Can You Name All of the Cities Taken Over by the Roman Empire?


By: Zoe Samuel

7 Min Quiz

Image: Harald Nachtmann / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The influence of the Roman Empire cannot be overstated. The fact that the term "pax," as in "Pax Americana," is still in use is proof that the Pax Romana was an important part of human history. Ancient Rome was far from being a perfect government, but its combination of ambition, organization, civic loyalty and social contract meant that when Rome decided to do something, it usually got done. From the Pillars of Hercules in the west to the furthest reaches of the empire in the east, Rome stamped its culture on every people it conquered, leaving behind the foundations for learning and recordkeeping that allowed the current world order to rise from the ashes of the Dark Ages.

Of course, Rome was hardly a benevolent force. Rome brought its culture at the point of a spear, with its legions marching across the known world to gather resources and slaves for Rome herself. When temples burned, their valuables were turned into coin to build Roman monuments. For every slave taken in the boundaries of the empire, a Roman emperor would take a bath in milk and pearls. The rulers of Rome, clad in Tyrian purple, lived lives of comfort while the work of slaves kept the machine of state running. 

Do you know the history of Rome? Could you name her many conquests?

What important city fell to Rome as a result of the Battle of Zama?

The Battle of Zama, fought near the North African city of Zama, was the final battle of the Second Punic War, which resulted in the surrender of Carthage to Rome. As Carthage was both a city and an empire, this meant that not only did the lands of Carthage revert to Rome, but so too did the city.


What city did Rome conquer during its war with Sparta?

One war can often dovetail with another — this was as true in the ancient world as it is in the modern one. The Laconian War was a direct result of the Second Macedonian War. With Sparta left in control of Argos, Rome and its allies took the opportunity to invade and put an end to a culture in Sparta that had existed since before Leonidas fought the Persians.


What city did Rome take in the First Punic War?

In Rome's first conflict with the Carthaginian Empire, the keystone was Sicily. The Greek colony of Syracuse was aligned with Carthage and against Rome, so Rome did what it did best. Once Syracuse was Roman, the only other major hurdle was rebuilding the Roman navy to cut off the Carthaginian army from its navy.


Which city was taken by Rome as a result of the First Mithridatic War?

Any war with a chapter called the Siege of X and Rome always involves X being conquered by Rome. The army of Sulla laid siege to Athens for about seven months, starting in 87 B.C. After Rome took the city, some holdouts remained in the Acropolis. When Rome finally took the Acropolis, examples were made of the holdouts.


Rome took a city as a result of the actions of Andriscus. What city was it?

Andriscus was an idiot who thought that he should not only claim to be the son of the deceased King of Macedon but also have a fourth war with Rome, because the war had gone so well the three times before. Macedon was thus officially conquered by Rome. This inspired the rest of Greece to declare war on Rome, so Rome conquered them as well and destroyed Corinth to make it clear they weren't messing around.


The Romans had their own Battle of Thermopylae. What city did they take as a result of it?

Kings aren't always made kings because of their incredible competence. The Battle of Thermopylae in 191 B.C. is a perfect example of this. The Seleucid King Antiochus III the Great thought he could rehash Leonidas' stand against the Romans, but, sadly for him, the Romans also knew the story and, as a result, conquered all of Greece.


What city did Julius Caesar take in 49 B.C.?

49 B.C. was a great year to be Julius Caesar. He went from being an outlaw by decree of the Roman Senate to being the dictator of Rome. His famous moment of crossing the Rubicon was important because that was the boundary of his legal authority to use military force. By going south to Rome, he initiated a coup.


Some cities taken by Rome had been Roman to begin with. Which of these cities did Rome retake in about A.D. 61?

Boudicca was the wife of a British king who had lost his kingdom to Rome, but there were plenty of people who fit that description in the first century. Boudicca was special because she led an uprising against Rome, in which London was burned and the Romans living there were tortured to death. However, Rome crushed her rebellion and retook London, then called Londinium.


What city was conquered in the Battle of Placentia?

The modern city of Piacenza rests on the foundations of ancient Placentia, the city taken in 194 B.C. by Rome in the Battle of Placentia. The Boii tribe from Gaul had controlled that city before Rome. It's worth noting that while we think of Gaul as France, the Gauls were actually Celtic tribes.


What city did Rome take and utterly defile in A.D. 70?

