Yohan wrote:Rome probably had high moral values early on. But things changed rapidly. Here are just a few. Homosexuality was encouraged everywhere and imposed upon young boys. Some way to bring up good men!
See, I knew that part of your argument was going to go into this.
The view you're espousing shows massive ignorance of what it meant and where it came from. To begin: Everyone lived much shorter lives back then. It was common to be married around 13, have had one's first child at 14, and be dead around 40- barring wars, plagues or just bad neighbors.
When you talk about homosexuality here, you're talking about an institution that was about education, and also (based upon shorter lifespans) between an older and a younger man. In today's parlance- an adult and a teenager. Objectively, that's pretty gross, but for the time, it makes sense.
Now- the point of this was that the men would be separated from the women for months, if not years, at a time, working together to learn how to 'real men.' Learning martial arts (use of weapons), strategy, rhetoric, the classics, and so on. At some point, it became the cultural norm to become physically- sometimes even intensely romantically- involved in these situations. At this point, the monotheistic religions, having inherited their bias against such things from the Hebrews (who may have just been talking about homosexual rape and temple prostitution, BTW) will say 'eeewww.' It worked out just fine, though- and the hard limit the ancients put on the relationships (they ended when the young man got married, and there was rarely anal sex involved- it usually involved rubbing between thighs) helped to give the system form.
But hey- if you want to gainsay an educational system that gave the world Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Aristophanes, Epicurus, Ovid, Virgil, Seneca, Pliny (both Elder and Younger), etc, sure, go ahead and be bothered by something that doesn't even concern you, that should just be a matter between whatever deity or deities there may be and the practitioners.
Public entertainment degenerated into torture and brutality.
Not.. really. The Greeks always were known as very fine playwriters. Heck, they INVENTED it, thanks to the Dionysian rites (and if there ever was a god to worship, it's the god of wine, sex and song!) When it came to the Romans, there was a lot of resistance to 'degenerate Eastern' things like Greek plays, Greek rhetoric, and so on. But the Romans were always bloody-minded. It's just how they were- they were frumpy, imperialistic and really violent.
It's also interesting to note, however, that the Christians didn't outlaw the gladiatorial contests or beast fights until the infrastructure of the Empire would no longer allow the bringing to and fro of war captives or live animals, due to its horrendous neglect.
Even more strange is that people got a kick out of such sadistic pervert acts.
I'll definitely agree with that. Though brutal public spectacles weren't just a Roman thing. About a thousand years later, people in the West still liked seeing two armed men beating each other into submission with iron weapons, and loved torturing and killing animals for fun (bear baiting- which in England caused the ENTIRE BEAR POPULATION to go extinct- and fox hunting, for instance.)
Core family structure itself broke down, where wives with children were abandoned to poverty and destitution, and husbands went off to live with other women. It was the disintegration of the basic family unit which finally did make the Empire collapse (not the Barbarians). Romans couldn't reproduce enough Romans with good principles to keep the empire going.
Nope, nope, nope, nope.
Roman family structure remained the same until such time as Christianity came around. However, because the Empire went through periods of expansion and contraction, and because some of the client states asked to be allowed to join Rome, the Romans were soon outnumbered. Which is why the later Flavian Emperors just said 'Oh forget it- everyone inside the line, you're citizens if you're male.' Which unleashed the floodgates when it came to Roman treatment of non-Romans (was and remained quite abominable; even one of the best Emperors ever, the Romano-Iberian Hadrian, couldn't catch a break from the patrician families in Rome).
When, about 300 years later, Rome decided to use the Ostrogoths as a buffer against the then-new Huns, the mistreatment of the former by Rome led to the final crisis and the collapse of order in the West. So yes, it was the barbarians. It wasn't 'family values.'
Oh, and also: Blame Han China. It was probably their expansion about a decade earlier that pushed everyone in central Asia further west and precipitated the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.
Actually Christianity's rule of "one husband-one wife in one's life" came into being to bring stability to the basic family unit across the Roman empire. Early converts to Christianity, Roman empire women, demanded it.
Wow- where did you get this?
You do know that Christianity's 'main man' hundreds of years later, Charlemagne, openly was married to several women and had scores of mistresses- all with the active blessing of the Roman Church- right? Monogamous heterosexual marriage only came into play much later, as a matter of controlling property lines and for political stability. Until that time, Christians then, as Mormons about a millenium later, looked to the Torah examples of the ancient Hebrew kings.
Thus, monogamous heterosexual marriage was rather unusual until everyone got tired of everybody's half-brother killing everyone else's half-brother over a few acres of land. This, incidentally, was why the Holy Roman Empire splintered, and continued to splinter, after Charlemagne's death- All the sons wanted a piece of the kingdom. They got it, and so the empire became a collection of principalities until Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia made them all one political entity.
And when it came to women: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Roman ideas of women were low, but Christian ideas were far lower- particularly from Paul, which is where the inspiration for 'mainstream' Christianity's view on women came from since the beginning of the religion. For Paul, women had no place except at the back of the congregation, and only should receive instruction (should it so please the men) from their husbands or fathers. Great attitude, that.
No, the early converts were desperate people at the bottom of the social ladder. They also tended to gravitate toward other proscripted cults: Magna Mater, Isis, Serapis, Stoics (well, okay, Stoics weren't even close to proscripted most of the time- but they had their times of severe persecution). It was rarely women who did this- though, if they were going to go toward any cult, they would probably have gone toward Isis. The Isis cult had a far better attitude toward women than almost all the other cults at the time.