The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire Essay
1041 Words5 Pages
The era dominated by Roman empire is one the most well-known and influential periods of history, home to famous names from Julius Caesar to Jesus Christ. At its height, Rome’s territory stretched from the Atlantic coastline to the Middle East, reigning over 60 million people, one-fifth of the population of the ancient world. However, the Roman empire’s treatment of their conquered people’s and their own citizens ultimately led to the permanent downfall of Rome.
Even in the century before the official replacement of the Roman republic by the empire, Rome expanded immensely as a result of the Punic wars. Rome fought the Punic Wars between 264 and 146 BCE against the nearby trade empire Carthage over the nearby island of Sicily, a…show more content…
The Roman empire owed its existence to Julius Caesar’s military genius and leadership. At the time of his birth, the Roman republic was rife with corruption, losing touch with the people as Rome rapidly expanded. In addition, the republic suffered much unrest due to an excess of slave labor, leaving many unemployed for the government to sustain with basic food and entertainment, or “bread and circuses.” Caesar changed this, joining partnership with two other prominent men, the wealthy Crassus and the general Pompey, to form the First Triumvirate. However, he quickly took the reins of the new government, securing his position as dictator with many populist actions, such as distributing land to poor farmers. They, in turn, showed loyalty toward their leader, providing unity and patriotism. The Roman empire was born into the perfect geographical and cultural circumstances to rise to greatness.
The Roman empire suffered many problems throughout its rise and several centuries of subsequent power. To begin with, they dealt with many outside invasions, including the Burgundians, Franks, Alemanni, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Visigoths, and Anglo-Saxon peoples. The invaders considered most barbaric were the Huns, which the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus describes as people who “surpass all other barbarians in the wilderness of life.” He further describes “they are so little advanced
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The primary reason for the Roman Empires decline and eventual fall was the
dwindling of the Roman Empire's economic might. This affected nearly every aspect of
Roman life, from the decline of the population to the lack of maintenance of foundation.
There were also some military aspects that led to there demise and because people
became disinterested in joining the Roman army Rome was left unprotected against all of
The primary cause of the deterioration of the economy was the lack of circulating
currency in the Western Empire. Two reasons for the lack of funds were wholesale stock
piling of bullion by Roman citizens, and the widespread looting of the Roman treasury by
the barbarians. These two factors, combined with the massive trade deficit with Eastern
Regions of the Empire extinguished the growth of wealth in the west.
The changing rainfall patterns and climate in the Mediterranean began to alternate
annually between hot droughts and cold rainy seasons. This decreased the number of crops
during the harvest time and forced the Romans to undergo widespread irrigation projects
on land The huge quantities of water needed for this project had to be contained in large
reservoirs, and the standing water soon became stagnant, and stagnant water is the ideal
environment for breeding mosquitoes who are the carriers of malaria. Malaria began to
manifest the empire at epidemic levels and started weakening and killing a large
percentage of the population.
A man by the name of Edward Gibbon believes that the Roman Empire met its
demise because of its decaying infrastructure and because Rome's buildings were severely
distorted throughout the years by time and nature and they began to topple and decay.
Nero's fire which lasted about six days also caused mass amounts of damage on the Roman
city because the countless buildings acted as a fuel for the flames. When the fire was over
only four of the fourteen regions were left, three were totally destroyed, and seven were
destroyed by the remains of the smoking structures.
The Roman empire crumbled due to insufficient economic power, which came about
for a variety of reasons. It lacked the resources necessary to keep such a vast empire
intact. The empire reached such a point that it could no longer support itself becoming top
heavy, and crashed down like a tower that had grown too high for its own foundation.
The second reason for the Roman Empires decline was the decay of the military.
The destruction of the Roman military power in the fifth century was responsible for the
collapse of the government in the West. The massive Roman army that was made up of
about 200,000 men, eventually disintegrated into an unorganized mob of people.
The primary military factors that led to the falling apart of Rome’s military was
the weakening sustained in the numerous conflicts with the Barbarians. Also the reliance
on mercenaries who were hired soldiers who had not allegiance to a certain city so they
showed loyalty to numerous power centers.
One of the most important factors in the decline of the military was the lack of
recruits of Roman background. One problem was the granting of citizenship to all free men
within the empire. Non-citizens who served in the Roman army would be granted
citizenship at the end of their enlistment. During the first two centuries voluntary
enlistment’s enrolled to keep the armed services up to par. But Rome was experiencing a
population decrease, and as the population decreased all available manpower disappeared as
well. In addition many people did not want to serve in the military because of what they
would be put through. These occurrences had negative results on the military
Because of factors such as the "free citizenship" Offered by Rome and the lack of
available manpower, Rome's army, which at one time had been the symbol of its power, was
now left unorganized and nearly useless. Because of this, the Barbarians began to invade
the Western Empire at first in small groups but eventually in large masses. And soon they
detected the military inadequacy of the Romans, and soon took over Rome and established
their own kingdoms. And then the Roman Empire came to an end and the Germanic
kingdoms of western Europe began to flourish.
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