It is common to realize that all emperors want to make their empires the most powerful among others. However, the decline of these large empires is also inevitable. This paper explains the reasons behind the rise and the fall of the four most powerful empires of ancient time. Starting with the Persian Empire, Greek Empire, the Western Roman Empire, and the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire.
Cyrus the great is the first, founder of the Achaemenid Empire. This empire was mainly built on military conquest. He built Pasargadae the main city and brought architectural possibilities in Persia. The empire continued to grow with the King’s tolerant behavior of the places he conquered, for instance when Cyrus invaded Babylonia, he freed the Jews from Babylonia and allowed the people to follow the cultures and religion they believed in. Cyrus continued to conquer Egypt and the Mediterranean. Under the reign of three great emperors, the empire kept growing as it conquered more and more land. With the help of great architectural and engineering techniques, the empire grew to immense heights.
Under the rule of Xerxes, the Persian empire has started to decline. The structure of the empire started to break down as the lower class organized riots against the kings. Xerxes was not strong enough to train armies at battle or even provide its people the resources they required. Scientific advancements like weapons could also not be produced. Leaders, especially in Egypt started their policies and revolts which affected the economy of the Persian Empire. Another factor that led to the downturn of the Persian Empire was the rise in taxes. For the reason the Kings kept most of the gold with them which resulted in less gold available in the market for business. Trade decreased as commoners started to leave due to low levels of crop production. Overall, a week king led to the fall of this empire at social, economic, and political levels.
One of the most important factors that led to a rise of the ancient Greek empire was its demography. Its location was capable of feeding large populations that allowed the Greek Empire to take advantage of trading and spread themselves across the sea. They adapted democracy which allowed the interaction of all members and decentralized communication. These decisions were in the best interest of all citizens which led to high state performance. Therefore, even though Greek had a large population, living standards were high. Specialization in military affairs and trade by two major Greek cities contributed immensely to the development of the manufacturing industries in Greek such as pottery and stonework. Athens also provided economic benefits like guaranteed protection. The fact that Greek was divided into many city-states brought in healthy competition and technology advancement.
Nonetheless, conflicts and wars between these city-states were a major factor in the decline of the empire as this costed the life of many Greek soldiers making the empire weaker to fight against outside forces. Such as the Peloponnesian war which was fought by the two most powerful cities in Greece Athens and Sparta. Internal conflicts started between the upper and lower classes. With this, the neighboring countries became more powerful day by day. In addition to these, other factors that led to the decline of the Greek Empire was the Plague that killed many Greeks and their military and political leader. The city-states then started to form different ways of ruling and life. An important factor of this Empire is culture. The Greek culture did not decline as it was adopted by both Romans and the Macedonians.
Western Roman Empire-
Rome was one of the most powerful between the 5th century BCE and 1st century CE. The Roman Empire was divided into two parts. The Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire also called the Byzantine Empire. The Western Roman Empire was led by Augustus. The Roman empire grew as it provided citizenship to people it conquered. With this technique, their political structure was incorporated by a large population. They also had developed political institutions that prevented one man from becoming too powerful. Bringing enslaved people into the city and military expansion plans boosted the economic development of Rome. There was. Class conflict between the patricians (wealthy people and plebeians (commoners), however, Romans opened up voting assemblies allowing the commoners to have a say in the politics of Rome. Taking over surrounding cities was a major factor in developing Rome. The soldiers from these cities were used for military campaigns. Rome also concentrated a lot on art and architecture such as roads, domes, insulae, and aqueducts for their economic development.
The fall of the Roman Empire was on political, economic, and social levels. They were invaded by Barbarian tribes. Constant wars caused financial crises and inflation that increased the gap between the rich and the poor. In parallel, they faced a labor deficit and a decline in agricultural production. Sea pirates disrupted their economic trade. As they spent more and more on military and expansion plans, the architecture and technological advancements of Rome fell into decline. Government corruption as the emperors were chosen by the Praetorian Guards (personal bodyguards) also led to roman military turning against their employers. There was a decline in cultural values as people started converting to Christianity.
The decline of the western roman empire led to the rise of the eastern roman empire (Byzantine Empire). As the gulf widened, the eastern empire became wealthier than the western empire and with this diverted all the invasions of the east to the west. Emperor Constantinople guarded the city well. Moreover, since it was a Christian Empire, there was a significant boost in cultural values. Christianity came as a revolution to moral, social, and political corruption. Art and architecture also boosted the empire such as the creation of Hagia Sophia in just five years and the use of mosaic to display religious themes or portraits of the imperial family. However, the great schism between the roman catholic church and the greek Orthodox church put many European Kingdoms against the Byzantine Empire. Throughout, the emperor was found in the middle of crusades and was invaded by both European Catholic and Middle Eastern armies. Finally, Constantinople was attacked and captured by the Ottomans, renaming the city to Istanbul and putting an end to the Byzantine Empire
To conclude, a consecutive series of five to six good emperors are needed to help an empire reach its maximum heights. The rise and decline of such empires depend on various reasons as discussed above. These reasons affect the empires and the state on political, economic, social, and cultural levels.