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Fall Of The Roman Empire

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Jason Schaeffer

English Composition I

Fridays 12:30 Ð'- 3:30


Cause and Effect Essay

The study of history is one of the most important aspects of our lives. The reason we look at our past is to get a better idea of where we are going. One of the most important events in our history was the fall of the Roman Empire. It is essential that the causes that lead to Rome's collapse be investigated, in this way we can compare them to our own civilization, and hopefully prevent our own extinction.

There are several aspects that lead to Rome's fall, all of which fit into four basic categories; political, military, economic, and spiritual. We will look at each of these individually, focusing on the largest points.

One of the problems facing the Roman military was a complete lack of manpower. To attempt to correct this Rome actively recruited from the various Germanic tribes. Eventually whole units, including the officer corps, were made up of Germans. This completely changed the identity of the Roman army, the professionalism and expertise that had existed for centuries would never again be present on the battlefield.

The Germanization of the army, as it is called, was a direct result of a loss of patriotism and civic duty on the part of the citizens of Rome. Extremely overbearing taxes, labor services, and state regulations imposed on the middle and lower classes, turned the state into the enemy. People no longer wanted to be recognized as being a citizen of Rome. This is a cause that affects us today; with unpopular wars, a corrupt and untrustworthy government, and no change to the issues that matter most, people no longer wish to support the state. Americans are the least patriotic that they have ever been, including during the Vietnam War. Most feel that the government and country are so far gone that it is pointless to even try.

During the first Gulf War, the United States Army had eighteen infantry divisions, now there are ten. To counter this problem, the U.S. government may attempt to solve two obstacles at once. One of the many proposed solutions has been to allow illegal aliens to serve in our military to attain citizenship. Thereby solving the militaries manpower issues as well as that of illegal immigration, however, what effect will there be on our military by having an entirely different culture serve in it?

Rome's problem was that the Germans did not undergo any type of Romanization; subsequently the Germans were unpatriotic towards Rome and became more a kin to mercenaries than loyal soldiers of the state. Currently individuals who seek citizenship, and who serve in the military to facilitate this process, have been Americanized, be that as it may, if thousands, or hundreds of thousands are recruited at once, who have undergone no type of Americanization, who barely speak our the English language, and have no particular loyalty to the country, whose only motivation is to be allowed to stay here, earn money to send back to their original country, then won't they also become nothing more than mercenaries?

Rome also suffered through several civil wars. There are two primary reasons for this; influential Generals used their armies to gain or capture the throne. This was done by either threatening the Senate with violence, or through attacking Rome itself. As problematic as this was, there was a much sinister decease that impacted Rome's throne, the Praetorian Guard.

The Praetorians were charged with protecting the Emperor, as well as the throne. Eventually realizing that they had power in this, as only they could successfully assassinate the Emperor, the Praetorian Guard started to auction off the throne to the highest bidder, making it very clear that they and they alone controlled who sat at the head of Rome's table. Consequently, Rome suffered through several incompetent Emperors, whose inability to lead affected Rome's very survival.

Thankfully, we do not have to worry about our Generals using their armies to try and take over the presidency, at least not yet. But it could be argued that corporate America's influence on politics is little different than the Praetorian Guard. They have several Senators and Congressmen in their back pockets, as well, as more than a few past and present Presidents. There have been several cases of possible intervention on behalf of candidates during elections, Florida in 2004 being a prime example. These are major problems that we have to watch for, after all, if the corporations control our leadership, then who speaks for the people?

The latifundia were another major issue that Rome had to face. They had a profound impact on both the economical as well as the political world of the Romans. "The growth of industries on latifundia, the large, fortified estates owned by wealthy aristocrats, promoted economic decentralization. Producing exclusively for the local market, the estates contributed to the impoverishment of urban centers by reducing the number of customers available to buy goods made in the cities. As life grew more desperate, urban craftsmen and small farmers, made destitute by the state, sought the protection of these large landlords, whose estates grew in size and importance." (Perry)"These great estates were also new centers of political power that the imperial government could not curb." (Perry) The latifundia destroyed the productivity of the cities as much as they shifted the power from the Senate and Emperor to the wealthy individual. They were also the founding principle for feudalism, a concept that would later



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