How important was currency inflation in Fall of Roman Empire?

How important was currency inflation in Fall of Roman Empire?


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Under Roman Republic one unskilled worker typically made one sestertius a day, and it was enough to keep up a modest life in ancient Rome back in the day. But I found data about Rome started to decrease the silver content of the coins denarii and sestertius, so they could mint it out of more common metals like bronze. So the value decreased significally.

Here is a quote

Like coinage of today, Ancient Rome's coins represented portions of larger denominations. The As, the basic unit, functioned like our penny. And like our penny, through inflation it experienced a loss of buying power. During the time of the Roman Republic, you could buy a loaf of bread for ½ As or a liter of wine for one As. A year's pay for a commander in the Roman army around 133 B.C. was 10-2/3 Asses, by Augustus' rule (27 B.C.-A.D. 14) 74 Denarii, and by the reign of Septimus Severus (A.D. 193-211), it rose to 1,500 Denarii.

source

So until Augustus the coin was relatively valuable, but in like 200 years it's value decreased significantly, which means roughly 2000% devaluation altogether.

source

As the chart shows, the Denarius finally lost most of it's value between 200-320 AD.

Note: the two sources are a little bit contradicting in dates, however whichever is true, the question still valid.

I listened a podcast from Stefan Molyneux (historian-philosopher) who blamed the debasing of currency as a main factor in fall of Rome. Is it accurate statement? Was it a symptom or cause?


It is fair to say it was a contributing factor. Often currency devaluations would take place to fund responses to other crisis. I.E. You are losing in a war in Parthia and need more troops but the treasury is looking thin. No problem! Sprinkle a little silver into those new gold coins… no one will notice, at least not right away.

Devaluations would slowly impact the confidence of the currency and add frictions to trade. In the Western Roman Empire this was less of a problem as there was no possible replacement to this currency. In the later history of the Eastern Empire consistent devaluations resulted in a switch by the European economy away from roman currency to florins. This has a significant impact on the Eastern Empires economy.


I'd say that inflation was the main cause of the of the fall of the Roman Empire. Except that the inflation itself was caused by something else. Every time an emperor died (and very few died of natural causes) there was a struggle for power and the army knew that they could simply kill any emperor that didn't give them what they wanted. Emperors had to keep giving more and more money to the army to appease them, so they just created more coins with less valuable metal in them. This lead to hyperinflation and the collapse of their currency. Then what really destroyed ancient Rome was around 300 AD the government started to only accept gold when collecting taxes, while still forcing everyone to use their bronze currency. So regular farmers had to pay tax on their land in gold but they didn't have any gold. So half the time they would try to sell their land or just abandon it and you had tons of fertile land just went fallow. Or they would fall into debt and become slaves to the few rich landowners who either had gold or had ways of getting around paying taxes. Or they would illegally join the mob of people who had nothing taxable. By the time the barbarians invaded there was very little left of roman society. Mostly everyone was a slave, and if you had any land you weren't allowed to sell it or leave. The invasion didn't actually change that much, just which feudal lord was in charge of you. Most of roman wealth was already plundered before any invaders arrived. Rome kept sending out all its gold by hiring barbarian mercenaries who only accepted gold for payment. You couldn't force them to use Roman currency or they would just leave. So why isn't this a more common thing in history where an army is too large and powerful that the king has to has to tax everyone to death to keep the army happy? Mostly because people in an army usually care about their country. In ancient Rome there were so many provinces and different people that were accepted as citizens just to collect taxes on them, and the army only cared about itself, it would frequently just pillage its own people.


Essay: Fall Of The Roman Empire

There were many reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire. Each one interweaved with the other. Many even blame the initiation of Christianity in 337 AD by Constantine the Great as the definitive cause while others blame it on increases in unemployment, inflation, military expenditure and slave labour while others blame it on the ethical issues such the decline in morals, the lack of discipline of the armies and the political corruption within the Empire. Three major contributions that led to the collapse of the once great empire were: the heavy military spending in order to expand the Empire, the over-reliance on slave labour which led to an increase in unemployment, and the political corruption and abuse of power by the Praetorian Guard leading to the unfair selection of many disreputable emperors and the assassination of those not favoured by the Guard.

One of the main reasons of the collapse of the Roman Empire was the over expenditure on the military to constantly fund wars abroad. In order for the Romans to invade and conquer other provinces they had to spend heavily on their legions. The Roman armies and supply lines became over-stretched resulting in thousands of soldiers being recruited and deployed from Rome into other territories as invaders or defenders. They also depended on soldiers to defend the borders of the lands they had conquered from barbarian attacks which resulted in the increased manufacturing of weapons and more money being spent on soldiers. High military spending left the Romans with very limited resources for other essential government projects such as the building of more public houses and the development of roads and aqueducts as well as leading to inflation. The over-expenditure on the military led the citizens of Rome to refuse the policies and laws enforced by the government and riots were commonplace in Rome during its last century. Due to the Roman citizens growing distrust of the Empire less people volunteered to join their armies which forced the military to hire common criminals and non-Roman mercenaries. The government raised taxes to aid their military expenditure which added to the low morale of the Roman population with every citizen losing a third of their weekly wage. The money raised to spend taxes was wasted on soldiers who constantly had to be replaced until the Romans could no longer afford to send large garrisons of troops abroad leaving their own borders poorly defended and vulnerable to attacks. The non-Roman mercenaries were too proud to serve a weakening empire and they began to conquer parts of the Empire as the Romans were unable to afford to send detachments and reserves to reclaim these areas. The city of Rome was left very poorly defended due to the deployment of troops to other provinces within the Empire which were defeated and taken by the barbarians making it considerably easier for them to conquer Rome. In order to ensure their loyalty, the wages of the soldiers were doubled and they were often promised discharge payments such as land or money. The military also spent loads of money on the transport of food and grain to ensure their soldiers were fed, horses were also vital, the roads and bridges needed to be repaired constantly and weapons also needed to be manufactured. The Romans believed that luxury interfered with discipline and failed to see that the soldiers would begin to live a more lavish lifestyle with the money they were promised. When the Romans spent their gold and silver in order to expand they failed to conquer any lands that would replace their depleted mines.
Another main cause leading to the demise of the Roman Empire was the dependency of the use of slave workers. The number of slave workers increased dramatically during the first two centuries of the Roman Empire. Rome’s dependency on slave labour led not only to a decline in morals, values and ethics but also the stagnation of new machinery to produce goods more efficiently and productively. The Romans were never short of slaves and treated them very sadistically which caused the slaves to revolt leading to a string of conflicts called the Servile Wars, the most famous one being the charge led by the gladiator slave, Spartacus. Common farmers who had to pay their workers could not afford to produce their goods at low prices and slavery was an ideal way to lower expenditure which saw a rapid increase in unemployment. During the last few centuries of the Roman Empire there was a massive rise in Christianity and the attitudes of slaves were changing and they were becoming socially accepted. Many of the slaves that Rome depended on were being freed lowering the production of goods and weapons, forcing the government to hire workers to be paid for a lot less work. The dependency of slave labour led to the Romans technology becoming inferior for the last 400 years of the Empire. They ultimately failed to provide enough goods for their increasing population and troops. They also failed to discover new ways of developing their technology or add to their income when invading other lands.

Political corruption was widespread throughout the Roman Empire but particularly in Rome and within the upper ranks of the Praetorian Guard. The superiority of the Praetorian Guard, which consisted of the most distinguished and decorated soldiers within the empire and personal bodyguards and counsel to the Emperor, led to the majority of the political corruption in the empire and grew to such an extent that the Praetorian Guard held secret meetings to conspire to overthrow the Emperor and to decide on who they saw as a suitable replacement. When the Emperor Tiberius was overthrown the Praetorian Guard auctioned the throne to the highest bidder for 100 years. Political corruption also led to many civil conflicts within the Roman Empire. The Romans failed to develop a suitable system to determine who the new emperor would be, unlike the Ancient Greeks before them who held elections. The decisions were made by the Senate, the Praetorian Guard and the army but in the end the Praetorian Guard had complete authority to choose the mew emperor who was often the person who offered the best reward to the Guard. For the majority of the 3rd century the title of the Emperor changed 37 times with 25 of them being removed by assassination and this contributed to the overall weaknesses, decline and the fall of the empire.
There is no definitive reason as to why the Roman Empire collapsed, if there was to be one defining factor I believe that the over-expenditure on military expansion as it put strain on the Roman government as it cost them many economic and military casualties as they were losing a load of money hiring soldiers to invade and often replace them when they died without gaining from the lands they conquered. In my opinion, this is the major factor pertaining to the collapse of the Roman Empire. The political corruption allowed the Praetorian Guard to be above the law and announce whoever they wanted as Emperor regardless of whether they were capable of the task. The dependence on slave labour caused high unemployment and the stagnation of technology for the last 400 years of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire is said to have completely collapsed when the German barbarians overthrew the last Emperor, Romulus Augustus in 476 and introduced a more democratic form of government which was very short-lived.

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When did the Roman Empire Fall?

The proposed dates for the fall of the Roman Empire span 1600 years. (Image: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock)

The Roman Empire was at its finest in the 2nd century AD. However, after a few centuries, this ancient superpower weakened, collapsed, and finally disappeared. Left behind in the dark squalor of the Middle Ages, the world seemed to have nothing remaining from that glory and sophistication. It seemed like the Roman Empire had taken with it all those golden achievements and civilization.

It would be surprising to see the collapse of one of the most powerful empires in history is so mysterious that no historian seems to be quite sure about it.

This is a transcript from the video series The Roman Empire: From Augustus to the Fall of Rome. Watch it now, on Wondrium.

Proposed Dates for the End of the Roman Empire

The earliest date suggested for the collapse of the Roman Empire is 31 BC, when the Battle of Actium happened. The advocates of this date believe that the defeat of Mark Antony by Octavian was the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic. It was at this point that things started to unravel for the Roman Empire. Another suggested date is 27 BC when the Principate was established. However, there is a consensus among historians that the switch from Republic to Empire did not hurt Roman civilization. Quite contrary, it continued to thrive and reached its peak one century later when the Five Good Emperors reigned.

It is the end of the reign of the Five Good Emperors that marks the most agreed-upon date for the Roman collapse. In 180 AD, the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius died, and his son Commodus took his place. The reign of this mentally unable emperor is a clear departure from the golden age of Rome, as it brought about many disastrous changes in the empire.

The Death of Marcus Aurelius marked the downward movement of the Roman Empire. (Image: Musée Saint-Raymond/CC BY-SA/3.0/Public domain)

A few decades after the death of Marcus Aurelius, the famous Crisis of the Third Century hit the empire. A succession of civil wars, incompetent governments, economic crises, inflation, devaluation of the currency, and repeated barbarian invasions plagued the empire.

The empire did stumble through the following years, but the irreversible downward movement of the empire started in 180 AD. Most historians agree on this date even the ancient Romans were aware that this date was a significant historical moment in the fate of their empire. About this major turning point, the Roman historian Cassius Dio said, “Our history now descends from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust.”

This downward movement was temporarily halted with the reign of Diocletian and other military emperors who were able to end the chaos, drive the barbarians out, and bring stability to the empire.

