The Romans:

History: the ancestors of the Romans were an ancient Italic/Latin people known as the Etruscans, though the Celtic culture to the north and the Greek settlers in Italy also influenced the early Romans quite a lot, the Romans were originally the inhabitants of a city named Rome but in later periods everybody who lived in the Roman empire and posessed civil rights was considered to be Roman, so in most sources the word "Roman" does not refer to an ethnical group but rather to people who lived within the borders of the empire.
According to the legends the city of Rome was founded between the seven hills near the river Tiber in 753BC by the mythical brothers Remus and Romulus, though historians believe it was founded on the Palatine (one of the seven hills) by the Etruscans on an unknown date.
While building the new city the brothers Remus and Romulus got into a fight with eachother in which Remus was killed, so Romulus finished the city alone, he then needed inhabitants for the city so he populated it with slaves and criminals.
The "city of criminals" was low on women so they invited the nearby tribe of the Sabines for a party, during the party a horn suddenly sounded and all Romans quickly grabbed a Sabine maiden and brought her inside the city, they then closed the gate for the astonished Sabines.
As you can imagine the Sabines declared war on Rome, but after some years of conflict the Romans and the Sabines decided to make peace.
The city of Rome grew into a powerful city state that often came into conflict with its neighbours; one day the Etruscan king Porsinna came with his army and besieged Rome to force its surrender.
A young Roman called Mucius infiltrated the enemy camp to kill Porsinna but he failed and killed the wrong person, when he was captured king Porsinna wanted to torture him but Mucius suddenly held his right hand in a fire until it burned and the king's tent was filled with the stench of burning flesh.
Without moving a muscle the brave Mucius told king Porsinna that there were at least 300 men like him in Rome, Porsinna was so impressed that he released Mucius and spared Rome, for his act of heroism Mucius was from then on called Mucius Scaevola (Mucius Lefthand).

The Roman forum Around 510BC the Roman republic was founded under the name SPQR (Senatus PopulusQue Romanus; the Senate and people of Rome) and in the 4th en 3th century BC Rome slowly extended its power over Italy which brought the Roman republic into conflict with Carthage, which was the most powerful empire in the western Mediterranean in that time, Rome fought 3 wars with Carthage (in 264BC-241BC, 219BC-201BC, and 149BC-146BC) that became known as the Punic wars, initially the Carthaginians were winning and their famous leader Hannibal even crossed the Alps with an army of elephants to besiege Rome, the Romans managed to fight off the Carthaginian attacks and eventually they began to achieve more victories, at the end of the Punic wars the Romans emerged victorious and the city of Carthage (modern day Tunis) was completely razed to the ground, the Roman republic also gained the former Carthaginian provinces of Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, and north Africa.
In the years thereafter Rome extended its power over the Balkans and southern Gaul and in the 1st century BC an ambitious proconsul named Julius Caesar conquered the rest of Gaul, eventually he got in trouble with the Roman senate for disobeying their orders and he was called back to Rome to explain himself, when Caesar arrived at the river Rubicon (the border of his province that his soldiers were not allowed to cross) he spoke "Alea iacta est" (the dice has been thrown) and he crossed the river with his army and marched to Rome where he deposed the senate and ended the Roman republic.
Caesar became dictator for life but not everybody agreed with that, some high-ranking Romans formed a conspiracy against his rule and when nobody expected it they attacked Julius Caesar and stabbed him to death, when Caesar saw that even his son Brutus was one of the attackers he spoke "Et tu, Brute?" (you too, Brutus?), after that he covered his head with his cloak and died.

