LateRepublic, 133-27 B.C.
Duringthis period, Rome had conquered large areas of Europe, Middle Eastand North Africa through endless warfare. People captured includedGreeks, Iberians, Samnites, Carthaginians and Etruscans most of whomhad been turned into slaves. Territorial acquisition had been themain priority of Romans, and as a result a vast majority of slavemade up the urban population in Italy. However, as Rome gainedcontrol of more people, more problems socially, politically,economically continued to develop. Eventually, the enlargedterritorial turned into a liability and the Roman governmentcollapsed. As a result, Rome shifted into an Empire, a process thattook over a century to resolve. This paper will conduct an in-depthinvestigation of the most serious political, military, and socialchallenges of the late Republican Rome, as well as the Augustuspolicies designed to meet those challenges, and any unanticipatedproblems created by the solutions of the imperial era.
Afterthe second Punic war, the Roman structure had changed resulting intoan outbreak of more inevitable open conflicts. A division within theRoman society and the weakness of the government system intensifiedsocial and political conflicts. Most remarkably, is the slave revoltwhere large numbers of slaves fought back their masters due tomistreatment. Slave revolt was one of the most serious socialchallenges in the late republic. The Spartacus (73-71 BC) slaverevolt has been considered as the most terrifying and famousrebellion that was made up of trained fighter and fellow gladiators. However, the Romans defended themselves by suppression where slaveswere given severe punishment. Other social issues of the laterepublican included population decline as a result of war, hungerand plagues. During this period, agriculture in the Roman Empire hadfaced serious challenges and soil fertility declined due to thewarfare that had taken a long period of time. For this reason, thepopulation had declined as a result of food shortages and the spreadof diseases. Moreover, as a result of expansion wars, Roman farmersconsidered the backbone of Republic declined in numbers, andapproximately 300,000 died in the Punic Wars. Consequently, this ledto an increase of the large estates, worked by slaves. As slavesdisplaced free workers the level of unemployment soared to greaterheights. As a result, political and republican morality declined asthe unemployed persons migrated into other cities. On the other hand,the wealthy patricians increased in numbers, and the gap between therich became wider (MarshallCavendish Reference 82).
Thelate Republic was also afflicted by significant debt crises caused bywarfare in Italy. The credit structure heavily depended on the valueof land, and as the warfare increased demand for money high intereststook money out of circulation. Indeed, debtors borrowed at a higherrate or sold property in order to remain solvent. Therefore, thefinancial crisis and bankruptcy was another challenge in the laterepublic. On the other hand, the issue of civil strife was constantlypart of ancient Rome. Indeed, the late republic faced civil war untilits ultimate collapse. The main causes of these civil wars includedcorruption and greedy leaders who rapidly wanted to rise to power.Apparently, if the size of the empire had became hard to govern, thenineffective and corrupt leaders made the situation worse.
Theestablished government of Rome at this time had the capacity toadminister a city-state, and not an empire. The system wascharacterized by unhealthier competition for offices and leadershippositions that led to bribery and constitution circumvention.Moreover, ambitious leaders resorted to civil unrest, militaryinsurrection to get the leadership positions they desired. Forexample the major civil wars between Julius Caesar and Pompey thegreat was caused by deterioration of Roman virtues, as well as a weakconstitution. Subsequently, people lacked intellectual culture anddid not dedicate themselves to government services. Moreover,religious divisions eroded the status and position of the traditionalRoman religion. In fact new faiths such as Christianity challengedthe roman concepts (Ermatinger 60).
