
  • City streets were never planned by a single architect
City Quarters Due to the multi-ethnic population of the city, Alexandria was divided into three districts:
  1. The Jews' quarter, forming the northeast portion of the city near the western Gate of the Sun
  2. The RhaKotis district, on the west near the Gate of the Moon, was occupied by native Egyptians
  3. The Greek Brucheum, formed the most magnificent portion of the city and was situated close to the Royal Palaces.
  • Unlike Alexandria, the city quarters in ancient Rome were divided acording to Social class, since no ethnic groups lived in the city.
  • Only Roman citizens owned houses, while foreign slaves lived within their Masters houses.
  • The The poor quarters consisted wooden houses which where a serious fire risk. On a number of occasions, Rome suffered severe damage as a result of fires starting in the city's slums.
Historical Developments
  • The city flourished as the greatest center of Hellenistic civilization, a prominent cultural and economic metropolis.
  • Alexandria formally became part of the Roman Empire in 30 BC It was the greatest of the Roman provincial capitals, with a population of about 300,000 inhabitants.
  • In A.D. 391, Theodosius I had pagan temples and other structures razed.
  • In the later centuries of Roman rule and under the Byzantine Empire, Alexandria rivaled Rome and Constantinople as a center of Christian learning, and became the seat of a patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church
  • When the Arabs took Alexandria in 642, its prosperity had withered, largely because of a decline in shipping.
  • In 969 the capital of Egypt was moved to Cairo, and Alexandria's decline continued, accelerating in the 14th century, when the canal to the Nile silted up.
  • Rome became a republic in 509 BC
  • By the 3rd century BC, Rome became the pre-eminent city of the Italy, after conquering the Etruscans and the Greek colonies in Southern Italy
  • After the Punic Wars between Rome and the empire of Carthage during the 2nd century BC, Rome's stature increased further as it became the capital of an overseas empire for the first time
  • The Roman Empire began in a more formalised way in the 1st century AD, with the Emperor Augustus. Roman dominance expanded over all Europe, while its population surpassed one million inhabitants.
  • For almost a thousand years, Rome was the most politically important, richest, and largest city in the Western world
  • After the Sack of Rome in 410 AD by Alaric I and the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, Rome alternated between Byzantine and Germanic control. Its population declined to a mere 20,000 during the Early Middle Ages. The city lost its capital status to Milan
  • The latter half of the 15th century saw the seat of the Italian Renaissance move to Rome, and the city regained some of it's importance
Ancient Monuments
  1. Bibliotheca Alexandrina -The celebrated royal library contained a collection of 700,000 rolls.
  2. The Pharos Lighthouse - The tallest building on Earth, ensured a safe return to harbor for sailors
  • Due to earthquakes, plundering and modern rebuilding, very few monuments remain of the ancient city of alexandria
  • On 21 July 365, Alexandria was devastated by the Crete earthquake, much of the royal palaces and civic quarters sank under the sea
  • One of the very few monuments still standing from the once magnificent city is the Pompey Pillar, a temple column located in the ancient acropolis, of which nothing else remains,
Some of the magnificient building of ancient Rome still exsist today, such as
  1. The Colosseum where thousands of Roman citizens gathered for sports entertainment
  2. The Roman Forum, located between the Palatine the Capitoline Hills,
  3. The Pantheon, a temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa to all the gods of Ancient Rome
  4. Trajan's Column, raised in honour of the Roman emperor Trajan
  5. The Catacombs of Rome, these are underground burial places near Rome, some discovered only in recent decades.
  6. The Circus Maximus, an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium
  7. The Baths of Caracalla, were Roman thermae, built in AD 212

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Poll: Which was the most magnificent city in the ancient world?

Answers:
24%
81 votes

8%
30 votes

56%
189 votes

4%
15 votes

2%
9 votes

3%
12 votes

Total votes:
336

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