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Rome: The Rise, Fall & Rebirth of an Empire
Penny Newlander
Baker College – Auburn Hills Campus
Ancient World
HIS 321
Professor Hull
Friday, March 16, 2012

Abstract
This paper explores and discusses the structure of ancient Roman government and their rise and fall. The collapse of the Roman Empire is a great mystyery. It has been suggested that the fall of Roman government was due to the Christians. One logical explanation points to greed and the desire for world dominance. The Roman Empire was known to be one of the greatest empires to rule the known world. The overexpansion of the Roman Empire triggered events that lead to the inevitable collapse of the society. The steady decline of Roman structure was caused by both social and political changes. Roman policies became unfeasible and excessive government killed ancient Rome.

Rome: The Rise, Fall & Rebirth of an Empire The Eternal City hardly needs an introduction. Suffice to say, this marvel of civilization began life with a mythical story, and it continues to amaze all who see it with a similar mythical presence and beauty. Believed to be founded in 753 B.C.E., the story of Romulus and Remus is still held as canon. While the figures may be purely mythical, there has yet to be any other explanation more plausible than the fraternal legend (“10 of the World’s Most Beautiful Cities,” 2012). Regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the ancient world; Rome is the international political and culturally major global capital city of Italy. “The Founding of Rome is very much embroiled in myth” (Illustrated history, 2007, para. 1). The origin of the city 's name is thought to be that of the alleged founder and first ruler, the legendary Romulus. Foundation of the city. The daughter of King Numitor, Rhea Silvia, was forced by her uncle, Amulius to become a vestal virgin. Mesmerized by Rhea’s beauty, Mars, the god of war acted on his sexual urges and impregnated her with twin sons, Romulus and Remus. Amulius infuriated with Rhea Silvia’s tainted virtue, casted her into the Tiber River where she was captured by the river’s god and forced into marriage. The orphaned twin boys “were set adrift on the river in a reed basket. They floated downstream until the basket was caught in the branches of a fig tree” (Illustrated history, 2007, para. 4). The twins were found by a she-wolf who breast fed the orphans until they were found and raised by a shepherd. As the boys grew into men, their true origins were disclosed. “True to their heroic status they raised an armed and marched on Alba Longa. Amulius was slain in battle and Numitor was restored to his throne” (Illustrated history, 2007, para. 6).
According to the Illustrated History of the Roman Empire (2007): The twins decided to found a new city close to where they had been washed ashore, caught by the fig tree. The twins disputed which hill their city should be built on, Romulus favoring the Palatine, Remus choosing another (possibly the Aventine). Taking the auspices to read the will of the gods, Remus on his hill saw six birds, Romulus saw twelve. So it was decided that Romulus’ choice was the right one and he and his followers took to building their city on Palatine Hill. (para. 7)