Julius Caesar's son Octavianus succeeded him and founded the Roman empire, Octavianus became the first official Roman emperor and changed his name to Augustus, the name he is still known under today.
In 9AD the Roman empire suffered its first major defeat and three of their legions were destroyed in the Teutoburger wald in Germania, which made the Romans decide not to expand their empire beyond the river Rhine, instead they focused on the east and from 98AD to 117AD emperor Trajanus conquered Dacia, Armenia, Illyria, Mesopothamia, and Arabia.
In the 3rd century AD the power of the Roman empire started to fade and the Romans suffered invasions from the Germans (in the west) and the Persians (in the east), In 212AD the free men of Rome were given Roman civil rights, though this did not apply to women, who had lesser rights than men in Roman society, Christians also had lesser rights than other Roman citizens and many emperors even threw them for the lions, this changed under emperor Constantine the Great who improved the civil rights of the Christians, his successors even made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire, which is the main reason why it is still the dominant religion in Europe.
The new Christian religion was centered in Rome where the pope and his bishops started making rules that told the Christians how to live up to their faith, in this period the bible was also compiled from the biblical scrolls that had been found in the Middle East, originally there were more than the four gospels the bible has nowadays but the early church decided they would only allow the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John into the bible and left the other ones out, some of which even contradicted the current dogma's of the church.
In 395AD the Roman empire was divided into a western and an eastern part, the eastern part later became the Byzantine empire while the western part was conquered by Germanic tribes in the 5th century AD, in 476AD a Germanic king named Odoaker invaded Italy and deposed the last emperor, "Roma eterna" had fallen.

Culture: the Roman republic was ruled by a senate that was chosen by the patricians (men of noble origin), this sounds very democratic but the patricians were only a small minorty of the entire Roman population, after Julius Caesar ended the republic the new Roman empire was formed where all power was in the hands of the emperor, Rome became a totalitarian state and most civilians had very little to say, though the emperors did not ignore the opinion of their people and because of the ethnic diversity within the empire they were also very tolerant of most cultures and religions.
The power of the Roman empire mainly laid in its organization; laws were created, the military was frequently modernized, and the infrastructure was constantly improved; some of the sewers, roads, and bridges the Romans built functioned so well that they are still used today.
The weak side of the empire was that all power was in the hands of the emperor, this could also be a good thing when the emperor was an intelligent and responsible person but it often happened (especially in later periods) that a completely unsuitable emperor came into power, some Roman emperors are even known to have suffered from mental instability which caused them to take the weirdest decisions, the best example of such an emperor is Nero, who only cared for food and luxury and almost brought his empire of 100 million people to the edge of disaster.
Although Nero probably also had his good sides he is known to have been a very vain person, for instance he believed that he was a great singer and a master of sport and arts, to prove this he went to Greece to participate in the Olympic games where he won 1080 first prices(!), though he did not win this prices because he was such a good athlete but because nobody dared to win from him, during a runnic match the other participants even deliberately fell or slowed down until the fat emperor finally crossed the finish line.
It is also believed that Nero was responsible for the great fire of Rome but that has almost certainly been exaggerated.

Roman soldiers Within the Roman empire many citizens lived in luxury because of the well-developed trade and economy, subjected peoples were also able to buy or trade Roman products and they were not excluded from the benefits of being a part of the Roman empire, slowly the Roman culture found its way to this peoples and caused a process that is called "Romanization", in some areas it only superficially influenced the people but in other places the people were so heavily influenced that their original culture was almost replaced by that of the Romans, a good example is Gaul (modern France) where the people even abandoned their native languages and started speaking a Latin dialect from which modern French originates.
When the people became unruly the local Roman rulers kept them content with "bread and games"; they supplied food or other goods the population was in need of and organized games with gladiators and wild animals to give the people something to enjoy, this tactic often worked and when it didn't the Romans simply sent some soldiers to the area to display their military power.

Language: the Romans spoke Latin, which was an Indo-European language that was related to the other Italic languages, when the Romans dominated Europe their language became the universal language and even after the fall of the Roman empire Latin was still used as such, many languages have been deeply influenced by Latin or are even direct descendants of it, this languages are nowadays called Romance languages and its greatest representatives are Italian, Spanish, and French, the English language is of Germanic origin but has also taken many influences from Latin and its later descendant French.
Latin is often considered to be an extinct language but it is still used nowadays in the medical and scientifical world and many schools also teach it to their students, in the Vatican (the smallest country in the world and the residence of the pope) Latin is even the official language, I shall now give an example of Latin and some of its descendant languages.
Example of Romance languages:

(Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 1)
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Omnes homines dignitate et iure liberi et pares nascuntur, rationis et conscientiae participes sunt, quibus inter se concordiae studio est agendum.

