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THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE The decline and fall of the Roman Empire was a process. The popular adage was that “Rome was not built in a day”. And so its fall did not occur in a day as well. There were a series of developments that collectively brought down the mighty empire…
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Download file to see previous pages This gradual decline that eventually ended with the crumbling of the empire is widely debated by scholars and the events involved were comprehensively documented. This paper will cite some of the important reasons cited by these sources and in the process identify the most important and credible causation for the fall. Background The Roman Empire succeeded the Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization. In its early years, it has effectively expanded the dominion acquired by its predecessor. By 98 AD, Emperor Trajan has dramatically extended the borders of the Empire, with the empire finally covering more than 6.5 million square miles of land, spanning the entire perimeter of the Mediterranean Sea, stretching as far north as Scotland, south to Arabia and east to Mesopotamia.1 This is the reason why the Roman Empire is considered to be one of the greatest to have ruled in history. The Romans considered themselves lords of the world and it seemed like it was actually true. As Marshall pointed out, “all the trade and skill, all the art and learning of the known world, were theirs,” and that “beyond the borders of the Roman Empire the world was given over to wild barbarians, who were skilled neither in the arts of war nor of peace.2” Its decline and fall has been the subject of numerous academic discussions. There are those who identify that the Rome's descent to moral decay is the culprit as the Roman nobility engaged in excessive sensual pleasures and indulgences, which corrupted its society in the process. This is a popular theme in explaining the decline of other civilizations as well. In the discourse of the fall of the Roman Empire, Livy’s position is one of the commonly referenced. In the History of Rome, for instance, he wrote, “as disciplined gradually declined… then, sinking farther and farther, then beginning to fall precipitate, until he arrives at the present times, when our vices have attained to such height of enormity, that we can no longer endure either the burden of them, or the sharpness of the necessary remedies.”3 But according to Ermatinger (2004), this school is always ill-argued because Rome has been self-indulgent since the middle Republic or as far back as 200 B.C.4 So if self-indulgence and immorality was the reason why it declined, why did Rome persisted and even flourished for several centuries more? Also one can always say that a previous society is morally corrupt but that all societies have this particular decadent aspect and, hence, it is just an easy but ineffectual argument to explain the fall of civilizations. Then, there is also the claim that garnered a lot of interest during the 1970s, which argued that the decline of Rome can be attributed to lead poisoning after the government installed lead pipes for its water system. Romans were also reportedly have used lead tableware for their dining and drinking. But this claim remained unsubstantiated and eventually dispelled. According to Wells, for instance, Byzantium have endured several centuries more than Rome and that their water system may have been derived from the kind used in the Western Empire.5 This point also supports the argument that Rome could have declined earlier since lead is indeed harmful to the brain and overall health. Lead pipes could have shown its adverse effect on the Roman population and could have tremendously shortened the lifespan of the Empire. Anthropologists have also found few quantities of lead in Roman ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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