Asnoted earlier, the late Republic was marred by civil and politicaldisorder caused by extreme political ambitions. Indeed politicalproblems developed from institutional strain as a result speedyterritorial expansion, and contributed to the decline of Rome Empire.First, the size of the empire made governance hard since it wasdifficult to receive news of problems developing from all regions.The government had become authoritarian and more oppressive makingcitizens to lose its support. During this period, the Roman Empirehad no law of succession. In addition, it was incapable and corruptrulers characterized the government. As a result of corruption senseof citizenship had been destroyed and citizens lacked a sense ofcivic responsibility. The republic had been rendered unsustainable bythe increase of problems including, bureaucracy and over-extendedmilitary. The civil-military relation was another problem associatedwith the breaking down of the Roman Republic. In reality, democracynever existed and this had an impact of the decline patriotism. TheSenate had become weak and unable to control the Roman military oreven deal with the social problems that affected the empire. This isbecause the systems of was ill-equipped and unable to govern theexpanded empire. In fact, the Senate had to deal with the slaverevolt using military commanders. As a result, this fostered a wayfor ambitious generals and other corrupt to attack the Senate(Ermatinger 60).
Dueto the Military threats from tribes in the northern Europeancountries and constant war on its borders, Rome hired foreignsoldiers to defend the empire. As a result, this led to thedemoralized and demotivation of the Roman soldiers, and they ended upbecoming undisciplined and less loyal. Indeed, the military was indisorder as the foreign soldiers pledged their allegiance to theindividual commandants who kept fighting among themselves, and thislead to the creation of independent military powers. Furthermore, thedivision of the empire into two also created loyalty problems. Therewas no orderly succession and murders, civil wars and forced suicidesfrequently accompanied the shifting from one emperor to the next.
Augustuspolicies designed challenges
Duringthe period of The Augustan Age, 27BC-A.D. 14, Octavian was the rulerof the Roman Empire. He was the adopted son of Caesar and had becomea leader following Caesar’s murder. The Roman economy had weakenedas a result of long years of war. Furthermore, economic growth hadbeen severely depressed by high taxes, inflation and closed traderoutes. For this reason, peace and stability was inevitable and amajority of traders and businessmen believed in the centralization ofpolitical power. Octavian was later referred to as Augustus, thefirst Rome emperor. His focus was on internal reforms and the firstthing he did was to bring peace and political stability. He enactedthe policy of clemency that helped to end civil wars and reunite thepopulation. Additionally, Augustus policy was referred to as thepolicy of conciliation and his aspirations was to wipe off the civilwar hatreds. Undoubtedly, he attempted to reconcile both theconservative and the progressive men. As a result of peace, trade andcommerce was revived and this served as an encouragement to Romaninvestors. He abolished tax farming and revived trade and commerce.Consequently, this encouraged investments in harbors and good roads.Augustus also distributed free grains to the poor people in thesociety. Other successful governance subsequently followed his policyof giving “bread and circuses” for centuries to follow. Moreover,he sponsored gladiator games and chariot races in order to entertainthe Roman public (Rosenstein, Nathan, and Robert Morstein-Marx 256).
Secondly,Augustus sought to rebuild the constitution and the governmentstructure by establishing a constitutional monarchy where therepublican forms and offices were modified in order to meet the newconditions. Moreover, the expanded Rome was divided into fourteendistricts under Augustus to bring about law and order, as well as foreasy administration. Furthermore, he constructed new offices forbetter control.In this effect, Augustus also created a newconstitutional order where basic structure of the government includedthe princeps(Augustus) and an aristocati Senate. The Senate was under thecontrolled of Augustus and had been given the main role oftraditional advisory in the making of legislations. Alternatively,representatives had a huge influence of policy formulation. In fact,Augustus respected the Senate by regularly attending its meetings andvalued his position as a leading member. Most significantly was thejudicial innovation where two new courts were created. Thus, Augustusestablished Republican institutions with strong personal leadershipsuch as the Senate, which had significant power of advisory, and heusually consulted it on central issues. Under his regime, the Senatehad to take seriously its duties and responsibilities and administersome provinces. In that respect, Augustus assigned it someresponsibilities that later shifted to him by default because it hadinadequate powers. Moreover, under the late republic, a new dualsystem of governing the Roman provinces and frontiers had beencreated. The princepswere in charge of some provinces while proconsuls and governors somecontinued to control some provinces. As a result, tax collectionbecame efficient under Augustus administration and office abusesreduced (Rosenstein, Nathan, and Robert Morstein-Marx 256).
