The civilization of Rome was fascinating more than any other ancient culture in the world. Many of the civilizations in the eastern remained unconquered for many years and had a significant with great impact on human nature, economics, morality, power, and governance. The east part of the Roman civilization, famously known as Istanbul remained firm for quite long. For instance, the Roman experience remains educative to the current governments, and most the writers have not hesitated to write their perceptions about the Roman Empire and its civilization. The great Rome remained structured until the internal vices started contaminating the political and social strength of the empire. The significant routes of the Roman Empire emanated from her people, class struggles, bureaucratic despotism, and the devastating internal wars and conflicts. Therefore, this paper evaluates the explanations offered by Titus Livius, Tacitus and Gaius on the cause of the decline of the Roman Empire while providing the writers view on the most convincing explanation given by the three great historians.
The fall of The Roman Empire
Titus Livius was famously known as the Livy existed during the periods of Sallust and Tacitus, famously know historians in ancient Rome. He wrote about the sweeping history of Rome, which occurred since the founding of Rome in 753 BC to the creation of the Roman republic in 508BC through the leadership of Augustus as the first emperor. Livy experienced the fall of ancient Rome and provided his explanation, as a leader and a loyal citizen, which is still read today.
According to Livy, the old Roman Empire lived peacefully and harmoniously. The people were governed by the monarchy and were comfortable with such governance. However, the people developed a wish for a king to lead them since they had not tested the sweetness of freedom. By 508 BC, the Romans mounted a historic revolution in philosophies and domination(Dart 11). As a result, they dethroned the monarchy and started a new order which comprises of the Senate nobbles, the elected assemblies, termination limits, corpus, dispersion of the centralized powers and the practice of liberty which was not seen in Rome before. After the adoption of the new system of governance, Rome experienced a remarkable rise followed by a considerable decline in the supremacy.
Livy explained about Rome pivotal wars against the Samnites, Carthaginians, and people from the Italian peninsula (Dart11). He presented about the rivalry that existed between Sulla and Marius, the latter joyous days of the republic as men fought for power, which caused the murder of the Julius Caesar and the serving maneuvering of Augustus. Livy had the idea that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Livy expressed the greedy demand for power among individuals which initiated wars in ancient Rome. He asserts that men are too clever to transfer blame and wishes from their shoulders to those of others.Indeed, the nature of the crowds, which is being modest and subservient or directing make people incapable of making the judicious use of freedom and tending to raise tensions.
Tacitus lamented the death of the authorities of the ancient Roman and rise of the emperors with unsure characters. He claimed that power is more burning than all the passions which are a truth that had played out in the minds of his parents who were the witnesses of the horrific crimes of the Caligula (Goffart 31). As well, Tacitus believed that authorities get strengthened when men of talents are punished, a belief that was evident in Rome during its downfall. After the transition of the powers from monarchial to other orders, bills were passed to capture both the national and individual cases, and many laws emerged when the commonwealth remained corrupt. He described the role of his father-in-law who was the commander of the Roman troops in Britannia. With the leadership of the commander and the new regime, Rome was full of thirst for plunder and conquest, where they made plundering, slaughtering and stealing the order of the day.
During then, Rome had gone through degeneration from a free republic to a monstrous dictatorship where its policies shifted the focus to the international levels and not the internal affairs, indicating the fall of the empire. As a result of the desire for many conquests, the make-up of the mighty legion started to undergo alterations. Rome’s military becomes unable to recruit more soldiers from the citizens who had already sported the loss of focus from the initial Rome. As well, emperors such as the Diocletian and Constantine started to hire mercenaries to prop up their enemies something that signaled the failure of the known military strength of the Roman Empire (Goffart 31). As a result, the interaction between Rome and Germany, as Rome acquired troops and mercenaries from German, made Rome start calling troops ‘barbarus’ instead of soldiers. When the German soldiers were recruited for special operations in Rome, they developed a lot of disrespect to the roman employers and turned against the empire. Later, most of the barbarian soldiers supporting the Roman legion turned against Rome and attacked the city of Rome and brought down the empire.