The brothers disagreed over where the site should be and Remus was killed by his brother. This left Romulus the sole founder of the new city and he gave his name to it – Rome. The date given for the founding of Rome is 753 B.C. The reign of Romulus. In order to build Romulus’s empire, men of all classes were welcomed as Roman citizens. With Rome’s population flooded with runaway slaves and criminals, Romulus found himself ruling a nation with too few women. He created a dramatic and opulent festival where he invited the neighboring Sabine town of Cures tribe. Romulus’s intention was to abduct, under duress all of the tribe’s unmarried women and proclaiming them as brides. As a result of this act, King Titus Tatius, ruler of the Sabine town of Cures declared war. The Sabine women contributed to the end of the war and united the Sabines of Cures and the Romans as one people. After the resulting war with the Sabines, Romulus shared the kingship with the Sabine king Titus Tatius. After the death of Titus, Romulus reigned alone and gave laws to the whole people. “He made many wars upon the neighboring towns, and after a reign of thirty-seven years he was translated to heaven and worshiped under the name of Quirinus” (Morey, 1900, p. 21). Roman republic, the transformation from monarchy to representative style government. From its unfavorable beginnings as a small cluster of huts in the tenth century B.C., Rome developed into a city-state, first ruled by kings, then, from 509 B.C. onward, by a new form of government, the Republic. In place of the King, the newly founded Republic relied upon its Senate, or patrician class families, to oversee the government and the election of various officials, including two shared power Consuls. “During the early Republic, power rested in the hands of the patricians, a privileged class of Roman citizens whose status was a birthright. The patricians had exclusive control over all religious offices and issued final assent to decisions made by the Roman popular assemblies” (The Roman Republic, 2000, para. 1). These patricians’ were the result of the division of preceding monarchal influence. A constitution was established for the Roman people that imposed the traditions and foundations of the Roman government. This constitution was an informal classification of unwritten traditions and regulations. “Deeply rooted in pre-Republican tradition, it essentially maintained all the same monarchal powers and divided them amongst a series of people, rather than in one supreme ruler” (Roman Empire, n.d., para. 3). The Law of the Twelve Tables. The Law of the Twelve Tables was the Roman’s earliest attempt at creating a foundation of laws that would be the nucleus of the constitution of the Roman Republic. According to the “Law of Twelve Table” (2012), the Twelve Tables allegedly were written by 10 commissioners the insistence of the plebeians, who felt their legal rights were hampered by the fact that court judgments were rendered according to unwritten custom preserved only within a small group of learned patricians. The Roman people were divided by two classes of people: patricians and plebeians. The patricians were what we would call today and the upper class; wealthy, landowning people who had the money, supremacy and right to take part in an election. The plebeians were the remaining people or the lower class as of today’s standards. The patricians were the dominating class; therefore they made the laws to guard their own wellbeing. The plebeians had another agenda. The plebeians sought after certain basic rights, and would go to any extremes to secure these rights. In 494 B.C., the plebeians joined together and threatened the patricians with seceding. They wanted to protect themselves from the patricians’ abuse of power. This threat resulted in the creation of the Twelve Tables. In 451 B.C., ten tables crafted out of pieces of stone were carved with individual written laws; later two additional tables were created. The laws were written in stone so that Roman lawmakers and law-enforcers could not change them in order to benefit themselves. Once the laws were made public they were enforced and it was everyone’s responsibility to understand them and obey them. “More importantly, they represented a written code which applied right across the social scale from the patricians to the plebeians” (Illustrated history, 2007, para. 1).
The Roman Republic (2000) states: During the last three centuries of the Republic, Rome became a metropolis and the capital city of a vast expanse of territory acquired piecemeal through conquest and diplomacy. The strains of governing an ever-expanding empire involving a major military commitment, and the widening gulf between those citizens who profited from Rome 's new wealth and those who were impoverished, generated social breakdown, political turmoil, and the eventual collapse of the Republic. (para. 2)

Punic wars. During the Republic, Rome maintained friendly with Carthage, a city-state located in northern Africa. “Since Rome was largely agricultural and interested mainly in Italy, it had no reason to bother with Carthage, which was largely a sea power” (Warry, 1980, p. 115). In 279 B.C. both cities signed a treaty against a possible threat, Pyrrhus, king of Epirus. The breakdown of the treaty and alliance led to war.
According to Warry (1980): The three Punic Wars encompassed incredible battles led by some of the greatest commanders ever. The challenge of these conflicts promoted ingenuity and creativity in producing new weapons and battle techniques. All these factors combined to create one of the pivotal points in history, when the balance of power shifted from Carthage to Rome. (p. 116-117) The first Punic War broke out in 264 B.C. when Rome interfered in a dispute on the Carthaginian controlled island of Sicily; the war ended with Rome in control of both Sicily and Corsica giving Rome naval and land power. The second Punic War in 218 B.C. resulted with Hannibal, a Carthaginian general invading with his army of war elephants from the north. In 216 B.C. Hannibal tricked the Romans by pretending to retreat. Due to lack of men and supplies, Hannibal couldn 't triumph, thus resulting in Rome’s victory in 202 B.C. In 146 B.C., the third Punic War, Rome destroyed Carthage. By 133 B.C., Rome had conquered Macedonia and had control over the entire Greek world. Julius Caesar and the fall of the Republic. A Roman general and statesman, Julius Caesar played a significant position in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Caesar developed an interest in politics while serving in the Roman Army and was driven to climb to the highest Roman political position. “In 59 B.C., Caesar was appointed a consul and in 58 B.C. he went to Gaul (France) where he served as governor. He was successful in this position and conquered even more land for the Roman Empire” (Trueman, 2000, para. 1). The Senate ordered Caesar in 50 B.C. to disband his army. Roman law stated that a governor was forbidden to leave his providence. Ignoring this law and refusing to disband his army, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River and started a civil war confronting his enemies in Rome. By 45 B.C., made himself the dictator of Rome where he replaced disloyal senators with his own appointments of loyal men and allowed the Senate to continue working. Caesar made a grave mistake by not using his position of power to take away the wealth of the disloyal men removed from the Senate. These men plotted against Caesar and in 44 B.C., murdered Caesar for fear that he was too obsessed with himself and his needs. After his murder Caesar’s supporters attempted to force their intentions onto Rome and started another long and expensive civil war. Exhausted by the war, many Romans started supporting Caesar’s nephew Augustus. Viewed as a strong ruler, he became emperor in 27 B.C., thus bringing an end to the republic of Rome. The Pax Romana. During the Pax Romana period with Rome no longer a republic, Augustus restored order. For a period of 200 years there was peace within Rome and the Romans embraced Greek culture. The period brought about order and good government, improvement of harbors, forests, and swamps, roads were constructed, cities were built and old ones expanded. Greeks were brought over to Rome as slaves with the intent of teaching Romans Greek laws and traditions. “Augustus faced a problem making peace an acceptable mode of life for the Romans, who had been at war with one power or another continuously for 200 years” (Stern, 2006). “Romans regarded peace not as an absence of war, but the rare situation that existed when all opponents had been beaten down and lost the ability to resist” (Momigliano, 1942) .
Decline of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire started to decline after the Pax Romana. The Roman Empire lasted from 27 B.C. to 476 A.D. What caused the decline of the Roman Empire? Did Christianity weaken the bonds that held it together? Was it from corruption, expanding too quickly or was it unable to logistically maintain its military supremacy and fight barbarian attacks? Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor. With the Senate acting as only an advisor, the Roman Emperor had all the power to rule over Rome’s religious, civil and military relations. As quoted by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. According to “Reason why the Roman Empire fell (2008): The powerful, wealthy Roman Emperors inevitably became corrupt and many lived a debauched and immoral lifestyle. The Roman Empire saw divisions between the Senate and the Emperors. Either the Senate didn 't like the Emperor or the Emperors was at odds with the Senate. (para. 2)

Decline in morals. A decline in morals, especially in the rich upper classes and the emperors, had a devastating impact on the Romans. Emperors engaged in orgies, adultery and pedophilia with groups of boys. “Brothels and forced prostitution flourished. Widespread gambling on the chariot races and gladiatorial combats. Massive consumption of alcohol. The sadistic cruelty towards both man and beasts in the arena” (Reason why the Roman Empire fell, 2008, para. 3). Fast expansion of the Empire. “The rapid growth of the Empire led to the need to defend the borders and territories of Rome” (Reason why the Roman Empire fell, 2008, para. 5). Barbarians, citizens of the Roman conquered lands, loathed the Romans. The Romans imposed high taxes that were increased frequently which resulted in constant Barbarian rebellions. Failing economy. The Roman Government had a constant cloud of bankruptcy looming over their heads. Never ending military warfare spending, economic failure, tax increases and rising inflation contributed to the fall. “The flow of gold to the orient to pay for luxury goods led to a shortage of gold to put in Roman coins” (Reason why the Roman Empire fell, 2008, para. 8). Romans were forced into bartering again because the value of Roman currency had been reduced to nothing. Unemployment of the working classes. Working class Romans were replaced with slaves resulting in the decline of jobs; making them a financial burden on the state. “The Romans attempted a policy of unrestricted trade but this led to working class Romans being unable to compete with foreign trade. The government was therefore forced to subsidize the working class Romans to make up the differences in prices” (Reason why the Roman Empire fell, 2008, para. 9). Due to this, Romans chose to live on less compromising a high standard of living with a life of simplicity, thus dividing the rich from the poor. Decline in ethics and values. Values, customs, traditions and institutions that were once sacred to Romans are no longer in existence. “The total disregard for human and animal life resulted in a lack of ethics - a perverted view of what was right and wrong, good and bad, desirable and undesirable” (Reason why the Roman Empire fell, 2008, para. 11). Compliance to rules, laws and philosophies of human conduct were fading. The final destruction of Rome. In 537 A.D. Rome was attacked by a tribe called the Goths and the Vandals. The Goths’ goal was to travel and settle south into parts of Europe where the climate was exceptional and their farming would excel. This move brought about conflict with the Romans. In order to prevent the disintegration of Rome, the emperor Diocletian made the decision to divide the Roman Empire in two. The division of the Roman Empire into the Western and Eastern Empire brought about an increase in military defenses which cost Rome money that it did not have. “To pay for these, taxes were increased and extra coins were minted. This lead to inflation causing prices to rise” (Trueman, 2000, para. 5). The threats from tribes in northern Europe increased leaving a disconnection between Rome and their civilian population. By 476 A.D. tribal invasions have completely destroyed the old Roman Empire in the west.
After the Fall of Rome “Despite the corruption of Rome and the refusal of its populace to defend it, the loss of Roman civil infrastructure meant a real decline in quality of life” (Dutch, 2000, para. 18). Following the collapse of Rome was the Dark Ages. Most Europeans carried on as if the empire never ceased to exist.
Keko (2011) states: Major migrations collapsed the Roman frontier, economy, and defenses. As the empire disintegrated, people placed themselves under the protection of powerful strongmen creating the feudal system. At the same time, urban areas depopulated, skilled workers became peasant farmers, and learning centers forgot how to learn. As a result, feudalism formed, the cities collapsed, and classical learning lost resulting in a dark age. (para. 1)

