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Fall of the Roman Empire

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The Roman Empire flourished from 753 B.C.E until its collapse around 479 C.E (The Fall of the Roman Empire, 1). The reach of the Roman Empire stretched far beyond the borders and there are still parts of the society alive today. With the collapse of such a powerful and influential government there are many questions as to what caused the decline and collapse. There are several contributing factors when discussing the collapse of the Roman Empire. Some argue the reasoning for the decline is tied into the increasing popularity of Christianity as the official religion (The Fall of the Roman Empire, 1) while others argue the reason is due to the expansion of the barbarian forces deeper into Roman territory (Edgcombe,R, 1). There could be arguments made for both theories but it was a combination of poor leadership and turning from what Rome had stood for that helped with the decline.

The bigger a society becomes, the more it takes to control that society and maintain the style of living that is enjoyed by its citizens. During the golden age of the Roman Empire (98 - 180 B.C.E) Rome expanded and under the leadership of the 5 good emperors and the empire continued to thrive. But once Commodus took the throne from his father Marcus Aurelius the golden age had come to an end (Illustrated History of the Roman Empire). The Roman Empire went through a tumultuous period of emperors mismanaging finances, and being betrayed by their own guards for the highest bidder to take office (Ancient Rome, 2). This created an unstable government which was made even more unstable when the empire was split in half in order to manage it better. In 286 B.C.E Diocletian formally divided the empire into an East and West. Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus ruled the Eastern Empire with his seat stationed at Nicomedia while he appointed Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus ruler of the Western Empire (Illustrated History of the Roman Empire). The empire was divided even further with each half being split up and deputy emperors were appointed underneath Diocleatian and Maximian as the senior emperors. This system worked until the appointed rulers started to die off. When Constantius died during his reign as a deputy emperor his son was named his successor by the army. After this Maxentius, who was the son of Maximian the ruler of the Western Empire, declared himself the emperor and faced opposition (Illustrated History of the Roman Empire). After years of fighting Constantine finally defeated all opposition to the throne and took control as the single emperor over the entire Roman Empire.

The reasoning Christianity is blamed by some for the decline of the Roman Empire can be attributed to the fact that the religion was gaining notoriety while the empire was beginning its descent. The timing of the rise of Christianity and being blamed for the problems in the empire is raised by St. Augustine when he wrote The City of God (Herff, 5). Under the old Roman religion of multiple gods it was widely accepted that the gods must be pleased and if the gods are kept pleased then Rome and its people will flourish and be kept safe. If the gods are not pleased they will let the people know by allowing bad things to happen (Herff, 6). This line of thinking was used to make sense of things

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