- (423), since 1871 capital of the modern kingdom of ITALY (q.v.), on the Tiber, 16 m. from its entrance into the Tyrrhenian Sea; legend ascribes its foundation to Romulus in 753 B.C., and the story of its progress, first as the chief city of a little Italian kingdom, then of a powerful and expanding republic (510 B.C. to 30 B.C.), and finally of a vast empire, together with its decline and fall in the 5th century (476 A.D.), before the advancing barbarian hordes, forms the most impressive chapter in the history of nations; as the mother-city of Christendom in the Middle Ages, and the later capital of the PAPAL STATES (q.v.) and seat of the Popes, it acquired fresh glory; it remains the most interesting city in the world; is filled with the sublime ruins and monuments of its pagan greatness and the priceless art-treasures of its mediæval period; of ruined buildings the most imposing are the Colosseum (a vast amphitheatre for gladiatorial shows) and the Baths of Caracalla (accommodated 1600 bathers); the great aqueducts of its Pre-Christian period still supply the city with water from the Apennines and the Alban Hills; the Aurelian Wall (12 m.) still surrounds the city, enclosing the "seven hills," the Palatine, Capitoline, Aventine, &c., but suburbs have spread beyond; St. Peter's is yet the finest church in the world; the Popes have their residence in the Vatican; its manufactures are inconsiderable, and consist chiefly of small mosaics, bronze and plaster casts, prints, trinkets, &c.; depends for its prosperity chiefly on the large influx of visitors, and the court expenditure of the Quirinal and Vatican, and of the civil and military officials.
The Nuttall Encyclopaedia. James Wood. 1907.
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