The history of the Roman is one of the most interesting throughout the world. As an Empire which had superior influence within and beyond its boundaries, the Roman Empire impacted many lives with some of these results being felt to date. What amazes scholars and other researchers is the manner in which the Empire was reduced to almost nothing after having experienced such massive influence in the world. How was the Roman Empire before and after its fall? What are the major factors that led to the fall of the Roman Empire? Who were the key personalities in the fall of the Empire? Would it have been possible to avert this fall? These and other countless questions linger in the minds of millions of people throughout the world. This paper investigates various aspects of the fall of the Roman Empire including but not limited to causes and effects of the fall. To achieve this target, the paper focuses on chronological of events and dates, people and events that led to this event.
History is a significant aspect of humanity; it defines the steps and transitions experienced before reaching the current position. Whether negative or positive, it shapes people’s lives through warns emanating from previous mistakes and errors made in the past. Who doesn’t have history? Which country doesn’t have history? It is clear that our life is history on its own. Therefore, the Roman had its history which impacted lives and influenced other nations throughout the world. According to historical findings, Rome was established by Romulus during BC 753. He was the first King of Rome and highly adored as Quirinus. It is however important to note that the rise and fall of the Roman Empire was a gradual transformation which cannot be precisely dated (Gibbon, 1966).
Brief history of Rome
Rome was a small town near the banks of Tiber River and was inherited by Latins, Hellens and Etruscans. This minute and unrecognized territory grew sprouted and developed to become a geographical empire and center for world civilization in the world. There are many influential personalities, philosophers, scientists and kings like the Great King Alexander lived in Rome and had significant economic and cultural development of humanity. There was massive growth and progress in many aspects including agricultural and industrial growth which was realized during this era resulting into the fame and influence of Rome. The death of The Great Alexander led to the splitting of the country by his commandos who wanted to have control of individual portions of the empire. This process continued until BC 30. It was during BC 750 that Rome got transformed into an urban nation under the leadership of an Etruscan king who conquered the Latins. However, Latins regained strength in BC 500 and won the war against the Etruscan, ending their kingdom. There were constant wars resulting from invasions from the neighbors of Rome (Pakhare). This led to the increase in brigade soldiers. It is noted that Romans were very hardworking on their farms and in battlefields. The driving principle of Romans was aimed at expanding the geographical coverage of the empire to cope with the population which was increasing spontaneously. Many of its leaders became greedy and selfish leading to the expansion of imperialism.
The fall of Rome
The fall of the Roman Empire normally refers to the collapse of the societal mechanism which included the disintegration of the military, political, economical and other Roman institutions that led to its doom. Hundreds of theories have been developed explaining the fall of the Roman Empire which. Even with these theories, it has never been clear on the exact factors which promoted the fall of the Roman Empire. Many analysts believed that the gradual collapse of the empire lasted for 320 years which culminated on September 4, 476. It was at this time when Romulus Augustus was overthrown by a Germanic chieftain Odoacer. Romulus was the last Emperor who ruled the western part of the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, Julius Nepos lived in Salona and was recognized by the Eastern Roman Empire as the legitimate emperor until his assassination in 480. Notably, the date quoted for the fall of the Roman Empire is considered arbitrary as portrayed in many theories which explain the fall of the empire. As noted by Gibbon, the Eastern Roman Empire remained strong until May 29, 1453 (Gibbon, 1966).
There are other notable dates in the history of the Roman Empire especially those related to its fall. They include the Battle of Adrianople which took place in 378, the end of the unification of the Roman Empire in 395 and the crossing of the Rhine which occurred in 406. This was after the troops had withdrawn in defense of Italy against Alaric invasion. The demise of Stilicho in 408 is also regarded as one of the most significant dates during the entire period when the empire was being shaken towards its end point. This was followed by the collapse of the western army. For over 800 hundred years in history, the Roman Empire fell to a foreign enemy in 410. The arrival of Islam in Rome is also viewed as a key period in the history of Rome especially after 632 (Pakhare). Even as many people still engage in research, the question has been if Rome completely fell or not and whether these factors would have been avoided or not.
