Roman Empire And Its Story Of Conquest History Essay
One image of the imperial system is of strong, effective central control. The figure of the emperor himself, as defined by Julius Caesar and Augustus, stands for good order in contrast to the chaos of pluralism - squabbling city-states or competing aristocrats. The five good emperors were known for their moderate policies, in contrast to their more tyrannical and oppressive successors. This period was particularly notable for its peaceful method of succession, whereby each emperor chose his successor by adopting a heir. This prevented the political turmoil associated with emperors both before and after this period. The Empire, secure from both internal and external threats, prospered under the reign of the good emperors. This time period of peace is often referred to as the Pax Romana or Roman peace. With the conquest of Dacia during the reign of Trajan, the Empire reached its height of territorial expansion. In 117 A.D. the Roman Empire spanned an area of some 2.5 million square mile
Why was Rome Successful?
Rome was very successful because of its superior military authority. That is the main influential factor that cemented Roman power for nearly a thousand years. They had several advantages - rapid development of the latest technology and vast numbers of infantry along with a stable senate system and much wealth to fuel their ambitions. It had sewers to control waste, aqueducts for plumbing and paved roads for transport - which many other nations simply did not have.
Rome had a large assortment of choices when it came to battle. Their army usually consisted of Hastati, Principe's or Legionary Cohort in the later years - marvelous soldiers and very useful ones to say the least. Having said this, they had access to exceptional horses as well and it was this mixture of troops that was a deciding factor in conflicts. Rome used its sheer force of numbers to overwhelm most enemies and surround them or cave in on their flanks causing a route very quickly
A slave society:
One element, which perhaps more than others seems to separate our world from that of the Roman Empire, is the prevalence of slavery which conditioned most aspects of Roman society and economy. Unlike American plantation slavery, it did not divide populations of different race and color but was a prime outcome of conquest. From the crucifixion of rebel slaves in their thousands to the use of theatrical enactments of gruesome deaths in the arena as a form of entertainment, we see a world in which brutality was not only normal, but a necessary part of the system. And since the Roman economy was so deeply dependent on slave labor, whether in chained gangs in the fields, or in craft and production in the cities, we cannot wonder that modern technological revolutions driven by reduction of labor costs had no place in their world.
Pulling together diverse cultures:
One of the most astonishing features of the Roman Empire is the sheer diversity of the geographical and cultural landscapes it controlled. It was a European empire in the sense that it controlled most of the territory of the member states of the present EU, except part of Germany and Scandinavia. Vast regional contrasts did indeed continue, but there is little sense that the emperors felt an obligation to promote or protect them. The unity of the empire lay in a combination of factors.
The central machine was astonishingly light compared to modern states - neither the imperial bureaucracy nor even the military forces were large by modern standards. The central state in that sense weighed less heavily on its component parts, which were largely self-governing. But above all the unity lay in the reality of participation in central power by those from the surrounding regions. Just as the emperors themselves came not just from Rome and Italy, but Spain, Gaul, North Africa, the Danubian provinces, and the Near East, so the waves of economic prosperity spread over time outwards in ripples.
Common values unifying the empire:
The unified empire depended on common values, many of which could be described as 'cultural', affecting both the elite and the masses. Popular aspects of Greco-Roman literary culture spread well beyond the elite, at least in the cities. Baths and amphitheatres also reached the masses. It has been observed that the amphitheatre dominated the townscape of a Roman town as the cathedral dominated the medieval town. There was also a vital religious element which exposed the limits of tolerance of the system. The pagan gods were pluralistic, and a variety of local cults presented no problem. The only cult, in any sense imposed, was that of the emperor. To embrace it was as sufficient a symbol of loyalty as saluting the flag, and rejecting it was to reject the welfare of all fellow citizens. Christians were persecuted because their religion was an alternative and incompatible system (on their own declaration) which rejected all the pagan gods. Part of Augustus's program was aimed to restore the ancient Roman morality and foster a repopulation of the city. In this sense he passed a legislation to encourage marriage and childbearing while penalizing the unmarried and childless.
To support the old virtues and values, Augustus revived neglected ceremonies and restored 82 temples that had fallen into ruins. In commemoration of his victory over Antony, and of the city of Rome, he built a new temple to the war god, Mars and held splendid celebrations to mark the anniversary of the founding of Rome. Finally, the Romans brought the ideology of Christianity to the people in Europe - influencing the events that were to precede in the future greatly, something that has changed the world today. They will be looked upon in 1000 years (during the Middle Ages) with their beliefs, attitudes, values, lifestyle and ingenuity being emulated. In reality, the Roman Empire has very little relevance or connection to modern day America. The time period is totally different - as is the cultures, way of life, economy and war. To compare the United States to Rome is ludicrous. What do they have in common? Absolutely nothing.
The Roman Empire was so successful because of its dominance in warfare and the stable structure of politics. The Empire was great because the Romans were very practical and well-organized people. They knew what they needed and were aggressive in getting everything they wanted. All their ideas primarily came from other cultures (especially the Greek), but they always took the ideas to the next level and were best at everything they did. They lived to achieve a standard of excellence and were never satisfied with what they already achieved and always sought to improve.
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