I’ve been doing a history curriculum called TruthQuest. One of the main things TruthQuest has you do is write short analysis of what you are currently studying. Here is an example of some of my work:
Investigation Supreme “What do you say when an empire dies?”
Rome was one of the longest surviving empires to ever appear in history, but it did eventually fall. When it fell, it fell hard. From the outside, it might appear as though the empire fell all at once. However, it began to fall from day one.
This may seem like a bold statement, but if you don’t start with a strong foundation, you’re bound to fall into trouble eventually. Rome’s big two beliefs, which are absolutely vital to true success for anything, were messed up. First off, the Romans didn’t have the right beliefs about God, and consequently they didn’t have the right beliefs about the true value of humans.
Undeniably, the Romans had a very weak religion. The Roman gods appear under different names in history, but the Roman religion was indeed hijacked from the Greeks. This was a definite problem because this religion already wasn’t working well for the Greeks! The Greek religion basically consisted of worshiping many fake gods that were basically glorified humans. The character of all the gods was very uncertain which of course caused uncertainty in the worshipers. One thing is for sure, the “gods” didn’t love their subjects (unless they were heroes, then that was a different story).
Another flaw in Roman philosophy was the fact that instead of valuing individuals like God does, the Romans basically worshiped the state. All of their loyalties were dedicated to the prosperity of the state. People really didn’t matter. Duty to the state was very important instead.
Another flaw that caused serious weakness in Rome was the decay of the Roman character. The early Romans could be called serious, no nonsense people. They were all about fulfilling their duties and working hard. Unfortunately, this character did not last. When slaves from conquests of foreign countries were bountiful in Rome, slave owners were able to run huge farms and plantations that were able to sell their products much less expensively than small, freeman farmers. This caused business to majorly decrease for small businesses. Since they no longer had purpose and work to keep them busy, the middle class began to strongly depend on government handouts of corn and entertainment to keep them fed and occupied. Obviously, the character of the average Roman went from industrious and hard working to demanding and rather lazy.
I’ll say this for the Romans; during the time of the Republic they formed a pretty decent system of government. Instead of having one sole ruler, they had consuls who shared power, a senate, and tribunes who represented the lower class of people. Things took a turn for the worse, however, when an emperor took full control of the government. There were no real checks and balances. One decade you would end up with an absolute crazy man in charge, and then the next you could have a fairly decent ruler. Even worse, since the Roman’s gods were just glorified humans, the Romans began to worship their emperors because they too were in a sense “glorified humans”.
In conclusion, without a firm, unshakable foundation, a society will fall. The only true foundation is Jesus Christ. Everything else is destined for failure. Even though Rome tried to wipe out the Christianity, Christianity could not and cannot be wiped out because it rests on the one true foundation. We need to take the fall of Rome as a reminder to ensure that we stay on our firm foundations. Something may appear to be strong from the outside. Rome certainly did, but inner decay was rapidly happening which soon became visible from the outside. Now that we’ve observed what caused weakness in Rome, we need to help keep America on the firm foundation that it was built on.
The Roman Empire played a special part in history. After all, God chose to have his son and the church born in Rome. One benefit of Jesus being born during the Roman Empire was the speed that the Good News could travel through the known world because everything was basically connected under one empire! Even though the persecution of the church by the Roman Empire was horrible, it actually strengthened the church because everybody who was a part of the church was absolutely on fire for God.
What I learned from studying Ancient Rome that can be applied to our world today:
- Infanticide was common in Rome. When the church started, however, they stood up against it. We are in a similar situation today, and we must remember to follow the early churches lead and rebel against any cultural aspect that goes against God’s Word.
- Worshiping the government is always a bad idea. The government should not be the center of a society. It is merely a system to provide some rules and organization, so people should never pour all their loyalties and love into it. The less control the government has the better (if people are willing to self govern themselves).
- Government handouts are a bad idea! The middle class became dependant on food handouts from the government, which was a pretty sad way to live life.
- Entertainment was a central part of Roman culture. People loved watching plays in the theater, but they loved to watch gladiator fights even more. Entertainment itself is not necessarily wrong, but it needs to be carefully controlled. The Roman people became absolutely obsessed with bloody, gruesome fights and came to demand them. We should never be entertained by others being torn apart.
- Sexual perversion was rampant in Rome. Brothels and homosexuality were common. Whenever families are weak and sex is abused, trouble comes.
- Rome went through some of its worst days when they gave all the power in the empire to one ruler, the emperor. It’s always wise to spread out power as much as possible and to put multiple checks and balances in place.
This is why studying history is so vital. We can observe the mistakes that Rome made, and then we can fight against those things in our culture today. It’s frightening to see so many things that weakened Rome prevalent in America today, but we still have the power to do something about it.