Reasons for the fall
There were many factors which led to the fall of the Roman Empire most of which were intertwined with one another. These factors range from political, economical and social. It believed that Christianity significantly contributed to this fall since many of them were not willing to resist barbarian attackers. Christians spent their wealth on construction of churches and not in maintaining the empire. It is argued that money and the other resources which were spent on churches and other Christian-like activities should have been used to develop Rome and protect it from external invasion (Khan, 2008). Christianity further experienced stunted growth in Rome leading to the existence of a small sect which was not stable enough to prevent Rome from its fall. Christians were faced with challenges like persecution which was ended by Constantine the Great. This led to a slow growth of the religion. It is not clear how Christianity promoted the fall of the Roman Empire with some theorists arguing that it augmented imperialism because of the basic values it believed in.
Security levels in Rome also promoted its fall. Crimes of violence were common on Roman streets rendering them unsafe. Prostitution was also high especially during PaxRomana with over 32,000 prostitutes in Rome. Corruption among leaders further weakened the Roman Empire making it vulnerable to external attacks and revolts. Emperors like Nero became infamous because of their extravagant lives; he spent public resources on drinking, women and luxuries a factor which gave advantage to their enemies. Health and environmental issues also affected the stability of the Roman Empire. Diseases were very common especially due the interactions of Romans at Coliseum. Drinking of alcohol also promoted the spread of diseases among many people because of the irresponsible character among drunkards. Among all health issues which affected Rome, lead poisoning is considered prominent. Due to the shortage of water, rich Romans had their water piped using lead pipes which later turned fatal. Many people were affected especially the rich leading to their demise and ultimate weakening of the Empire (Khan, 2008).
Political factors also destabilized the Roman Empire leading to its fall. Unlike Greece, Rome never had an established system of appointing emperors. The choice of an emperor was initially open and free for debate between the old emperor, the army, senate and the Praetorian Guard. However, the Praetorian Guard gained advantage and influence over the others taking the position of the appointing authority. This was never a sweet taste for the army who strangled a newly appointed emperor in 186 AD and took over (Khan, 2008). They considered selling the emperor position to the highest buyer, a period which was seen as the weakest time of the Roman Empire.
The issue of unemployment also promoted the disintegration of the empire with thousands of people depending food aid. As a result, farms were sold therefore destabilizing the agricultural foundation of Rome. With rising inflation rates, Roman authority found it hard to provide basic amenities to its people hence opening loopholes for its fall. This was witnessed after the reign of Marcus Aurelius. After the death of Marcus Aurelius, there came a breed of leaders who could sustain the economy of Rome. There was no more gold from territories which used to be conquered during the reign of previous emperors like Marcus Aurelius. Amazingly, a lot of gold was being spent by wealthy Romans on luxury. There was increase in prices of goods to make up for the insufficient gold coins which discouraged cash trade and promoted barter trade. The condition was so serious that taxes were collected in form of fruits and vegetables, giving strength to their enemies. Lack of competitive technological innovations also weakened Rome. Most of its innovations were in medicine for the poor and engineering. As a result, food shortage occurred since there were no innovative agricultural approaches to compete with rising civilization from its opponents (Khan, 2008).
Comparing the Roman Empire with America, one is able to notice some similarities which may lead to its loss of the super power position. There has been a problem of economic crisis being cited by leaders, increasing growth of Christianity, terrorists attacks like the 9/11 bombing. Although America is not an exact repeat of the Roman Empire, Americans and leaders need to stabilize the American economy and combat terrorism which threatens the U.S. It is clear that Roman Empire was a strong system capable of maintaining its influential status but was influenced by a number of factors which almost reduced it to a shell. However, its history remains attractive, informative and source of lessons.