Rome didn’t fall in a day!

Posted: May 11, 2012 in Christian Living
Tags: , , , ,

“Rome wasn’t built in a day!” How many times have you heard that phrase? Or maybe you’ve said it yourself. But how many times have you heard the phrase, “Rome didn’t fall in a day!”

There’s an old cliché that says, “You can’t know where you are going until you know where you came from.” So during the last ten years or so I became interested in history because I wanted to know where I came from. Like so many others, it’s how I discovered my Hebrew roots.

There’s another variant of the cliché above attributed to George Santayana-“Those who are unaware of history are destined to repeat it.” It seems to me that we have been destined to repeat history a lot over the years because so many of us are unaware of where we came from.

Many stories have been written about the eerie similarities between President Lincoln’s assassination and the assassination of President Kennedy. But what is more eerie to me is the similarities between the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and our own US of A!

The Roman Empire is the term used to refer the period in Ancient Roman history and civilization when Rome and its territories were ruled by autocratic Emperors. The Roman Empire lasted from 27 BC – 476 AD, a period exceeding 500 years. At its peak, the territories of the Roman Empire included lands in West and the lands around the Mediterranean, Britain, Asia Minor, and North Africa; including Egypt. Just like America, Rome was once the greatest nation in the eyes of the rest of the world. So we should ask ourselves, “What happened?”

What caused for the fall of the Roman Empire?

The Decline of the Roman Empire was due to many reasons but the major causes of the decline are detailed below. There was no specific order of the causes for the fall of the Roman Empire. Different causes occurred over its time period of over five hundred years. See if you can see any similarities between Rome and America today.

The Major Causes of the Fall of the Roman Empire:

Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor

Decline in Morals

Political Corruption and the Praetorian Guard

Fast expansion of the Empire

Constant Wars and Heavy Military Spending

Knowledge of Roman Military Tactics Used Against Them

Failing Economy

Unemployment of the Working Classes (The Plebs)

The ‘Mob’ mentality and the cost of the ‘Games’

Decline in Ethics and Values

Slave Labor

Natural Disasters

Secular Christianity

Barbarian Invasion

Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor

One of the main causes for the fall of the Roman Empire was the Antagonism between the Senate and the Emperor. The Roman Emperor had the legal power to rule Rome’s religious, civil and military affairs with the Senate acting as an advisory body. The emperor had power over life and death. The powerful and wealthy Roman Emperors inevitably became corrupt and many lived a debauched, deluded and immoral lifestyle. The Roman Empire saw many examples of antagonism between the Senators and the Emperors. Either the Senators didn’t like the Emperor or the Emperors were at odds with the Senators.

Decline in Morals

One of the main causes for the fall of the Roman Empire was the decline in morals. The decline in morals, especially in the rich upper classes, nobility and the emperors – Immoral and promiscuous sexual behavior including adultery and orgies- had a devastating impact on the Romans. The decline in morals also affected the lower classes and slaves. Many participated in religious festivals such as Saturnalia and Bacchanalia, where sacrifices, lewd acts and sexual promiscuity were practiced. Brothels and forced prostitution flourished. There was widespread gambling on the chariot races and gladiatorial combats and massive consumption of alcohol. The sadistic cruelty towards both man and beasts in the arena became commonplace. Bestiality and other lewd and sexually explicit acts were exhibited in the Coliseum Arena to amuse the mob.

Political Corruption and the Praetorian Guard

One of the main causes for the fall of the Roman Empire was the political corruption within the Praetorian Guard. The power of the Praetorian Guard, the elite soldiers who made up the bodyguard of the emperor, (Much like the President’s Secret Service) led to political corruption and grew to such an extent that this massive group of soldiers decided on whether an emperor should be disposed of and who should become the new emperor!

Fast expansion of the Empire

Another one of the main causes for the fall of the Roman Empire was the fast expansion of the Empire. The rapid growth in the lands conquered by the Empire led to the need to defend the borders and territories of Rome. The people of the conquered lands, most of who were referred to as Barbarians, hated the Romans. Taxes on the non-Romans were high and constantly increased. Frequent rebellions arose.

