Just like every other empire, Rome experienced many changes both politically and culturally. Along with these changes in the classical era came continuities as well. As I mentioned there are many changes in this time period, one being the destruction of paganism and the acceptance of Christianity in the Roman empire. Roman influence in Europe began to disintegrate, especially after the division of the empire. The East transformed into the Byzantine empire, a mixture of Greek, Roman , and Persian culture.
The West was overtaken and ruled by barbarians. Although the empire split, the power of the emperor still grew, and by 600 CE he was considered above the law, and so the Roman Senate was abolished since all the authority and decision-making power lied with the emperor and his advisors. Rome soon changed from a Republic into an absolute monarchy. Many wars and internal conflicts in both the east and west led to this major political change in government. Another major political change had to do with Rome’s declining economy.
The economy collapsed drastically, with people deserting cities looking for work, peasants selling themselves to landowners to survive, and no taxes paid especially from the middle class led for an extremely weak and collapsing authority. Trade and production declined, cities shrank, and population decreased. One of the major cultural changes was the acceptance of Christianity and the abolishment of paganism in Rome as well as Europe. Christianity was legalized in 313 CE and unified into one sect, Catholicism and soon the Catholic church was established afterwards.
Roman social structure also completely changed, where an inflexible and immobile caste system emerged. With all this change came some continuity in the empire. Roman culture spread throughout the Byzantine empire, especially the Roman language in the East. Important political continuities occurred as well, such as the continued use of the original laws and ideas of the Roman empire, as well as the use of emperors. The emperors tried to stay close to the original Roman empire as much as possible.
All the Greco-Roman beliefs, laws, and ideas were incorporated into the laws and beliefs of the Byzantine Empire. Politics continued mainly as a result of the emperors’ effort in restoring the economy and empire of Rome. Roman authority began to reject Christianity because the Bible put God above the emperor, which they rejected. (this is a continuity because they continued paganism) Rome was a very diverse empire culturally and politically. The changes and continuities of the empire helped define some very important beliefs in today’s world.