Rome continues to changeone of the greatest changes was the addition of Christianity! W10M1: Christianity, Fall of Rome Rome and Christianity A New Religion: With so many different people, Rome was a very diverse place. It had numerous languages, religions, and peoples in it. Thanks to the Pax Romana, they interacted frequently and allowed people to travel far and wide. A New Religion: Christianity Across
the Roman empire, around the year 40 AD people began to hear about a new religion called Christianity. This religion was an offshoot of Judaism (i.e. the religion of the Jews), and claimed that a man named Jesus Christ was the prophesied redeemer of the world. People claimed he had risen again from the dead, and would one day return to establish the Kingdom of God. Many had completely changed their lives as a result of these beliefs, and some (like St. Paul the Apostle) had made it a point to go about the empire trying to convince others to believe in this Christ. VID
Christianity Causes Contention Many Romans ignored the new religion at first. There were lots of people who claimed to see visions, prophecies, be prophets, etc., and these Christians were only a small part of the empire. Others took notice however. Jesus had lived in Palestine, and thats where Christianity started. Soon the groups of Jews and Christians grew more and more divided, and often fought each other. Around 36 B.C., during such a disagreement a leader among the
Christians, Stephen, was stoned to death, and became the first Christian martyr, or someone who is killed for their personal/religious beliefs. Romans and Christians Pretty soon the Christians became the scapegoats (i.e. the ones who take the blame, though they arent guilty) for many What is a scapegoat of the problems in Rome. Many Jews grew to really hate them, and spread nasty rumors about them. Ironically, the term scapegoat was a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the
people upon it (Lev. 16). Seems appropriate, I suppose. Christians began to get arrested for disturbing the peace (due to their zealous preaching), and also being blamed for other things. People didnt understand them all that well, and it was easy to blame them. ? Loyalty Above All Else During the 100-200 A.D. time period, Rome was in crisis. As it was so large, lots of corruption was occurring. Some provinces had cruel governors and armies, and some
Roman areas had been conquered by outsiders. The Romans felt that they needed to reaffirm the loyalty of their subjects, and loyalty meant two things: paying your taxes to Rome and taking part in the Roman religious rites and ceremonies. If you werent loyal, you were executed publically. Some Romans saw the Christians as disloyal to Rome. Render unto Caesar Christians believed that they were loyal citizens. They would quote a scripture to show their loyalty: Render unto Caesar the
things which are Caesars; and unto God the things that are Gods (Matt. 22:21). They felt that they could worship their god, and pay taxes, and keep both Rome and their god happy. Romans disagreed, because since Augustus, you had to participate in their Religion to be considered a good citizen. Christians refused to worship the Roman Gods, and so they were arrested and executed, or torn apart by lions or forced to fight in gladiator battles. Emperor Nero was one of the emperors most responsible for the hatred of Christians. Persecution Not
only were Christians made gladiators, but anyone else whose life had been deemed worthless already. This included condemned criminals, prisoners of war, and slaves, besides the Christians. They were forced to fight each other, or wild animals, in the coliseums to the death, and even if they survived, they would simply be put in the next round, until eventually they would die from being exhausted and then killed. Continued Persecution Until
310 A.D., things continued this way, though not all areas of Rome were that bad. And the reason Romes leaders did it was because they thought that Romans would unite against a common enemy, and be more loyal to the state. In fact, the opposite occurred. Many people disagreed with the unjust persecution of the Christians, and they admired them for their bravery and strength in standing up for their beliefs, even if it meant death.