As chronicled in Flavius Josephus' "The Jewish War," Titus marched on Jerusalem in A.D. 70, laying siege. The belligerents in the war were two factions: religious fundamentalists called Zealots and politically motivated assassins the Romans called "Sicarii," or "Dagger Men." The Roman victors marched captive Jews back to Rome.


What city did Roman Consul Marcus Valerius Laevinus take while the Empire was at war with Hannibal?

During the Second Punic War, Philip V of Macedon decided to make war with Rome, seeking an alliance with Hannibal. It might have worked, had it not been for the interception of Philip's emissaries by the Roman navy. While the war ended in a stalemate, it did mean Greece did not join with Carthage. In 211 B.C., Marcus Valerius Laevinus took Zakynthos as part of his conquest.


Rome took a city in 181 B.C. Do you know its name?

The modern city of Talavera de la Reina in Spain sits on the ruins of Aebura. During the First Celtiberian War, the Roman army, accompanied by local allies, laid siege to Aebura. This was to be one of many victories for Rome in this campaign.


The Romans had a war we actually call the Social War. Which of the following cities did Rome take in 89 B.C. as a result?

The Social War was not a war between the Dorsey and the Zuckerberg, but an awkwardly named war of the Italian allies of Rome. With loyalties split between political factions, the totally ridiculous war ended with — yes — Rome winning and taking all the cities that had risen up against it.


What city was conquered and reinvented by Rome, circa A.D. 40?

Originally a native British town, Camulodunum was conquered by Rome and used as their seat of power in Roman Britain. Today, this city is called Colchester, but the Romans renamed it Colonia Victricensis, and it would become central to the Roman effort to convince British nobles to move into cities.


Where was the first of the Roman victories that led to their overall victory in the Second Punic War?

Syracuse has always been important to Rome, as it is a short distance from the Italian Penninsula. When Carthage had control, Syracuse became an important ally and resupply point. Rome had to take it, and in 212 B.C., it did.


What major city did Scipio Africanus take in 209 B.C.?

What is now Cartagena was once New Carthage, an important stronghold for Carthage on the Iberian Peninsula. As part of his successful campaign to push back against Carthage, Scipio Africanus took Iberia, starting with the stronghold of Cartagena.


What city did the Romans take from the Gauls in 193 B.C., as part of the end of a campaign?

The Boii controlled many cities in the north of what would become Italy. When Rome conquered the city that would one day be called Modena, it was the final nail in the coffin of Celtic Italy.


Which Italian city conquered itself for Rome?

In a world of feuding city-states, cities had to choose sides very carefully. The city of Salapia, in Italy, was under the control of Carthage but knew the tide would turn, or at least hoped it would. Betraying their overlords, the city overthrew Hannibal's forces, joining the side of Rome.


What Italian city did the Romans retake in 209 B.C.?

The Romans retook Tarentum, a place currently called Taranto, in 209 B.C. According to the histories, the Roman conqueror Fabius took the city not by force, but by deception, using personal connections to the man left in charge by Hannibal, turning him into a traitor.


What city did Rome take from the Carthaginian commanders Hanno and Mottones, in Sicily?

The capture of Agrigentum is a perfect example of the power of Rome on the minds of its enemies. Mottones, likely thinking he could avoid death in this way, allowed the Romans into the city without warning his comrades. The Romans massacred the entire population of Agrigentum.


An uprising of Romans with wacky names starting with "F" ended with one falling on his sword, but first, he took a city. Which one?

Flaccus was in charge of an army sent to deal with Sulla, a rogue Roman general who had been sent to deal with Mithridates, a rogue Pontic king. Flavius Fimbria was the soldier who mutinied, killing Flaccus (politics, long story) and taking command. He took Pergamum before failing in his mission and committing suicide.


The Boii controlled a city in what is now northern Italy, but the Romans took it in 196 B.C. What is it?

Bononia, known today as Bologna, was held by the Gauls until, after the Punic Wars were over, Rome turned its attention to the north. Bologna was one of many cities taken shortly after the Second Punic War.


What Insubrian city did Rome conquer that became fully Roman rather quickly?

The year 222 B.C. saw Rome take Mediolanum from the Insubres, who had founded the city. In 194 B.C., the Insubres unsuccessfully allied with the Boii against Rome, but by 49 B.C. they were granted Roman citizenship.