Thebasis of his restoration programme was to reassert the old Romanideals and traditions since morals and social values of the Romanculture had declined, therefore, they are associated with the fall ofthe republic. In essence, his restoration has been just a mereresponse to deal with the forgotten and neglected public ritualduties caused by disorders of the civil wars. This was done throughlegislations such as (legesluliae)introduced to regulate marriage, sexual conducts and adultery. Alsocentral to his mission, Augustus was determined to revive religion asdemonstrated in the renovation of temples and enacted religiouslegislations. During the warfare, Roman’s had lacked interest inreligion and it was part of his policy to restore religion andmorality. Religious and social reforms by Augustus sought to improvethe religion and morality and to return people back in worshippingthe ancient gods. Overall, the expansion of Roman culturedomestically through backing arts and sports and internationallythrough expanding the Roman Empire. Later, Augustus started to beworshiped as a god and this reinforced further his authority(McGeough 81).
Subsequently,he was successful in the mobilization of the Roman military, in orderto maintain the adequate number of soldiers required to fight withthe barbarians. During Augustus age, the army became a permanent,unpoliticized and professional force where soldiers received salariesand training. Under his leadership, a standing army of twenty- eightlegions was created and was charged with maintaining peace bothdomestically and on the borders. Moreover, a praetorian guard hadbeen established to watch over the princepspersons.In turn, the army played a significant role of consolidating theempire.Inaddition to restoring Rome, Augustus launched a sequence of militarycampaigns that led to gaining of control of areas that had previouslyremained outside the region direct control. Augustus established afrontier policy that led to the expansion of the Roman Empireterritory. Additionally, through international relations he ensuredpeace in other parts such as Syria and Judea. Furthermore, he wasable to reclaim the lost glory of the Roman military and the returnof its standards. After many years of instability in the RomanEmpire, peace had been reestablished. According to Edmondson Indeed,these reforms brought about a new optimism and patriotism (Edmondson96). Augustus successors included Julio-Claudian emperors,Diocletian, and others such as Constantine. Diocletian tried to solvethe empire problems when he took power in 284 by reorganization ofthe government system in order to increase bureaucracy and thegovernment’s efficiency. During his era, permanent troops on theborders were placed and he divided the huge empire into twoadministrative realms including west and east. However, control ofthe entire empire lead to a civil war. Constantine on the other hadattempted to unify the empire by relocating the capital to Byzantium(Ermatinger 60).
Unanticipatedproblems in imperial era
Theimperial period began with Augustine’s death and arguably extendeduntil the fall of the western empire. It was during the imperial erathat Rome continued to experience stability and growth. The civilwars that had divided Rome for over 30 years came to an end with therise of Augustus. As a result, the Roman Economy thrived becausethere were no major invasions or severe internal unrest. However,unanticipated problems such as the slow decline of Roman Empireexisted. For many years, strong and effective leadership hadcharacterized Rome. But with time leaders became ineffective and Romestarted to rot within. The military, which previously had been asource of pride for the empire, started electing dictators who werevery corrupt. Furthermore, during this imperial era the barbariansbegan to get stronger. Ultimately, it started to slowly decline asthe division between the rich and the poor grewwider.Onthe other hand, Rome’s military had been ranked top in the ancientworld, but this changed as the Roman Empire declined. For instanceforeign soldiers had been hired to support the military by emperorssuch as Diocletian and Constantine. In fact, the Roman legions inthe end were made up of barbarians and Germanic Goths. Moreover, thebarbarians have been blamed for the collapse of Roman Empire. Thus,having a weakened military was one of the biggest challenges of lateRepublican Rome (Edmondson 96).
