The Roman Empire is the brightest example of a civilization’s lifespan from rising to the edge and the complete decline. During a millennium, ancient Rome grew from an Italian town to the most powerful European area and then experienced the weakening of its military, social, political, and economic forces. This paper aims to identify and discuss factors that led the Roman Empire to rise and the reasons for its failure.
Rome began its growth when European countries disclosed the Mediterranean cultures like ones from Greek colonies and took many approaches to politics, governance, and society. The appearance and early development of the Roman Empire are dated to the eighth century B.C. when the villages began to merge into broader settlements with better policies and opportunities (Scheidel, 2019). Based on the Greek example, the lords of various lands united and built the walls around the new city-state, and within the next couple of centuries came to establish the Republic (Erdkamp, 2019). That foundation allowed Rome to create strong citizenship, develop culture, and build an efficient army.
One of the most frequently mentioned factors of the Roman Empire’s rise is its military power and the soldiers’ willingness to conquer other regions. Rome highly invested in the army, invited Greek strategists to improve the fighting tactics, and left no choice for the closest and weaker areas but to be acquired (Scheidel, 2019). Besides, the city-state’s location was beneficial as it was in the Mediterranean sea center and had enough space for military maneuvers.
Another factor that helped Rome become the most powerful European Empire is the population’s diversity. By the time of the middle republic, the city had a large number of citizens, many of whom migrated from Greece or the Middle East and brought their culture into the lives of native Romans (Scheidel, 2019). Such collaboration improved people’s literacy and helped establish moralities to build a prosperous society. Roman governance was rather strict with the patriarchal and hierarchical relationships considered right, therefore citizens were disciplined, valued their rulers, and respected the soldiers.
Moreover, rapid and steady economic development can be considered the reason for the Roman Empire’s rise. While Rome’s economy was significantly dedicated to military enforcement during its early and middle periods, it also included agricultural industry and trade growth. The lands and climate allowed the Empire to plant and my various products and material to sell, and its increasing authority among the European and East countries made it a desirable supplier (Erdkamp, 2019). The consequent development of trading and production in Rome made it the wealthiest ancient Empire, and a stable economy helped it gain its significance.
History shows that civilizations that experienced their peak inevitably move to the decline phase, and Roman Empire is not the exception. At least three factors led Rome to failure: the leaders who could not keep the country united, the economic crisis, and the external threat from the Barbarian tribes and Eastern Empire. In the first century A.D., Roman Empire expanded from the Atlantic to the Armenian territories, making it complicated to control all regions effectively (Gibbon, 2017). Various leaders ruled together as Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar did, and that strategy threw the country into a civil war (Erdkamp, 2019). The stretched territories were also required to establish a complicated governance structure, and corruption occurred within the new positions. The attempts to end the civil conflicts turned into a war of the governors’ interests and weakened the leaders’ authority.
The economic crisis occurred in the Roman Empire when the investments in military and forces became inefficient. As the demand to enforce the soldiers to protect the boards increased with the rise of the Barbarian tribes and enemies’ empires, the government tried to receive money by establishing higher taxes. However, the citizens’ investment had no visible return as a significant part of those earnings were stolen or spent on logistics and communication that become complicated since the territories expended (Gibbon, 2017). The Romans eventually stopped paying taxes, and it speeded up the fall of the Empire, making the poverty of the enormous population one of the critical reasons for the decline.
The external threat found the Roman Empire in its conflicting period and became the severest factor of the decline. In the second and third centuries A.D., the Barbarian tribes, such as Goths, Vandals, and Saxons, were able to enter Rome, rob the citizens, and cause even more civil conflicts (Erdkamp, 2019). Then, in 476, Emperor Romulus Augustulus was deposed by a Barbarian Odoacer in Rome, making the latter install himself as the new Italian leader (Gibbon, 2017). The failure to protect the borders, combined with the lack of internal peace and governance, cost the Empire its power and authority.
The Roman Empire existed two thousand years ago, however, its example of economic, governmental, and social structures is applicable to modern countries. Society must analyze the factors that caused historical events like the rise and fall of civilizations. The steady improvement of production, cultural development, and empowering leadership lead nations to grow and thrive. In contrast, corruption, and failure to provide internal communication and address external threats throw countries into poverty and conflicts.
Erdkamp, P. (2019). War, food, climate change, and the decline of the Roman Empire. Journal of Late Antiquity, 12(2), 422-465. Web.
Gibbon, E. (2017). The decline and fall of the Roman Empire: Volume six. Sheba Blake Publishing.
Scheidel, W. (2019). Escape from Rome: The failure of Empire and the road to prosperity (Vol. 94). Princeton University Press.