Constantine and His Conversion to Christianity

Constantine’s conversion to Christianity may have to the Roman Empire’s decline. (Image: NewTestLeper79/GFDL/Public domain)

The 4th century AD is the next frequently suggested date for the demise of the Roman Empire. At that time, civil wars broke out again. In 312, Constantine ended these civil wars and converted to Christianity as the first emperor ever to do so.

Constantine had significant influences throughout Roman history in at least two aspects. Christianity had a personal and inward-looking nature that was in sharp contrast with the outward and public focus of Roman civilization. Constantine’s conversion led to the demise of the Roman Empire because the values of Christianity replaced those of classical paganism.

Barbarian Invasions: A Significant Factor

Another factor used as a focus of suggested dates is the invasion of barbarian tribes that gained more intensity during the 4th century. One of the most critical events proposed as the possible date of the Roman collapse is 378 AD. In that year, Goths defeated and killed Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople. At this time, it became clear that the empire could not deal with the threat of barbarians. The Battle of Adrianople debunked the invincibility of the Roman Army.

The next possible date of the demise of Rome is 410 AD. King Alaric of the Visigoths attacked Italy and captured and sacked the city of Rome. The physical damage might have been insignificant, but the capture of the capital shattered the image of Rome, which was a turning point in the history of the empire. Another significant looting of Rome happened in 455 AD by Gaiseric and the Vandals. There was a third significant barbarian attack in 476 AD. During this invasion, Odoacer defeated Romulus Augustulus and declared himself as the King of Italy.

Common Questions about the Roman Empire’s Collapse

A few decades after the death of Marcus Aurelius, the famous Crisis of the Third Century hit the Roman Empire and a succession of civil wars, incompetent government, economic crisis, inflation, devaluation of the currency, and repeated barbarian invasions plagued the empire .

The death of Marcus Aurelius had a severe impact on the Roman Empire when his mentally unstable son Commodus took his place. But Diocletian and other military emperors managed to temporarily put off the fall of Rome .

Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 and ended civil wars plaguing the Roman Empire . He was the first emperor who converted to Christianity and contributed to its spread.

The Goths defeated and killed Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople. It marks the moment when it became clear that the Roman Empire could not deal with the threat of barbarians. The Battle of Adrianople debunked the invincibility of the Roman Army .


2. The Barbarians

As we see in Barbarians Rising both disgruntled Romans and members of Germanic tribes became 'Barbarians.' These were groups of militia and tribes that sought to overthrow the Romans and prevent them from further invading their lands. While it wasn't until AD 476 when Barbarian Odoacer disposed of Emperor Augustus, the Romans were plagued by the Barbarians for many decades leading up to this point.

Battles between the Romans and Barbarians were costly and demoralising for the Romans, and from a historian's view point very much symbolised the beginning of the end for Ancient Rome.


Roman Republic

The first Roman coin was the bronze as, introduced in 289 BC after the successful war with Samnium. It was heavy, weighing a full Roman pound (327,45 g, equal to 12 ounces).

1 as = 2 semis = 3 quadrans = 6 sextans = 12 uncia

The first silver coin was the didrachm, introduced 269 BC after victory in war with Tarentum and Pyrrhus - Rome controlled Samnium, Lucania and Bruttium, practically all of Italy, leading to the conflict with Carthago. The wealth gained in the war made a silver currency possible, though the coins with a Greek-Italic design were probably made for the conquered lands, which were using Greek drachmas for centuries. In 241 the war with Carthago brought Sicily under control. In 235 BC were the unwieldy bronze coins reduced to a half weight with the same nominal value, turning them into credit coins.

Italy is poor in precious metal ores. The Apennines had no metals. Most important were the deposits in Tuscany, mainly with iron, copper and tin, little silver and no gold. Only in Bruttium was a significant amount of silver.

Rome was the official place to mint coins, only Imperators were allowed to coin outside of Rome. Gold coins are rare until Caesar's times, mostly made by Imperators (Sulla, Sextus Pompeius).

The Second Punic War was led mainly for Hispania (Spain), among other things for its wealth in gold and silver. After the terrible defeat at Cannae followed the reduction of the as to 4 ounces. In 201 BC was Carthago defeated and Hispania finally became a colony. Rome could pursue numerous wars in the east, by 148 BC were Macedonia and Greece turned into provinces.

In 187 BC were introduced actual Roman silver coins with the denarius. 1 pound of silver was divided into 72 denarii, weighing 4,55 g. A denar was 10 as, which was reduced to the weight of the old sextant of two ounces (54 g). ΐ]


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Comments

Gary on March 27, 2015:

apparently you do not understand our constitution or what sovereignty is. Why would we give up our national sovereignty to some world power greater than the United Nations?? You think other people outside the United States should be making decisions for us. That&aposs insanity!!

Flemming on March 05, 2015:

Compare roman Empire to USA now like the text say romans invaded other countryes romanize Them USA do not and romans only conquered the known World of that time but they didn&apost come near india and china WHO also had a okay greath civilisation at that time

Need help homework due tomorrow on April 06, 2014:

Okay well my teacher made me and my class do this essential question. She made us right down, "How does Ancient Rome compare to the United States regarding its influence around the world?" She said to use our text books but it doesn&apost explain anything like the question asks and it doesn&apost help at all. So somebody smart please help me with this. Thanks

richard Ahern on March 04, 2014:

Our Founders also told us that self discipline and absence of excesses is paramount to maintain a Constitutional Republic. Honesty, fairness, morality are the foundations for freedom. If the people do not have these characteristics, the representatives in government will also lack them. The excesses of our freedom have created single parent families, drug abuse, shocking crime rates, and degeneration in our standard of morality

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" Hosea 4:6

Reclaiming America&aposs Christian Ethics

Learn that America is not a democracy, but a republic and way they differ.

Richard on February 12, 2014:

Our forefathers also told us that self discipline and absence of excesses is paramount to maintain a Constitutional Republic. Honesty, fairness, and morality are the foundations for freedom. If the people do not have these characteristics, the representatives in government will also lack them. The excesses of our freedom have created single parent families, drug abuse, shocking crime rates, human trafficking, and degeneration in our standard of morality

Historical Observer on November 01, 2013:

The fall of the Roman Empire was primarily due to a total abuse of government and class power and an absolute total lack of morality. The US is exactly following those directions.

Zooloot.com from Europe on October 18, 2013:

It&aposs not the nation that falls but the ideals. America has become a victim of its own greed as most societies that bask in the spoils of their success naturally migrate towards.

Both societies aspired to unify nations and both became victims of their passive political views and of course the wealth of their nations.

America WAS a wealthy nation and &aposdoesn&apost yet realise it&apos but have been saved by the rise of China. China on the other hand, is set on a different agenda. It is currently bolstering its war machine. "To protect itself". This is more of a Roman strategy. "All in the name of defending our great nation". The problems start when someone &aposappears&apos to challenge that. Then the arrogant gesturing and show of power wrist slapping turns into all hell breaking loose.

From what I see, America is taking a passive role on the world stage as they firmly stand between the fights. And as a result can expect to take a punch in the face from a few flailing fists from time to time.

I just hope they are ready when the gloves come off in the fight for control of the African nations. Seen by many of the players as a resource rich territory worth fighting for. This rumble in the jungle may pack a bigger punch than a few flailing arms. And the world will once again balance the status quo in the arms of yet another dictatorship with the biggest fists and the most passionate and powerful ground forces. No guesses to who that is at the moment.

What a lot of people didn&apost even notice, was that the last great war was a financial one. Surprisingly America came out smelling of roses. But China now knows the truth about how it was instrumented. Trust was the price America paid. China and Russia now have an alliance that will never let that happen again )

It is worth remembering what lengths nations will go to to defend their territories. During the cold war Russia created a doomsday program on the grounds that "If we can&apost have it, then nobody will". Lets hope we never get a crazy highly charged &aposindividual&apos with those views running one of these superpowers, ever again.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on October 16, 2013:

conradfontanilla: I concur and completely agree and the direction we are going appears that we are parallel which is not a good sign.

conradofontanilla from Philippines on October 14, 2013:

Perhaps it is not premature that an American started plans to make the White House a museum of American history. The strength of USA comes from the federal system. Absent the federal system and USA will be dismembered.

Jeffrey witt on October 14, 2013:

What do you think if The United States declines? Will it be as devestating as the Fall of the Roman Empire? Would somebody send me a repky? Will we be in another Dark Age?

jon on September 28, 2013:

I found this artistic expression of the demise of the usa empire - http://youtu.be/TT4gRkGBsXg

Richard Ahern on July 21, 2013:

The United States will fall within, because of its greed and power and Dictatorship.

We have become the cesspool that is in place to day

Benjamin Franklin" "Man will ultimately be governed by GOD or tyrants." (Question: Which is it that governs us today?

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on May 01, 2013:

Mike: Why would you say such a thing? All of us understand its going in that direction but are you American?

Mike on April 27, 2013:

I hope that the American Empire collaspe soon.That will be great news

Futamarka on March 23, 2013:

BlulgeTus on March 07, 2013:

When i accustomed to acquire on top of lifetime although of late I have piled up some sort of weight.

bill on February 19, 2013:

Rome and US more similar than alike. Just as Rome lapsed into a dictatorship in its last days so to will the US. Mark my words, the US will become a tyrant dictator before its final demise.

KP on February 04, 2013:

Interesting article, bur inaccurate in multiple accounts. The internet was not designed as military tool as stated above. It was invented initially for Universities to share academic research material. Secondly it states we, the U.S., unlike Rome does not set up colonies with ruling consuls. We don&apost do exactly that. Instead historically we set up governments in foreign nations that are friendly to U.S. business needs. Often times ruthless dictators who grow fat on corruption within their own governments. This great mistake is today being recognized. You need to look no further than Batista in Cuba, or Shah Pahlavi in Iran. Clearly these were mistakes, and I do believe our modern foreign policy has evolved. Still the hoards of Americans who know more about dimwitted narcissus on reality TV than our own political policy do not bode well for our future as a nation. Rome stood for 2000 years we have only stood for 237 years thus far. I hope that we can recall our intellectual roots than spawned our noble intent.

Haija on January 08, 2013:

Rome is evil Rome has an o which can be split into three triangles a triangle upside down makes stars stars upside down means devil sign thus Rome is evil. woman logic

Justin on December 06, 2012:

That&aposs not why Rome fell you moron. Rome fell from within. When its Economy crippled, due to bail-out plans and it&aposs attempt to "spread the wealth." Rome&aposs republic fell into a democracy, then degenerated into tyranny. Corrupt leaders seeked power and rise to power by giving and supplying to the poor. They slowly took power away from their people and gave it to the senate and Emperor. That&aposs why Rome fell.

Sagittarius 2012 from Canada on September 25, 2012:

AE, there were some events that lead to the fall of  the Western Roman Empire, many people are not aware of.

The Burning of Rome, 64 AD

During the night of July 18, 64 AD, fire broke out in the merchant area of the city of Rome. Fanned by summer winds, the flames quickly spread through the dry, wooden structures of the Imperial City. Soon the fire took on a life of its own consuming all in its path for six days and seven nights. When the conflagration finally ran its course it left seventy percent of the city in smoldering ruins.

