Tuesday, July 05, 2011

How the Expansion of Rome Was the Start of the End for the Roman Empire

The story of Rome is one of adaptation. Rome lasted as an imperial power for about 800 years, but only because it kept changing. The early growth of Roman power sprang from a zealous and rapacious republicanism that eventually threatened to destroy the Republic itself. Unlike Athens, however, Rome restructured to resolve the tension between Republic and Empire. Subsequently, Rome began to resemble the Persia of Cyrus and Darius in the measures it took to cope with its increasing size and multiculturalism. In the end, the extension of Roman citizenship made it hard to continue speaking of an empire at all.

After 1200 BCE, the eastern Mediterranean entered a dark age and tribes from around the Danube overran both Greece and Italy. Much of central Italy became settled by Latins. In the 8th century BCE, as a new Greece was forming, three Latin tribes came together as the Romans, in the hills around a crossing point on the River Tiber. Here they farmed pigs and traded salt from the mouth of the river. They had a king, who was advised by a council of 300 elders known as the senate.

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