Essay on Consequence of Roman Imperial Expansion

2021-08-26 13:38:43
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University of California, Santa Barbara
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The emergence of Rome as a powerful city-state in the ancient times was as a result of gradual domination, under the Roma Republic and under the previous kings that came into power before. The dominance of Rome in the Mediterranean region brought it into wars with other regional powers especially Carthage and Greece. The extended sequence of wars that Rome fought in order to emerge as the powerful territory in the Mediterranean region led to the annexation and conquest of different territories occupied by its rivals. Through the war, Rome acquired Corsica and the twin province of Sardinia in 238 BC, Sicily in 241 BC, most parts of Spain in 198 BC, various parts of North Africa and Macedonia in 146 BC as well as many other powers that were weaker economically and militarily (Ogilvie, 2005). The 1st Punic War fought between 261BC and 241 BC led to the annexation of Sicily (Ogilvie, 2005). The second and Third Punic Wars fought between 218 BC and 146 BC led to the acquisition of Carthage and Greece territories (Ogilvie, 2005). During 200 BC and 146 BC, there were Macedonian wars in the East that led to the conquest of Macedonia (Ogilvie, 2005). Roman powers also fought the Achaean and Antiochus war that led to the capture of Corinth and Syria respectively.

The Third Punic war was fought in Greece against the Philip V of Macedonia. The war involved a change in military tactics. Before the start of the war, no military force applying the techniques of Alexander the Great and Phillip II had ever lost the war in the military encounters. The Roman soldiers were sent to the war with the most powerful rivals to be defeated and killed since their lands and other properties had been confiscated by the powerful people in the Roman Territory. The changes in the military tactics and the defeat of Phillip II created a sense of confidence and the need to conquer more territories that were under Greece. Since the Roman soldiers knew that they were going to face a strong resistant force from the Macedonian troops, they adopted the legion tactic, which comprised of smaller but flexible groups of soldiers that could move freely in the battlefield. Macedonian soldiers, on the other hand, applied Phalanx that involved the block of troops in organized single units. The application of new and effective military engagement styles led to the defeat of some of the powerful military force hence; there was a motivation to conquer more territories that were under Macedonia.

Imperial expansion brought unexpected economic and social changes in the Roman territory. As a result of the annexation of many territories, the empire grew too big for the available resources. The extended borders also required huge military personnel meaning that there was an increased need for revenue which drained the public reserves, a situation that led to the increased unwieldy bureaucracy. The acquisition of the territories also led to the increase in population, thus there were many unproductive people that needed to be fed by few peasants and farmers. The above situation became worse in the areas that were exposed to barbarian attacks. The expanding empire with its vast economic resources led to the political competition resulting in repeated civil wars which exhausted the financial reserves. The civil wars also reduction in map power and reduced the economic activities in the rural parts of the Roman Empire. There were high rates of inflation that resulted from the debasement of the currency to boost money supply to pay administrators and the army. The reduction in the value of coinage inhibited the economic production. The bureaucracy created to enhance the governance led to the fight for the powerful positions in the government, a situation that led to the internal feuds and sometimes civil unrest between different groups of people. The cycle bureaucratic stagnation and economic depression led to the struggle for power as some people wanted to adjust policies that would save the empire from collapse.

Latifundia refer to the large Roman agricultural lands that used slave laborers and peasants in the production of various agricultural products. The earliest Roman Latifundia resulted from subdivision and distribution of land impounded by the Roman soldiers from the conquered territories. The distribution of land began in the second century and it involved distributing lands to the poor for the purposes of improving agricultural production. The relationship between the growth of Latifundia and the reform effort of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus lies in the policies that facilitated land reforms. The reforms led to the distribution of lands among the veterans and the poor people with an aim of boosting agricultural production. In the ancient republic, it was a requirement that both the consulship and the Senate membership had to come from patricians. When the plebeians or the normal citizens acquired the right to these offices during the conflicts of orders, most of the patricians were replaced. Before the start of the First Punic War, there was a high number of plebeians (the new man) in the Senate. Towards the end of 63 BC, Cicero became the first new man in the Senate to have served for thirty years (Ogilvie, 2005).

Towards the end of First Century, Roman Empire was the most powerful territory in the ancient world. During the 3rd Century, the Romans continued conquering more territories bringing them under control. The territory extended from North Western Europe through to the entire Mediterranean region. By the end of 5th Century, there were political changes; there was rise of dictatorship and political assassinations as a result of the struggle for powerful positions in the government. In the 5th Century BC, Cincinnatus became a conservative opponent to the plebeians (Vasaly, 1999). He developed equitably enforced laws that would allow the citizens to participate in the leadership position. Cincinnatus instituted constitutional dictatorship to promote an inclusive leadership that also involves common citizens. In the 1st century, BC Sulla revitalized the office of dictatorship which has been dormant since the end of the Punic war; he wanted to make numerous reforms to the Roman constitution. Through authoritarian directives, he managed to limit the powers of tribunes and boosted the supremacy of the Senate. Sulla resort to not giving power to a single person, a situation that led to the rise of subsequent dictators like Julius Caesar. Sullas rule was accompanied by imprisonment of enemies of the state without trials. Sulla increased the number of magistrates and all the elected quaestors became automatic members of the Senate.


Ogilvie, R. M. (2005). The Early History of Rome. Penguin UK.

Vasaly, A. (1999). The Quinctii in Livy's first pentad: the rhetoric of anti-rhetoric. The Classical World, 92(6), 513-530.

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