Essay on Rome: Roman Empire and Imperial Hegemon Rome

Submitted By tico4889
Words: 706
Pages: 3

LEARNING from the PAST, REPUBLICAN ROME SURVIVES its TURN to EMPIRE as an IMPERIAL HEGEMON Rome managed to transition successfully from a republic to an empire, and to maintain its sway over the Mediterranean world and most of Western and Central Europe for several centuries, largely because it learned from the failed imperial experiences of foregoing hegemons like the Persians, Athenians, or the Hellenistic “Successor States”. Unlike the ethnocentric Greeks, Rome made membership within the empire, Roman citizenship, readily available to the vast majority of the freemen it absorbed through its conquests. Also, despite relying extremely heavily upon slavery, Rome’s simple rules regulating manumitting slaves enabled thousands of slaves to embrace genuine hope by making Roman citizenship readily available to freedmen. Roman citizenship further ensured a rough equality before the law—rough in the same sense as the inequalities that prevail within contemporary US jurisprudence where wealth often enables elites to unduly influence legal decisions. Barring the ability to bribe, socially impress or stigmatize, or to benefit disproportionately from expensive representation, Roman citizens knew that the same laws would apply in Alexandria, Antioch, or Athens as those enforced within the shadow of the Apennines in Italy. Roman justice, then, based upon the principle of equity, became a decidedly centripetal force. Roman courts, supported by the punitive reach of the empire’s legions, nurtured entrepreneurial endeavor by safeguarding merchants against brigands or corsairs on land or sea, or the chicanery of duplicitous or larcenous business associates. Justice and the general peace and security for goods and persons enforced by Rome’s martial might freely bound citizens to Rome as the surest guarantor of their long range welfare. Roman justice and willingness to embrace diverse populations within its citizenry extended to tolerating religious diversity unless that diversity seemed to challenge or threaten to undermine Roman authority, as in the person of Jesus, who eschewed the mantle of “the King of the Jews” but whose followers hailed him as “the Son of God.” Even a prophet of brotherly love who instructed his followers to yield to the temporal authority of Caesar insofar as Caesar did NOT intrude upon maters of faith and conscience, imperiled Caesar since this God of Love set Himself above Caesar, the imperial cult, and Rome’s established gods. In a polyglot hierarchical society crested by emperors hailed as demigods, the loving monotheism promoted by Jesus constituted a disturbingly centrifugal force since Heaven commanded greater authority within Christianity than did imperial decrees, especially if the latter should ever conflict with essential tenets of Christian worship. Rome even managed to survive the advent of Christianity. Although many Roman emperors vigorously but vainly attempted to extirpate Christianity from the empire for nearly three centuries after the Passion by undertaking…