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The transition of Rome from a republic to empire commenced with the many civil wars that broke out in the Roman Republic. The rise of politically influential leaders resulted in a concentration of powers despite the checks intended by the constitution. A number of events led to the rise of the Roman Empire. In 44 BC Julius Caesar was appointed the perpetual dictator of Rome while earlier counsels had been appointed on an annual basis. Following Caesar's assassination Octavian assumed power and was granted monarchical powers by the Senate. He took the name Augustus in 27 BC and this effectively marked the beginning of the Roman Empire.

Extent of the Roman Empire
The tradition of expansion and conquest, a legacy of the Roman Republic was carried forward by the Emperors of Rome. The Roman Empire expanded to its greatest extent during the reign of Emperor Trajan (thirteenth emperor of the Roman Empire), between 98 AD and 117 AD. Trajan added Mesopotamia, Arabia, Dacia, and Armenia to his empire.

Splitting the Roman Empire
By the end of the third century AD the Roman Empire had grown unwieldy. The Crisis of the Third century refers to the severe political crisis assuaged by the Plague of Cyprian. When Diocletian came to power in 284 AD he split the Roman Empire east-west. The two empires were ruled by independent emperors each of whom in turn took a subordinate emperor. This system of administration, known as the Rule of Four was a successful arrangement till about 306 AD.

Cultural Influences
The cultural influence of the Roman Empire extended from art and architecture to trade, education, and literature. The Roman Emperor took great interest in establishing cities and building colossal monuments. The arts and literature found immense patronage with the Roman Emperors and the Byzantine Empire was the center of development for the fine arts. Many European universities trace their origins to the centers of higher education of the Roman Empire.

Fall of the Empires
The fall of the Western Roman Empire may be credited largely to the rise of the Germanic leader, Odoacer. In 476 AD Emperor Romulus Augustus was defeated and coerced into abdication. Julius Nepos the emperor of the Western Roman Empire continued his nominal reign from Salona till his death in 480 AD. This marked the end of the Western Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire, was a hub of culture and political clout and continued to flourish till the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD when the Ottoman Turks killed Emperor Constantine XI and took over Constantinople.

Significant Contributions of the Roman Empire
Due to its vast territory and long history, the Roman Empire exercised a significant influence on the culture, language, and art of Europe. The calendar widely accepted and used across the world was developed by Julius Caesar and is one of the most significant contributions of the empire. The laws and legal systems of most European countries evolved from the Roman legal system. With the spread of European colonization, the legal systems of most of the countries of the world developed on the Roman model. While Latin left a pronounced mark on the development of European languages, a number of practices adopted by the governments of the world such as the tracking of census may be traced back to the Roman Empire.