Roman civilization existed for 12 centuries, and from the legend of Romulus and Remus to Rome's transition to a republic, Education World has collected the best educational videos the Internet has to offer on this topic.
In the myth of Rome’s founding, Romulus and Remus are abandoned by their father, the Roman god of war Mars, and their mother, the princess of Alba Longa Rhea Silvia, a descendent of Troy’s hero and prince Aeneas.
The two were targeted by execution orders courtesy of Amulius, who took power from the boys’ grandfather King Numitor, but they avoided death thanks to some fortunate river currents, helpful animals and finally, a shepherd and his wife. The pair learned of their true identities later in life and proceeded to bump off Amulius and restore power to grandpa Numitor.
Instead of sticking around in Alba Longa, they decided to found their own city. When they couldn’t agree on the city’s name, location or ruler, Romulus killed Remus and started the city free of his brother’s input.
The following videos take the journey forward from there. Each has a slightly different take on the story, as is to be expected in the case of a myth about which historians differ. For each, we include a description and grade level. We also note the video’s capacity for engagement (“cool factor”).
The Story of Romulus and Remus
Grade level: 3-6
Run time: 6:55
Description: This is a slower-paced, illustrated account of the famous brothers. The video features soothing narration and a familiar storybook quality. A few discussion questions also appear at the end.
Cool factor: The presentation has a low production value, but the campy illustrations do bring the story to life in a way that’s paced perfectly for younger students.
Viewing questions: How do the brothers survive after they are sent down the river? How does being raised by wolves affect the boys later in life?
The Foundation of Rome
Grade level: 6-10
Run time: 13:04
Description: Mr. Hurdle rushes through the myth of Rome and moves through the growth of Rome off of the river Tiber, the entrance of The Etruscans, and the fall of Rome’s last king, the Etruscan Lucius Tarquinius Superbus.
Cool factor: A laid-back demeanor, a knack for storytelling, and a good sense of humor—combined with slides that range from adorable to essential—make this video excellent for the broad range of ages that might be introduced to the material. Some points get emphasis from onscreen doodles, museum and map images, and bits of Mr. Hurdle’s wonderful personality.
Viewing questions: What did Livy say about Rome’s founding myth? Who were the Etruscans? Who was the last king of Rome?
The Founding of Ancient Rome & Rome’s Early History
Source: Education Portal
Grade level: 6-12
Run time: 9:47
Description: Max Pfingsten brings ancient Rome to life in this easy-to-understand and comprehensive video. Sometimes-humorous animation accompanies various slides.
Cool factor: This video offers considerable context, which is perfect for teachers who want to showcase multiple understandings of Rome’s history. Max Pfingsten’s delivery packs a lot of punch—he frames the material with a bit of humor and lets the facts speak for themselves. Plus, this video’s excellent recap outlines everything covered.
Viewing questions: What do most historians believe about the theory that Rome was founded by the survivors of Troy? What was the Latin League? In what year was Rome founded? What was the Senatorial Class?
The Political Structure of the Roman Republic
Source: Education Portal
Grade level: 6-12
Run time: 6:11
Description: Unlike the first three videos, this one moves us out of Rome’s foundations and into its existence as a republic. Jessica Whittemore guides viewers through Rome’s transition from Etruscan rule to a republic. This video also has an excellent recap that outlines what Whittemore covers.
Cool factor: Jessica Whittemore does a splendid job describing the events of Rome’s transition into its own republic. This video, like the other selection from Education Portal, uses the same type of animation to move the facts along. Whittemore makes for pleasant listening as she offers clarity, context and top-notch explanations of history’s groundbreaking Roman Republic.
Viewing questions: In what year did the Roman Republic begin? To what was the republic a precursor? What was the difference between Patricians and Plebeians? What was the Assembly? Briefly describe the Law of the 12 Tables.