The Fall of Rome Essay

Submitted By jcohen36
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The Fall of Rome
The Roman Empire at its height spanned much of the known world. Rome through its military conquests had put a chokehold on the entirety of the Mediterranean Sea, thus asserting itself as the channel through which all trade within Western Europe occurred. Such geographical dominance included Roman territories ranging from Roman conquests in what are today, England through territories in Africa and the Middle East. Roman successes as described demonstrated the authority Rome commanded at its zenith, similarly, it also foreshadowed a dooming trend that eventually incurred the ultimate downfall of the Western Roman Empire. While Rome’s destruction cannot be attributed to one crucial mistaken that directly lead to their immediate demise, there are certain trends that when combined played an intricate part in causing Rome’s fall. Rome’s success was perhaps the direct cause of their destruction. As described by Herodotus in “The Histories” Hubris is the leading cause for the destruction of empires. Rome at its height overextended its self for its governmental structure, thus by over expanding it lost a sense of Roman nationality among its army, citizens, and even its bureaucrats. Countless factors have played a hand in the downfall of Rome; however, Rome’s overexpansion was the causation for all other ensuing factors.
Roman insatiability for annexing new territories has been evident throughout the empires history; it was a mindset that lead to their ascension as a world power. Rome in order to become the empire they were known for was first charged with creating a nation. Rome’s first conquests of expansion began by controlling the Italian peninsula, the most crucial backbone to their empire. Previously Italy had been a segmented peninsula controlled by various tribes and principalities, however, Rome due to its military might was able to successfully annex and subdue the peninsula. As accounted by Polybius “They succeeded everywhere to a marvel, and reduced to obedience all the tribes inhabiting Italy” ( Histories. Polybius 1.6). Conquering Italy however did not quench Rome’s thirst for expansion. “I may now fitly close this book. I have completed the introduction and laid the foundation on which my history must rest. I have shown when, how, and why the Romans, after becoming supreme in Italy, began to aim at dominion outside of it” (Histories. Polybiuspg.2.71). Rome’s fervent hunger to expand, was a trend that propelled Rome to further its conquests past the Italian peninsula. Rome in the year B.C.E. 264 had set its gaze upon its nearest neighbor in the Mediterranean Sea, and island that would strategically give them partial dominance over the pertinent water trade routes of the known world-Sicily. “I shall accordingly have to describe what the state of their affairs in Italy was, how long that settlement had lasted, and on what they reckoned, when they resolved to invade Sicily. For this was the first place outside Italy in which they set foot” (Histories. Polybius. pg. 1.5). Roman expansion into Sicily initiated the onset of what are known as the Punic wars with Carthage- a series of wars that played a crucial role in shaping the Roman Empires rise to domination. The Punic wars marked a period of turmoil and bloodshed within the Roman Empire. The ensuing three wars tormented both Rome and Carthage for over a century ranging from 264-146 B.C.E , and was the catalyst for hundreds of thousands of deaths on both sides. It is pertinent to note that the Punic wars not only taxed Rome for its resources, but also perhaps for the first time illustrated an outside entity challenging the power of Rome, and ultimately serving as a validation of Roman supremacy. Following the defeat of Carthage Rome annexed what was left of Carthage’s territories, in essence doubling the Roman Empire within a period of less than a century. Such a drastic change to Rome effectively changed most if not all…