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Decline Of Rome Essay, Research Paper
Rome s decline was caused by four main factors: military, political, social and economic. I believe the predominant factor to be political causes. The emperors seized all authority and became corrupt. Not only the emperors, but also the other officials and authority figures as well. The emperors and authority figures have lost control of the people as a whole and the matters at hand. Emperor after emperor tried his luck, but none have been able to solve their political problems. I hope you will listen to my argument and help to change the empire for the better.
The emperors have no control over the people and do nothing but stall the decline of Rome. Bread and Circus do nothing more than bring temporary peace to the empire, and after they re over the continuous problems of everyday life still occur. The Circus , created by emperors, instill sadistic morals of bloodshed and violence into the citizens, as well as halt all technological advancement. With these excursions all military and economics froze in place while other civilizations advanced and evolved, and eventually took over Rome. You can not account the decline to just this reason though.
Government became power hungry and tried to control the Romans lives. Diocletian tried to control economics and inflation by fixing prices for goods and services. He also required young men to follow their fathers footsteps in occupation, but this only lead to turmoil and disaster. There are two main reasons why this did not work, one being that some children were more talented than others were and this either held the children back, or put impossible goals in front of them. The other reason being this was made to stop inflation of necessities, this it did, but it made the farmers poorer because they had to settle for a set price while other merchants could raise prices on luxuries. Diocletian also divided the empire into two, east and west. This gave another power hungry, co-emperor the control of half the empire, the western half, which was the poorer and less influential. The partition of the supreme power among numerous co-ordinate emperors was a fertile source of quarrel and misunderstanding, and gave rise to frequent civil wars. 1 Next came Constantine who moved the capital to Constantinople, which only brought the decline of half the empire more quickly.
The military quickly degenerated from the unstable method of choosing a new emperor and transferring power from one to the next. The flaws in this system were utterly abused and the people found they could manipulate the different emperors whenever they decided.2 This is one factor in the reign of young, na ve emperors who had no idea how to govern an empire. These emperors were either killed or others mostly influenced their judgement, like military generals.3 Without a stable emperor there was no guidance or paths for the military to follow and the army quickly degenerated.
Not only emperors grew corrupt, but the others with power grew corrupt also. The senate grew oppressive and lost control of the people. The result of this is the people hate the senate, do not follow anything the senate commands, and the people also grow angry and revolt against the senate. The military weakened when the emperor lost authority over the soldiers. Generals then became the only people that the soldiers would follow and take orders from, and do not this extra power was not abused by the generals. This was not the only way generals seized additional power. Generals took every chance they got, even if this meant using young emperors as their power tools to gain status and power. Consider this was truly not that hard of a task when you have young emperors that have no knowledge of how to rule a gigantic empire and everyone wants to be your friend for political purposes. If you are still not convinced that politics are the main cause for the decline of Rome then read on.
The military was mostly influenced by politics. The soldiers of the armies were only loyal to their generals for political reasons. This separated the soldiers from the rest of society and therefore weakened the military as a whole. The military was also weakened by means of strategy, size, and quality of soldiers. With excursions like circuses and other political born festivities including orgies and gorging, soldiers were kept out of commission. After time the other civilizations grew more powerful in their militaries than Rome. The overall size of the military was greatly decreased due to the law that only landowners could serve in the military. When rich landowners became too greedy they took the farms of small independent farmers and added the land to theirs. In spite of the heavy taxes imposed on it, land had continued to pass over into the hands of the rich and powerful.4 This meant that those people who lost their land could not serve in the military anymore and the military became drastically weaker.
Social problems existed throughout Rome, but can not be accounted as the main factor in the decline of Rome. The people looked up to the emperor as a role model and mentor, but with an eleven year-old or a corrupt and power hungry emperor it is not too hard to imagine how the morals and values of the people declined. Christianity did not contribute to the decline of Rome as some may say. One of the main lessons Jesus taught was to turn the other cheek”. This means if someone was to hit you on one cheek you should turn the other cheek and let him hit that cheek as well. If all of the soldiers were to turn the other cheek in battle the Roman army would be massacred. This is argued to be a large cause of the decline of the military. Near the time of the decline of Rome, many followers and even the rulers that accepted it had corrupted Christianity. They adapted their own views of Christianity in which there was no turning the other cheek .5
The economy suffered during the decline of Rome, but it was not the main reason for the decline of Rome. Many steps were taken by emperors to save the economy. Diocletian fixed prices to ensure a stable economy. This, unlike what others say, actually helped the economy. It did hold some people back, but in a time with economic problems this helped the problem. With fixed prices there was no inflation. This stabilized the economy and even saved some money so Rome could pay invaders off. You can say that the military caused the economy to suffer, and this is true. Remember that political reasons caused the military to suffer so then you could say that the economy suffered because of political reasons.
These political problems were a huge factor in the decline of Rome. It would be hard for one man to fix these problems. If I were to attempt to fix these problems I would go right to the root of the problem – corrupt emperors and senators. The best way to solve this is to change the type of government. I would change to a democracy so not one person would have more power than any other would. I still believe there needs to be a dictator in a time of crisis like a sudden attack by invaders. The dictator should have been previously chosen by the people and must be re-elected if he wishes to retain his power in times of crisis. This would make all people equal and no individual could abuse his power.
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