of Ancient Egypt
& The Hyksos
| Gibbons listed at least
eight basic reasons for the destruction of the enormous Roman
Empire. There are more reasons, but the following gives a
proven overview from the pages of his writings. Perhaps there are some clues we can apply to the fall
of other world-dominating forces over history. What lessons
can be applied to our modern world powers?
1. Decline in Morals
Those morals and values that
kept together the Roman legions and thus the empire could not
be maintained towards the end of the empire. The dramatic
increase of divorce undermined the institution of the family.
Crimes of violence made the streets of the larger cities
unsafe. Even during PaxRomana there were 32,000 prostitutes in
Rome. Emperors like Nero and Caligula became infamous for
wasting money on lavish parties where guests ate and drank
until they became ill. The most popular amusement was watching
the gladiatorial combats in the Coliseum. These were attended
by the poor, the rich, and frequently the emperor himself. As
gladiators fought, vicious cries and curses were heard from
the audience. One contest after another was staged in the
course of a single day. Should the ground become too soaked
with blood, it was covered over with a fresh layer of sand and
the performance went on. The drive for personal pleasure had
become very intense, even to the point of obsession. Gibbons
noted that, at the very end, sports had become more exciting
2. Public Health
There were many public health
and environmental problems. Many of the wealthy had water
brought to their homes through lead pipes. Previously the
aqueducts had even purified the water but at the end lead
pipes were thought to be preferable. The wealthy death rate
was very high. The continuous interaction of people at the
Coliseum, the blood and death probable spread disease. Those
who lived on the streets in continuous contact allowed for an
uninterrupted strain of disease much like the homeless in the
poorer run shelters of today. Alcohol use increased as well
adding to the incompetency of the general public. Recently,
some postulate that the Roman Empire had extended so far that
diseases from other lands could easily make their way back to
Rome. Resistance to those diseases were weak.
One of the most difficult
problems was choosing a new emperor. Unlike Greece where
transition may not have been smooth but was at least
consistent, the Romans never created an effective system to
determine how new emperors would be selected. The choice was
always open to debate between the old emperor, the Senate,
the Praetorian Guard (the emperor's private army), and the
army. Gradually, the Praetorian Guard gained complete
authority to choose the new emperor, who rewarded the guard
who then became more influential, perpetuating the cycle.
Then in 186 A. D. the army strangled the new emperor, the
practice began of selling the throne to the highest bidder.
During the next 100 years, Rome had 37 different emperors -
25 of whom were removed from office by assassination. This
contributed to the overall weaknesses of the empire. Hidden
conspirators were working within the government to secretly
destroy it. They worked quietly, invisibly and deceitfully;
during the entire time they were secretly dismantling the
government of the Roman Empire, they publicly proclaimed
their unswerving support of it. People lost their faith,
both religiously and in their government. The efficient
Roman Government gave way to chaos and disintegration.
During the latter years of
the empire farming was done on large estates called latifundia that were owned by wealthy men who used slave
labor. A farmer who had to pay workmen could not produce
goods as cheaply. Many farmers could not compete with these
low prices and lost or sold their farms. This not only
undermined the citizen farmer who passed his values to his
family, but also filled the cities with unemployed people.
At one time, the emperor was importing grain to feed more
than 100,000 people in Rome alone. These people were not
only a burden but also had little to do but cause trouble
and contribute to an ever increasing crime rate.
The imposition of higher
taxes undermined the economic stability and vitality of the
Empire. Taxes were raised to pay for deficit government
spending, to pay for food for all in society and to pay for
government-sponsored activities of diversion, such as
circuses and sports. Interestingly, as the time of the final
collapse drew closer, greater emphasis was placed on sports,
to divert the attention of the public from the distressing
news of massive trouble within the Empire. The Roman economy
suffered from inflation (an increase in prices) beginning
after the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Once the Romans stopped
conquering new lands, the flow of gold into the Roman
economy decreased. Yet much gold was being spent by the
Romans to pay for luxury items. This meant that there was
less gold to use in coins. As the amount of gold used in
coins decreased, the coins became less valuable. To make up
for this loss in value, merchants raised the prices on the
goods they sold. Many people stopped using coins and began
to barter to get what they needed. Eventually, salaries had
to be paid in food and clothing, and taxes were collected in
fruits and vegetables.
6. Urban decay
Wealthy Romans lived in a domus, or house, with marble walls, floors with intricate
colored tiles, and windows made of small panes of glass.
Most Romans, however, were not rich, They lived in small
smelly rooms in apartment houses with six or more stories
called islands. Each island covered an entire block. At one
time there were 44,000 apartment houses within the city
walls of Rome. First-floor apartments were not occupied by
the poor since these living quarters rented for about $00 a
year. The more shaky wooden stairs a family had to climb,
the cheaper the rent became. The upper apartments that the
poor rented for $40 a year were hot, dirty, crowed, and
dangerous. Anyone who could not pay the rent was forced to
move out and live on the crime-infested streets. Because of
this cities began to decay.
During the last 400 years of
the empire, the scientific achievements of the Romans were
limited almost entirely to engineering and the organization
of public services. They built marvelous roads, bridges, and
aqueducts. They established the first system of medicine for
the benefit of the poor. But since the Romans relied so much
on human and animal labor, they failed to invent many new
machines or find new technology to produce goods more
efficiently. They could not provide enough goods for their
growing population. They were no longer conquering other
civilizations and adapting their technology, they were
actually losing territory they could not longer maintain
with their legions.
