By Antony Alcock (auth.)

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These volunteers swore an oath ofloyalty to the general rather than the Senate, thus paving the way for a professional army at the whim of its leader rather than the state. Marius also developed the six thousand man legion in ten cohorts of six hundred as the backbone of the increasingly formidable Roman army. 9 For the next hundred years Roman history would be characterised by the struggle for power between a number of successful political leaders backed by troops loyal to them. Three such prominent men were Marcus Crassus, who had crushed the Spartacus slave revolt; Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey), who had eliminated piracy in the eastern Mediterranean, ended a long-standing anti-Roman revolt by Mithradates, King of Pontus, annexed Syria, and reorganised Asia Minor by installing client rulers favourable to him; and Gaius Julius Caesar, governor of Spain.

The so-called 'crisis of the Ancient World' began about 235AD as a result of attacks on all the frontiers of the Empire, with the Germanic tribes assaulting the lines of the Rhine and the Danube. Saxons, Franks and Alemans attacked the former, Visigoths (westem Goths) and Ostrogoths (eastern Goths) the latter. The Persian Empire renewed its attacks on Armenia, Mesopotamia and Syria, while in the south Moors and Berbers attacked in Mrica, Numidia and Mauretania. Once again the tribes were thrust back, although trans-Danubian Dacia had to be abandoned.

10 That the Goths were Arians would have an unexpected consequence a century and a half later. Constantine's intervention established, at least in the East, the rule that the Emperor had everything to do with the Church. He Christianiry 43 believed that it was just as important to achieve and maintain a uniform tradition as it was to decide what the correct tradition was. Thus whatever church leaders agreed upon in an ecumenical council was immediately pronounced as law by the Emperor. Those who dissented were labelled as 'schismatics', deprived of office and banished.

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