Duringthe reign of Emperor Diocletian Rome was divided into two since hebelieved that the empire had grown too big to handle. The division oflate Rome into two made governance of the empire more easily in theshort term, however, over time the East and West drifted apart andfailed to cooperate in combating external threats. Furthermore, thetwo regions quarreled over the available resources and military aid.Indeed, the empire faced administrative and logistical issues withthe governance of the vast territory. In this effect, communicationbecame hard and it struggled to organize adequate resources andsoldiers to defend its borders from the local rebellions as well asoutside threats. A huge part of the nation resources was utilized inthe military upkeep and this in turn left civil infrastructure intopoor condition (MarshallCavendish Reference 82).
Anotherproblem during the imperial era was the problem of succession.Historically, Augustus Caesar is attributed to an orderly governmentthat formed the basis for Rome expansion and prosperity over the nexttwo centuries. Indeed, some hailed him as the first Roman emperor whorestored the republic and considered a deity. Thus, as the firstleader of the imperial era, many of his successors emulated himbecause of the legacy he left. He had all the powers, honors andtitles bestowed to him and not hereditary. His policies hadfar-reaching impacts, but unanticipated problems emerged. Firstly,the two courts created as part of Augustus judicial innovation as asolution to the challenges facing the late Rome republic, had turnedinto tools of tyranny. During the Diocletian rule, the empire hadturned into an oriental monarchy that took the titles of Asiaticroyalty. On the other hand, the new imperial system of governancelacked a clear mechanism for power transmission. Therefore, thiscreated an unanticipated problem of succession and administration ofthe empire after his death in A.D.14. The lack of a constitutionalformula for succession was a major problem until the end of RomeEmpire. Additionally, despite the success of an Augustus system ofreforms to save the Empire, in the long run spelt the death ofrepresentative institutions.
Anotherproblem that faced the imperial era was a severe financial crisis, asa result of the constant wars, high taxation and inflation thatdeeply affected the Rome economy. The government heavy expendituresin administration, rewarding of the army and dealing with theinvasion took a huge toll on the economy. In fact, new legions andsalaries to the soldier had been increased by 200 percent by theseveran emperors. To pay these expenses, alongside the maintenance ofthe four courts, the number of the officers and other dependents,taxes had to be increased and this lead to the devaluation of thecurrency. Obviously, rampant inflation, devaluation of the Romancurrency had the most serious drawback to the Roman Empire.Throughout the imperial period, taxation was the only source of fundssince this society lacked debt financing and tools such as bonds didnot exist. The burden of taxation had become unendurable and theimperial tax collection was done in a haphazard and unfair way withthe army suffering the most. Under Diocletian, reorganization of thetax system had temporarily revived the empire, but overall, it washeaded for an inevitable downfall. Meanwhile, the coinage debasementand inflation during the third century had reduced the society intobartering of goods and services because of the debasement of theimperial coinage that was a more complex problem
Inconclusion, the Roman Empire crumbled after ranking, top as theworld’s greatest superpower for almost 500-years. This paper hasanalyzed the different serious challenges in the late Roman republic,including military problems, social problems and political issues.The Roman Empire had started to slowly decline in the third centuryas a result of the many issues such as disruption of trade by hostiletribes and Mediterranean Sea pirates, in addition to civil wars. Inaddition, the changes in the society, institutions and economic life,and later religious issues had profound and far-reaching consequencesin the decline of Roman Empire. The economy of this nation had overlyrelied on slaves to work on the fields. Obviously, the supply ofthese slaves began to diminish when expansion stopped. As a resultof the civil wars and destroying of the farm building, a majority ofsmall farmers migrated to Rome and joined the unemploymentproletariat. Furthermore, the land problem had become more complexbecause of the practice of leasing a part of the acquired territoryto the wealthiest individuals. After, the empire had enjoyed peaceand prosperity after Augustus ended the civil wars, eventually in the3rdcentury, it collapsed as economic challenges made it hard for Rome tofight with its enemies.
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