Rome: The Pinnacle of Culture

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In popular culture and many history books Rome is portrayed as the pinnacle of culture before our modern times. Roman achievements such as aqueducts, thermal spas, roads, and the use of concrete are often highlighted to show how advanced technologically Rome was. Think of the film Gladiator and its depiction of the advanced coliseum. But imagine if Rome had never fallen. Would modern society be more advanced today? Quite the contrary would be true. It is actually medieval technology and society that progressed more rapidly than that of Rome, and if it weren’t for the fall of Rome, technology would have advanced much more slowly.

According to ancient Roman legend, Romulus founded the city of Rome in 753 BC. Around this time a small group of Latins began to settle around the Tiber (Romulus and Remus). Roughly 200 years after this myth took place Rome was in its beginnings of becoming one of the greatest, arguably the greatest, empire of all time. Etruscans ruled over Rome until the Romans overthrew these kings in 509 BC. After this, the central source of power was held by the patricians, the nobles of Rome. This system of government, known as the Roman republic lasted from 510 BC to 23 BC. The republic consisted of citizens voting on representatives called senators, much like America today; However, to be elected one was traditionally a noble. After struggles for equality within the government, Rome pulled together and began its age of great expansion. Rome began taking control of the entire Mediterranean region, and Europe and could not stop its conquest. In its prime the Roman empire stretched as far west as Portugal to Persia in the east, and as far north as Britain to North Africa in the south. Rome was a great military force and focused on expansion. The Romans thirsted for power and could not be stopped once they achieved it in the slightest bit. Rome was rapidly growing and soon hit its peak and began a decline. Rome’s government was failing and tyranny ruled after the republic failed. Barbarians stormed cities, killing citizens and robbing Roman cities of their wealth. The empire stretched large geographically, but within crowded cities there were plagues and a lack of morals. A changing government switched political views and codes during shifts in rulers, and inflation occurred within the government. By 476, roughly 1000 years after the start of the empire, Rome had fallen (Historical Summary of Rome).

As noted prior, Rome’s main focus in its prime was expansion. In order to achieve this they had a large military force. Nobility worked within the government in which they were occupied leading the army. The poorest citizens, slaves, worked to keep up with technological advancements that would help the army or everyday home life in Roman cities. Much of Roman technology was not based on their own ideas but rather improvements of other societies’ inventions. Their technology consisted of no simple machinery or inventions but rather large architectural concepts derived from other societies. No technology eliminated the need for human labor nor did it simplify everyday life. Roman technology was used to expand and improve the reputation of Roman establishments. The main and few achievements commonly noted towards Romans are roads, aqueducts, sanitation/water systems, and concrete (Roman Technology, Government, and the Spread of Early Christianity.)

The Romans designed a system of roads in order to transport military forces on foot to other places throughout Europe as efficiently as possible. These roads were made to be extremely durable, built with hard stone surfaces and buried four to six feet below the ground (Engineering and Technology). These roads easily moved the military, military supplies, and messengers. Whenever possible Roman roads were straight. The roads were also costly to build and maintain and demanded large numbers of workers, including unskilled slaves or peasants who worked involuntarily for...
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