Roman Empire


Roman Empire Essay, Research Paper

Fall of the Roman Empire

Rome was a major power because it always made certain its own military prowess was preeminent. There have been many ideas presented as to the fall of the Roman Empire. Many believe that Rome declined morally and the violence and decadence of the societal norms led to the demise. Gibbons has been credited with the theory of the influence and transference of Christianity over the Roman system of Gods and Goddesses that perpetrated the fall. Another theory lays the blame at the feet of the Emperor, that the happiness of the people and the functioning of the government was directly correlated with the personal merit and management skills of the reigning authority. This 10 page paper argues that the imperialistic tendencies of Rome over time and the pre-eminence of military expansionism in the latter stages, was the deciding feature of the “fall”. Bibliography lists 7 sources.

Filename: Romefall.wps

The Roman people were a overly proud and highly

religious people, whose sense of identity as

romans came primarily from their accomplishments

in war and their respect of their ancestors. By

examining Livy’s The Early History of Rome, we can

identify these traits through roman patterns of

behavior and the foundation myths that their

nation is built upon.

The romans repeatedly display not only an

overdeveloped personal sense of pride, but an

exceptional pride in their nation – taking

precedence over even family loyalty. The first

example of this Roman pride is seen in the very

first foundation myth of Rome, the tale of Romulus

and Remus. The second of the two versions of this

story tells how after the auspices have indicated

Romulus as the rightful leader of this new nation,

“Remus, by way of jeering at his brother, jumped

over the half-built walls of the new settlement,

whereupon Romulus killed him in a fit of rage,

adding the threat, ‘So perish whoever else shall

overleap my battlements( P.40 Livy) .’” Not only

do we see a foreshadowing of Rome’s violent nature

in this tale, but it seems to indicate a strong

belief in the superiority of this ( barely

existant ) nation, one that necessitates a

national pride of greater magnitude than the even

the strength of the loyalty between brothers.

This kind of loyalty to country, as displayed by

the Rome’s founder, certainly sets a precendent

for later roman citizens. Not surprisingly then,

we see this same kind of pride with similar

consequences later on following a battle between

Rome and the Albans. The victory had been

decided, not by a full scale war, but by a contest

between three men from each country ( two sets of

three brothers ). This contest left Rome

victorious and five people dead – only one roman

brother stood living. The victor returned to rome

carrying the ‘triple spoils’ and,”slung across [

his ] shoulders was a cloak, and [ his sister ]

recognized it as the cloak she had made with her

own hand for her lover. The sight overcame her :

she loosened her hair and, in a voice choked with

tears, called her dead lovers name. That his

sister should dare to grieve at the very moment of

his own triumph and in the midst of national

rejoicing filled horatius with such uncontrollable

rage that he drew his sword and stabbed her to the

heart( Livy 62).” Again we see the word “rage”

used to describe this similarly extreme exhibition

of extreme national pride.

Back in the foundation myth of Romulus and Remus,

we see another aspect of Roman pride. There is

some indication that, In Livy’s time, there was

some suspicion that Greek infulence in Rome was

detrimental to Roman society. Livy seems to

emphasize the absence of any kind of formal

schooling ( which would have been greek ) in the

adolescence of both Romulus and Remus ( P.38 Livy

) The idea that Romulus in particular, was a

self-made man, shows that Rome owes nothing to

previous and other nations like Greece and so the

pride of such a great nation is all theirs.

There is plenty of evidence that Rome was always

a highly religious nation. From even as early as

the founding of the nation we see their dependance

on auguries of the gods to make important

decisions – namely the choice between Romulus and

Remus as their leader. ” As the brothers were

twins and all question of seniority was thereby

precluded, they determined to ask the tutelary

gods of the countryside to declare by augury which

of them should govern the new town once it was

founded, and give his name to it ( p.40 Livy ).”

More than any one other aspect of Roman behavior,

I feel that recognition and respect of the ways of

their ancestors as the ways of ‘True’ Romans was

the most primary source from which Romans defined

there identity. This respect stemmed from oral

tradition and early historians works that have not

survived to us, but which Livy owes his knowledge.