Rumors soon arose accusing the Emperor Nero of ordering the torching of the city and standing on the summit of the Palatine playing his lyre as flames devoured the world around him. These rumors have never been confirmed. 

In fact, Nero rushed to Rome from his palace in Antium (Anzio) and ran about the city all that first night without his guards directing efforts to quell the blaze. But the rumors persisted and the Emperor looked for a scapegoat. 

He found it in the Christians, at that time a rather obscure religious sect with a small following in the city. To appease the masses, Nero literally had his victims fed to the lions during giant spectacles held in the city&aposs remaining amphitheater.

Emperor Nero&aposs jewish wife.

In the ninth year of his government, Claudius commanded all Jews to leave Rome because, according to the evidence of Flavius Josephus, they had caused Agrippina, his wife, to take on Jewish customs or also, as Suetonius writes, because frequent upheavals gave the impetus to the persecutions of Christians.

One sees that the pagan Emperor Claudius was tolerant in the extreme towards Christians. When he became tired of the mutinies that the Jews caused, he expelled them from the city of Rome. The Acts of the Apostles also report this expulsion.

One sees here the Jewish tendency to cause their influence to rise up to the steps of the throne, by their controlling the Empress in order to exert influence on the Emperor. 

In so doing, they held to the completely distorted teachings of the Biblical book of Esther, giving this an ambitious interpretation. Esther, a Jewess, was successful in transforming herself into the Queen of Persia and in exercising a decisive influence on the King, in order to destroy the enemies of the Israelites.

However, in the case of the Emperor Claudius, the attempt openly failed, which did not occur with Nero, with whom it was successful in bringing close to him a Jewess named Poppaea, who soon transformed into the lover of the Emperor, and, according to some Hebrew chronicles, into the real Empress of Rome. 

This jewish empress was successful in exercising a decisive influence upon this ruler.

Tertullian, one of the Church Fathers, says in his work “Scorpiase”: “The synagogues are the places from whence the persecutions against Christians emanate.” And in his book � Nationes”, the same Tertullian writes: 𠇏rom the Jews come the slanders against the Christians.”

During the rule of Nero, tolerance at first reigned towards the Christians however, the Emperor finally gave way to the persistent intrigues of his Jewish lover Poppaea, who is described as the originator of the idea of laying the blame for setting fire to the city of Rome upon the Christians, based on which the first cruel persecution of Christians that was carried out by the Roman Empire was justified.

 Re: Emperor Nero&aposs jewish wife.

In order to defend the truth, we will quote the reliable evidence of an authorised Jewish source: 

“Rabbi Wiener, who, in his work “The Jewish Food Laws”, confesses that the Jews were the instigators of the Christian persecutions in Rome, observed that under the rule of Nero, in the year 65 of our calendar, when Rome had the Jewess Poppaea as Empress and a Jew as prefect of the city, 

 the era of martyrs began which was to extend for over 249 years.”

In these instigations of the Hebrews to call forth the Roman persecutions against Christianity, participated even those Rabbis outstanding in the history of the synagogue, such as the famed “Rabbi Jehuda, one of the authors of the Talmud (the sacred books and the source of the religion of modern Jewry), who  was successful in the year 155 of our calendar in obtaining a command, according to which all Christians of Rome were to be sacrificed, and on the grounds of which many thousands were killed. The executioners of the martyrs and Popes, Cayo and Marcelino were in fact Jews.”

During three centuries, the Christians showed heroic resistance, without answering violence with violence. 

In fact it is understandable that, after three centuries of persecutions, when Christianity had gained a complete victory in the Roman Empire through the conversion of Constantine and the acceptance of the Christian religion as the state religion, that it was finally decided to answer violence with violence, in order to defend the victorious Church – as well as the peoples who had placed their faith in it and who also saw themselves continually threatened by the destructive and annihilating activity of Jewish imperialism – against the lasting conspiracies of Jewry.

In his book Die Brand Roms, German scholar Gerhard Baudy argues that Christians really did burn Rome in 64 AD, as Nero charged. However, he cites in a footnote a modified argument -- that:

Messianic Jews ("Apostle&aposs" Paul&aposs Christianity) burned Rome in64 AD, and that Empress Poppaea Sabina "deflected" Rome&aposs invesetigation from those Jewish Zealots to the "Christians" (who were followers of Apostole Peter, and believed Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah).

Messianic Jewish Zealots, Paul&aposs Christianity, torched Rome in 64 AD, and the Jewish Empress steered the investigation away from the Zealots towards the hated by Jews, Christians. 

Unable at first to discern one Messianic Christian Jewish sect from Peter&aposs Christianity, Nero went along.

Sagittarius 2012 from Canada on September 24, 2012:

AE, there were some events that lead to the fall of  the Western Roman Empire, many people are not aware.

The Burning of Rome, 64 AD

During the night of July 18, 64 AD, fire broke out in the merchant area of the city of Rome. Fanned by summer winds, the flames quickly spread through the dry, wooden structures of the Imperial City. Soon the fire took on a life of its own consuming all in its path for six days and seven nights. When the conflagration finally ran its course it left seventy percent of the city in smoldering ruins.

Rumors soon arose accusing the Emperor Nero of ordering the torching of the city and standing on the summit of the Palatine playing his lyre as flames devoured the world around him. These rumors have never been confirmed. 

In fact, Nero rushed to Rome from his palace in Antium (Anzio) and ran about the city all that first night without his guards directing efforts to quell the blaze. But the rumors persisted and the Emperor looked for a scapegoat. 

He found it in the Christians, at that time a rather obscure religious sect with a small following in the city. To appease the masses, Nero literally had his victims fed to the lions during giant spectacles held in the city&aposs remaining amphitheater.

Emperor Nero&aposs jewish wife.

In the ninth year of his government, Claudius commanded all Jews to leave Rome because, according to the evidence of Flavius Josephus, they had caused Agrippina, his wife, to take on Jewish customs or also, as Suetonius writes, because frequent upheavals gave the impetus to the persecutions of Christians.

One sees that the pagan Emperor Claudius was tolerant in the extreme towards Christians. When he became tired of the mutinies that the Jews caused, he expelled them from the city of Rome. The Acts of the Apostles also report this expulsion.

One sees here the Jewish tendency to cause their influence to rise up to the steps of the throne, by their controlling the Empress in order to exert influence on the Emperor. 

In so doing, they held to the completely distorted teachings of the Biblical book of Esther, giving this an ambitious interpretation. Esther, a Jewess, was successful in transforming herself into the Queen of Persia and in exercising a decisive influence on the King, in order to destroy the enemies of the Israelites.

However, in the case of the Emperor Claudius, the attempt openly failed, which did not occur with Nero, with whom it was successful in bringing close to him a Jewess named Poppaea, who soon transformed into the lover of the Emperor, and, according to some Hebrew chronicles, into the real Empress of Rome. 

This jewish empress was successful in exercising a decisive influence upon this ruler.

Tertullian, one of the Church Fathers, says in his work “Scorpiase”: “The synagogues are the places from whence the persecutions against Christians emanate.” And in his book � Nationes”, the same Tertullian writes: 𠇏rom the Jews come the slanders against the Christians.”

During the rule of Nero, tolerance at first reigned towards the Christians however, the Emperor finally gave way to the persistent intrigues of his Jewish lover Poppaea, who is described as the originator of the idea of laying the blame for setting fire to the city of Rome upon the Christians, based on which the first cruel persecution of Christians that was carried out by the Roman Empire was justified.

 Re: Emperor Nero&aposs jewish wife.

In order to defend the truth, we will quote the reliable evidence of an authorised Jewish source: 

“Rabbi Wiener, who, in his work “The Jewish Food Laws”, confesses that the Jews were the instigators of the Christian persecutions in Rome, observed that under the rule of Nero, in the year 65 of our calendar, when Rome had the Jewess Poppaea as Empress and a Jew as prefect of the city, 

 the era of martyrs began which was to extend for over 249 years.”

In these instigations of the Hebrews to call forth the Roman persecutions against Christianity, participated even those Rabbis outstanding in the history of the synagogue, such as the famed “Rabbi Jehuda, one of the authors of the Talmud (the sacred books and the source of the religion of modern Jewry), who  was successful in the year 155 of our calendar in obtaining a command, according to which all Christians of Rome were to be sacrificed, and on the grounds of which many thousands were killed. The executioners of the martyrs and Popes, Cayo and Marcelino were in fact Jews.”

During three centuries, the Christians showed heroic resistance, without answering violence with violence. 

In fact it is understandable that, after three centuries of persecutions, when Christianity had gained a complete victory in the Roman Empire through the conversion of Constantine and the acceptance of the Christian religion as the state religion, that it was finally decided to answer violence with violence, in order to defend the victorious Church – as well as the peoples who had placed their faith in it and who also saw themselves continually threatened by the destructive and annihilating activity of Jewish imperialism – against the lasting conspiracies of Jewry.

In his book Die Brand Roms, German scholar Gerhard Baudy argues that Christians really did burn Rome in 64 AD, as Nero charged. However, he cites in a footnote a modified argument -- that:

Messianic Jews ("Apostle&aposs" Paul&aposs Christianity) burned Rome in64 AD, and that Empress Poppaea Sabina "deflected" Rome&aposs invesetigation from those Jewish Zealots to the "Christians" (who were followers of Apostole Peter, and believed Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah).

Messianic Jewish Zealots, Paul&aposs Christianity, torched Rome in 64 AD, and the Jewish Empress steered the investigation away from the Zealots towards the hated by Jews, Christians. 

Unable at first to discern one Messianic Christian Jewish sect from Peter&aposs Christianity, Nero went along.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on September 24, 2012:

Dan: It&aposs honestly depressing to see which direction we are taking and nobody is paying attention

but they few who are analyzing the entire situation and watching everything play out. :)

Dan on September 24, 2012:

Its really not amazing human nature hasnt changed and will never change as long as they exist. The U.S. and Roman are truly destined to the same fate. What is amazing is the fact that people feel that its different. Its insane to do the same things as the romans and expect that it will turn out differently. The facts that made America a great nations was that it was a great nation.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on August 08, 2012:

Souffle: Thank you so much. Glad you found it. :)

Souffle on August 08, 2012:

I google but I don&apost often comment. I liked what you wrote.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on June 24, 2012:

SantaCruz: Thank you so much! It is an interesting topic and I enjoyed writing about it in College and finally sharing it here.:)

SantaCruz from Santa Cruz, CA on June 24, 2012:

Fascinating question! I&aposve been thinking about this since 5th grade history class. Both nations call(ed) themselves democratic but were not truly. It would be interesting to see how power dynamics within the societies are the same or different. Cool hub, voted up!

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on June 23, 2012:

blake4d: Thank you so much. Alarmingly this was written when I was in College and it is rather eerie to me. Who would have thought when I was a freshman in College 22 years ago and right out of High School we would be so parallel.

blake4d on June 23, 2012:

Excellent topic and one that I have many, many opinions about. But I will perhaps come and comment again later. In essence I agree with the concept and ideas behind this hub. And I can see it has sparked much commentary. Either way, you and I share many concepts of truth from our vastly different perspectives. Love you work as always AE. Keep on Hubbing. Blake4d

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on June 10, 2012:

Julius Ceasar on June 10, 2012:

AEvans, u sound interesting

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on May 07, 2012:

LetitiaFT: One may never know but I hope that I am not here should that ever happen.