King Perseus of Macedon provoked a war with Rome. What city did Rome take as a result?

King Perseus of Macedon thought that since the first two wars between Macedon and Rome had gone so well, he should initiate a third one when he took over from his father. As a result of that decision, along with the Siege of Pydna, Pydna fell to Rome.


The Parthian Wars resulted in a lot of land grabs by Rome, some of which stuck. Which of these cities was taken by Trajan?

The Parthian Wars were a series of conflicts between Rome and the Parthian Empire, which included much of present day Iraq, Iran and surrounding nations. Trajan's campaign in the second century took him to the Persian Gulf, where he conquered a number of cities, including Edessa.


Sometimes you have to get in trouble before you get what you want. What city did Gnaeus Manlius Vulso find deserted during his excessive conquest?

Following the war with the Seleucids, Roman Consul Gnaeus Manlius Vulso decided it was a convenient time to go to war with the Gauls in Galatia. Since he won, taking Gordium among other cities, he was let off the hook for what was otherwise considered a provocative move that could have started wars with other nations.


When Rome shows up, it's not always a good thing. In fact, for one city in 107 B.C., it was a very bad thing. Which one?

Not all of Rome's wars were victories, and not all of them had wonderful results. When Rome went to war with Numidia in what is called the Jugurthine War, Gaius Marius was put in charge after several failed attempts at conquest by Rome. He took the desert city of Capsa as part of a bungling, ill-conceived campaign. He won mostly through luck and, eventually, good old fashioned underhanded Roman treachery.


Which of these cities did Rome take in the Cimbrian War?

Vercelli is a town in northern Italy where there was once the Roman-era region called Vercellae. This is where the first Roman Legion, as we imagine it, with a Golden Eagle and professionally trained soldiers drawn from the regular populace, fought an army of combined Gauls and Teutons. The Roman victor was Julius Caesar's uncle, Gaius Marius.


Can you name this city, the conquest of which is immortalized on Trajan's Column?

When Dacia went to war with Rome, its leaders really should have known how things were going to turn out. It was well into the second century, and Rome was expert at stomping to death any nation that stood up to it. When Trajan and the King of Dacia came to terms, Dacia should have remained peaceful. Instead, it did not, and Rome utterly destroyed its capital, Sarmizegetusa Regia.


Avidius Cassius took a city in A.D. 164. What was its name?

When Avidius Cassius' legions contracted a plague after his victories in the Middle East, he should have considered that maybe it was a sign. While at war with the Parthians, he took the city of Ctesiphon. Later, when he tried to become Emperor of Rome, one of Avidius Cassius' men betrayed him, sending his head to Emperor Marcus Aurelius.


Which was taken in the Cantabrian Wars?

The Celts of the Iberian Peninsula were proud people who wanted nothing of Rome, but like most people who fit that description, things didn't end well for them. In 25 B.C., Rome's forces besieged them in places like Mons Medullius, where the Celts committed mass suicide or were murdered by the Romans.


Rome always liked to start a war by taking a city. Which one did they pick for A.D. 43?

When Rome decided to re-invade Britain, it was a big deal. Stories about monsters had come back from the last time Romans went there. Emperor Claudius needed a win, and like mountain climbers, Rome conquered places because they were there. With their landing in Richborough, or as the Romans called it, Rutupiæ, the conquest of Britain had begun.


A Roman commander named Scapula took a hill in A.D. 50, with some serious consequences. What location was it that he took?

More of a hill fort than a city, Caer Caradoc is the likely location for the battle between the cold-blooded Roman Publius Ostorius Scapula and the British rebel Caratacus (the name the Romans used for him, not his real name). The Roman victory was so sudden and total that Caratacus fled without his wife and children.


Can you name this center of Druidic life that was conquered by Rome?

Rome had to do a double take on Anglesey. The first Romans to try a conquest there, in A.D. 60, had to turn back to stop a revolt by Queen Boudica. However, the second time around, in 78, Rome took the island, as evidenced by Roman ruins like the fortress Caergybi in the town of Holyhead.


Some cities taken by Rome have names that don't immediately ring a bell. Can you name this one, taken circa A.D. 81?

Governor Agricola of Britain decided to have his way with Scotland, starting an imperial tradition that would be carried on by others for centuries. He took many settlements, often building Roman camps on their ruins. Near the modern city of Perth is one such ruin, the Roman camp at Inchtuthil.


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