I am knee-deep in some good Roman research but wanted to share a high-level timeline of some major/important events which will put future articles into perspective.
753 BC: The official founding of Roma (Rome) by mythical Romulus
600 BC: The Forum is built
578 BC: The first sewer, Cloaca Maxima, is built
510/509 BC: Etruscan kings ruled Rome until Romans revolted; Tarquinius I was first Etruscan king of Rome. The last Etruscan king was Tarquinius Superbus. Rome establishes a Republic headed by two praetors (later, Consuls) elected annually.
494 BC: Class wars between plebians (land-owners) and patricians (nobles) begins
486 BC: Wars with Aequi and Volsci
482 - 474 BC: War with Veians in the city-state Veii
387 BC: Gauls/Celts sack Rome
366 BC: Lucius Sextius becomes the first plebeian elected consul. This is significant in that someone from the land-owning class has risen up to a typically patrician position, one of the highest positions in the empire.
343 BC: Rome battles the Samnites. Two years later, they conquer Campania and its capital of Capua.
326 BC: The Circus Maximus, stadium for chariot races and other entertainment, is built
312 BC: The Via Appia (also known as the Appian Way, the road system) is built
312 BC: The Aqua Apia (the aqueduct) is built
308 BC: Romans conquer the Etruscan city of Tarquinia
298 BC: Rome goes to war against the Samnites again. Three years later they defeat them at Sentium.
295 BC: Romans defeat the Gauls/Celts in northern Italy
280 BC: Coins are issued
280 BC: Rome is defeated by Pyrrhus of Epirus at Heraclea. Five years later, Romans defeat Pyrrhus and conquer most of southern Italy
272 BC: The Anio Vetus (another aqueduct) is built
264 BC: Rome fights Carthage in the first Punic war
225 BC: The Gauls invade Rome. Three years later, the Gauls are defeated.
221 BC: The Circus Flaminius (another racetrack) is built
218 BC: Hannibal invades Italy and allies with the Gauls
202 BC: Scipio defeats Hannibal and Rome annexes Spain
184 BC: The Basilica Porcia is built; it is the oldest basilica in the known world
171 BC - 167 BC: The Third Macedonian War begins when Perseus attacks Rome and ends with Rome dividing Macedonia into four republics.
154 BC: The tribes of Lusitania rebel against Rome
151 BC: Roman troops massacre Celts in Spain
149 BC: Rome attacks Carthage and three years later destroys it.
149 BC: Roma wins the battle of Corinth, conquering Greece.
146 BC: Macedonia becomes a province of Rome
144 BC: The first high-level aqueduct is built
139 BC: First Servile War begins when 4,500 slaves are crucified in Sicily and the remaining slaves revolt.
128 BC: Southern France (Aquitania) becomes a province of Rome
113 BC: Germanic tribes Cimbri and Teutones defeat the Romans and invade Gaul and Spain
111 BC: Rome declares war on Numidia and five years later, Marius and troops defeat the King of Numidia, Jugurtha.
105 BC: the Teutones and the Cimbri defeat the Romans at Arausio/Orange
104 BC: Second Servile War - Slave revolt in Sicily again
Gaius Julius Caesar was born July 13, 100 BC to Gaius Julius Caesar (senior) and Aurelia, nobles or patricians.
In 84 BC, at the age of 18, he married Cornelia Cinna who bore him his only legitimate child, a girl named Julia. Cornelia died in 68 BC.
Caesar joined the army where he proved to be a personable leader, winning award after award (including the crown of leaves, the Civic Crown). Despite his victories, he lost his inheritance and had little money when he returned to Rome. He decided to get into legal advocacy, which he excelled at since he was a good orator and had a flair for drama. Trials were performed in the Forum.
In 75 BC, he was kidnapped by pirates who originally ransomed him for 20 talents, but Caesar demanded they ask for 50 (because he thought he was worth more). Once he was freed, he tracked them down and executed them.
He was elected Military Tribune in 72 BC. Four years later, he was elected Quaestor. That same year he married his enemy and former Dictator Sulla's granddaughter, Pompeia.
In 65 BC, he was elected Curule Aedile. His new title required him to spend money (mostly that he borrowed) to influence people's opinion and gain prestige. It was rumored that he was having affairs with married women of prominent men.
In 62 BC, he was elected Praetor (commander of the army or a magistrate). A year later he went to Spain to act as propraetor (governor). One more year, Caesar returned to Rome and became part of a triumverate of power with Crassus and Pompey. Crassus had emassed his fortune by buying properties for rock-bottom prices after they were destroyed in fires. He helped finance Caesar's political career.
In 59 BC, Caesar was elected Consul despite heavy opposition. He arranged a marriage of his only daughter Julia to his partner Pompey and then married Calpurnia (who was the daughter of a leading member in the Popular faction). When his consulship ended, he finagled himself a five-year proconsulship of Gaul where he lived and fought in military campaigns for 9 years.
Crassus died in 53 BC, leaving Caesar and Pompey in a tense predictament of power-hunger. Pompey convinced the Senate to charge Caesar with crimes against the Senate, preventing Caesar from being able to return to Rome as a private citizen (and risk legal action). Instead, Caesar led his army against Italy in a Civil War. Pompey fled to the east while Caesar met his army in Spain. By 48 BC, Pompey gathered a large army of troops in Greece and faced Caesar again. But, the tide turned against Pompey despite a series of mishaps, and finally he fled to Egypt.
The Egyptians, however, betrayed Pompey and presented his head to Caesar when he landed in Alexandria. It was here he met Cleopatra and helped her regain her throne from Ptolemy XIII. She reportedly bore a son by him named Caesarion. The next year they joined Caesar in Rome.
In 47 BC, Caesar left Alexandria and pursued King Pharnaces whom he overcame - thus giving life to the famous slogan "Veni, Vidi, Vici" ("I came, I saw, I overcame").
Caesar was declared Dictator Perpetuus (Dictator for perpetuity) in 44 BC. Despite warnings of potential danger, Caesar refused to use a bodyguard. In the Curia, a theatre built by Pompey, Caesar attended his last Senate meeting before a group of senators (led by Marcus Junius Brutus) murdered him - on March 15th, the Ides of March. He was 55 years old.
Julius Caesar by Philip Freeman:
When Rome Ruled:
Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: