April 23, 2009

The Fall of Rome

I don't feel like posting anything interesting today. Instead, I will leave you with an essay on the fall of Rome. In italics and parentheses are my current responses to this essay.

The fall of Rome was a slow and steady decline. (Hook? what hook?) Its size was too great and its leaders too corrupt to control the wide spanning empire. Eventually, it was split further, into for sections, worsening the situation, and finally it broke apart into uneven chunks, each one claiming the Roman name as its own. The primary reason for the fall of Rome was political because of the inefficient dictatorial government and the difficulty communicating and governing across such a vast area. These difficulties are a reason that the tetrarchy was developed, which weakened Roman government further and cemented the empire’s decline. (This part is bold because it is my thesis. It is *special*)

The Roman dictatorial system was highly inefficient and corrupt. It placed supreme power into the hands of often incompetent individuals. For instance (I'm pretty sure that "for instance" is one of those clich├ęd phrases I'm not really supposed to use), Nero became emperor as a teenager. He was unprepared to deal with the great amount of power pushed onto his shoulders. He thought like a teenager, and “was carried away by a craze for popularity” (Suetonius 53), working for the poor in an attempt to make them like him. Rather than concentrating on the empire, he killed family members that might take his power. Instead of helping his city, he set it on fire so that he could earn money rebuilding it. He also ignored his empire and went to Greece to compete in the games. (I probably should have utilized parallel structure there) By handing Nero the empire, Rome made its situation worse (Although, seriously, if anyone wants a teenage emperor now, I could probably fit the job into my schedule). In the Roman government, the emperor was more powerful than a king. There were no checks placed on his power, and he chose his own successor. Nero lived hundreds of years before Rome fell, and did not directly lead to its fall, but he is an example of the Roman systems flaws.

Another problem with was that people were loyal to the emperor rather than Rome itself. For instance, Augustus attained the loyalty of the troops by have them swear allegiance to him. This worked well during his rule by providing highly loyal armies, but after his death, the soldiers were no longer sworn. Some were loyal to their generals, some followed the emperor, and others fought for Rome. This lowered the unity of the army. These armies would not fight as one, and would be more difficult to control and order, hurting Rome’s military abilities, essential for its survival. The general people also followed the emperor. “When the report of the murder of the Emperor Pertinax spread among the people, consternation and grief seized all minds, and men ran about beside themselves.” (Herodian of Syria) (Incorrect MLA formating! THE PERIOD GOES AFTER THE CITATION!!!! THIS IS A CARDINAL SIN!!! AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!) The Praetorian Guard pushed Pertinax into power (I quite honestly have not idea who this Pertinax guy is). When he became emperor, he lowered the guards' bonuses. Furious, the guard killed him. This further demonstrates the corruption of the Roman government, but also shows how the people felt. They cared for the emperor, but they also feared the bloodshed of succession. People loved the emperor, but when the emperor died, their faith in the government would go with it. This contributed to the fall of Rome because when the people didn’t trust the government, they rebelled (HDYK?, oh innocent freshmeat me?).

The Roman Empire stretched across all of Europe, parts of the Middle East, and the Mediterranean coast of Africa. This entire area was controlled by a single man in Italy. Rome, an ancient civilization, had few means of communication (NO CELLPHONESSS!?!?!?!?! ZOMGGG!!!!). Messages could take weeks to get from Africa to Gaul, and moving armies took even longer. Marcus Aurelius spent most of his reign in the northern frontier, fighting Germanic tribes and attempting to expand into the Hungarian Plain. In 175, Avidius Cassius tried to take over the empire. “Leaving the northern wars, [Marcus Aurelius] traveled to the East, but Avidius was killed before Marcus arrived in the region.” (Herbert W. Benario) This further demonstrates that the distance was too great for the military and governmental figures to handle.

Also, the emperor couldn’t even control distant provinces himself. Egypt was “governed by prudent persons sent there in succession. The governor thus sent out has the rank of king.” (Egypt under the Roman Empire) The emperor had to send someone else to govern his land. Most successful Romans would not want to travel all the way to a far off area in order to govern. The people that ended up there would be the worst governors, the ones that weren’t good enough to have a more desirable area. This lack of control of distant regions left them susceptible to attack. (This is way more than three body paragraphs. What on earth was I thinking?)

In an attempt to improve control of the great Rome, Diocletian (Is this guy related to Dionysus? Cause if he isn't, I have no idea who he is) established the tetrarchy (tetrahedron!). This divided the roughly fifty provinces into one hundred, and created 4 emperors rather than just one, each of which chose his own successor. This caused more problems than it solved. The emperors fought with each other to achieve greater control. Eventually, they separated. The easternmost emperor broke off and formed the Byzantine Empire, which prospered for the next thousand years. Western Rome however, contained three emperors to start with, and violent disagreements were rampant. Only a few decades after Diocletian split the empire, Constantious (Spell-check says that this should be contentious. How very ironic/coincidental), one of the western rulers, died unexpectedly. His son, Constantine, tried to take control of the entire western empire, but was fought by Licinius. The empire was at first split between them, but they fought over that, and eventually Constantious took control. The empire, however, was soon divided again. Many other struggles ensued, and the empire was eventually split into many small competing kingdoms.

(This paragraph was literally tacked randomly onto the end, hanging out in a page of it's very own. Oh, my poor, woeful, little picture conclusion) By 600 A.D., Rome was done with its steady decline. Its name lived, but the great empire and its revolutionary political system. This flawed system worked against Rome, leading to corrupt dictators and, due to an immense size that the system couldn’t handle, an equally corrupt tetrarchy. The primary reason for Rome’s fall was therefore political.


Vicky said...

hey...are you making fun of Nero...I did a lot of research to portray him last year and just because he might have killed his mom, couldn't have cared less about the under class and possible set Rome on fire he still has a cool name...

BTW: Pertinax does not sound like a real person. It sounds like an erectile dysfunction drug...get it? perky kinda sounds like pertinax!