Tutti gli esseri umani nascono liberi ed eguali in dignità e diritti. Essi sono dotati di ragione e di coscienza e devono agire gli uni verso gli altri in spirito di fratellanza.

Todos los seres humanos nacen libres e iguales en dignidad y derechos y. Dotados como están de razón y conciencia, deben comportarse fraternalmente los unos con los otros.

Todos os seres humanos nascem livres e iguais em dignidade e em direitos. Dotados de razão e de consciência, devem agir uns para com os outros em espírito de fraternidade.

Tous les êtres humains naissent libres et égaux en dignité et en droits. Ils sont doués de raison et de conscience et doivent agir les uns envers les autres dans un esprit de fraternité.

Toate fiintele umane se nasc libere si egale în demnitate si în drepturi. Ele sînt înzestrate cu ratiune si constiinta si trebuie sa se comporte unele fata de altele în spiritul fraternitatii.

Religion: in the old Roman religion the gods Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus were the most important but during the 6th century BC the gods Jupiter (remained the same), Juno, and Minerva became the most popular gods, other gods who became more important were Tellus, Ceres, Neptunus, Vulcanus, Vesta, and Janus.
The reason for this changes was that in the 6th century BC the Roman gods were equaled to the Greek gods, like for instance Jupiter with Zeus and Venus with Aphrodite, this added many new gods and mythological aspects to the Roman religion, in later periods the Roman religion was also greatly influenced by the eastern religions (pre-Islamic religions of Egypt and the Middle East).
The Romans also had an emperor cult which means that the emperor was seen as a representative of the Roman gods or even as the incarnation of a god, the Romans had many minor gods too, for instance the Lares and Penates who protected the house and the Manes who were demons of death.

Description of the main Roman gods:
The Roman gods and mythology are still commonly known to most people and I am not exaggerating when I say that most people know even more about the Roman gods than the gods of their own ancestors, therefor I have decided not to go too much into details about them and just mention the most important ones.
  • Apollo is the sungod and the god of light.
  • Bacchus is the god of wine and wild parties.
  • Ceres is the goddess of fertility, farming, grain, and motherlove.
  • Diana is the goddess of fertility, hunting, and the moon.
  • Janus is the guardian of the heavens and the god of entrances, both literally (doors and gates) and figurative (new beginnings, a new year), the month of January has been named after him.
  • Juno is the goddess of heaven, the moon, women, marriage, childbirth, and the protectress of Rome, the month June has been named after her.
  • Jupiter is the high god and the god of thunder, the sky, and weather.
  • Mars is the god of war and was originally also a god of fertility and spring, the month March has been named after him.
  • Mercurius is the god of trade and the messenger of the gods.
  • Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, crafts, and medicine.
  • Neptunus is the god of water and the sea.
  • Pluto is the god of the afterlife.
  • Quirinus is the god of war and may have been the predecessor of Mars.
  • Saturnus is the god of farming.
  • Silvanus is the god of forests.
  • Tellus is a god of earth and farming.
  • Venus is the goddess of love and beauty.
  • Vesta is the goddes of the family, house, and hearth.
  • Vulcanus is the god of fire.

