The Fall of Rome and the end of civilization

The Roman Empire (Subject)

*WE CAN ONLY CITE FROM THE BRYAN WARD-PERKINS…. & WHEN CITED IT MUST BE CITED WITH THE PAGE NUMBER OF THE BOOK
TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE QUOTES BELOW AND GIVE YOUR OPINION WITH THE QUESTIONS. WE ARE BASING OUR RESPONSE ON THE TO THE FALL OF ROME AND THE END OF CIVILIZATION.
NUMBER OF CITATIONS : 5

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BELOW IS THE PAPER PROMPT :

 

Paper Prompt for

The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization by Bryan Ward-Perkins

 

“Did the invaders push at the doors of a tottering edifice, or did they burst into a venerable but still solid structure?” (p.40)

 

“The key internal element in Rome’s success or failure was the economic well-being of its taxpayers. This was because the empire relied for its security on a professional army, which in turn relied on adequate funding.” (p.41)

 

“We are told that during Alaric’s siege of Rome in the winter of 408-9 ‘almost all the slaves who were in Rome, poured out of the city to join the barbarians’. […] These slaves had little to lose, and some of them, happier times, may have been warriors from beyond the frontiers¾it is not surprising that they took advantage of Roman weakness to try and join the invading armies.” (p.46)

 

“It is unlikely that the East was innately and structurally much more cohesive than the West.” (p.47)

 

“Unlike the Romans, who relied for their military strength on a professional army (and therefore on tax), freeborn germanic males looked on fighting as a duty, a mark of status, and, perhaps, even a pleasure. As a result, large numbers of them were practised in warfare¾a very much higher proportion of the population than amongst the Romans.” (p.49)

 

“All empires have, sooner or later, come to an end; so it is a reasonable assumption that the Roman empire was destined at some point to fall or to disintegrate. But this does not mean that the fall of the West had to occur during the fifth century; indeed, at a number of points along the line, things might have gone differently, and the Roman position might have improved, rather than worsened.” (p.57)

 

“The decisive factor that weighed in favour of the East was not the greater power of its armies and their consequent greater success in battle, but a single chance of geography¾a thin band of sea (the Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara, and Dardanelles), in places less than 700 metres wide, that separates Asia from Europe. During the fifth century, this natural line of defence was given considerable human support, through the construction of fortifications that turned Constantinople into the greatest fortress of the Roman world.” (p.59)

 

“What is most striking about the Roman economy is precisely the fact that it was not solely an elite phenomenon, but one that made basic good-quality items available right down the social scale.” (p.146)

 

“If we look at the new churches of post-Roman Italy, what is most immediately striking about them is how small they are. Buildings of the late sixth, seventh, and early eighth centuries are very rarely over 20 metres long; a modern viewer might well describe them as ‘chapels’ rather than ‘churches’. (p.148)

 

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You may choose to base your 4-page response (double-spaced, in 12-point font) on the quotes cited above and/or your own citations (give the page number) from Bryan Ward-Perkins’ Fall of Rome.

*WE CAN ONLY CITE FROM BRYAN WARD-PERKINS / THE QUOTES ABOVE

1) What weight would you place on the following in accounting for the ‘fall’ of Rome: the professionalization of the army, the heavy reliance on slaves, the stragegic location of Rome (or other capitals of the Western Roman Empire, namely, Milan and Ravenna) vis-à-vis Constantinople; the relative sophistication of pottery wares, buildings, infrastructure; literacy; the circulation of coins?

 

2) What exactly was lost with the disintegration (or ‘transformation’) of the Roman world. One of Ward-Perkins’ key benchmark is the complexity of the economy. This view assumes implicitly that the more complex the economy, the better off the inhabitants. Is this necessarily the case?

 

3) From the evidence that you have had access to, what do you find most significant in the transitioning of the Roman world into a ‘new world order’? How useful is it to poinpoint an exact moment for the ‘Fall of Rome’? Would you yourself stress any particular date or event? Explain your choice by supporting it with appropriate evidence.

 

4) What can the example of Rome, its empire, growth and passing, contribute to a more general discussion of what constitutes ‘civilization’?

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