LetitiaFT from Paris via California on May 07, 2012:

I have often thought about the parallel between today&aposs multinationals and the Roman Latifundia. Even bread & games may come to pass.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on April 07, 2012:

Giuliano: We are parallel and thank you for crediting my intelligence and thank you for the compliment. Yes its me. :)

Giuliano on April 07, 2012:

1st of all America is the new roman empire, and europe seems then to be then greece( which the ancient romans always have respectet, but also seen as weak in military sence and again we have a parralel to nowadays)

2nd Aevans this aricel is great, u didnt are only very(if this is your real pic) pretty you are also smart

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on April 02, 2012:

Ben: You cannot place all of us Americans into one large pot. Not all of us kill people. I believe your referencing the man in the Army. Millions of us in the United States was shocked ourselves. Not all of us kill each other so I am offended that you would even make that statement.

There are millions of us who are loving, caring, people and a mere handful who are cruel and inhumane.

ben on April 02, 2012:

America isn&apost a world empire in any sense of the word! You aren&apost &aposa People&apos in any sense of the word- you kill each other as often as you kill &aposforeigners&apos

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on March 16, 2012:

conradoffontanilla: I agree that history belongs in humanities and not science. Not of it is scientific fact, it is history. Amazingly the history just continues to be written.

conradofontanilla from Philippines on March 16, 2012:

Drawing parallelism in history is based on the concept that history as a whole is scientific. Therefore, historical laws can be drawn and applied. However, history belongs in the humanities, not to science. Science can be applied in the statement of facts in the past and the present, like: "General Beauregard ordered the bombarding of Fort Sumter that started the American Civil War."

On many occasions in the past political parties in America subverted democracy, meaning what most Americans wanted. For example, matters pertaining to Korea in the 1940s and 1950s. Did most Americans want to make the Japanese army serve as administrators in South Korea while the American Military Group had not yet installed themselves there? Most probably not most of them did not know what was happening in Korea. Did the Americans want that an election in South Korea be held and set up a government for South Korea alone? Most probably not. But the Democrats (President Truman) ordered the occupation of South Korea and the holding of a separate election there that installed Syngman Rhee as president. Did most Americans want their country to land armed forces in South Korea and fight for the South Koreans? Most likely not. Yet the Republicans led the landing of American forces in Korea and fought for the South Koreans.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on March 15, 2012:

sagittarius2012: Yes there is and thank you for the links for additional information. :)

Sagittarius 2012 from Canada on March 15, 2012:

There is much more to learn ꂫout Roman Empire then we have been told at school.

"The Roman army succeeded in conquering a vast collection of territories covering the entire Mediterranean region and much of coastal regions of South-Western European and northern African. These territories consisted of many different cultural groups, ranging from primitive to highly sophisticated. 

Generally speaking, the eastern Mediterranean provinces were more urbanised and socially developed, having previously been united under the Macedonian Empire and hellenised by the influence of Greek culture. In contrast, the western regions had mostly remained independent from any single cultural or political authority, and were still largely rural and less developed. 

This distinction between the established Hellenised East and the younger Latinised West persisted and became increasingly important in later centuries, leading to a gradual estrangement of the two worlds.[21]

Division of the Roman Empire

See also: Byzantium under the Constantinian and Valentinian dynasties

In 293, Diocletian created a new administrative system (the tetrarchy), in order to guarantee security in all endangered regions of his Empire. He associated himself with a co-emperor (Augustus), who was then to adopt a young colleague given the title of Caesar, to share in their rule and eventually to succeed the senior partner. The tetrarchy collapsed, however, in 313 and a few years later Constantine I reunited the two halves of the Empire as sole Augustus.[22]

In 330, Constantine moved the seat of the Empire to Constantinople, which he founded as a second Rome on the site of Byzantium, a city well-positioned astride the trade routes between East and West. 

Constantine introduced important changes into the Empire&aposs military, monetary, civil and religious institutions. As regards his economic policies in particular, he has been accused by certain scholars of "reckless fiscality", but the gold solidus he introduced became a stable currency that transformed the economy and promoted development.[23]

Under Constantine, Christianity did not become the exclusive religion of the state, but enjoyed imperial preference, because the emperor supported it with generous privileges. "

The western part of Roman Empire was lost to Visigots and Vandals (the lost tribes of Israel) who sucked Rome, however, as empire, the Roman Empire had prospered for another eight hundred years.

Constantine has moved  Roman capitol to Byzantium, later known as Konstantinopol (present Isatanbul). 

After  Rome was sacked by Vandals, the Roman Empire with its capital of Constantinople,  prosper until the Fourth Crusade (1202�) .

The Fourth Crusade, which was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt was organized by Rome run by Vandals.

Instead of attacking Jerusalem, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and conquered the Christian ਌ity of Constantinople, capital of the new Roman Empire. 

This is seen as one of the final acts in the Great Schism between the Roman Christian Church of Constantinople ਊnd Roman Vandal Church of Rome.

The great historian of the Crusades, Sir Steven Runciman, wrote that the sack of Constantinople is “unparalleled in history”.

𠇏or nine centuries,” he goes on, “the great city had been the capital of Christian civilisation. It was filled with works of art that had survived from ancient Greece and with the masterpieces of its own exquisite craftsmen.

The Venetians wherever they could seized treasures and carried them off. 

But the Frenchmen and Flemings were filled with a lust for destruction:

they rushed in a howling mob down the streets and through the houses, snatching up everything that glittered and destroying whatever they could not carry, pausing only to murder or to rape, or to break open the wine-cellars. 

Neither monasteries nor churches nor libraries were spared. 

In St Sophia itself drunken soldiers could be seen tearing down the silken hangings and pulling the silver iconostasis to pieces, while sacred books and icons were trampled under foot. 

While they drank from the altar-vessels a prostitute sang a ribald French song on the Patriarch’s throne. Nuns were ravished in their convents.

Palaces and hovels alike were wrecked. Wounded women and children lay dying in the streets. 

For three days the ghastly scenes continued until the huge and beautiful city was a shambles. Even after order was restored, citizens were tortured to make them reveal treasures they had hidden.

For the next half-century, Constantinople was the seat of the Latin Empire.

In 1347, the Black Death spread to Constantinople.[38] In 1453, when the Ottoman Turks captured the city, it contained approximately 50,000 people.[39]

Ottoman Turks were the Khazars, the lost 10 tribes of Israel which were entirely taken away by the Assyrians to be placed across the Caucasus Mountains. 

Then came the Jewish genocide of Armenian Christians in 1915 

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on February 24, 2012:

Glad you appreciated the article.

Patrick on February 24, 2012:

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on February 05, 2012:

conradfontanilla: They have found ways to subvert, which ones do you think they have subverted?

conradofontanilla from Philippines on February 05, 2012:

There are two seats of power in the USA: the presidency and the Federal Reserve Bank. The president cannot mint coins without the approval of the Fed. Political parties have found ways to subvert democracy.

jane doe on January 30, 2012:

yes mexico will overun usa becuase in American Dad ther an episode about the same topic of mexico :0

charleton on January 30, 2012:

I agree with what this says. With how the ecomony is right now we are basically done for. Also jane doe. That will never happen, ever

rytygiuhiljohugyfd on January 30, 2012:

yes robert i agre with you :) :) is true

and jane doe you are crazy.

jane doe on January 30, 2012:

it is true that ameroca will get destroy like the roman empire. In 100 year us will get overun by mexico :0

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on January 27, 2012:

The US will be an interesting side note. It is going to be interesting on how all of this plays out. Thank you so much for your thoughts on this parallel situation.

RW on January 27, 2012:

Rome was a super power for HUNDREDS of years. The US has only been a "super power" for about 66 years. There are two primary reasons that the US even became a super power. First, geography. There are a few new world countries based on immigration and democracy. The only trump card the US held was arable land. Second, WWII. All of the major competitors to being a super power had their infrastructure and economic engines bombed to oblivion in WWII. This allowed the US to leap frog other economies in the 50&aposs 60&aposs and coast into into the 70&aposs. By the 80&aposs Japan and Germany began catching up. Finally, the US was so worried about creating a constitution that would prevent a king that it created a constitution that has become unworkable (effectively, tough but necessary decisions can not be made). Long term, the US will be a very interesting side note.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on January 11, 2012:

Shawna: Thank you I appreciate your comment. The majority is highly educated, so considering you believe there are gaping holes, please feel us in on your opinion. :)

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on January 07, 2012:

ecoggins: That is a good one. I agree that we are on a spiral downturn and I hope that something will be done.

mmhr: I agree! Those are similar. Sadly I don&apost know if our Country is paying attention.

Bob Marshall: They sure did and so does ours. So much similarity it is scary.

Exarkun631: Those are also amazing!

ecoggins from Corona, California on January 07, 2012:

AEvans, excellent article comparing the United States to the Roman Empire. You are completely correct when you say the US did not think through the ramifications of their invasion of Iraq. Most Americans do not stop to think that the type of interactive governement we take for granted evolved over nearly 1,000 years of give and take. Why do we think other societies in the Middle East, Russia, and China will change over night? In fact, the American sword only makes them more recalcitrant.

One more similarity is the debt Rome accumulated in its effort to retain its grasp on the world at-large. The financial burden eventually led to Rome&aposs demise and it appears it could very well do the same to the U.S.

mmhr4 on December 30, 2011:

One more similarity is that the roman empire was ended by advancing islamic armies and usa is ending itself by advancing its armies in islamic lands.

Bob Marshall on December 22, 2011:

Rome also had a corrupt government. An immigration problem and problems having enough money to fund their larges armies and keep control of their vast empire.

Exarkun631 on December 17, 2011:

I found your article very interesting. What about some of the other parallels? For example, the end of the Roman Empire was also marked by great internal strife between Christians and Pagans, as well as rival Patrician families and the elites in government. One could make the argument that the wealthy in this country, our elected representatives and their corporate overlords play a similar role. It seems our leaders are more interested in ripping each other apart in front of news cameras and serving the special interests who fund their elections rather then the Nation as a whole. Another important event was the "Barbarian Invasions", or "Great Migrations" of that time, (300 AD). While I&aposm by no means inferring that today&aposs immigrants are barbarians, one could make the connection as millions of largely uneducated peoples pour over the border in search of work/opportunity/fertile lands, etc. The Germanic tribes of those times where similarly fleeing for oppressive homelands in search of freedom and riches.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on December 14, 2011:

Aaron: I wrote this during my college days, but I truly appreciate your opinion. :)

Aaron on December 14, 2011:

AEvans your article is riddled with historical inacuracy! You cite America&aposs "vast" differences from Rome in mentioning our rebellion from another empire "ie British Empire" and subsequent independence. There could not be a nation with a more similar foundation. "Rome&aposs fight for independence from an imperial monarchy in the Etruscans and subsequnt formation of a Republic. Read the history of any of the Roman wars. They too thought there cause altruistic, so it would not be far to draw any differences here. In all very specific conclusions are made in your article with very little knowledge of Romans in antiquity. More a political commentary of your opinion of U.S. foreign policy.

robert on December 09, 2011:

Louis on December 01, 2011:

I fail to see how Disneyland has "enslaved" the American people, or how baths/central heating were used to enslave Romans - isn&apost that what slavedrivers were for?

