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Roman Empire vs United States - Are we heading towards the same fate?

Updated on March 28, 2012

We're pretty similar, you and I

The Roman Empire and the United States of America have an astounding amount of similar characteristics. The Roman Empire lasted from 509 BC to 476 AD. The United States resembles much of what ancient Rome was like before the fall of the Roman Empire.

Social classes are a problem that cannot be fixed

Rome’s downfall was a result of the different classes of people that began to develop. Rome, back then, was powered and run by the lower class farmers. But, when the upper class aristocrats started becoming more and more greedy, they began to take the small farmers land and make it their own. The greed of the aristocrats was one factor that led to the Roman decline.

The US also has problems with social classes. The United States is composed of a large middle/lower class of people and a small upper class. The problem is that much of the lower middle class people are heavily in debt because they bought things that they can not afford like houses and material possessions. But, the government wants to increase taxes on the rich people to pay for the mistakes of the middle class. Another thing is that some people in the middle/lower class don’t even work. They rely on government to help them live. Someone has to pay for them and it is usually the upper class and the upper middle class that pay through high taxes.

There are many problems with the differing classes of people. The lower and middle class people are the main driving force in both of the economies of the Roman Empire and the US. It is the small farmers in the Roman Empire and the small business owners in the United States. The problem is that the upper middle class people who work hard to start a business and make money will get taxed higher and the lower middle class people will receive the taxed money from the government. As a result, the small workers would not be able to keep up with their businesses. This is in the United States. This would then make the economy crash and eventually all of Rome.

Laziness Laziness Lazi...

Another factor that contributed to the Roman Empire's downfall was their laziness. Slavery was common throughout the ancient world, but nowhere was it more common than in Rome. Almost every farmer in ancient Rome had from one to two slaves to help them work on their small farms. The very rich people would have many slaves. This contributed to Roman Empire's laziness because the people relied on slaves to do such things like building roads, building buildings, and to be household workers. This led to the Romans laziness because they began to let their slaves do most of the work while they ordered them around.

The United States has also become increasingly lazy in the last few years. The increase in technology has led to much laziness in the American youth. For example, the computer, the TV, and the video gaming systems are major contributors to the laziness of the United States. Instead of children going out to work and earn some money like did in the earlier years of the US, teens and children would rather sit inside wasting their life and mind on the electronics. This is making our nation lazy because children would rather play games than work hard for money.

The similarity of laziness between the US and Rome are strikingly similar. Unfortunately, there is not much that the US can do about the technologies because they are already a huge part of everyone’s daily life. One solution for America would be to have stricter parents who make their kids work. But, it is inevitable to avoid the fact that the laziness of the United States due to technologies resembles the laziness of the Roman Empire due to slaves.

You need to be smart to be successful :/

Another factor of the Roman Empire's downfall was in their education. For the poor, it would be up to the paterfamilias in ancient Rome to provide for their children’s education. If they didn’t have enough money to pay for their child’s/siblings education, then they would not get one. But the wealthy were expected to learn to read and write whether they were taught by a slave or a teacher.

The US also has problems with education. The upper class kids of America usually get an education through college. But, it is different with the lower can lower middle class kids. Some go to college if they have a scholarship or if they have saved a lot of money, but most kids in the lower middle class and under don’t go to college because they cannot afford it.

There are many problems with this system. All this does is separate the classes of people even more. It means that since the upper class kids have a better education, they will get the better jobs. And since the lower class children don’t have a good education, if one at all, then they will get the low pay jobs. This will just increase the margin of upper class to lower class families.

Economic trouble!! Uh O, sound familiar?

A fourth factor of the Roman downfall was their economy. Because of a plague that had gone throughout Rome, 10 percent of the population had died. Rome needed to recruit more soldiers, but in order to do so; they had to raise taxes to pay for soldiers. This drained the public funds. Although this worked for a little while, it proved to be detrimental in the long run.

The United States also has a declining economy. The United States is in a huge debt of over 10 trillion dollars. But what the new potential presidents are proposing is to give all the poor families a couple thousand dollars to help them get on their feet. The only problem with this is that we are in debt and have not much money to give to them.

The economy of a country greatly affects the outcome of the country. In both situations, the government spent or will spend money that they don’t have. This drained the public funds and increased the already incomprehensible debt. This decision will affect the outcome of the country in the long run.

Brute force, yep, we've got it

Rome had the world’s strongest military at the prime of the Empire. This is one reason why the Roman Empire became so strong. The soldiers were very loyal to their country. One reason is because in 107 AD, Marius introduced the idea of recruiting poor landless peasants into the military and rewarding them with land after their service. Later in the Empire, they began to recruit German soldiers into the Roman army. These Germans were not very loyal to Rome and sometimes revolted. This led to the decline of the greatness of the Roman military.

