What caused the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? And why is it relevant?
Placing a beginning to the decline is difficult, but the actual Fall is said to have occurred around 476 AD. There are many reasons that contributed to the Fall, but a few notable inferences are worth mentioning, including; corruption, debauchery, and a decaying army.
Corruption: The Emperor had power over all life and death. The Senate had only the authority to counsel the Emperor, but all decisions remained his. As such, a rift of allegiances split the rulers. To protect himself, the Emperor created an elite group of soldiers known as the Praetorian Guard. The Guard grew to such a forceful power of its own that they offered the title and throne to whomever had the money to buy it. No longer was the government a body reigning for the people, the government became it’s own corrupted self consumed entity whose sole purpose was to expand personal wealth. Gluttony and greed became the model as the government was threatened by bankruptcy. The cost of defending the Empire, the failing economics, heavy taxation and high inflation ultimately brought the economy down to nothing.
A growing government went from 300 full time employees to over 30,000 in just a few years.
Lusting for material pleasure, the flow of gold to the orient to pay for luxury goods led to a shortage of gold to put in Roman coins. Roman currency was devalued to such an extent that a system of bartering returned to one of the greatest civilizations the world had ever known.
Constantly at war, conquering new lands and putting those citizens into poverty caused widespread rebellions. An ever growing military presence was needed to patrol the conquered lands and maintain taxation of non-Romans. The cost of war and the growth of the military burdened an ever depleting budget. The solution was to impose ever increasing taxes which led to even more rebellions.
The skew of wealth and class created a two class system; the elite and the peasants.
Cheap slave labor in turn resulted in the unemployment of the people of Rome who became dependent on hand-outs from 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. This resulted in thousands of Romans choosing just to live on the subsidies and sacrificing their standard of living with an idle life of ease.
As the thousands of unemployed living on government subsidies became bored, this ennui led to civil riots and unrest. It was because of this ennui that the gladiator games and chariot races were created and funded by the government and the wealthy politicians to quell the unrest. The games were used to murder Christians and other unwanted citizens. The cult was death. If there were not enough criminal elements to be used in the games, the Emperor would order the military to throw citizens from the stands into the arena. The carnage was incredibly vast.
As the government diverted funds to the games, which now accounted for a third of the budget, the military decayed. They no longer had defensive weapons. Their leadership was ineffective and corrupt. The knowledge that the Barbarians gained of Roman warfare and military tactics by serving in the Roman army was eventually turned against the Empire and led to the sack of Rome by the Visigoths. An ex-army soldier, Alaric, led the invasion.
Who were these barbarians?
They were the peoples that the Roman Empire had enslaved and conquered. They were the Visigoths, Arian Christians who compared themselves to Biblical Hebrew people, Huns, a Mongolian and Chinese tribe, and the Vandals, a Germanic tribe.
Ultimately, the aqueducts which supplied Rome with water were destroyed and the people fled.
As power corrupted, debauchery escalated. The elite upper classes felt empowered to partake in immoral and promiscuous behavior including orgies, sexual fetishes, incest, adultery, and bestiality. Tiberius kept groups of young boys to pleasure him. Nero had a male salve castrated so as to take him as his wife. Harems, concubines, vestal virgins, became the norm. The Games would provide an arena for some of the more perverse atrocities of debauchery. And the citizens were drawn into the lewdness as though drugged.
Brothels and forced prostitution thrived and flourished. There were no boundaries, each elite wanting to out-do the previous.
Gambling and drinking became a way of life.
The parallels of the Fall of The Roman Empire to the US are astounding!
*Our government no longer represent the people, instead their actions are for one purpose, individual gain. Greed, corruption, gluttony rule the very fabric of our nation.
*We are at ‘war’ with multiple nations, instilling a military presence when our military continues to be over-budget, mired in waste, and without consequence for its actions.
*Our president is placed in office by a shadow elite who buy the throne.
*The rise of sex trafficking, child sex trafficking and prostitution with political elite involvement and elite entertainer involvement has crumbled the walls of morality and ethics. Virtue is non-existent.
*Law is no more. Order is no more. Chaos is instilled and lauded.
The Roman Empire lasted about 500 years. It was ultimately brought down by General Odoacer, a Germanic Arian Christian, along with his defected soldiers. The Empire split in half, the western half fell, while the eastern half thrived as the Byzantine Empire.
Is history repeating itself?
2 thoughts on “The Fall of The Roman Empire – is history repeating?”
History is ALWAYS repeating itself. We go round and round and round in a cyclical fashion, re-fighting the same wars, building up and tearing down empires. I think it’s because humans invent new technology, so “things” are always different, but people are exactly the same psychologically as their distant Cro-Magnon ancestors. We can’t change who we are no matter how much we learn.
I agree, but although our instincts are the same or similar, we have the power of free will and choice. And yes we can change who we are – if we want to. But again that is a choice, otherwise you give humans the reasoning power of insects… and that just ain’t so. I love debate!