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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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
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The importance of history and its research is of great importance in understanding the course of events of the past that affect us in the contemporary society. Gaining an understanding of the writings presented by historians is vital in this endeavor, but also quite critical is gaining an understanding of their thought process, attitudes of life and inspirations for delving into such discussions or topic; this is what drives the study of Edward Gibbon, an acclaimed historian whose work remains relevant through a the study of history.
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After the death of Antoninus in AD 161, the senate decided to raise Marcus to the post of a sole emperor of Rome. His half brother Verus was made the emperor colleague after Marcus had consistently insistent on the wills of Hadrian and Antoninus. As suggested by Hazel (185), a war broke in AD 161 between Rome and Parthians which led to Roman Empire suffering serious setbacks in Syria.
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The empire had well designed amphitheaters, circuses and theaters that hosted various social events and entertainment centers. Theaters were special points for viewing various forms of plays, while the amphitheaters served as action centers for the gladiators.
But many political experts and historians say America is now on the decline, after achieving so much growth and prosperity in the last two centuries, when it gained its independence from Great Britain. In a sense, America can be exactly compared to the great empires in history, which rose and fell due to a combination of factors that led to loss of power, influence, wealth, prestige, and especially, the sense of nationhood among its citizens.
The decline of Rome began in the third century AD with splitting the Empire into two parts – Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire later renamed into Byzantine Empire with its capital located in Constantinople. Facing numerous problems and regular invasions of the barbaric tribes, the Western part of the empire soon died away with the conquest of Rome and Odoacer dethroning the last Roman governor, Romulus Augustus.
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