Apple’s Success and Peak Empire
by Simon Black
Even before Edward Gibbon published his famous treatise in the late 1700s, historians have frequently debated the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire.
Some, like Gibbon, argued that Roman society’s moral decline was the root cause, while others such as Toynbee suggested that the mere concept of the empire was doomed from its inception due to institutional decay.
Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: it happened gradually, with each successive generation of Romans becoming accustomed (willingly or forcibly) to the new normal of their inflationary police state.
Most historians point to the reign of Emperor Commodus (180–192 AD) as the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire; early Roman historian Cassius Dio described the rule of Commodus as Rome’s turning point from a “kingdom of gold to one of rust and iron.”
Commodus was known for his harsh cruelty, debauchery, and insanity; contemporary historians suggest that Commodus actually believed he was the reincarnation of Hercules, and he had a penchant for staging expensive (and fixed) gladiatorial exhibitions in which he would personally compete.
By the time of his assassination, Rome was nearly bankrupt… though this didn’t stop future emperors from continuing the tradition of self-indulgent largess.