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The Fall of Rome Or, why I learned to stop worrying and love Christianity…

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Presentation on theme: "The Fall of Rome Or, why I learned to stop worrying and love Christianity…"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Fall of Rome Or, why I learned to stop worrying and love Christianity…

2 What is going to cause the collapse of Rome? Internal And External Causes

3 Internal Causes Rome suffered from Poor Leadership after the death of the last “good emperor” because his successors were unable to control the Empire Overspending by wealthy Roman citizens and the government depleted the wealth of the Roman Empire The government raised Taxes to deal with the poverty taking over the Empire Disease spread throughout Roman cities Loyalty to the Empire was lost by Roman Legions who supported their generals over their Emperor Latfundia’s diminished work opportunities.

4 Economic Collapse Nobles considered it unworthy to engage in business and squandered money. Latfundia’s and slavery encouraged a lack of job growth or manual labor. Weak employment meant that little was purchased Gov’t kept price of grain artificially low to keep masses happy – encouraged farmers out of business. Essentially, privileged classes benefitted, no one else

5 Social Collapse Romans began losing faith in religion, citizenship ideals, reason. Became bored with politics. Desire for new religions brought on obsessions with occults, alchemy, magic. Eastern religions take hold, especially ones with conversion rituals. Neo-Platonists emphasized attaining truth through knowledge of the one, in a reality beyond our world. Citizenship extended to almost all in empire by 212 ACE, which killed some provincials desires.

6 External Causes Foreign Barbarians and Mediterranean Pirates disrupted the trade routes once dominated by the Romans Christianity comes in and rocks the empire. 376-476 Germanic Tribes overwhelm Roman Legions along northern borders Asian Mongol Nomads, called Huns, invaded western territories in the late 4 th century A.D. The Visigoths, led by King Alaric, invaded Rome in the early 400s A.D. The Vandals sacked the city of Rome in 455 A.D.

7 Military Collapse With everyone having citizenship, no need to join army to better self. Internal fighting for control of the empire in 200’s ACE, which led to invasion as the military fought among itself for control. With a lack of soldiers to fill the ranks, Rome was forced to get mercenaries from the provinces. When those same provinces decided to gain patriotic freedom by the end of the 300’s, the mercenaries turned on Rome.

8 Diocletian (285-305 ACE) Attempted to contain disunification by centralizing society. Ruled more like Eastern kings, eliminated much of the local control of cities. Drafted prisoners of war, bought out mercenaries. Forced unskilled workers to stay in jobs for life and hand them down – virtual serfdom Huge bureaucracy paid for by hereditary tax collections (curiales) Drove people out of cities Split empire in half – West and East

9 Constantine (306-337) Continued Diocletian’s ideals. Proclaimed religious freedom in empire, because he was a Christian. Established Constantinople on the Bosphorus as a new capital. For a time the two emperors brought stability. If economics had returned or they didn’t face such difficulties, Rome may have survived…but…..

10 Invasions of the 300’s and 400’s In the late 300’s the Huns invaded from Russia and decimated the Germanic peoples and forced them back into Rome. The Visigoths pushed into Rome and defeated them at the Battle of Adrianople – signaled that cavalry was significant in war. Eventually under Alaric, they end up destroying Rome itself (the city) in 410 ACE.

11 The End of Rome During the invasions, Roman economics came to a crawl – no trading, cheap food, road repair. People sought refuge on huge plantations from violence and became indentured servants. In 451 ACE, Attila almost made Europe a Mongol province. By 455, after Vandal invasions, Rome crowned a Germanic chieftain Emperor, and that was the end of Rome in the West.

12 What lessons can we learn from Rome? 1. Don’t overstretch your borders. 2. Make sure you keep up your loyalty. 3. Don’t overtax your people 4. Avoid plague at all cost, cuz it leads to population and tax declines. 5. A loyal, well trained army is worth everything. 6. Bread and Circuses foster laziness. 7. Make sure you produce something. 8. There is no substitute for a good, wise leader.

