Why Did Rome Fall? Reasons on board!



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0-5 Bellringer: OVERARCHING QUESTION: WHY DID ROME FALL/DECLINE?  You’ve heard about the supposed imminent (coming soon) decline of America.  What are reasons you have heard as to why America is in ‘decline’?

5-10: Why Did Rome Fall?  Reasons on board!


10-13- Cross off and get a list of FOUR.
**When passing out readings, go through questions!!!

13-20- First Reading


20-27- Second Reading
27-35- Third Reading

35-40- Go through each reading and ANALYZE texts!


40-45: On back of your sheet, answer this question: From what you know about America today and ancient Rome, can the problems of ancient Rome be compared to America today? What exactly can we learn from the Roman experience (2 reasons)? ARE THERE ANY ROMAN PROBLEMS THAT AMERICA IS EXPERIENCING?

Data Set #1:                                                             ( Write the name of each set here)
1.       Summarize the story in 2-3 sentences.

2.       What are the strengths of the story (parts easily believable & make sense)?


3.       What are the weaknesses of the story (parts that aren’t as easily believable)?


4.       What are problems or questions you have with this story?

Data Set #2:                                                                                                       


1.       Summarize the story in 2-3 sentences.

2.       What are the strengths of the story (parts easily believable & make sense)?

3.       What are the weaknesses of the story (parts that aren’t as easily believable)?

4.       What are problems or questions you have with this story?

Data Set #3:                                                                                                       
1.       Summarize the story in 2-3 sentences.

2.       What are the strengths of the story (parts easily believable & make sense)?

3.       What are the weaknesses of the story (parts that aren’t as easily believable)?

4.       What are problems or questions you have with this story?



Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Decline in Morals

One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the decline in Morals. The decline in morals, especially in the rich upper classes, nobility and the emperors, had a devastating impact on the Romans. Immoral and promiscuous sexual behavior, including adultery and orgies became more accepted by Roman elite. Emperors such as Tiberius kept groups of young boys for his pleasure, incest was practiced by Nero (who also had a male slave castrated so he could take him as his wife), another emperor forced a Vestal Virgin into marriage, and still another had harems (rooms of women) of concubines (a mistress) and enraged other Romans by sitting in the theatre or at the games dressed in a woman's garments.

The decline in morals also affected the lower classes and slaves. Religious festivals occurred where sacrifices, ribald songs, lewd acts and sexual promiscuity were practiced. Bestiality and other lewd and sexually explicit acts were exhibited in the Colosseum arena to amuse the mob (Recall the lesson on the Shock Value of the Colosseum). Brothels and forced prostitution flourished as well as widespread gambling on the chariot races and gladiatorial combats, massive consumption of alcohol, and the sadistic cruelty towards both man and beasts in the Colosseum.

Crimes of violence made the streets of the larger cities unsafe. At one point, there were 32,000 prostitutes in Rome. Emperors like Caligula and Nero became notorious for wasting money on huge parties where guests drank and ate until they became sick. The most popular amusement was watching the gladiatorial combats in the Colosseum.  These were attended by the poor, the rich, and frequently the emperor himself. As gladiators fought, vicious cries and curses were heard from the audience. One contest after another was staged in the course of a single day. Should the ground become too soaked with blood, it was covered over with a fresh layer of sand and the performance went on.



Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Constant Wars and Heavy Military Spending

Due to the vast size of the empire, Rome required an enormous budget to maintain the foundation necessary for its survival, including roads (essential for communication, transportation, and the moving of armies) and aqueducts (many cities relied on the water thus provided). Moreover, the empire faced enemies on all sides due to its expansion into their territories, and huge sums of silver and gold were required to keep up its armies. To cope with both problems, the empire was forced to raise taxes (Tax is money that is taken by the government from its citizens to fund government projects and services) frequently, and also to adulterate its coins, causing inflation to skyrocket into hyperinflation. This in turn caused major economic stresses that some historians regard as central in Rome's decline.


One of the main causes for the fall of the Roman Empire was the constant wars and heavy military spending. Constant warfare required heavy military spending. The Roman army became over-stretched and needed more and more soldiers. The barbarians, who had been conquered, and foreign mercenaries (paid warriors) were allowed to join the Roman army.
Although early in its history troops were expected to provide much of their own equipment, eventually the Roman military was almost entirely funded by the state. Since soldiers of the early armies were also unpaid citizens, the financial burden of the army on the state was minimal. However, since the Roman state did not provide services such as housing, health, education, social security and public transport that are part and parcel of modern states, the military always represented by far the greatest expenditure of the state.

While military size and costs increased, new taxes were introduced or existing tax laws reformed in the late Empire in order to finance it frequently. Although more inhabitants were available within the borders of the late Empire, reducing the per capita costs for an increased standing army was impractical. A large number of the population could not be taxed because they were slaves or did not hold Roman citizenship, which excused them from taxation in one way or another. Of the remaining, a large number were already impoverished and weakened by chronic malnutrition. Still, they had to handle an increasing tax rate and so they often abandoned their lands to survive in a city.

Causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire - Failing Economy and High Inflation

One of the main causes for the Fall of the Roman Empire was the failing economy and high inflation. The government was constantly threatened by bankruptcy due to the cost of defending the Empire, the failing economics, and heavy taxation.  High inflation was another cause for the fall of the Roman Empire. The majority of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire failed to share in the incredible prosperity of Rome. The amount of gold sent to the orient (The Middle and Far East) to pay for luxury goods led to a shortage of gold to make Roman coins. Roman currency had to be made of other metals and was devalued so much that a system of bartering (exchange goods instead of currency or actual money—an indication of a wretched economy…) returned to one of the greatest civilizations the world had ever known.



The Roman economy suffered from inflation (an increase in prices) beginning after the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Once the Romans stopped conquering new lands, the flow of gold into the Roman economy decreased. Yet much gold was being spent by the Romans to pay for luxury items. This meant that there was less gold to use in coins. As the amount of gold used in coins decreased, the coins became less valuable. To make up for this loss in value, merchants raised the prices on the goods they sold. Many people stopped using coins and began to barter to get what they needed. Eventually, salaries had to be paid in food and clothing, and taxes were collected in fruits and vegetables.

During the latter years of the empire, farming was done on large estates that were owned by wealthy men who used slave labor. A farmer who had to pay workmen could not produce goods as cheaply. Many farmers could not compete with these low prices and lost or sold their farms. This not only undermined, or weakened, the citizen farmer who passed his values to his family, but also filled the cities with unemployed people. At one time, the emperor was importing grain to feed more than 100,000 people in Rome alone. These people were not only a burden but also had little to do but cause trouble and contribute to an ever increasing crime rate.


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