The United States also has the strongest military in the world. The military would be one contrast to Rome. Although they are both world powerful militaries, the United States soldiers are extremely loyal to their country.

Both Empires had the strongest militaries in the world at their height. The Romans messed up when they started recruiting Germans into their military therefore making the troops not completely loyal. This is one difference that the United States has against the Roman Empire. Although it is heading in the somewhat same direction that Rome is heading, the United States troops are very loyal to their country. The US is at peace with almost every nation and stands to keep that peace.

If we don't learn from history, we are bound to repeat it

The similarities between the fall of the Roman Empire and the United States show that if the US doesn’t fix their problems, then it might dissipate as Rome did long ago. Social classes are inevitable, but one thing that can help our country would be to not distance each social class from each other. But, this will be impossible unless everyone works equally to earn their share of money.

I don’t think that we should give our tax money to lazy people who don’t work. I do think that we should put more tax on the upper class people who have plenty of money, and less tax those who have to save every penny they earn. In turn, the people who really need money and don’t work will start getting jobs so they can survive. And slowly, the economy will recover. Although the United States has dug itself a deep hole, if the right precautions are taken, we can escape the fate similar of the Roman Empire.

What do you think?

Do you think the United States will fall like the Roman Empire in the next 200 years?

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      i totally agree with the author. yes the rich is getting richer day after day , while the poor poorer. that is why capitalism is a dehumanazing system. we have to humanize .

    • profile image

      A Chicken 

      5 years ago

      The Roman Empire lasted around 2000 years (From around 400 BC to 1400 AD including the Byzantine Empire) so I doubt the USA is going to fall any day soon but it will inevitably fall one day.

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 

      6 years ago from The World (for now)

      Very interesting article. I agree that the Roman Empire is similar to the United States. Since all great nations have their peak and then they fall, I think it would be safe to say that there will be a time when the United States is not at the top. It would be conceited to think otherwise. There are some changes that the States can made to prolong their stay at the top but the question is, can they and will they do it?

    • junko profile image


      6 years ago

      The lack of jobs because of technology and technology's ability to entertain millions of idle Americans is unique to America and unlike Rome. Technology is a friend of Capitalism and an enemy of the Great Unwashed. The fall of America will be caused by the greed created by unregulated Capitalism, not laziness of the masses, but needs of the masses.

    • mio cid profile image

      mio cid 

      6 years ago from Uruguay

      Eventually everything changes the romans had a pretty good run,it lasted many centuries ,that's a long time .It would not be a small achievement for the U.S to last that long as a world superpower.And if Yoko Ono is right the only thing that doesn't change is the season of glass.Good hub ,voted up,liked, tweeted and pinned.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      We are Rome only with lies. Democracy has never existed only chosen for us. We the people of already chosen lies will be dictated by already chosen positions auctioned by the highest bidders. Free money made from paper to be called in to consolidate all debts at a chosen time. I have never had a loan but pay 3 quarters of the year on interest to something I never elected or voted for. I was born here but do not need any of them to be free. Simply living is debt and prison we created entire programs to support the slaves every where. Free us with fair wages and let us purchase our goods made here by our hands. End all American tyranny by allowing us to become people again, in our own country.

    • Illian Quinn profile image

      Illian Quinn 

      6 years ago

      FYI, the people who you're blaming for leeching off the rich via taxes is complete and utter bullshit. It's the middle class that pays for all of it : 40% goes to the elderly and nursing homes, while 20% goes towards orphans, while the rest goes toward the mentally ill. But I garuntee that none of the wealthy are paying for it. Most especially the top 1% who hold more than 80% of our wealth and are even payed in negative interest rates by the banks. Yes, they are actually getting payed to spend more money since that's exactly how monetarism works.

      Look, I could go on and on but there's still one fact that remains evident amongst all civilizations. That would be the despair and destruction that capitalism has brought to our world.

    • Illian Quinn profile image

      Illian Quinn 

      6 years ago

      The moment you started blaming the lower and middle classes for the increased taxes on the super wealthy despite the fact they they were the ones that got us into this mess to begin with, were the ones who were bailed out of the mess, and have turned our government into an oligarchy. You lost me and I have no intention of reading your entire article since clearly it's completely biased and nonfactual.

      In a nut shell, it doesn't matter which civilization you compare to America. The fact remains that capitalism and civilization its self is a plague on humanity and this world. In other words, all of what we see today has only been around for 0.2% of human existence and has even been deemed by many scientists as being the 12th mass extinction.

