The Fall Of The Roman Republic And The Rise Of The Roman Empire
The Roman Empire that we know today began as a small village in central Italy thousands of years ago. This once great nation went through many changes over its lifespan; from the Roman Republic and then to the Roman Empire. Due to several factors, the Roman Republic fell into a decline, and out of the ashes rose the Roman Empire. The Roman Republic fell into a decline due to the growing economic disparities between the rich and poor, regional expansion that weakened the economy, and the power struggles of political and military parties.
First off, great economic disparities further divided the people of the Roman Empire into select social classes based on wealth and status. Citizens of the Roman Empire were split into the rich and the poor. The widespread use of cheap slave labor played a major role in this problem. Small farmers and laborers couldn’t compete and quickly fell into debts, which the rich took advantage of, only exacerbating the problem. With all this cheap slave labor, wealthy owners of latifundias could produce massive amounts of grain for a small price. This again put stress on farmers and laborers and brought them to a tipping point. The market on grain nearly collapsed, as it was now sold at such a cheap price. Small farmers had to sell their land and thus their livelihoods. They moved to big cities like Rome and joined an already tense bunch of unemployed people. At this point, the situation was getting really bad; riots and protests followed caused great stress on the empire. The poor and unemployed got increasingly distrustful of the rich. The patricians and plebeians were divided and always at ends. The plebeians were fighting for equality and the patricians were frantically trying to control them. It sparked great political conflicts during the time of the Republic and threw it into a decline.
The Roman Empire’s regional expansion caused many economic issues at home. The Roman Empire’s many conquered territories and provinces were producing more commercial goods than could be produced at home in the heart of the empire. This caused the market value of goods like grain to drop dramatically. The Roman Republic suffered from something we today call globalization. Farmers and laborers in these provinces and territories were willing to sell their goods and services for much less than a citizen of the Republic would and thus caused an imbalance. Their standards were very different and threw the entire system off. As mentioned previously, farmers and laborers in the heart of the republic went bankrupt due to this and suffered great debts while the outsiders from Rome’s conquered territories and provinces were doing better than ever. Regional expansion and the economic issues were tied hand in hand. This again put even more stress on the Republic.
As the Romans conquered more and more territory in the name of the empire, they got richer and richer; trade and commerce flooded in from these new lands. Eventually, great economic disparities grew between people, dividing people by wealth and status, into the rich and poor. Generals of Rome’s legions gifted their soldiers with land and affluence for their service, these soldiers were loyal for this, however, they were not loyal to the government of the Roman Empire. Their loyalty was to their generals and it only went as far as that. Due to this, conflict would spark between the senate and these generals, a prime example of this is Caesar and his conquest of Rome. This ignited political power struggles between generals. This political strife ended up destroying the Republic.
In final analysis, the Roman Republic fell into a decline due to the growing economic disparities between the rich and poor, regional expansion that weakened the economy, and the power struggles of political and military parties. To review the key arguments made, great economic disparities further divided the rich and poor of the Roman Empire because of the widespread use of cheap slave labor on latifundia by the wealthy and upper class. This caused small farmers and manual laborers to lose their jobs and go bankrupt. On top of this, the Roman Empire’s regional expansion caused many economic issues at home. Cheap grain and other commercial goods flooded in from the Roman Empire’s newly conquered provinces and territories. This only exacerbated the issue, putting more stress on the already weakened economy. And finally, power struggles of political and military parties weakened the Roman Republic as a whole and gave their enemies a time to strike. The Roman Republic once held up honorable ideals but this decline led to widespread corruption in the Republic. War and power struggles between generals and political figures shook the foundations of the Roman Republic and was eventually its downfall, and thus the creation of the Roman Empire. However, even after all the damage done, following the rise of several “good” emperors, namely Augustus, the first emperor, made a great number of reforms to fix their broken state. After the defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, Augustus came home to a ruined state. He made financial reforms on tax and inheritance which stopped corruption and funded the Empire. But most importantly, he put forward several moral and reforms. Augustus was said to have looked down polygamy and adultry which at the time was the norm. He made several other controversial laws on marriage and divorce. In summation, Augustus was seen by many as the savior of Rome. Despite the controversy over some of his methods and laws, he still brought a much needed stability to the Republic and turned it into an empire during his reign. He stopped political strife by taking all the power for himself but kept balance by letting others believe they had power. Then again, he allowed many provinces and territories to govern themselves to a certain degree. Augustus is what made the Roman Empire what it was and brought it to greatness. He made tough decisions that had to be made so as to save the Roman people. He was the one who resolved the problems that forced the Roman Republic into a decline, he made his broken nation into one of the greatest empires in all of history.