Rome grew from a small farming village on the Tiber river to become one of the world's great empires. Although earlier it had been under Etruscan domination, it had gained its independence by the fifth century B.C. (legendary date: 509 B.C.). Over the next few hundred years, it grew to dominate the entire Mediterranean basin. This early period of Roman history is called the Republic, as Rome was largely run by wealthy aristocrats who were elected to various magistracies. Conflict between powerful and ambitious men led to civil war and the downfall of the Republic. Octavian, known as Augustus, emerged the victor and became the first Emperor. Early Roman art and architecture were under heavy Etruscan and Greek influence, combined with the Romans' own technical genius. Various internal and external crises led to the autocratic Late Empire, whose art became increasingly abstract, stiff, and formalized.