      Yes, Humans are the 12th mass extinction because of the fatal experiment nature has decided to play upon us. We have nobody to blame but ourselves and evolution.

    • chasemillis profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      What isn't true? The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Competition and capitalism encourage growth. But even growth for the US and other large industrial countries/nations is bad for other countries that are poor.

      There's no escaping it really. But are we really heading towards the same fate that Rome is heading towards? Who knows, that's why I wrote this. You can decide for yourselves.

      You could honestly spend hundreds of pages explaining different aspects of it and include a massive amount of research, data, statistics, etc.. I didn't forget anything, I just didn't include it. I just wanted to put the comparison out there because I thought it was interesting. That is all.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is not completely true. He also forgot to mention that our wages compete with foreign country for the US works in a global market. He forgot to mention that those poor innocent rich people that get taxed decided to outsource jobs to other countries and neglected their fellow Americans so the job market has dropped tremendously increases a demand for higher skilled workers and not just farmers. I suggest you research your work some more.

    • chasemillis profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      If you don't learn from history you are bound to repeat it.

      America was a world power at the turn of the 20th century, not just after WWII. It was the industrial power of the world, especially with the advent of the steel industry.

      There are tons of factors that play into this comparison of world powers. Of course the US does not completely and perfectly compare to Rome. But there are many similarities.

      It's like saying that one country is the most athletic. What characteristics are you looking at? Strength, endurance, explosive power, skill, etc...The fact still remains that if you eat sweets, don't know how to work out/get stronger, can't afford to buy training equipment, etc... you will become more un-athletic. If you notice, you can compare those to the above factors that the US has in common with Rome.

      Lastly, the Romans enlisted soldiers from all over the empire. And yes, when they served long enough they were granted citizenship. However, Germans were not as loyal to the Roman cause as other groups and they often revolted. This destruction of unity was one of the precursors of Rome's downfall.

      Think about it like a bowl of soup. Flavors from different herbs, spices, meats, and what not are added to make the final product. This article is simply an analysis of the years previous to the fall of the Roman empire and comparing them to how the US is currently doing in similar issues. The issues that I mentioned are simply different ingredients for the soup of Rome's downfall.

      You can decide if we are heading towards the same fate or not.

      [And when you mentioned that Ancient China could have defeated Ancient Rome, you need to use the past tense because Rome is not the same as it once was. Also, you spelled criticize wrong.]

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You didn't approve my comment?

      Why? Because I critisize? Typical.

    • profile image

      What a joke. 

      6 years ago

      Silly Americans, why do you compare yourself with Rome?

      It's completely different and quite arrogant as well.

      Rome was a very advanced compared to its enemies, who were often basically barbarians. When they did face equal foes, they often suffered great losses. The Romans had tribes and other empires on every corner of its empire. While the US borders just Canada (ally) and Mexico.

      The US has only been a world power for a short time (since the end of WW2) While Rome lasted over a millenium.

      Rome didn't have the world's strongest military, it did however have one of the strongest. There is one candidate who could very possibly defeat Rome in a war or battle, Ancient China.They had an even more advanced military and society, and a similar population. The only reason the US did rise to be the sole superpower is nuclear weapons , and being the 'last man standing' after WW2 is what made them a world power. Rome wasn't an immigrant nation like the US. It was an empire.

      It was between the 16th and 17th century that Europe started to dominate globally. The US being born after that period, and having immigrants from those nations , very much profitted to European scientific and technological developments.

      In a nutshell, there are many modern, medieval and ancient countries/empires that can be compared with Rome.

      Some of these examples are silly anyway.

      Like the economy and education issues, many nations had exactly the same... only the rich were educated.

      Germans in the Roman army? The Romans always enlisted troops from all over their empire, those who served long enough were rewarded with Roman citizenship.

    • profile image

      Shirley Paige 

      6 years ago

      I do have to agree with what Apostle Jack they did not put God first. I may be only be 15 and in foster care but I was brought up with the being first in everything I do. This land was founded on God. Our founding fathers fought for this country. And what we as a whole our doing now is wroung.This is our promise land. No one should have the right to destroy us because they are the president. But the only thing I can say is that before America is at a breaking point the priest-hood leaders in the government shall step up and bring the Americas back on its feet. But we should always keep in mind this one thing. Why did we fight to come to America? Why was there so much bloodshed? What reason did this happen for? Ask your-selves this the next time a huge problem comes up about taking out God!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Lol 200 years? More like 20-30

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      There are no references to these suppositions. The republican and imperial eras are repeatedly mixes together in a way that don't aid the reader much in clarifying Roman history and relating this to the sequential pattern of the decline of Roman Republicanism.