From the respect of great deeds that made their

cultural history so worth of pride, came their

habits of dedicating particular places and

edifices in the name of honorable contemporaries

and ancestors. Take for instance the story of

Caius Mucius Scaevola, a man who was willing to

risk anything to save rome from a Etruscan attack.

It cost him his hand, hence the name Scaevola-

translating as the Left-Handed Man, but his

efforts brought peace to the struggle. Livy

tells of the recognition of this Roman hero:

“Cauis Muscius was rewarded by the Senate with a

grant of land west of the river; it was known

subsequently as the Muscian Meadows ( P.120 Livy

).” Not only was this naming of places

indicative of the honor, but the name they chose

showed something – the congnomen Musius was

chosen, not his prinomen or Scaevola, the name he

won for himself. It was recognized that the honor

was for the family and for the family, though

Caius would be remembered, the gaine family pride

of the Mucius family only contributed to their own

pride in their country.

Roman society encouraged being proud and

respectful of the honors of the city and its

citizens. Roman tradition and respect for the mos

maiorum ( ways of the ancestors ) was not only a

trait that de

Fall of the roman empire

The Roman Empire stood in great power for many decades. Rome for a period of time was considered the center of civilization for years. The empire was beautiful and even though attracted many invaders, was very well protected by the walls surrounding the empire and of course the powerful army. Some people believed that the Roman Empire would last forever.

Political Causes

Under the rule of Diocletian and later Constantine the empire was split into Western and Eastern parts of Rome. The emperors said that the reason for that was to make it easier to govern. The emperor chose to govern and build the capital in the Eastern part and gave the Western part to a co-emperor. The reason for that might have been that the eastern part was much richer in resources and had better lands for farming. There may have been other reasons for that such as the Eastern part did not produce enough food for both parts of the empire and by separating them they’d have to produce their own food and depend upon themselves. This was the beginning, to a long struggle of the Western part that was now basically left alone. Many reforms came in to law to keep the empire together, such as toleration of Christianity to avoid their rebellion since there were a lot of them. In 313 a.d. the Church started taking part in government which slowly took power away from the emperor. More reforms like fixing prices and giving more freedom of worship kept the empire together but definitely would not last long. This is so because these reforms were made to fit people today taking away from the emperor but they never thought of what’s going to happen after the emperor does not have anything left to give. Which would occur very soon if things were going down as fast they were. There was no one to take matters into their hands so the empire was left to the people themselves to govern.

Social Causes

The people of the Western empire at first just continued with their lives because the division of the empire did not have an immediate cause on the Western part surely had a long term one. Soon people started realizing that the Eastern part has almost separated from them taking everything all these people fought for together. People started getting mad because now separated they did not have enough resources to support a whole empire. Citizens started loosing hope and their loyalty to the emperor or the Church. These people at first blamed the co-emperor for letting the East separate but soon understood that the emperor meant for all of this to happen and lost hope. The Christian Church takes a great role in government, since the co-emperor could no longer control the empire with all the revolts against him. Soon Christianity became the official religion of the Romans. Rome was slowly falling, the only thing that was still kind of keeping the empire together were the rich nobles who were making money by making the peasants work for them for very little pay but these peasants needed money to feed their families so they worked. Also many problems stood in the way when the Church wanted to also take part in political issues as well as religious. Many arguments took place deciding on this issue.

Economical Causes

The people could hardly support themselves and their families with the tremendous taxes, inflation, which developed over time, and bad harvests. As life got harder in the West over time taxes got so high that people could no longer bear such burden. The nobles or the highest class were the only ones who could survive and took advantage of the poor who worked for low wages just to survive.

Military Causes

The long-term military causes were the threatening northern tribes. There were many immediate causes that would rise if anyone attacked Western Rome, such as very weak military due to poverty of the Western Empire. The soldiers were no longer loyal to the army and their emperor. There weren’t many that would risk their lives for the empire. Now there were many foreign soldiers who served for pay, that made it that much harder to be able to hold a large army. There wasn’t the kind of discipline they had in the army before.

There were many causes that also relate to Political, Social, Military, or Economical that I did not mention because they may not have been as important. There were very many causes both immediate and both long-term that led to the fall of Western Rome. In conclusion I would like to mention that many things led to the fall of Rome and it would be very hard to avoid this due to the many mistakes made along the path that led to the fall of Western Rome.

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