Maintaining an army to defend
the border of the Empire from barbarian attacks was a
constant drain on the government. Military spending left few
resources for other vital activities, such as providing
public housing and maintaining quality roads and aqueducts.
Frustrated Romans lost their desire to defend the Empire.
The empire had to begin hiring soldiers recruited from the
unemployed city mobs or worse from foreign counties. Such an
army was not only unreliable, but very expensive. The
emperors were forced to raise taxes frequently which in turn
led again to increased inflation.
Agriculture also seems to be an important issue when
discussing the decline of world powers. Toward the end of
the decline of the Roman Empire the farms around Rome
appeared to be underutilized. In other cultures the minerals
and nutrients of the soil have been stripped by over
cultivation. Periodically leaving fields fallow permits the
minerals and nutrients to build back up. Also, valuable
topsoil blows away when vegetation (trees, grass) are taken
away. Without the topsoil, very little can be grown and the
strength of a nation gradually crumbles.
THE FINAL BLOWS
For years, the well-disciplined
Roman army held the barbarians of Germany back. Then in the
third century A. D. the Roman soldiers were pulled back from
the Rhine-Danube frontier to fight civil war in Italy. This
left the Roman border open to attack. Gradually Germanic
hunters and herders from the north began to overtake Roman
lands in Greece and Gaul (later France). Then in 476 A. D.
the Germanic general Odacer or Odovacar overthrew the last
of the Roman Emperors, Augustulus Romulus. From then on the
western part of the Empire was ruled by Germanic chieftain.
Roads and bridges were left in disrepair and fields left
untilled. Pirates and bandits made travel unsafe. Cities
could not be maintained without goods from the farms, trade
and business began to disappear. And Rome was no more in the
Are any of the above points occurring
in Western societies today? Give present day examples of
Decline in Morals and Values
2. Public Health
3. Political Corruption
5. Inflation 6. Urban decay
7. Inferior Technology
8. Military Spending
Some 3500 years ago Moses recorded some
thoughts regarding the stages or cycles of discipline visited upon the
nation of Israel (Leviticus 26). Are there any clues we can
discover from this?
13 I am
the LORD your God, who brought you forth out of the land of
Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; and I have broken
the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.
| 1st Stage:
Loss of health, freedom and agriculture --
"But if you will not hearken to me, and will not do all
these commandments, 15
if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my
ordinances, so that you will not do all my commandments,
but break my covenant,
I will do this to you: I will appoint over you sudden
terror, consumption, and fever that waste the eyes and
cause life to pine away. And you shall sow your seed in
vain, for your enemies shall eat it;
I will set my face against you, and you shall be smitten
before your enemies; those who hate you shall rule over
you, and you shall flee when none pursues you.
| 2nd Stage:
Economic recession --
And if in spite of this you will not hearken to me, then I
will chastise you again sevenfold for your sins,
and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make
your heavens like iron and your earth like brass;
and your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land
shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land
shall not yield their fruit.
| 3rd Stage:
Violence and breakdown of law and order --
"Then if you walk contrary to me, and will not hearken to
me, I will bring more plagues upon you, sevenfold as many
as your sins. 22
And I will let loose the wild beasts among you, which
shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle,
and make you few in number, so that your ways shall become
| 4th Stage:
Scarcity of food, breakup of families and military
"And if by this discipline you are not turned to me, but
walk contrary to me, 24
then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will
smite you sevenfold for your sins.
And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall execute
vengeance for the covenant; and if you gather within your
cities I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be
delivered into the hand of the enemy.
When I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake
your bread in one oven, and shall deliver your bread again
by weight; and you shall eat, and not be satisfied.
| 5th Stage:
Destruction of a nation --
"And if in spite of this you will not hearken to me, but
walk contrary to me, 28
then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and chastise you
myself sevenfold for your sins.
You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat
the flesh of your daughters.
And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your
incense altars, and cast your dead bodies upon the dead
bodies of your idols; and my soul will abhor you.
And I will lay your cities waste, and will make your
sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing
And I will devastate the land, so that your enemies who
settle in it shall be astonished at it.
And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will
unsheathe the sword after you; and your land shall be a
desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.
"Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies
desolate, while you are in your enemies' land; then the
land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths.
As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest
which it had not in your Sabbaths when you dwelt upon it.
And as for those of you that are left, I will send
faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies;
the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and
they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they
shall fall when none pursues.
They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a
sword, though none pursues; and you shall have no power to
stand before your enemies.
And you shall perish among the nations, and the land of
your enemies shall eat you up.
And those of you that are left shall pine away in your
enemies' lands because of their iniquity; and also because
of the iniquities of their fathers they shall pine away
Good News --
"But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their
fathers in their treachery which they committed against me,
and also in walking contrary to me,
so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the
land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised heart is
humbled and they make amends for their iniquity;
then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will
remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham,
and I will remember the land.
Here are some
words of wisdom that every business, every religious
institution, every family system, every city and every nation may want to heed:
Proverbs 16:18 -- Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty
spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 18:12 -- Before destruction a man's heart is haughty,
but humility goes before honor.
Proverbs 11:2 -- When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but
with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 15:25 -- The LORD tears down the house of the
1Peter 5:5 -- ...God resists the proud, and gives grace to the
pride be the root of the decline and fall of a world power?
If so, what are the benefits of humility before our Creator
and what does humility look like?
Is humility weakness? Is it strength under control? Or is it
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