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on November 25, 2011:

Thank you to all for appreciating this article and leaving your comments. I am glad I was able to assist those with researching the topic and debating the issue of our Country in its current state.

shane Lucas on November 21, 2011:

thank you for the help made research easier

Phill on November 19, 2011:

Written 2 years ago I see.

It was only 8 years ago that the USA was referred to as a Hyperpower, so confident of our continued rise on the global stage.

Now that we&aposre in decline we now play second fiddle to the EU in terms of economic wealth, despite the EU suffering economic difficulties. What about when the EU resolve those issues and steam ahead? Where will we be then?

China is a rising power too, where will the USA stand in 15 years?

Soothsayer on November 19, 2011:

I have been saying that we are a doomed country for years. At 52, I always said that I might not see the turmoil, followed by the decline and ultimately the fall, but, I might actually see the start of it. In the next 30 to 50 years, the US as we now know it will no longer exist, unless we take corrective measures to cure the ills that afflict our society. I call it the Slinky Effect whereby history does not exactly repeat itself, but it comes close (like moving around the rings of a slinky). It is pretty obvious that we are on a similar path to the Romans and yet, we are so stupid as a society that we haven&apost learned from the past and continue to repeat our screwups.

Anthony on November 14, 2011:

An interesting article but i must say that if the "American" way didn&apost work with the iraq war and that we have an innate desire to do things our own way why would all people have the right to life, liberty, and happiness as you stated in your last sentence? Did you want us to infer that the American way refers more towards our democratic capitalist nature and not that our nation was founded on he ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on November 13, 2011:

Zac and Leon: I agree with both of you and our perspective on what is happening with our Country and the direction it is going.:)

Leon on November 12, 2011:

You can barely even call China communist. It has some socialist ideas in place but they don&apost neglect the rights of their citizens. Plus China likely has a stronger military, undoubtedly smarter people, and will soon become the largest and best economy in the world. Sorry to say it but the United States has fallen behind.

Zac on November 06, 2011:

I don&apost agree with the democracy comment. America isn&apost a democracy, and the founding fathers never wanted it to be. A democracy is run by the people. The founding fathers thought that giving all the power to the people would throw the country into chaos. In fact, 2/3 of the people opposed the revolution. But it still happened. Jefferson believed in an agrarian society, feeling that working with the earth woul bring the people "closer to God."

Also, I am a firm believer in the adage "History repeats itself." And it has countless times. Rome, possibly the greatest empire history has seen, fell. The greatest group of warriors, the Samurai, extinct. Who isn&apost to say America will be the next to join the list? Personally, I think its inevitable. Corruption, greed, oppression, intolerance. I think its all the brick and mortar to the downfall of this country.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on November 01, 2011:

stevarino: That is a very lengthy book. I don&apost know if I could get completely through it. In college we studied this thoroughly and it is odd that now we are going in that direction. Interesting enough it has been coming for a long time and I highly agree, it is work in progress. I am glad you appreciate my analogy.:)

I also had to shrink the amount of comments, the list was so long. lololo! :)

Steve Dowell from East Central Indiana on November 01, 2011:

I read Edward Gibbon&aposs "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" a couple of years ago. Gibbon was the foremost authority on the topic a couple of centuries ago, he spent practically his entire life putting it all together. It was a 900 page endeavor, and that was the condensed version.

The history of the American Empire is still a work in progress.

Interesting analogy in your article!

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on October 17, 2011:

Earliaman: You are absolutely correct and it is coming. :)

bobby: Congratulations on a job well done and I hope you receive and A.:)

bobby on October 17, 2011:

ya i agree with u AEvans thats true cuz i had to do a 5 paragraphs on similiarties of the roman empie and the U.S it was hard but u helped me thank u

Earlaiman on October 14, 2011:

The biggest, only, and most significant differences which I can distinguish are:

Rome did it better, more efficiently and skilfully, lasted longer, and the Americans did and do not speak Latin.

Otherwise, pretty much the same, and the consequences will be identical, and from the same causes and failures, eventually if not sooner.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on October 14, 2011:

Megni: Thank you for the compliment! I am glad you are using my information as part of your research. Maybe you would enjoy HP too. We are always here to aid others. :)

Megni on October 14, 2011:

I found your hub on Google while I was editing my Helium article on the same subject of why the Roman Empire fell.

Ordinarily I would have used another site as a research source but instead used yours because you make a lot of sense and add a fresh new take.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on October 09, 2011:

Josh: We are moving in that direction aren&apost we? I do see the television shows. What is amazing is that all of us are watching it but we need to begin as a nation to do something about it.

ram_m: Thank you. Wrote it moons ago, while in College. Strange that it is all coming to pass. Was it a premonition? I don&apost know.

chundini: Very good theory and thought provoking.

student: What I would recommend is take from what you have read, ask your parents to assist you in understand what is written and write in your own words, what is happening with the world today. :)

chris: This is absolutely true, when you look at the comparisons. Are you from the U.S. or from another part of the World? You talk about Americas collapse and then say ," we could follow our own collapse. I am not clear where you are going with the last sentence. :(

chris on October 09, 2011:

actually if you compare america today to the roman empire and the other classical empires such as the gupta and the han dynasty we are starting to show signs of americas own collapse. if we dont start trying to fix our problems we could follow and have our own collapse.

student on October 08, 2011:

i am trying to do a current event on how the fall of rome connects to the united states. i agree with what i read, but had some trouble comprehending. im only in 7th grade :). im not quite sure what to do it on, but you seemed to know alot on the subject. so if you had any ideas that would be great! thank you so much!

chundini on October 06, 2011:

To evaluate the differences between the fall of the Roman Empire and the USA Empire you must be astute enough to looks at its context. A mere 1500 years. 33BCE to 476 CE. Before that you had seven kings and a replubic from around 545BCE. The replucic was ran from the Oligargth families with some blood shedding to some powers to the less fortunates. Gaius Marius came in to remedy that, Much like Obama an outsider born out of Rome to become 7 times Consul when only once is accepted until 10 years go by. Unlike the 535 member bought by special interrest, Marius sought to buy his soldiers through retirement land grants and a good split of the booties of war. You can say that is the foundation of corruption when the military, cops, and private mercenaries owes more alligence to the pay master than the real paymaster its of its own people

ram_m from India on October 04, 2011:

a nice thought provoking hub

Josh on September 04, 2011:

Actually I have been saying this same thing for the past 12 years now. It is actually easy to see when the morals of our society are being played on TV. We may not be wallowing in blood shed but look at UFC, Two and a half men, just to name a couple right off the top of my head. Also to point out America started out as a republic NOT a democracy. We have just turned into a democracy.

Jeff Hanks from Plainville, KS on August 30, 2011:

Oh I do. I will have to check that out.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on August 30, 2011:

Jeff: I am also looking forward to reading yours. If you like Bruce Lee you may enjoy that hub too. :)

Jeff Hanks from Plainville, KS on August 30, 2011:

It does seem that we are headed in an exact parallel. It was really interesting reading. I will read more of your hubs. I really enjoyed the first one.

Julianna (author) from SomeWhere Out There on August 30, 2011:

Jeff Hanks: I certainly did write it a long time ago, in fact I wrote it in college. Was it a premonition? Look at the direction we are going?

Jeff Hanks from Plainville, KS on August 30, 2011:

I know you wrote this awhile back but its new to me and I think its excellent. This is very well written and informative.

Old Empresario on August 03, 2011:

I appreciate your pointing out the parallels. But let me point out that the US began as 13 states on the Atlantic Coast and conquered and acquired a good portion of the North American continent from Spain, Mexico, France, and the Indians. For many years, we had provinces called "Dakota Territory", "Indiana Territory", and others that we colonized. They were managed by proconsul governors appointed by the president. I don&apost see how that is different from how Rome acquired its empire. By the 1950s, most of these territories were granted citizenship, just as Rome granted citizenship to all of its provincials in the 200s AD. By compairson the US controlled far more square miles of land from sea to shining sea than the Romans ever did in their little empire. Rome collapsed because its people were overtaxed, the army was draining the treasury and controlling the government, and their coinage was inflated and worthless. The army in the 5th Century AD was mostly made up of immigrants of the Germanic tribes. Because of the collapse of their productive and free society, the Vandals, Goths, Suevi, and Franks invaded and conquered easily. By comparison, all the US is missing in this equation are the Germanic invaders. The city of Rome was sacked in 410 AD. It was sacked again in 455 AD. In 476, the last western emperor, named Romulus, abdicated. Will our last president be named John Smith I wonder?

Neil Sperling from Port Dover Ontario Canada on June 19, 2011:

Great read - great debate. I agree with a lot of what you say here. the problem as I see it is globally it is time we started building man from the inside out. not from the outside in. throw away all traditional beliefs and build a new man from the inside out. back to zero.

Neil Sperling from Port Dover Ontario Canada on June 19, 2011:

How did I miss this hub till now -- great HUB -- GREAT debate. I agree with a lot of what you say too.

the challenge in mankind right now - not just N.America is we have forgot the most important thing is to build people.. to build ourselves. Taking us back to zsero, and throw away all traditional beliefs and build a new man from the inside out is the solution. globally.

random on May 02, 2011:

Geoff on February 24, 2011:

America does have formal colonies, South Korea = 60,000 U.S Soldiers, Israel is a U.S State, Iraq has a goverment procured by the American Goverment, Germany houses a massive amount of American Arms and troops, Japan has American Bases Naval and Airforce,Bahrain houses the 5th Fleet. Just look around yourself and see what America is doing they are spreading themselves to thin just like the romans the cost of doing this is and the Iraq war has brang the American Economy to a standstill and continuing to do this will see the fall of it as the Worlds Superpower. Soon you will be all speaking Chinese.

Jk on January 27, 2011:

Yes there are definently similar things with the fall of the roman empire and the USA empire which will soon fall from within.

Roger Moretto on December 26, 2010:

As the Roman Empire, even the u.s. will end. Signed: a free Roman

Curious on December 13, 2010:

Big fan of this article. Very perceptive writing. Hope you have more to offer.

Rothschild on December 11, 2010:

What you need to analyse is how America have utilised financial imperialism upon countries they have invaded who owns the Fed? who bought the majority of the London stock exchange after the Battle of Waterloo.. the politicians are merely the puppets of &aposinternational financiers&apos

William McCabe on December 10, 2010:

I agree with many points, but there is a good deal of unsubstatiated commentary as well. Just one thing I want to add. The Romans rebelled against the Etruscans, so there is certainly a parallel between American rebellion against the British Empire and Rome&aposs rebellion against the Etruscans. Both empires were forged through conflict with a stronger, more established power that dominated them and both adopted some form of democratic government.

timwestwood on November 12, 2010:

. you guys are reallt well educated on the roman culture

iGreg on November 07, 2010:

Yes. We are the Roman Empire of today. HOWEVER, the answer is most certainly NOT to turn over our sovereignty to a global parliamentary empire dominated by the worlds tyrants, murderers, and Islamofascists.