    The Roman Colosseum List of Roman emperors:
    ·Augustus (27BC - 14AD)
    ·Tiberius (14 - 37)
    ·Gaius Caligula (37 - 41)
    ·Claudius (41 - 54)
    ·Nero (54 - 68)
    ·Galba (68 - 69)
    ·Otho (69)
    ·Vitellius (69)
    ·Vespasianus (69 - 79)
    ·Titus Flavius (79 - 81)
    ·Domitianus (81 - 96)
    ·Nerva (96 - 98)
    ·Trajanus (98 - 117)
    ·Hadrianus (117 - 138)
    ·Antoninus Pius (138 - 161)
    ·Marcus Aurelius (161 - 180), co-emperor: Lucius Verus (161 - 169)
    ·Commodus (180 - 193)
    ·Pertinax (193)
    ·Septimius Severus (193 - 211), counter-emperors: Didius Julianus (193), Pescennius Niger (193 - 194), and Clodius Albinus (193 - 197)
    ·Caracalla (211 - 217)
    ·Macrinus (217 - 218)
    ·Heliogabalus (218 - 222)
    ·Alexander Severus (222 - 235)
    ·Maximinus Thrax (235 - 238)
    ·Gordianus I and Gordianus II (238)
    ·Pupienus and Balbinus (238)
    ·Gordianus III (238-244)
    ·Philippus Arabicus (244-249)
    ·Decius (249-251)
    ·Herennius Etruscus (251)
    ·Hostilianus (251)
    ·Trebonianus Gallus (251-253)
    ·Aemilianus (253)
    ·Valerianus I (253-260)
    ·Gallienus (260-268), counter-emperor: Aureolus (265)
    ·Claudius II Gothicus (268-270)
    ·Quintillus (270)
    ·Aurelianus (270-275)
    ·Tacitus (275-276)
    ·Florianus (276)
    ·Probus (276-282), counter-emperors: Saturninus (280), Proculus (280), and Bonosus (280)
    ·Carus (282-283)
    ·Carinus (283-284), co-emperor: Numerianus, counter-emperor: Marcus Aurelius Julianus (283)
    ·Diocletianus (284 - 305), co-emperor: Maximianus (286 - 305)
    ·Constantius Chlorus (305-306), co-emperor: Galerius (305 - 311)
    ·Constantine I the Great (306 - 337), co-emperors: Galerius (?), Licinius (308 - 324), and Maximinus Daia (308 - 313), counter-emperors: Maxentius (306 - 312) and Domitius Alexander (308 - 309)
    ·Constantius II (337 - 361), co-emperors: Constantine II (337 - 340) and Constans (337 - 350), counter-emperors: Magnentius (350 - 353)
    ·Julianus (361 - 363)
    ·Jovianus (363 - 364)
    ·Valentinianus I (364 - 375), co-emperor: Valens (364 - 378), counter-emperor: Procopius (364 - 365)
    ·Gratianus (375 - 383), co-emperor: Valentinianus II (375-392), counter-emperor: Magnus Maximus (383 - 388)
    ·Theodosius I (379 - 395), counter-emperor: Eugenius (392 - 394)
    Separation into a Western and Eastern Roman empire

    Western Roman empire:
    ·Honorius (395 - 423), co-emperor: Constantius III (421), counter-emperors: Priscus Attalus (409 - 410 and 414 - 415), Constantine III (409 - 411), and Jovinus (411 - 412)
    ·Valentinianus III (423 - 455), counter-emperor: Joannes (423 - 425)
    ·Petronius Maximus (455)
    ·Avitus (456 - 457)
    ·Majorianus (457 - 461)
    ·Libius Severus (461) - 465)
    ·Anthemius (467 - 472)
    ·Olybrius (472)
    ·Glycerius (473 - 474)
    ·Julius Nepos - (474 - 475/480)
    ·Romulus Augustus (475 - 476)
    End of the Western Roman empire
    Eastern Roman empire:
    ·Arcadius (395 - 408)
    ·Theodosius II (408 - 450)
    ·Marcianus (450 - 457)
    ·Leo I (457 - 474)
    ·Leo II (474)
    ·Zeno (474 - 491)
    ·Basiliscus (475 - 476)
    ·Zeno (reclaimed the throne from Basiliscus) (476 - 491)
    Eastern Roman empire continues as Byzantine empire

    The Roman empire (territories outside Europe excluded)