      The key to understanding the Roman's transition from republic to empire is complex but the most important factor and one tied to all others (especially taxation) was MILITARISM. However, this wasn't stressed nearly enough in linking it to both American and Roman republicanism.

      Let's examine this factor in greater depth.

      As stated above Romans served as loyal citizens during times of attack and threat such as during the Punic Wars. However, no citizen/soldier/farmer could long remain away from their farms without financial ruin and their loyalty turning sour.

      The expansion of Roman territory created an increasing need for full-time armies to keep down restive conquered populations in Greece, Spain, Gaul and Germany to name but a few.

      In turn, these legions were led (and sometimes paid) by rich aristocrats like Crassus, Caesar, Sulla and Pompei. By the time of the late republic and the first two triumvirates this was the norm not the exception.

      So, rather than Roman armies being comprised of citizen-soldiers who were loyal to the republic, the Roman legions increasingly became a collection of landless professional soldiers and foreign mercenaries who cast their allegiance to their generals, not Rome.

      Increasingly these "strongmen" ignored Roman tradition and law to keep and exercise their power. Just one example of this was the above mentioned Marius who was consul six times when ancient Roman law (their Constitution) had commanded that a consulship last only one year and be served only once.

      Empires need emperors. As a result, "executive power" of Rome's rulers only increased as Roman civil society declined. More and more taxes, manpower and resources were devoted to simply maintaining the empire. All of this needed to be "administered."

      Decay of civic virtue, decline of lawful authority, increase in immorality, apathy, slavery, class division, taxation, debt, and general abandonment of Roman law and tradition were outcomes of imperialism; which was abetted by its inseparable twin of militarism.

      By the end of the Republican Era, the aggressive militarized Roman state was beyond the control of the lawful checks and balances of the Senate or other segment of Roman society.

      Good sources on this subject are:

      Erik Hildinger's, "Swords Against the Senate."

      Anything by the great scholar of Roman history, Michael Grant.

    • profile image

      Matthew Allen 

      7 years ago

      we are Doomed to repeat history the lower will not work so long as the get money from the government for doing nothing and when the middle class sees it they will stop working thus causing increasing economic troubles

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      jus used this ti help me a write a paper in less than like twenty minutes so thanks

    • yellowstone8750 profile image


      7 years ago from Taos, nm

      Just a quick note on your eduction comments. With student loans and Pell grants, almost anyone can get a university eduction. I am working on a Hub that compares the US with Germany in the 20s and 30s,: it is as scary as yours.

    • Miss Lyric profile image

      Miss Lyric 

      8 years ago

      I found your hub very interesting, sort of hooks up with a theory I have had for a long time about where we are all headed in the West! Very well written informative article..nice to meet you..good hub!!

    • chasemillis profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the comments Apostle Jack and Credence2, yes the greed of the aristocrats is an affecting factor of the Roman's Fall, but they also keep the economy going. Unless they just save their money and don't buy anything, they actually grow the economy. It's a little less so in Rome's case, but the wealthy people in America are the people who hire everyone for jobs. Whenever they have more money, they usually spend it on something, which ends up growing the economy. So it can go both ways, but just greed does have the potential to be bad.

      And seeing that Inflation is at an average of 2% each year, I doubt the aristocrats of today will just be saving their money because their money is worth 2% less each year. Good point though.

    • Credence2 profile image


      8 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Yes, what about the greed of our aristocrats, that is made more evident than ever before? This greed is going to make slaves of most of the middle income folks again, while the aristocrats accumulate more and more just because they can.

      I can relate with the problem with youth. A niece asked me one time to look up the answer to an algebra problem on the internet. I told her that the real challenge was not having the answer but the effort (process) that you took to get it. That is where we grow. The instant gratification society has not been a great development for our young.

      Thanks chasemillis

    • Apostle Jack profile image

      Apostle Jack 

      8 years ago from Atlanta Ga

      I believe that it will,I don't see anything to prevent it.

      It shall repeat a lot of mistakes made over the years,they put God last.

    • chasemillis profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I not saying that it's going to happen really soon, just that we have a lot of the same symptoms that Rome had before their fall. It's a little scary to think about.

    • Timetothink profile image


      8 years ago from Ballarat, Victoria Australia

      My husband and I have been saying this for years. Totally agree with you. Great article

    • chasemillis profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks mikeq107 for the comment and referrals!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Chasemillis :0)

      Voted up and shared with my followers...wrote this link a few years back

      Great to meet you...!!!!!!

      Mike :0)


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