The were many different varieties of Christianity that

The Roman Empire is known to be one of the most powerful and influential governing bodies in Late Antiquity. Many historians argue whether the time period between the third and sixth century CE embodied the transformation of the Roman Empire, or began their fall. The decline of the Roman Empire is clearly shown in Late Antiquity through the invasion of Barbarians, changing religious beliefs, and the division of the empire. Late Antiquity was a period of time that contained many cultural and political changes throughout Europe and was a period of transformation for many cultures as they transitioned into the time of the Middle Ages. During this time, the Romans transitioned from a Republic to an Empire. The first commander of the empire, Caesar Augustus, led the Romans through this new development. The Romans quickly developed a successful society with sets of laws, trade routes, and buildings such as coliseums, which all contributed to its quick rise to power. Traditionally, Roman religion was polytheistic and used syncretism, borrowing ideas from different religions and other mixtures of beliefs. However, within their reign, particularly towards the end, these beliefs and their way of living changed drastically. Late Antiquity slowly introduced the Romans to new religions such as Paganism and Christianity, changing their societal beliefs as a whole and created tensions between people with different views, thus contributing to their decline. Traditionally Romans believed in an array of different aspects from different religions and forms of spirituality and polytheism. However, this changed beginning when Hellenism and Paganism was introduced. There was also many different cult- like mysterious religions such as Eleusinian and Demeter. The biggest transition for the Romans was the rise of Christianity. The first emperor to support this was Constantine “the great,” who ruled from 306-337.Constantine claimed that God helped him take over the empire, and in 313 signed the Edict of Milan, giving Christians the right to practice. This brought the rise of Christian art and architecture around Rome. There were many different varieties of Christianity that argued different aspects of the religion. One being Marcionites, who argued that the Christian God was also the snake in the Bible, and Dualism, which argued that there was both a good and evil god. However, by accepting Christianity, the empire impaired their traditional values, because Christianity was monotheistic, the emperor, who was once considered “god” to the Roman people, lost much power and credibility. The transition also contributed to man arguments and disbeliefs among the Roman people.Because of the sudden introduction to new beliefs, many Romans questioned what is right and turned to different philosophical questions to understand. This is seen through Augustine of Hippo, who questioned converting to Christianity deeply, wondering, if the Romans are supposed to be Christian, why was God letting the empire fall? Augustine wrote Confessions and questioned theology and philosophy. His autobiography travels throughout his life, and discusses his ups and downs with God, and his thoughts on different types of religions. The struggles with understanding the nature of sin, and why God would exist in such an evil and sinful world. He takes on many Neoplatonic views and searches through life in order to find one truth about the creation of the world. In the end, Augustine decides to convert to Catholicism. This autobiography is a good example of how complicated the aspects of Christianity were to the Romans, and how it hindered their society.Throughout the rising popularity of Christianity, many Romans argued over what should be believed, thus creating tension between citizens with each other, and between citizens and the government. This is shown through The Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, which is known to be one the earliest Christian texts. Felicitas and Perpetua were part of a group of catechumen, and were not supported by their family. Perpetua’s father was a Pagan and was not at all supportive of her life choices. Both Felicitas and Perpetua were sentenced to martyrdom. They both were killed in the end, believing that it would bring them closer to God in heaven. This text shows that although Christianity was not a popular belief when it was first introduced to the Roman people, some truly believed in it and were dedicated to it enough to be killed because of it. Felicitas and Perpetua’s death is just one example that exemplifies the rise of different religions, namely Christianity, contributing to Rome’s decline due to misunderstandings, violence, and different opinions among the citizens of the Roman Empire. Rome’s military problems, weak political system and corrupt leaders is an obvious contribution to the decline. This began during the crisis of the third century, which set the stage of the beginning of their fall. This happened between the years 235-384 CE, after Severus’ rule, and greatly split up the Roman people into different political entities. During this time, villas were abandoned, there was a devaluation of coinage, and epidemic disease killed many people. This left the empire in turmoil and they struggled to find someone to pull them out. Unfortunately, for the Romans, many political amateurs were put in charge of their government. In 218, Elagabalus came to power and proved that many were not fit for the challenging role of being emperor. He had many different conflicts with the Roman People such as religious and sexual conflicts. Many of his views and actions did not