The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire Essay

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire Essay

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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 cultural crossroads that greatly benefited Rome’s already rich culture. During these years, Rome also gained control of the nearby islands Corsica and Sardina, also surrounding the Italian peninsula and occupying a prime location for trade in the Mediterranean sea. When the Third Punic war ended in 146 BCE, the city of Carthage was burnt, the citizens enslaved, and the land salted to leave it permanently infertile. This demonstrated the new, brutal Roman attitude toward conquered people, who now seen as threatening after the century of fighting required for victory, which cost many Roman lives and much tax money. Additionally, the power vacuum left by Carthage’s trading empire, the remnants of the ancient Phoenician trade empire, allowed Rome to dominate the Mediterranean, gaining control through commerce between Europe, Asia, and Africa, all of the known world of Greco-Roman civilization. Goods flowing into the empire also enriched the culture, a blend of Hellenistic civilization and Etruscan influenc...


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...described the destruction as “multiplied with the extent of conquest,” the conquests of land and the people who resided in them, forced into submission by the ruthless Roman legions.

Ultimately, history proves that the Roman mistreatment of the people they encountered and conquered led to the downfall of their civilization. They rose from unprecedented heights as an empire, aided by geography and talented leadership, to becoming the most influential civilization to ever live, but they could not escape their actions toward others. Their cruelty toward their own poor citizens and massive slave population, as well as the many cultures they dealt with, was a recipe for disaster. As Edward Gibbons concluded, “The story of its ruin is simple and obvious...instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised it has subsisted so long.”

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