Roman Empire

Traditionally, the roman society was so rigid. So by the first century, the old social barriers were being eroded because there was need of men who were capable of running the Romes Empire that was so vast. Ancient Rome was based on social structures that include property, heredity, wealth and citizenship. It was also centered on men since women’s status was defined by their husbands or fathers status. They were expected to look after their houses and very few were independent.

The different classes had very strict boundaries that were legally enforced, for instance, members of different classes dressed differently. The emperor was the only one allowed to wear the purple toga. Senators were allowed to wear the white toga and the latus clavus, this is a broad purple stripe along the edge. Equestrian togas contained a slim purple strip called the clavus Augustus. Despite the strict definition of classes, there was a lot of interaction among the different classes. Some freemen and slaves worked in the homes of the rich like the senators and patricians. Soldiers also intermingled with their officers.


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The roman society also involved a patronage system. There were the members of the upper class who were called the patron who offered protection to plebeians or freedmen who then became their clients. Patronage may consist of legal, food or money help. Traditionally, slaves who were freed became the clients to their former owners. In return, the patron received political favors and respect. During the empire, clients were expected to offer daily greetings to the patrons and the number of people who greeted him determined his social status. On the empire’s frontiers, roman generals became the patrons of the people they conquered. Roman cities or provinces often looked for a senator that was influential to act as their patrons who could oversee their interests in Rome.

Although the roman society was flexible, only the selected few could advance. Property and wealth were the most well-known routes that led to social advancement just like patronage by the emperor for instance, at some time; Caligula made a horse to become a senator. As time went by, the roman society became more fluid. Augustus was responsible for the expansion of the equestrian order and was hired by him into senior administrative positions. Equestrians were recruited into the senate by the end of the first century. To be a member of the equestrian class, you did not have to necessarily be Italian bone citizens and by letting the equestrians into the senate was a big step. As time went by, the senate would be made open to people who were not citizens of Italy. Even the emperor himself would be born abroad by the end of the first century.

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During the first century, Christians who resided in Rome were used as political scapegoats. Christians carried the blame and punishment for everything bad happening to the roman like economic inflation and plagues to hostile barbarian invasions. The public execution of Christians became sports under Emperor Nero. Christian believers were torched and ambushed then fastened to crosses before letting them be torn by dogs into pieces. As a result of these persecutions, the church in Rome depended on writers to defend their faith. The writers were known as an apologist who sought to explain the doctrine of Christianity in philosophical terms to Greek philosophers and pagan intellectuals. Their writings provided the defense that quenched the attacks of the unbelieving but did not convert the empire to Christianity.

As the Roman Empire fell, some states that were led by barbarians collectively took their place e.g. Burgundian in Gaul, vandals in Africa and Visigoths in Iberia. The barbarian rulers, though they were not allowed to govern, inherited lands. They were semi-agrarian and mainly depended on industry and agriculture and did not have a body of written literature. Mostly it was Christians who always assisted them. The church now had control of education and law while various kings cooperated. Despite having come from the Roman Empire and they did not have a say where they were persecuted it allowed the ecclesiastics to build their own organization that had had some level of civic authority that was recognizable. Most of the bishops became their own small princes in their own rights.

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As a result, Christianity became a different machine in the east as opposed to the west because even bishops formed part of the empire and therefore remained as a large administrative and political construct. It was the purview of emperors to appoint bishops in the east so many bishops were self-proclaimed who were put forward by those subordinate to them and ratified by bishops from the neighborhood. This enables the western church to maintain control of its eclectically appointments. The eastern bishops did not reach a very high level of autonomy under the Byzantine Empire but as they fell under the Islamic control, their role in the state was lost.

Rome under Christians after the roman leaders greatly changed. There was an end to persecutions and people had respect for their religious leaders. As a result, Christianity prevailed to provide a common ground on which to build a community for Jews and other multiple ethnic neighbors. Rome had succeeded in conquering and governing an enormous area partly due to the presumption that there was divine assistance, but as the empire subsequently failed it created an idea that a different religion was needed. Under Christians, Rome became a more literate nation because they heavily relied on writings and thus was appealing to the educated. Through Christianity, the fall of Julian who was the last of the polytheist emperors was possible.


When the Christians, became rulers of Rome, life changed for the better since there were no longer cruel leaders who always killed people. The Christians also enabled civilization in terms of education to take place because most people had to be educated in order for them to read and understand the scriptures of the bible. We can, therefore, conclude that Rome under Christians became a better place to live than Rome under the emperors

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