Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Ancient Rome

Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.68

     challenging words:    elites, felicior, melior, non-Italian, optimus, piazza, ruling, standing, conquest, forged, latter, policies, monarchy, blueprint, hostage, empress
     content words:    Roman Empire, In October, Praetorian Guard, Middle East, Persian Gulf, Danube River, Quirinal Hill, Pompeia Plotina, Good Emperors

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By Vickie Chao

1     Back in the old days, monarchy was the way of ruling for almost every nation in the world. At the time, there was always an emperor (occasionally an empress) with supreme authority. When the emperor died, the power was passed on to one of his sons. If he did not have a son, then the power was up for grabs among all the members of the imperial family. Rarely would we see an outsider take hold of the throne. Whenever that happened, it was most likely in the form of a revolt. Once in a while, however, there were exceptions, and Trajan was one of them.
2     Trajan was born in the middle of September in 53 A.D. His family was rich and prominent. They lived in southern Spain, then a province of the Roman Empire. At a tender age, Trajan joined the Roman army. He fought forcefully and bravely in many wars. His hard work was duly noted. During his days of military service, he rose through the ranks quickly. His peers respected him. And the emperor Domitian trusted him.
3     When Domitian was assassinated on September 18, 96 A.D., the conspirators installed Nerva as the new king. Nerva was old and ailing at the time. But he was smart and capable. Shortly after he ascended the throne, he worked closely with the Roman senate and carried out a series of reforms. While his new policies were widely popular, the opposition from Domitian's supporters in the army remained strong. In October of 97 A.D., the imperial forces (called the Praetorian Guard) took Nerva hostage. They wanted him to punish those responsible for Domitian's death. Seeing no way out, Nerva complied with the demand. He executed the very group of people who had made him an emperor one year before. After this frightening episode, Nerva wanted to improve his relationship with the Roman army. As he himself was childless, he wanted to adopt an heir whom both the senate and the military would not oppose. His pick was Trajan, then a commander stationed in today's Germany. The choice was a wise one. Indeed, neither the senate nor the military voiced any concern. A few months later, in January of 98 A.D., Nerva died of natural causes. Trajan ascended the throne without incident. He became the first non-Italian ruler of the Roman Empire.

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