History of the Roman Empire A.D. 138-400
Essay Group B
Dr Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe
And Dr Micaela Langellotti
Candidate number: N30732
Word Count: 2,386
Pure, Fool’s or Debased Gold: Roman Empire’s Golden Age
Known by historian Edward Gibbon as a Golden Age, 2nd Century A.D. Roman
Empire was characterized by long periods of relative peace and stability
. Rome also
maintained enormous networks of trade and commerce covering all of the Mediterranean,
the Nile region, Syria, most of Western Europe and England
. However, not all was
prefect in this golden realm. Government leaders and wealthy Romans felt no need to
adapt to domestic and foreign events, and innovation, intellectual debate languished
Also, Rome transitioned from maintaining peace through diplomatic resolve of provincial
issues, to forceful and violent quelling of discontent. This policy shift assured short-term
peace and prosperity, but sowed seeds for long-term deterioration of the Roman Empire.
Thus we are left to ponder the following question: Was this Second Century
truly a golden age, or something else entirely? I will argue the beginning of the Second
Century was a time when Roman security remained largely unchallenged, and this
dominance shifted as domestic and foreign policies changed toward the later half of the
period. I will examine the policies of Emperors Hadrian, Antoninus, and Lucius and
Marcus Aurelius (co-emperors), and show, while Hadrian favored greater cooperation
between Rome and its provinces and sought to maintain not expand the empire, the other
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
(New York Penguin Books, 2000) 9.
Hadrian and the Cities of the Roman Empire
(Princeton University Pres, 2000) 3.
Edward Yoder, “A Second Century Scholar”
The Classical Journal
33 (Feb. 1938) 281.