The Fall of Rome and Modern Parallels

Mr. Reed is Assistant Professor of Economics at Northwood Institute, Midland, Michigan. This article is from a speech before the annual meeting of the Michigan Association of Timbermen, Gaylord, Michigan, April 21, 1979.

There’s an old story worth retelling about a band of wild hogs which lived along a river in a secluded area of Georgia. These hogs were a stubborn, ornery, and independent bunch. They had survived floods, fires, freezes, droughts, hunters, dogs, and everything else. No one thought they could ever be captured.

One day a stranger came into town not far from where the hogs lived and went into the general store. He asked the storekeeper, "Where can I find the hogs? I want to capture them." The storekeeper laughed at such a claim but pointed in the general direction. The stranger left with his one-horse wagon, an axe, and a few sacks of corn.

Two months later he returned, went back to the store and asked for help to bring the hogs out. He said he had them all penned up in the woods. People were amazed and came from miles around to hear him tell the story of how he did it.

"The first thing I did," the stranger said, "was to clear a small area of the woods with my axe. Then I put some corn in the center of the clearing. At first, none of the hogs would take the corn. Then after a few days, some of the young ones would come out, snatch some corn, and then scamper back into the underbrush. Then the older ones began taking the corn, probably figuring that if they didn’t get it, some of the other ones would. Soon they were all eating the corn. They stopped grubbing for acorns, and roots on their own. About that time, I started building a fence around the clearing, a little higher each day. At the right moment, I built a trap door and sprung it. Naturally, they squealed and hollered when they knew I had them, but I can pen any animal on the face of the earth if I can first get him to depend on me for a free handout!"

Please keep that story in mind as I talk about Rome and draw some important parallels between Roman history and America’s situation today.

Roman civilization began many centuries ago. In those early days, Roman society was basically agricultural, made up of small farmers and shepherds. By the second century B.C., large-scale businesses made their appearance. Italy became urbanized. Immigration accelerated as people from many lands were attracted by the vibrant growth and great opportunities the Roman economy offered. The growing prosperity was made possible by a general climate of free enterprise, limited government, and respect for private property. Merchants and businessmen were admired and emulated. Commerce and trade flourished and large investments were commonplace.

Historians still talk today about the remarkable achievements Rome made in sanitation, public parks, banking, architecture, education, and administration. The city even had mass production of some consumer items and a stock market. With low taxes and tariffs, free trade and private property, Rome became the center of the world’s wealth. All this disappeared, however, by the fifth century A.D., and when it was gone, the world was plunged into darkness and despair, slavery and poverty. There are lessons to be learned from this course of Roman history.

Why did Rome decline and fall? In my belief, Rome fell because of a fundamental change in ideas on the part of the Roman people—ideas which relate primarily to personal responsibility and the source of personal income. In the early days of greatness, Romans regarded themselves as their chief source of income. By that I mean each individual looked to himself—what he could acquire voluntarily in the marketplace—as the source of his livelihood. Rome’s decline began when the people discovered another source of income: the political process—the State.

When Romans abandoned self-responsibility and self-reliance, and began to vote themselves benefits, to use government to rob Peter and pay Paul, to put their hands into other people’s pockets, to envy and covet the productive and their wealth, their fate was sealed. As Dr. Howard E. Kershner puts it, "When a self-governing people confer upon their government the power to take from some and give to others, the process will not stop until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked bare." The legalized plunder of the Roman Welfare State was undoubtedly sanctioned by people who wished to do good. But as Henry David Thoreau wrote, "If I knew for certain that a man was coming to my house to do me good, I would run for my life." Another person coined the phrase, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Nothing but evil can come from a society bent upon coercion, the confiscation of property, and the degradation of the productive.

In 49 B.C., Julius Caesar trimmed the sails of the Welfare State by cutting the welfare rolls from 320,000 to 200,000. But forty-five years later, the rolls were back up to well over 300,000. A real landmark in the course of events came in the year 274. Emperor Aurelian, wishing to provide cradle-to-grave care for the citizenry, declared the right to relief to be hereditary. Those whose parents received government benefits were entitled as a matter of right to benefits as well. And, Aurelian gave welfare recipients government-baked bread (instead of the old practice of giving them wheat and letting them bake their own bread) and added free salt, pork, and olive oil. Not surprisingly, the ranks of the unproductive grew fatter, and the ranks of the productive grew thinner.

I am sure that at this late date, there were many Romans who opposed the Welfare State and held fast to the old virtues of work, thrift, and self-reliance. But I am equally sure that some of these sturdy people gave in and began to drink at the public trough in the belief that if they didn’t get it, somebody else would.

Someone once remarked that the Welfare State is so named because, in it, the politicians get well and you pay the fare! There is much truth in that statement. In Rome, the emperors were buying support with the people’s own money. After all, government can give only what it first takes. The emperors, in dishing out all these goodies, were in a position to manipulate public opinion. Alexander Hamilton observed, "Control of a man’s subsistence is control of a man’s will." Few people will bite the hand that feeds them!

Civil wars and conflict of all sorts increased as faction fought against faction to get control of the huge State apparatus and all its public loot. Mass corruption, a huge bureaucracy, high taxes and burdensome regulations were the order of the day. Business enterprise was called upon to support the growing body of public parasites.

In time, the State became the prime source of income for most people. The high taxes needed to finance the State drove business into bankruptcy and then nationalization. Whole sectors of the economy came under government control in this manner. Priests and intellectuals extolled the virtues of the almighty emperor, the Provider of all things. The interests of the individual were considered a distant second to the interests of the emperor and his legions.

Rome also suffered from the bane of all welfare states, inflation. The massive demands on the government to spend for this and that created pressures for the creation of new money. The Roman coin, the denarius, was cheapened and debased by one emperor after another to pay for the expensive programs. Once 94% silver, the denarius, by 268 A.D., was little more than a piece of junk containing only .02% silver. Flooding the economy with all this new and cheapened money had predictable results: prices skyrocketed, savings were eroded, and the people became angry and frustrated. Businessmen were often blamed for the rising prices even as government continued its spendthrift ways.

In the year 301, Emperor Diocletian responded with his famous "Edict of 301." This law established a system of comprehensive wage and price controls, to be enforced by a penalty of death. The chaos that ensued inspired the historian Lactantius to write in 314 A.D.: "After the many oppressions which he put in practice had brought a general dearth upon the empire, he then set himself to regulate the prices of all vendible things. There was much bloodshed upon very slight and trifling accounts and the people brought provisions no more to markets, since they could not get a reasonable price for them and this increased the dearth so much that at last after many had died by it, the law itself was laid aside."

All this robbery and tyranny by the State was a reflection of the breakdown of moral law in Roman society. The people had lost all respect for private property. I am reminded of the New York City blackout of 1977, when all it took was for the lights to go out for hundreds to go on a shopping spree.

The Christians were the last to resist the tyranny of the Roman Welfare State. Until 313 A.D., they had been persecuted because of their unwillingness to worship the emperor. But in that year they struck a deal with Emperor Constantine, who granted them toleration in exchange for their acquiescence to his authority. In the year 380, a sadly-perverted Christianity became the official state religion under Emperor Theodosius. Rome’s decline was like a falling rock from this point on.

In 410, Alaric the Goth and his primitive Germanic tribesmen assaulted the city and sacked its treasures. The once-proud Roman army, which had always repelled the barbarians before, now wilted in the face of opposition. Why risk life and limb to defend a corrupt and decaying society?

The end came, rather anti-climactically, in 476, when the German chieftain, Odovacer, pushed aside the Roman emperor and made himself the new authority. Some say that Rome fell because of the attack by these tribes. But such a claim overlooks what the Romans had done to themselves. When the Vandals, Goths, Huns and others reached Rome, many citizens actually welcomed them in the belief that anything was better than their own tax collectors and regulators. I think it is accurate to say that Rome committed suicide. First she lost her freedom, then she lost her life.

History does seem to have an uncanny knack of repeating itself. If there’s one thing we can learn from history, it is that people never seem to learn from history! America is making some of the same mistakes today that Rome made centuries ago.

In many ways, the American Welfare State parallels the Roman Welfare State. We have our legions of beneficiaries, our confiscatory taxation, our burdensome regulation, and of course, our inflation. Let me talk specifically about inflation, which I regard as the single most dangerous feature of life today.

Everyone says he is against inflation. Every president has his war on it. Yet it rages on. Why? For two reasons. One, most people, especially those in high places, don’t really know what it is. And two, an inflationary mentality pervades our society.

Defining inflation properly is critical to our understanding of it. The typical American thinks inflation is "rising prices." But the classical, dictionary definition of the term is "an increase in the quantity of money." In this discussion, changing the definition changes the responsibility! If you believe that "inflation" is "rising prices," and then ask, "Who raises prices?" you’ll probably say that "Business raises prices, so business must be the culprit." But if you define "inflation" as "an increase in the quantity of money," and then ask, "Who increases the money supply?" you are left with only one answer: GOVERNMENT! Until we understand who does it, how can we ever stop it?

Why does government inflate the money supply? By far the main reason is that people are demanding more and more from government and don’t want to pay for it. This causes government to run deficits, which are largely made up by the expansion of money. It follows, then, that inflation will not stop until the American people restore the old values of self-responsibility and respect for private property.

Let me show you how our Welfare State mentality has ballooned the federal budget. In 1928, the federal government spent a grand total of $2.6 billion. In the current fiscal year, it will spend over $530 billion. The accumulated red ink for the past five years is over $200 billion.

I’ve cited on other occasions a welfare recipient’s letter to her local welfare office: "This is my sixth kid. What are you going to do about it?" Implicit in that letter was the notion that the individual’s problems are not really his at all. They’re society’s. And if society doesn’t solve them, and solve them fast, there’s going to be trouble. I submit that our economy can withstand a few thousand, or even a million people who think that way, but it cannot bear up under tens of millions practicing that destructive notion. Today, what business, what school, what union, what group of individuals is not either receiving some special favor, handout or subsidy from government or at least seeking one? There’s no longer any reason to wonder why we have inflation.

According to Dr. Hans Sennholz of Grove City College, the development of the American Welfare State has come in two phases. In the first phase, roughly from the turn of the century to 1960, we relied mainly on ever-increasing tax rates to finance the expensive government programs. The top tax rate went from 24% to 65% under Herbert Hoover and to 92% under Franklin D. Roosevelt. The decade of the 1950s was one of stagnation under these oppressive, capital-confiscating rates. So we had to find a supplementary method to raise the needed revenue. The second phase of the Welfare State began in the 1960s, with a deliberate policy of massive, annual deficits in the federal budget and an addiction to the printing press. The demands to spend for this and spend for that, which I have mentioned above, have merely provided the fuel for these massive deficits.

America’s dilemma is certainly of crisis proportions. We face collapse and dictatorship if inflation is not stopped and the growth of government is not checked. But Rome’s fate need not be ours. Our problems stem from destructive ideas, and if those ideas are changed, we can reverse our course. A nation that can put a man on the moon can resolve to mold a better future. Let’s reject the destructive notions of the Welfare State, and embrace the uplifting ideas of freedom, self-reliance, and respect for life and property.