impress the Romans whom he was ruling, and is just one example of an emperor not fit for the position. In The Secret Life of Procopius, it is made clear that some emperors were extremely disliked by Roman citizens, making historians question their rule. In this text, Procopius outlines his intense hatred towards some of the leaders of Rome. He expresses his great dislike of emperor Justinian. He explains many terrible things that he saw Justinian do during his reign, explaining that “evil spread” all over the empire as soon as he came to power. He called Justinian untruthful and a robber and murderer. He says that Justinian deeply hurt the Roman empire by doing terrible things during his reign, and described that no one in the empire trusted the emperors after his rule due to his mistreatment of his power. Although readers do not know it Procopius’ statements are true, his writings definitely showed that many emperors in Late Antiquity were disliked and not trusted among their people. These leaders may have contributed to Rome’s military problems in this time period. During the height of the empire, they had acquired much land across the European continent, although this was a good thing at the time, the Romans struggled to make their army big enough to cover their territory. Justinian created a powerful military and explained the laws in his Theodosian Code, his new laws focused much on the expansion and general rules regarding the military. Although these laws may make it seem like it was making the military stronger and more powerful, they may have often contributed to the fact that Rome focused a little too much on making their military better that they did not take care of other conflicts they were experiencing at the time. The first law, XXXIV, makes a law regarding who can serve in the military, and lined out strict rules that states no one could have two dignities in the military at once. Another law in this code, XXXV states that bankers may not serve in the military. These laws set the stage for the Roman military for years to come, even after Justinian ruled. Justinian tried his hardest to make the military better, but maybe the strict rules deterred people from joining, contributing to the weakening of the army and their failure to expand on to new lands and defeat Barbarian tribes.When the Barbarians started invading Rome, military was also spending very quickly, and could not keep up with the Barbarians. The years of the Later Roman Empire produced a variety of different Barbarian groups such as the huns and the goths; because of the rise of these groups and the power they gained, Rome continued to fall. These Barbarians exhausted the Roman Empire’s military and took much of their land that they had expanded on. The Barbarian takeover began in 378 in the Battle of Adrianople Valens. In this battle, the visigoths and the ostrogoths defeated the Roman army led by emperor Valens . This battle proved that Rome was being slowly taken over by these Barbarian tribes, and many consider this the “last great battle of antiquity.” The goths originated in modern day Spain because they viewed it as the most favorable region on earth due to its warm weather and beautiful landscape. The goths originated from Magog, East Germanic people. In the era 294, the goths came down from the Alps and lived in numerous different places including Greece and Macedonia. They lived throughout this time and elected many different emperors to lead them. As the goth population grew in size, so did their expansion and collision with the Roman empire. This led to a number of raids and a bad relationship with Rome.These various Barbaric tribes greatly affected the Roman Empire in a negative way that was toxic to their society, and aided in their decline. Though presented with valid facts regarding the fact that Rome did indeed fall during this time, many historians argue that this period of time was a transformation of the Empire instead due to many different aspects changing in the empire. One argument states that the rise of Barbarian tribes may not have taken down Rome, but become apart of their empire and transformed it in a different way. When the Barbarians took their land from them, they became part of the empire and adapted to their morals and ways of living rather than taking them over, and argue that they actually improved the empire and changed it in a positive way, creating a new type of empire called the Byzantines. Other arguments will state that the Romans, during this time, advanced greatly in philosophical teachings and new technologies such as aqueducts. These arguments are inherently false. Although the Byzantine empire can be seen as the “new” Romans, there is no doubt that their morales, religions, and values greatly differed from traditional Roman customs, thus forcing the fall of the Roman empire and starting the Byzantine, a completely different society. Although the Romans did advance in many societal teachings, that was not enough to stop their decline. There are many different aspects as to why Rome fell in late antiquity, the rise of new religions, the invasion of the Barbarians, and the division of the empire all contributed to this fall. Due to the Romans being such a well known empire and one of the strongest groups to ever rule around the Mediterranean, it is challenging to depict why this powerful empire fell. However, by examining these situations, it is clear that there is not just one reason for their decline, but many different reasons that all came together and happened at the same time. We can only hope that leaders and countries today understand these mistakes, and do not make the same ones as the Romans.