The Roman Empire: How long will it last?


Title of Reading


What does this mean for the Roman Empire?

Political Factors

Galgacus: On Roman Imperialism


Romans rob, kill and loot when they conquer other lands.





Romans are exploiting resources and may run out if they don’t tend to their conquered lands.  People conquered by Rome are going to start loosing loyalty because of the way Rome treats them.

Herodian of Syria


Murder of the Emperor caused grief among the Romans, they looked for killer but no result.  People were afraid of further violence after Emperor died.  Senate also upset.


Romans are feeling unsettled because they don’t have a strong ruler.  Could mean that a pattern of killing unpopular rulers will continue.  Could also lead to political chaos and paranoia as people loose trust in government.  Murdering an Emperor could destabilize the power of Senate to be effective.

Egypt under the Roman Empire



Egypt is governed by a Roman governor and administrator.  Governor has the rank of King.



Provinces could get too much power and this could be problem for Roman unification.  Government in province could be more appealing to the people and thus also a threat to Roman unification.

Tacitus: The Principle of Adoption


Augustus wanted to pass on his reign to within his family, but Tacitus looks for next leader within the Senate based on their leadership qualities and elected by people.


Potential for power struggles if we don’t choose a qualified leader and if we have a precedent for “claims to the throne” based on family lineage.  Family member may not be a qualified leader.

Social Factors

Ammianus Marcellinus


People are the happiest when they have all the luxuries of life.


Had a lot of riches and goods, but if people only happy with luxuries, those without luxuries are not happy with Rome.  Could lead to social unrest.

Procopius: The Plague



Plague attacks everyone, rich or poor, it does not matter.





Plague create social unrest and people will start to question why the plague is happening and look to government to solve it.

Social Factors

Pliny the Elder



Wealthy philosopher dies and spends a fortune on his funeral to make people remember his importance and social status.





Illustrates the social inequities in Rome and could lead to further social unrest.  Opportunity for some of this money to help to poorer citizens of Rome.

The Manner of Roman Charity



A humble (Patrician) man gives money back money to help build housing and libraries for the poor.





People may question government – the government has had ample opportunity to resolve social inequities and now citizens are starting to solve Rome’s problems.

Economic Factors

How a Faithful Slave Should Act




Good slave put masters before themselves and are loyal.





Treatment of slaves may make slaves question their loyalty to Rome and revolt again.  Could mean slaves are not economically motivated to continue to work for Rome and their masters success.

Diodorus Siculus, Library




Slaves are getting fed up with the bad treatment.





Can lead to economic and social unrest and revolt.

Appian: The Civil Wars




Land won by war was taken over and given out to whoever wanted it.





Conflict between Roman soldiers and conquered people.  People who owned land loosing land leading to economic distress.

Militaristic Factors

Edward Gibbon: General Observation



Romans army is acquiring cruel tactics in battle and when managing a territory.





Citizens getting frustrated because of how the army is treating them.

Seneca: Epistles 7: The Gladiatorial Games



Entertainment (Gladiator Games) was violent and showed Romans valued violence and cruelty.   Mirrored the military actions.  Military captured slaves and prisoners to be Gladiators.






Rome teaching citizens that violence and cruelty is okay.  People could adopt this value and act to revolt.

Petition of the Araguenians on Official & Military Extortion




People in army came to the Plebians and ordered them to give over their tools, etc.






Only military getting rich while Plebians and farmers loosing land and work and becoming poor. 

Josephus: The Roman Army in the First Century



Soldiers are always training heavily nonstop. 






Shows they are extremely focused on their military and it is becoming powerful (may or may not be a good thing).



Religious Factors

Eusebius: The Conversion of Constantine



God is telling Constantine to use the cross for protection in battle.





Emperor will eventually convert to Christianity and declare it official religion in 313 AD.  This will help the religion spread.  People may question where the power of the military comes from and could leave military.

Diocletian: Edicts Against the Christians




Christians were being persecuted and burning Christian literature.






Could case unrest between those who believe in Christianity and those who do not.

Galerius and Constantine: Edicts of Toleration


Christianity is now more widely accepted – after 313 AD “Edict of Milan”


Christianity could become more popular and could pull people away from dedication to Roman Empire.

Cato, ‘On Agriculture’



Worshipping Jupiter, a Roman God and how you make sacrifices (COWS, offerings, etc)


132 AD.  Illustrates the unemotional aspect of Roman religion.  May be difficult for poor plebians to participate in the Roman required holidays because they don’t have $.

Outside Forces

Jordanese: History of the Goths


Goths traveled a long distance with supplies and destroyed cities along the way.


Goths (Germanic tribe) are outside force that attacks Rome and Asia.

Julius Caesar: The Germans


Another Germanic tribe fights Rome and wins.


Outside forces are becoming stronger than Rome and could destroy Empire.

Jordanes: An Account of the Person of Attila



Huns (Attila the Hun – Asian tribe) are uniting and they have a terrifying reputation.  Attila had conquered the Visigoths (German tribe)



Another outside force coming and threatening Rome – this force is Asia.

Leo I and Attila: Prosper: Account 1



Attila is now on his way to Rome; Emperor is going to go beg for peace.



Rome realized that they cannot fight off the Huns – shows the slow destruction of Rome.


Invasions in Rome : 350-500 AD