The rise and fall of the Roman Empire

It’s always important to understand what came before so as to understand what came to be… A particular scholar even coined the phrase ‘you have to know your history to know where you’re going. In the case of Rome, in this instance, their predecessors have a lot to do with their being; in fact their predecessors built Rome (the city). The Etruscans were a people who lived in the Italian Peninsula before Rome flourished their origin is said to be somewhere in the Asian Minor. Their rule is said to have begun somewhere in the first millennium when they imposed it on the Iron Age natives they are known for pottery and bronze and for their beautiful tombs, under their rule Rome flourished! Of course this was a few centuries later around 509bc and around this time the roman kings overthrew them and incorporated their cities into theirs. Thus begins the Roman Empire.

The Romans had two types of people in their ‘caste system’ so to speak; the plebeians and the patricians. The Patricians were the wealthier upper-class citizens while the plebeians were the poorer lower class. These two were the basic make-up of the Roman Empire. Rome was ruled mostly by patricians and its overall influences seem to have been art and intellect therefore suggesting freedom of spirit.

The Greek and the romans seem to have nothing in common their paths and the way they were ruled and even their forms of social expression being very different and yet their paths seem intertwined. ‘The Romans have an image in history very different from that of the creative, liberty-loving, self-destructive Greeks who preceded them…’ (A. Esler 2004) Roman women it seems had more freedom than Greek women, being able to attend public gatherings alongside the men and being able to work in public places as well while the Greek women did not have such freedom.

The Romans as described by my textbook were ‘reluctant imperialists’ However just counting the wars that came after I deduceD that they could have also been described as victorious anarchists. There was; Italy, Carthage, Macedon, Greece, Western Persia, and Ptolemaic Egypt surely they defeated every strong nation there was! Apparently though defeating other nations was easier than dissipating the civil unrest within their ever expanding borders… these wars and the loot they pillaged during them allowed for the purchase of excessive land, slaves and the luxuries of the Greek and Asiatic people. Corruption was the norm because the rich it seemed didn’t pay taxes while the poor did… This caused dissent amongst the ranks of the poor who were expected to suffer in silence. The ensuing bitterness saw the poor rising up to claim their dues.

The rest of this time is marked with uprisings and change. Julius Caesar, came, saw and conquered, seeing it into its prime. He seems to have been the man for the people lowering taxation, allowing citizenship to people from conquered lands, made a program for public works, passed laws to provide for the landless, reorganized the administration in place to stop corruption as well as many more things that worked for Italy. Of course this caused dissention in the ranks yet again however this time it was with the rich. This probably was the reason he was stabbed to death by a group of conspirators lead by his own lieutenants.

All hell broke loose is probably the best way to describe the next ten years stopped finally by August Caesar also known as Octavia.  August Cease’s reign begins with him and his allies forcing the senate to grant them the power to restore the state. He is known not only for his military strength but also and most importantly because he restored peace. He didn’t just restore peace he created it seems a peace that maintained itself and lasted for 200 years something not only his predecessors but others from different empires would have found it very difficult to do. The Roman maxim under which he ruled ‘let justice be done though the heavens fall’ seems to have been his gift to the roman people.

After him enters the crisis of the third century which sees many rulers and a lot of confusion. None of them living up to or long enough to establish anything of note and after this, the decline and fall of the Roman empire which is baffling at best. How could an empire so strong fall? Was it confusion? Population decline?  Anarchy?  Strife?  Weakness from within? History suggests that empires built on what Rome was built on don’t just fall and yet it did… how? Historians have no conclusion. This empire, beautiful in its art forms majestic in its imperialism, strong in its culture just dissipated leaving behind a wealth of political history to learn from.

The above was written for a World Civilizations Class, USIU

The History of Radio

Early beginnings                                                                                             

Radio, like any other great invention, has begginings submerged in politics. Nikola Tesla, who invented the basic idea didn’t get recognition for his idea until 1943, 28 years after he first went to court to claim his right as the actual inventor of the radio. Gugliemo Marconi was, until then, known as the ‘inventor of radio’.

Marconi was great in his own right, he saw the potential radio had as a medium and went on to transform it from its basic model into what we have now. From introducing voice over air in 1921 to shortwave in 1922, Marconi however had also been accused of copying other peoples designs and as we can already tell from his aforementioned altercation with Tesla we couldn’t put it past him. Earlier Indian scientist J.C. Bose had demonstrated the radio transmission in 1896 in Calcutta in front of the British Governor General. He had also solved the problem of ‘hertz’ making it easier to penetrate walls mountains or water.

Marconi was present in the meeting of the Royal Society and it is thought that he stole the notebook of Bose that included the drawing of the ‘Mercuri Coherer with a telephone detector’. Marconi’s Coherer, which he used in 1901, was the exact copy of that of Bose. Apparently Marconi was unable to explain how he got to the design. He said that an Italian Navy engineer called Solari had developed it, but Solari later denied it. Marconi then said that Italian Professor Timasina did, which later was exposed as a lie by another Italian professor, Angelo Banti, who claimed that the design was invented by signalman Paolo Castelli.

Marconi its seemed was very self seeking, there was another scientist, Nathan B. Stubblefield, a farmer from Murray, Kentucky, made a voice transmission four years before Marconi transmitted radio signals. Even Bose wasn’t as self seeking as he was! Bose did not apply for a patent on his design because he believed in the free flow of inventions in science! Later though,  under pressure from American friends, he applied for the patent in September 1901. He was awarded the US patent for the invention of the radio in 1904. By that time Marconi had received his patent and international recognition.

Lets go back a little bit shall we? As we trace the history of the radio. Its important to remember that radio was initially created as a form of communication – telegraph messages- which were then called wireless telegraphs. Its also very important considering the subject matter to remember that radio as a form of communication and radio as media is two different things.  Now lets talk about the history of Radio as media.

Radio was the first ‘modern’ media form, and had a huge impact on the history of the 20th century. For the first time information could be broadcast… it could be received by anyone with the right equipment, without wires and the birth of radio really ushered in the era of mass communications. Many people likened the explosion of radio in the 1920s to what is happening with the internet today .

                                      Humorous accolades and fun Trivia

  • 1/4 of media use in a day is to radio; 1 out of 6 minutes spent w/ESPN done through radio.
  • iPod/mp3 players have no impact on time spent listening to radio for 8 in 10 consumers
  • Radio has a higher percent of adults 25-54 using it from 5am-5pm than any other media
  • The News/Talk format captures nearly half of all public radio listening
  • All Sports stations attract a far higher percentage of male listeners (almost 87%) than any other radio format
  • 63% of consumers turn to radio first over internet, television, and newspapers to learn about new music


Where we are now

Today, there are more than 33,000 radio stations around the world, with more than 12,000 in the US alone. Worldwide there are more than 2 billion radio sets in use, or about one radio for every 3 persons; proof that video never killed the radio star.


The above was written for a journalism class at USIU