How important was currency inflation in Fall of Roman Empire? - History


The Roman currency during most of the Roman Republic and the western half of the Roman Empire consisted of coins including the aureus (gold), the denarius (silver), the sestertius (brass), the dupondius (brass), and the as (copper). These were used from the middle of the third century BC until the middle of the third century AD.

They were still accepted as payment in Greek influenced territories, even though these regions issued their own base coinage and some silver in other denominations, either called Greek Imperial or Roman provincial coins.

During the third century, the denarius was replaced by the double denarius, now usually known as the antoninianus or radiate, which was then itself replaced during the monetary reform of Diocletian which created denominations such as the argenteus (silver) and the follis (silvered bronze). After the reforms Roman coinage consisted mainly of the gold solidus and small bronze denominations. This trend continued to the end of the Empire in the West. See also Byzantine currency.


Unlike most modern coins, Roman coins had intrinsic value. While they contained precious metals, the value of a coin was higher than its precious metal content, so they were not bullion. Estimates of the value of the denarius range from 1.6 to 2.85 times its metal content, thought to equal the purchasing power of 10 modern British Pound Sterling (US$15) at the beginning of the Roman Empire to around 18 Pound Sterling (US$29) by its end (comparing bread, wine and meat prices) and, over the same period, around one to three days' pay for a Legionnaire.

The majority of the written information about coins that survives is in the form of papyri preserved in Egypt's dry climate. The coinage system that existed in Egypt until the time of Diocletian's monetary reform was a closed system based upon the heavily debased tetradrachm. Although the value of these tetradrachmas can be reckoned as being equivalent in value to the denarius, their precious metal content was always much lower.

Clearly, not all coins that circulated contained precious metals, as the value of these coins was too great to be convenient for everyday purchases. A dichotomy existed between the coins with an intrinsic value and those with only a token value. This is reflected in the infrequent and inadequate production of bronze coinage during the Republic, where from the time of Sulla till the time of Augustus no bronze coins were minted at all even during the periods when bronze coins were produced, their workmanship was sometimes very crude and of low quality.

Later, during the Roman Empire, there was a division in the authority of minting coins of particular metals. While numerous local authorities were allowed to mint bronze coins, no local authority was authorized to strike silver coins. On the authority to mint coins Dio Cassius writes, "None of the cities should be allowed to have its own separate coinage or a system of weights and measures they should all be required to use ours."

Only Rome itself struck precious metal coinage, and the mint was centralized in the city of Rome during the Republic and during the early centuries of the Empire. Some Eastern provinces struck coins in silver, but these coins were local denominations that were intended to circulate and to fill only a local need. The issue of bronze coins can be interpreted to be of little value, and of little importance to the central government of Rome, since expenditures of the state were large and could be more easily paid with coins of high value.

It is known that during the first century AD an as could only buy a pound of bread or a litre of cheap wine (or according to Pompeiian graffiti, the services of a cheap prostitute). The importance and the need for smaller denominations for the population of Rome was probably high. Evidence of this can be seen in the numerous imitations of imperial Claudian bronzes that, although probably not authorized by Rome, appear to have been tolerated and were struck in large numbers. Since the government required coins mainly as a means to pay its army and officials, it had little impetus or desire to fulfill the need for bronze coins.

Roman Republic: c. 300 BC-27 BC


Coinage was introduced by the Roman Republican government in circa 300 BC, "surprisingly late" in southern European terms the Greek world had already been using coinage over the previous three centuries. The Greek colonies in southern Italy had been using coins for most of this time, and this technology had also been adopted by a number of other Italian cities, such as Naples, Taranto, Velia, Heraclea, Metapontum, Thurii and Croton, who produced them in large quantities during the 4th century BC to pay for their wars against the inland Italian groups encroaching on their territory.

For these reasons, the Romans would have certainly known about coinage systems long before their government actually introduced them. By the time that they introduced a system of coinage, the Roman state had become a dominant force in the western Mediterranean, having defeated Carthage during the Second Punic War of 218-201 BC. The government's reasons behind adopting coins might have been cultural, in that they wanted to adopt a Greek institution at a time when Roman society was increasingly coming under the cultural influence of the Hellenic world.

The type of coinage that Rome introduced was unlike that found elsewhere in the ancient Mediterranean, combining a number of "unusual elements". One of these early types of Roman coinage was the large bronze bars that are now known as aes signatum or 'struck bronze'. These bars measured about 160 by 90 millimetres (6.3 by 3.5 in) and weighed around 1,500 to 1,600 grams (53 to 56 oz), being made out of a highly leaded tin bronze. Although similar metal currency bars had been produced in Italy, and in particular in northern Etruscan areas, these had been made of an unrefined metal with a high iron content, known as aes graves.

Along with the aes signatum, the Roman state also issued a series of bronze and silver circular coins that emulated the styles of those produced in the Greek colonies of southern Italy. Produced using the manner of manufacture then utilized in the Greek colony of Naples, the designs of these early coins was also heavily influenced by Greek designs. The designs on the coinage of the Republican period displayed a "solid conservatism", usually illustrating mythical scenes or personifications of various gods and goddesses.


In 27 BC, the Roman Republic came to an end as Augustus (63 BC-14 AD) ascended to the throne as the first emperor. Taking autocratic power, it soon became recognized that there was a link between the emperor's sovereignty and the production of coinage.

Another role that coins played in Roman society, although secondary to their economic role within Roman commerce, was their ability to convey a meaning or relate an idea via their imagery and inscriptions. The interpretation of imagery featured on coins is clearly subjective, and has drawn criticism for over-interpreting minor details. The first images to appear on coins during the Republic were rather limited in diversity and generally represented the entire Roman state.

The job of deciding what imagery to feature belonged to the committee of tresviri monetales ('trio of money men'), young statesmen who aspired to be senators. The position of tresviri monetales (moneyers) was created in 289 BC and lasted until at least the middle of the third century AD. Although initially there were only three, the number was increased by Julius Caesar to four during the end of the Republic.

Imagery on the earliest denarii usually consisted of the bust of Roma on the obverse, and a deity driving a biga or quadriga on the reverse. There was no mention of the moneyer's name, although occasionally coins featured control marks such as small symbols, letters, or monograms which might have been used to indicate who was responsible for a particular coin.

Eventually, monograms and other symbols were replaced with abbreviated forms of the moneyer's name. After the addition of their names, moneyers began to use the coins to display images that relate of their family history. An example of this are the coins of Sextus Pompeius Fostulus, which feature his traditional ancestor, Fostulus, watching Romulus and Remus suckling from a mother wolf. While not every coin issued featured references to an ancestor of a moneyer, the number of references increased and the depictions became more and more of current interest.

Self-promoting imagery on coins was part of the increasing competition amongst the ruling class in the Roman Republic. The Lex Gabinia, which introduced secret ballots in elections in order to reduce electoral corruption, is indicative of the degree of competition amongst the upper class of this time period. The imagery on Republican coins wasn't meant to influence the populace the messages were designed for and by the elite.


The imagery on coins took an important step when Julius Caesar issued coins bearing his own portrait. While moneyers had earlier issued coins with portraits of ancestors, Caesar's was the first Roman coinage to feature the portrait of a living individual. The tradition continued following Caesar's assassination, although the imperators from time to time also produced coins featuring the traditional deities and personifications found on earlier coins.

The image of the Roman emperor took on a special importance in the centuries that followed, because during the empire, the emperor embodied the state and its policies. The names of moneyers continued to appear upon the coins until the middle of Augustus' reign. Although the duty of moneyers during the Empire is not known, since the position was not abolished, it is believed that they still had some influence over the imagery of the coins.

The main focus of the imagery during the empire was on the portrait of the emperor. Coins were an important means of disseminating this image throughout the empire. Coins often attempted to make the emperor appear god-like through associating the emperor with attributes normally seen in divinities, or emphasizing the special relationship between the emperor and a particular deity by producing a preponderance of coins depicting that deity.

During his campaign against Pompey, Caesar issued a variety of types that featured images of either Venus or Aeneas, attempting to associate himself with his divine ancestors. An example of an emperor who went to an extreme in proclaiming divine status was Commodus. In 192, he issued a series of coins depicting his bust clad in a lion-skin (the usual depiction of Hercules) on the obverse, and an inscription proclaiming that he was the Roman incarnation of Hercules on the reverse.

Although Commodus was excessive in his depiction of his image, this extreme case is indicative of the objective of many emperors in the exploitation of their portraits. While the emperor is by far the most frequent portrait on the obverse of coins, heirs apparent, predecessors, and other family members, such as empresses, were also featured. To aid in succession, the legitimacy of an heir was affirmed by producing coins for that successor. This was done from the time of Augustus till the end of the empire.

Featuring the portrait of an individual on a coin, which became legal in 44 BC, caused the coin to embody the attributes of the individual portrayed. Dio wrote that following the death of Caligula the Senate demonetized his coinage, and ordered that they be melted. Regardless of whether or not this actually occurred, it demonstrates the importance and meaning that was attached to the imagery on a coin.

The philosopher Epictetus jokingly wrote: "Whose image does this sestertius carry? Trajan's? Give it to me. Nero's? Throw it away, it is unacceptable, it is rotten." Although the writer did not seriously expect people to get rid of their coins, this quotation demonstrates that the Romans attached a moral value to the images on their coins. Unlike the obverse, which during the imperial period almost always featured a portrait, the reverse was far more varied in its depiction.

During the late Republic there were often political messages to the imagery, especially during the periods of civil war. However, by the middle of the Empire, although there were types that made important statements, and some that were overtly political or propagandistic in nature, the majority of the types were stock images of personifications or deities. While some images can be related to the policy or actions of a particular emperor, many of the choices seem arbitrary and the personifications and deities were so prosaic that their names were often omitted, as they were readily recognizable by their appearance and attributes alone.

It can be argued that within this backdrop of mostly indistinguishable types, exceptions would be far more pronounced. Atypical reverses are usually seen during and after periods of war, at which time emperors make various claims of liberation, subjugation, and pacification. Some of these reverse images can clearly be classified as propaganda. An example struck by emperor Philip in 244 features a legend proclaiming the establishment of peace with Persia in truth, Rome had been forced to pay large sums in tribute to the Persians.

Although it is difficult to make accurate generalizations about reverse imagery, as this was something that varied by emperor, some trends do exist. An example is reverse types of the military emperors during the second half of the third century, where virtually all of the types were the common and standard personifications and deities. A possible explanation for the lack of originality is that these emperors were attempting to present conservative images to establish their legitimacy, something that many of these emperors lacked. Although these emperors relied on traditional reverse types, their portraits often emphasized their authority through stern gazes, and even featured the bust of the emperor clad in armor.

Debasement of the Currency


The type of coins issued changed under the coinage reform of Diocletian, the heavily debased antoninianus (double denarius) was replaced with a variety of new denominations, and a new range of imagery was introduced that attempted to convey different ideas. The new government set up by Diocletian was a tetrarchy, or rule by four, with each emperor receiving a separate territory to rule.