With a broken government and military, the search for protection and resources grew. The wealthy provided the poor with some of their land and provided protection. In order to pay the landowner rent, the poor cultivated the land and gave a portion of their crop in payment. Over time, this practice evolved into a self-sufficient economic entity. A social system had developed in order to regulate the relations between people. “The lords ruled the manor, provided protection, and were the law. The vassals enjoyed few rights. This arrangement became customary and hereditary” (Keko, 2011, para. 4). Without a central government, the church emerged as the continent 's sole unifying force.
Conclusion
The Roman Empire disintegrated due to economic mismanagement, depopulation, and barbarian attacks. The empire’s collapse led to feudalism, a barter economy, depopulation, and the loss of classic learning. The fall of Rome appears as a catastrophic event in history, for the bulk of Roman citizens it had little impact on their way of life. Once the Roman government had been displaced by the invading tribes, they began to govern themselves. The motivation for destruction was no longer relevant and they focused on providing peace and stability. The fall of Rome was fundamentally due to economic deterioration resulting from excessive taxation, inflation, and over-regulation. Higher and higher taxes failed to raise additional revenues because wealthier taxpayers could evade such taxes while the middle class and its taxpaying capacity were exterminated.

References
10 of the world’s most beautiful cities. (2012). WebEcoist. Retrieved from http://webecoist.com/2009/06/03/10-of-the-worlds-most-beautiful-ancient-cities/
Dutch, S. (2000). Rome and after. Retrieved from http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/ westtech/xromans.htm
Illustrated history of the Roman Empire. (2007). The founding of Rome. Retrieved from http://www.roman-empire.net/founding/found-index.html
Keko, D. (2011). After Rome’s fall: The dark ages. Ancient History Examiner. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/ancient-history-in-national/after-rome-s-fall-the-dark-ages
Law of the Twelve Tables. (2012). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/610934/Law-of-the-Twelve-Tables
Momigliano, A. (1942). The peace of the Ara Pacis. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 5, 228-231.
Morey, W.C. (1900). Outlines of Roman history. New York, NY: American Book Company.

Reason why the Roman Empire fell. (2008). History, facts and information about the reason why the Roman Empire fell. Retrieved from http://www.roman-colosseum.info/roman- empire/reason-why-the-roman-empire-fell.htm
Roman Empire. (n.d.). Birth of the Roman Empire. Retrieved from http://www.unrv.com/empire/birth-of-the-roman-republic.php
Stern, G. (2006). Women, children, and senators on the Ara Pacis Augustae: A study of Augustus’ vision of a new world order in 13 BC. Retrieved from ABI Inform database.
The Roman Republic. (2000). Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/romr/hd_romr.htm
Trueman, C. (2000). A history of ancient Rome. Retrieved March 13, 2012 from http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/a_history_of_ancient_rome.htm
Warry, J. (1980). Warfare in the classical world. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

References: 10 of the world’s most beautiful cities. (2012). WebEcoist. Retrieved from http://webecoist.com/2009/06/03/10-of-the-worlds-most-beautiful-ancient-cities/ Dutch, S Illustrated history of the Roman Empire. (2007). The founding of Rome. Retrieved from http://www.roman-empire.net/founding/found-index.html Keko, D Law of the Twelve Tables. (2012). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/610934/Law-of-the-Twelve-Tables Momigliano, A Morey, W.C. (1900). Outlines of Roman history. New York, NY: American Book Company. Reason why the Roman Empire fell. (2008). History, facts and information about the reason why the Roman Empire fell. Retrieved from http://www.roman-colosseum.info/roman- empire/reason-why-the-roman-empire-fell.htm Roman Empire Stern, G. (2006). Women, children, and senators on the Ara Pacis Augustae: A study of Augustus’ vision of a new world order in 13 BC. Retrieved from ABI Inform database. The Roman Republic. (2000). Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/romr/hd_romr.htm Trueman, C Warry, J. (1980). Warfare in the classical world. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

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