The Failure Of Rome’s Economy And The Fall Of The Roman Empire

1409 words - 6 pages

The failure of Rome’s economy contributed majorly to the fall of Rome. The Roman Economy during the late Republic and Early Empire was based heavily on Agriculture and Commerce. Agriculture in ancient Rome was not only a necessity, but was idealized among the social elite as a way of life. Cicero had considered agriculture to be the best of all Roman Occupations (Sarudy). There had been a lot of trading between the provinces of the empire, and all regions of the empire were largely economically interdependent. Egypt was also important in providing wheat to Rome. Shipments of Egyptian wheat may have amounted to 20 million modii (an Ancient Roman measurement) or more annually. Twenty million modii of wheat was nearly enough for up to half the Roman Empire. (Library) Commerce in Rome is what drove the economy in late Republic and early Empire. The complex accounting of Roman trade was conducted with counting boards and the Roman abacus. The abacus was used in the counting of Roman currency and tallying of Roman measures (Stephenson). The provinces of the Roman Empire were trading huge volumes of items to one another by sea routes. Some provinces specialized in producing certain types of goods. Examples of these goods are grains in Egypt and North Africa as well as wine and olive oil in Italy, Hispania, and Greece.
The economic policies set by the Emperors had a heavy impact of the lives of the citizens of Rome. The founder of the Roman Empire and its first Emperor, Augustus, had ruled from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D. During his reign, Augustus improved the Roman Economy by bringing in a vast flood of money into the Treasury from his conquest of Egypt. The interest rates had also dropped dramatically and businesses were able to flourish. Augustus had many building projects set through his reign. These buildings brought many jobs into the Roman Empire and more money into the economy. Emperor Domitian, who ruled from 81 A.D. to 96 A.D., had left the Roman Empire in a nearly balanced economy during the greater part of his reign. It is estimated that Domitian’s annual income was more than 1,200 million sestertii (Roman Currency) which over one-third would presumably have been spent maintaining the Roman army. The other major of major expense was the extensive reconstruction of Rome (Domitian).
An Emperor that greatly impacted the Roman economy was Nero, who ruled from 54 A.D. to 68 A.D. When complaints arose that the poor were overly taxed, Nero attempted to repeal all indirect taxes. The Senate convinced him that this action would bankrupt the public treasury. In result, Nero cut taxes from 4.5% to 2.5% (Bluejayblog) Government taxes were also ordered to become public. In order to lower the cost of food imports, Nero declared that merchant ships were tax-exempt. After Rome burned in 64, Nero enacted a public relief effort to restore Rome. For a few construction projects, he created the large Domus Aurea and attempted to have a canal dug at the Isthmus of...

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