Rome began as a small settlement in the 8th century BCE and, legend has it, its first king was Romulus, who killed his twin Remus, to seize power. Rome became a republic in 509 BCE, when its final king, the cruel Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, was overthrown by a popular uprising. During the first years of the republic, Rome grew exponentially in size and power. Under Marcus Furius Camillus (446–365 BCE), a Roman soldier and a member of the ruling (Patrician) class, the Romans invaded and plundered towns throughout the Italian peninsula. By 290 BCE, Rome had crushed the Samnites in central-southern Italy and controlled the entire peninsula by 270 BCE. In c. 260 BCE, an expansionist Rome came into conflict with Carthage, the other dominant power in the Mediterranean, with a strong navy and maritime empire. Three Punic Wars with Carthage, between 264 BCE and 146 BCE, would eventually lead to Carthage’s defeat and absorption into the burgeoning new empire.
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