Constant Wars and Heavy Military Spending

Constant wars and heavy military spending also contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. The constant warfare required heavy military spending and the Roman army became over-stretched and needed more and more soldiers. The barbarians, who had been conquered, and other foreign mercenaries were allowed to join the Roman army.

Knowledge of Roman Military Tactics Used Against Them

The knowledge that the barbarians gained of Roman style warfare and military tactics by being trained while serving in the Roman army were eventually turned against the Empire and led to the sack of Rome by the Visigoths led by an ex-army soldier, Alaric.

Failing Economy and High Inflation

The Roman Government was constantly threatened by bankruptcy due to the cost of defending the Empire. The failing economics, heavy taxation and high inflation were also cause for the fall of the Roman Empire. The majority of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire failed to share in the incredible prosperity of Rome. The amount of gold sent to the orient to pay for luxury goods led to a shortage of gold to make 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.

Unemployment of the Working Classes

Cheap slave labor resulted in the unemployment of the Plebs (or working class) in Rome who became dependent on hand-outs from the state. The Romans attempted a policy of unrestricted trade but this led to the Plebs 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 subsidies, sacrificing their standard of living with an idle life of ease. The massive divide between the rich Romans and the poor Romans increased still further.

The ‘Mob’ Mentality and the Cost of the Gladiatorial Games

When the thousands of unemployed Romans became bored this led to civil unrest and rioting in the streets. The ‘Mob’ needed to be amused – spectacular gladiatorial games had to be provided. The cost of the gladiatorial games was born by the Emperors, and therefore the state, and corrupt politicians who sponsored the games to curry favor and support with the ‘Mob’. The cost of the gladiatorial games eventually came to one third of the total income of the Roman Empire!

Decline in Ethics and Values

Life became cheap – bloodshed led to more bloodshed and extreme cruelty. The values, the ideals, customs, traditions and institutions, of the Romans declined. The basic principles, standards and judgments about what was valuable or important in life declined. 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. Any conformity to acceptable rules or standards of human behavior was eventually lost.

Slave Labor

The number of slaves increased dramatically during the first 2 centuries of the Roman Empire. The Roman’s dependency on slave labor led not only to the decline in morals, values and ethics but also to the stagnation of any new technology to produce goods more efficiently. Romans could rely on the slave manpower for all their needs but this reliance inhibited technological change and growth. The treatment of slaves led to rebellion and several Slave Wars, the most famous being the revolt led by the gladiator slave, Spartacus. In the later centuries of the Empire and the advent of Christianity, the attitudes towards slaves changed and the number of slaves declined together with the manpower that Rome was dependent upon.

Natural Disasters

During the time of the Roman Empire there were not only foreign wars, civil wars, street fights, fires and revolts; there were also natural disasters such as plagues, famines and earthquakes. As in all periods and societies the people looked for someone to blame and different religions to turn to.

Secular Christianity

Life and the future seemed hopeless for the millions of people who were ruled by Rome where an early death was almost inevitable. Christianity taught the belief in an afterlife which gave hope and courage to the desperate. Eventually the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, although a self-proclaimed sun-worshiper, proclaimed himself to be a Christian and issued an edict merging pagan and Christian religions and promising the “new” Christians his favor and protection. Attitudes in the Roman Empire changed from being antagonistic to becoming more tolerant.

Barbarian Invasion

Rome had fierce foreign enemies. There were great barbarian armies consisting of warriors such as the Visigoths, Huns and the Vandals. The final death blow to the Roman Empire was inflicted by these barbarians. The city of Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and by the Vandals in 455 signaling the disintegration of Roman authority and the fall of the Roman Empire.

I believe that we are now at the precipice of either a great spiritual awakening in this country or a complete collapse. The only hope that we have must be in a collective repentance and turning back to God. Listen to my song about this. Daniel’s Prayer

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  – 2 Chronicles 7:14

For more information on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire visit: http://www.roman-colosseum.info/roman-empire/index.htm

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Comments
  1. James Harkin says:

    That is just like what is happening in the US today. The same list, the same problems.

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