13 And Finally…Christianity Basic Background of Judaism in First Century BC…. – Four Principle Religious Groups in that time Sadducees – Strict interpretation of Torah, temple ceremonies important, rejection of afterlife. Pharisees – more liberal interpretation of Torah, believed in afterlife, the most important at the time and influenced later Judaism, Messianic teachings Essenes – Monastic, rejected temple priests as corrupt, tied the afterlife to God’s kingdom coming (some argue that Jesus was an Essenic because of teachings) Zealots – anti-Roman patriots

14 Important Information about Jesus He was a Jew, living in a Jewish province, teaching Jewish law and scripture. We have no direct writing from him, nor do we have contemporary writings / artifacts Golden Rule becomes more central Considered a prophet by followers – 12 Disciples It was the resurrection that helped create a new faith – otherwise just Jewish sect.

15 St. Paul Taught about Christ not to Palestinians, but to the Jewish Diaspora around Rome. Free movement because citizenship. Good roads and transporation. Spoke Greek First taught salvation over sin through Christ. It was here that Jesus becomes recognized as the Messiah Preaches universalism of the faith – all invited.

16 So Why Does Rome Buy In… They are morally bankrupt in later stages of empire. Instantly creates community that was lacking when people stopped believing in Rome. Religion stressed intellect and individual reliance – things no longer preached. Poor and suffering were the keys to a better life in future – Rome had lots of those people. Adopted Greek philosophy into teachings.

17 How do the Emperors React… Early in first century, largely ignored. By end of century however, Christians were considered disloyal citizens (nonviolent, didn’t go to gladiatorial games, anti public baths, did not worship Emperors) Christians fed to lions, killed in Coliseum, starved, etc. Many Christians embraced this as a way to emulate Christ’s death

18 As the religion continued to spread In 313 AD Constantine issued Edict of Milan which granted religious toleration. By 392 AD, Theodosius I made Christianity the official state religion. – Christianity stops being persecuted and suddenly begins persecuting. – Anyone following old faiths or different ones persecuted.

19 Christianity Struggles to Form Identity Conservative church leaders oppose philosophy at all. Eventually, more liberal ideas win out as Christ is equated with divine “logos” or reason. Stoics bring universalism to Christianity. Plato’s forms and anti-sense perception fall in line with religion.

20 Organization Bishops establish themselves in large towns. By late in the empire, the bishop of Rome becomes primary leader. (St. Peter, the Rock of Church, martyred in Rome) Monasticism developed by St. Basil and St. Benedict.

21 The Christian Bible Developed after Christ’s death by at least 100 years (although pieces of it began to be written 40 years after death) Contained certain accounts of Christ and not others: Paul’s Epistles, Four Gospels (M,M,L,J), acts of Apostles, Revelations. Many other things, including Gnostic Gopsels not included. Council of Nicaea settles dispute about divinity of Christ in 325 AD.

22 Great Christian Thinkers St. Jerome – Translated Old and New Testaments in Latin St. Ambrose – urged an end to wealth desire by priests, separation of Church from state. St. Augustine – really important – Wrote City of God in reaction to Visigoth invasions and concern of Roman Chritians. – Said ideal state can only be realized in heaven. – Argued that new cities must conform to Christian ideals. – Said not all getting into heaven; city on earth (sinful) vs. heavenly city (perfection) constant fight. – Said you can not gain wisdom with reason alone, must include faith. – Knowledge was used to understand Christ, not secular world.

23 Impact on a Post Roman World Christianity creates a fundamental shift in ideology – no longer is humanism and life about achieving excellence in this world, it is about salvation in a heavenly city. People could withdraw from society because salvation was individual. When Rome falls, people willing to go to feudalism to protect secular self because religious life is individually determined. Classicism – dies for a long time as reason, a nonlinear view of history, and philosophy die.


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