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The Greatest Destabilizing Element and the Greatest Strength of Rome

The Roman Empire existed for two centuries. It has made a major contribution to the development of civilization and to the development of literature and science in Greece. The Roman Empire ruled the land of Mediterranean and Europe for the nearly four hundred years. Lots of scholars and scientists throughout the centuries have been trying to point out the weakest and the strongest sides of the Empire. Having read many articles and books, connected with its rise, decline and fall, I have made a conclusion that the Romans had the powerful and almighty army, but the more influential they became the more avid to domination and wars they had. So, the weakest and the strongest points joined in one Roman army. It is important not only to conquer the lands, but also to keep them together.

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An old Roman saying “Divide et impera” goes about the ancient strategy of the military organization. The Roman army consisted of 25 legions. Each legion consisted of about 6000 men and a large number of auxiliaries (non-citizen natives). A legatus, supported by 6 military tribunes, led a legion, composed of 10 cohorts. 6 centuries made a cohort. The leader of the century was the centurion. The senior centurion was called the primus pilus. There were also about 300 cavalry attached to a legion. (Gill, The Roman Army of the Roman Republic). At different times, the Roman army had different numbers: the number of legions and different construction. With the improvement of the art of war changed the weapons, tactics and strategy. There was a general compulsory military service in Rome. The men of 17 years old and up to 45 joined the army in battles in the fields, and after 45 they moved to fortresses (McManus, The Roman Army in the Late Republic and Early Empire). Such strategy had quickly turned the Roman army into the most powerful one.

After the victorious wars in IV-III centuries BC all Italian tribes and nations fell under the authority of Rome. The Romans provided some nations with more rights and others with less in order to keep them in subjection. This caused mutual mistrust and hate. Aggressive wars with their enormous and colossal trophy (slaves and property) stimulated the development of slave relationship. In order to maximize their income, the Roman slave owners intensified the exploitation of slaves, who, of course, responded with numerous uprisings. Together with the mass uprising of slaves in Sicily, Attica, on the island of Delos, in Pergamum, in Rome itself started a peasantry movement with the requirements of public lands reorganization. As we can see, the greatest strength - the almighty and powerful army causes the greatest destabilizing element – the internal strife and conflicts.

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As Chris Trueman writes, the fall of Ancient Rome started from about AD 190. The Roman Empire was attacked by tribes such as the Goths and the Vandals. Civil wars in parts of the empire further weakened the rule of Rome and respect for Roman law dwindled, as a result (The Fall of Ancient Rome). The internal situation in Rome was very tense. The country was ravaged by civil wars and land confiscation. Political anarchy, associated with the constant change of emperors and usurpers in different parts of the State, in conjunction with the invasion of Germanic tribes, led to the destabilization of the entire empire. Barbarians had always come through the border, and the emperors had not enough time, energy and resources to drive them from the provinces.

The economy of the Roman Empire developed irregularly for a long time. Western areas were less economically developed than the eastern ones as they were concentrated on vast labor, commercial and industrial resources; thus the unfavorable balance of trade had been created. Rich layers of population and the government often managed to find contact with each other. For example, entire villages began to turn for protection to the military command, which helped the citizens to conduct a relationship with the imperial tax collectors. More and more villages chose the patrons, not among the military officers, but among the local landlords. At the same time, there was still too much exclusion from the army, putting some social groups in more privileged state. Weakened by the deep crisis of the slave system, destabilized by rebellions of slaves and colonies, the Western Roman Empire fell under the blows of the barbarians.

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As a result, among the causes of the Roman Empire death can be called such as, sexual immorality, invasion of barbarian tribes, numerous slave revolts, Christianity with its victim cult, strategic mistakes of generals, the coincidence of different things and many others. To my mind, the greatest destabilizing element was an ordinary imbalance between the actual power of Empire and the thirst for further greatness and force. The world requires a balance between good and evil, strength and weakness, etc. Consequently, it is necessary to have a counterweight for the stable existence of the state. Such ballast is a similar in strength opponent or opposition, which supports the power of both sides. For centuries, such opponents for the Empire were Persia, Macedonia, Egypt and Carthage – strong and competitive. While they were there the Roman Empire as a separate ethnic group could exist peacefully, maintaining alertness and patriotism of its nation in the wars with this lands. Rome had its cult of the hero, the winner. The fatal mistake was that, intoxicated by its power, the Empire destroyed the last enemy. As soon as Alexandria and Egypt were ruined, the Roman Empire began to fall. This is not only because of the loss of the opponent, but also because of the activation of the numerous small tribes. Earlier they only had to watch the clash of giants or to join one side or another. As a result, all their hate for the powerful and strong Empire, which was always dictated by fear and envy, revealed in the worst moment, and the tribes turned the great Rome into the meaningless pile of lands.

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