How Did The Roman Empire Rise

How did the Roman Empire rise to power?

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One factor is that there was a certain appeal to the benefits of being in the Roman Empire. Once absorbed into the Roman Empire, people enjoyed a number of distinctly Roman things.

For starters, there was Roman technology. Throughout their empire, the Romans built such things as paved roads, aqueducts,...

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One factor is that there was a certain appeal to the benefits of being in the Roman Empire. Once absorbed into the Roman Empire, people enjoyed a number of distinctly Roman things.

For starters, there was Roman technology. Throughout their empire, the Romans built such things as paved roads, aqueducts, bathhouses, and advanced irrigation systems. Roman engineering was the envy of the known world and greatly improved the quality of life for those who had access to it.

People in the Roman provinces could also enjoy the protection of the Roman military. Rome was committed to protecting its territory. The power of its highly trained and well-equipped military attests to this. Being part of the Roman Empire meant that you were less likely to suffer a raid or attack from outside and could, therefore, feel safer overall. Furthermore, the military offered employment opportunities for provincials who may have been condemned to poverty otherwise.

Finally, the culture of Rome was very enticing to many people in the ancient world. Attending Roman games, exhibitions, and other public events was popular throughout the provinces. So was speaking Latin, receiving a Roman education, and worshipping the Roman gods. To many, being part of Roman society was a coveted position.

All these enticing benefits of being in the Roman Empire helped contribute to its rise. It mollified people who might otherwise have resented being conquered or ruled by an imperial power. As such, many populations that might otherwise have resisted the empire did not. In fact, they often helped spread its dominion even further.

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Rome is often described as an accidental empire in that its expansion was not originally part of a long-term strategic plan but rather a combination of organic growth and accident. The first major stage of expansion occurred as Rome came into conflict with the Etruscan civilization and eventually conquered it and began to expand within Italy during the fifth through third centuries BCE.

Another major element of the growth of the Roman Empire was the conflict between Rome and Carthage, a culture based in the region of modern Tunisia. As Rome grew in maritime strength and became a major trading nation in the Mediterranean, it came into conflict with Carthage, and during the period from 264 BCE to 146 BCE, it engaged in a series of three wars (the Punic Wars) with Carthage. Winning these wars gave Rome control of massive amounts of new territories, including much of North Africa and modern Spain.

The Roman conquest of Greece came at the end of the Punic Wars and was an outcome of diplomatic agreements between Rome and the Macedonian dynasty. The Roman conquest of Egypt was in a way an accidental side effect of Roman leaders enlisting Egyptian allies in an internal civil war in Rome. The expansion north into Gaul and Britain, as chronicled by Julius Caesar, stemmed from an effort to halt barbarian attacks from the north.

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The Roman Empire built its capacity early on by seeking to control the Mediterranean. Control of the sea earned Rome an increasing military and economic advantage. Rome’s naval power helped its growth by effectively fending off its enemies and providing the necessary security to ensure the economy thrived. Commercial goods were easily accessible, and trade was bolstered by the naval control. The military was also well equipped with advanced weapons such as siege machines. Thus, it has been suggested that the Romans were quite technologically advanced.

Rome also ensured it controlled factors of production in different foreign jurisdictions that were under its control. The Romans introduced a standard currency that was used during trade by the different regions. Food reserves and production institutions were also controlled from a central location. The situation was suitable for the entrenchment of hegemony because those in power used food and other social resources to divert the attention of the populace from political involvement.

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One key to its success was the "join the club" policy. Once taken by force, conquered people were entitled to a 'second-class' Roman citizenship, with partial rights and privileges (know as 'the Latin Right'). This discouraged insurrection of newly conquered territories and reinforced coorperation and adhesion to the group:

The granting of citizenship to the conquered and the allies was a vital step in the process of Romanization. This step was one of the most effective political tools and (at that point in history) original political ideas (perhaps one of the most important reasons for the success of Rome).

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The Roman Empire came, sadly, out of the slow decay of the Roman Republic.  The transformation was subtle and long-term; the key reason appears to be that the Roman Constitution was designed for the governance of Rome and her environs, and was undermined over time as Rome began to conquer overseas territories. The office of "Tribune of the People" became the key office in exploiting the spoils of foreign countries; factions vying for that office became corrupt in its attainment and execution. Because of the infighting and political stagnation, eventually one man consolidated enough power to become Emperor. Considering the United States in the world today and its disregard for its founding documents and focus on the all-powerful Office of the President, one can't help be struck with the similarities, and how history repeats itself, and if, in fact, the American Republic founded only a few hundred years ago is now the American Empire.  See a more detailed history of the Late Roman Republic at the link:

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The Roman Empire became a powerful ancient civilization first because of location and resources.  Italy being located right on the Mediterranean Sea and sandwiched between other powerful civilzations gave it a great abundance of resources and strength.  Also great leaders such as Julius Caesar that started to build Rome as a great city and empire by also focusing on military strength in order for Rome to conquer other great civilizations such as the Ottoman Empire.  Then you Have Augustus Octavian who brought Rome to a Golden Age, or Pax Romana.  This was a time when the Colosseum was built and there was peace among the whole empire.  Location, resources, and great leaders all contributed to the rise of the great Roman Empire.

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