Augustus was the first Roman Emperor, emerging from the civil wars that followed the death of his adoptive father Julius Caesar in 44 BC to become the ruler of a realm that stretched from Spain to Syria, Northern Africa to France. The two centuries that followed saw the expansion and cultural flowering of the Roman Empire and also the beginnings of its slow demise. By the end of the 4th century the empire was split into eastern and western halves, the capital of the west being Ravenna and the capital of the east being Constantinople. The Western Empire lasted for another century before being overrun by Germanic peoples and the Huns. The Eastern Empire however survived for over 1000 years.
The Byzantine Empire, as the Eastern Roman Empire was known, was one of the important cultural centers of the Middle Ages. The language spoken was Greek and most of the names of the emperors were Greek, or else Greek forms of Christian biblical names, and the title Basileus (meaning "king" in Greek) was used for the emperor. The Byzantine Empire was finally destroyed by the Turks in 1453.