Organized Another thing that Romans admired about the Christians was their organization. They had efficient communities, worked well together, and were great at helping others in need (things important to their faith, as Jesus had taught them). They also had to be well-trained and know the scriptures to join the church, and they were expected to live their religion every day. As they were persecuted, many became aware of the benefits of being a Christian. A Christian Roman
Empire By the 300s A.D., the Roman Empire was falling apart very quickly. Christianity on the other hand was growing faster than ever. VID, Vid1 Emperor Constantine admired their strength, and decided he would take advantage of it, and use it to help strengthen the empire. Legend says he saw the symbol of the cross in a battle, and the words: By this (the cross), win! He told his men to paint the Christian symbol on their shields, banners, etc., and they won, so he was converted. Video In 313 A.D., he signed the edict of Milan, which made Christianity a legal religion, and stopped all persecution. Christianity continued to prosper, and almost all the following emperors were devout
Christians thereafter. Thus the Roman Empire became Christian. By the end of 300 A.D., the persecutors (nonchristians) were themselves persecuted. The Fall of the Roman Empire More Problems As mentioned, towards the end of 200 A.D., Rome was having some serious issues. One of them was an economic recession, which is when things are going badly, and so employers cut back and lots of people are unemployed. We are in a recession right now. Recessions are often followed by something
called inflation. Inflation is when money loses its value, and so the prices for everything go up. Things that used to be cheaper cost twice as much (or more) Solutions? The emperors tried different things to fix the problem. Some tried to fix the prices and stop them from rising, but this just meant that things disappeared and couldnt be bought anymore. Constantine himself tried to issue more money (if prices go up, give people MORE money!) but this didnt help either; prices continued to rise. This led to joblessness, crime, sickness, and many other problems. Sometimes emperors gave out food
and money, but this was just a quick fix, and the problem remainedespecially since free food and money isnt really free Since the empire wasnt expanding anymore, not even the army could promise wealth or success. In fact, the army was even losing land to the barbarians. Bigger Problems The gulf between the rich and poor widened (Senators had as much as 5x as much money as they had during the republic), and there were few economic opportunities for people. Government was more and more
corrupt, and generals and their armies fought for power. Soon civil war was a way of life, and like Athens after its Golden Age, Romans lost sight of the ancient glory days of Rome. Crazy Emperors Many of the emperors were increasingly bad leaders. Some were better than others, but the worst was probably Emperor Nero. Bio, VID He kicked his pregnant second wife to death (after first stabbing his mother and executing his first wife), and of
course almost certainly burnt much of Rome, then blamed the Christians for it. Eventually the army forced him to commit suicide. He supposedly said Death! And so great an artist (as if he was some awesome actorhe was delusional, obviously). Also, between 180-270 A.D., there were 80 emperorsalmost one a year More Change At this same time, Christianity continued to grow and do well. But other things were not going well for Rome.
For instance, the wandering tribes of Germanic people in the northern parts of Europe were beginning to cause real problems for the Romans. These warrior tribes were very brave and the Romans appreciated that. In fact, over time they made up more and more of the army, until they were most of the army. They were paid to fight for Rome as mercenaries (paid soldiers)at least they were supposed to be. Fall of Rome Several of these tribes proved to be bigger
threats to Rome, particularly the Goths & Vandals. These tribes were usually not well organized, and so they posed a minor threat to Rome. In 410 A.D., Visigoth King Alaric was organized enough to attack Rome (in part by paying off the mercenaries) and plundering Rome itself. The western part of the empire was in chaos, and by 476 A.D., the last Emperor to rule from Rome, Romulus Augustulus, was overthrown by a barbarian king, King Odoacer. He in turn was overthrown by another barbarian king, and by that point, the western part of the Roman Empire was done. VID Assignment Options
Option #1: Compare / Contrast America and Ancient Rome. Are we the new Rome? Are we going to fall like Rome did? Check out the resources Ive posted online (or others) and write a 5 paragraph persuasive essay, answering these questions. Other Option Option #2: Create a political cartoon regarding Rome, Christianity, Caesar, etc., choosing a powerful issue to express an opinion
on. On my website, youll find my video that explains how to analyze a political cartoon, along with some resources to get some ideas. Finally, youll be creating one of your own. One of these two assignments will be due after the Thanksgiving Break (though you are welcome to finish them before that!), Monday, November 28th.
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