Empires throughout history have come about in a multitude of different ways. Some started out as Empires, with kings and emperors who persisted and kept it that way for centuries. Some have a revolution or get overthrown by someone with ambition to be an emperor. Others, as in the case of both the Roman and Galactic Empire began from a different type of government, a Republic. The Roman and Galactic Empires have a multitude of similarities, in their decisions and actions, their structure, leaders, and even in their ultimate downfall. While the Galactic Empire was not based on the Romans, it’s style of government compares greatly to theirs in many aspects, which leaves no surprise as to why it ultimately crumbled.
The most resounding similarity between these two Empires is the way in which they began. Both Empires, one fictional and one real, were at first a republic. As Polybius says about the beginnings of the Roman Empire, “when a new generation arises and the democracy falls into the hands of the grandchildren of its founders, they have become so accustomed to freedom and equality that they no longer value them…democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence.” (Polybius). Augustus rose through the political ranks in Rome, and using his military prowess won many battles and took power. Chancellor Palpatine did a similar thing, issuing Order 66, which wiped out the majority of the Jedi, and seized control (Starwars Databank). Furthermore, both Empires had major wars which caused turmoil within the Empire, the Clone Wars for the Galactic Empire and the Punic Wars for the Roman Empire. In addition to this both Empires tended to overextend their power. The Romans continued to expand into new territory spreading their forces thin and making it nearly impossible to keep control of the new territory. The Galactic Empire did the same thing in the Galaxy, spreading its forces throughout the different planets and overextending its military might. Finally, the two also share a similar story of downfall. The Galactic Empire ultimately fell after Chancellor Palpatine was killed, and political instability ensued due to the lack of a solitary leader. The same occurred with the Roman Empire. Spodek says “In addition, the quality of the empire depended on the quality of its emperors, but Rome had no viable system of succession”, a very similar situation to the Galactic Empire (Spodek 195). Ultimately the two Empires had a multitude of similarities in the way they came about, the wars during the peak of the Empire, and their eventual downfall.
There are a few similarities between Rome and America, mainly in the early stages of growth for the United States. Similarly to Rome, America grew from a small collection of colonies and expanded throughout North America, ultimately growing into an advanced civilization with trade networks, technological advancements, and large cities. Their expansion is similar, however the similarities for the most part end there. The system of government is very much different and the aggressive expansionary tactics of the Romans differ largely from America throughout its beginning.
Overall, the Roman and Galactic Empires have many similarities in how they grew and fell. They were generally two different Empires, but ultimately have more similarities than most would assume at first glance.
Spodek Ch. 6 Rome and the Barbarians
Polybius’ Theory of Anacyclosis
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