The Roman Empire

The Roman Empire really started in around 14 A.D. with the rise of Octavian who later renamed himself Augustus.  Previously he had been part of the second triumvirate along with Antony and Lepidus.  This alliance eventually spawned civil war and distrust between the members.  Octavian came out of it the victor and became Rome’s first emperor.

With this new age concerning Roman government there became a unity among the empire that it had not seen since the time of Caesar.  The vast state of the Roman world was now being controlled by one man and one man alone.  This brought with it a greater organization within the empire.  The first emperor Augustus wanted to serve the collective interests of the people and follow the example Caesar had previously set.  He offered protection for the people of the empire and a unified governing body.  Augustus was also intelligent n the fact that he kept the same powers of the Republic but now all the powers held by multiple people were sanctioned for the use of one man.  Later in the history of the Roman empire there would also be a unifying of the people under the rule of Caracalla in 212 A.D. when everyone free person in the Mediterranean basin was acknowledged by Roman law as a citizen of the empire.  However, with all of these advantages of the empire there were also complications for the people.

The Roman citizens till the time of the empire were able to have a vote in the government about how it was run.  Now the empire turned into an oligarchy instead of a democracy.  The people’s freedom to vote was taken away from them; the reigning body now was the senate.  The empire also made it meaningless to serve on a jury.  The people could only get laws passed if the senate agreed that they should be passed.  There was also the problem of giving one person all the power to control everything.  There were magistrates but they were only in office for a couple of months so they never had time to gain too much control or power of the empire.  The aristocrats were the ones that were always superior and had the control.

For they’re to be security within the empire there had to be enough forces to be able to protect the empire in itself from invading forces.  The immense size of the empire made this feat a particular problem, especially in the time of Marcus Aurelius.  During his reign, he was faced with obstacles on two different fronts of the empire.  There was already a scarcity of troops and with the plague that wiped out about a quarter of the Roman population the number grew even less significant.  There was also a problem in the government concerning money and how to get it; Aurelius wanted to tax the people because he needed money to support the troops.  This caused inflation that would later affect future generations.

Now in the new day and age of the empire there was social mobility in the army.  The mobility of status all depended on talent and how well you served in the army.  The highest rank a soldier could go would to be a centurion and then you were eligible to serve in the imperial services.  This allowed people the ability to advance their position in life.

The empire was significantly different than the Roman Republic.  There were many factors that contributed to this change in the style of life; however, the empire was economically efficient in providing for itself for the next 250 years.  With the rise of the Visigoths, the empire was broken up into different provinces controlled by different groups.  The Roman Empire lost its mighty power and was split up between various factions.


~ by wolfangel87 on February 1, 2011.

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