History, geography, values – the three reasons behind Rome’s powerful empire
“We can learn from history how past generations thought and acted, how they responded to the demands of their time and how they solved their problems.”
Gerda Lerner, Historian/Author/Teacher
The Roman civilization was a highly developed society that managed to gain control over most of Europe, and parts of Africa and Asia. They had also created a massive empire that opened the doors to trade. With an organized army, the Romans conquered many territories and effectively controlled the land and people. But what made them so powerful to accomplish this feat? Historians have come up with three main reasons why the Romans became so powerful.
Ancient societies of Italy that came before the Romans influenced the Romans and gave them ideas. As an Austrian historian mentioned in a quote:
The Etruscans were another advanced society that dominated northern Italy. The Romans were influenced by the Etruscans in many ways. One of the most important features of Romans architecture was the arch. It was first used in Etruscan construction and later passed on to the Romans. Sewers were another feature in construction found in Etruscan societies and later appearing in Rome.
Many rituals were also passed to the Romans by the Etruscans. The Etruscans taught the Romans about reading omens and interpreting them to communicate with the gods. Soothsayers later became an important part of Roman societies. The history of ancient societies of Italy had given the Romans a head start to their road of victory.
Another factor that led Rome to success was the geography of Italy itself. Italy’s geography was ideal for the needs of the Romans. Thus, they were able to use it to an advantage. First of all, the country of Italy is a peninsula. This made it simple to travel by water, which was considered the best source of transportation that existed. Geography also provided the Romans with protection.
The two mountain ranges, the Alps and the Apennines, served as walls that were able to black Rome from attack. Geography also provided resources and wealth to the Romans. The Mediterranean climate made food, clothing, and shelter easy to obtain. A valuable mineral found west of Rome was salt. Salt was at high demand all over Europe so the Romans were able to gain wealth with trade. Italy’s Geography gave the Romans a secure environment and also provided them with resources and wealth.
The third and final reason is the beliefs and values of the Romans. Myths and legends of the Romans taught the civilians to be an ideal Roman. For example, in the story Horatius and the Bridge:
“Horatius continued to defend his city of Rome, even if it meant death.”
The story of Horatius was about a man who risked his life for the safety of the city Rome. Horatius managed to save Rome but lost an eye while defending the city. The myth teaches people that no matter how great of a risk you’re taking, it will be worth the cost because your nation is the first priority. The Romans who were influenced by this became patriotic to Rome. These people were not afraid to sacrifice themselves when they are needed. As an America president once quoted in a speech:
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
- John F. Kennedy, 1961
If a society no longer has supporting patriots, it will most likely fall in a short period of time. Patriotism is one of the most important acts shown by civilians of a powerful nation.
In conclusion, all three factors listed contributed greatly in the rise of power for Rome. The Romans were one of the most successful nations of history. Geography, supplied them with ideal conditions in building a strong society. Roman myths and legends taught them how to be a good Roman. And last, their history, which gave them cultural ideas and advancements. Roman civilization has become one of the most powerful nations of all time.