How did Roman innovation contribute to the rise of an empire?



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  • 9 years ago
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    The first Roman innovation, setting them on the path to monster empire, was ignoring all previous conventions number systems or for grafting number systems onto existing writing systems and instead creating a simple number system that matched perfectly to the abacus. This allowed them to not only keep and transmit accounting records, but to easily use their information. (The original numbers were used for 600+ years before sharpening them up to match the letters we use today for Roman numerals.)

    The next was creating a true democracy, complete with republican representation rather than rule of and by the mob (which is incredibly different than "of and by the people"!) which allowed interest groups to be represented as easily as any other as well as taming the divisiveness of tribal organization (even after 150 years of rule by kings, Romans still recognized family (clan/tribe) over anything and broke into roughly 5 main groups (tribes)). And they designed it during rule by a line of kings (rather than putting pieces of it in place and learning by mistakes over time) and put it in place 2 years before the very first Greek mobocracy was put in place. And the Greeks NEVER got it right in 300 years, leading to continued division and falls to first Alexander and then Rome.

    Their next major innovation was to treat all military conquests and political allies as very nearly Roman. Those peoples could not come to Rome and vote, but in ALL other respects they were Roman. The law made no distinction between citizen and ally (either conquered or volunteered) and neither did the economic system. They even spent money improving things like their water supplies, though not nearly as much as on Rome's. The importance of this is clearly seen when you consider the plight of Hannibal. He entered Italy, slaughtered a Roman army (though not as badly as you read), had a truly free hand literally all up and down the length of Italy (for 16 years!), and even standing outside city walls of cities conquered by Rome, could convince only a literal handful to switch allegiance from Rome to him. Rome was such a beneficial conqueror that the first thing they did in every single city they conquered was to form 1-2 legions of those citizens to join their army. Not as a man here, six men there, and kept under Roman thumbs but as masses of 6,000 armed (by Rome), trained (by Rome) soldiers fully capable of saying "What morons!" and revolting. And yet, that never happened even once.

    Their next innovation was military. They had changed their military over to the Greek style phalanx and trampled on army after army. But the phalanx had several fatal flaws. The Romans fixed each one, eventually having all the strengths of the phalanx but with flexibility and the ability to move on the battlefield instead of just line up for a single charge. They took the power of the Greek "peltast" and made it something every soldier did instead of unarmored men who had to run before the battle started. Finally, the "maniple" system the legions employed allowed, and the Romans developed, what is today called a tactical reserve: men you hold back to jump in anywhere you see a need develop.

    Finally, they took the concept of cement and concrete (which is something the Egyptians even used in the pyramids) and ran with it. They had some 20 major types of cement allowing their concrete to set even under water. You can do much for a port with something like that. All the building they did relied upon cement and concrete. The arch is much talked about, but all that stone couldn't hold it's own weight without concrete. And one reason for the various concretes was to use lighter concretes high in buildings lessening the overall weight. Without concrete, the Romans would have been much more limited in what they could build. Building would never have attracted the innovative effort it did so even mundane, non-concrete structures like roads would never have been developed past the point anyone else in the Mediterranean did.

    I know it's just for homework, lol, but if you ever want me to explain any of these things more fully, I'd be happy to. I guarantee your teacher won't be expecting any of them except perhaps the concrete (and cement) part. But they are ALL right, and they are why Rome was exceptional at every stage of its evolution, why it grew rather than tipping over and disappearing.

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