The new imagery includes a large, stern portrait that is representative of the emperor. This image was not meant to show the actual portrait of a particular emperor, but was instead a caricature that embodied the power that the emperor possessed. The reverse type was equally universal, featuring the spirit (or genius) of the Romans. The introduction of a new type of government and a new system of coinage represents an attempt by Diocletian to return peace and security to Rome, after the previous century of constant warfare and uncertainty.

Diocletian characterizes the emperor as an interchangeable authority figure by depicting him with a generalized image. He tries to emphasize unity amongst the Romans by featuring the spirit of Romans (Sutherland 254). The reverse types of coins of the late Empire emphasized general themes, and discontinued the more specific personifications depicted previously. The reverse types featured legends that proclaimed the glory of Rome, the glory of the army, victory against the "barbarians", the restoration of happy times, and the greatness of the emperor.

These general types persisted even after the adoption of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire. Muted Christian imagery, such as standards that featured Christograms (the chi-rho monogram for Jesus Christ's name in Greek) were introduced, but with a few rare exceptions, there were no explicitly Christian themes. From the time of Constantine until the "end" of the Roman Empire, coins featured indistinguishable, idealized portraits and general proclamations of greatness.

Although the denarius remained the backbone of the Roman economy from its introduction in 211 BC until it ceased to be normally minted in the middle of the third century, the purity and weight of the coin slowly, but inexorably decreased. The problem of debasement in the Roman economy appears to be pervasive, although the severity of the debasement often paralleled the strength or weakness of the Empire. While it is not clear why debasement was such a common occurrence for the Romans, it's believed that it was caused by several factors, including a lack of precious metals, inadequacies in state finances, and inflation. When introduced, the denarius contained nearly pure silver at a theoretical weight of approximately 4.5 grams.

The theoretical standard, although not usually met in practice, remained fairly stable throughout the Republic, with the notable exception of times of war. The large number of coins required to raise an army and pay for supplies often necessitated the debasement of the coinage. An example of this is the denarii that were struck by Mark Antony to pay his army during his battles against Octavian.

These coins, slightly smaller in diameter than a normal denarius, were made of noticeably debased silver. The obverse features a galley and the name Antony, while the reverse features the name of the particular legion that each issue was intended for (it is interesting to note that hoard evidence shows that these coins remained in circulation over 200 years after they were minted, due to their lower silver content). The coinage of the Julio-Claudians remained stable at 4 grams of silver, until the debasement of Nero in 64, when the silver content was reduced to 3.8 grams, perhaps due to the cost of rebuilding the city after fire consumed a considerable portion of Rome.

The denarius continued to decline slowly in purity, with a notable reduction instituted by Septimius Severus. This was followed by the introduction of a double denarius piece, differentiated from the denarius by the radiate crown worn by the emperor. The coin is commonly called the antoninianus by numismatists after the emperor Caracalla, who introduced the coin in early in 215.

Although nominally valued at two denarii, the antoninianus never contained more than 1.6 times the amount of silver of the denarius. The profit of minting a coin valued at two denarii, but weighing only about one and a half times as much is obvious the reaction to these coins by the public is unknown. As the number of antoniniani minted increased, the number of denarii minted decreased, until the denarius ceased to be minted in significant quantities by the middle of the third century.

Again, coinage saw its greatest debasement during times of war and uncertainty. The second half of the third century was rife with this war and uncertainty, and the silver content of the antonianus fell to only 2%, losing almost an appearance of being silver. During this time the aureus remained slightly more stable, before it too became smaller and more base before Diocletian's reform.

The decline in the silver content to the point where coins contained virtually no silver at all was countered by the monetary reform of Aurelian in 274. The standard for silver in the antonianus was set at twenty parts copper to one part silver, and the coins were noticeably marked as containing that amount (XXI in Latin or KA in Greek).

Despite the reform of Aurelian, silver content continued to decline, until the monetary reform of Diocletian. In addition to establishing the tetrarchy, Diocletian devised the following system of denominations: an aureus struck at the standard of 60 to the pound, a new silver coin struck at the old Neronian standard known as the argenteus, and a new large bronze coin that contained two percent silver.

Diocletian issued an Edict on Maximum Prices in 301, which attempted to establish the legal maximum prices that could be charged for goods and services. The attempt to establish maximum prices was an exercise in futility as maximum prices were impossible to enforce. The Edict was reckoned in terms of denarii, although no such coin had been struck for over 50 years (it is believed that the bronze follis was valued at 12.5 denarii). Like earlier reforms, this too eroded and was replaced by an uncertain coinage consisting mostly of gold and bronze. The exact relationship and denomination of the bronze issues of a variety of sizes is not known, and is believed to have fluctuated heavily on the market.

The exact reason that Roman coinage sustained constant debasement is not known, but the most common theories involve inflation, trade with India, which drained silver from the Mediterranean world, and inadequacies in state finances. It is clear from papyri that the pay of the Roman soldier increased from 900 sestertii a year under Augustus to 2000 sestertii a year under Septimius Severus and the price of grain more than tripled indicating that fall in real wages and a moderate inflation occurred during this time.

Another reason for debasement was lack of raw metal with which to produce coins. Italy itself contains no large or reliable mines for precious metals, therefore the precious metals for coinage had to be obtained elsewhere. The majority of the precious metals that Rome obtained during its period of expansion arrived in the form of war booty from defeated territories, and subsequent tribute and taxes by new-conquered lands. When Rome ceased to expand, the precious metals for coinage then came from newly mined silver, such as from Greece and Spain, and from melting older coins.

Without a constant influx of precious metals from an outside source, and with the expense of continual wars, it would seem reasonable that coins might be debased to increase the amount that the government could spend. A simpler possible explanation for the debasement of coinage is that it allowed the state to spend more than it had. By decreasing the amount of silver in their coins, Rome could produce more coins and "stretch" their budget. As time progressed the trade deficit of the west because of its buying of grain and other commodities led to a currency drainage in Rome.


Coinage came into use in Asia Minor around 600 BC. By 500 BC its use had spread through the Greek world. Compared with other civilizations of the Mediterranean world, coinage came late into use in the Roman Republic. The Romans remained a primitive and eminently rural people until the late fourth century BC. They used livestock (pecus) and crude bronze bars (aes rude) as media of exchange. Latin preserved the memory of this period in its word to designate money, pecunia (from pecus). A similar system was used by other peoples in Italy, because there were no deposits of silver and gold there. Only the Greek colonies of southern Italy issued coins of these precious metals following the common practice in their mother cities. They obtained, however, these metals through trade.

The Law of the Twelve Tables (Lex Duodecim tabularum) demonstrates the use in Rome of the bronze pound (as, plural asses) as a way of measuring the value of properties in the V century BC. The memory of this primitive system was preserved for a long time. All transactions with these rough bronze pieces involved the use of a scale. Many centuries after the introduction of coinage, a scale and a piece of bronze were still used as a symbol of the sale and the change of ownership in the ceremony of mancipatio, by which the transfer of certain types of goods, like land, for example, was officially confirmed.

In the late fourth century BC, silver coins were minted for Rome in Naples. Their origin and function are discussed by specialists. Their impact on the Roman economy was surely limited. Only at the beginning of the third century BC, Rome began to standardize the form of bronze bars by introducing the use of cast ingots. The purpose of this change was probably to achieve a more uniform set of weights and to facilitate trade. The new bars were marked with various motives, and this is why they are commonly known today as aes signatum.

The oldest bars had a motive only on one side, but the Romans began soon to decorate both major faces. The motives served, probably, as a certification of the characteristics of the piece. By covering also the entire length of the block, they allowed to recognize if it was intact or if a portion had been removed.

Of course, these bars cannot be considered as coins in the strict sense, because they were produced by pouring molten metal into molds. They met, however, a monetary function as means of exchange. It was common practice to split them when a piece of lesser value was needed.


The Fall of Ancient Rome

The fall of Ancient Rome started from about AD 190. The Roman Empire was attacked by tribes such as the Goths and the Vandals. Civil wars in parts of the empire further weakened the rule of Rome and respect for Roman law dwindled as a result.

Why was the empire attacked by fierce tribes people? Tribes such as the Goths wanted to move south into parts of Europe that experienced a better climate that would assist their farming. This could only bring them into conflict with the Romans. At about AD 190, Rome also experienced a succession of poor emperors who simply were not capable of doing the job.

The Roman Army was spread throughout Western Europe. Each part of the army had its own idea as to who should be emperor. When one part of the army succeeded in putting its own man into the position of emperor, another part of the army would fight to put its own man in power. Between AD 211 and AD 284, there were twenty-three ‘soldier-emperors’ – and twenty of these men were killed by rivals! Clearly law and order and respect for that, within Rome itself was at fault.

in AD 284, the emperor Diocletian realised that something had to be done or Rome and its empire would disintegrate. He decided to divide the Roman Empire in two to make it easier to rule – he created the Western Empire and the Eastern Empire, each with its own leader. This split geographically was all but a north to south divide between the empire with Spain, France, England, Italy and parts of Germany forming the Western Empire and all areas to the east of this were in the Eastern Empire.

However, Diocletian faced more than just administrative problems. More and more military defences had to be built across the whole empire. This cost money that Rome did not have. To pay for these, taxes were increased and extra coins were minted. This lead to inflation causing prices to rise. Therefore, the people of Rome were less than favourable towards those who led them.

With threats from tribes in northern Europe, financial problems in Rome itself and a civilian population becoming more and more discontented, Rome could ill afford further major issues.

In AD 307, Constantine became emperor. He ruled from AD 307 to AD 337. Constantine was Rome’s first Christian emperor and he is considered to have been a strong ruler.

He believed that Rome as a city was too far away from vital areas of the empire to be of value from a governmental level. Constantine, therefore, moved the capital of the empire to a new city – Constantinople. This was a new city that was built on the old city of Byzantium. Whatever the motives were, Constantine’s decision was a poor one. Constantinople was much further east than Rome and firmly in the eastern empire. This left the western empire very vulnerable – though the eastern empire was hardly free from attacks.

The Ostrogoths attacked the western empire via the eastern empire. The Huns, a fierce tribe from Asia, attacked the western empire. The Franks, Visigoths,and Burgundians all made large inroads into the western empire.

The glory days of the Roman Army had passed and the Romans were forced into making deals with the tribes. The Vandals and Visigoths were allowed to live in the Roman Empire as long as they gave a promise to protect the empire from the Huns.

However, in AD 398, the leader of the Visigoths, Alaric, realised that the Roman Army was so thinly spread, that Rome itself was for the taking. Alaric moved cautiously south but in AD 410 he captured the city of Rome. The city was sacked. Roman held territory in Spain, France, northern Africa and England all fell to the various tribes that attacked them.

The ruins of Ancient Rome

In AD 455, Rome was attacked again. This time the damage was done by the Vandals. The city suffered serious damage. In AD 476, the last Roman emperor in the west, Romulus Augustulus, was removed from power by Odovacar, leader of the Goths. This date is usually used by historians as the year the Roman Empire ended. However, Roman rule continued in the eastern empire for a number of years after this date – in modern Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and northern Egypt.


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