Gaius Sallustius Crispus
Gaius sallustius Crispus was a provincial governor of the Roman North Africa and a prolific writer in the first century, which was the last century of the old republic. He was famously known as the Sallust. He is known for writing on the Catiline’s conspiracy to snuff the government and make himself a ruler of Rome and how such initiated the fall of the ancient Roman Empire.
He wrote the pithy assessment; “profusely of the eloquence, not plentiful wisdom.”(Heichelheim et al. 6).Where Catiline was not the only politician ruined by power-seeking as he reported. He argued that ambition promoted many people to become deceitful, to hold a thing concealed in the breast and the other ready on his tongue. Such people estimated friendship and hostilities, not by worth but based on the interest and to carry rather a specious expression. Under his governorship, Sallust was under fire for the sketch self-aggrandizement, and in that regard, he would well be culpable with his political rings truth in doubt. He said that if the intellectual abilities of the magistrates and the kings were exposed to the same degree in peace as in wars.
Similarly, Sallust expressed the Jugurthine war and related the struggle of Rome against jugurtha the Numidia from 111BC to 105 BC (Heichelheim et al. 6). Jugurtha attacked the enemy cities in his efforts to gain control over the entire North African kingdom of Numidia. On the siege, some Romans were slain, and their demise enraged Rome. In response, Romans resolved to crush jugurtha and dispatched two consuls, Metellus, and Gaius to subdue him. Gaius won the military, but the war ended when Sulla, the lieutenant who convinced jugurtha’s father in law to surrender him to Rome where he was executed. Despite the execution of jugurtha, Rome had already undergone reformation of the leadership and brought new people to power, who had no interest in administration but forced by circumstances to lead. Such made the famous political structure and military strength reduce, making it easy for the barbarians to stage frequent attacks.
Why Gaius Sallustius Crispus Explanation is the Best
The three historians gave a convincing history about the decline of the Roman Empire, especially the defects in the political structure which provided a more significant opportunity for the enemies to intrude and attack. I am convinced that the explanations given by Gaius Sallustius Crispus offer very concrete situations for the fame of the Roman Empire to decline. Typically, the outstanding military system and good governance are the common aspects that help examine the strength of the empires or governments. Indeed, any state that is known to have the best military and very transparent governance, which is free from corruption, greedy for powers, transparency and accountability in decision making and reasonable policies that put the prioritize the desires of its citizens is said to be strong. Such countries today comprise of the United States and Russia which are rated as the superpowers because of their ability to control their resources, which has admired by the developing countries.
Gaius presented the greedy of power that jugurtha portrayed. He wanted to become famous with Rome and wanted to force all the segments of Rome to remain submissive to his leadership. In his efforts to gain control over the entire kingdom on Numidia, he decides to attack the nearby cities and force them to be submissive to his powers. As a result, he kills some of them, and the whole of Rome turns against him. There occurs civil war as the Romans fight to overthrow him and later succeeds in the search. Therefore, I am convinced that, besides the rearrangement of the government structures, the enemies of the empire used that opportunity to initiate civil wars and retard the fame that the realm had garnered from the neighboring empires. The conviction and execution of jugurtha was an indication that the spirit of human nature in Rome had declined and that more tension was expected to occur since not all the Romans were against the leadership of the jugurtha.
Roman Empire was recognized as the most powerful empires at ancient times. The empire had an active militia and good governance which was admired by most neighboring empires. The above historians explained almost similar scenarios in Rome that constituted to the decline in the supremacy of the Roman Empire. Most of such historians were part of the government and had a close look at the transition in the governance and the source of the flaws that led to the collapse of the empire. Among the factors the historians presented, was the greed for the power and fane among the governors especially the case of the jugurtha of the North African Empire of the Numidia who wanted to be famous within Rome and even abroad.
Dart, Christopher J. The Social War, 91 to 88 BCE: a history of the Italian insurgency against the Roman Republic. Routledge, 2016.
Goffart, Walter. “Rome, Constantinople, and the barbarians.” Warfare in the Dark Ages. Routledge, 2017. 1-32.
Heichelheim, Fritz M., Allen M. Ward, and Cedric A. Yeo. History of the Roman People. Routledge, 2016.
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