Downfall of the Roman Empire
Length: 619 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)
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The Roman Empire was strong for a time. It was founded on geography, family values, military strength, and wise leadership. It flourished because of social, economic, political, military and religious strengths. However, when the very things that make a civilization flourish start to decline, the civilization will also lead to a downfall.
The first reason for the fall was economic decay. The rulers of Rome had expensive lifestyles. To aid their image, they needed money. They gained money through taxation on the poor. In response to the torment of tax collectors, the poor fled to barbaric lands. The poor made up a large percentage of the Roman population. Barbarians disrupted trade on the Mediterranean sea. Rome's gold and silver were being drained into buying luxuries from China, India, and Arabia. The government decreased the silver content in money. The value of the money also decreased. Diocletion attempted to curb the inflation. He issued an edict that fixed maximum prices and wages throughout the Empire. It was an unrealistic and unenforceable idea which failed. The emperors still felt the tax issue needed to be addressed. They decided to make the hereditary class of tax collectors pay the difference. In other words, if a poor person could not pay their full share, the tax collector paid the rest. This concept wiped out a whole class of moderately wealthy people.
Later, slavery split communities. Rome believed the workers of society should not benefit from slavery. Slaves then had to reason to try hard or improve. Eastern slaves started doing technical work. Thus, all technical work was looked down upon. Labor was cheap and worthless. Upper-class Romans were content with what they had become. They felt no need to improve their inventions, they were content with slaves.
Another reason for the fall of Rome was political issues. Citizens no longer displayed patriotism, they were indifferent. Only the rich ran for office. Only the rich could run for office. It had become too expensive to hold office. The officers were forced to pay for public engagements themselves. The wealthy men destroyed Greco-Roman civilization. The loss of Greco-Roman civilization led to the decline of classical civilization. The general pattern of the classical civilization was based upon slavery being at the root of society. The army had proven itself to produce many leaders. The army needed to be maintained. Again, taxes were forced mainly on the poor or made more people impoverished.
Soon the Pax Augusta came. It brought prosperity, but failed to release new productive forces. It also didn't contribute to industrialization. The whole political system was put on display when gladiator shows and public executions were held. They reaffirmed the moral order.
The third and final reason reason for the decline of Rome was religion. Rome religion deteriorated because of conflicts between Christianity and Pagan gods. Constantine recognized Christianity as a religion. Because of him Christians wouldn't suffer persecutions for their beliefs. Rather ironically, later Christians would persecute Pagans. Nevertheless Pagans were afraid. They thought Roman gods would leave because of the Christians. For example, their environment could go into ruin. The Pagans killed Christians. After a time, both sides realized the other wasn't trying to overthrow them. Constantine legalized Christianity. Later Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. The army didn't like Christ. Romans didn't like Christians saying that they protected Rome through prayer. Some soldiers gave up. Some Christians believed soldiers performed sacrilegious acts.
In conclusion, the Roman Empire declined based upon the same factors that had caused it to flourish. It fell because the social, economic, political, military, and religion strengths were no longer viable. The Roman Empire came gradually and fell gradually.